PASTOR'S PEN: Planning ahead

This year I have received several wedding invitations. One thing true about all of them is that every invitation came well ahead of the actual wedding date. No one sent an invitation a few days before saying, “If you can make it, we’re getting married in two days.” They are all really early. The reason is that they are planning that day ahead of time. Each one is putting together decorations, cakes, catering, dresses, tuxes, chapels or churches, reception halls, registering at various stores (none being Cabella’s or Jays, which I don’t understand) and preparing for the beautiful ceremony of their dreams. When you go to such a service, things aren’t just thrown together; they are planned down to every detail.

When planning activities for youth group, I do much of the same. When planning my dad’s surprise 70th birthday party, my brother and I, with some family assistance, planned that out ahead as well. Though the specifics may be different, each even required looking ahead, seeing what we wanted to do and doing what was required to meet that goal. This is similar to Daniel’s story.

Daniel was a prophet in the Old Testament. There are many books about the prophecies of Daniel. Some of his prophecies are easy to understand and others I have yet to really figure out. But Daniel didn’t begin with prophecies. Daniel began as a captive. Judah was taken over by Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon. When he captured Judah he took some of the royal family and nobility back to Babylon to serve him. These people, the Bible tells us, were handsome, well informed, quick to understand and intelligent. Daniel was among those chosen.

Upon arriving in Babylon “Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine.” (Daniel 1:8) You see, Daniel desired to follow the commands in the Old Testament Law about what and Israelite could and could not eat. So the ham sandwich, grilled rabbit or lobster bisque were off the menu. (Deuteronomy 14:1-21) This would look really strange to those around him. Everyone else is enjoying their BLT for lunch, while Daniel is eating an LT! I wonder if he got weird looks and the other noblemen talked about him behind his back. I wonder if he was thought of like that weird neighbor or uncle. It didn’t matter. Daniel didn’t care. He had “resolved not to defile himself.” He had a plan and he stuck with it.

What’s your plan? Do you hope to be like Christ or do you resolve to be like Christ? There’s a difference. One is thinking that it will just happen. The other takes discipline, determination and perseverance. Are you willing to be strange to live a Christ-like life? That’s what it will take. Here’s a few examples: Spending time with that person at work nobody wants to be around. Refusing to be a part of gossip. Sacrificing time or money to help out a neighbor. Spending time in God’s Word and prayer in private and as a family.

Do you desire to live like Christ? Will you resolve to do it? Because that’s what it will take.