Preparing Our Soil

With what has seemed like monsoon season coming to an end here in Texas, it’s time to get my pastures ready for spring and summer. As winter grasses and legumes give way to established summer grasses, I’ve got one pasture that seems to produce weeds as much as anything else. This year, I’ve decided it’s time to till the ground and seed summer forage for my cattle.

While my other pastures will be a mixture of lush Bermuda and native grasses, sorghum Sudan grass will be in this pasture. I may get a fall hay cutting from it, but more than likely I’ll be buying hay again this year. It’s been so wet over the winter and early spring, that I’ll not get a good harvest again this year. One of the many things I’ve learned since coming to the Cross-Dubya is that you have to have the right tool for the job. When it comes to preparing your soil, there are lots to choose from.

Deciding which tool you use when you prepare your soil for planting starts with determining the condition of your soil. This year, the pasture I’m preparing to seed is a lot like me; hard and crusty. To loosen up that crusty top layer, I’ll plow six inches deep using a disc. This tool turns the surface of the ground (“turning the soil”) over onto itself, which helps to loosen the first few inches of soil.

After turning/tilling the soil, I follow with a harrow to create a smoother surface. This loosening and smoothing eliminates many of the ruts and holes caused by tractors and cows moving over muddy ground over the winter. If the soil is packed and you don’t want to turn it over, then a good no till option is to use a chisel plow (pictured above). The advantage of that, other than it leaves the ground’s surface pretty intact, is that it plows much deeper. Going up to 18 inches deep, a chisel plow’s shanks perform sub-soil tillage, which loosens the ground underneath the surface, allowing for deeper root penetration and improved drainage.

Turning plows, such as discs, cultivators, and moldboard or bottom plows, turn the surface of the soil. A chisel plow breaks up and destroys the roots that are embedded deep in the soil. So when your pasture has tough-to-control weeds with long tap roots (e.g. goat weed, thistle weed, etc.), using a chisel plow can help to keep them from coming back.

While planning my spring planting, I thought about roots in my soul. Born as a sinful human being, I have sin roots. Some have buried themselves deep within my soul, and while God is working to help rid me of them, I remain a work in progress. I’ve heard sin referred to in two ways; there are “fruit sins and root sins.” Fruit sins are those that seem to keep reoccurring in our lives. Even though we might repent of a sin and God helps us to stop committing that act or thought, unless we remove the root of that sin, it reappears.

God's word is like a chisel plow for your soul. Use it to clear the root sins that keep reappearing in your life. Click To Tweet

I often think of these verses when I see sin in my life. “You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.” (Matthew 7:16-20, NKJV)

I like “fruit sins” to being one of my pear trees. I can remove every pear that grows from the tree, but because its roots are that of a pear tree, the next year, I’ll get pears and not pecans. However, if I remove the tree and its roots and plant an apple tree in its place, I’ll one day harvest apples. I think we must do the same in our Christian lives. We must replace those “root sins” with God’s word and Christ’s characteristics and let them grow deep within our souls.

The natural question you are asking right about now is “What are root sins?” God’s word (Romans 1:29-31 and Galatian 5:19-21, for instance) lists many sins. I am convinced we humans are born with many of these sins, and the propensity for others, within us. However, there are three primary roots of sin from which all those listed come from. They are; lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. To recognize them, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Will you lay down your life for the other? If not, then it’s not God’s love, but lust. If it’s another person, or the goal is to satisfy your own selfish desires, then it’s lust of the flesh.
  2. Should God bring it into your life, or will He bless you with it? Really? If not, then it’s materialistic lust of the eyes (it’s I want versus I need).
  3. Will it make me more important, if only in my own mind? Will others stand in awe of me? If so, then it’s Pride of Life.
How deep have you tilled your soul lately? Click To Tweet

As you go through this week, will you join me in praying God identifies our “fruit sins and root sins?” When He does, seek His wisdom on how to best prepare the soil of your soul to grow closer to Him, so you might produce sweeter fruit.

God’s blessings,

p.S. I wanted to share a new book with you this week that has been a great blessing in my life in recent weeks. My friend Mrs. Lori Hatcher just released “Refresh Your Faith–Uncommon Devotions from Every Book of the Bible”. This easy-to-read, story-based devotional helps me find new gems from the treasure of God’s word; many that I’ve missed in previous studies. I find it a great source for study, reflection, and learning. I hope you’ll consider previewing it at Amazon.com or other fine Christian book retailers. Here’s the Amazon link if you’re interested.

https://www.amazon.com/Refresh-Your-Faith-Uncommon-Devotions/dp/1640700072

-J.D.

46 thoughts on “Preparing Our Soil

    1. Very good point Mr. Monty. Just like we have to know our soil (soil testing, etc. as my friend Mr. Kenn Edwards points out), we need to also ask God what our lives need. If it’s a deep cleaning, then so be it. As we mature in Christ, I think we just need spot treatments with a good “sin herbicide” now and again. 🙂 Knowing how deep the roots of our sin go tells us how to best treat them. Well said sir.

    1. Ooo… I like that Ms. Ann. “We should be fruit inspectors.” Every day ma’am. I think perhaps I should also invite the Holy Spirit to inspect my day’s efforts. Sometimes our fruit will be rotting on the inside and we won’t notice it until it gets squishy and starts to smell. “How’s my fruit today?” I love that question to myself! Thank you! 🙂

    1. Amen Ms. Mimi! I for one am sure glad to know I’m not on this journey alone. Having friends along the way who can help lift us up, carry a burden, or just brighten our day sure does make the trek sweeter ma’am. God’s blessings.

    1. My goodness Ms. Nancy. Another great “bite of wisdom” here ma’am. Our “fruit doesn’t lie” indeed. There’s no real middle ground with fruit is there ma’am. It’s only ready to eat when it’s ready. It’s either good or bad. Somehow I like to think in terms of zeros and ones (on or off, black or white). I wish my entire life were that easy, but knowing whether we’re sinning or not can be can’t it ma’am. There’s no grey areas with sin. God doesn’t believe in “little white lies”, sin is sin in His book. Well said ma’am! God’s blessings.

  1. You have crafted excellent diagnostic questions to get past the surface desires and identify true motives. Thank you for this, Dr. Wininger. And thank you for sharing my little book with your lovely readers. Be blessed today!

    1. Ms. Lori, your kindness is only surpassed by your beauty, grace, great cooking, and wonderful writing ma’am. Thank you so much for your encouraging words. You make writing look effortless in your books, but I’m learning just how much work we put into them. It’s worth it my friend! 🙂 God’s blessings; and prayers for great success with Refresh Your Faith. I expect to see a Selah Award seal on that cover next year.

  2. There are so many good teaching lessons in soil and the heart. Over a hundred years ago, Charles Finney, one credited for starting the Second Great Awakening, wrote a tract called, “Breaking up the Fallow Ground.” I have a copy of that and it still holds true today.
    Some till, some plant, some water, but it is God that causes the increase.

    1. Absolutely it holds true to this day Mr. Ben. The harvest, the increase, is ALWAYS God’s. After all, He supplies the seeds we sow and cultivate. 🙂 God’s blessings sir.

  3. It is so true, J.D., that we need to dig out those root sins and REPLACE them with God’s Word, His desires. Otherwise the void will be filled with weeds. You pose a thought provoking, tough-as-nails question: If I wouldn’t lay down my life for a person I’m not loving like God. Is this love for your spouse love? Or do you mean love for your neighbor? I’m not sure I’d describe love for my neighbor as lust if I answer the question in the negative. I’m just digging in my soil to expose my roots.

    1. Ms. Cathy; as I’ve come to expect, you ask the hard questions that require deep and prayerful thought. It’s taken me a while to respond to your comment, because I wanted to pray through my response thoroughly. In my question about the “root sin” of lust of the flesh, I was referring to God’s agape kind of love. The kind of love the Samaritan exhibited in Jesus’ parable. The question asked then remains; “Who is my neighbor Lord?” When I think of love, I see it as a multi-layered emotional connection. God’s agape kind of love, the love Christ showed by leaving heaven and coming to earth and enduring a human existence knowing He would have to die to redeem His dear children. That’s a depth of love that I don’t believe we can ever attain in our human lives, but it is the goal we should all strive for. I love my wife, as you do your spouse and children, so much that we would easily give our lives in exchange for theirs. There was a time in my life that I loved my brothers in arms so much that if I would have had to die to protect them, I would have done so. I can’t say that I have that same conviction for my neighbors, although I do love them, but differently than my spouse or my God. Hope I’m not rambling too much here my friend. The love I refer to in my question isn’t achieved by giving up our human life; it’s achieved when we love and trust God enough to give up full control of our life so that He might mold us to become enough of His love to help someone else find their way to a right relationship through Christ. I’m not always certain that my interpretation is right, or that I’ve interpreted what I feel God has led me to say correctly. What I am certain of though, is I want to move towards the goal of agape love. Not because I want to be God, but because I want to honor Him and all He does for me.

  4. A great lesson from the soil, J.D. I love how Jesus used everyday things to paint a picture of our lives before and after Him, and during our growth in Him. He has given you these same abilities. Blessings to you and your family!

    1. You are so sweet and kind to say that Ms. Stephanie. Thank you ma’am; and I must say the same about you my friend. Oh how I thank God for the wonderful friends He’s surrounded me with. As a fledgling writer, I have the best support system in the world – godly friends who are willing to travel this road with me. 🙂

  5. I had just read those verses from Matthew yesterday, J.D. I appreciate your fleshing them out for me a bit. I’d like to be able to say I’ve grown beyond the root sins, but they still exist. Thankfully, the Lord is patient with me and helps me to see them more clearly as I continue to grow in my faith. Thanks for this great post! I always learn from you. Blessings, Tammy

  6. This one required some rereading, and it’s very thought-provoking. You gave me new things to consider as I work to keep my spiritual garden weeded.

        1. It certainly does Ms. Candyce. Speaking only for myself, it’s been much easier to rid myself of my “fruit sins” than my “root sins.” I’m so glad the Apostle Paul (Romans 7) helps us to see that we’re not alone in that struggle. Thank you so much for the blessing of your friendship and encouragement ma’am. God’s blessings.

  7. Yesterday I planted flowers with my grandsons. Digging in the soil, a hard spot would budge-it was a strong root -a necessary one for a nearby plant to flouorish and I didn’t want to disturb it. I thought about what I plant and share in my grands lives and pray it’s strong roots for them to flourish. Your post on the heels of my experience gave more to think about. Thanks once more.

  8. J.D., another great analogy. Those 3 areas from 1 John 1:16, the lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and boastful pride of life, encompass the roots of sin. And I’ve always thought about how all 3 were present in the first sin of the first man and woman in the Garden.

    1. Amen Ms. Karen! I think they were there in the Garden of Eden; and they were there when Satan tempted Jesus during his 40 days in the desert. He (Satan) is a master at deception and he has had centuries to refine his skills. I thank God that His Holy Spirit is there within me to do battle against this mighty foe. God’s blessings ma’am. Am so glad you see these “root sins” too.

    1. I thought you just might Ms. Joanna. Know it or not, your posts have been plowing deep into my soul for the past couple of years young lady. We never know the difference we can make do we ma’am? So very pleased you enjoyed; and thank you for joining our conversation. God’s blessings ma’am.

  9. Root sins and fruit sins. I’ve never heard that. Will have to mull that over. Good fruit for thought. Hey, I just read something that moldboard plows were going to become obsolete as they till up the ground and leave no ground cover to prevent erosion. I thought about you and wondered if you would agree. You are obviously very knowledgeable about soil and tilling practices. Till next week . . .

    1. Thank you Ms. Karen. Am glad you enjoyed ma’am. As for moldboard, or bottom plows, they do exactly as you described, but as I point out in the article, sometimes that’s what’s needed. We need to get rid of all the junk on the surface (it becomes organic material that breaks down in the soil below and leeches its nutrients by the way), and start afresh. Perhaps we might consider that’s what happens at our moment of salvation. God turns our souls over and removes all the crap so He can start fresh. Might be worth pointing out that you don’t plant after using a bottom plow; there’s still more tilling and cultivating to do before the field becomes usable. If you’ll remember back in history to the great “Dustbowl” events during the depression, I think much of that was a result of using bottom plows primarily every year to strip the ground clean. What happens after years of doing that is that you start to loose your topsoil integrity. Your ground because sandy and thin. It doesn’t hold moisture well, etc., but I’m probably going deeper than you want/need. In any case, I don’t think they’ll ever be obsolete; but I do advise not to overuse them. It’s sort of like the old adage “When the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.” 🙂 Hope that answers your question ma’am.

  10. I saw your analogy, “I can remove every pear that grows from the tree, but because its roots are that of a pear tree, the next year, I’ll get pears and not pecans,” as a clear picture of why we had to be crucified with Christ and be born again as a new creation. Thanks, J.D. I hope to remember that one.

    1. What a kind and wonderful comment Ms. Debbie. Thank you so very much ma’am. I’m so pleased you enjoyed the post and are taking a lesson from it. God’s blessings ma’am.

    1. Amen Ms. Connie. Like many, I think, I’m getting used to ridding myself of “fruit sins.” First John 1:9 helps make that an easy process for us. Tilling deep and discovering, displacing, and destroying those “root sins” take a lot of work. In fact, when I’ve had to chisel plow my pastures here at the Cross-Dubya, I had to rely on friends with much more powerful tractors. Mine isn’t large enough to till that deep.

  11. Hey J.D.!
    I think your picture of sins as either root sins or fruit sins is very on-target and in line with scripture. I loved the comparison of God’s Word to the chisel plow. Your post made me think of that verse from Hosea 10:12, where God instructs us to “break up your fallow ground”.
    I am grateful for “spiritual giants” and their “powerful tractors” who have aided me along the way in studying the Word of God, and I count you in that group.
    Blessings!

    1. Ms. Gena; I can only say thank you and echo those same sentiments about you my friend. I too love learning what God is teaching me; and I am ever grateful He has called me to share some of those lessons with all y’all here. I pray He continues to fill my cup to overflowing, and use me as long and as much as He wills. I pray I go home with a still-full cup; in that He just continues to refill me as often and as quickly as I can empty His mercy, grace, and love into this world. 🙂 God’s blessings ma’am.

  12. Well, J.D., after reading about “fruit and root sin”, I’ve realized that I have both and need a turning plow, harrowing, and deep tilling. I think I’ve been cultivating no till behaviors (resisting God’s guidance). A great message, my friend. Thanks for sharing your wisdom.

    1. I’m sure glad to know I’m not alone in my need for daily tilling of my soul Ms. Katherine. I am sometimes disgusted to look deep into my soul and still see those root sins; it seems they are thriving at times, yet others they appear to be on their last leg. Yet, I can never seem to rid myself of them. I think that’s the lesson I take from this. “I can’t.” By myself, with my human nature still intact, I can do nothing to rid myself of them. Oh sure, I can suppress them through through the power of self-control, but the moment I relinquish my death grip on them, more rotten fruit springs forth. Perhaps, we who are in Christ are destined to struggle with these roots until we are called upward on that day. God’s blessings; and lots of prayers for you and your family right now.

  13. Powerful stuff, Mr. J.D. Lord, continue to reveal deep roots of sin watered by distrust of You. Thank you, J.D.

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