Denying Yourself of Life’s Crutches

Today’s Verse:   Mark : 8-34  “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” 

When we are addicted to eating, or drinking, or smoking, or drugs, it is hard to quit. We all know that.  These are our crutches, used to get us through the hard times and the daily stress of life.  So I always think of the phrase, “Deny yourself and take up the cross”.   What does this mean?

In an everyday sense, to deny ourselves means to say “No” to ourselves.  It is to deny what we want and sometimes what we need. This means denying things that are bad for us, even if they give us pleasure (unhealthy food, cigarettes, drugs, etc).  We cannot move on to the path of health and well-being in mind, body and spirit until we deny ourselves of those influences.

To take up the cross means to live without our selfish ways and ambitions.  It means bearing a burden.  It is a burden to live with the stress of life, with no outlet for our stress.  We rely on our unhealthy crutches. We need to find healthy outlets that are good for us, such as exercise or meditation instead of harmful, addictive ways.

To put this in perspective, think of the biblical sense of this phrase.  In order to follow a life of Christ, you have to deny your own ambitions and follow his will.  When Christ was headed towards his crucifixion, he had to carry his own cross.  It was a solid wooden cross, which is estimated to have weighed at least 300 lbs.  He bore it for us.

If you are aware of the extent of Christ’s suffering*, you will appreciate even more what it means to “deny yourself and take up the cross”.   You will see that compared to what He went through for us, our addictions are minor.  We can use His strength to fight our addicitons, and deny ourselves and take up the cross.  Blessings to all of you in your battle towards good health.

*Note:  If you want a detailed analysis of the crucifixion, read The Cross of Christ by Dr. Andreas Lambrianides.  Warning:  It is quite graphic, but it does give you an idea of what Jesus suffered for us.  If you want to see it in fairly accurate and realistic detail, see Mel Gibson’s interpretation in  “The Passion of the Christ” movie.  Warning:  Also quite graphic.


Healthy Living Recipe

I love casseroles, but they are usually so fattening.  This one I found on Food Network, and it is excellent and full of good-for-you stuff.    Try it out!


2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, finely chopped, plus 1 teaspoon adobo sauce
1 teaspoon tomato paste
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pound lean ground turkey
One 15-ounce can low-sodium black beans, rinsed and strained
One 15-ounce can no-salt-added diced tomatoes
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 cup instant polenta
3/4 cup shredded Cheddar
1 tablespoon sliced pickled jalapenos, strained and chopped  (optional)
Cooking spray
1 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
1 avocado, diced
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
Add the onions and cook, stirring, until soft, about 5 minutes. Lower the heat to medium; add the cumin, garlic, oregano, chipotles, adobo sauce, tomato paste and a few grinds of pepper and stir until combined.
Add the turkey and cook, breaking it up with a spoon, until cooked through, about 8 minutes.
Stir in the black beans, tomatoes and chicken broth and cook until the broth is reduced, 8 minutes more.
Stir in 1/4 cup of the Parmesan. Remove from the heat and keep warm.
Meanwhile, cook the polenta according to package instructions. Remove from the heat. Stir in the Cheddar and chopped jalapenos.
Spray a 3-quart casserole dish with cooking spray. Spread the chili in the bottom of the casserole and top with the polenta, spreading evenly to cover the chili completely. Sprinkle the top with the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan. Cover with foil and bake until bubbling, 25 minutes. Remove the foil and broil until the top is nicely browned, 2 to 5 minutes. Serve hot, with toppings.


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