Meet Devin Riley. Devin is my friend and my personal trainer. I've asked him to be a guest blogger to make application of our current sermon series, Days of Future Past on the Book of Daniel in the area of personal health and fitness. With over a decade of experience, and over 25,000 sessions completed at Hoffacker Health and Fitness, Devin is a true marathon man. If he’s not running or riding his bike, he’s mindfully pushing the weight to get the most out of his body in the least amount of time. Devin has attended Heartland Church with his family since 2006. If you don't see him in the sanctuary, chances are he's onstage entertaining and educating your little ones in the Crossroads (K-4) Ministry. Connect with Devin at email@example.com
Hi. I’m Devin, and I’ll be your “Fitness Pastor” for the next few weeks. By “Fitness” I don’t just mean pumping iron and cranking out miles on the treadmill. I mean total wellness of Mind, Body, and Spirit through focused activity that produces growth. For the next few weeks I’ll be blogging about Rick Warren’s “Daniel Plan” as Pastor Darryn preaches on the book of Daniel. Are you ready? Let’s go.
I plan the “or” game with my 5 year old all the time. Which do you like better: Pizza or tacos? Cats or Dogs? It’s a favorite way to pass the time, and it teaches some decision making and explanation skills as we defend our answers. Super Heroes are a favorite topic. Iron Man or the Hulk? Wolverine or Superman? Well, the Bible has its own super heroes, and If I had a choice to be any of the characters in the Bible, I’d choose Daniel. Why? Because Daniel is beast. We learn about Daniel through Chaos, chaos that God allows.
Daniel is a hero. When you immerse yourself in the book of Daniel, you see that God has a plan for your growth even in the hardest of times. Many different studies are based upon the book of Daniel, and one of the most practical is the “Daniel Plan” written by Rick Warren. Over the next few weeks, we’ll look at how you can arm yourself with God’s protection for whatever war you are facing.
In order to BE like Daniel, you have to ACT like Daniel. Pastor Rick breaks it down into 5 areas:
These 5 areas closely follow the Bible’s description of Daniel’s life. Each week, we’ll look at a specific aspect of Daniel’s character and how he used each one to prosper under pressure. There is no false bravado here. No “tough times don’t last, tough people do”--a tired phrase that offer little comfort. God offers real solutions to help you become the soldier that stands tall and confident in all situations.
We cover a lot in the first 6 verses of the Book of Daniel. Now, I don’t know about you, but when I read the Bible, I tend to fly over the words and not really absorb their meaning. Until recently, the characters in the Bible (like Daniel) were no more real to me than the superheroes I watch at the movies. But our God is real, and to make His people in the Bible real, I pretend that what is happening to them…is happening to me.
Your homeland is invaded. This pagan king has taken all of your religious articles to show how he can control every aspect of your lives. You and your friends are taken by force to be crushed, brainwashed, and remade into servants for the conquering king, Nebuchadnezzar. War, crushing defeat, captivity, and forced assimilation into a culture very different from your own…all in the span of 6 verses. Things look pretty bleak for our man Daniel. Don’t fret, dear reader. Check out the next 10 verses.
We see that God is always with Daniel, and nothing, NOTHING occurs without God orchestrating it. We learn that God caused the official who was in charge of Daniel to have feelings of kindness and respect for him. So even in a bleak situation, God is behind the scenes spinning all events for good. We also learn an incredible amount about the heart, soul, and mind of Daniel in one verse.
“But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself in this way.” Daniel 1:8 (NIV).
All appears lost. But Daniel never loses his resolve. In captivity, with luxurious food set before him Daniel holds to his faith. His faith spurs him to action, when everyone else was just conforming to the new order. He makes a decision, he speaks his decision, he stands up for his decision when it is opposed, and sees his decision through to completion.
Wait, what? You’re having trouble identifying with Daniel?
Make no mistake, you are at war. There are skirmishes every day for your attention, your attitude, and your actions. You have experienced times of crushing defeat as you continue to complete the behaviors you know are destructive. You endure captivity as these destructive behaviors provide moments of escape, followed by miles of guilt and shame. To make yourself feel better, you rationalize that “everyone else is doing it, so I might as well too.” And you are slowly assimilated into a culture you weren’t called to be a part of. Or is it only me that feels this way?
So let me encourage you to start (or keep) reading the Book of Daniel. Start strategizing your days as if you are at war. Look for the enemies that erode your faith, and pray about how you can defeat them. I’m not talking about Dan, from accounting, who takes your parking space and uses your flavored coffee creamer even though you’ve clearly marked it with your name. I’m talking about a far more subversive enemy that distracts you from Godly activities and replaces it with—you name it—doubt, lust, greed, anxiety, anger, fear, frustration, worry, laziness, uncertainty, jealousy…you get it. Be aware of when you start to feel things like this, and the thoughts and behaviors that produce them.
I am loathe to do it, but I’m going to quote SunTzu here from the Art of War:
“If you know your enemy and you know yourself you need not fear the results of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself you will succumb in every battle.”
Run the good race. Fight the good fight. Live the life you were called to live. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength.