Saturday, October 16, 2010

Rooting for Success

If you have your Bibles you can open to Galatians 5:22 as we will be reading our key scripture from there this morning. I love funny things, so I have a joke I’d like to share with you today. A man goes to a psychiatrist and tells him that after being on a diet for 2 days he is convinced he is obsessed with food and everything he sees reminds him of food.

Perplexed, the doctor decides to test him and see if he can find the root of the man’s problem, so the doctor draws pictures of random things like a car, tree, house, and beach, then shows them to the man and asks, “What do you see?” Picture after picture, it’s the same thing; food, food, food! The Psychiatrist rubs his head and says “you’re right, you ARE obsessed with food” to which the patient replies, “Well you’re the one drawing all the delicious pictures!” I don’t know how that applies this morning, but I love jokes. Have you found Galatians 5? Let’s read it.

Galatians 5:22-23 But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us; the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (NLT)

I have been studying the Word of God for years and have come to the conclusion that it is true. Even with that, I have struggled with understanding that if God’s word is true, why do many of us Christians live less than victorious lives in our relationships, finances, and health? After going to God, reading, and listening to others a lot smarter than me, I’ve come to the conclusion that we root ourselves in things that don’t feed us Godly principles, and in doing so produce fruit in our lives that is less than what God has for us. If we are going to have successful, victorious lives we are going to have to pay attention to the root of our lives. Here is another way of looking at it.

Two years ago my wife went to the emergency room with horrible pains in her side. We did CT scans, Ultrasounds, blood work, the whole nine yards, but they couldn’t find the problem and guessed it was an URI. After weeks of talking with professionals, friends, and searching through Google we realized she had gallstones. The doctor’s solution was to have surgery and remove the gallbladder. This was scary for us both. So we did what any Christians would do, we prayed for healing. God was doing something in our hearts, but we couldn’t figure out what. All we knew was that we didn’t have a peace about surgery. So I read and studied for weeks on what causes Gallstones, how to remove them, and how to prevent them from forming and returning. When we eat things with fat in them like oil, the body can’t process and use it. Is doesn’t have a real purpose for it, so the liver makes a liquid called bile. That bile is sent to the gallbladder where it is stored until it is needed. When we eat a fatty meal, the gallbladder contracts and releases bile into the small intestines. The bile is a salt and acts as an emulsifier binding a water molecule with an oil molecule together forming a jelly like substance so the body can absorb some of it. This is where we get most of our cholesterol from. So, gallstones form when fat in the liver stays and gets coated with bile like an M&M then passes to the gallbladder, where it stays for years and years hardening. Only about 20% of people, who have gallstones, actually have an attack where one or more of the stones breaks free of the gallbladder and gets stuck in one of the tubes that connect the Liver/Gallbladder/small intestines together. The liver continues to produce bile, but the gallbladder becomes like a balloon and the tube dilates causing horrible pain in the right side, under the ribs and around to the back. Hopefully, the stone will pass, but sometimes it doesn’t and it becomes life threatening. Well, 1/3 of my wife’s GB had stones in it. She was scared, I was scared, but we knew that God had His hand on her. One morning I heard God’s voice that it would be ok, so I began to encourage my wife that she didn’t need surgery, she needed a life change. She changed her diet to zero fat, and began a natural way of flushing the stones out. For the next year, we struggled with GB attacks, doctors, fear, and others all pushing her to have the surgery, but God wouldn’t release us from it. He had something he wanted us/her to learn. I would sit beside the bed and cry out to God all night sometimes as she would lie there, trying to endure the pain of a stone obstruction. God was in it though, and this past April marks the 1st year of her being stone free. You see, God wanted more than just the symptoms addressed. He wanted the problem fixed. The problem was her high fat diet. The gallstones were only a symptom. If she would have had her GB removed, she would have never changed her diet/lifestyle, which would have served her more problems in her future with high blood pressure and things like diabetes and High cholesterol and even heart disease.

If we don’t take the time to look at the root of the problem, we only are ever treating the symptoms only for them to show up in other areas in our lives.

So, I’ve said all of that to say this: We can know where we are rooted, by looking at the fruit. If you don’t have the fruit of love, joy, peace, etc… then you probably are seeing some different fruit like hatred, jealousy, anger, selfish ambition, envy…
How are we going to get rooted in the right place, where our fruits will be those of the spirit? I’m glad you asked. It is simple. First, we have to deal with the root of the current fruits in our lives.

Your Spirit should control your mind, your mind will control your tongue and your tongue will shape your destiny.

Some years ago, my wife and I had our first son, Boaz. Most of you know him as Luke, but that’s story for another time. He was the hardest baby we’d ever seen or even heard of. He would scream and cry for 18 to 20 hours a day. For 6 months of his life it was hell. During this, my poor wife almost went crazy. She couldn’t sleep, eat or even have a bath without a constant fear or reality of him screaming. If he was asleep, the whole house shut down. No one in or out, no talking, no TV, no playing, the phones were turned off. It was horrible. He was horrible. But my wife heard a story from my grandmother about my dad who was born addicted to valium and would scream until he passed out and how she never said anything but good things about him, and would tell him he was a good boy. Well, this changed the way TK thought and spoke about Luke. And do you know what, things changed! Today, ask anybody about our son Luke and they will tell you, he is a great boy. Sweat and soft spoken. He gets that from me of course.
You see, your tongue has the power to change things. One of my life’s confessions is Romans 8:39, “I cannot be conquered, I cannot be defeated”. The Bible says you will have whatever you confess. In the beginning was the Word. Jesus was, is, and will always be the Word of God. The Word rewrote destiny for us. We were heading for destruction and now we are bound for glory. Your words whether good or bad will show where you are rooted and will shape the fruit of your life. From salvation to promotions, from relationships to healing, life and death are in the power of the tongue. If we are going to be able to control what we say, we will have to go back to the source, our will to let our spirit have control of our thoughts, words, and actions. How can we strengthen our spirit man?


If you will do this, your spirit will grow stronger and stronger, your flesh will grow weaker, your thoughts will change, what you say will conform to the word you will be rooted in Christ.
So how does one know if they are rooted in Christ? What are you thinking, feeling and saying? Look at the fruit of your life.
We have to deal with the root first. Pruning the fruit is not enough. What happens to a tree that is pruned? It grows back with new branches, but the same old fruit. The same thing is true in our lives. If someone has a problem with anger and it shows up in their marriage, often times they end up getting a divorce, but just because they’ve stopped being mean to their spouse, they have not dealt with the root.

1. Identify the Root
Look at your Fruit to know your Root. What are the things in my life that don’t line up with the word of God? Why? It almost always comes down to one thing, selfishness. Pride, greed, jealousy, rage, bitterness are all fruits of the flesh which exposes the root of selfishness in one’s life. The root of the problem most of the time is not your boss, coworker, friend, enemy, or spouse… the root is often times you. No one can make you feel something. You always choose how you feel. If someone punched you in the face, what would you feel? It’s your choice! What did Jesus feel on the cross as he looked at those who mocked and beat Him? I think the words were “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

2. Sever the Root
Deal with the root first using the sword of the spirit. The Word of God will cut through the roots of selfishness. The great thing about it is you can start anywhere in the Bible and the Word will begin to cut on the root of your life causing a softening of the heart and an openness to change.

3. Prune the Fruit
Start dealing with the issues where the fruit is showing itself. Being angry at your spouse, being impatient with your children, or being bitter with your job are all fruits of being rooted in the flesh.

• It’s not what you go through, but how you go through it
So often we focus on the problem instead of the solution. God wants you to have peace, joy and hope even during the hardest times of our lives. We can do this by getting close to God through prayer and reading His word. There have been many times in my life that I could have been upset or angry with the things that were happening.
Once, Traci and I were coming back from my parent’s house with the kids for a family night. As we almost got home I ran over a bolt which sank deep into my tire. I knew if I didn’t get it fixed that night, I would have much more trouble in the morning. I dropped the family off and told Traci not to be upset because what was a surprise to us was a plan to God. I drove off and prayed, telling God I was ready and willing for whatever He wanted done. I called several places, but all were closed. I tried Sears and they were opened for 40 more minutes. I barely made it with the flattening tire. I talked with a pleasant woman in her 50s at the auto shop and they would be able to patch it. I decided to go look at TVs because we were in the market for a new one. I milled around there for a few minutes, but felt compelled to go back to the auto department. As I began to talk with this woman, I quickly realized why I was there. She started opening up to me about her children and their lives. She told me about her two sons and their daughter and how they were raised in a Christian home, taught right, and about what they were doing now. When she got to her youngest son, her demeanor changed. She said he was her favorite kid. He was smart and funny. Had been in the Air Force, lived around the world and had had a good life. She was talking about him as though he was dead. She continued by saying he’d gotten a girlfriend who was also in the Air Force. The girlfriend had a 6 year old daughter to whom he had become a father. The girlfriend had gotten a remote assignment to Guam and need someone to take her daughter, so this young man, being engaged to the girlfriend, took her in and was a great parent to this little for a year. When the girlfriend returned from duty, she had found another man while gone broke off the engagement, took her daughter back and left. This hurt this lady’s son very badly. He got out of the military and moved to Florida. He found another and got married, starting life over. The girlfriend started calling him trying to get back together, but he wouldn’t have anything to do with her. She became angry and decided if she couldn’t have him no one would. She called the police and told them some very horrible and untrue things about what he did to her daughter while she was gone to Guam. So they arrested him, brought him back to Mississippi, and tried him. He didn’t have any money for a lawyer, and the state appointed one was great friends with the DA who wanted to be elected and needed some good wins for publicity. His lawyer, in spite of the lack of evidence and witnesses, from teachers to commanders, got him to plead guilty for a lesser sentence. You see, he was black and the attorney convinced him he didn’t stand a chance of winning being Mississippi and being black. He got 50 years and his wife left him.
Now God had me there for a reason. It wasn’t to make a judgment either way, or to say how sad. I was there because God wanted to minister to this mother’s broken heart, which He did. She hadn’t seen her son since the trial five years ago and has been praying for him every day since.
This all started with a bolt in my tire and a feeling that this may not be about me. How often times do we make life about us. I could have fussed and complained, not done anything about it, or something worse, not had a smile on my face and the love of Jesus went I met this woman. If I’d been rooted in selfishness, I would have not been able to minster to this mother who disparately needed to know that God heard her cry and loved her.
How many people today would say, I see some of the fruits in my life and I’m not happy with them? Here is your chance to change them. God is going to sever some roots of the flesh today. Who would like to be transplanted spiritually and begin developing the fruits of the spirit? It’s easy. You just have to ask. Bow your heads and agree with me as I pray over you.