Need Some Deep Cleansing?

My eyes and nostrils burn from the pungent fumes of household bleach. For today, I meant business with my upstairs shower stall—the one I never use—which got plenty of use this summer.

Long, steamy showers (and a lack of ventilation) allowed specks of black mold to creep into the crevices of grout between the shower tiles.

With gloved hands, I scrubbed the shower walls and basin with a brush. Then I held a dish towel to my face while I attacked the grout with my spray bottle of bleach.

Spray. Scrub. Rinse. Repeat.

Water flowed down the shower stall walls, becoming a mucky grey, and swirled down the drain.

Satisfied, I advanced towards the commode, brandishing my toilet brush. I showed no mercy to the porcelain. I also mopped floors. Washed laundry. Cleaned out the cat’s litter box.

My housework wasn’t finished until I’d emptied all the garbage cans and took the outdoor trash can to the curb. Then I washed my hands of last week’s rubbish. Good riddance. 

However, I believe God had something else in mind that needed cleansing. Because when I grabbed a red apple from the fruit bowl and sliced it open….

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The core was rotten.

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Disgusted, I tossed the apple in my yard (picnic for the ants) and sensed the core of my being under God’s scrutiny.

I can appear pleasing to the eye. Paste on a smile, straighten my halo. Only, there are grimy weeks when unconfessed sin festers inside me like that rotting apple.

“Forgive my trespasses” is spoken hurriedly so I can pray for my needs and intercede for others. When in fact, my real need is a contrite heart that will…

  • Pause for genuine reflection and confession.
  • Implore God to reveal sins I’m not aware of that hinder my walk; break His heart.
  • Allow Him to “wash me” clean

“Wash me” the same way a woman would wash her clothes on a scrub board or the river rocks. No quick rinse cycle. She pounds and beats the cloth to purge the dirt.

When King David sinned with Bathsheba he prayed, “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow” (Psalm 51:7).

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David’s plea for God’s forgiveness included his desire for a deep-heart cleansing.

He wanted God to purge him with hyssop—an herbal plant related to the mint family which contained medicinal and cleansing agents. Hyssop was used in the ceremonial cleansing of people and houses.

Hyssop is also mentioned during Jesus’ crucifixion. A Roman soldier offered Jesus a drink of sour wine on a sponge at the end of a hyssop stalk (John 19: 28-30).

While the plant may have been chosen because the stalk was long enough to reach his mouth, surely God meant this as a picture of purification. For in the Old Testament, blood and hyssop purified a defiled person. In the New Testament, Jesus’ shed blood purifies sinners.

Even in this…filthy mess of a day when my sins disgust me…I can lift my bleach-scented hands and praise the Lord because…

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

Frightened of Sin?

Halloween is this week: Television stations air scary movies. Businesses decorate with cobwebs and spiders. Kids dress up like ghoulish monsters.

When I asked my family what frightens them, my husband responded: “You.”

I don’t blame him.

Last week, our family was working in the yard. I was in good spirits, shoveling gravel with my teenage son and my daughter’s boyfriend. Then I turned around and saw my twelve-year-old Japanese maple lying on the ground. My husband and daughter thought the tree was too close to our house and chopped it down.

Steam didn’t come from my ears, but profanity spewed from my lips. My face didn’t turn red, but if looks could have killed…

Throwing my rake on the ground, I blasted them with my words like bullets from a Tommy gun, and ran away in tears.

Even Jonah from the Bible could not have been more outraged when God appointed a worm and wind to destroy his shade tree.

Why the public confession?

Because a butchered tree may be upsetting, but it does not excuse an ungodly response.

My family apologized profusely; they had no idea. And before the sun set on my anger, I asked them to forgive me. We laugh about my crazed behavior.

But sin is no laughing matter.

It frightens me to know sin lingers in my heart, waiting for an opportune moment to rear itself.

“For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander” (Matthew 15:19).

Isn’t it easy to walk in the Spirit instead of the flesh when there’s no agitation? But add a pinch of stress, a pound of unmet expectations, or a felled tree and suddenly I’m staring at my flawed humanity.

My hope: “If we confess our sin, God is faithful and willing to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  (1 John 1:9).

My consolation: “Karen (my emphasis) was washed clean (purified by a complete atonement for sin and made free from the guilt of sin), and Karen was consecrated (set apart, hallowed), and Karen was justified (pronounced righteous, by trusting) in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Holy Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:11, Amplified version).

My assurance: God uses even this…a felled Japanese maple…to teach me I’m a work in progress, relying on His grace.

It Must Be Me


Monday morning greets me in a pretty fashion, but I emerge from bed and hurry out the door with … an attitude.

 Meet with people, fulfill commitments, and run those errands. At the end of the day I’m … frustrated.

What’s wrong with that person? Why can’t that place be more efficient? Can you believe the price of gas?

Tuesday brings more of the same … frustration.

I feel like a kite tethered to earth. I could soar to great heights if it were not for that person, that situation that drags me down.

By Wednesday, I’m in a MOOD! “Get Out of My Way!

Life feels like a maze and I’m running into walls, bumping heads, hitting dead ends. Is there any way out?

That afternoon, I get alone to open The BOOK and meet with God in HIS WORD when it DAWNS on me!!!

It’s not them, him, her, or the price of gas. It’s ME.

In my tyranny of the urgent, I’ve raced through each day without eating my BREAD. Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who cones to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst” (John 6:35).

JESUS: The “wonderful counselor, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6) “our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1) has been absent from my mind these past few days … even though I know in my heart He is “Immanuel, God with us.”

Frustration wanes like the moon while the Holy Spirit convicts my soul. I’m the root of the problem, the common denominator of all my frustration. Fatigue would have me stay at home, but it is Wednesday night so I go to church where no one knows I have an attitude.

When the sermon is over, I participate with other saints in the Holy act of communion. With head bowed and eyes closed, I confess my rotten, horrible, bad attitude…AND the “lack of quality time spent with Him” that led to such a dismal state of mind.

Worship music fills the room, but silence seals my lips as I seek forgiveness. I mentally run to the cross where I “drink His blood and eat His broken body” in remembrance of Jesus the Christ who died for me.

Praise music reaches a crescendo. With tear-stained cheeks, I stand with upraised arms. Frustration, as well as guilt, subsides…..replaced by another attitude.

An Attitude of GRATITUDE