Demise of a Rosebush

Some time ago, I had a rosebush in the flower garden outside of my living room window.  This rosebush had long branches, like tentacles of an octopus, reaching out and jagging whomever walked by and required constant care and upkeep to keep it under control.  On several occasions, I neglected to give the bush the proper care that it needed. The branches would sometimes spread out 6-10 feet, completely invading the flower garden.  The bush demanded weekly, if not daily care to maintain its beauty.  Caring for the bush was an arduous task, but when it was in full bloom, it was a spectacular sight.  Hundreds of pale pink, fluffy, velvety roses dripped from the branches of the bush.

Weeding around the bush was quite a chore.  Pulling weeds that grew amongst the rosebush was painstaking because of the inch long thorns that jagged me with every yank.  And I REALLY do not like weeding.  I’ll take any other yardwork (mowing, digging, raking, cutting down stuff with a chainsaw, you name it), but weeding.  So, when I get around to it, I do it as quickly as possible and probably not as thoroughly as I should.  But alas, weeding is vital to the health of the flower garden. If weeds are left to grow, they will literally choke the life out of other plants.  Weeding is a necessary evil.

On one particular day, I went outside to do a check up on my flowers.  A week or two had gone by since I had weeded and my once-blooming flower garden was looking ragged and forlorn.  I began weeding and weeding and weeding…and weeding.  When I finally reached the rosebush, my hands were sore, my back was killing me and the sun was scorching a hole through my shirt.  I noticed there was a rather large weed growing right up the center of the bush.  Reluctantly and carefully, I reached my hand in to pull the weed out.  I gave it a pull, oh so carefully, so as not to get punctured by the bush’s daggers.  It would not budge.  Rather than risking the skin on my hand and arm, I just left it.  I was tired of weeding and couldn’t tolerate any more that day.  Enough was enough!

More weeks went by.  The rosebush had grown out of control and the weed in the center had grown larger. I gave it a yank using both hands this time, really putting my back into it.  Fail.  I could not get it out, no matter how hard I pulled, no matter how much I twisted it, no matter what angle I came at it from.  Once again, I abandoned my efforts.  Susie-0, monstrous weed-2.  Complete defeat.

Autumn came, the roses stopped blooming.  I cut the bush back like you’re supposed to do each fall.  I cut the weed back too.  By this point, it was no longer a weed, but more like a sapling.  I wish I had caught it sooner!  I just left it there, growing among my beautiful rosebush.  “Maybe it will die during winter,” I thought to myself.

Spring arrived.  It took me several weeks to attend to my garden.  When I finally got to it, the weed that had been a sapling was now 10 feet tall and had a bona fide trunk.  A tree was now growing straight up from my rosebush!  How on earth could this happen?  I waved the white flag.

I figured it was time to call in the big guns, aka the hubby.  He tried extracting the “tree” from my bush with a shovel and saw.  He could not.  Being a man, he decided the best course of action was to bring in a piece of heavy equipment.  More power, right?  Argh, argh, argh.  He pulled the John Deere tractor up to the bush, wrapped a chain (!) around the trunk of that overgrown weed and pulled.  And do you know what happened?  Not only did the weed come out, but so did my rosebush.  The roots of the weed had become entwined with the roots of the rosebush.  When he pulled the weed, the rosebush came out too!  My beautiful rosebush was destroyed!  All that was left was a gaping hole in the ground and a very tiny remnant of the root.

If I had only been more diligent about consistently weeding my garden, this would not have happened.  But because I was lazy, because weeding is hard, because weeding is not fun, because I had better things to do with my time, my rosebush was nearly completely destroyed.

The human heart (soul) is like that rosebush.  It is wild and untamed in its natural state.  But it flourishes and blooms when it is daily watered, fed and weeded.

What is water to our soul?  The spirit of God.  It is like rivers of living water.

How do we feed our hearts?  By putting good things into our minds and hiding the Word of God in our hearts. And through praise and worship.

How do we weed our hearts, clean out the soil of our soul?  By asking God to reveal the weeds to us and remove them from our hearts.  We can ask God to search our hearts and our souls.

Weeds growing in the heart can be things like bitterness, hatred, regret, envy, or anger.  If we do not remove these unwelcome assassins when they are small, they will take root in our hearts.  Once they take root, they are difficult to remove.  And once they take root and began to grow, extracting them will be equivalent to spiritual open-heart surgery.  Weeds must be removed or complete destruction WILL occur.

Guard your heart.  Don’t be easily offended.  Forgive others when they wrong you.  Let things go.  Be grateful for the things or the life YOU have.  Stop looking in the past and wishing you could go back and change things.  Don’t harbor ill feelings towards other people.  Give people the benefit of the doubt.  Call in reinforcements (pastor, friend, counselor) if you need help clearing the weeds.

The heart that God has placed in you is precious.  Give it daily love and attention.  You have a choice.  Encourage your rosebush to grow and flourish or allow the weeds to take over and choke the life out of you.

The weeds in my heart almost choked the life out of me.  Regret, bitterness, anger, shame, and hatred are just a few of the weeds that tried to cause destruction to my soul.  But through God’s mercy and grace, I was not consumed by them.  The process of extraction was painful, tedious and a WHOLE lot of work.  I now water, feed and weed my soul daily.

Daily diligence wards off devastating destruction.


Psalm 51:10

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

Got Purity?

During the ladies retreat this past weekend, God spoke to me about some things inside me that I need to address before He leads me to the next step in His calling for my life. One of these things was purity. Today, I began digging into what this could possibly mean for me and how to apply it to my heart. Who knew that I needed work in this area??? Not me! I mean, like, what? I’m pure! In fact, I have prayed Psalm 51 since I was a teenager. ”Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” I guess I prayed this prayer and never really thought about what having a pure heart means. Thus, began the research…because that’s what I do when I don’t “get” it! I was so intrigued by what I discovered that I felt the need to share it! I hope you can appreciate what I’ve uncovered about purity, also. We hear the word “purity” and think about sexual purity. There is SO much more to it than just the sex issue. The Bible places great value on objects, sacrifices, hearts and motives being “pure.” Go to and type the keyword “pure” or “purity” and see what comes up…pages and pages of references about pure gold, pure hearts, pure sacrifices, etc.

Purity defined: 

  1.  The quality or condition of being pure: not mixed with anything else: clean and not harmful in any way.
  2. A quantitative assessment of homogeneity or uniformity.
  3. Freedom from sin or guilt; innocence; chastity
  4. The absence in speech or writing of slang or other elements deemed inappropriate.
  5. The degree to which a color is free from being mixed with other colors.

1.   It’s time to confess ours sins and let God clean our hearts out. Sin and Jesus don’t mix!

I John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Psalm 40 “I waited patiently for the Lord; And He inclined to me, And heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, Out of the miry clay, And set my feet upon a rock, And established my steps. He has put a new song in my mouth—Praise to our God; Many will see it and fear, And will trust in the Lord.

How exciting is this? When people see the change in us, they will believe and trust in God also!  

2.  There is a conflict that goes on continually between our spirit and flesh.  Our bodies are the temples (houses) of God.

Mark 3:25 “And if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.”

We want our spirit and our flesh to be working together, in sync, right? How can this be accomplished?

Matthew 26:41 “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Galatians 5:16 “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.

Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

3.  In addition to being free from sin, this definition also states that purity means “freedom from guilt.” Allow God to not only forgive you of your sins, but forgive yourself. Let the guilt and shame from your past go! Condemnation is from the father of lies, the deceiver, Satan!

Romans 8:1 “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,”

Not convinced? Read Psalm 103  Wow! I love this passage!

4.  Oh no, here we go…my mouth is getting me in trouble AGAIN! The Bible says,

Proverbs 15:26 “The Lord detests the thoughts of the wicked, but gracious words are pure in his sight.”

Philippians 2:14-16 addresses some other things that may come out of our mouths…

14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.”[c] Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.

And of course, how about gossip? Keep my tongue from evil and my lips from speaking guile, Lord!

5.  Again, we can’t be mixing the world and sin with Jesus! Sin makes our hearts black!

2 Corinthians 6:17 “Therefore “Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you.”

What are we watching on TV? What movies are we going to see? What are we reading/watching/looking at on the internet? Are they turning our hearts black?

And how about our motives? Why do we do the things we do? Is it for selfish reasons? Am I looking for approval, admiration? Is it out of guilt or obligation, out of fear? These are all impure motives. My motive should be to walk humbly with my God and be His hands and feet on this Earth.

Proverbs 16:2 “All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord.”

Search my heart, search my soul. There’s nothing else that I want more.

Matthew 5:8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”

In John chapter 12, we see a beautiful example of pureness of heart toward our Lord. The setting is a dinner in Jesus’ honor in the town of Bethany where His good friend, Lazarus, Mary and Martha lived. Martha was Miss Busy Beaver, cleaning, cooking and bossing everyone around. She had volunteered to have this dinner, what a great idea! She volunteered to do this and do that. She was capable and available, so why not? She was so stressed out about making sure the details of the day went on without a hitch. Sound familiar? Meanwhile, Mary is sitting at the feet of Jesus, soaking in each word He spoke and not caring one bit about the dinner party Martha was trying to pull off. She didn’t care about how clean the carpet was or if the napkins, plates and serving platters all coordinated. And she certainly was not concerned about timing the turkey and the potatoes to be done at the same time so that dinner would be hot simultaneously. She wasn’t stressed about the seating chart or if someone brought along an extra guest. None of this was on Mary’s mind. What she WAS concerned about was soaking up every word the Master spoke and enjoying every second she had with Him. She recognized and appreciated her close relationship with Jesus and desired only to be in His presence. Mary even went as far as anointing His feet with her most precious possession, a box of the purest, most expensive perfume, most fragrant ointment there was in those days (GASP!). She extravagantly poured it out onto Him, gave Him her everything. She was ridiculed, made fun of for this “wasteful” act. Judas was one who spoke up against her. Jesus told them to leave her alone and that He was pleased with Mary’s actions. She didn’t care what Martha said or Judas or anyone else in the room. Jesus was her only focus and priority in that moment.

I want to have a heart like Mary, a heart that is pure and poured out to my Jesus. I don’t want to be like Martha, who is so busy DOING that she doesn’t recognize the importance of just BEING in the presence of Jesus. I don’t want to be like Judas who thinks only about material and worldly things. I want my perspective and motives to be pure for God. I want to express my love and appreciation to the One who died for me by offering and pouring out my pure heart to Him. I want the Lord to look at me and say, “This is a good thing you are doing.” Just like He did to Mary. The cost for a pure heart is high. It means giving up a lot of things that I’ve been holding on to (hurts, betrayals, bad attitudes, wrong motives, etc.). It means saying “No” to stuff that I don’t need to be doing. It means putting aside time to spend with my Lord instead of filling my time with stuff like watching TV or other time wasters. It means watching my mouth, thinking before I speak, asking the Lord to “let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart to be acceptable to Him.” It’s a pricey act, but I have come to the place in my life that I am deciding it is worth it. It’s time to move on, get rid of the junk and be about my Father’s business. Amen?

How to get a pure heart and keep it:

Confess your sins, receive forgiveness.

Walk in the Spirit, so the flesh doesn’t take over! For more on walking in the Spirit, see Galatians 5

Let go of the guilt and condemnation from the past. God doesn’t remember those things, why do you keep bringing them up?

Get your thought life under control! Think on good things. Get rid of stinkin’ thinkin’!

Watch your mouth! Are you speaking things that will grace the ears of the hearers? Are you talking just to talk? If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all!

Be separate from the world, from their sin and bad influences. Be in the world, but not of the world.

Ask God to search your heart and see if there is anything in there that He doesn’t find clean and pure.

Desire to BE in His presence, not just DOING for Him. Relationship with God is a heart thing.

Then, break open the box of your most prized possession, your heart, yourself to Him.

Allow Him to consume you with His love and do an awesome work in your life.