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The Daniel Plan
By RICK WARREN, Daniel Amen, Mark Hyman, Andrea Vinley Jewell, Jim Ruark
ZONDERVANCopyright © 2013 The Daniel Plan
All rights reserved.
How It All Began
PASTOR RICK WARREN
Wow! Everybody's FAT!
That shocking thought kept reverberating in my mind one bright spring day as I was baptizing 827 adults.
I'll admit it wasn't a very spiritual thought for a pastor to have, especially while baptizing! But I was getting tired, since our church baptizes the way Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River—by lowering people under the water, then lifting them back up.
That day, based on the average weight of Americans, I lifted more than 145,000 pounds!
I had read plenty of articles about the growing epidemic of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease in America, but that day I actually felt the weight of America's health problem in a dramatic way.
While my first thought was that everyone I baptized was overweight, my second thought was more personal and pointed:
But I'm fat too! I'm as out of shape as everyone else is!
In that moment of clarity, I realized the terrible example I was giving with my own health. How could I expect my congregation to take better care of their bodies if I was such a poor model? I had ignored my own growing problem for thirty years.
Let me explain:
I grew up in a family that didn't drink alcohol or smoke, but all food—no matter how unhealthy it might be—was considered okay. And growing up, much of my life centered around food.
Every memory of my childhood, both good and bad, was connected to food. When we were happy, we celebrated by eating. When we were sad, we consoled ourselves with comfort food. If I had a difficult day as a child, the antidote was cookies and milk or a piece of fresh pie.
Living on five acres in the country, my dad grew a huge vegetable garden, my mom loved to cook, and we all loved to eat. Eating was our entertainment, and we had huge meals every night. In fact, our handmade fourteen-foot dining table made of a single four-inch slab of redwood was the largest piece of furniture in our house. It dominated our home, and our family life revolved around the meals we shared together.
Blessed with good health, a high metabolism, and an active life, I could eat everything I wanted and as much as I wanted and never gain a pound. When I married kay, I was as thin as a flagpole even though I rarely exercised and ate junk food constantly. I paid no attention to my health.
Then, in 1980, at age twenty-five, I became the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Southern California. As the church rapidly grew to thousands of members, I worked long days, ate meals on the run, and spent hours sitting while leading meetings, counseling people, and studying for sermons. I began adding a few pounds every year, but because my energy remained high and I didn't care much about appearance, I ignored my growing health problem. By 2010, I was severely overweight.
Ironically, over the past decade I had sent nearly 21,000 of our church members overseas to 196 countries to serve the sick and the poor through a program we developed called the P.E.A.C.E. plan. The C of the P.E.A.C.E. stands for "Care for the sick," and our members had compassionately cared for the health of others around the world who were suffering from poor nutrition, poor water, malaria, and HIV/AIDS. But I ignored my own declining health and that of my own members.
That baptism was my wake-up call to the health issues in my life and in the lives of those in our congregation. I knew drastic changes were needed, so I began educating myself about preventative health. What I learned shocked me:
For the first time in history, as many people are suffering from the result of too much food as malnutrition. While millions of people suffer from not having enough to eat, millions are struggling with the effects of being overweight.
Seven in ten Americans are overweight.
Diabetes, heart disease, and other "lifestyle-based diseases" now kill more people than infectious diseases worldwide.
The next Sunday, I stood before my congregation and made this public confession:
Friends, I've been a poor steward of my health and a terrible example for you. While we've been helping many around the world, I've ignored the problem here at home.
So today I am publicly repenting, and I ask for your forgiveness! God expects us to take care of the bodies he has given us, but I have not done that. Now, I've only gained two to three pounds a year, but I have been your pastor for thirty years. So I need to lose ninety pounds! Do any of you want to join me in getting healthy?
The audience responded with sustained applause.
Honestly, I expected that maybe a couple hundred people would join me in my quest to get healthy, so I was overwhelmed when more than 12,000 Saddleback Church members signed up that day! Now I needed a plan. It had to be simple, inexpensive, and scalable. Since I was preaching that day about a man in the Bible named Daniel who refused to eat junk food and challenged a king to a health contest, I named the program The Daniel Plan.
Since I knew nothing about getting healthy, I recruited three nationally known doctors—Dr. Daniel Amen, Dr. Mark Hyman, and Dr. Mehmet Oz—to coach me in getting healthy and help me design The Daniel Plan to be used in our church. All three doctors graciously volunteered their expertise and time for free because they care about our health.
Over the first year of The Daniel Plan, Saddleback members collectively lost more than 250,000 pounds! But even more important, we learned insights, developed skills, and established habits for a lifetime of healthy living. The Daniel Plan is far more than a diet. It is a lifestyle program based on biblical principles and five essential components: Food, Fitness, Focus, Faith, and Friends. These last two components—faith and friends—are what I call the secret sauce that makes The Daniel Plan so effective. When you have God and a group helping you, you now have far more than willpower helping you make positive changes, and you are far more likely to stay consistent.
Let me be clear: There is no magic pill, no quick fix, no instant formula, and no shortcut that will make you healthy overnight. You must make wise choices every day. You will likely have setbacks. I have! In fact, as I write these words, I am recovering from a recent setback. My family experienced a tragic loss that was devastating to all of us. In my grief, I didn't sleep much, and that left me exhausted, both emotionally and physically. Overwhelmed by sorrow and fatigue, I stopped making healthy choices and began to add unwanted weight. All those pounds I had lost kept finding me! But as anyone in recovery will tell you, setbacks are part of the process in long-term change. Rather than beat myself up, I simply asked God and my friends to help me get back on track.
The plan you will read about in this book is really quite simple. Dedicate your body to God. Ask for his help, and get involved in a small group of some kind that will support you on your journey. Then start making healthy choices—such as replacing donuts with fresh fruit and making exercise a part of your daily routine. Make whole foods a regular part of your diet. Live a more active lifestyle. Get more sleep. Cut down on your stress. It's not rocket science. It's just good, common sense. After all, God expects you to use the brain he gave you.
Many diets and fitness plans use guilt as a motivation, but that never works in the long run. You can guilt yourself into doing anything short-term, but the change will last only as long as the guilt (or fear) does. In contrast, The Daniel Plan is built with love as the motivation: Experiencing God's unconditional love for you, learning to love him back, learning to love whom God made you to be, and learning to give and receive love from others in a small group setting.
The Bible says, "Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance" (1 Corinthians 13:7 NLT). It is love—not fear, not guilt, and not peer pressure—that causes us to keep going when we feel like giving up.
The Bible also tells us that lasting change begins with committing your body to God. Romans 12:1–2 says, "... give your bodies to God.... Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think" (NLT, emphasis added). Notice the strong mind-body connection in this verse. Two thousand years after this verse was written, we now know that not only do our minds affect our bodies, but also our bodies affect our minds.
What you do with your body sets the tone for everything else. Physical health influences your mental health, your spiritual health, your emotional health, your relational health, and even your financial health. How many times have you read a book, heard a message, or attended an event that motivated you to make some change, but then you didn't have the physical energy to do it? Instead, you laid down on your couch and watched TV.
A major motivation for me to be physically healthy is that I want the energy and alertness to make other changes in my life. My guess is that you too have other areas of your life you would like to improve. So we are going to begin by raising your energy level, since you can't do anything without a body! We are going to start at the most basic level of your life: your physical health.
WHAT DOES GOD SAY ABOUT YOUR BODY?
The Christian family I grew up in attended church ser vices every week. I have listened to thousands of sermons on what God has to say about our souls, our minds, our wills, and our emotions. But not once had I ever heard an entire sermon on God's view of our bodies. The subject was completely ignored. This is why most people still have no theology of health. While our culture is obsessed with physical beauty and sexy bodies, many believers ignore their bodies as if they don't matter. But they do.
God has a lot to say about the importance of the body he gave you. It is talked about through the Bible. But for the sake of brevity, let me show you just one chapter of the Bible, 1 Corinthians 6:12–20:
"I have the right to do anything," you say—but not everything is beneficial. "I have the right to do anything"—but I will not be mastered by anything. You say, "Food for the stomach and the stomach for food, and God will destroy them both." The body, however, is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! ...
Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
Wow! This is definitely an in-your-face, tell-it-like-it-is, no-holds-barred description of what God considers to be the right and wrong use of our bodies. In this and other passages of Scripture we learn five radical truths about our bodies that run counterculturally to everything you hear today.
1. My body belongs to God. It is his property, not mine. I don't own it, God does. He created my body, and he expects me to use it the way he intended for it to be used. Now we naturally rebel against this idea. Our culture teaches us, "My body is mine to do whatever I want to with it." But God says, "No, you're wrong. It's not your body, because you didn't create it. I made it, and I loaned it to you to live in while I put you on earth, and I expect you to take care of my creation."
The fact is, everything you can see on earth was created by God. He made it, and he owns it. What you think you own is really on loan. The Bible says, "The body ... is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body" (1 Corinthians 6:13).
Today we make the same common mistake Greek philosophers did thousands of years ago. Aristotle, Socrates, and Plato believed in dualism, which included the idea that your mind (or spirit) is important, but your body isn't important spiritually. They devalued the body. In fact, some Greek philosophers taught that your body is evil, so it really didn't matter if you messed it up.
The Bible tells us the exact opposite. Your body is holy because God made it, and everything God makes has a purpose. We are to bring glory to God with our bodies, so we can't compartmentalize our lives and think that we can divorce our bodies and live as if only our spirit matters. God owns your body!
2. Jesus paid for my body when he died for me on the cross. As we saw earlier, 1 Corinthians 6:19–20 tells us that our bodies have been bought!
Millions of TV viewers love watching American Pickers and Pawn Stars because it's fun to guess how much old items are worth. The owners often think something they own is more valuable than it really is. But the reality is that something is only worth whatever someone is willing to pay for it! You may think your house is worth more, but it's really only worth what a buyer is willing to pay for it.
God has never made a person he didn't love. If you want to know how valuable your life is to God, just look at the cross. With his arms outstretched, nailed to the cross, Jesus was saying, "This is how valuable you are to me. I love you this much! I'd rather die than live without you." You are priceless.
Now, if you are worth dying for, don't you think God wants you to take better care of yourself? If you bought a million-dollar race horse, would you feed it junk food and keep it up all night? Of course not! You would protect your investment. The fact is, Jesus has made an investment in you. He paid for your life with his life, and he expects you to take care of his investment.
3. God's Spirit lives in my body. When you say yes to God, accepting by faith what Jesus did for you and trusting his grace and forgiveness to save you, then God puts his Spirit inside you as a guarantee of your salvation. The Bible says it like this: "Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?" (1 Corinthians 6:19).
When God puts his Spirit inside you, your body becomes a temple of God, a residence for his love. So let me ask you this: If you saw someone vandalizing or damaging a temple dedicated to God, wouldn't you consider that a crime? Of course! But you abuse and vandalize God's temple, your body, when you deprive it of rest and sleep, overeat, put too much stress on it, and fail to take care of it.
4. God expects me to take care of my body. I am not the owner of my body, but I am the caretaker, or manager, of it. The word for manager in the Bible is steward. Taking care of my body is an issue of spiritual stewardship. In fact, God tells me that one day I will have to give an account for how well I managed everything he gave to me, including my body. I will stand before God and have to answer the question, "What did you do with what I gave you?"
In The Purpose Driven Life I explain how your life on earth is a test, a trust, and a temporary assignment. This life is preparation for our next life, which will last forever in eternity. God is testing you on earth to see what he can trust you with in eternity. He is watching how you use your time, your money, your talents, your opportunities, your mind, and yes, even your body. Are you making the most of what you've been given? God isn't going to evaluate you on the basis of the bodies he gave to other people, but he will judge what you did with what you have been given.
5. God will resurrect my body after I die. God never wastes anything. He gets the maximum use out of all he creates. Right now you are living in the 1.0 version of your body. You will get the 2.0 version of your body in heaven. The Bible says, "By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also" (1 Corinthians 6:14).
We don't really know what our resurrected bodies will be like, but we do have a few clues. We know that after Jesus came from the grave, he walked around Jerusalem for forty days in a resurrected body. He was seen multiple times by many different groups of people, including one event where more than 500 people saw and talked with him. So we know that other people will still recognize you in the new 2.0 version of your body in heaven, but there will be one major difference: in heaven your body will be perfect, with no blemishes, no broken parts, no wounds, and no pain.
Excerpted from The Daniel Plan by RICK WARREN, Daniel Amen, Mark Hyman, Andrea Vinley Jewell, Jim Ruark. Copyright © 2013 The Daniel Plan. Excerpted by permission of ZONDERVAN.
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