Young Person Prepare for Your Future

young person

Young Person Prepare for Your Future

Young Person,

Prepare for Your Future

(A Life Plan for Your Physical Health)

 

What you can do now to prepare for your coming years 

Act in wisdom so you won’t have regrets later in life 

Your Life before You 

We are assuming that you’re a young person who is reading this booklet. You may be an adolescent or you may be as old as your twenties. Either way, you probably have many years before you.

During these coming years, you’ll make many major decisions: who to marry, what job to pursue, where to live, what education to seek, how to spend your time, and what friends to cultivate. You also have two more important choices, one much more important than the other.

First, you must determine now what kind of health practices you should seek. This will have a great bearing on how healthy you will be through life and perhaps even how long you live and how you may die. Second, you must decide what kind of relationship you will have with God, your Creator and Sustainer. This will determine how you respond to God and what you do with your sin problem. It will be directly related to how you view Jesus Christ and whether He will forgive your sins and give you eternal life.

On the following pages, you will be reading some weighty truths that bear on your present life and the life to come. Will you have the wisdom to see this and act on what you learn while you have time?

–Richard Hollerman

 

Young Person, Prepare for

Your Future

You may be a fourteen-year-old or you may be a twenty-five-year-old. Either way, your life is largely before you. But let me ask you frankly, have you ever visited a nursing home and observed older people who can no longer walk or talk or even think well? They may be incapacitated or look at you with blank stares. They are a shadow of the vibrant men and women they used to be at your age. Remember, one day those men and women you now see could be you!

Maybe you have been to a mall or stood on a street corner. There you have noticed  a “senior citizen” trying to walk with difficulty.  Maybe you have talked to your grandparents or great-grandparents and they have told you about the seven or 10 or even 15 different medications they must take. As one book puts it, “Old age isn”t for sissies!”

What has been your response to these kinds of experiences? You have, no doubt, seen people disabled by arthritis, diabetes, back problems, heart disease, and maybe cancer. You have observed pills, pills, and more pills! Have you been repelled by all of this and dreaded adding years to your life? Maybe this has made you conclude, “I must get as much living out of life while I’m young!” And so, you regularly get drunk, constantly fill up on junk foods, grossly overeat, engage in promiscuous sex, and perhaps even use tobacco. “After all, we only live once! We can do nothing about our future anyway,” you surmise. But is this true?

When I was about sixteen- or seventeen-years-of-age, I began to read strength and health magazines. I had always been a slim and underweight boy, but I began to gain weight, began to eat in a healthier manner, and began to lift weights. Within a year or two, my physical health greatly changed. I was determined to be healthy for a future wife and wanted to please God who had given me my physical body. However, something wasn’t entirely right in my thinking.

At age twenty-one or twenty-two, I moved away from home and began working over 200 miles from the tiny town where I had grown up. I then moved again to another state and continued to learn. Eventually, I moved to a distant state to continue my education and learned even more. The very day that I arrived at one of the colleges I attended, I observed a young college student running in a park. When I engaged him in conversation, he told me about aerobic exercise and this proved to be an eye-opening experience. This was a turning point in my physical health. For the next couple of years and some years after that in yet another state, I continued to walk, run, or use a stationary cycle. Finally, I moved to Fort Worth, Texas and the very day I arrived, I went out to run. This running, of four to six miles, continued regularly for several decades. Even today, I engage in physical activity every day of the week, in the early morning hours. It’s my time to stimulate my body, eat a good breakfast, and begin the day energetically with a view to physical fitness.

Not many years after I arrived in this southern city, I did much reading on the subjects of nutrition, exercise, and general health. My mind was opened to areas that I had not fully understood in the previous years. Although I had sincerely determined to eat well, there were aspects of my nutrition that were lacking. Thus, over thirty years ago, I made additional adjustments to my diet and even further changes about fifteen years ago. I came to see that simply having good intentions isn’t enough; we need to have accurate knowledge and put this into daily practice. I saw the power of deception and simply taking things for granted without nutritional and exercise knowledge.

Young man or young woman, I am imagining that you are the one who is reading this short study.  (Much that we discuss could also help the middle-age person or the aged person.) As I mentioned before, you have your life before you and can make a serious decision now to eat well, exercise well, and practice all of the health principles that will help you to avoid many of the degenerative diseases and physical infirmities that you have noticed in older people you know.

If you had a relatively new automobile or truck and wanted to be able to drive it for 300,000 miles, you would do certain prudent things. You would regularly service your car, with normal maintenance, with scheduled old changes, with new tires, with checking the fluid levels, and everything else you could think of. You may reach the 300,000 mile mark eventually, with only a few major problems.

When it comes to our physical body, we just don’t know what the future holds. The Bible–God’s Word–says, “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth” (Proverbs 27:1). A young man or young woman would be utterly foolish to assume that he will go through life in excellent health, without any physical issues. It all depends on the mercy of God! “You do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that'” (James 4:14-15). You can plan out your life and seek to live a healthy lifestyle–but it all depends on God your Creator! Thus, we need a large dose of humility when we discuss these matters today.

Many, even most, physical disabilities can be avoided or at least minimized. You can do little about genetic limitations, but even inherited problems can sometimes be minimized. All of us will one day die and this must constantly be in our awareness (cf. Psalm 90:10-12; 2 Corinthians 4:16-18). If your parents had kept this principle in mind when you were born, so much could have been done.  You would have been nursed (which has been shown to be a health-benefit to the baby). You would have begun to eat solid food that was nutritious at maybe one or two years of age. You would have avoided the “junk food” trap when you were in school age. You would have been physically active during your pre-teen years and into your adolescence.

By the time you were twenty, you would have had twenty years of good nutrition and sufficient exercise. You would have avoided the health-destroying practices of many young people: you would have kept yourself from smoking, drunkenness, drugs, and junk foods. You would have avoided harmful and dangerous practices (unmarried sex, many sports, sedentary living, too much sun, breathing harmful vapors, speeding on the highway, etc.). Thus, if you are now twenty years of age, you would be prepared to face your future with confidence–and gratefulness to God. Again, we emphasize that we must not “boast about tomorrow” for God may have other plans for you.

We must face the fact that children from birth until the upper teens are pretty-much under the direct supervision of their parents and, unfortunately, many (or most) parents aren’t that concerned about either their own health and nutrition, nor are they greatly concerned about that of their children. Instead, great numbers of fathers and mothers feed their children the SAD (Standard American Diet), consisting of high-fat, high-cholesterol, high sodium, low fiber, high animal protein, and overly-processed fare. They would rather feed their children what they see on the junk food commercials, thus they buy and feed them potato chips, ice cream, candy, pastries, pizza, hamburgers, hot dogs, and sugar breakfast foods. One could almost say that they “hate” their children, thus they allow them to consume that which surely will physically harm their precious children.

If you are in such a household, there may be little that you can do as a pre-teen, but by the time you reach age 16, 18, or 20, you may have more of a say in what you will eat and how you live. You can begin to make wise food decisions and practice other health principles that will enhance your own physical well-being. You may even have a positive effect on your parents and siblings, as they notice your conscientious commitment to good health, especially if they know that you do this out of devotion to God who made you steward over your own body (cf. 1 Corinthians 4:2; Romans 12:1; Ephesians 5:29). Your own good example may help to persuade them to eat more nutritiously and live more in keeping with basic health principles. You could give them one or more of the helpful health books now available.

We pause right here to address those of you who have physical limitations or problems beyond your control. Some of you may have diabetes. Others have a bone deformity, a chronic condition such as Crohn’s disease, IBS, asthma, fibromyalgia, or rheumatoid arthritis. Others have been in a family that had no nutritional knowledge or had no interest in learning about it, thus you were exposed to twenty years of nutritional compromises. Perhaps because of poverty, you couldn”t receive expert physical counsel and treatments. Thus, you begin your third decade of life without the best of health. You can do nothing about your past, but you may determine to do all you can right now to live the rest of your life with as much knowledge as possible that will help you to live a healthy lifestyle and a full life of good health.

young person

Young Person, Prepare for Your Future

With these thoughts before us, let’s look briefly at a number of good health practices that may help you to live a long and healthy life:

First, gain as much knowledge as you can about nutrition, exercise, and a healthy lifestyle. Read books that will help you, but avoid the popular “diet” books that provide compromised information. Spend time right now so you will be able to adopt good practices that will last a lifetime. Further, what you learn now can help you to lead your family into good practices if God should give you a spouse and children. (Go to Truediscipleship.com and click “Links” for a long series of nutritional websites.)

Second, determine to “eat to live” instead of “living to eat.” Millions of young people have made junk foods or fast food into a “god” and make taste the ultimate criterion instead of good, healthy nutrition. Some have made a “god” out of their own appetite or body (cf. Philippians 3:19). Especially don’t allow friends or family to deter you from good dietary choices; choose to be different and make your food selections according to wise standards, not food propaganda or pressure from friends.

Third, forsake all lazy inclinations and be willing to “pay the price” of good health. The Bible refers to some people who were “lazy gluttons” (Titus 1:12). Note also Proverbs 15:19: “The way of the sluggard [lazy man] is as a hedge of thorns, but the path of the upright is a highway.” Notice that the opposite of uprightness or righteousness is laziness! We also read this counsel: “. . . not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord” (Romans 12:11). Although this speaks of spiritual involvement, we know that physical diligence and activity is also vital for good health.

Especially detrimental is sleeping too long each day. While we all need sufficient sleep, we must beware of getting too much. Most people need seven or eight hours of sleep each night. If possible, avoid shift work that violates the natural rhythm of the body. If possible, try to get to bed at the same time each day. Don’t eat within about four hours of sleeping since going to bed with a full stomach is harmful, and the body depends on the first hours of sleeping to rebuild itself each night. It is especially beneficial to retire by 10 PM each night in a dark, cool room with a firm mattress.

Fourth, children, adolescents, older teens, young people, middle-agers, and older people need sufficient physical activity. Physiologists say that we need at least a half hour or even one hour of strenuous physical activity at least five days of the week. Some authorities recommend walking a minimum of 10,000 steps daily, according to a pedometer reading.

We know that some people do have physical limitations and disabilities, and we must recognize the problem that this poses. However, if possible, aim for at least five or six hours of exercise each week. It may be walking, jogging, bicycling, using a treadmill or elliptical machine, or some other physical activity. Also seek to do muscle-strengthening exercises. Walking in the early morning is particularly helpful if this is outside before the air pollution rises. Jesus must have done a great amount of walking and we do know that he lived a vigorous life of carpentry (Mark 6:3; John 1:36). (Note: If you cannot be involved in strenuous activity, perhaps you can do something in your bed, your chair, or your wheel chair.) Move as much as you are able.

It is best to participate in these physical activities apart from organized sports. Many people assume that athletics will help, but the better alternative is to do such activities as walking, running, and bicycling alone or with a compatible companion (as mentioned before). (See our full-length book, The Question of Sports, distributed by Rod and Staff Publishers.)

Fifth, beware of too much ultraviolet light from the sun. There is a balance here. Some sunlight is helpful in giving you natural Vitamin D for this has many health benefits such as strengthening your bones. However, too much sunlight can harm your skin, give you wrinkles, and maybe even promote skin cancer. Thus moderation is a key.

young person

Young Person, Prepare for Your Future

Sixth, drink plenty of pure water. Be willing to renounce soft drinks, liquor, and most fruit juices, but drink much clean and pure water, especially at room temperature. Maybe first thing in the morning, drink one or two glasses and let this continue through of the day. There are numerous nutritional benefits for this much hydration, especially in hot weather.

Seventh, beware of your living location. There are blessings to living a distance from the larger cities, thus country-living or living in a smaller town may be the best choice, if this is possible. We do know that some of us must live in larger cities. But researchers have discovered that dwelling near a major highway brings with it a higher rate of lung disease. Make it your practice to breathe deeply, down to the bottom of your lungs. (Exercise will help with this.) Thank God that you have the ability to use your lungs. Many people with COPD wish that they could breathe well.

Eighth, determine to eat a good, healthy diet. Try to eat natural foods, (food as grown), with a major on plant-based foods (vegetables, fruit, whole grains, legumes, with minimal seeds and nuts). Many researchers have warned against eating much red meat, milk, cheese, or other animal foods. Someone has humorously said that it is better to lay aside anything that has a mother or a face! Yet we may not absolutely forbid all food of animal origin since we know that Jesus and the apostles ate fish (but this was surely uncontaminated fish, unlike our problem today) and the Lord even created fish to feed the 4,000 and the 5,000 followers. But limit the amount you consume.

If you determine now–when you are still young–to eat only nutritious foods and avoid all compromising foods, you will probably reap dividends for many years to come! Thus, be willing to turn away from the fried foods, the sugar and white flour, the donuts, the candy and cake and cookies, and anything else that would compromise your health. Be willing to eat the green, orange, yellow vegetables and fruits in abundance, as well as other natural foods–broccoli, asparagus, Brussels Sprouts, oats, quinoa, seeds, apples and oranges, bananas and mangos, sweet potatoes, romaine lettuce, and berries. Your body will appreciate this when you are in your retirement years!

Ninth, get sufficient and regular sleep. We live in a fast-paced age and try to do as much as we can with the time God gives us. The Bible says, “Be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16). I read a book years ago that asserted that we could have an additional 365 hours a year (about a nine week period of time) if we only would sleep an hour less each day. It is true that many people sleep too much and this advice may be needed but, on the other hand, we do need sufficient sleep for our bodies to rebuild and recuperate. We also need enough sleep for proper brain function.

Again, balance is the key in this matter. If you renounce the TV (as I have for some 50 years), you will have an additional 25 or 30 hours a week (the average amount of time that people waste before the screen) to devote to worthwhile activities–reading, study, exercise, family activities, marital time, etc.

Tenth, keep your weight under control. Determine your ideal weight by checking on your BMI. Some 70 percent of Americans are either “obese” or “overweight” and this has devastating implications! The more weight that you carry, the more serious your health will be compromised. Authorities say that one may decrease his life expectancy by ten, fifteen, or twenty years because of being overweight.

While in a minority of cases, there are extenuating circumstances (such as a genetic predisposition), by far the large majority of cases come from consuming too many calories, eating the wrong foods, and lack of exercise. Sadly, even teens and preteens may be obese. It is a shame that 10-year-olds, 15-year-olds, and 20-year-olds are overweight and this is the beginning of being overweight for all of their life! Determine now to fight this factor that will rob you of your health through heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, or cancer.

Eleventh, locate and work with a health-conscious, exercise-conscious, and preventive-oriented physician. Almost all of us will need a doctor from time to time, thus it is wise to seek one who will not just prescribe pills for nearly everything. If the doctor smokes, is overweight, or is sedentary, and doesn’t care about his own health, will he really be that interested in your health? Sadly, most regular physicians have very poor nutritional knowledge. Many simply try to “fix” one’s poor health by prescribing medications instead of majoring on preventive medicine and good advice that will keep the patient healthy longer. Do some research until you find a good doctor, then you can depend on him to send you to health-conscious specialists when you need them.

Twelfth, make good health practices a habit. We are told that it takes about three weeks to forty days to turn from a poor habit and establish a good habit. The object is to have such a mental attitude and physical practice that your new healthy lifestyle will become “natural” to you. We are aware that throughout life, we will need to practice strict self-control and self-discipline but it will become more natural in time. Paul wrote, “I beat my body and make it my slave” (1 Corinthians 9:27). He commands us, “Present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice” (Romans 12:1).

We must turn from the destructive habits and develop healthful habits if we hope to enjoy a life of good health. Do it now, while you are young, so that the time will come when you won’t be as tempted to succumb to donuts, ice cream, cookies, white bread, candy, pizza, hotdogs, hamburgers, or other compromising things that many people put into their mouths!

Thirteenth, always put God first in all things. The Bible says, “Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near when you will say, ‘I have no delight in them'” Ecclesiastes 12:1). The “evil days” mentioned here are the years of old age that are described graphically (and pathetically) in verses 2-8. After the writer tells us of the decline of bodily functions, he says, “Vanity of vanities . . . all is vanity!” (v. 8). If we only concentrate on the physical health and worldly activities, indeed all will be vanity, empty, and useless!

Jesus said, “Seek first His [God’s] kingdom” (Matthew 6:33). Do we put God first and foremost? Now is the time–while you are still young–to make wise choices in life (including choosing your life work, choosing a worthy husband or wife, bearing children and teaching them, finding suitable living quarters, etc.).

Your Physical Future

One of the greatest challenges you will have is a determination to act, to do the right, and to reject the foolish. Most men and women your age allow their flesh, their passions, and their preferences to determine their course of action. They just yield to “what feels good” or submit to peer pressure instead of making decisions according to solid reasoning. You must do differently–if you value wisdom and what is right, good, and prudent.

The Bible says, “A prudent man sees evil and hides himself, the naïve proceed and pay the penalty” (Proverbs 27:12). Others will neglect wise health choices and they end up “paying the penalty” of poor health. You can be different. If you are a person of prudence and wisdom, you will avoid such foolish choices. Instead, you will actively practice the kinds of principles we have examined in this booklet.

young person

Young Person, Prepare for Your Future

If you will observe the kind of good health practices that we have described and make a habit of them, this should have a pronounced beneficial effect on your life. If you are able to observe good health principles from your childhood and especially your mid-teens, you should be able to avoid many of the aspects of poor health that we discussed in the beginning of our discussion. You may be able to avoid many of the degenerative diseases and other disabilities and illnesses that plague your friends, your family, and especially your older relatives.

If you happen to be reading these pages and you aren’t fifteen or twenty years of age, begin where you are. You may be thirty, forty, fifty, sixty, or older; whatever your present age, begin now to apply the principles that we have discussed. We know that the older you are, the more difficulty you may have in applying these helpful principles. The old slogan is well-known: “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” But remember, you and I are not “old dogs”–rather, we are made in the moral likeness of God (James 3:9) and have the power to choose to do the right, particularly if we have the Holy Spirit of God in us (Romans 8:13; Ephesians 3:16).

Your Spiritual Future

We know that following the foregoing principles and enjoying a long life of physical health would be absolutely worthless if one misses out on what really matters in life. “Bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:8). It is the “life to come” that should matter most to us! As Scripture clearly says:

We do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the thing which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

We know that at best our physical life is very limited. Even if we live to old age, we don’t really have much in the end. Scripture says that we may have the strength to live a longer life than usual, but “soon it is gone” and we depart this life (Psalm 90:10). We are just like the “grass” and the “flower of grass” that is here today and gone tomorrow (1 Peter 1:24). What will matter at the end of our life on earth is not just whether we have lived to be 70, 80, 90, or 100 years, but whether we have solved the greatest problem that everyone faces: whether we will be with God for all eternity! Wouldn’t it be a shame if one lived to be a centenarian and then died, only to be consigned to hell for all eternity!

When you are young, you should apply your heart to wisdom (Psalm 90:12) and remember God (Ecclesiastes 12:1). You should humble yourself before God and admit your inability to save yourself or attain eternal life.  The Bible says, “The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). While this life is important since it affords the opportunity to love others and love God, serving Him in truth and righteousness, what matters even more is where we will be in eternity!

I urge you not to be like me. I thought that I came to Christ to receive eternal life when I was about sixteen, but I was spiritually deceived! Many years later, I discovered that I had not truly been forgiven or accepted by God. Purpose in your heart now to settle the problem of sin—how you can be forgiven and how you receive eternal life from a loving, merciful, but holy and just God. In this way, after your short physical life on earth, you will be prepared to meet God through Jesus Christ (cf. Romans 5:6-11; Matthew 25:31-46). Eternal life will be out before you!

–Richard Hollerman

 

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