Saturday, June 7, 2008

Parable of the Soils in action on Maui, How God Speaks

I began serving as the pastor of Lahaina Baptist Church in December of 1994 (and was there until 2003). It was a unique congregation in a unique setting. Lahaina is located on the West Side of the Island of Maui in the state of Hawaii.

Lahaina is a tourist magnet with 5 championship golf courses and numerous resorts and world-class beaches. So, on Sunday mornings at Lahaina Baptist Church our worship service would include about 60 % locals and about 40 % tourists.

Pretty soon after I arrived I notice a pattern at the end of the worship services. I stood at one end of the open-air building and shook hands with the guests and they exited the building. Almost every Sunday one or more of these tourists would look me in the eye and tell me, “Craig, God spoke to me in a way I haven’t experienced in a long time.” Sometimes they would say it had been a year, or even 10 years.

At first, I thought it was my brilliant preaching, but I knew from deeper conversations that these men and women were active members of strong churches with strong Bible teaching ministries and preachers who proclaimed God’s Word clearly and faithfully.

So I began asking God to show me the reason for this unusual work that He was doing. After a year or so I was reading the Parable of Soils (Matthew 13:1-21) and I feel God showed me that this was the key to understanding it.

When these tourists were sitting in our open-air church building in this tropical paradise, God was helping them be free from these barriers to hearing God. For many, their spiritual ears had been closed to hearing from God because they were angry at someone in their own church family, or angry at someone on their church staff, or even the pastor, or the worship leader. But here at Lahaina Baptist they hadn’t been there long enough to get angry at anyone.

For others, their spiritual ears had been closed to hearing from God because they were overcome by the cares of the world whether is was work, or money, or what they were going to serve for lunch that Sunday. But here at Lahaina Baptist they were on vacation in paradise and they were going out to eat after church and didn’t have to think about their work or whatever had distracted them.

And, God was able to get through to them and speak His clear Word into their hearts. My question is, can you allow God to speak to you today, can you ask Him to forgive you for you closed heart or closed mind for the grudges you have held on to. Can you be obedient to God’s call ...

“Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Phil 4:6-7 (HCSB)

1 comment:

Pastor Chris said...

Craig,
I fully agree with your perspective and find that God is still working in hearts in the same way today. We serve an incredible God who speaks and guides, if only we can learn to listen. Mahalo for your past and current ministry in Lahaina Baptist Church. We are blessed to have you as part of our history and ohana.
Chris