Just now I took several hours to get around to exercising. I had already decided to do it. I had already chosen the workout for the day. I just didn’t want to do it! I do want a strong and healthy body. Sometimes I just don’t want to put the effort into it. As I was working out I was thinking of the consequences of not exercising today or any other day. The first thing that came to mind for me was depression. What a slimy black pit that is. When I stop taking care of myself and start spending hours watching tv shows I feel depressed, then I start isolating myself, which then makes me lonely. It’s a horrible cycle. I’d even go as far to say that it’s a deadly cycle.

*disclaimer: for me this is only one of the factors that lead me down the road of depression. Others include: eating poorly, allowing myself to get offended easily, not reading the Bible and practicing gratitude, filling my head with negative and mindless things (whether that comes from music, movies, reading, or people)

On August 1st Lennox and I began to read the book of Daniel together.  I remembered that an author, speaker, and sister in Christ – Jennie Allen – is doing an online Bible study of Daniel this month. It’s called “Humble & Bold: How to Love God in a World That Doesn’t“. So, we started that together, as well. Today we discussed the first several questions in the study for Daniel 1 and 2 this morning. There’s some deep stuff there, people. I highly recommend doing this study and talking about with a friend. Jennie will also do live videos on Sunday evenings where we can all chime in via the comments.

Daniel chose to set himself apart from the rest of the nobles taken into captivity. Daniel 1:8 (HSCB) says, “Daniel determined that he would not defile himself with the king’s food or with the wine he drank.” God then granted him favor and compassion from the chief official. Daniel is confident that he would be strong, but for the sake of the official he tells him to test it out for 10 days. If it doesn’t work, then Daniel and his friends will eat what the rest of them did.

Guess what happened?

Daniel and his friends looked BETTER and HEALTHIER than all the other young men! 

God gave these four young men knowledge and understanding in every kind of literature and wisdom. On top of that, Daniel was given the gift of understanding visions and dreams of every kind. (That saves a bunch of lives later on!) When the king interviewed them he found none equal to these 4 men. In fact, they were found to be TEN TIMES better than all the diviner-priests and mediums in the entire Babylonian kingdom! What????

This has me thinking about us, the people of God. Who are we? We are tourists here. Jesus tells us we are pilgrims and that while we are in this world we are not of this world. The word “holy” means set apart. Daniel set himself apart.

I think too many times we know what we are gifted in or called to do, but we just won’t step into it. We refuse to set ourselves apart and do what others aren’t doing. I think about the kind of life I want for my children and I know that it’s not going to magically happen. I know what I want my marriage to look like. I want it to be extraordinary. In 50 years I want Lennox and I still be glowing and look at each other with that twinkle in our eyes. I want my children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren (they’ll call me G-Lola) to have incredible stories of God’s faithfulness. I want to hear the stories of their faithfulness to Him.

My excuses get in the way of that dream. My shortsightedness robs me and my future family of some incredible gifts. We wait for that magic moment when we feel like doing the thing we don’t want to. Or, if we’re real spiritual we wait on God. We say that, but sometimes that means we don’t want to actually put in the work. So we wait and get disillusioned and bitter. We sit at home waiting for something when we simply need to get up and move.

As people of God we should stand out in the world. I don’t mean stand out because we wear different clothes, cut our hair, don’t cut our hair, etc. I don’t mean outwardly at all. Stand out by loving better, being more honest, having a better work ethic, kindness should be our normal, that sort of thing.

As Lennox said this morning, “Discipline leads to distinction.”