The Root of the Matter (excerpted from God and The Garden)


“But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away,” Matthew 13:6 NKJV

No matter how beautiful the plant, no matter what its leaves look like or its fruit that shines, if the roots are rotten it is as good as dead.

The same also holds true for us as well. No matter how we appear to others, it is truly what is unseen that determines our character.

Most people want to look good but fail to nurture what really counts, their roots or the foundation that is vital for growth and sustenance.

Psalms 80: 8-9 states, “You have brought a vine out of Egypt; you have cast out the nations, and planted it. You have prepared room for it, and caused it to take deep root and it filled the land.” NKJV

Deep roots are necessary for significant growth. The acorn cannot become a mighty oak with shallow roots at surface level that leave the tree vulnerable to disease, a lack of nutrients, and physical destruction. It is necessary that the roots grow deep if the tree is to grow to up.

Our roots must grow deep if we are to grow up!

“And the remnant who have escaped of the house of Judah shall again take root downward, and bear fruit upward,” 2 Kings 19:30 NKJV.

This theme is found repeatedly in the Bible. Deep roots are crucial. Jesus’ parable as explained in Matthew teaches if we have shallow roots the heat of life will surely scorch us! We won’t survive. We will wither and die. This fate is not what Jesus died for.  He died that we may live and do so abundantly.  So, how do we develop deep roots and thrive as God intended?

In nature a lack of water at the surface forces plant roots downward. Our personal droughts can do the same for us when we don’t give up, but instead dig in. When we are in hot situations we must root ourselves in God’s Word that we may not just survive but thrive in spite of our test. Our trials are to push us closer to God, not drive us away. Plants survive by doing this even though they may look parched at the surface.  Certain trials leave us looking fried as well but digging into the Word strengthens us and leaves us better off long after the test has passed.

Our roots need fertilizer. Nothing will develop you into the person God intended like the real “Miracle Grow” of God’s Word. His Word establishes the righteous. “But the root of the righteous yields fruit,” Proverbs 12:12 NKJV.

Turning to God when the heat is on, establishing yourself in His Word, constantly reading and meditating on it allows your roots to push downward so you can bear fruit upward. The taller the tree, the deeper the roots.

We can’t grow up unless we dig in!

Rooting ourselves in God’s Word provides stability that keeps us from being blown over and plucked up by hard winds (hardships). Sure we may lose a few leaves and have a branch or two broken through our trials but most importantly we can remain rooted where God would have us.

Some plants, once established in the ground are incredibly hard to pull out. Shovels and picks won’t do the job. Their roots expand outward and downward embedding themselves through the earth and around rocks. The longer the plant is established in the ground the stronger it becomes. The more we establish and root ourselves in God’s Word the stronger we too become.

Who we become in life is often dictated by what is unseen by other people. What we do when no one is watching, the thoughts we have toward others, the things we say when no one can hear are extensions of what exists below the surface.  These inner things dictate what is produced outwardly.

“And if the root is holy, so are the branches,” Romans 11:16.  If you want good branches start below the surface. Kill anything below the surface that will hinder your growth. Bad habits, bad thoughts, ill influences and addictions will do nothing but promote root rot. People who are negative influences are often “weeds” that can rob you of nutrients you need to grow.

Replace whatever has the potential to kill you with the Miracle Grow of God’s Word, inspirational influences, positive acquaintances, prayer, devotion and whatever it takes to push you up toward God’s very best for you!

If you feel unproductive or at a loss don’t focus on the surface but instead investigate those deeper things that may hinder your desired outcome.

If there is anything that needs to be gone, toss it! Change habits. Change direction. Make different choices. Think different thoughts. Turn toward God who “establishes” you so that you can thrive, not just survive.

If you want to bloom and be fruitful, living the abundant life Christ died for… tend to your roots!

Thank you Heavenly Father for enabling me to root myself in You. Allow me to take root and grow strong into the person you have ordained me to become. May I focus on what lies beneath the surface and find nourishment in You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Root Rot

Root rot is the bane of many a gardener who lovingly tends to plants and flowers only to find that what was once bold and beautiful is now slumped over and at death’s door.

Root rot often occurs when plants are placed in conditions or soil that doesn’t facilitate the growth or functionality of the root system. Often the ground is saturated with water or pollutants due to poor drainage or the earth is too dense due to lack of aeration. In conditions such as these, the roots are not able to absorb the good qualities from the earth necessary for the growth of the plant.

Not obvious like pests or diseases above the ground, this predicament can lead to an unexpected demise as the damage is done below the surface. Everything looks fine above ground but the root system of plant is quickly deteriorating in a damaging environment. The pathway of nourishment and sustainment is no longer working.  Unfortunately, we can find ourselves in similar circumstances with that same deadly potential.

Like plants, we often are unsuspecting of the dangers that may exist in our environment and their pollutant potential. We can find our own personal roots in less than ideal circumstances if we aren’t careful. Instead of growing downward and outward our roots can also become poisoned, absorbing all the wrong things that eventually get deep inside of us.

Sometimes we inadvertently place ourselves in the wrong environments that can also cause our demise or at the very least stunt our personal growth. Have you ever been in a situation or place that you really knew you should not be in? Have you felt the conviction of the Holy Spirit pulling at you when you are in the company of people who may not share your same values and prompt you to do things you know are immoral or at the very least are of no benefit to you?

Sometimes we allow comfortable situations and familiar friends to allow us to stay in a place we know we should be far removed from. How many people are often thwarted in achieving their goals because they happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time? Many of those same people will often admit they knew they should not have gone to that specific place or hung out with that particular person but didn’t allow the conviction felt on the inside to translate to action to do something about it.

Have you ever been in the company of people speaking in such a manner you didn’t particularly care for or found offensive yet you continued to stay there? Have you ever gone to an event or party that turned out to be something other than what you expected but you continued to stay because you didn’t want to be rude? Have you ever gone someplace and felt uneasiness come about you but you remained in that place all the while knowing it was not the best use of your time?

Just like plants that unknowingly absorb things from their environment that prove deadly, we can also absorb tendencies, habits and associations to our own detriment. The opportunity to absorb the worst tendencies from our environment will often increase when we are trying to be obedient and make significant changes in our lives.

When you are trying not to drink alcoholic beverages friends may prompt you to celebrate with them and cannot understand your newfound non-alcoholic tendencies. If you are trying to save money, friends or family may urge you to splurge because you “deserve it.” Sometimes when you are convicted about your speech you will find yourself inadvertently surrounded by people who are full of gossip and pressing you for your comments and opinion. So, what can you do?

The only treatment for a plant that is suffering from root rot is to transplant it into another environment conducive its growth. The same is true for us as well. If you are trying to make a significant change and grow but you cannot seem to bring it about in your present circumstances you may need to get your own roots in a better environment.

If you need a positive attitude, hang out with positive people. If you don’t know any, meet some. Don’t go to the same places with the same people if they are adding little to your growth. We often need people who are doing positive things in front of us to set an example to aspire to. We also benefit from spending time around the people who serve as role models as they can help pull us up out of our weaknesses and show us examples of how they achieved whatever desirable traits we find compelling in them.

If you are going through a difficult time, the last thing you need is someone else telling you how the same circumstance almost killed them! If someone is declaring that there no hope for you, remove yourself immediately!

Instead, seek the company of encouraging people who will share their tests and give a testimony of what you, too, can do! We are to encourage one another. If you are surrounded by doom and gloom from naysayers, you may find that you absorb their same pessimistic attitudes. In their presence, your faith may wane and their hopelessness will devour any hopeful expectations you have for a change in your circumstances!

Oftentimes God, in His care of us, will transplant us out of certain situations. But as we mature, we should become aware of those places and people who are harmful to us and actively transplant ourselves out of toxic situations and company.

If you want to become more spiritual, spend more time with spiritually minded people. I’m not talking about people who are always talking and quoting scripture but instead people who are consistently walking it out!  Many of the most positive people don’t have to say a word. They let their actions speak for them. The most beneficial people do not have to convince you of why you should spend time with them. Instead, the God in them will reach out to the God in you!

Be careful of the places you go and the people you know.  Benjamin Franklin’s quotation has proven itself through the years. “Be civil to all, sociable with many, familiar with few.” Unfortunately, lots of Christians turn that particular quote completely upside down. Many are civil to few and familiar with far more people than they ought!

Oftentimes people can get bedazzled by the status of others, their titles and sometimes the glitz and glamour on the outside of a person that they can’t see the person for who they really are.

Familiarity should lend itself to family. Don’t treat just any and everybody like family when you know very little about that person and what they are truly all about. Don’t rush to bring people you barely know into your innermost circle. You do not need to readily expose yourself to other people’s vulnerabilities. The last thing you need is to absorb the drama of someone else when you are making sincere efforts to get your own self straight.

Jesus was kind to all and served those that came to Him seeking help, however, He “hung out” with just His inner circle of disciples, the men closest to Him. He didn’t have hundreds of friends He was trying keep with Him all the time! He wasn’t trying to accumulate the most “friends” possible to have in His immediate circle. Many called themselves His disciples at first until they were in His presence and found they did not know him or really understand Him. In fact, Jesus’ teachings left many confounded and the mass majority of His disciples readily fell off and away leaving Him with His faithful few! It was these few men who would later spread the Gospel. We also need only the people in our own lives that are positive, sincere, and support our own efforts.

Familial bonds are strong and created over time. Yet there may be divine connections you make that are God driven and you know God put a particular person in your life. The point is to make sure you give your time and effort to people worthy of it. It should be time well spent for all parties.

Don’t allow fear of disappointing people to keep you complacent when you know you should be changing your circumstances. If you are convicted to move, do so. God will make sure He sustains you where you should be planted. Don’t ignore the prompting that tells you to leave a conversation or that a new acquaintance may not be all he or she appears to be. Many a trial or tribulation could have been averted had a person simply followed their gut instinct or rather “God instinct” and left certain people and places alone.

All flowers need a specific combination of minerals, moisture, soil and nutrients to grow. We also need our specific combination of Holy Spirit, discernment, obedience and willingness to change so that we too can grow. Don’t waste time with the wrong people and places that will only poison you when you absorb what they are putting out. Negativity? Drama? Envy? Spite? Confusion?

Make an active decision to go where you can grow! It may be a bit uncomfortable. People may wonder what you are doing. But don’t second guess your decisions to move where you can absorb something good in your life.

Move where you are free to soak up more of God, His grace, and His goodness. If you lose a few people you thought were friends through acting on your conviction, God can give you new and better friends! The very people you may be fearful of losing may be actually blocking the blessings God intends for you.

Oftentimes we are aware that we are in a less than ideal situation but feel that we can handle it. We are often confident that the God in us will leave us unaffected by our environment. That may indeed be true for the most mature Christians but more often than not, those who think they are unaffected later find out they have been infected!

Complacency can often breed the kind of comfort that allows you to let your guard down because you are familiar with certain people and places and the danger is unseen. Flowers suffering from root rot often look fine on the surface all the while they are absorbing something toxic beneath the surface. It is often when the problem is too far gone that you can even detect an issue. Don’t allow that same sneaky rot to happen to you!

Make a move if you need to. Change your atmosphere and change your outcome. Don’t stay stagnant and absorb toxins in a poisonous environment when God is prompting you to make a move.  God’s intention is that we bloom to the fullest! Sometimes to grow it is necessary that we must go. It is up to each of us to protect our roots. Transplant yourself when necessary and trust God that you will indeed bloom!