Dream Big: A Healthy Body And Mind
It was a devastating, humiliating time. The enemy had won. Babylon had conquered Judah and its capital, Jerusalem. The beloved, revered temple was destroyed. The royal family was captured and taken to Babylon. Some of the nobility, some of the rich people and some of the youths were taken The king of Babylon decreed that he wanted handsome, talented, intelligent young men to be brought to his palace where they would be educated for three years and then assigned to important duties. The king’s strategy was to bring the brightest and best of conquered people for the advancement of Babylon.
One of these young men was named Daniel. He had three friends—Shadrach, Meshach and Abedneggo.
Besides teaching them the language, history and literature, the king said they would eat what he eats. They were royally treated the same as Babylonian youths who were also in training. Most people did not eat the sumptuous food that the king ate.
It seemed that Daniel and his friends had found a good life. They had been uprooted from their country, torn from their families, but at least in Babylon they would live well. They would live in the palace, go to school, get a good job and eat like the king! But, Daniel wasn’t happy. And he almost blew it!
Daniel refused to eat the food, the royal food, the food the king ate! He told the supervisor that the food did not meet his standards, and that he would be violating the principles of his religion. One way the Jews preserved their identity in a foreign country was the food they ate. Their food made them distinctive, different from other people.
The supervisor was horrified, “If the king sees that you are not as physically fit as the Babylonian youths, he will have my head!” And, Daniel would also be punished, perhaps even killed. But Daniel hit upon a plan. “Give us ten days. Let us eat our food for ten days and then compare us with the Babylonians.”
The supervisor agreed, “OK. Ten days. What do you want to eat?” What did Daniel say? “Vegetables and water.” The supervisor was shocked, “Vegetables and water! That’s all? And you expect to test better than the Babylonian youths who eat the same food as the king?” “Yep!” Daniel said. Vegetables and water!
So, how did they do? At the end of the ten days, the supervisor examined Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and compared them to the Babylonians.
And the Bible says, Daniel 1.15, “At the end of the ten days, they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food.” Healthier and better nourished! We know that sugar, fruit juice, sodas, candy, junk food and too much meat are not good for us and Daniel proved it.
Not only were Daniel and his friends healthier, they excelled in school. Daniel 1.17, “God gave them learning and skill in all literature and wisdom.” In fact, they were wiser, more intelligent, and sharper than the Babylonians. When the king examined them, he exclaimed that they were ten times sharper than his learned advisors!
Do you want to do well in school? Eat vegetables and water! Do you want to get better grades? Eat vegetables and water. Do you want to be healthy, and not sick? Eat vegetables and water. When you grow up, do you want to be in good shape and not be fat, overweight, obese? Eat vegetables and water.
When you eat lunch today or dinner, surprise your parents and ask, “Please pass the vegetables, please pass the salad .” When someone offers you a soda or fruit juice, say, “No, thank you, I would like water.” Freshly squeezed juice is healthy.
The theme of the sermons is Dream Big! What was Daniel’s big dream? A healthy body and mind? Yes, but that was not his primary dream. His dream, his hope, his goal was to be faithful to God. He was now in a foreign culture with a foreign religion and foreign food. But, he dreamed of being faithful to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He wanted to be pure, unblemished, untainted from the temptations around him. And, to be a faithful servant of God, he needed to have a heathy body and mind. What goes into the mouth has a consequential affect on our health, emotions, brain, and our relationship with God. An unhealthy body and mind is a distraction from who God made us to be.
The Creation story in Genesis gives the biblical diet. Genesis 1.11, ““every plant yielding seed” (tomatoes, beans, lentils, wheat, berries, squash, corn, rye) and “every tree with seed in its fruit” (apples, avocados, grapefruit, pecans, papaya, cherries, olives). The musical today told us that the 5,000 were fed fish and bread, and bread in those days was made with whole grain.
Seventh Day Adventists recommend vegetarianism—abstinence from pork, shellfish, alcohol, tobacco and caffeine (coffee and sodas). They emphasize the eating of grains and nuts. Adventist John Harvey Kellogg developed breakfast cereals. Research funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, and reported in National Geographic, shows that the average Adventist in California lives 4 to10 years longer than the rest of us!
When I was Interim Senior Pastor here in 2001, I weighed 225 pounds. In 2003 Ellie and I went on the Atkins Diet. In a short period of time, I lost 25 pounds and I have not gained it back. In fact, this morning I weighed , a total loss of pounds. We limit carbohydrates and sugar and along with fish and meat, eat vegetables, salads, fruits and take supplements. I take no medications. I drink 1-2 cups of coffee in the morning and water the rest of the day—no sodas, fruit juice and no fat-free food (it’s filled with sugar). At my last physical which included lab work, my doctor told me the results were the best I’ve had.
Daniel ate vegetables and drank water. 8 glasses of water a day are recommended. Coffee and tea don't count; in fact, the caffeine causes you to lose water. Too many Americans are dehydrated. What happens when the body does not have enough water? According to New Vision, “Dehydration can lead to a laundry list of serious medical conditions such as asthma, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood sugar, cancer, obesity, pain disorders, depression and arthritis to name a few. ..” Other studies add confusion because dehydration affects the brain.
Mayo Clinic adds fatigue, headaches, low blood pressure and wrinkles. What happens when water is taken out of a grape? Becomes a raisin!
These symptoms are the result of the body crying, “Help! I'm thirsty. I desperately need water!” “Unknowingly, people become further dehydrated by alcohol, caffeinated drinks and sugar-laced water replacements. “
My niece Leah is a tour bus guide taking about 40 passengers on trips to the national parks in the northwest. She tells her riders, “Carry and drink lots of water.” On one trip, nine people came down with the flu. She told them, “Drink lots of water. Keep your bodies hydrated.” Eight of them soon recovered except for one elderly gentleman. He said he called an Emergency Room and they told him to suck on ice chips. He got so sick (and I won’t go into the violent details) that he ended up in a hospital. He was severely dehydrated. When he recovered enough to rejoin the group, he showed Leah bottles of water and said, “I’m drinking!”
We were born on this earth to glorify God and to do God’s work. All that we have and are is a gift from God. That includes our bodies. Our bodies, as well as our minds and spirit, belong to God. Your body is a gift from God, given to you to take care of so that you might do God’s work. You may not be thrilled with your body, but it’s the only one you have!
When you look in the mirror, do you see a body that glorifies God? A body that says you are taking good care of the gift God gave you? A body that is full of energy to do God’s work?
Where to begin? Eat vegetables water!
© 2016 Douglas I. Norris