From Bitter to Better

The term “bitter,” when used in the Scriptures, is not typically a word used with favor. In fact, “bitter” is typically used to describe one who holds contempt for another, or how awful something is. kermit-coffee-6When it reigns in the heart, sin is not far behind. Paul states in Ephesians 4 to “Get rid of bitterness” and instead “be kind and compassionate, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
A bitter taste is typically unpleasant, but after a while, it may become an acquired taste. Some foods and drinks that we typically consume with bitterness in them are grapefruit, beer, olives, unsweetened cocoa and coffee. Since “America runs on Dunkin” and Starbucks makes some bucks on their coffees, we know that many have grown not only accustomed to the bitterness, but enjoy it. Others who like coffee attempt to cover the bitter taste with creamer and sugar, sometimes adding up to 5 packets of sugar! Crazy.

The bitterness of our hearts can’t simply be covered up by sweet acts.  Bitterness can only be altered at the source – the heart.  It starts with seeking God’s forgiveness for our bitterness.  When we hold on to bitterness, we are deliberately sinning against Him.  Knowing that He loves us, He will forgive us of our sins and cleanse us from unrighteousness (I John 1:9).  Did you get that last part?  He cleanses us from unrighteousness.  He removes the bitterness of our hearts when we humble ourselves before Him.  He continues to remove the bitterness when we humble ourselves and seek forgiveness from those with whom we are bitter.  This may not be possible in all circumstances, but when it is possible, to do so can be healing for us, too.  Finally, as we humble ourselves before God and recognize that He forgives us and cleanses us, we, in turn, forgive others who have offended us or hurt us.  Forgiving the other person, however, should come before seeking forgiveness from the offender.

“Rid yourselves of bitterness,” Paul states.  When we do this, we become more like Christ.  We become, well…. “better.”

On a similar note (yet also off topic), I have recently agreed to become a Consultant with a Cause with SOLUDE Coffee.  SOLUDE Coffee removes some of the bitterness at the source.  The gourmet coffee beans are air roasted from a patented technique so that the bitter taste that is present in most coffees is minimal.  If you purchase through my SOLUDE web page , a portion of the proceeds will be donated to Foundations Christian Counseling Services.  So here’s my shameless plug…“Rid your coffee of bitterness.  It will be better.”  🙂

The Plumbing of a Godly Marriage: Just Say “No” to Poop-Slinging!

Godly marriages have plumbing? Really?  Absolutely.  Every house has plumbing.  Every person has plumbing.  And every marriage has plumbing, too.  As we continue in the series “Building a Godly Marriage” and using the analogy of building a house, I figure it’s good to stick with the theme.  So, what is the plumbing of a godly marriage?  Well, hold your pliers, we’re getting there.

The plumbing in a house is responsible for two tasks:  The first task of plumbing is to bring in a steady flow of clean water.  The second task of the plumbing is to get rid of the poop (or waste).  The second cannot be done without the first.  If something goes wrong with the plumbing, you often know about it quickly.  A small leak is usually not a big deal, but should be addressed before it becomes a bigger leak.  A toilet that is clogged must be addressed before the next use.  A water heater that busts or a pipe that bursts must be addressed quickly.  When these issues are not addressed in time, they can become expensive to repair.

The plumbing in marriage is bringing in the clean water of God’s grace and removing the poop in marriage.  What do I mean by this?  The poop in marriage is the bitterness that has built up from the sin-stained clogs in the relationship.  It’s the stuff that has built up over time and which has not been addressed.  And if that happens, yes, you too can become a poop-slinger.

I know a person who had a septic pump that broke and a warning signal that never came on.  After a short amount of time, the waste built up so much in the septic tank that it eventually came into the house at its lowest level.  Do you think they took care of the issue right away or let the waste build up and stink up the home?  Well, they took care of it right away.  When holding on to bitterness and resentment, the waste of anger builds up until it enters your everyday living space.  Then when that  happens, spouses, in their anger and revenge (they would call it justice, but it’s revenge), end up slinging the poop at one another.  The stench is awful in their nostrils and in God’s, too, but, they argue, “they can’t seem to help themselves” and “the other person deserves it.” So the poop slinging continues.   Instead of addressing the issue, spouses often choose to live in it and use it against one another.  Friends, this should not be, especially as believers in Christ.

Thankfully, there is another part of this plumbing which is important.  It is the bringing in the clean water of God’s grace.  We need His cleansing.  We need His forgiveness.  We need His love.  If we were to take an honest look at ourselves, we would see how covered in waste we really are.  Our hearts our filthy.  Our hands are covered in sin.  We need Him now more than ever.  Jesus shared in the parable of the unmerciful servant (Matt 18) that we should forgive as the Lord forgave us.  If we are unable to do this, the Lord won’t forgive us.  Wow.  Did you see that?  That is serious.  When the plumbing in our marriages is clogged, our relationship with the Lord is significantly affected.

God has forgiven us so much.  If we are to have marriages without plumbing difficulties, we must remember our sins, how we brought him to the cross through our sins, and how he loved us so much to take the punishment of our sins upon himself.  When we forgive, we must first consider his grace and then give as we have received.  For the plumbing in our marriages to flow without these clogs and poop slinging, we must be constantly aware of our sins and his love.  Then that which we have received, we must freely give.

This portion was taken from the Marriage Seminar: Building a Godly Marriage.  For more information about this seminar from Foundations Christian Counseling Services, please call Fred Jacoby at 570-402-5088.