Week three: Cleaning house and taking out the garbage

I recently began cleaning out my upstairs bedroom for the purpose of converting it into an office.  This is painful for me for a couple of reasons.  One, in the last few years it has become my attic/storage space and, typical of unused spaces (at least for me!), a large portion of what’s in the room was put there simply for the purpose of getting it out of the way because I didn’t have a clue what to do with it.  Two, I am not a big fan of that kind of work.  I will procrastinate until the cows come home and the storage area becomes so cluttered you really have to watch your step.  Now don’t try to schedule an appearance on the next episode of Hoarders, I can move around in the room.  Kinda.  Sorta.  Never mind.

As I stood in the doorway and stared at the clutter, trying to decide where on earth to start, I was so tempted to shut the door and go back downstairs, deal with this another day.  Then I began to wonder why I was always so reluctant to start a task such as this.  Once I muster up the determination to get it done and over with, it’s a great feeling to look around after the “junk” is gone and order is restored.  It occurred to me that my reticence was probably due to the fact that I’d have to make some decisions on what stayed and what went into the trash.  To finally, once and for all, get rid of the things I had not used in years, probably never would, but still wanted to hang on to.

Just as we need to clean out the clutter in our homes, we need to do the same thing with the “garbage” that accumulates in our hearts.  When we neglect to do a regular cleaning and take out the trash, it becomes just as cluttered and unattractive as my unused upstairs room.  In our hearts, that trash will grow and fester if left unattended and, not only manifest negatively through our physical selves, it will be a stumbling block in our walk with God.

But sometimes, just as when we clean out a room, when we begin to clean out our hearts we find things that we need to get rid of but still want to cling to, for no good reason other than we like it, we want it and we don’t want to let it go.  It could be a lot of things, from a sinful habit we don’t want to give up, old hurts and wrongs we want to cling to or things that we put first before God.  These are things that, from past experiences, we know will never bring us happiness or fulfillment but cause strife, inner turmoil, damage relationships, negatively affect our health and, most importantly, separate us from God.  So why do we want to hang on to that garbage?

Taking out the garbage begins with confession (acknowledgment of the sin) and repentance (letting go of and turning away from that sin), then counting on Jesus to get rid of it.

1 John 1:9:  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Plainly put, Jesus wants us to regularly take out our garbage, dump it at the foot of the cross and He promises to not only remove it, but also to forget it.  Isn’t that amazing?  No matter what we’ve done, no matter how we’ve lived, no matter how many times we’ve driven those nails into His hands and feet over and over with our sins, He loves us enough to take our trash away and cleanse and remove every bit of that filthy, trashy reside.  Wow!  Now that’s love, folks!

However sometimes we still feel guilt over sins God has already forgiven.  Satan, the enemy of every Christian, just loves to condemn us by reminding us of past sins that we’ve already taken to the cross and laid at the feet of Jesus.  Whenever we feel condemned, we need to see that is the work of the enemy that is trying to rob us of the peace that is ours through Jesus.

Romans 8:1: There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

In other words, there is no past, present or future sin that a believer in Christ can commit that can be held against him since the penalty was paid by Christ, and no sin can ever reverse this Divine decision.  When you start to have feelings of guilt over past sins, take the time to remind yourself that you’ve been forgiven.  Take care of it as soon as it starts to nibble at your conscience, ban the evil whispers from your mind and remember that Jesus has already dealt with it.

Chains of guilt, whether for confessed or unconfessed sin, will hold you back from being all that you can be in Christ and create an emptiness inside of us.  When our spirits are not in unity with God, it manifests physically and we try to fill it with food, alcohol, drugs, material possessions, sexual relationships and all sorts of sinful things.  If your guilt is real and over a live sin in your life, confess it, turn from it and don’t ever let Satan accuse you of it again.  God will immediately give you a clean slate and you can begin again that very second!

If your guilt is false because Jesus has already removed that particular garbage from your life, thank God that He has already forgiven you, that He chooses to forget what He’s already forgiven and, as a Christian, you are no longer condemned!

If you have never received Jesus as your personal Savior, even if you’re unsure if you want to, visit www.lifeway.com/Article/Becoming-a-Christian-can-be-as-easy-as-A-B-C  or email me at kim@inperfectunity.com.  Begin living a life of freedom and peace that only God can give you!

Prayer:

Father God, I thank you for sending your Son Jesus to die just for me, to take on all my sin and pay the price for me.  Right here and now, I lay before You the sins that I cling to and separate me from You.  I ask that You, in Your loving mercy, forgive and restore me.  I also ask that you remove any false guilt that I have which is keeping me from being all that I can be in Christ and is robbing me of peace.  Banish the evil that whispers falsely in my ear.  I praise you that I am forgiven and set free!  Thank You, Jesus!

Scripture:

Psalm 103:12:  As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.

Week three: I should have known better

week three_sun

It was the first weekend in August.  Saturday, Aug. 4, 2007.  Those of you that live in the South know what our weather is like in July and August.  Hot.  Blazing hot.  Humidity and dew points soar, making it steam-bath hot and almost impossible to cool off.  This Saturday was no different.  It was 9:55 a.m. and the temperature was already 92 degrees with almost matching humidity.  The sky was brilliant and cloudless, the sun beating down and burning the top of my head and all exposed skin.  I was motionless yet covered in perspiration, almost constantly wiping my face as the sweat trickled down my hairline and onto my face.

You’re probably asking yourself why I remember this particular Saturday so vividly, since this is typical weather in the South during our dog days of summer.  I’ll tell you why.

I was in the starting lineup for a 5k run.

I had run 5k’s before, but never this particular one.  It was at a local annual festival where the race always leads off the parade, beginning the events for the day.  I had also not done my homework and mapped out the route before signing up for the race.  I was familiar with the town’s streets, having spent many days of my childhood running around the neighborhoods with my cousins.  I was in shape, easily ran the 3.1 miles, this would be a piece of cake.  Famous last words.  I did not take into consideration:

  • I was unused to running this time of day. My normal time for summer was early morning or early evening.
  • My usual daily running route was, for the most part, flat terrain.
  • I trained on trails, not pavement. There is a difference.

As the race began, I settled into my normal, easy pace.  I wasn’t there to compete and win a ribbon, but to simply enjoy the workout in a different setting than usual with others that found the same pleasure in running.  After the first half mile, unused to exercising in the heat of that time of day, I really began to feel the effects and slowed my pace.  Three-quarters of a mile into the race, the course took a turn from the main street onto the back ones.  Hilly streets.  Very, very, hilly streets.  Not just one, but one after another.  And another.  And another.

I won’t divulge all the embarrassing details, except that at one point I really, truly thought I going to get to meet God sooner than I ever imagined I would.  The extreme heat, combined with the exertion of running (by this point, staggering and gasping) up and down hills and using a different set of muscles than usual, had me thinking about calmly stepping to the side and lying down in the shade in someone’s cool grass and wait for my Maker to come for me.  A good Samaritan at one of the water stations kindly threw a large glass of water on my head when I begged her to.  I did finish, but the run that I could normally complete in 25 minutes took 42.  I have to confess, I believe the only reason I did persevere and finish is because I refused to let the 72-year-old man from the Outer Banks cross the finish line before me.

Despite the fact that I was in good shape and used to running that distance, my mistake that I was not properly prepared and knew better than to not do my homework first.  I didn’t acclimate myself to the weather for that time of day and the hilly terrain.  This includes not just the usual precautions we normally take for summer heat, such as hydration, but also proper clothing and other considerations.  As we go into the warmer months, it is especially important to be well prepared for exercise, whether indoor or outdoor, whether easy or intense.  Below are some tips that will help you to safely exercise in the summer, keep it enjoyable and get the most benefit possible out of your workout.

  • Drink plenty of water. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to reach for your water.  Your body needs to be well-hydrated before exercise.  Sports drinks will replace the sodium and nutrients lost through sweating, but you only need those if you plan on or have been exercising intensely.
  • Acclimate yourself. Don’t jump right in and exercise at your normal intensity.  Give your body two weeks to adapt to the heat and increase the intensity of your workouts gradually.
  • Watch the weather forecast. Keep a close eye on the forecast and know what the temperature is going to be for the duration of your exercise.  Avoid outdoor exercise during the hottest part of the day.
  • Wear appropriate clothing. Remember the three “L’s”, lightweight, loose-fitting, light colors.  Lightweight and loose helps the sweat to evaporate, which cools your body.  Light colors have reflective properties, where dark colors absorb heat.  Avoid any clothing that is tight and close-fitting.
  • Protect yourself from the sun. Wear water-proof sunscreen and lightweight sunglasses.  If you wear a hat, make sure it’s well ventilated.

While you are exercising in hot weather, pay attention to your body – it will give you warning signals that you are in danger of becoming overheated.  If you have muscle cramps, headache, increased heart rate, nausea, vision problems, lightheadedness or begin sweating profusely, stop exercising immediately and use wet towels, ice packs or even water from a water hose on your neck, forehead or under your arms.  If you don’t feel better within 15 minutes, seek medical attention.

And last, but not least, God gave us brains and common sense, use them!  If you feel yourself becoming overheated, stop what you’re doing and take steps to get your core temperature down.  Live to exercise another day!