March 8, 2000


___I'm sitting here under the old oak tree awaiting the beautiful flowers of spring. It won't be long when the Texas hillsides will sprout a sea of blue, our infamous bluebonnets dotting landscapes with an array of beauty.
___ Had Jesus lived in Texas, his Sermon on the Mount might have included, "Consider the bluebonnets, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; yet I say to you that even
Solomon in all his glory did not clothe himself like one of these."
___ Beholding the beauty of flowers reminds me of a visit I once made to Switzerland.
___ While at Lake Lucerne, my family and I rode a railcar and then an incline to reach the breathtaking scenery of Switzerland overlooking the lake and valley below. The beauty of God's creation shouted glory to God. As we stepped off the incline, we noticed a short, yet steep, trail leading up to the peak. We followed the trail, breathing heavily to reach the scenic view. As we walked, we paused to catch our breath and behold the view. We even took pictures. While descending from the peak of Mount Pilatus on the trail, several people from our tour group picked flowers.
___ Our family became friends with five Christian girls from Los Angeles. Each, to my knowledge, was a long-time California native. These girls, enjoying themselves in the splendor of Switzerland, picked the colorful flowers along the trail.
___ A lady walked up to them, a serious, furled brow above her eyes, and scolded in German, "Verboten!"
___ Thinking the lady was saying, "Beautiful!," the girls politely said, "Thank you" and continued to pick the flowers. Melanie, my daughter, picked her share of flowers too.
___ We descended from the peak of the mountain. Since our children were "dying of thirst," if you understand kids, we decided to stop for a soft drink. We entered the line for concessions, only to be scolded by the cashier with the same powerful word. She pointed to Melanie, pointed to the flowers she so proudly displayed with her glowing smile, and announced, "Verboten."
___ I turned to look at Melanie who stood behind me. My eye caught a sign on the wall: "Picking the mountain flowers is forbidden." I know a little German, so I was able to match the English "forbidden" with the German "verboten."
___ "Oh my," I said to myself as my brain connected English and German, "picking the flowers is forbidden."
___ "OOPS!"
___ Melanie discarded her flowers, and we shared with our friends that "verboten" is "forbidden" and that flowers are to stay on the mountain. And so we learned a new word, an unforgettable one, and we all had a good laugh.
___ "Forbidden" is a biblical word: "Take heed to yourselves, lest you forget the covenant of the Lord your God which he made with you, and make for yourselves a carved image in the form of anything which the Lord your God has forbidden you (Deuteronomy 4:23).
___ God warns us. He tells us to refuse, even to flee that which he forbids. Isn't this a replay of God's instruction in the Garden of Eden? Wasn't Adam and Eve's sin eating from the tree that God had forbidden? And isn't that why we now refer to it as the forbidden fruit? Isn't temptation the desire to pick that which is forbidden even after we're warned?
___ God clearly warns us. Hear him. Heed his warnings. If you will walk with Jesus, stay away from that which he forbids. Take time to behold the beauty of his creation. And so I'll say, take heed, read the signs; it might keep you out of a lot of trouble. And don't pick the flowers in Switzerland, nor the bluebonnets in Texas. It's verboten.

___ John Duncan is pastor of Lakeside Baptist Church in Granbury and has articles published in numerous magazines and newspapers.

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