The Cruel Sticker Bush

This scripture got down in my spirit this morning. Last night, the Lord brought to mind the scripture penned in Hebrews 12:1: “…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,”

Sin that entangles! That’s a cool image. I shared, last night, about a sticker bush at the house in which we lived in a village here in Romania. When we first moved in, the house had been abandoned for years, so the yard was overtaken by wild weeds and plants, and there was this one sticker bush that we were sure was planted there by satan.๐Ÿ˜† It seemed like it reached out and caught you in its grasp whenever you got near it, and the more you fought it, the more it took hold of you–so much so that it once tore a chunk of fabric out of one of Joe’s favorite dress shirts before he even realized it had caught hold of him. The tear was so brutal it was irreparable. Joe still hasn’t forgiven that bush for destroying his “cool shirt.”๐Ÿ˜„

The only way to avoid being caught by this cruel bush was to avoid the path it had grown near, and then, Joe and I went to work. It took weeks working on that yard, but we finally got all of the bushes, that weren’t rose bushes, chopped down and destroyed.

When I read this verse this morning, the Lord reminded me of how easily we accept idols into our lives. They’re not carved statues or golden calves that we worship, so we don’t often recognize them for what they are, but they are idols none the less:

* We spend hours adoring ourselves in the mirror and offering fancy hairstyles or nails, makeup, and jewelry to ourselves as tribute.

* We spend more time watching sports and YouTube and playing video games than we do seeking out God in His Word.

* We run to comfort foods when we’re struggling emotionally instead of the Comforter (The Holy Spirit).

* We focus more on our career than God. (This can even happen to ministers when we place our ministries equal to worshiping God. Doing ministry and worshipping God are not synonymous.)

* We focus on satisfying ourselves sexually so much that sometimes we’re willing to hurt others to get what WE want.

* We focus so much on who we are, what we want, or “me time” that we lose sight of God.

* We need to know the latest gossip, whether it’s what’s going on with our neighbors or what’s going on in Hollywood

* The list goes on and on

Whenever we say we don’t have time to pray or read the Bible, but we make time for other things that we enjoy–yep, those things have become our idols: from golf to karaoke, from gourmet cooking to extra hours at the office, from chatting with the girls on the phone to flirting with someone, from watching Netflix to sneaking junk food in the pantry–no matter what it is or how innocent it may seem–if it has taken precedence in your life and you’re neglecting your time with God, then you’re an idol-toting worshiper.

You have no idea how many times conviction has overwhelmed me when I realize I have given a seat at the table of my God to stupid/foolish things. I have found myself, at times, with my face to the ground weeping because the realization occurs that I have exchanged my time with my ever-loving God for garbage–duped once again by the enemy. It’s downright embarrassing to admit.

So, this isn’t judgement toward anyone; because, I struggle too, so I say all of this to get us all to take inventory of where we’ve been spending our time. What have we been idolizing? Because when we are honest with ourselves, there is HOPE. God forgives! And, He washes it all away and lets us start new with Him. He has fresh, new mercy for us every single day.

But here’s the catch, we have to stop denying that these things are idols. We have to recognize the problem before we will take the steps to fix it, and just like the sticker bush, that would so easily entangle and rip us apart, our idols will too, so we have to take an ax to that bush and destroy it before it destroys us. God says to dump the idols and to even keep ourselves from them–avoid the route in which they are on.

We learn to do this by doing what Jesus said: love the Lord our God with all our hearts, all our souls, all our minds, and all our strength, and if we truly do, it will reflect in where we spend our time and our money, so take inventory today, and if you find an idol in your closet, destroy it by confessing it to God, asking Him for forgiveness, and asking Him to teach you how to change. Pick up your Bible DAILY. Read it, and let God speak to your heart. Uproot the idols, and allow God to plant LIFE!

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” ~Jesus
John 10:10 NIV

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