Peace in Action

Tuesday I paired photos of wildflowers with verses on peace from the Bible, promulgating the biblical claim that peace can come to our hearts if we will open them to God’s Holy Spirit and allow him to quiet us. Quite coincidentally, all that day (Tuesday), our entire Sunday school class had been praying for one of our members—Sam, who had an MRI scheduled and was worried about how he would do because he’s been extremely claustrophobic for years. That evening we received the following update, and it was such a “real life” confirmation of what God says He will do for us that I want to share it with you today, in case you’re frightened about something in your life. This is the response Sam sent via our Sunday school prayer chain:

Praise the Lord for how He used you and your prayers for my good and His Glory.  For me to ask you for this prayer request was humbling. What does it say about a clinical psychologist who is asking for help dealing with a phobia?  I did not have a problem asking the Lord for His help, but it was humbling to share my problem with each of you. My specific request was for God to remove my fear of feeling horizontally trapped in an MRI machine today.

I think it may be helpful to share a little of the history of where
and how my experience with claustrophobia began.  If you are not
familiar with farm machinery you may not know what a combine is.  When
harvesting soybeans in the fall, especially in the evening, the stalks
can get tough and the combine can get plugged up.  Being 12 years of age
and small, I was the one chosen to climb in the back of the combine
(on my stomach) and unplug the piece of machinery. However, I got stuck; I was frozen and could not move forward, backward, up or down. To add to the problem it was getting dark and my uncle had to dismantle part of machine to free me and get me out.  Never will I forget that evening, but after today it has a new meaning. I’m sure it will still affect me, but it will never again control me.

Most of us know that the solution to getting something out of our mind that we don’t want in there is to use addition, not subtraction.  This is where the power of corporate prayer resides.  I knew that Jesus was with me, and my plan today was to quote Scripture the whole time and to block everything else out of my mind. (This is not a bad idea—God tells us to do that, and it’s often the right thing to do.) However, for today (God, not the devil) told me not to use this particular method.

Over and over again, He said, “All I want you to do is: LISTEN TO ME.”
He told me that hundreds of people were praying for me “this very hour,
right now,”  and that all I needed to do was, “Listen to Me.” I found endless
comfort in Exodus 14:14 (“The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace”) and Psalm 46:10 (“Be still and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth”)!  What an intimate experience I had with Jesus!  Never once did I experience any fear. It was enjoyable, peaceful, and comforting.

Thank you for praying for me today.  Thank you for taking time out of
your day and for listening to God and for praying for me.  I have been
praying that God would bless each one of you, for your service to Him.
Because you prayed, all I did was listen to Jesus. Your prayers today
enabled me to experience the Joy of the Lord in a whole new dimension.

I expect to find out the results of the MRI test in 3–5 days. I will
let you know when I know. My prayer request for this week is for God
to be glorified through whatever the results of the test are. I am
excited about what He has planned for me.  I trust Him.  Because God
is Love, He always wills what is best for me. He is omniscient. He knows what I need, and since He is sovereign He has the power to bring it all together.  I trust Him.

To God be the Glory,

Samuel J. Roth

Reading Sam’s testimony to God’s faithfulness and mercy brought this verse to my mind: “O man greatly beloved, fear not: peace be unto thee, be strong, yea, be strong. And when he had spoken unto me, I was strengthened, and said, Let my lord speak; for thou hast strengthened me” (Daniel 10:19). And, I know that He is willing to strengthen any of us to cry out to Him for help!

P.S.—Thank you, Sam, for giving me permission to share this wonderful account of God’s deliverance and your peace. God is so good!!

After War Comes Peace

May 8, 2020 marked the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe—a national holiday in France. Last week I shared with you a little bit about Jérôme, the french catechist who loves Jesus. In corresponding about VE-Day celebrations, Jérôme reminded me that “after war comes peace.”

What a comforting reminder for each of us during this season of world-wide unrest and “war” on COVID! Someday—we don’t know when—there will be peace again.

Rubble left from D-Day attack along the coast of Normandy, France
now adorned with gorse bushes

During our trip to France, I was touched over and over again by seeing this lived out in nature. All along the Normandy Coast, wildflowers and soothing fields of green grasses and moss were softening the terrain . . . overcoming destruction with beauty.

Violets and moss flourish atop an old stone wall. Mont Saint-Michel, France.

Did you know that “peace” is mentioned 420 times in the Bible? Something about the quiet glory of wildflowers taking root in rubble and along the rugged cliff sides made me think of peace.

Land scarred by bomb craters now jeweled with flowers

Peace can come to our hearts if we will open them to God’s Holy Spirit and allow him to quiet us. In this light, please let me share a few wildflowers from France and a handful of my favorite verses on peace from the Bible:

Honeybee on Forget-me-not

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven . . .
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace
(Ecclesiastes 3:1,8).

Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it” (Psalm 34:14).

Salvia and sea pinks stand like sentinels of peace along the cliffs of Étretat France.

Great peace have they which love thy law:
and nothing shall offend them” (Psalm 119:165).

Lichens and violets climb the walls of Mont Saint-Michel in France

But the meek shall inherit the earth;
and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace” (Psalm 37:11).

Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright:
for the end of that man is peace” (Psalm 37:37).

Stinging Nettles

He hath delivered my soul in peace from the battle that was against me:
for there were many with me” (Psalm 55:18).

Kidney Vetch on slopes at Cliffs of Etretat, France.

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).

Columbine near Mont Saint-Michel in France.

And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding,
shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).

Highbush Cranberry

Love the truth and peace” (Zechariah 8:19).

Cabbage White Butterfly on Common Winter-cress

Mercy and truth are met together;
righteousness and peace have kissed each other” (Psalm 85:10).

Mounds of wild roses transform the once Nazi-occupied Normandy Coast

And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness
quietness and assurance for ever” (Isaiah 32:17).

Honey bee on Gorse Bush. Étretat, France.

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee:
because he trusteth in thee” (Isaiah 26:3).

Sea Pinks along cliffs of Étretat, France.

In his days shall the righteous flourish;
and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth” (Psalm 72:7).

Nature softens an abandoned bunker at Pointe du Hoc, France

I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep:
for thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety” (Psalm 4:8).

Sabbath Meditations: “Dragon Slayer” and Other Such

Here are three last luminous poems from the pen of Carol Simpkins Floyd~

Dragon Slayer  
                                             
Dragon-Slayer is his name….a white horse is his steed
He killed the dragons in her life…by meeting all her needs
Dragons large and dragons small…..spiritual…..unseen
Monstrous things…their evil claws…muffled all her screams
His heart could hear her crying…from her dungeon heart of stone
Captive…scared…her one desire was not to die alone
“Oh, help me God if you are there….please show me what to do
Free me from this awful place….and I will live for you”
He alone was full aware…how fierce her chains were bound
More fierce his Love that loosed them all…they fell without a sound
Not by sword or shield or spear…no weapon of this earth
He set her free by Love alone…her heart was virgin-birthed
He saw in her a promised bride…who’d one day be his Queen
Fair as the moon….clear as the sun….reflecting whom she’s seen
And she in all amazement….can scarcely comprehend
Her Dragon-Slayer is her Lord…. her Savior…and her Friend
Yes!…Dragon-Slayer is his name…he rides a charger white
He wears a vesture dipped in blood…his eyes a flaming light
He’s terrible in power…He took death’s blow and won
The Bridegroom and his Bride shall wed…The Church…and God’s own Son                  
 © Carol  Simpkins  Floyd, 2001    

And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written,
King Of Kings, And Lord Of Lords” (Revelation 19:16).

Sabbath Rest
“A  Nuptial  Ode”
Song of Songs

Sabbath  swept…my  soul  is  drenched  in  rest
A  willing  slave  to  peace  extreme…held  captive  by  excessive  

Love  and  pardon  mingled…mercy  pouring  down
The  dew  of  Heaven  saturates  this  dying  soul  it  found

Gates  of  brass  are  lifted  up…iron  bars  lay  at  my  feet
The  all-embracing  grace  of  God  reigns  in  triumph  sweet

Crimson  flow…acceptance  of  his  death
And  resurrection  causes  me  to  enter  in  his  restful

Sacred  pause  and  loss  of  time…seat  of  calm  repose
Trusting  him  with  all  my  sin…knowing  that  he  knows  me

Threats  of  death  fall  impotent…scarred  hands  now  own  the  keys
That  opened  Heaven’s  floodgates…bringing  Sabbath  rest  to  me

Wedded  hearts…solitary  rhythm
Beating  to  the  Song  of  Songs…revelation  given

Of  choicest  fruits  and  Spirit  wine…Love’s  inebriation
Mandrakes  fuel  intense  desire  for  Holy  consummation

Focused  now  with  face  upturned…I  wait  for  Heaven’s  best
Till  my  Bridegroom  comes  to  take  me…we’re  engaged… in  Sabbath  Rest

© Carol Simpkins Floyd, 1998

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Adam to Image

Single  egg  and  seed
Mingled…..male  and  female  breed
Atom  to  Image  

To  behold  God’s  Son
We  the  church…..transformed  become
Adam  to  Image                   

© Carol  Simpkins  Floyd,  1990

I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well” (Psalm 139:14).

For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid” (Romans 6:14-15).

But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

P.S.—It’s not too late to share a poem! National Poetry Writers’ Month doesn’t end until April 30. 🙂

I Do

“How beautiful the sorrow
How exquisite all the pain
Without these tools of mercy
I could not have known your name

“For in my senseless journey
Strong needs were driving me
Each path I chose brought heartache
And still…I couldn’t see

“Your higher purpose for my life
The plans you had in mind
You saw the things that I would see
When I became un-blind

“Relentless love…O violent grace
Sweet heart of love so true
My tears were merely stones that
Paved the pathway back to you

“Royal groom…your very blood
Bought back your faithless bride
A marriage contract sealed the day
That you were crucified

“Thank you for our pain Lord
That betrothed my soul to you
I LOVE you Jesus … Savior. … God
I do . . . I do . . . I do !!!”  

—Composed and shared by a blog follower and sister in the Lord, Carol Simpkins Floyd, while reflecting on Hosea 2 and Revelation 21:9. Copyright 2011.

And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife” (Revelation 21:9).      

And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies. I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the Lord. And I will sow her unto me in the earth; and I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say to them which were not my people, Thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God” (Hosea 2:19-20 and 23).

Meditating on the Commands of Christ (57): Consider the Lilies

Among the world’s most beautiful living plants, I can’t think of anything more gorgeous than flowers. How about you? Trees can be majestic and fill me with awe, but for sheer pleasure, there is no botanical sensory experience I enjoy more than visiting a lush flower garden bursting with extravagantly colored blooms . . . especially if they perfume the air! The profusion of shapes and sizes . . . the uniqueness of each blossom . . . I sometimes feel like I’ve died and gone to a Thomas Kinkaide heaven!

Lilies and delphinium growing in our garden

Therefore, it was with great joy that I embarked on a memory tour of my favorite lily photos to share with you while meditating on today’s texts: Matthew 6:28-30 “And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?” Luke 12:27 “Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith?

Amaryllis. belladonna (aka/Belladonna Lily)

When I typed “lily” into my photo library’s search bar, it brought up 434 pictures (about 300 of which weren’t actually lilies), so the first thing I realized is that there are many flowers that look like lilies but aren’t.

Honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) growing along our lane
Some scholars believe this could be the “lily” from Song of Solomon
Rather idyllic rendering of Jesus preaching to the people about lilies,
but these are what are commonly considered “true lilies.”

Even within the generous group of flowers that I always thought of as “types of lilies”— with common names containing the word “lily” . . . most of them are not actually part of the genus “lilium,” and are therefore not true lilies by botanical class or definition!

Nymphaeaceae, Pink Water lily in Thailand

For instance, all the gorgeous “water lilies” —lotus flowers—found around the world are not “true” lilies!

Water lily in our lake

Nor are any of the common (but splendid) water lilies that choke the perimeter of our lake part of the lilium family. I am so surprised!!

Lily-of-the-Valley, Convallaria majalis, growing in my front yard

The thousands of lilies of the valley that crowd the edges of our woods are not true lilies!

Trout Lily in our woods, Erythronium
(in truth, more closely related to tulips than true lilies!)

Not even the tiny trout lilies that dapple our woods in spring can be called genuine lilies! I was amazed when I learned this (just now, through study for this post)! 😦

Peruvian lily (Alstroemeria aurea) found in Iguaçu National Park, Brazil

Even this delicate “Peruvian lily” that I noticed growing near Iguaçu Falls is not a member of the “lilium” genus. So, the first thing I learned in considering the lilies is that there are many flowers called lilies which are not genuine lilies.

Lotus flowers blooming in Fort-de-France, Martinque

As I believe you are someone interested in studying what Jesus taught, I think it’s worth considering: Are you a genuine Christian?

Springtime in Monet’s Garden, Giverny, near Paris, France

The world is full of beautiful people, many of whom may call themselves Christians or think of themselves as Christians without truly be a part of the genuine family of Christians. Jesus taught us that: “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). How can a man be born again? “As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:11-13).

Easter lily, uncurling in the early morning light

It is my hope and prayer that if you are reading this, you either are—or will become—a true child of God through faith in Jesus as your Lord and Savior!

Lilies at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New York

All true children of God—whether or not rich and part of some magnificent church . . .

Red lily growing wild in the french Alps

or alone, growing in some remote area of the world . . .

Peach-colored lily growing along our fence line (Michigan)

each of us is precious to God and can claim the promise intrinsic in what Jesus taught:

Tiger lilies growing in our yard
(along with blue delphinium and wild black raspberries)

And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?” (Matthew 6:28-30).

Bouquet with lilies on our kitchen table

Any of you feel pretty as a picture (or pretty as a picture of a flower)?
For me, I say, “Not a chance!”

Budding Tiger Lilies on our lane

Most lilies (particularly the common “tiger lilies” that grow everywhere around our home in Michigan), put on an extravagant display in July, but each flower only lasts for a single day, and then withers, often being replaced by another emerging bud.

Peonies and tiger lilies in our garden

Although the (literally) hundreds of lilies growing around our home have to fear being eaten by the deer, they do not fret over what they’re going to wear!


Spring Bouquet

They don’t toil all night spinning the dress of gold they’ll wear on the morrow!

Star-gazer lily in a basket of flowers

And yet, have you ever met any person robed any more elegantly than a lily?

Easter lilies in full bloom

I may just be a sucker for flowers, but I wouldn’t trade the beauty and perfume of a dazzling lily for the most elaborately adorned woman. Would you? (I’m not talking about the woman, I’m talking about how beautiful her dress is . . . and maybe you would think her dress is more lovely than a flower. That’s fine too, but I would not.)

Bouquet of lilies, roses, and babies’ breath

Regardless of how much you prize clothing and shoes and jewelry and accessories, the point is this: God will take care of us if we’ll let him, and He doesn’t want us to spend all our time worrying and fretting about not having or being. He has a better plan for us!

Lilies growing over the edge of our swimming pool

God wants us to grow where we’re planted and concentrate on being and loving, not having and doing! Sound like a good plan?!

Thoughts to Ponder Learned from Some of the Giants of the Faith

“Find your purpose, then lose your life fulfilling your purpose” (John C. Maxell).

Learning from the Giants, by John C. Maxwell, started off a little slow for me, but by the end, I was very happy to have persevered in listening my way through it. Maxwell imagined sitting in his study for a day, being visited by a number of the Bible’s great leaders. As I was usually driving while listening, I resorted to writing down my favorite memories of what Maxwell had to say after arriving at my destination, so they may not be perfect quotes, but I wanted to share some provocative bits of advice gleaned from his studies and commend the book to you as encouraging reading. (P.S.—You know how I love to share photos, too, so I picked out some pictures from my last trip to Mackinac Island, although they were chosen more for beauty than connection to the text.)

Queen Anne’s Lace

Elijah:
*God loves you, even on your worst days!
*Wait, serve, and learn while you wait.
*Our purpose must always be more important to us than our position.
*Find your purpose, and then lose your life fulfilling your purpose.
*Brokenness always precedes blessing.

Arch Rock on Mackinac Island

Job:
*Character is more important than reputation, so work on growing your character.
*Reputation is like a shadow; it has no substance.
*Character is what will enable you to withstand tribulation.
*At the end of Job’s life, he was filled with promise and not pain anymore!

Deborah:
*Be prepared for God to surprise you.
*Expect the unexpected.
*You must deal with your past before God will give you a future.
*God can make nothing out of you until you realize you are nothing without God. (Editorial Note: We are always the objects of God’s love, which gives us great worth, but I think Maxwell was pointing out that God loves the humble in heart.)

Jonah:
*God is a God of second chances.
*Mercy always runs downhill.
*But—think about what you missed by not living right from the beginning!

Joshua:
*God will only give you the promises you claim.

Daniel:
*Be motivated by conviction, not convenience.
*Greatness isn’t doing all you can do; it’s allowing God to do all He wants to do through you.
*You will never lose your way if you never lose your why.
*Courage is like muscle; it is strengthened by exercise.

With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early: for when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness” (Isaiah 26:9).

Gentle Rains

Another day of gentle rains! I want to publicly thank God for these wonderful rains, because I’ve been praying for them!

In the process of building an addition, our yard became a muddy mess! Alan carefully sowed grass seed everywhere, but every time we turned our backs, the geese would come and gobble up the profits! One of my daily tasks has become chasing the geese away so the grass has a chance to grow. (And then, I have to scatter more seed after they leave.) I feel like Disney’s little cocker spaniel, Lady!

A Tangle of Wild Grapes and Highbush Cranberry Blossoms

Our yard covers more than an acre, and to water the lawn with a hose and sprinkler would take more time, energy, and hose-length than we possess, so I’ve been asking the Lord to bless us with gentle rains to help the grass seed sprout and take root before it all gets washed away or eaten up.

Gray Dogwood, Cornus racemosa, growing wild along our Michigan woodland lane

God has been answering my prayers! We have had one of the most wonderfully cool springs I can ever remember, with the perfect blend of sunshine and soft showers!

The grass has taken root, and we’ve become hopeful that—short of a disastrous drought—the grass may flourish. Perhaps by next summer we will have enough soft grass to support both the grazing of geese and the romping of grand children!

Wild turkeys grazing in the meadow

Well, and enough for the wild turkeys too . . .

Doe and her young fawn grazing with the geese in our yard

And the deer, especially now that the herd
has a number of new fawns to feed!

Mock orange on a rainy morning

Working hard to plant and protect the grass, and praying for rain and sunshine—which only God can provide—reminds me of a greater task we’ve been given: that of sharing spiritual “seed” (the Word of God) with others. “My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass” (Dueteronomy 32:2).

Fragrant wild roses perfuming the misty morning air

God has been merciful and kind to me, and he will provide for you too if you’ll surrender your heart and will to Jesus. He calls each of us with a quiet, gentle voice that can only be heard in our hearts. “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23).

White-tailed fawn in our woods

Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy right hand hath holden me up, and thy gentleness hath made me great” (Psalm 18:35).