What was the message you may be wondering? Well… I seemed to think of it as an early bloomer, before it’s time, a trendsetter, a leader, radical, a rebel, alone, unique, and something special that has gone unnoticed. I saw this magnolia bud as something that yet needed to grow, to spread it’s petals wide, experiencing the warmth of the sun, the light of the day, the dew of the morning, beautiful and fragrant, exhausting all its potential until its time of expiration. I saw it as taking no thought of tomorrow, resting gently - within a simple branch on a limb, and giving no concern for its ability, nourishment, its purpose, how big or impactful it was going to be, or who was scrutinizing it. And as I watched, I knew that it would be beautiful…magnolias are just that way! Then, my observation began to reveal a comparison in various parts… as me, my life! A life that once was, still is, and waits still to be. I saw it not only as a picture of myself, but of others, and of things, of dreams, things we take for granted, those in the past, the ever changing present, and of a generation yet to come.
If I had seen many flowers on the tree, I probably would not have even given it a second glance, or a second thought. It was the individualism of this flower that caught my eye. It didn’t seem to conform to the pattern of the trees habit or blooming in step with other buds. To me, it seemed to scream out, “Go for it! Don’t worry about the other flowers, they haven’t even budded yet, set an example, be a leader!” Now, I cannot tell you for sure how this currently relates in my life, but a little seed vision has been planted with a little message for me to recall at some given point in the future. I must tell you that this magnolia story also was followed by a scripture verse that also seemed to stand tall, waving giant arms urgently as if to get me to stop and ponder! The verse?
And be not conformed to the pattern of this world,
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,
so that you may prove what the will of God is,
that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (NASB95)
Transformation seems to be an ongoing process in this ever-changing world!
I was driving around town to try and locate wallpaper for my bathroom remodel job. I heard an advertisement on the radio…not sure what it was trying to sell and I rarely listen to the radio…but it was cleverly designed using the word start. Jump start, start up, start over… you get the idea! I gave a quick thought of the cleverness of the ad and kept driving. I had no intention of thinking about it again until the Lord brought it to my mind about two days later. The only thing different was he seemed to be saying, “Remember that clever ad? Change the word start to step and by the way, don’t forget the magnolia!” Humm…interesting! Now I don’t know how God interacts with you, but I am always amazed at how He gets my attention and then causes me to focus in as He begins to speak to my heart.
Conforming is easy. Transforming takes guts! Stepping takes courage!
But now, this is what the Lord says—
he who created you, Jacob, (insert your name)
he who formed you, Israel: (insert your family name)
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
Matthew 5:13,14 (NASB95)
13“You are the salt of the earth;
but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again?
It is no longer good for anything,
except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.
14“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden;
My interpretation of the Matthew passage:
Step up, move forward, and speak out. If we are stagnant or afraid, how can we abundantly live the Christian life? If we are not (walking in step) obeying His commands, we don’t really love God. (See John 14:21,24)
You are the magnolia on a tree. A single vibrant flower on a tree is not easily hidden!
21 He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.” 24 He who does not love Me does not keep My words;
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A forest of Magnolia trees displays great strength and strong widespread roots, shade for the weary, beauty and fragrance to those watching, and holds firm throughout storms.
It’s bloom is a reflection of the life it lives!
Click on the tree to view slides of other images!
 Robert H. Mounce, Romans, vol. 27, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995), 232–233.
Phillips J. B. Phillips, The New Testament in Modern English
Logos 5. (2014). 12 μεταμορφοῦσθε is a present passive imperative. Although God brings about the transformation, we must voluntarily place ourselves at his disposal so it can happen. He will not “transform” us against our will. The present tense suggests that the process is to continue throughout life. Transformation is not instantaneous.
13 J. A. Fitzmyer defines the νοῦς as “that aspect of the human being which is considered the seat of intellectual and moral judgment” (Romans, AB [New York: Doubleday, 1993], 641). J. Behm says the νοῦς of Christians is “the inner direction of their thought and will and the orientation of their moral consciousness” (TDNT 4.958).
14 δοκιμάζω means “to put to the test” or “to approve as the result of testing.” The second meaning fits the present context better.
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