In the Christian church, we spend a significant amount of time caring for our spiritual health. We focus on creating prayer habits, we engage in the church community, and are intentional about reading the Bible. It’s clear why these things matter. But does God care about how we care of our physical bodies, how healthy or in shape we are? Learn from Rick Warren in this excerpt from The Daniel Plan: 40 Days to a Healthier Life.
The Christian family I grew up in attended church services 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,4 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. [Click to tweet!] 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 andPawn 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 formanager 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 themaximum 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.
Did you notice the phrase by his power in that last Bible verse? This is what makes The Daniel Plan different from other approaches. It is built on trusting in God’s power to help you change, not merely your own willpower. Let’s be honest. Willpower works for a few weeks, or maybe a month or two at best. This is why New Year’s resolutions never last. Trying to change by willpower alone is exhausting. You can keep it up for a while, but it feels unnatural and stressful to force yourself to be different simply on the basis of willpower.
In The Daniel Plan you will learn the power of prayer, the power of faith, the power of letting God’s Spirit refocus your thoughts, the power of fellowship and community in a supportive small group, and most of all, the power of God’s Spirit inside you, helping you to make the changes God wants you to make and you want to make.
Join Rick Warren, Dr. Daniel Amen, and Dr. Mark Hyman in The Daniel Plan: 40 Days to a Healthier Life and learn how to optimize your health in the key areas of faith, food, fitness, focus, and friends.
Today’s guest post is by John Dunlop, MD, the author of Wellness for the Glory of God and Finishing Well to the Glory of God: Strategies from a Christian Physician. He currently serves as an adjunct professor at Trinity International University and practices geriatrics in Connecticut.
Spiritual vitality is key.
After 40 years of practicing geriatrics I have seen a lot of believers grow older. Some have done it well; some have not. One lesson I have learned is that when we consider the six areas of potential wellness (physical, mental, social, financial, emotional, and spiritual), the one that is least likely to decline is the spiritual.
I have observed that when our spiritual lives remain vigorous we can continue to feel well. [Click to tweet] Our bodies begin to show wear and tear. Our minds begin to slip and our social networks deteriorates. Finances don’t last forever and it gets harder to summon the emotional resilience that allows us to press on. But there is no compelling reason our spiritual lives must decline. In fact, I have seen spiritual growth in people approaching the century mark.
Spiritual vitality may be maintained as we continue to practice spiritual disciplines, see our characters transformed, find ways to serve, and grow in personal holiness. Let’s unpack these:
Our older years begin to slow down giving us more time to practice spiritual disciplines. We can be more committed to prayer, studying the Bible, and savoring the beauty of God’s presence.
God is not finished with us and he will further develop our characters. His plans for us are perfect, but the means he uses may not be the ones we choose. Many of us are inspired to think of God being the potter while we are the clay, but the reality of being plopped down on a wheel, spun around at 500 RPM’s, and having our rough edges knocked off may not be our first choice. Yet who could we trust more to transform our characters than our loving heavenly father? Some of the fruit of the Spirit is late blooming; such traits as gentleness, patience, and self- control are more commonly developed in the elderly.
Seniors are blessed with many opportunities to serve. We must remember that when Scripture says all believers have spiritual gifts there is no age limit specified. Elderly people are still uniquely equipped to serve the body of Christ. The nature of their service may change but the fact that they can make a significant impact on others does not. Their service may be more to pray and encourage others than the active things they did in earlier years, but these quieter ministries may have even more benefit to the kingdom of God. Leaving a legacy of spiritual vigor to your family is a frequent way of serving during the later years of life. It is wise to live near children and grandchildren to assure what you leave them is not just a financial blessing but a deep appreciation for God’s love and a desire to love and glorify him in return.
Victory over sin is another area of potential growth for seniors. The temptations faced may not be the same ones they encountered in earlier years but there will still be temptation to sin at any age. Common sins in seniors are self-pity, worry, pride, anger, and being overly focused on self. Whatever our age, we need to look to God to keep our hearts pure before him.
Unfortunately many churches do not strategize how to make the most use of their seniors. Some set them aside in senior groups where they have limited exposure to younger people and no opportunity to minister to young adults. It is important to provide intergenerational relationships where all ages together can love and serve each other—”Young men and maidens together, old men and children! Let them praise the name of the LORD, for his name alone is exalted; his majesty is above earth and heaven” (Psalm 148:12-13 ESV).
Our later years may face many losses, but with deliberate planning and a bit of perseverance, our spiritual lives can continue to grow and allow us to feel well—even as other areas of life may be in decline.
Get both of John Dunlop’s wellness ebooks on Vyrso today for just $8.44!
Have you made a big health resolution for 2015? Maybe you’ve resolved to go to the gym three times a week, lower your cholesterol by 10 points, or lose 20 pounds. Whatever your goal, changing your habits is key to making the change.
For me getting healthy wasn’t initiated at the beginning of 2014, but rather as a result of a six-month battle with a parasite. In total desperation, I gave up—I gave up trying to figure out what was wrong, I gave up wanting answers, I gave up hoping for a miracle, and I gave up the thought of a quick medical fix. Have you ever been in this sort of situation? Maybe you’re ready to give up on your resolution this year or give up on trying to be healthy. Instead of giving up completely, give up and let God. My health battle only started to turn when I gave up control and began to rest in scriptures like Psalm 46:10, Psalm 73:26, and Romans 5:8. If you begin to rest in scripture, I think you’ll start to see God change your heart and your habits. I made four key changes after I gave up my health battle last year and my health has dramatically improved.
Here are four habits worth changing for a healthier life:
Getting proper rest plays an important role in our overall health. With proper rest our brains begin to function at a higher level, our emotions improve, and our body is able to repair itself. Rest gives us the time to recharge and get a clear picture of where we’re going. For me, getting rest has meant stepping down from a few volunteer roles, making sure I get a full eight hours of sleep, and not overworking myself.
I’m learning that eating smart looks different for everyone, and changes as we age. Over the past six months I’ve cut out most dairy products, almost all sugary snacks, and soda. I’ve seen a number of friends make significant changes to their diets as well and their lives are changed. Some removed gluten, others cut out all sugars, and some avoid dairy. Whatever your view point, finding a healthy diet usually makes a huge difference in your physical health, your energy levels, and your attitude. If you’re looking to make changes to your diet, check out our health and fitness section for a plethora of resources to help you evaluate your diet and even cook healthy meals.
In my opinion, this habit is the hardest to change in the middle of winter. Finding options outside of classic exercises like running, biking, and swimming can be key to staying active in the dreary winter months. Here are just a few ideas for staying active: join a rec-basketball team, rock climb, dance with your kids, play soccer, shovel snow for your neighbors, or play table tennis.
Dr. Caroline Leaf has a PhD in communication pathology specializing in neuropsychology—she studies how the brain operates—and often shares how our “thought life” is tied to our physical health. She has published numerous articles, speaks at nation-wide conferences, and has written a new ebook, Switch On Your Brain. In chapter one Dr. Leaf shares this astounding finding, “Research shows that 75 to 98 percent of mental, physical, and behavioral illness comes from one’s thought life. This staggering and eye-opening statistic means only 2 to 25 percent of mental and physical illnesses come from the environment and genes.” She goes on to explain that our thoughts actual influence our DNA and physical wellbeing. Needless to say, when I started thinking positively about my outlook my situation, both my health and actions started to change.
Whether you’ve resolved to make a big change, or maybe you—like me—hit a bump in the road, I hope you’re able to stick to your resolutions and keep some healthy habits all year!
 National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, Why Is Sleep Important, http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/sdd/why (accessed January 19, 2015)
Today’s interview is with Rick Warren, lead pastor of one of the largest and most well-known churches in America—Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA. Warren is also the New York Times bestselling author of the hugely successful book, The Purpose Driven Church, and The Purpose Driven Life—which has sold more than 30 million copies, making it the best-selling hardcover book of all time. In Warren’s latest book, he partnered with some of today’s leading health experts to design The Daniel Plan: 40 Days to a Healthier Life, which offers an innovative approach to healthy living that includes five key areas: faith, food, fitness, focus, and friends.
1. In the first chapter of The Daniel Plan, you mention you were not setting a good example for caring for your own well-being. What role does a lead pastor have in the health of his or her congregation?
I grew up in a churchgoing family, went to a Christian college, and attended two seminaries; yet, I had never heard a single sermon on the importance of staying fit. So I started studying the Bible to learn what God had to say about health. One of the teachings is that God made my body—it’s a gift. I’m supposed to take good care of it. The Bible says God made your body, Jesus died for your body, and so he expects you to take care of your body.
There’s a verse in the Bible that says Jesus went into every village preaching, teaching, and healing. I say that preaching is evangelism, teaching is education, and healing is healthcare. Jesus didn’t only care about getting people into heaven. He cared about spirit, mind, and body, and we, as pastors, should too. To me, healthcare isn’t simply helping the sick get well, but helping the well not get sick. Through The Daniel Plan, we are repositioning health as a spiritual stewardship.
2. Saddleback Church lost a combined 250,000 pounds last year. What was it like to take part in and lead that kind of transformation?
The concept for The Daniel Plan all started after I was baptizing over 800 people over a four-hour period. As I lifted each person in and out of the water, I realized that so many people are overweight, including me! If I wasn’t prioritizing my health, how could I ask my congregation to do it? I decided to do something about it. I stood in front of my congregation the next Sunday and confessed that I had been a poor steward of my health and asked for forgiveness. Although I only gained two to three pounds a year, I had been their pastor for 30 years! I invited people to join me and get healthy. I thought maybe a couple hundred people would respond, but was blown away when over 12,000 people signed up that very day!
Working with Dr. Daniel Amen, Dr. Mark Hyman, and Dr. Mehmet Oz, we created The Daniel Plan and implemented it at Saddleback Church in 2011. The initial results were amazing—throughout the first year of The Daniel Plan, over 15,000 people collectively lost over 250,000 pounds. Beyond my church congregation, people from over 190 countries participated online. I believe the response was so large because The Daniel Plan provides you with all you need to become healthier in body, mind, and spirit. Beyond food and fitness, you’re offered a gracious approach to health, along with practical resources to get well spiritually in your relationships, and in your mind—mentally and emotionally.
3. You use the term “secret sauce.” Can you give a brief description of what the recipe is?
The Daniel Plan is a healthy lifestyle program founded on biblical principles and focused on The Essentials: Faith, Food, Fitness, Focus, and Friends. The essentials of Faith and Friends are what we call the “secret sauce” that makes The Daniel Plan so effective. The program benefits are accelerated when done in a supportive community of friends because God designed us to thrive in relationships. With the support of God and your group, you have far more than willpower helping you to make positive changes so you can be consistent and sustain your new healthy lifestyle.
4. Do you see The Daniel Plan as a book only for Christians, or do you think this can be a book used for evangelical purposes?
While we may have different motivating factors, everyone wants to be healthy. There is no doubt that faith is a primary component of The Daniel Plan, but the program has factors anyone can implement.
We have seen great results at our own church but it can also be used by a variety of religious congregations. Most people don’t realize that every weekend, as many as 130 million people go to church. That’s more than a third of the nation. There are 335,000 churches in America. Imagine the potential impact if health became an issue in even a portion of them.
5. For anyone who reads The Daniel Plan, what’s the most important thing you hope they learn?
My ultimate goal is for all individuals to live the life they’re intended to live. People drift through life and let things happen to them, or go by design and say, “This is what I’m intended to do.” The Bible is very clear that God has a purpose. But even if you know that purpose, you can’t fulfill it if you’re out of shape.
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Learn to honor God with your body, and start living a healthy lifestyle: get Rick Warren’s latest book, The Daniel Plan, on Vyrso today!
There’s no doubt that one of the largest issues in American culture is obesity. Some would even say that our tendency to over consume has become the root of all evil as far as health problems are concerned. Couple this with an inactive lifestyle, and you get a recipe for disaster (no pun intended).
Many people view the new year as the perfect time to revamp their lifestyle and start living healthy. Thus begins a surge of people reading health magazines, rushing for gym memberships, and picking through the produce section at their local grocery store. But what does being healthy really look like?
Research reveals varying—and often contradictory—information on the best methods for eating and living healthy. Additionally, the barrage of “get fit” diet pills and solutions cause more confusion, often leaving a wake of discouraged and overwhelmed people. Where’s the best place to start if we want to get healthy? Start spiritually—pray for motivation, then set goals and establish accountability.
Need a little more direction? We’ve rounded up our top five biblical resources to help you reach your health goals in 2014.
Top 5 resources for staying healthy this year:
1. The Daniel Plan by Rick Warren
Perfect for: everyone (especially groups!)
Focus on five key life areas to optimize your health. The Daniel Plan targets faith, food, fitness, focus, and friends. Combine these focal areas and find a multitude of resources that stand as the foundation for healthy living. The Daniel Plan calls for simplicity, and encourages reliance on both God’s power and biblical principles. Learn to transform and sustain your lifestyle individually, or better yet, in community with friends.
2. What the Bible Says about Healthy Living: 3 Principles that Will Change Your Diet and Improve Your Health by Rex Russell
Perfect for: anyone interested in biblical history and eating healthy
One area that has been often overlooked in the Bible is the biblical principles related to physical health. Dr. Russell looks deeply in to many of the Mosaic laws and finds medical explanations as to why God forbid or allowed certain foods. Learn the truth about grains, nuts, meat, fat, and sweeteners. Develop a biblical lifestyle to restore your health with this inspirational book.
3. Reshaping It All by Candace Cameron Bure
Perfect for: women of all ages
Move your faith to the forefront of who you are, make wise choices, and find worth in God’s eyes. In this book, Candace Cameron Bure inspires you to embrace a healthier lifestyle through recounting her own struggle with food and weight. Get practical advice on appetite and self-control from a biblical perspective.
4. Get Healthy, for Heaven’s Sake: 7 Steps to Living Strong, Loving God, and Serving Others by Lisa Morrone
Perfect for: those wanting to rejuvenate their life and increase their energy
Get balanced and practical advice for a healthy life. Learn about seven areas that will keep you healthy for years to come. This book focuses on weight loss, nutrition, posture, strength, flexibility, brain health, and rest. Add life to your years by strengthening your vitality and sense of meaning.
5. Setting Boundaries with Food: Six Steps to Lose Weight, Gain Freedom, and Take Back Your Life by Allison Bottke
Perfect for: anyone who wants to learn from someone who’s fought with their weight and won
Challenge yourself to turn away from the insanity of dieting and deprivation and instead focus on establishing a healthy relationship with food, yourself, others, and God. Using her popular acronym “S.A.N.I.T.Y.,” Bottke lays out practical steps to a healthy life. Examine your emotional and spiritual life in regards to food and your weight with Setting Boundaries with Food.
Get healthy this new year, and keep your resolutions with the help of these great titles! Download them on Vyrso today.
Today’s guest post is by Craig Jutila, speaker, pastor, and president and founder of Empowered Living. Jutila is also the coauthor of From Hectic to Healthy: The Journey to a Balanced Life, which is on sale for only $1.99!
“Just go with the flow!” Have you ever heard those words? The problem these days is if we go with the flow we’ll probably drown.
Since the world seems to be stuck in “go,” we need to look at a few ways to tap the brake as we journey through life. With that in mind, here are four “brake-tapping” ways to stop when the world says to go:
1. Slow down
Then Jesus said, “Come away by yourselves . . . and rest a while” (Mark 6:31). There were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat. Do you ever feel like that? So many people, so many things, and no time to eat. We need a reminder to slow down and not be consumed with relentless hurry. Jesus tapped the brake occasionally, so we should too.
2. Think ahead
What does life look like for you over the next five years? What season of life are you in? Each of us moves through life differently, but here’s my dilemma: occasionally I look around and ask, “Why can’t I live like them?” Sometimes I’m envious of their time and how they spend it, but I need to think ahead and journey accordingly. The Bible says that God gives rest to his loved ones (Psalms 127:2). It feels good to read that verse, but the one caveat is the word “gives.” Yes, God gives rest to those he loves, but the problem is many times we aren’t in the receiving mood. Next time, think ahead and take it.
3. Open up
I’m learning that I can’t do a balanced life alone. I need help. But in order to get help, I need to open up and ask for it. Once I started talking about my workaholic behavior, I found others with the same trait. Now our conversations are done in community, and we can help one another with our pace. Opening up is unconventional thinking when it comes to slowing down in life, but it’s a necessary component to a healthy and balanced life.
4. Pause often
The journey to a balanced life has no destination, so what’s the point? The journey is the point. Enjoy it, revel in it, seize it, take it, live it! Taking moments of pause for rest and reflection is important. Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy (Deuteronomy 5:12). On the Sabbath, we’re called to not just stop working, but to empty ourselves of our guilt to get other tasks done. It’s less about doing and more about being. I resonate with the lyrics from Bachman Turner Overdrive in their song “Roll On Down The Highway”:
“The time’s real short, you know the distance is long
I’d like to have a jet but it’s not in the song
Climb back in the cab, cross your fingers for luck
We gotta keep movin’ if we’re going to make a buck.”
I like hurry, and hurry likes me, but we can’t keep moving without occasionally stopping. Crossing your fingers and hoping for the best is no way to stop and get healthy rest.
What’s one thing can you do this week to stop the hurried pace of life?
Start establishing a healthy life balance: download Jutila’s From Hectic to Healthy for only $1.99!