On The Journey, Judy Bowman

Cutting back

Diet. It’s a four-letter word. Most people hate having to give up the foods that they love in order to lose weight. But we do it—at least for a while. We know that in order to meet our goal we have to take in fewer calories than we expend. When we’re able to do that consistently, we starve those nasty fat cells and we lose weight.

There’s a similar principle at work in our spiritual lives, too. When we identify something that is getting in the way of our journey with Christ, we need to starve it. These obstacles used to be called “sins” and the strategy to overcome them was called “virtues.” We need to use those terms more often. For every sin, there’s a corresponding virtue to be practiced. We know how this works because the Catholic Church has been teaching it since the earliest days of Christianity. We know that the great Saints dutifully practiced some kind of spiritual diet as they progressed in holiness. St. John the Baptist said it best when describing his relationship with Jesus. “He must increase, but I must decrease”(John 3:30). So how do we do that?

We pray that the Lord will reveal our sins to us and we pray for the humility to accept what He shows to us. I can almost guarantee that your number one stumbling block is pride. We know that this is true because Scripture reveals it to us in so many circumstances. It was pride that brought about the fall of the Lucifer and his fellow disobedient angels. Pride fed the original sin of our first parents in the Garden. Pride says, “I know better than God. I can do this on my own. I don’t need any help.” Pride truly is the root of most, if not all, of our sins.

Starving pride means feeding humility. Talk less. And when you do speak, let it be less of your concerns, your wants, your accomplishments. Don’t seek out praise or sympathy from others. Always put others before yourself. Let yourself be last in all things. Practice mercy. Deny yourself little things that give your pleasure and after a while you can do without more and more. Every denial of self is a step closer to a humble soul. Fast, not only from food, but from gossip, judgment, prejudice, impatience, and envy. Pray constantly the prayer that never fails: “Thy will be done.”

Starving anger means feeding forgiveness. Whether it’s getting cut off in traffic or responding to more serious betrayals, anger is a natural human response. But it doesn’t have to become sinful if we combat it, with God’s help. “…Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” We pray these words from the Our Father, but do we put them into action every day? Are we as quick to forgive others as we are to become angry? Do you hope that the other person offending you “gets what they deserve,” or do you offer them the mercy that you hope to receive?

Starving greed means feeding charity. Do you have to have the latest gadget, the fastest car, the biggest house, or the most impressive wardrobe? Does it make you feel bad to see others with these possessions? Greed and envy eat away at the muscle of our charity. These sins hold onto things, instead of people. And we can only give to others with open hands. Overcoming greed, like pride, means thinking less of ourselves and thinking more of others. When we realize that everything we have is a gift from God, it’s much easier to share these gifts with others. We’re called to take care of one another, to help the needy, to feed the hungry, to shelter the homeless and to be Christ to everyone we encounter.

Putting yourself on a spiritual diet is only successful if you humbly pray for God’s assistance and strength. Like any diet, it’s harder at the beginning. After time, and daily practice, you’ll develop spiritual practices that help you in walking more closely with Christ. Frequent confession and Holy Communion give you the graces needed to continue growing in your relationship with Jesus. The process of becoming like Him is what St. John meant when he said, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” Life is learning to die to self and to live in Christ. As St. Paul writes, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here! (II Corinthians 5:17).

“The more a man dies to himself, the more he begins to live unto God.” — Thomas a Kempis

Glenda Smiley, Pleasant Valley Baptist Church

Pleasant Valley Baptist sends a special invitation for you to worship and fellowship with us each and every week.

Pleasant Valley Baptist will only have in-person Sunday morning worship until further notice. Sunday night and Wednesday Bible study will only be available on Facebook or YouTube. With the spread of the Delta variant, we want to help minimize the possibility of spread.

Pastor Flood brought the message from God’s Word from Galatians 3:13. Our memory can be a blessing or a curse. Far too often, we want to stay or return to what is familiar in our life. God never changes, but the His response in our lives can be different. All were born into this world under the curse, the law. The law of God can be kept by no man. The law reveals sin. Without the law of God we would not know what sin is. God gave the remedy, Christ. Each of us must accept or reject the truth of Christ. If we reject truth, we are still living under the curse, the law, and the curse itself will condemn. John 3 speaks of there is no more condemnation in Christ, but without Christ, we are condemned already. Christ came to redeem. To set free from the bondage of sin. Christ removes the curse, the guilty of sin, not just the penalty. Christ represented us and was made a curse for us, Philippians 4:4. Christ hung upon a tree taking ALL our sin upon himself as a public display. Repent and receive Christ. Pray, confessing your sin, by faith accept Jesus’ finished work on the cross as payment for your sin, and by your faith and God’s grace receive eternal life today. The gift of eternal life is provided by God.

Pray for our country and all those left behind in Afghanistan. Pray for God’s mercy, wisdom, and help. Pray for our President. America started down a slippery slope years ago when God was taken out of our schools. As a country, we are seeing the results of choosing to turn away from God, the principle of reaping what has been sown. America must pray and turn from our sin in order for God to hear from heaven and bless our land. Our hope is God and as a nation we must repent.

Continue to pray for members Mike Cross, Denise Pitts, Betty Pitts, Larry Armstrong, Pastor and his family, Smiley family, those who are COVID-positive, and all who need our prayers. Pray for Dot McAllister, and our shut-in Lula Petty, health needs. Pray for those who have lost loved ones. Pray for our churches, missionaries, and evangelist.

Join us Sunday mornings at 11 am for in-person services. All services are available on Facebook and YouTube.


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