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TONY ELDER: Unclutter your life

There is a certain store I've seen advertised, but have not yet visited. Maybe some of you have been there. It's probably a fine place of business where you can pick up some good bargains. But its name just doesn't sound very inviting.

It's hard for me to picture going to buy some furniture at a place called "The Dump." I associate dumps with junkyards and landfills -- spots where you dispose of trash, not go shopping. It may be a good store, but its name definitely carries some negative connotations.

There's a valley outside of Jerusalem that, although not the dump, had a similar reputation. Several kings in Old Testament times used it as a place for disposing of "spiritual garbage." As these rulers of Judah sought to institute reforms and lead their nation back to God, they cleansed the land of idols, along with anything else associated with the worship of those false gods.

They took those objects to the valley of Kidron, either leaving them there or burning them and scattering the ashes. Kidron became a dumping ground and burial place for things that were being a barrier between the people and God.

Those kings wisely recognized that in order for there to be true reform, revival, and renewal, there needed to be a cleansing of whatever might be hindering the people from drawing near to God.

I hope that we are seeking spiritual renewal for our country, our churches and our individual lives. As we do, let's realize that we may need to clean out and bury some things that are standing in the way of a closer relationship with the Lord.

In some cases, it may be an obvious no-no, like the idols were in Judah. It may be something that we've allowed to become so important to us that it overshadows God in our lives.

Or it's something that clearly violates one of His commands. We know in our hearts that it can't exist in God's temple, which is what the Bible says we are if we have the Holy Spirit living within us.

Or maybe it's more like the altars to the false gods that the kings also destroyed. They weren't idols, but they presented the setting and opportunity for that particular sin.

Is there something in our lives that simply opens up the door to temptation or often leads us in a direction away from God? Maybe it's a place we frequent, a habit we've developed, or even a person who has a negative influence on us when we associate too closely with that individual.

But the kings also cleansed the temple of what's described as debris. God's house had become cluttered with a lot of junk that not only took up space, but also detracted from the sacredness of that place.

It may not be the idols of obvious sin or the altars that open the door to sin that we need to dispose of. It may be that we've just cluttered our lives with so much extra stuff -- so many secondary things and less important activities -- that there's not much room for God and for what He wants to do in our lives.

If we need renewal, one of the keys to experiencing it is to bury some of our "spiritual garbage" at Kidron. While that might be an Old Testament picture, the concept is found just as clearly in the New Testament. Paul spoke about our need to "put off" the old man and to "put to death" the deeds of the body, if we want to be renewed.

Are you willing to let go of that idol, altar or debris so that you can be a holy temple for God?

The Rev. Tony W. Elder is pastor of Wesley Community Fellowship Church. He can be reached at 770-483-3405 or by e-mail at RevTElder@aol.com.