Live Longer, Live Stronger>>Live Longer, Live Stronger

Commonsense ideas for a healthier life & ministry

Getting Older—and Healthier!

Glen (’80, ’81) & Theresa Johnson

Glen and Theresa Johnson pioneered Faith Center Church in Vancouver, Washington, in 1983 and have pastored there ever since.

A couple of years ago, Glen and Theresa Johnson decided they wanted to get in shape. Over six months, they lost a combined total of 70 pounds, and they’ve kept it off.

“For us, it was about getting healthier,” says Glen. “I saw a lot of my friends getting older, and I decided I could live to be 90 taking a handful of pills every day, or I could live that long being in shape. Also, I preach three  services—one Saturday night and two on Sunday morning—and I feel like I owe it to my people to be just as fresh in the third service as I am in the first.” Theresa chimes in, “I just got tired of being out of breath tying my shoes! It feels so much better being in shape.”

The Johnsons didn’t follow a specific diet—they just started using common sense.

“We’re not fanatics,” says Glen. “We don’t always pass up cake or pie—we just don’t eat a lot of them.”

Theresa says they pay attention to what they eat and make healthier choices. “If we go out to dinner, we split a meal. If we have dessert, we split it,” she says. “We don’t keep junk food in the house. We cook stir-fry with veggies and chicken. We cut out a lot of beef. We don’t drink pop or eat a lot of bread.”

“It’s a mindset,” says Glen. “It took some time to retrain our brains to eat smaller portions and look for healthier choices. I probably eat one-third of what I used to.”

The Johnsons aren’t fanatics about exercise either. “Exercise is important,” says Glen, “but 75 percent of your health is diet. You need both, but if you think you can run five miles and then eat anything you want, you’ll always be overweight or unhealthy.”

When they first started out, they did a lot of walking, and Glen did the Crossfit program for a while ( “Too many people think you have to go to the gym for two hours a day to get in shape, so they don’t do it,” says Glen. “But there were days I did Crossfit for five minutes! Now I mostly just exercise three times a week.”

Is there scriptural support for exercise? “I don’t want to put too much emphasis on the body,” says Glen, “but Paul said, ‘I pray God your whole spirit and soul AND BODY be preserved blameless . . .’ (1 Thess. 5:23). We put a lot of emphasis on exercising our spirit, but we can’t ignore the body. Maybe we should be spending a third of our time exercising each one.”

The Johnsons found benefits to being in shape. “I had back problems for 20 years,” says Glen, “but now I don’t. I found out I didn’t have back problems—I had weak back muscles! I think a lot of our ailments might be like that. We’re just weak people from a bad diet and a lack of exercise.”


Tips for Weight Control

Weigh every day. “I heard Oral Roberts say he used to get on the scale daily,” says Glen. “It’s a daily recognition of what you have to do that day to maintain.”

Eat your big meal early. “I saw a show about how sumo wrestlers get so fat,” says Glen. “They don’t eat all day, and then they gorge themselves at night. It slows their metabolism way down. So eat your big meal early. Past 4 p.m. I just snack. I enjoy the discipline of going to bed hungry, knowing my body doesn’t have the best of me.”

Plan ahead. “I have to plan meals and snacks ahead of time,” says Theresa. “If I don’t plan, I’m going to fail. I am going to have a snack—so if I don’t plan a good one, then I’ll end up eating a bad one!”

Use the buddy system. “To exercise effectively, get a partner,” says Glen. “It adds accountability. My friend and I never told each other if we weren’t coming to work out—because we knew the other guy wouldn’t come! That made us show up every time, regardless.”

Keep at it. “Don’t give up,” Glen says. “We went through three or four attempts at this. But finally it just clicks if you don’t give up. You don’t have to spend two hours a day to get in shape. Just do something.”

Don’t Wear Yourself Out

Ken Taylor (’86, ’87)

Ken Taylor and his wife, Tonja, traveled in ministry for five years, then moved to France in 1992. In 1994 they moved to Québec, Canada, where they assumed a pastorate and started RHEMA Québec in 2007.

If he could do some things over again in ministry, Ken Taylor says he would have concentrated more on being healthy.

“At first I allowed the passion of the call to push me beyond the limits of wisdom,” he says. “We believe in divine healing, but maintaining divine health should be a high priority.”

The Taylors moved to France in 1992, and on top of everything else, Ken taught 12 hours a week in a second language.

“For two years I went to bed at 3:00 a.m. and got up at 6:00 a.m.,” he says. “It had very negative effects on my body. One doctor thought I had a brain tumor, but it was really just exhaustion and stress. I’d stopped taking care of myself.”

Making Changes
As Ken recovered, he decided to make health a priority. “A lot of it is just common sense,” he says. “I started by working out five times a week, but now it’s usually three times. Just 20 minutes of cardiovascular exercise three times a week can change your metabolism to where you can burn calories sitting at a desk.”

He also changed the way he ate. “I try to eat the right balance of protein, carbs, and good monounsaturated fats,” says Ken. “I still eat desserts and drink coffee, but it’s about moderation. Brother Hagin taught us the fasted lifestyle—you don’t have to have dessert every day. Push the plate away before you’re full.”

Ken says rest is still a struggle. “It comes down to training myself to get to bed on time,” he says. “Robert E. Lee said an hour of sleep before midnight is worth two hours after. Sometimes you just have to call it quits and go to bed.”

Taking a day off is also vital. “It seems to be an ongoing struggle for a lot of us in ministry,” says Ken, “but it’s the principle of the Sabbath. We pastors teach our people the principle of tithing, and if they say they can’t afford to tithe, we say they can’t afford not to. It’s the same with the Sabbath. We say, ‘I can’t afford to take a day off,’ but we can’t afford not to! God created the earth and rested on the seventh day. That’s the Sabbath principle. Our bodies need rest to recover and recuperate.”

Tips for a Healthy Balance

• Change the way you think about food. “Eating to live instead of living to eat was big for me. Food is fuel for the temple God’s given us, and you only get one temple. Once it’s gone, you can no longer be of service to Him on the earth—so you might as well take care of it now.”

• Go to bed on time. “They say going to bed after 1:00 a.m. compromises your immune system by 50 percent the next few days. It’s amazing what sleep does to rebuild your body. Disciplining myself to go to bed at a decent hour makes all the difference.”

• Take a day off. “You’re not being irresponsible if you take time off,” says Ken. “In the long run, taking a day off is best for us and for our people. We’ll be able to serve them longer and more effectively when we’re rested and operating at our optimum capacity.”

Four Simple Steps for Beginners

Kendra Turner (’06, ’07)

Kendra works full time as a certified personal trainer. A former healing technician at the RHEMA Prayer & Healing Center, she and her husband, Danny (’05, ’06), currently run a prayer and healing center at Community Church in Bowden, Georgia.

Most fitness experts agree that the way to live healthy is not dieting; it’s adopting a lifestyle of exercise and eating right.

As a personal trainer, Kendra Turner has helped many people who have either tried and failed with fitness or aren’t sure where to start. Here are some of her steps for beginners:

1) Exercise. “My advice for beginners is, go slow,” says Kendra. “When you’re starting out, you don’t need to exercise until you’re worn out. Always leave a workout knowing you could do more.” She says to start with 20 minutes of circuit training two or three times a week [see Kendra’s Tips]. “Follow that schedule for six to eight weeks, then move up to 30 minutes two or three times a week. Studies show that circuit training—a work/rest ratio—burns more fat than other types of exercise.”

2) Make one change at a time. “Changing your eating and starting to exercise all at once can be overwhelming,” says Kendra. “So start off with one thing—something simple you know you can do [see Kendra’s Tips]. Make choices that create the change you want.”

3) Get a new mind-set. “Decide, ‘I’m going to stick to this and I’m not turning back,’ ” says Kendra. “You’re making a lifestyle change. Don’t do it just to fit into an outfit or look good for a big event, but to be healthy.”

4) Write it down. To make a change, you have to give attention to what you’re eating. “I ask anyone starting a new fitness program to keep a food journal,” says Kendra. “Write down every single thing you eat for a week or two, along with the day, time, and portion size.” A food journal helps you to spot trouble areas and make better choices.

Kendra’s Tips

Circuit training (work/rest). Do five basic exercises, with rest in between, for 20 minutes. Alternate squats, crunches, lunges, and push-ups with a cardio activity like walking, marching in place, or jumping jacks. “If thirty 15-second intervals are too hard, do twenty 10-second intervals and work your way up,” says Kendra.


March in place: 30 seconds
Rest (or move to next station): 15 seconds
Squats: 30 seconds
Rest: 15 seconds
Jumping jacks: 30 seconds
Rest: 15 seconds, etc.


Get help and examples on these circuit training websites:

Do something you like. “If you like playing basketball, walk fast down a court and shoot some hoops for 30 seconds, then have a 15-second rest, and so on, for 20 minutes,” says Kendra. “If you like being outside, walk up and down your street. Do a 30-second fast walk, then rest 15 seconds, do 10 or 15 squats, rest, then walk again, and so on.”

Make small adjustments. “If you drink a six-pack of Coke a day, cut down to three or four at first,” says Kendra. “When you go to the mall, park farther away so you have to walk.” More examples:

• Add two or three days of exercise to your schedule. Do it at a time that works for you.
• Substitute one healthy food. Instead of fried food, choose steamed vegetables.
• Start eating a healthy breakfast (see page 10). It’s worth getting up 10 minutes earlier.
• Instead of three cups of coffee or pop, drink two and have a glass of water in place of the third.
• Drink 8 ounces of water before each meal.
• Bring along a healthy snack to eat midmorning and midafternoon (see page 11).

See page 20 for some of Kendra’s favorite recommendations for supplements and health advice.


Start When You’re Young

Matt Shirley (’07, ’08)

Matt Shirley and his wife, Casey (’07, ’08), live in Tulsa. In addition to traveling and ministering, Matt works in marketing for Outreach Films, a faith-based film company, and Casey is a project manager at Kenneth Hagin Ministries.

Matt Shirley, 28, was always active as a kid. From ages 6 through 22 he played soccer, earning a soccer scholarship to college. He ate anything he wanted to and never thought about weight.

Then he graduated, got married, and stopped his rigorous training schedule. He was surprised by what happened. “I started gaining weight and not feeling good,” he recalls. “I said to my wife, ‘What’s going on here?’ ”

Matt found out that as you get older, staying in shape takes more effort. Instead of eating whatever you want to (as you did when you were younger), you have to start paying attention or you’ll fall into an unhealthy lifestyle.

So Matt went back to the things he’d enjoyed before. “I played basketball and soccer and started running again,” he says. “I looked for things to do where I could spend time with friends but at the same time stay healthy.” He also started watching what he ate and making healthier food choices (see tips on page 10).

Matt says it’s easier to start a healthy lifestyle when you’re younger. “Putting your flesh under and setting up spiritual disciplines by exercising and eating right is good stewardship of the body that God gave you,” says Matt. “When you’re not in shape, it limits what you can do for the Kingdom of God.”

Matt has traveled and ministered in many areas of the United States. “Anyone who travels in ministry knows that being in shape is a vital part of maintaining momentum and excellence,” he says. “And that starts here at home.”


Tips for Your 20s and 30s

• Start! “Stop thinking about exercising and start somewhere. Do something you’ll enjoy so that you’ll stick with it. Set an achievable goal.”
• Know what to choose when eating out. “Pay attention to what you eat. Read books like Eat This, Not That (see page 20) because it tells you how to substitute healthy foods for the ones you’re eating now, and what to eat when you’re at fast-food restaurants.”
• Smaller is better. “Cut back on your portion sizes.”
• Watch when you eat. “I loved to eat a bowl of cereal before bed, but I had to stop! Eating late at night messes up your metabolism. I found that drinking a glass of water instead will help fend off hunger.”
• Change your drink of choice. “Drink more water! Period!”


Making a Lifestyle Change

Linda Svensson (’81, ’82)

Linda (Cheek) Svensson worked in the RHEMA Prayer & Healing Center for many years. After her marriage to Mårten (’86, ’87), they moved to his native country of Sweden in 2004.

After seven years of happy marriage in “the land of potatoes” (Sweden), Linda found that she had gained 30

“I knew it was time for a change!” she says. “Exercise and diet had always been one of Mårten’s and my top priorities, but we found that ‘moderation’ was not working—we just continued to gain weight!”

So the Svenssons both started the South Beach Diet and began to change their lifestyle.

“We cut out all white sugar, white bread and rice, and white potatoes,” says Linda. “It was hard at first, but once you learn the principles, you can use it as a guideline. It’s not a diet—it’s a lifestyle.”

They also began to exercise, no matter what. “My walk or bike ride is not optional,” says Linda. “It’s just one of the
things on my list that I always do.”

What motivates her to stick with it? “I love the way I look and feel,” says Linda. “I feel so much more confident. The choice to eat healthier is worth it to me!”

Tips for Couples

* Be patient. “Change did not come overnight, and Mårten lost weight a lot faster than I did. But I just was not going to quit. Once I saw some weight come off, I kept at it.”

* Have a goal. “I had three pieces of smaller clothing that I kept close by. One was a dress that I wore on my honeymoon. This photo was taken on my 50th birthday wearing it again. Not bad for 50!”

* Dessert is legal. “Yes, we cheat! On special occasions like birthdays, we eat whatever we want, and then get back to healthy eating the  next day.”

* Keep track. “Mårten made up a chart on which we record our weight—with starting weight, goal weight, and a time frame in which to realistically reach that goal. I have a calendar on which I write down how long I walked or rode. It’s encouraging to look back and see that calendar filled up

Renew Your Alumni Account


Click here to renew now