Saturday, November 29, 2008

Bitter Roots


Several years ago, there was a shrub growing too close to my front door steps. It was an ugly shrub and it had to go. So, I got my shovel and began to dig the shrub out. The shrub had been there so long that the roots had become very deep and strong. I tugged and dug, but I could not get that root out...

I was thinking about this after my morning devotional today. While reading my Bible, the words "root of bitterness" came to my mind and would not leave. I know when I am hearing from God, so I immediately began to look up scripture to see what the Word of God says about bitter roots and bitterness in general.

"Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; …" Hebrews 12:14-15

I searched the word "bitter" in my favorite online Bible - I see that several scriptures refer to bitterness as a curse. I see that Job knew bitterness well. Esau was bitter. The Israelites were bitter. There will be bitterness in the end days. And….there is all that bitterness in between.
Our lives can be spent in bitterness…

In complaining…. As did Job…

"Therefore I will not restrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit; I will complain in the bitterness of my soul. Job 7:11

"My soul loathes my life; I will give free course to my complaint, I will speak in the bitterness of my soul. Job 10:1

We may question God:

"Why is light given to him who is in misery, And life to the bitter of soul, Job 3:20

We may blame God:

"As God lives, who has taken away my justice, And the Almighty, who has made my soul bitter, Job 27:2

You may have noticed the reference to our soul in these scriptures. That is because your soul is separate from your spirit. Your soul is your mind, your will and your emotions. Clearly these are attributes in the physical. Your spirit comes from God and will return to God. (Remember your Creator before the silver cord is loosed, or the golden bowl is broken, or the pitcher shattered at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the well. Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it. Ecclesiastes 12:6-7) I clarify this because some people use the terms "soul" and "spirit" interchangeably. This is not so. Bitterness is an emotion, therefore, it would be soulish behavior.

Bitterness can lead to depression:

"Even today my complaint is bitter; my hand is listless because of my groaning. Job 23:2

We can die with our bitterness intact:

Another man dies in the bitterness of his soul, Never having eaten with pleasure. Job 21:25

Yet, the Lord will still contend with you...

So the Spirit lifted me up and took me away, and I went in bitterness, in the heat of my spirit; but the hand of the LORD was strong upon me. Ezekiel 3:14

Envy is bitterness:

But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. James 3:14

Bitterness makes your words bitter:

Hide me from the secret plots of the wicked, From the rebellion of the workers of iniquity, Who sharpen their tongue like a sword, And bend their bows to shoot their arrows--bitter words, Psalm 64:2-3

But in the end she is bitter as wormwood, Sharp as a two-edged sword. Proverbs 5:4

Bitterness will lead to loneliness - the truth is that people will avoid bitter people…

The heart knows its own bitterness, And a stranger does not share its joy. Proverbs 14:10

I also started thinking about how roots become bitter. A potato is a root vegetable. When harvested at the right time, a potato is light skinned and full of moisture. If neglected long in the ground…or even if left in your kitchen too long, the potato will develop a thick, dark skin. It will be harder and the taste will lean towards bitter. Worst yet….if it begins to sprout, it becomes even more bitter. The carrot is another example. The carrot is a sweet root that will grow bitter if neglected long.

Neglect not your spirit, lest a root of bitterness begins growing in your soul.

So…back to the shrub with the stubborn root…I decided I needed some leverage, so I went to the tool shed and retrieved a pick axe. I wedged one end under the root and shoved with all my might. It would not budge. So, thinking I could make it work, I started jumping on the other end of the pick axe. It broke that hard root and flipped the pointed end into my leg. Oh yeah…that was nasty and required a trip to the emergency room. I still have a scar some 30 years later to remind me that there most surely must have been a better way to remove that root. People can get hurt from strong roots.

I did not have to think long about why the Lord wants me to focus on roots of bitterness. Recent events have caused me to feel some bitterness and rejection and put a general "stink" in my spirit. Today, NOW, I reject those thoughts and feelings. I reject the root of bitterness.

Like that shrub root, I may not be able to get the entire root out at one time, but I know that, with God's help, I can bury the root and watch for shoots coming off the root. Then, the same as I did with the shrub root, I will destroy those shoots before they grow strong. Eventually, the root will die…

After this study, I whispered to the Lord…."I already knew this, Lord. Have I not seen firsthand the devastation left in the wake of bitterness?" He whispered back to me… "Yes, my child, but you needed reminding."

Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. Ephesians 4:3

Friday, November 21, 2008

Soul Ties

Soul Ties

An old woman sits in a travel trailer nestled in a stand of pine trees, a guard against thieves. The cold November wind whistles through the stand of pines. She is there because of soul ties...

Her daughters begged her to come home to her nice, warm home in the south, but she dug in her heels and refused to be budged. Her daughters loved her more than the land. Her daughters were not loved more than the land. The daughters have known this for a very long time. Hearts are broken when love of possessions exceeds the love of family.

Last winter, thieves broke into the old family homestead. The drafty old farm house and the property have been in her family for more than 200 years. The house contains her "treasures". She is the guard. She is determined that she will prevent further loss. Then there was fire… Fire has no regard for life or possessions. The losers are her family.

We learn from the Book of Ecclesiastes that life is all vanity…

As he came from his mother's womb, naked shall he return, to go as he came; And he shall take nothing from his labor which he may carry away in his hand. And this also is a severe evil – just exactly as he came, so shall he go. And what profit has he who has labored for the wind? All his days he also eats in darkness, and he has much sorrow and sickness and anger. Ecclesiastes 5:15-17

Soul ties….those things we hang on to, those things we treasure, those things that master over all others……They are JUST THINGS…

Soul ties are not always bad. I have a soul tie to my Bible. My Bible is worn. Pages have fallen out. Most pages are scribbled with notes. I bought a new Bible in 2004. I tried to use it. I put it back in its box – brand new like the day I bought it. I thought maybe it was because it was NIV and my old Bible is NKJV. The many notes in my old Bible have become a distraction from the Words of God. Last year, I bought a new NKJV Bible from the same publisher – Nelson. I thought that would work. I have used it only a little more than my NIV. It sits here – practically new – unused as I caress the pages of my old worn out Bible and try to ignore the scribbles. I don't think this is a bad soul tie. I certainly would not allow myself to lose my life over it. If my house were on fire and if I could grab it as I go, I would take it. I would not risk my life for it. I do not love it more than family. There is the difference…..

I am no different from other people who have tokens of remembrance from loved ones both here and gone. They do not rule my life. In an emergency, I would grab my Bible before exiting my home. I would not bother with the THINGS. I know myself…I know this…

The old farm house still stands straight and tall. The foundation is shifting again. It needs more repairs. It has become a soul tie for other family members – I know not why. It drew the life out of their Mother/Grandmother. The danger is there. The evil is there. The property survives to claim another generation who will work and toil for it…for what? It is a money pit and it will consume all who value it more than life…more than family. It is a THING. It has no value except as a soul tie that consumes. It divides…it destroys.

A burned shell of a travel trailer sits behind the house in the stand of pine trees. It is a reminder of the terrible cost of soul ties.

Jesus spoke of soul ties in Luke 12:13-34. I hope each reader will read this portion of God's Word as it is long to add here. I will, however, quote a portion…

Then one from the crowd said to Him, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me." But He said to him, "Man, who made Me a judge or an arbitrator over you?" And He said to them, "Take heed and beware of covetousness for one's life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses." Luke 12:13-15

Jesus followed with a parable of a rich man, then instruction to His disciples about simplicity of trusting God over soul ties, culminating in the following verses…

Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell what you have and give alms; provide yourselves money bags which do not grow old, a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches nor moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Luke 12:32-34

In Matthew 6:19-21, Jesus instructs us to put God first. He said "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

Soul ties shattered a family, and then divided a family. Soul ties bind us to the world. To loosen those ties and let them go is freedom. Can you not see?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Mom's Eulogy


When I think about Mom, I think about her strength. In her 80 years, she saw so much change in the world. She knew love and she saw peace and she saw war. She saw a world that went from simple, mostly homemade, necessities to a world of technology. She shared both worlds with us.

She made toys for us – a doll cradle out of an oatmeal box, a big button and a string made a fascinating whirling toy, or just a string gave hours of fun as we played cats in the cradle. I am glad to have such good memories. Mom was a homemaker, loving and nurturing. Our childhood was the best anyone could want.

For my first birthday, Mom made a doll out of an old pair of Dad’s black socks. I still have that old doll. She is 60 now. Her name is Mandi and she sits on my dresser. She was nearly loved to pieces and she has some holes, but I keep her and always will because when I look at that doll, I don’t see a doll… I see love. I see how my Mother loved her baby enough to make my first doll out of what could be found in our old farmhouse. I have often imagined her hand stitching the doll in anticipation of the surprise for her baby girl’s birthday. I’m told it was love at first sight – Mandi and I. Mom gave me so much more than an old sock doll. She gave me a lifelong reminder of a Mother’s love.

I’m not special, nor did Mom have a favorite child. She was careful to treat my sisters and I equal. My sisters have their special memories too. This one is mine.

We grew up in a time when money was scarce but Mom was thrifty and budgeted well. She made a lot of our clothes. She baked cakes, pies, cookies – even bread. We did not know lack. We had a rich childhood.

When tragedy strikes a family, often we ask God why. We don’t understand why Mom had to leave us the way she did. We are wounded by the harshness.

I find my comfort in the promises I find in my Bible – I am comforted by the Book of Ecclesiastes. God’s Word tells us that there is a time for everything under the sun.

To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; A time to plant and a time to pluck what is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; A time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; A time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones; A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to gain and a time to lose; A time to keep, and a time to throw away; A time to tear, and a time to sew; A time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love and a time to hate; A time of war and a time of peace. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

November 11, 2008 was Mom’s appointed time.

God’s word also tells me that God gave her life and that her spirit has returned to God:

Remember your Creator before the silver cord is loosed, or the golden bowl is broken, or the pitcher shattered at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the well. Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it. Ecclesiastes 12:6-7

We know Mom has returned to God. We know her last days were spent where she wanted to be and that she was happiest when she was at the farm.

Mom lived close to 81 years. She had a full life. Her life was not cut short – she had a full measure and now she is back home with God.

We have the comfort of knowing that we will see Mom again, according to the scripture found in
I Thessalonians 4:13-18:
“But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.”

When the trumpet blows and Jesus returns for us, Mom and all of our loved ones who have gone before will be resurrected first and we will meet them in the clouds. What a glorious day we have to look forward to!

Jesus said “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” John 14:1-3

So, for now we say goodbye to Mom for a season but we have the assurance that we will see her again one bright day. Then we will be with Jesus forever more.

I love you Mom… I’ll see you soon.

Grace Kirk Watrous

1/7/28 - 11/11/08

I wrote this and read it at Mom's graveside service on 11/14/08. At the service were former high school classmates of my Mother (Class of 1946). I thought that was pretty special that they came to the service because it was a cold, windy day. One of Mom's friends gave me a couple of old snapshots from the '50's. The images were small and hard to see. I scanned into my computer, enlarged and was delighted to find the following picture of my Mom...

I love this picture.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

I Didn't Vote for Obama Either...

I was reading a blog written by HerSoul today. Excellent blog... It really got me to thinking.

The Lord has done quite a work in me since the election. I was compelled to comment on HerSoul's blog, then the Holy Spirit convicted me to share the comment in a blog of my own. So, as obedient as I can be, I am posting the comment here:

Hi, Tonja,

I am a new reader to your blogs and am so glad I found you. I did not vote for Obama either. I woke up Nov 5th feeling a deep grief. Not because my candidate did not win, but for the unborn children. I was so grieved that I went to God's Word and stayed there for about 3 hours.

Here's what the Lord gave me: First I went to Romans 13 to remind myself of my Christian responsibility towards our government/leaders. Much time in Revelations reminded me that though the Lord's coming is eminent, it is not immediate. And then I Thessalonians 4:9-12 reminded me that while we wait for the coming of our Lord, we must love each other, lead a quiet life, mind our own business and work. We are to be a living witness to the lost.

Refreshed and renewed by God's Word, I began to pray for Obama. I will not stop praying for him. Since I have been praying, I am seeing him in a different light. With all the campaign boloney over, I see a different man and you know what? I think I like him. I know I am 'in love' with his beautiful daughters! (May God bless and protect them!!!)

So, I pray every day for God to soften Obama's heart regarding the unborn children and to give him wisdom to do his job as president of our nation. I pray for protection for him and his family.

So, while I felt like our Christian nation had ended on 11/5, by the afternoon of 11/5, I had peace in my spirit once again and the assurance from the Lord that all is as HE WILLS. I CHOOSE to believe that Obama will be a good president. I CHOOSE to believe that his office is by divine appointment. I CHOOSE to believe that Obama wants the best for our nation. I CHOOSE to believe that racial healing will soon be complete. I CHOOSE to believe that GOD WILL convict Obama's heart to the point that he supports protection of the unborn innocents.


Glad to meet you, Sister! May God bless you wonderfully!!!


In addition to the scripture used in the comment, I would also encourage you to read, meditate and pray upon the following scriptures:

Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men--as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king. Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh. For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. (I Peter 2:13-19)

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)

I am also reminded of a portion of scripture in the Book of Matthew, Chapter 22. In this chapter, the Pharisees continued to try to entangle Jesus in His talk, so they questioned Jesus about if it was lawful to pay taxes...which was their sneaky way of asking if man made laws should be followed. Jesus said:

"Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." (Matthew 22:21)

For those of you who may be struggling in your own spirit about the results of the election, I pray you will find the same PEACE in your spirit that I have found in mine.