Spiritual Transformation

In my last blog post titled, A Higher Purpose,” I mentioned that I started a 40-day sugar fast on February 1st after being inspired to try it from a book titled, The 40-Day Sugar Fast: Where Physical Detox Meets Spiritual Transformation,” by Wendy Speake. Detoxing from sugar has been no fun–headaches, lethargy, irritability, mood swings, cravings–see this article titled, What is a Sugar Detox? Effects and How to Avoid Sugar,” for a list of symptoms at this link.

I am now at the half way point of the 40-day sugar fast, and I happy to announce that I’m through the detox phase, which lasted for up to two weeks in my case, and once I got through it, I started to immediately feel better again (all of the detox symptoms disappeared), and I could feel a big difference that cutting out refined sugar made on me physically, mentally, and emotionally, too. In fact, one of the things I have discovered is that I don’t think about food as much as I did before the fast began. Well, I don’t think about particular foods, like those I shouldn’t be eating anyway as they are often loaded with too much sugar and fat.

Now that I’m through the physical detox phase of the sugar fast, I still have the second half of the fast to get through (and no, once the fast is over that does not mean I’m going back to eating refined sugar because that defeats the purpose, and it is bad for my health, too). However, the emphasis of the book is not only on the physical fast from sugar, but also on our spiritual transformation throughout the book starting from Day 1. This will be a harder part of the fast to try to describe as I tend to believe that a person’s spiritual transformation is a highly personal thing not necessarily to be described in words. Genuine transformation is not displayed so much in words, but rather in actions and heart attitudes.

The apostle Paul’s conversion in the New Testament is an example of spiritual transformation. He literally went from hating and killing Christians one day (as a Pharisee named Saul–his name later became Paul) to becoming a Christian after his encounter with Jesus on the Damascus Road. The transformation was a 180 degree turn from his previous life as a Pharisee. GotQuestions.org describes Paul’s encounter as follows:

The events that happened on the road to Damascus relate not only to the apostle Paul, whose dramatic conversion occurred there, but they also provide a clear picture of the conversion of all people. While some have an extraordinarily dramatic conversion known as a “Damascus Road experience,” the conversion of all believers follows a similar pattern of Paul’s experience on the road to Damascus, described in Paul’s own words in Acts 9:1–9Acts 22:6–11; and Acts 26:9–20.

Putting the three accounts together, the details of this amazing experience come together. Paul, who went by the name of Saul at that time, was on his way to Damascus with a letter from the high priest of the temple in Jerusalem giving him authority to arrest any who belonged to “the Way,” meaning those who followed Christ. So intent was he on “opposing the name of Jesus of Nazareth” (Acts 26:9) that in “raging fury,” he breathed “threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord.” Here was a man who truly hated Christ and all who were associated with Him.

Suddenly a bright light shone on Saul, causing his entire party to fall to the ground. Then Jesus spoke to Saul, asking him, “Why are you persecuting me?” in a voice understood only by him. Saul recognized that this was a deity of some sort because he called Him “Lord” and asked who He was. When Jesus identified Himself as the very One Saul had been persecuting, one can only imagine the terror that filled Saul’s heart. Saul was speechless, no doubt thinking to himself, “I’m a dead man.” The Acts 22 version of the story indicates that Saul’s response was to ask what Jesus wanted him to do. The Acts 9 and Acts 22 retellings of the story have Saul saying Jesus told him to rise and go to Damascus where he would be told what to do.

In the Acts 26 story, which is longer and more detailed, Saul describes Jesus’ commission of him as His messenger to the Gentiles (which must have amazed Saul, the ultimate Gentile-hating Pharisee), to turn many from darkness to the light and from the power of Satan to God. His message of forgiveness of sins and “a place among those who are sanctified by faith” must have also astonished Saul because the Jews were convinced they alone had the place of honor in God’s eyes.

There is no discrepancy or contradiction among these three accounts. Even though Saul received his commission from Jesus on the road, he still had to go into Damascus and be told what to do—meet with Ananias who laid hands on him, receive the Holy Spirit, be baptized, and be received by the disciples there (Acts 9:15–161922:12–16). At Damascus, he also went for three days without eating or drinking, and then received his sight, which had been taken from him on the road.

The phrase “Damascus Road experience” is used to describe a conversion which is dramatic and startling. Many people receive Christ in a life-changing, instantaneous experience, although many others describe their conversion as more of a gradual understanding of the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. But both types of experiences have several things in common. First, salvation is of the Lord, by His will and according to His plan and purpose (Acts 22:14). As He does one way or another to each of us, Jesus made it clear to Saul that he had gone his own way for long enough. Now he was to become an instrument in the hands of the Master to do His will as He had foreordained it.

Second, the response of both Saul and all those who are redeemed by Christ is the same: “What do you want me to do?” Like Saul, we do not bargain, negotiate, question, or come halfway. The response of the redeemed is obedience. When God truly touches our hearts, our only response can be, “Lord, may your will be done and may you use me to do it.” Such was the experience of Saul on the Damascus Road.

Saul’s dramatic conversion on the road to Damascus was the beginning of an incredible journey. And while not all conversions are as startling as Saul’s, each of us is commissioned by Jesus to live in obedience to Him (John 14:15), love one another in His name (1 John 2:23), “know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,” (Philippians 3:10), and tell the world of the wonderful riches in Christ. (Quote source here.)

So what does the Bible say about spiritual transformation? GotQuestions.org states:

In the Bible transformation means “change or renewal from a life that no longer conforms to the ways of the world to one that pleases God” (Romans 12:2). This is accomplished by the renewing of our minds, an inward spiritual transformation that will manifest itself in outward actions. The Bible presents the transformed life in Christ as demonstrated through our “bearing fruit in every good work [and] growing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:10). Transformation involves those who were once far from God being “drawn near” to Him through the blood of Christ (Ephesians 2:13).

Moreover, evidence of transformation within us is seen in the way we increasingly reflect the likeness and glory of Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18). For as the apostle Paul said, “You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ” (Romans 8:9). To be considered as children of God, we must be led by the Spirit of God. And it is through the power of God’s Spirit that Christ lives within us. The transformed life mirrors the attitude of the apostle Paul: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).

This power of transformation comes from one source. Paul said, “For the message of the cross [the gospel] is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18). In speaking of Jesus, the apostle Peter, empowered by the Holy Spirit, boldly declared this truth: “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

Transformed lives begin with the gospel message of Christ, for in it is the power of God. It is the gospel that brings us salvation: “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith’” (Romans 1:16-17).

Through the gospel message of Christ, we learn “to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:22-24). “For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God” (Romans 8:13-14).

Just before he died, the apostle Peter provided us specific instructions on how we are to live out our transformed lives: “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness… for if you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:3-11). (Quote source here.)

Spiritual transformation changes a person from the inside out. I’ll end this post with Paul’s words regarding spiritual transformation found in Romans 12:1-2 (NIV): Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is…

His good . . .

Pleasing and . . .

Perfect will . . . .

YouTube Video: “You Raise Me Up” by Selah:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here

A Higher Purpose

I am not a fan of making New Year’s resolutions, so I didn’t make any, once again, for this year. Now that we are into our second month of 2022, I feel like I might have more success at doing some of the things I might have considered as New Year’s resolutions if I had been so inclined to make them, and, hopefully, without the failure rate of most New Year’s resolutions that are made each year (e.g., 80% according to this article in Forbes).

One of the things I know I absolutely need to do is to cut back on the amount of refined sugar I eat. I have a sweet tooth, and I admit to being a carb addict, too, but I’ve let both get out of control over the past several months starting back in September, and it’s time to reign them back in again. I just feel so much better when I control what I eat and not let excess sugar and carbs rule my days and my moods, not to mention the other very real risks that come from eating too much sugar.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS):

Two hundred years ago, the average American ate only 2 pounds of sugar a year. In 1970, we ate 123 pounds of sugar per year. Today, the average American consumes almost 152 pounds of sugar in one year. This is equal to 3 pounds (or 6 cups) of sugar consumed in one week!

Nutritionists suggest that Americans should get only 10% of their calories from sugar. This equals 13.3 teaspoons of sugar per day (based on 2,000 calories per day). The current average is 42.5 teaspoons of sugar per day! (Quote source here.)

According to Medical News Today, some of the risks of eating too much sugar includes the following:

Tooth decay

Sugar feeds bacteria that live in the mouth. When bacteria digest the sugar, they create acid as a waste product. This acid can erode tooth enamel, leading to holes or cavities in the teeth.

People who frequently eat sugary foods, particularly in between mealtimes as snacks or in sweetened drinks, are more likely to develop tooth decay, according to Action on Sugar, part of the Wolfson Institute in Preventive Medicine in the United Kingdom.


A 2018 study of university students in China showed that those who drank sweetened drinks seven times per week or more were more likely to develop moderate or severe acne.

Additionally, a 2019 study suggests that lowering sugar consumption may decrease insulin-like growth factors, androgens, and sebum, all of which may contribute to acne.

Weight gain and obesity

Sugar can affect the hormones in the body that control a person’s weight. The hormone leptin tells the brain a person has had enough to eat. However, according to a 2008 animal study, a diet high in sugar may cause leptin resistance.

This may mean, that over time, a high sugar diet prevents the brain from knowing when a person has eaten enough. However, researchers have yet to test this in humans.

Diabetes and insulin resistance

A 2013 article in PLOS ONE, indicated that high sugar levels in the diet might cause type 2 diabetes over time.

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) add that other risk factors, such as obesity and insulin resistance, can also lead to type 2 diabetes.

Cardiovascular disease

A large prospective study in 2014 found that people who got 17–21% of their daily calories from added sugar had a 38% higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease (CVD) than those who consumed 8% added sugars. For those who consumed 21% or more of their energy from added sugars, their risk for CVD doubled.

High blood pressure

In a 2011 study, researchers found a link between sugar-sweetened beverages and high blood pressure, or hypertension. A review in Pharmacological Research states that hypertension is a risk factor for CVD. This may mean that sugar exacerbates both conditions.


Excess sugar consumption can cause inflammation, oxidative stress, and obesity. These factors influence a person’s risk of developing cancer.

A review of studies in the Annual Review of Nutrition found a 23–200% increased cancer risk with sugary drink consumption. Another study found a 59% increased risk of some cancers in people who consumed sugary drinks and carried weight around their abdomen.

Aging skin

Excess sugar in the diet leads to the formation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs), which play a role in diabetes. However, they also affect collagen formation in the skin.

According to Skin Therapy Letter, there is some evidence to suggest that a high number of AGEs may lead to faster visible aging. However, scientists need to study this in humans more thoroughly to understand the impact of sugar in the aging process. (Quote source here.)

While that list is a bit daunting as to the damage eating too much sugar can do to us physically, this post is about more then just cutting back on sugar (and carbs). This past week I went in search of not just another diet book to cut back on sugar and carbs (I do know what I should be eating for proper nutrition, but I let my cravings get the better of me), but to put a real purpose behind controlling what I allow myself to consume.

I was shopping in a Hobby Lobby earlier this week and I looked over the selection of Christian books that they sell that are usually located near the check out aisles. One of the books had a titled that caught my eye, The 40-Day Sugar Fast: Where Physical Detox Meets Spiritual Transformation,” by Wendy Speake, a trained actress, Bible teacher, speaker and writer. Several years ago I told myself I was never going to buy another diet book again, but this book is different. It has a spiritual component that goes beyond breaking a sugar addiction.

Amazon.com published the following blurb on it’s order page for The 40-Day Sugar Fastwhich actually comes from Wendy’s website at this link:

What would you be willing to give up to experience the presence of God in your life again?

Many of us sign up for a physical detox program, thinking that if our bodies are healthier, then we’re healthier. But a healthy body doesn’t do us a lot of good if we are spiritually malnourished.

Welcome to the 40-Day Sugar Fast, a fast that begins with us giving Jesus our sugar and ends with Jesus giving us more of himself–the only thing that can ever truly satisfy our soul’s deep hunger. On this 40-day journey you’ll learn how to stop fixating on food and other things you use to fill the voids in life and instead fix your eyes on Christ.

Anyone who runs to sugar for comfort or a reward, who eats mindlessly or out of boredom, who feels physically and spiritually lethargic, or who struggles with self-control will discover here not only freedom from their cravings but an entirely new appetite for the good things God has for us. (Quote source here.)

As Christians, the spiritual side of our lives should take high priority yet too often in our fast-paced and technology-savvy society we run on our own fumes moving at a frantic pace just to keep up with everything, including the constant flow of text messages, emails, and scheduled events and other activities. Grabbing fast food or sweets and any number of the zillions of options we have when it comes to food here in America can obliterate any sense of our spiritual obligation to take care of the only body we get in this lifetime. And many of our chronic health issues come from the choices we’ve made about food over the years, but we rarely think about it as we drive through another fast food restaurant lane one more time.

I also know that I can personally get into the cycle of “mindless eating” usually when I’m bored or frustrated about something, and the last thing I think about when I’m eating that chocolate chip cookie (even if it’s gluten-free!) is the effect it is having, long term, on my spiritual life and my physical health. How often do we connect the dots between what we eat and how it might be affecting our relationship with God except when offering up a prayer of thanks before we eat it? And how often do we even do that (pray before eating)? I’ll be the first to admit that I rarely think about it except in a formal eating setting.

Back in early 2019, I put myself on a healthy diet and kept a journal of every morsel that entered my mouth as I needed to do that to be accountable to myself and to not overeat, of which most of the time I was successful (I’d say 80% of the time). Within two months I had lost 20 pounds and I went on to lose a total of 30 pounds, and I stayed pretty much within the parameters of what I could eat (mostly healthy stuff, no fast food, and following this eating plan). That took about five months total, and to this day with an occasional fluctuation of a few pounds up or down (like 2 or 3), I have maintained that weight loss (even as of this morning). While I still wanted to lose another 20 pounds or so in 2019 (which I have not yet lost), I am happy that I have been able to maintain that weight loss over time. My sugar and carb cravings were mostly gone, and I felt great emotionally and physically (I also exercise regularly and I have for the past eleven years).

While I’ve had my challenges like most people do just living life one day at a time, by eating right I discovered I didn’t get as upset over things that weren’t working out, or regarding situations that were not getting resolved in the way I wanted them to get resolved, and my faith walk was strong as well as my resilience despite things not going the way I had hoped they would go. I also noticed that when I gave into my “emotional eating” tendency and the pull to eat sweets that I felt just the opposite–irritable and tired. So that kept me eating the right foods (even if I ate too much) and steering clear of the wrong types of foods (including fast foods).

So I’ve coasted along since 2019 with my 30-pound weight loss and eating mostly what I am suppose to eat, and then this past fall I signed up to attend a class for women new to living in this area that I moved to over a year ago, and suddenly I was facing all kinds of “goodies” that were available to eat at these once-a-week classes. Because I had stopped eating anything with gluten in it back in 2019, most of the stuff available to eat had gluten in it and/or it was really sweet (and I had weaned myself off of sugar as much as possible). Long story short, over the course of the three months that this class lasted, I found myself giving in to eating the very foods I had stopped eating, and eating that stuff spilled over into poorer eating habits with other meals beyond that class setting.

In other words, I was going downhill in my sugar addiction during the fall and into the Christmas season by eating the wrong stuff that I had previously given up, and I could feel the pull both physically and emotionally that it was having on me (eating or drinking too much sugar really can affect the mind with things like brain fog (read this short article titled, 4 Ways Sugar Can Be Harming to Your Mental Health,” in Psychology Today). In fact, the “negative side effects of eating too much sugar include everything from brain fog and trouble concentrating to anxiety and depression. While sugar in small amounts from natural sources is not a major concern, most people are eating too much of the sweet stuff and could benefit from cutting back.” (Quote source here.)

By the time January arrived, I was eating more food items with sugar in them then I had eaten in years, and my sweet tooth was back and demanding more. I realized as I went through January that I had to do something to get back on track, but my sweet tooth was hard to control (sugar is addictive–read this article titled, Why is Sugar Addiction a Problem?”).

When I spotted that book I mentioned above this past Monday titled, The 40-Day Sugar Fast: Where Physical Detox Meets Spiritual Transformation,” I decided to buy it and to also get back to the way I was eating before I started eating the “bad stuff” this fall when I was attending that class, and I decided February 1st was my starting date. I thought about waiting until Lent (which starts on March 2nd) as that would be a good time to give up sugar, but I knew that was giving myself too much leeway to keep indulging in sugary type foods during February, so I decided to start now.

So this is Day #4 that I have gone without eating any refined sugar, and I can already feel the clarity of thought that not having a sugar-addicted brain gives you. We really are what we eat–and that’s not just a saying but reality. Of course, we are a lot more then what we eat, but what we eat is crucial to our physical well being, and to our spiritual health and our relationship with God.

Day #3 in The 40-Day Sugar Fast is titled, “When Sugar Walls Crumble,” and it opens with the following:

Sugar is a stronghold for many people. Does it hold you back from the good life that God has planned for you? Perhaps over time your sweet tooth has turned into a full-fledged addition, dictating your days, driving you from one sugary fix to the next. Unfortunately, no sugar fix can fix you. In fact, when you give sugar that job, you’ll end up more broken than before because sugar weakens our physical bodies and clouds our minds. If only you could break free from this sweet, strangling stronghold, but you feel powerless. The walls are too thick and to wide, the habits too ingrained, the enemy too big and too strong, and you are too addicted.

However, all throughout the Scriptures, God demonstrates that He has the power to open prison gates and set captives free. Today I encourage you to shout God’s victory over your life even before He helps you tear down the stranglehold of sugar…. (Quote source: “The 40-Day Sugar Fast,” pp.37-38.)

John 4:34 states, “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work.” May our food be more than just food, too. I’ll end this post with the words of Paul in Philippians 4:13

I can do all things . . .

Through Christ . . .

Who strengthens me . . . .

YouTube Video: “Not My Will” by Kim Walker-Smith:

Photo #1 credit here (Shutterstock)
Photo #2 credit here