"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
April 13, 2016
Several years ago, I planted some vinca vines in front of our house. In previous years I had planted the regular vinca flowers, but had never used the vine plants before. My thinking was that they would fill in between the other plants to make the flower beds look fuller. It didn't quite turn out as planned!
I found out that vinca vines are a huge nuisance. They multiplied like crazy and quickly got out of hand. The trailing vine develops roots as it spreads; and it spreads very quickly. I didn't do research before planting it, therefore, I did not know that it was an invasive plant. It didn't take long for it to spread, and begin choking out other plants.
I decided to pull it up, but found that was almost impossible to do, because of it's long trailing root system. I still find it popping up in places;and it's probably been at least 5-6 years since I tried removing the plants! This has been an ongoing nuisance for the past few years. It is a hardy vine that tolerates all types of ground and weather conditions. It seems as if it's impossible to completely get rid of. I've even found these vines growing to the side of the house. Apparently, the root system rounded the corner of the house from the original flower beds and just kept on growing. It is crazy!
One of the first summers after we were married, Jon and I got this bright idea to plant canna bulbs all along our backyard fence. At that time, we just had a wire fence that separated our yard from the neighbors on each side and the neighbor behind us. I wasn't used to having so many people who could always see me every single time I went outside and watch what I was doing; and to be honest, this country girl absolutely hated the total lack of privacy!! So we were given some canna bulbs that had been dug up from Jon's grandmother's house and planted them all along the fence on all three sides. We also planted canna all along the back of our house. It was absolutely crazy how tall those plants grew! They were almost as tall as the first story of our home!
Our plan worked fairly well, only the bulbs don't know when to stop multiplying and growing! We had canna running out our ears, and the plants started growing under the fences into our neighbors yards; growing out away from the fence into our yard; and became a nuisance. After a couple years, some of the plants died back so we had these huge groups of canna in some places and empty spots in others. We had a privacy fence (hallelujah!!!) put around our backyard, so I spent hours digging up all those canna bulbs.
For several years afterwards, we would have canna sprouts start growing in oddball places in our backyard. I dug and dug and dug canna bulbs for years, trying to get rid of them! Even now, I will occasionally see the green of a canna plant pop up someplace in our backyard.
Recently, I was thinking about how something little can take root in our heart, and if we don't get rid of it and dig it up, it will spread and multiply until we are dealing with issues that are difficult to get rid of. The examples of the vinca vines and canna bulbs came to mind as I was pondering this.
Last week I wrote about offense. I have seen it happen so many times where someone gets offended by someone, possibly even a parent or family member, and as the years go by, it will multiply and grow in their heart and mind. Honestly, sometimes something did happen that was bad. Possibly a parent made bad choices or disciplined more harshly than they should have or had unfair rules, but they may have also been doing what they felt like was right at the time; not intending to cause hurt or harm. Some of those choices may have caused a child to grow up feeling as if they were mistreated and/or disciplined too harshly. What often happens is, years go by, and that child grows up harboring hard feelings and unforgiveness, and those things that happened in the past grow and multiply and worsen in their mind; becoming bigger and badder than it originally really was.
How an adult child perceives their childhood and how their parents look at it is generally very different. I've heard many parents comment that the memories they have, and the memories that their grown-up children have of various things that happened, have opposing perspectives.
For instance, one of my sister's kids ask her recently, "When my siblings and I were kids, you only made us take a bath once a week, didn't you?" My sister was like, "NO! I made you take a bath almost every night before bed time!" Very different remembrances of bath time from the child and the parent's perspective.
I've heard Jon's mom tell things that happened or things they did when the kids were young, and later, Jon will tell me a very different version of what it was "really" like. His viewpoint and memories as the child is from a very different perspective than Diane's is as the mother. I'm not speaking of bad things, but of how life was in general.
My point is, we sometimes need to step back and think about situations from all perspectives. I'm not only referring to family relationships and problems that sometimes arise; but anything that we hold onto and have problems letting go of. When we hold onto hurts from the past, our memories tend to make those situations worse as time goes by. The more we think about it and hold onto it, the more it grows in our mind. Offense turns into unforgiveness. If we don't truly forgive, then those roots will keep growing and keep showing up and affecting other areas of our life.
Unforgiveness can cause us to act out and make ungodly, sinful choices that not only hurts others, but ends up causing a great deal of harm to ourselves. It can cause us to react in other ungodly ways. It keeps us from fully living in the will of God and knowing the peace that comes from having a close relationship with our Heavenly Father. It will separate us from God, because we know that we should forgive and not act ugly or say hateful things, yet we're unwilling to fully let it go and move on.
There are many things that can take root and affect other areas of our life adversely, besides unforgiveness. It's like a trailing vine with a root system that grows right under the surface and keeps popping up in unexpected places.
Hebrews 12:1 (NLT) says, "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us."
Whether we like it or not, people are watching out lives. Overall, the world is looking for godly examples who will persevere in their faith and be steadfast; even though it often doesn't seem that way. If we're going to win the race that God has set before us and make it to the finish line with our faith intact, then we're going to have to learn how to strip off every weight that slows us down. We're going to have to get rid of the sins that so easily trip us up. It doesn't matter if our sin seems small in comparison to the sin of others! If it is tripping us up and causing us to struggle and is affecting other areas of our life, then we have to get rid of it. If it is interfering and hindering our relationship with God, then we have to strip it off and get it out of our life. We all sin; whether we want to admit it or not. We all have areas that we struggle with and are tempted in. The good news is: God is faithful to always forgive us of our sins, when we confess them to Him!
1 John 1:8-10 says, "If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to Him (Jesus), He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness (or unrighteousness). If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that His word has no place in our hearts."
A while back I was praying about an area in my life that I've struggled with and have repented of over and over again.... yet I tend to keep falling back into that same old rut and having those same ugly thoughts. I had this picture come to mind of a briar patch. Have you ever been walking in the woods and got your clothes caught in a briar or bramble patch? You try to get untangled, but they keep sticking into you or catching onto your clothes, and it's hard to get out of it unscathed. You get poked, scratched, and may end up with burrs or stickers on your clothes. About the time you think you're free and move on, another little wiry branch will poke out and get you tangled up again.
Those brambles and briars and thorns that reach out and try to ensnare us and trap us and cause us to fall, are often hidden within pretty rose bushes. Satan will disguise sin to make it look appealing and pretty and harmless. When we indulge just a little, then Satan will sneak in and try to draw us in deeper and deeper. Those little briars starts snagging onto us and taking root. At first it may not seem quite so bad, but then we soon find ourselves fighting against those irritating, prickly vines more and more.
That's what often happens with habits or temptations or ungodly thoughts or unkind words or whatever it may be..... about the time we feel like we've broken free from that and are moving on, we run into another briar patch that's beside the path we're on and we find ourself spending a lot of time trying to get untangled from it and end up getting scratched and poked and tripped up. At times it feels as if we're fighting the same battles over and over again. But it's imperative that we keep getting untangled, keep moving forward, and keep praying! Never stop, or those brambles and briars will completely ensnare us and make it more and more difficult to get away. By moving forward and putting forth the effort and taking time to pray and ask God to help us to get untangled, there will come a day when we will realize that we can walk without becoming scratched and scathed and tripped up. We can't just give up and say, "Oh well, this is just life and how I am," or "This is just the temptation I've been dealt and I just have to deal with it," or "I might as well just quit; this is too hard!" We will never break free if we quit.
John 15:1-2 (NLT): "I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn't produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so that they will produce even more."
If we want to grow in God and be able to overcome sin and temptation, then we have to allow Him to prune the areas in our life that is barren and not bearing fruit. We have to allow God to dig up all those old sinful roots that keep invading our lives.
We can pray and ask God to dig up all those roots and briars that keep popping up to ensnare me and burn them up; get rid of them completely! We can ask Him to dig up all the roots of the invasive sins that tries to creep in and spread into our heart and mind. It may take a lot of prayer, a lot of time, and a lot of effort; but we can break free of all those brambles, briars and invasive roots of sin!!
We do some yard maintenance on the family property. The worst of the thorns tend to grow up with other invasive vines, poison ivy, and mimosa trees. They are all invasive, and spread badly. The mimosa trees spread roots all around underground, and wherever the root hits air, it sprouts. The vines, poison ivy, and thorns grow up through any trees they can find. The ivy covers big patches of ground, and gives the thorns and poison ivy a great place to sprout.
Jesus spoke about a man that had a demon removed in Matthew 12:43-45. "When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none. Then it says, 'I will return to my house from which I came.' And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So also will it be with this evil generation."
We might cut out the thorns, but leave the mimosas and ivy. Or we may cut out the ivy and leave the thorns. And it may work for a time to cut out the thorns and vines, and wait on the mimosas. But eventually, we need to remove all the various brambles, so we can mow regularly, and trim around the trees we like. Only then, can we keep the brambles away for good.
Easy Beef Roast
(This is the recipe I've been using recently every time I cook a beef roast.)
1 package Au Jus Gravy Mix
1 stick Butter
Place beef roast in crock-pot. Sprinkle package of Au Jus Gravy mix over the top. Place the stick of butter on top of the meat. That's it!! Cook until meat is tender. No additional liquid needed; as well as no other seasonings necessary. The juice from the roast makes a really good gravy. (For making gravy, I add in milk to the meat juices to make the quantity of gravy desired.)
Easy craft for kids:
Give kids dry spaghetti and marshmallows and let them build things out of them. They can stick the marshmallows onto the ends of the spaghetti to hold pieces of spaghetti together and build all kinds of things. Fun and easy, with very little mess.
God didn't add another day in your life because you needed it;
He added it because someone out there needs you. - unknown
We love you!
Loretta & Jon