Years ago, when I was a young adult, my father had a heart attack. Several years later, he had a stroke. My brother and I were at the hospital visiting him after he had the stroke. The doctor, who was a friend, came into the room to check on my dad. 

After checking on our dad, the doctor began to talk with us about his situation. Then, out of nowhere, he said: “If you guys don’t take care of yourselves, this is where you will be in several years.” Wow! I was stunned. His statement had a great effect on me. I began to do things to take care of myself. I watched what I ate. I began to exercise regularly. At that time in life, I weighed almost 200 pounds. 

It took several months, but I finally got my weight down to 170 pounds. For the last fifty years, I have remained between 170 and 180 pounds. Currently, I weigh 172 pounds. I certainly am not an expert on health, but I did learn something in all these years. Therefore, I want to share my thoughts on taking care of yourself. Hopefully, it might help someone who is struggling to stay healthy. 

First, I had to learn to eat wisely. I like food. Most of us do. We need to be careful about the kind of foods we eat. My wife helped me at this point. One of the main things she did was to cut out a lot of fried foods. My favorite meal has always been fried chicken, rice, and gravy. Now, I get that once or twice a year — Father’s Day and my birthday. 

When I first began to take care of myself, I did go on a diet. Since that time, I have learned to eat in moderation. For example, I really love desserts, but I usually limit the amount I eat.  

Secondly, I began to exercise regularly. Even today, at 83, I still practice this regimen. I don’t do as much as I used to do; but I work out on a treadmill six days of the week—most of the time. 

I know that most ministers lead a very busy life. It is very difficult to find the time to exercise on a regular basis. Here is my answer to the time problem. You will usually find time to do that which is a passion for you. For example, as a pastor you have to discipline yourself to set aside time to study and prepare messages. In the same way, one must discipline himself/herself to exercise on a regular basis.  

The third thing I discovered through the years is that I needed to take the age-appropriate medical tests. I have to confess that I have a good primary care doctor. He has been my doctor for over forty years. He is a good Christian man and we have become good friends through the years. He was insistent that I take the appropriate tests each year. 

These  tests include the following: 

  • Heart tests. Primarily, this involved stress tests, EKGs, and other tests as necessary. About ten years ago, I experienced some fainting spells. After the appropriate tests, the doctors determined I needed a pacemaker. I am so grateful for good doctors who know how to help 
  • Digestive tests. My primary care doctor insisted that I have a colonoscopy test every year. I didn’t like the idea, but I trusted him. I began having these tests around the age of fifty and continued annually until I was seventy-five.  
  • Urology tests. Most men are reluctant to get an annual exam by a urologist. But, if you are going to really take care of yourself, an annual exam and PSA test are very important. Statistics for men having cancer of the prostate are very disturbing. These tests are a must! 

Other tests may be necessary depending on your physical situation. Let me encourage you to be diligent about having the necessary tests as prescribed by your doctor. 

A fourth action I learned involved an annual physical. This usually involves a blood workup, X-rays, EKGs, and other exams. The blood workup is most important.  

Finally, I learned that I needed to get the appropriate rest and sleep. A good night’s sleep is very important to your wellbeing. Some people can get by with less than seven or eight hours of sleep and function okay the next day. However, you will learn over the years that you need the appropriate sleep to rest your body for the next day’s work. 

I would like to add one more thing. Taking care of your body is a spiritual issue to me. God gave us this body, and we are to be good stewards of everything that God gives us. In addition, Scripture says in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NIV, “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.” 

May God bless you richly as your truly take of yourselves.

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