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Growing Deep, Growing Strong

“You cannot easily move a tree planted deep and strong or one planted by streams of water.”

Then the season changed. The time for gathering was over and the congregation stayed at the 5,000 level for many years. People still came and they went as well. Some were passing by and were curious. Some came once and got miffed at something or someone and never came back. Some moved because of reasons unrelated to the church. New faces were ever present each Sunday as people replaced those who left. The new folks got saved, trained, filled with the Spirit and took their places in the local congregation and in the Kingdom of God. Some attended and never came into salvation, and they too are still there or have been replaced by others with the same experience.

Finally after 25 years in leadership, the pastor retired and a new man came on to lead. The church continues. It is healthy and vibrant, a haven of rest, a safe port in the storms of life, a place to meet God for the first time, a place to grow in Him to Whom we owe all, to develop a pure heart and a tender heart as well. Its congregation does not vote on its pastor, instead the pastor can cast a vision for his congregation and can work at seeing it come to pass.

It’s a church that births other churches, identifies and equips those called to ministry, supports and blesses other godly works both within and outside its own walls. It is a place where the mantle can be passed. A place to hang out and hang on.

I told you these stories to set the stage to respond to a request from one of our readers who asked us to comment on what he called ‘Cruise-amatics’. Our reader is a Spirit-filled Episcopalian minister who indicated he was troubled about what he saw as an unusually high percentage of people filled with the Spirit like you and me but who never belong anywhere. I intentionally ended all my above stories early, I only finished the last one. I wanted to let you think about each situation I described and to imagine what the end of each story should entail.

The first Psalm is on point on these, the cruisers, who fit our inquiring reader’s description. The Psalm defines a blessed man and it says in part of that definition that:

He is like a tree planted by streams of water. A tree which yields its fruit in season.

I live in Hawaii. It is a beautiful land of rainbows, and there are lots of trees that we do not see in many places in North America. Hawaii’s trees are green all year round. They have root systems that are often astonishing to behold. Our trees have to withstand the ever present strong trade winds and the hurricanes that come through every ten years or so. We have a dry season that lasts six months each year. Our beautiful trees have roots that grow down deep into the soil and in so doing become strong so they can find and feed on the moisture and nutrients in the soil so their portion above ground can withstand the strong forces that would topple what we love so.

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Category: Living the Faith, Winter 2001

About the Author: H. Murray Hohns went home to be with Jesus on November 28, 2012. He was on staff at the largest church in Hawaii and served on his denomination's investment committee from 1999 until his death. Hohns held two degrees in Civil Engineering, an MA in Theology from Fuller Seminary, and served as an instructor at Foursquare's New Hope Christian College (formerly Pacific Rim Christian College) in Honolulu. He wrote six engineering books and hundreds of articles in every type of newspaper, magazine and journal.

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