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The Fourth Fisherman by Joe Kissack
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The Fourth Fisherman

by Joe Kissack

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This is the story of Joe, he has money, a great job in the entertainment business, a wife and family and yet he is on a downward spiral into a dark hole. He had tried to fill this hole with things and prestige, but nothing was working. In the book Joe says, " I kept searching for more. More of what? I really didn't know. Something I couldn't put my finger on it, but it felt like it was out there, just around the corner. Something to fill the emptiness inside me." pg 41 This book is Joe's story of his struggles, searching, redemption, forgiveness, love and learning to rely on God and God's plan.

This is also the story of the three fisherman from Mexico that get stranded at sea for 9 months with nothing put their faith in God and a Bible to sustain them. They were drifting aimless at sea and they had God with them through the whole 9 months. This tells their story of struggle and rescue, hope and faith. It is a remarkable true story of strength that comes from God, faith and how they survived for those 9 months. It tells us how God would provide what they needed just in time and how He never left them. Just like He does for us in our lives.

The book tells us how God sends Joe to meet the fisherman after they are rescued to help them tell their story and in so doing Joe grows in his faith and reliance on God. You find that he has the same doubts and fears that we have when it comes to knowing if we are reallying doing what God wants us to or not. As Joe goes through the jungles and obstacles in Mexico trying to meet the fisherman you see how God nudges him along and reassures him, as well as protects him, just as God does us in our lives.

When I first started to read this book I had already decided that it was just going to be another feel sorry for me book, but boy was I wrong. The more I read the book the more I realized this is a book of brokenness and faith. A book of hopelessness and hope. It is a true story of how one man has everything, but really has nothing, and three men who have nothing, but they have everything because they have God. It is a powerful, insightful, encouraging book that I think everyone should read once or twice.

This book is all this an more. As it says in the book, "And then my eyes were fully opened: God was present in all of it, speaking to me about what the story really was. No, this isn't my story. But it isn't the fishermen's story either. It is God's story, and all of what He has done needs to be told." pg 189
This book tells us that story and I hope everyone will take the time to read it. ( )
  debf56 | Aug 2, 2013 |
The Fourth Fisherman
by Joe Kissack

Where would we be without our faith and belief in God? It's a question that's easy to answer when you don't believe. People don't see the point in it. They think it's all bunk – a weak person's crutch. But there's something that happens when you're at your lowest point, when you feel that no one out there cares or that you deserve to be cared for – that's when it happens. We call out for God when we've tried everything else. Little do we know he is always there - waiting for an invitation. A lifeline.

For Joe Kissack, his life was perfect on the outside. He had it all - the stuff people dream of. His climb on the ladder of life took him to high places. How could anyone that's walking on “the red carpet” have a bad life? But on the inside, he was dying. His life was falling apart – drug addictions, alcoholism, suicidal thoughts. The stress was ripping him to shreds. He was lost.

For a group of everyday fisherman in Mexico, life was always hard. You could spend days on a fishing boat and hardly bring enough money in to feed your family. The work on a boat is brutal and yet tedious at the same time. For 3 men lost at sea for 9 months, they had almost nothing. Most of their food, supplies, gear and hope was gone, except for one thing. A bible. And with that bible, their faith in God never wavered. They were tossed at sea by day and night, starving, sick, wondering if they would ever see dry land again, but they knew God would save them. And even if death was what was waiting at the end of their journey, they knew God was at the end of that as well. They had faith.

Kissack's story is woven among the tale of the lost fisherman. At first, you question why, but then you realize it – one man had everything but was lost without faith. Three men were lost with nothing, but had faith.

When talking about his “ah ha” moment, Joe Kissack said, “I thought I could continue chasing success until – well, until I didn't know when. But I sure wasn't going to slow down to figure it out. The self-deception was that I couldn't make it all work. I think most men have this blind spot. We create our own truth.” But when his truth quit working, there was nothing left. Once he allowed God to fill his emptiness, he was exhilarated with the feeling of it. That feeling led him to write this story and let others know that whether they are lost at sea or in a sea of life's turmoil, faith is what truly pulls his through.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review through their Blogging for Books Program. The opinions expressed here are my own. ( )
  SonyaTyler | Jul 7, 2012 |
Are You Lost or Adrift?

This remarkable story will show you how faith in God can uphold us through dire circumstances.

Joe Kissack, a man blessed with material goods galore had nothing—success and excess had emptied his soul.

Three Mexican fishermen adrift at sea in 2006 for nine months had everything—faith sustained them because they read the Bible everyday.

Both stories intertwine in this book. Kissack delves into the agony and ecstasy of walking the Hollywood red carpet, the shame imposed on him as a kid, and the stress of staying on top in a high-powered position. His life becomes out of control. His conversion and faith in God are inspiring. A shining star in the book is the reaction of his wife. Her story, unfortunately, is glossed over in favor of its impact on her husband.

Rescue. We know from the media that the Mexicans’ were picked up by a fishing boat and returned to their families. The relationship between Kissack and the Mexicans develops.
Although the author relates the fishermen’s story respectfully, he keeps our attention on himself, so the “rescued-at-sea” story seems a bit self-serving.

Sometimes you have to go off the deep end to find the joy of surfacing to a fresh life. The book provides food for thought.

Waterbrook Press releases the title on March 13, 2012. The Amazon Vine Program graciously provided the review copy.

Reviewed by Holly Weiss, author of Crestmont ( )
  hollysing | Feb 5, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 030795627X, Hardcover)

Q&A with Author Joe Kissack

Your story of rising to the top of your profession sounds like a dream come true, yet you were so unhappy. Where do you think things went wrong?
Foundationally, things went wrong very early in my life. In families where the father is misled-chances are that everyone in the family will be misled. Because of an “unsafe” childhood home, ruled by an alcoholic, I was born into and grew up in a constant state of survival. It created unconscious drive towards protecting myself and gaining any and everything for my subsistence. My professional life was just an extension of that mode of operating (except in our culture, especially in business, it is what is thought of as success). Often, a life on this course looks fine until it starts to come off the tracks. It seems that when things start to go wrong, they are going wrong in or very near the present moment. This is rarely the case, and the root cause of where things go wrong can be traced back to a time that seems disconnected to the present instance. Often we miss this because we don’t know what we don’t know.

Why do you think your wife, Carmen, stuck with you during your addictions and depression?
The short version is - she loved me. She is an incredible woman and the hero of this story. She prayed. She held out hope. She did and does the thing that rock solid women like her do - stick with knuckleheads who don’t deserve to be stuck with. Millions of women are doing this right now, hoping that somehow, by some miracle perhaps, the men in their lives will come to their senses. Sometimes they do. And what they find is a woman who is the hero of their story.

You grew up in an alcoholic house. How do you think your two daughters were affected by your addictions and what have you done differently since your sobriety?
My children have been, and will continue to be, greatly affected by my addictions and that of the generational predisposition that my/our DNA carries with it and we have made a conscious decision to call it out of the darkness and shine a light on it. But, they have also been greatly affected by my sobriety. The truth of our past gives the next generation a chance to fight against it, without it having to be a secret. I bring it up often in our home with a simple statement: “Please allow me to remind everyone that our family comes from a long line of addiction and depression. Please proceed with caution!

People often say you have to hit rock bottom before you can change. Do you think your spiritual awakening would have happened if you didn’t hit that bottom?
I would tend to agree with that statement, but I can only comment as it relates to my experience and me. It is really hard for me to say what would or would not happen for anyone else. In my case, I was on a fine line between the continued living existence of this human body, and the end of its existence and the death of it. My spiritual awakening and the rock bottom seemed to have an interesting timing with each other to come at the same moment. However, I don’t think everyone will or has to have it happen this way to them. We all make choices, and for the longest time I chose to ignore what I knew to be truth of where it was all heading. I did that up until the very moment of surrender. Some people do it sooner. I think they are the smart ones.

How have your non-religious friends reacted to your newfound faith?
It is kind of a mixed bag. Some have found it to be a reason to distance themselves: “Don’t you think Joe has carried this God thing a little too far?” While others have grown closer: “We have been praying for you and wondering when God’s grace and mercy would be showered down on you.” The truth is, at least for me, it doesn’t matter what anyone’s reaction is. It is none of my business what others think about me. It is really none of my business what I even think about me. There is only ONE opinion of me that counts, and I know where I stand with Him.

You use humor throughout the book. Tell us about how you reacted when your house was on fire and what that symbolized in your life.
Ah yes. I used to be really funny. So it is not so much that I use humor throughout the book, but more like I just use me. It is just the way I see things. I am sometimes able to find the humor in even the most tragic of times. (Thank goodness I had the greatest editor in the world, Ken Peterson, to let me know when I had crossed a line.)

At the time of our house fire I was in a heavily medicated state - doing all I could to keep from feeling the excruciating pain of my great sadness, the unending fear and doom of my daily existence, and loss of control of a life that was once looked great. When I pulled into the driveway to see the smoke billowing out of the windows I reacted with sort of a default of “do something”. I just needed to do something about it. My literal house was on fire but my metaphoric house (and everything in it) was on fire, too. It wasn’t just falling apart in disrepair and going to crumble down one brick at a time. It was going to flare up and incinerate everything in my life like an atomic explosion. Mowing the grass was my attempt at radiation treatment.

Your search for the fishermen started out badly. Did you ever consider leaving Mexico and why did you stay?
Oh, I considered leaving on several occasions: when I first heard from my colleagues that I was on my own; when I first heard of the cannibalism; and when I got my expensive hotel bill and imagined the cost of it all. I also considered leaving when there were no seats on the flight I needed; when I heard how much the miraculous first class seat was; when I met the soldiers with machine guns; and when I saw the rough looking gang with machetes. For a normal person, those would be seven pretty good reasons to turn and run the other way. I wish I could tell you that I stayed because I had some great plan, but I didn’t. I stayed because each time I tried to leave, something (or someone) countered the obstacle I was facing with a tiny glimmer of hope (or I am just really stupid). It gave me just enough courage to take one more step forward even though I couldn’t see where my foot was going to land.

The media focused on some the questions around the fishermen’s survival and you address the issues head on in your book. Why do you think the doubts began quickly after the rescue?
I have been in media for nearly 30 years. I have a pretty good understanding of what sells, which by the way, you don’t have to be in media for 30 years to understand, all you have to do is look at what the media offers as “news”. There is no such thing as “Journalism” in media today. It is mostly “Opinionism” with a few facts thrown in to make it sound like someone is doing their job as a journalist. The media companies use this “Opinionism” with a slant towards whatever precise demographic, psychographic, or like-minded constituency, which uses a particular media outlet and buys the products that are advertised on those outlets. There may have been legit “doubts” in the survival, but the “doubts” seemed to be fueled by an agenda to tell (or more likely sell) a “sensational story”. If there were real doubts, wouldn’t it make sense to investigate the doubts further, rather than just make a claim of something sinister and whipping it into a frenzy? If investigated, it could have easily been determined what the survival was, but that is not what the media did. If they had, they would have found out how outrageous their claims were.

You write about your relationship with your father, his alcoholism and you feeling that you could never be good enough. Did you ever resolve that conflict with him? And what advice, if any, do you give adult children who still struggle with unresolved issues with their parent or parents?
I have tried on many occasions to engage my father in this conversation and unfortunately have not been able to. However, I have been able to find peace over it. I have done what I know how to do, to reconcile. I started to realize that perhaps he did too, but it wasn’t going to include any sort of a conversation on his part. He doesn’t know how to do that. It is like trying to buy a gallon of milk at a flower shop. It doesn’t exist there. Then a friend suggested that I start to see him through a different lens. God’s lens. Once I started to do that, things changed. I started to see my father in a completely new way, perhaps the way that God sees him. It made me sad to think that this man had been wounded in such a way that made him the way he was. I was filled with sorrow for him. Soon, resentments and anger were replaced with a different set of empathetic emotions that eventually led me to forgiveness and grace, all without ever having one conversation about it with him.

Recently I received a letter from a woman from Oregon who was reading The Fourth Fisherman over the phone with her father, who lived in California. It was serving as a conduit for a discussion between them about their own unresolved issues. I consider it a great honor and privilege that in some small way, this book was able to serve them. This is the very reason I do what I do.

Was the process of writing the book difficult?
Yes and no. The overall process of writing a book is one of the most difficult things I have ever done. What to write? Why to write it? How to write it? Where to write? The time, energy, and effort are unlike any other thing I had ever done. And when you think you are finished, you find out you are not. It seems to go on forever and forever. After a certain point you can’t even tell what is good and what isn’t.

However, there is something about it when it is working right, when you are feeling the flow of it all that it becomes almost effortless, and sometimes seems to write itself. I have often looked back at what I have written, after one of those moments where it just seemed to flow out of me, and wondered, “Did I write that? It’s not bad.” Then to have someone find meaning in it or that it blessed them in some way is, well, it is just the best feeling in the world.

Do you hope to make the book into a movie?
I wrote the movie of this journey before I ever wrote the book. I am a visual person and I could see scenes in my head. I really had no idea what I was doing as a writer and I thought for some reason that writing a movie would be easier than writing a book (for the record, neither one is easy). I worked very hard at my plans to make this happen, and eventually came to understand that my plans were not the plan, and eventually I surrendered this outcome to God. I am sure He will let me know if He wants me to do more on this any time soon.

Do you plan to write another book?
I am working on that right now. I have several more books in me, and I can tell one of them is trying to get out! I have been praying, thinking, asking questions, and writing to see where I am being led on this.

You speak to different groups across the country. What is your message and what do you hope to accomplish?
I have spoken to just about every kind of group you can think of: business, church, hospitals, schools, publically traded companies and private ones - even a car dealership!

I will go anywhere, anytime, to see any amount of people to share this story. I do it because I see people connecting to this story. Somehow, people are seeing their own stories in the midst of the fishermen and my story, and they are finding hope in the truth of who they are and like me, they have become the fourth fisherman.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:29:54 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Joe Kissack describes how when his life and marriage were on the rocks he found God by involving himself in the story of three fishermen who were lost at sea.

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