Unlock the Door

"They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers." --Acts 1:14

Read: Acts 1

Peter denied. Thomas doubted. Fear filled the upper room. Both the cross and the tomb were void of any sign of their allegiance, so they hid. But then they heard His voice, felt His scars and were filled with the Spirit. Before long someone said, "Unlock the door."

You and I? We deny. We doubt. And boy do we ever let fear fill our days. But the same reasons that sent the disciples underground -- an empty cross and tomb -- are why we have faith in the first place. So as we begin a new day, take a few seconds and pause. Stand in the room with Peter. Imagine for a second you're with Thomas and the others. Look around at everyday men and women with an extraordinary mission. See the look in their eyes? Like them, beyond your door is a world that needs the gospel according to you. Could be at work, at the gym or even at school, but as you leave your room, imagine the disciples doing the same. Same Jesus, same mission.

Now, somebody unlock the door.

--Jimmy Peña

[exercise in focus]

Yesterday's Workout of the Week included a move that many are unfamiliar with: the straight-arm plank. This challenging core move -- which also lights a a bit of a fire in your shoulders and triceps -- is worth a closer look today.

Straight-arm plank | Target: Core

The straight-arm plank is basically holding the top portion of a push-up. Hold the position as long as possible, keeping your abs, lower back and glutes tight. Within the context of this workout — following push-ups and squats — this move is incredibly difficult. Planks are thought of as an "abs" move but they emphasize the muscles beneath your six-pack -- the transverse abdominis. And by training these deep muscles harder, more regularly, you can better tone and flatten your entire midsection while also adding greater core stability.

Try this: Challenge your core by beginning in a straight-arm plank. Once you reach failure, go into a standard plank, again holding the position to failure. Once you fail on the standard plank, simply drop your knees to the floor and go as long as you can. This three-position plank series will fry your midsection from the inside out -- literally.