Roots of Bitterness

See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. ~Hebrews 12:15 (NIV)

Imagine this: so much had been changing with the policies at my job that I considered looking for new employment.  I did not want to become bitter towards an organization that I’d given my adult life towards, so I began to think about when would be a good time to transition.

As I read Hebrews 12:15, it reminded me of the sentiment towards my job, but I was unsure if the roots of bitterness referenced in Hebrews were the same that I was feeling towards my employer.  Using prayer and research, I decided to dig in.

The scenario occurred well over a year ago, but it’s given me plenty of time to spend time in Hebrews and Deuteronomy trying to understand the “roots of bitterness.”

The KJV refers to the root of bitterness springing up and troubling you, which in turn will cause many to be defiled.  Within the NIV, one can see that bitter roots grow and cause trouble.  As you read this verse, it appears that the passage is directed at the entire church of believers rather than just one individual battling bitterness.

The context of the passage becomes even more clear when you consider Hebrew culture, where any poisonous plant was referred to as bitter.  If poison destroys, then the author of the book of Hebrews could arguably be using the metaphor of a bitter root for something that would destroy the church, much like poison would.

Taking this New Testament passage and crossing it to the Old Testament, one sees that in Deuteronomy 29:18, Moses cautions of being vigilant to the growth of bitter roots of poison.  In reviewing the covenant between God and Israel, Moses is referencing the “bitter root” of idolatry.  There are other references in the Old Testament where the concept of a bitter root is mentioned. For instance, in Amos 6:12 the unfaithful are called out as a bitter root.

Much like in nature, a bitter root in a church or individual’s life starts as a tender shoot.

If it’s nurtured and cared for, it begins to grow longer and stronger as the days go by.  The poison of that root begins to gain strength, subsequently becoming more and more dangerous.  The sin of the bitter root in a person’s life or within the church must be dug up, cut off, and not allowed to continue growing.  If it’s allowed to continue, there are catastrophic consequences: the spiral of more sin begotten of other sin or the lack of unification in church membership.  Essentially that bitter root becomes a stronghold for the enemy to mess with our lives.

Within the church, we are all responsible for cutting off the root of bitterness. It’s time to practice grace with one another. It’s time to speak truth to one another. It’s time to hold each other accountable.  It’s time to support one another.  It’s time to stop gossiping.

It’s time to stop nurturing the root of bitterness.

For me and my job challenges, I had to assess if bitterness was going to take root.  If it was, then I had choices to make in order to cut off that root.

During the next week, look at your life and determine if there are shoots that need to be pulled before they begin to take root!

~Emily

Roots of Bitterness copy

 

Hummingbirds

Hummingbirds

By Dawn Green

Sitting here waiting on my sister to come to get me for an appointment, I’m watching bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds going from flower to flower.  One hummingbird is smaller than the others, maybe a younger bird, maybe a different kind of hummingbird.  He doesn’t know he’s different, he just goes about his business.  He or she gathers and gathers and then flies to the crepe myrtle to rest a while.

My mind is kind of like that little bird.  It goes from one thing to another, sometimes I get work accomplished, sometimes flitting around gets me distracted so the desired task doesn’t get completed.  Maybe the difference between me and that tiny bird is he has one goal, food for survival, rest a little, then go gather again.

I wonder, too, as I watch, is that the hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies all feed off the same flowers.  Do they know to leave a little for someone else?  Not like the human characteristic to get it all for me.  Also, do the plants produce more nectar because the little creatures come back day after day. Of course, there are eventually new flowers during the growing season.  But some flowers remain on the bushes for several days.  I’m no botanist, however, it all works, I’m amazed at the complexity of God’s creation.  How these tiny creatures know all that they know.

As cute as they are, they are also fierce fighters among themselves, like tiny fighter jets, attacking each other over the bird feeder.  But it doesn’t seem like they ever mortally wound one another, just warn and scold and fuss at each other.  One little bird has found a place beneath the feeder where he can watch his food source and defend it, perched upon the halo of a garden angel.  Another is camouflaged in a nearby tree, where he is the same size, shape, and color of the leaves. He’ll wait and watch and then dive bomb the watching hummer.

I wouldn’t have gotten the pleasure of watching these amazing creatures if the Father hadn’t sat me down for a while, healing from pacemaker surgery.  The goal here is to heal and rest a while.  I wish it didn’t take something like this to slow me down to see God at work.  My friends and family have been generous and thoughtful to do my gathering for me.  And I’m grateful that the Father also brought these sweet people into my life.  He also helped me be settled and see that he is all around me, walking with me in this growing season.  Not to be too sappy, but can’t we be the sweet nectar in the life of another?  Serving, caring, providing, and protecting, Just as the Lord has done for us and will continue to do.

He promised, “I’ll never leave you or forsake you”.  He’s definitely all around me.

~Dawn

Hummingbird graphics

Raindrop Races

Recently it rained for nine days straight in Alabama and it seemed we were going to float away.  Being from the Pacific Northwest, I grew up with continuous rain and know that it will end eventually.  Nothing of my childhood in the rain prepared me for nine days of rain with an eight-year-old on Christmas break.   We were both going stir-crazy and on each other’s nerves.

While we were driving during this ever-present rain, I was reminded of a game I used to play with my brother when we were younger.  We would each select fat raindrops towards the top of the window and then we would watch as the drops “raced” each other towards the bottom.

In retrospect, it was a good game to keep us quiet and occupied while my parents drove.  It also afforded an opportunity to pause and enjoy the glory of nature.  We loved the joy of inspecting raindrops, which lead to both of us to be mindful and present in nature.

God gives us the gift of nature to know He loves us completely and we can benefit from what nature provides.  In Acts 14:17 (NIV), we see an exact example of his kindness through the provision of rain. In this instance, the gift of rain is specific to the needs of the crops in order to provide food for each of us.

This look at nature should fill us with joy simply because it is tangible proof of God’s love for us.

He will testify about His love.  He has a testimony.  Through the rain, we see that testimony of love for humans being a top priority.

During times when we feel stir-crazy, joy can be found.

That joy may be in something as simple as a raindrop race.

Reflect on how God’s love, through a glimpse at nature, and tell us about the joy God provides.

~Emily

“Yet He has not left Himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons: He provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.” ~Acts 14:17

rain