Friday, April 18, 2008


"Bitter" is a word recently in the news. "Bitter" is a word I've been contemplating over the last several weeks.

"Bitter" - it's a word, but it also describes a condition of life. Bitter is a choice!

"Bitter" is on the news recently. If Barak Obama could "rewind," I wonder if he would chose another word to describe his perception of some Americans.

What is bitter? Bitter is that taste that turns one's mouth inside out like eating a persimmon before the first frost.

Bitter is collecting offenses - real or imagined - and clutching onto them with a life-and-death grip.

Bitterness is the condition that results. Bitterness has a nasty root that reaches its tentacles deep into our hearts twisting here and there in its death grip. Bitterness squeezes out life and joy - totally ringing our hearts dry.

The Bible has a lot to say about bitterness, what causes it and what to do about it. Peter describes Simon the wizard as "full of bitterness and captive to sin." (Acts 8:23) The writer of Hebrews talks about bitterness: "See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble ... " (Heb. 12:15)

It seems Hebrews is saying that when we miss the grace of God, we put outselves in grave danger of having bitterness start to root and grow in our hearts. Bitterness in the heart may be hidden for a time, but eventually it oozes out in our faces and in our actions. The calamity is that hanging on to bitterness can cause us to miss the grace of God! That's a pretty sick trade - about as pitiful as Esau trading his inheritance for a bowl of soup! (Genesis 25:29 - 34)

Bitter isn't a result of our circumstances. Bitter is the choice we make in response to those circumstances. When Paul gives very practical advice for marriage in Colossians, he instructs men, "Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them."

Apparently wives in Paul's day were no different than in 2008. We do things that our husbands use as excuses not to love us as they should. We also don't do things that give our husbands excuses not to love us as they should. Loving when the other person fails is not easy! There are two choices: love even more deeply and unconditionally or be bitter. God's way is to love and not be bitter!

That's just hard stuff! It's unnatural! My heart tends to go to bitter rather than love. The only way I can love through difficulty is for God to restore my heart, to so fill my heart with His grace that there is no room for bitterness to take root!

History tells us that the British army band played "The World Turned Upside Down" the day General Cornwallis surrendered to General George Washington in Yorktown, Virginia concluding the American Revolution. For the British the world had turned upside down! They never dreamed their colonists would revolt. They never dreamed the colonists would win the conflict.

A bitter taste may turn one's mouth inside out. Conquering bitterness with God's help as He restores our hearts is also turning a heart upside down. It's not what seems right and natural! It's not what initially "feels" right. But bitterness is NOT God's way! God's path is restoration, and He is the Great Restorer!

And that's why a new church is gathering in the South Hills of Pittsburgh - A Restoration Church! We want to gather people who know their hearts need God's loving restoration. We are works in process - God's process of restoration!

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