The Magnolia Tree

I know most people do not like Magnolia Trees because they can make a mess with their big, hard-to-rake-up leaves. But Magnolia Trees have always had a special place in my heart.

My wife and children understand this to the point they gave me a Magnolia Tree sampling to plant in our front year back in 2008. The year after, I went through my cancer battle resulting in the loss of a kidney.

My love for Magnolia Trees spurns from my days as a young boy when there was a mature tree probably a hundred years old in my neighborhood. I really do not know how old. As a kid, anything over twenty was old. But this tree was at least several decades old.

It was large enough that me and my friends would climb the tree and sit in its massive branches. Like a strong man’s arms holding us on his shoulders, gently cradling us so we could look around and see all around the neighborhood. We could sit there and virtually hide as we watched others walk below, never knowing we were just a few feet above their heads. We could have jumped from the tree and landed on their shoulders before they knew we were there.

Its massive canopy covered us above from the beating sun. Rain had a hard time getting through to wet us as the branches and leaves above were so thick. We could sit there for hours, it seemed, never concerned about falling. Moving from branch to branch like monkeys in the wilds of the jungle. The mammoth branches gather us like a grandfather hugging his grandchildren. Feeling his strength, love, and comfort in knowing you were protected from unknown forces we were unaware of at that age. 

The tree itself with roots reaching far from the trunk. Like strong fingers digging into the ground, shifting it, grabbing it. Reaching deep to hold secure from the winds. While other trees bend and sway in the strong hurricane winds of North Carolina, the Magnolia Tree stood the test of time, holding firm, never wavering, never bending to the whim of pressure. 

The tree is a symbol of my youth when I had no cares in the world when nothing could harm me. When nothing could persuade me, there was evil in the world looking for a chance to prance like a roaring lion to devour my very being. Standing strong and tall, magnificence in all its glory. Never to allow harm to those who hide in its giant branches.

Oh, I long for those days again. To climb into the branches of that magnolia tree. To sit and watch the world as it goes by. Never concerned about tomorrow. Only enjoying the moment of security and peace, I felt years ago.

Though today I cannot climb in the branches of a Magnolia Tree, and the tree planted in my yard in 2008 is now 30 feet tall, the branches are not strong enough to support me or hide me from the world.

Today, I climb into the arms of Jesus. He gives me that security and peace I long for and felt as a child. His foundation is strong; His protection covers me like the canopy of the magnolia. I rest secure in knowing that He will protect me from those unknown forces. He is the branch that supports me.

The Word of God is the foundation – the Rock – that I need, to keep me from being swayed. Like the roots of that childhood magnolia digging deep into the ground, the Word of God digs deep into my soul, and I find solace.

The Word of God quenches my thirst like a cool brook. Providing refreshing words of comfort as I rest, knowing that God has me in the palm of His hand.

And the Word of God covers me like the canopy of that magnificent Magnolia Tree with His Grace and Mercy, protecting me from the attacks of this world.

Thus comes the saying my friend and mentor Jeff Kisiah use to say to all his men after spent time praying over them. He would end his prayers with,

“I pray God will give you a rock to stand on, a brook to drink from, and a tree to shade you.”

His influence has resulted in me picking up this quote and saying it over those I pray with.

Where are you today in your spiritual walk? Are you standing on the Rock? Are you drinking the cool water of God’s Word? Are you resting under the canopy of God’s grace and mercy?

If not, I encourage you today to make the decision to follow Jesus. If you have turned your back on God, I encourage you to repent and return to the Lord.

I would like to hear about your decision.

To the challenge and adventure to disciple men.

  • – Mike

God Bless.


Decisions. We all have made them. Some of them have been good. Others have been disastrous. If I was a betting man –you probably have only made a few devastating decisions. However, the majority of your decisions could have been better. Why is that?

Is it because you did not do your due diligence? Is it because you did not seek council? Is it because you acted in the spur of the moment? That is when we generally make our worst decisions. But even if we did our due diligence and sought council, there is a good chance we will still make the wrong decision. Why?

Well, let’s look at King Rehoboam in 1 Kings 12. King Rehoboam was the heir to the throne of King Solomon. When he was made king, Jeroboam came to him and asked for the yoke of Solomon’s harsh service to be lightened on the people of Israel. Jeroboam declared if he did, then the people would serve him.

Rehoboam initially took the right action and instructed Jeroboam and his entourage to give him three days to consider this request. So Jeroboam left, planning to return in three days.

Rehoboam turned to his father’s elders for advice. The elders advised him to loosen the load on the people of Israel as Jeroboam requested and for Rehoboam to become a Servant-Leader to the people. The Elders told Rehoboam that if he did this, speaking kind words to them, they would be his servants forever.

However, Rehoboam rejected the advice of the elders and consulted with the young men he had grown up with and who were serving him. Their advice was to make the yoke heavier on the people of Israel. So when Jeroboam returned to Rehoboam at the end of three days, the king answered the people harshly. He rejected the elders’ advice and spoke according to the young men’s advice. The young men probably advised Rehoboam precisely what he wanted to hear. He had no desire to become a servant-leader.

When Rehoboam did this, the people turned against Rehoboam, even killing Adoram, who was in charge of the labor. When this happened, Rehoboam jumped into his chariot and escaped to his home in Jerusalem.

When we first look at this account of Rehoboam’s decision, he took the right action. A request was made. He asked for time to consider the request. He took the request to others to seek their thoughts and advice. Then he made a decision, though the decision resulted in a disastrous outcome.

Now we can sit back and analyze the two opinions Rehoboam received, but I want us to think about what he failed to do. Rehoboam gathered his father’s elders and his friends that he grew up with for advice. This was good because he received differing opinions he could weigh in his mind about the course of action. A deeper study will indicate that Rehoboam took the action he was already leaning towards. And if we are honest with ourselves – don’t we frequently do the same.

Someone says something in the advice they give. It either resonates with us, or it is what we wanted to hear, to begin with, and now we can justify our decision. This is what Rehoboam did.

But I need to ask the question. Who did Rehoboam not consult? Who did he ignore when he was seeking advice? That’s right. God. Of all the people we seek advice from – God should be our number one go-to person. He should be at the top of our list to seek advice on any decision we need to make.

Men! There have been many jokes about how we do not like to ask for directions. We will drive around in circles for hours before asking for help. That is a decision we make, and sometimes it works out, and sometimes it ends with us being embarrassed or humiliated because we had to finally break down and ask for help.

The Bible teaches us that we need to seek others for help. Read these verses.

“Without guidance, people fall, but with many counselors there is deliverance.” Proverbs 11:14

“A wise warrior is better than a strong one, and a man of knowledge than one of strength; for you should wage war with sound guidance— victory comes with many counselors.” Proverbs 24:5-6

And the Bible teaches us to seek God in our decision-making also. Do not leave Him out of our decision-making process.

“This God, our God forever and ever— He will always lead us.” Psalm 48:14

“I will instruct you and show you the way to go; with My eye on you, I will give counsel.” Psalm 32:8

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” (The KJV says, “direct your paths.”) Proverbs 3:5-6

Decision-making recognizes God as a partner in the decision-making process, and prayer is our way of acknowledging our Heavenly Father in all our ways. Prayer is our way of asking God for his wisdom, given liberally and willingly to those who ask for it. Prayer is the incubator of our best ideas and the source of our freshest creativity. Prayer is our lifeline to finding and fulfilling God’s perfect will in all we say and do.

Think back to King Saul. When Saul faced a crisis, he invariably made the wrong decision. Why? He was alert, intelligent, and charismatic but lacked the internal character and intimacy with the Lord. He didn’t make his decisions in prayer or with a view toward God’s glory. Saul’s successor, Rehoboam’s Grandfather, King David, was just the opposite, earnestly seeking God and inquiring of the Lord before every decision.

So Men, the next time you are making a decision, no matter how small or how large, don’t make it on your own. Seek counsel from those who have a solid relationship with God. Gather a group of men around you that can help weigh the information and who can provide good, sound, solid decisions. But above everything else, PRAY! Pray about the decision you are making. See what God has to say about the decision. Search the Bible for help. Allow the Holy Spirit to speak to you through His Word.

You may find that the decisions you make in the future will be better. They may not always be right. But you will probably have less disastrous ones.

To the challenge and adventure to disciple men.

– Mike


Compromise. What does the word mean? According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Compromise could mean “to come to an agreement by mutual concession,” or “to find or follow a way between extremes,” or “to make a shameful or disreputable concession.”

Often people believe individuals who know how to compromise have a good character traits. They generally know how to get along with others. Married couples sometimes disagree but work together to compromise and meet somewhere in the middle. Business partners need to work through differences of opinion so the business can continue to operate smoothly. Politicians often need to compromise on deciding matters of public policy.

Compromise is considered part of life, and we need to learn how to compromise, especially when it differs from our position. However, spiritual compromise can lead us to ruin because our allegiance to God is non-negotiable.

Men! Let’s look at Israel’s King Solomon for a few moments and see how his compromise ruined not only his family but the direction of the nation of Israel.

To understand how Solomon compromised, we need to go back to the time God was giving the nation of Israel specific instructions on how to live. Commandments and ordinances God expected the Israelites to follow for their protection, both physically and spiritually.

When the Israelites were being instructed on their relationship with foreign nations, they were told in Deut 7:3, “You shall not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons.” Why? In verse 4 of Deut 7, the Israelites were told, “for they would turn away your sons from following me, to serve other gods.”

Now let’s fast forward to 1 Kings 11.

In 1 Kings 11:1, we learn that King Solomon loved many foreign women. We learned earlier in Chapter 3 that Solomon made an alliance with Pharoah, King of Egypt, and Pharoah gave Solomon his daughter to marry to seal the alliance. Now we learn here in chapter 11 that Solomon also took wives from the nations of Moab, Ammon, Hittites, and the Sidonians. In fact, we read in verse 3 of Chapter 11 that Solomon ended up with 700 wives and 300 concubines.

Now many jokes have been made about Solomon having so many wives, but this was a serious break in obedience to God’s command. Solomon may have justified his actions as all the nations mentioned in this chapter were nations that surrounded Israel. Solomon probably married these foreign women from a political position to establish a peaceful alliance with the surrounding nations. For we know Israel had peace with the nations during Solomon’s reign.

Solomon may have thought he did right by compromising the commandment of God in regards to marrying foreign women. He probably justified his actions because it brought peace to Israel. But God’s word did not give him an alternative if it involved Israel’s peace. The message was imperative, “You shall not intermarry.”

As we continue to read about Solomon in Chapter 11 of 1 Kings, we see that just like Israel was warned in Deut 7, Solomon’s heart was being turned away from God and was supporting and worshipping the god of his foreign wives. Because of this, God’s – Yahweh – anger burned against Solomon, and he declared I will tear the kingdom out of your hands, but I will not do it in your lifetime but during the reign of your children. And this is what we see through the rest of the accounts of the kings of Israel and Judah.

This should be a clear message to us men. The decisions we make and the decisions we compromise on when it comes to being obedient to God will not only affect our lives but could drastically affect the lives of our children through many generations.

So, men, I want to encourage you to examine your life and determine if you are compromising any area of your life to the Word of God. The Bible says in Lamentations 3:40, “Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the LORD!”

If you discover an area that you have been compromising or are in the process of compromising, repent of it today and return to the Lord. If you continue down that path, it could affect the lives of your entire family and your children for many generations.

Solomon’s actions were pretty extreme; maybe yours is not. But even a slight compromise in how we talk, the activities we participate in, and the company we keep could compromise our relationship with God. So be careful in all you do, and make sure you do it all for the Lord and not yourself.

Well, that’s it for this episode of a Men’s Ministry Moment. Be sure to follow me as I provide you with more insights, ideas, and information regarding ministering to men.

To the challenge and adventure to disciple men.


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