As Pastor Rick Warren was baptizing 827 people, he was having a not very spiritual thought running through his mind. Wow! Everybody is FAT! He was getting tired since his church, Saddleback Church in southern California, baptizes by lowering people under the water and lifting them back up. He figured he had lifted more than 145,000 pounds that day, based on the average weight of Americans.
Warren had read all about the growing epidemic of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease but that day he said he actually “felt the weight of America’s health problem in a dramatic way”. He said his second thought was more personal and pointed: “But I am fat too! I’m as out of shape as everyone else is!”
Like many of us, Warren grew up in a family (and probably a church) where members didn’t drink alcohol or smoke but all food, no matter how unhealthy it might be, was considered okay. He writes, “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.”
He says that baptism was a wakeup call to the health issues in his life and that of his congregation. He knew drastic changes needed to be made so he started educating himself concerning health. He was shocked to learn that seven out of ten Americans are overweight.
He learned while millions suffer from not having enough to eat, millions are struggling with diseases caused by eating too much. Diabetes, heart disease and other “lifestyle-based diseases” now kill more people than infectious diseases worldwide.
The next Sunday, Warren stood before his congregation and made this public confession, “Friends, I have 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. 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 have 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?”
Page 2 of 3 - Warren’s audience responded beyond anything he had imagined. He was overwhelmed when more than 12,000 people signed up to join him in the first few weeks. Because Warren 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, he called the new movement “The Daniel Plan”.
Since Warren knew nothing about health, he recruited three nationally known doctors, Dr. Daniel Amen, Dr. Mark Hyman, and Dr. Mehmet OZ, to coach him in developing the plan. They donated their help because they are concerned about the health of Americans and each one has become a public figure attempting to educate our unhealthy population. All three realize it is time for change to revolutionize our health. We all know Dr. Oz. Dr. Mark Hyman has been on Oz’s show and every other news and talk show. Their main message is the same: Wake up America! Eat real food and take care of your health. Since they are the medical/nutritional advisors, the Daniel Plan is nutritionally sound.
During the first year 15,000 people who participated in the Daniel plan lost over 260,000 pounds and were on their way to better health. 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. Warren calls the last two components the secret sauce that makes the Daniel Plan so effective. When you have God and a group, you have far more than willpower helping you be consistent in making wise choices.
When it comes to getting healthy, two are always better than one. Research has revealed that people getting healthy together lose twice as much weight as those who do it alone. God never meant for us to go through life alone and that includes the journey to health. The support group, along with education seems to be a perfect combination for success. Is your church conscious enough to sponsor a group? Whatever your religious or spiritual beliefs, we are all in this journey to health or to sickness together. Are you willing to make positive changes and encourage others? By going to www.danielplan.com you can learn more. The Daniel Plan Church Campaign Kit ($38.99) is a great way to encourage everyone in your church toward a healthy lifestyle, explore biblical principles for health, and unite your congregation around the single purpose of honoring what God has given us.
Page 3 of 3 - The Daniel Plan is designed to be done in a supportive community relying on God’s instruction for living. Are you ready for a healthy adventure?
(Janice Norris lives in Heber Springs, has a B.S. in home economics from Murray State University, owned and operated health food stores in Illinois and Heber Springs, and wrote a weekly column in Illinois for 15 years. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)