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Rev. Ted Vance, Millgrove and Troy United Churches

Faith Matters: Is 2013 your year?

Here we are, three and a half weeks into 2013. And the big question is: are your New Year’s resolutions still going strong? Maybe a better question is  “Are they even still going?” or “Did they ever get started?”

Many of us start the New Year off with the best intentions… this is going to be the year! And then reality strikes. Others experience something less defined, hills and valleys along the way.

In November, a family member and I decided to dedicate ourselves to losing weight in anticipation of a January cruise. We did quite well, dropping about 10 pounds before Christmas, gaining back two, and then losing those and a few more before leaving.

While on vacation, I deluded myself into thinking that I hadn’t gained any weight, against incredible odds and temptations. I thought that until last Friday night, when we had a magnificent dinner feast. Upon returning home, on Sunday morning I stepped on the scales, and reality hit. I don’t think it’s possible to gain four to five pounds in one sitting, is it? The scales don’t lie, and suddenly my self-delusion that increased activity cancelled out my increased intake, disappeared into thin air.

Some of us needed to make much more serious changes in our lives – ones that are more than just shedding some pounds. But how to measure our progress?

Weight loss is easy to track, because we can hop on and off the scale. And at the mandatory weigh-in of many organized groups, it keeps one accountable to others, and  most importantly, themselves. Other changes are not as easy to measure, especially if they involve striving to live in a way that is more like what God intended.

As the Apostle Paul said to King Agrippa, “I preached that they must repent of their sins and turn to God and do the things that would show they had repented.” (Acts 26:20) In order to change one’s ways, the current problem needs to be identified, and confessed to oneself, possibly to a trusted confidante, and ultimately to God. Then we need to ask God for help.

Major changes can be too much for an individual to handle, but by praying for assistance, chances of success are much greater. Good intentions and talking about it are a start, but then as Paul said, “We need to do the things that would show we have repented.”

Actions speak louder than words, and whether our repentance involves eating less, exercising more, quitting smoking, drinking less, going back to church, becoming more generous, spending more time with family and friends, managing our anger or one of the many other resolutions people aspire to, it is by our actions that we’ll demonstrate that we have truly made changes.

But are we deluding ourselves? Just like the scales popped my self-delusion. Ask someone who cares enough to tell you the truth about how you’re doing. And with God’s help, may 2013 truly be THE year!

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