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  • "A Musing Pastor"

Trouble in paradise.

I know trouble when I see it. Do you?

The weekend camping trip to a local state park was fun and we hiked quite a few miles of trails. Not once in the 3-4 days of hiking did we see any venomous snakes or poison ivy.

Yet, there, right off our camping site was this beauty.

While we hiked, we talked of rattlesnakes, copperheads, and even spoke of poison ivy and oak. It never occurred to us to look closer to home to actually find it. As we started our first night campfire and all sat down, this vine caught my attention right away. "Leaves of three, let it be" sprang right off the hemlock tree.

Hmm, I wonder how many families camp in this site and how many children have run past this nemesis? I wonder why the park workers have not inspected each site and removed these vines?

Perhaps the state park views all things of nature to be preserved. I suppose I could see this line of thinking. It might be prudent for the park to then stake a small sign by this vine to warn unsuspecting people from getting near it.

Several times I thought I would get the machete and sever the vine and remove it, instead, I gave it wide berth, warned the rest of my family of its presence, and moved on.

Temptation and sin comes to us in many forms. If one isn't careful, these two can inflict great pain and suffering into lives that God views as precious. Jesus Christ died for our sin and our lives are forever changed when we receive the work Jesus did on our behalf. Yet, each day carries its own pitfalls much like the poison ivy in our campsite.

Recognizing temptation and sin and avoiding them is crucial if our faith journey is to thrive and be fruitful. The best way to move through our faith development is simply keeping eyes on God and His word. Attending to God and resisting temptation and sin drive us forward into a spiritual maturity that goes beyond Satan's hopes for us. In fact, when we fix our eyes on Jesus, the devil flees from us! BOOM!

"Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God

and he will come near to you. (James 4:7-8, NIV)

Avoiding poison ivy eliminates terrible itching and scratching and avoiding sin keeps our hearts refreshed and focused on Jesus.

CAUTION: This site may contain poison ivy. Camp with caution.

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