Holiday celebrations are behind us. Another decade is behind us. Years from now, when our children are much older, they may look back at the last decade with nostalgic recollection. This happens to all of us to one extent or another. We reframe and rewrite our history to conform to what works for us. But this article is not a look back. This article looks forward and then offers a way to get there.
If you are one of the people who declared that you are “all in” and signed up for the Daniel Plan, congratulations.1 You took the first step towards a much better future for yourself. Stick to the plan, and your life will change for the better. This decade will be tremendously better than the last. This is not just my promise or the promise of those who documented and shared the Daniel Plan. This is a promise from God found in scripture.
But making lifestyle changes is difficult. Several years ago, I discerned that God was calling me to give up meat. No explanation. No speech on animal cruelty. In hindsight, I figured out that this lifestyle change was both a test of my trust, and now I realize that God has a much bigger goal in mind. This is where the Daniel Plan comes into play.
But even though I was successful at eliminating meat from my diet, which isn’t necessary for most people, I was not successful at removing dairy. “Cheese is addictive,” according to Dr. Neal Barnard, founder of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. According to Barnard, because dairy proteins, called casomorphins, attach to the same brain receptors as heroin and other narcotics, acting as mild opiates. As a result, eating cheese produces a little hit of dopamine.2
Other food addictions include animal fat, salt, and sugar. I won’t go into the chemistry here. Still, anyone who has tried to eat just one potato chip has experienced a craving for a salty snack. Food addiction are subtle. We all have them, so they seem like part of God’s plan for our diets. The truth is that most of our food addictions are fed by a corporation’s plan for profit. Our health is not a part of their business plan.
Day 2 in The Daniel Plan Journal has a quote from Marie T. Freeman that is a good starting point for making a lifestyle change.3 “If you want to form a new habit, get to work if you want to break a bad habit, get on your knees.” Every 12-step program that I am aware of references a “higher power” that is a critical part of recovery. For us, the God who created us it the higher power that we need.
Changing addictive behaviors is beyond the limits of our willpower. And while food addictions seem trivial in comparison to alcohol and drug addictions, food addictions are challenging.
Cyndi and I are frequently asking each other, is this allowed? Is peanut butter on the Daniel Plan? What about crackers? How much butter is too much? Are you sure that you should be having another slice of bread? There is a learning curve. And the idea that there is so much to learn can be overwhelming.
My advice for you, for Cyndi, and for myself, is to relax. Yes, when I think about the learning curve and the journey ahead, I get overwhelmed. I like roadmaps. I like knowing about the next turn ahead. And I can be fearful when there is so much unknown. But fear is the opposite of faith. And the Daniel Plan is a faith journey. We don’t know as much as we may want to know. So, we take each step in faith.
This is true worship
The Daniel Plan Journal is your starting point. Use it. Each day begins with scripture. And initially, there are questions to challenge you. For example, I realized on January 2 that I didn’t drink very much water on my first day. Today I will try to drink more water. Yesterday is over. Each day there will be something to forgive yourself for that you did or didn’t do the day before. Keep moving forward.
The key is that you are never in this alone. God promises to be with you every step of the way. Even when you misstep.
In Paul’s letter to the church in Rome, he spends 11 chapters summarizing everything that God has done for you and me, and he just hit the highlights. Believing that we are who we are on our own power is the essence of arrogance.
So Paul begins chapter 12 by saying, “My friends, because of God’s great mercy to us I appeal to you: Offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God” (Romans 12:1). God created your body and expects you to care for it. Paul’s advice is straightforward. Offer your body as a living sacrifice.
But what does it mean to offer our body as a living sacrifice? Paul continues to explain that to be a living sacrifice is to live a life, “dedicated to God’s service and pleasing to God.” In light of all that God has done, is doing, and will do for us, we use our bodies to serve God.
We gather on Sunday mornings as an act of worship. And too many people get confused. We compartmentalize our lives so much that we presume that one hour on one day each week is the extent of our worship. We check the worship box and head out into the world.
But Paul writes about what it means to God when we use our bodies to serve God when he writes, “This is the true worship that you should offer.” That is, what we do with our bodies from 12 Noon on Sundays to 10:30 am the following Sunday determines whether we worship the God who created us, or some human-made god. A human-made god takes and doesn’t give much back in return.
Whether the god (little “g”) we serve is our job, our home, our addictions, or our nation, the gods of this world will never give back what we give to them. But the Creator God gives back more than we can ever give. This is why in Romans, verse 2, Paul writes, “Do not conform yourselves to the standards of this world.” Do not let the world determine the standard by which you live your life. Do not let the world determine right and wrong for you.
Let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of your mind.
So what follows in Paul’s letter is critical for your success and for my success with the Daniel Plan. When we try to make lifestyle changes on our own, we either fail, or we change to a lifestyle that is not pleasing to God. Paul writes, “Let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of your mind.” This is what a lifestyle change takes. But this is also the key to success with the Daniel Plan. This is what makes the Daniel Plan God’s prescription for your health.
If you haven’t yet signed up for the Daniel Plan, be sure to do so. Each person living in our community who signs up receives your very own copy of The Daniel Plan Journal. If you are not a part of the Asbury Community, we still invite you to participate with us, but we ask that you purchase a copy on your own. These journals can be purchased on Amazon or other vendors. You can also go to the DanielPlan.com store to buy this and other resources.
Here at Asbury, we worship each Sunday at 10:30 am, and I believe that God is calling you to join us. Come and participate in worship, not as a spectator, but as someone who belongs to God. I lead a short Bible study in the Asbury Café at 9:30 am. You can find more information about us on our website at FlintAsbury.org.
1 Warren, Rick, Dr. Daniel Amen, Dr. Mark Hyman. The Daniel Plan. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2013.
2 Jere Downs, “Cheese – or ‘dairy crack’ – is akin to opiates,” Courier Journal, Louisville: March 11, 2017. Retrieved from: https://www.courier-journal.com/story/life/food/farm-to-table/2017/03/07/cheese-addictive-one-doctor-calls-dairy-crack/97960476/
3 Warren, Rick, and the Daniel Plan Team. The Daniel Plan Journal – 40 Days to a Healthier Life. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2013.