We've had crazy weather patterns in most of the United States this year. In our part of the country, we have had a lot of rain. We began cutting grass earlier this spring than in most of the previous years. Between all the rain and mower problems, the grass got away from me.

One morning I noticed a little thistle growing at the end of my front porch. Since they have stickers on them, I couldn't pull it out by hand, so I made a mental note to catch it with the weed whacker. As spring progressed, I did well to get the grass cut between raindrops, and never quite got to the trim work.

By the time I was able to get back to it, the little thistle had grown into a strong thorn bush. The stalk was too thick for the weed whacker to take down. Even worse, the roots had grown deep UNDER the porch! Now it required major excavation. Donning thick gloves, I had to literally take matters in hand. At first, I broke off as much as I could, to get a closer hold toward the bottom of the stalk. I pulled and tugged, and even invoked prayer ("Come out in the Name of JESUS")!

Finally it gave way, and I was relieved to see the roots weren't as deep as I had thought.

My neighbor had a thorn bush growing along the road, but it was easily whacked off with the mower… however, the roots remained to come up another day.

As I have said in previous articles, nature gives us great object lessons. Seeing these thorn bushes caused me to do some introspection. Seeing our neighbor's thorns is a lot easier than seeing our own. There are different kinds of thorn bushes in people's lives, and one common type mentioned in the Bible is called Bitterness. This one has roots, and if left in place, can spring up and thereby defile many (Hebrews 12:15).

So much happens in the course of one's life, and we need to check our heart-gardens every so often and weed out the thistles, before they develop into thorn bushes. This year, so many things have happened in my own life that has caused me to do some soul purging. I discovered that I had several thistles and a thorn bush or two.

Until we have conflicts, we may not be aware of our attitudes toward others. Our personal families, close friends, and even our church families have the ability to "push our buttons," as my daughter says. It is true that people will knock us down, but that can only happen until we spiritually rise above their ability to hurt us. If we are not able to turn things over to Christ, minimize and rise above offenses, these thistles will grow into a bitterness thorn bush. Then we spread this attitude to others thereby defiling their hearts, as well.

Jealousy is another thistle, which stems from pride, and usually turns into a bitterness bush. It afflicts families and even ministries. Sibling rivalry can start out as a "Mom always liked you best" feeling, and we are seemingly passed over in favor of the other one. My sisters used to send our only brother to ask Mom for whatever they all wanted to do, because they felt he had a better chance of getting permission, lol! That was a cute childhood ploy, and most of the time it worked… but it did not develop into jealousy, even though the potential was there.

In many church families, as in every "people arena" in life, the same types of personal relationships occur after a certain length of time. Everyone knows who the Pastor's Pets are (much like teacher's pets), and asks them to approach Pastor for permission to do whatever. A lot of the time this is not really true, as in the case of Peter thinking John was Jesus' favorite disciple… but we can still feel jealousy.

In any human relationship, there is certainly potential for jealousy and bitterness, which taken to the farthest extreme, can lead to the example in Genesis 4 where Cain killed his brother Abel… murder is a really huge thorn bush!

Many Christians would never think of confronting their offender, lest it would seem "an unchristian thing to do." They would just swallow the hurt, internalize the pain, and get bitter over accumulated offenses. However, done in a godly manner, confrontation is usually the best way to go in most cases. Of course there are exceptions, depending upon the mental or physical health, age, and spiritual maturity of the parties involved.

There is not much we can do concerning the personalities of others, except try to understand them and to pray for wisdom and grace for ourselves. Several years ago, Dr. Kevin Leman wrote a book entitled "The Birth Order Book" which gives great insight as to why people act the way they do. It seems the placement in a family via birth, does much to determine our personalities.

People can change even against predetermining factors, and genetics, if the Holy Spirit can have His way in our lives. God is the ultimate power in us, IF we allow Him to be. Prayer changes things, even our own hearts!

When I began my soul's "spring cleaning" this year, I had been aware that I had some thistles, as in the analogy of the one under the porch. It had been left unattended and turned into a thorn bush, after not only a church crisis but also a longstanding family situation, which later peaked.

Isn't it funny how everything happens at the same time?! Well, God knows what He is doing. He takes those things which are meant for evil and turns them toward our good. I had reached critical mass with this bitterness bush in my soul. I called a fellow pastor and valued prayer partner, and had her pray for and with me. Like that thorn bush by the porch, the roots weren't as deep as I thought, and the deliverance didn't take as long as I anticipated.

The devil is a slave to his own nature and doesn't like losing, so naturally, he brought past hurts and conversations to mind. I would then have to demand him to leave my thinking, in Jesus Name. It only took about a week before this "exorcism" was complete, and I have been free since then. Certainly, things may pop up daily, like the occasional thistle which must be plucked out immediately, but the battle was won for me on the cross of Jesus. I am free of those painful thorns, for whom Christ has set free, is free INDEED (John 8:36)!

If you see a thorn bush in your soul, get a Spirit-filled believer to pray with you, and cast that thing out before it chokes you as well as those around you. If anyone senses a prickly thistle in your heart, get rid of it now, before it gets a stronghold. (Jesus pulls them down TOO: 2 Cor. 10:4)!

If you need any help or have any questions or comments, please write me at:


God Bless You All,
Pastor Moser
August, 2008

W. O. W.
Bitterness consumes its own container.