Jesus

They Knew What To Do

"Teacher, don't you care if we drown?" --Mark 4:38

Read: Mark 4

The disciples knew what to do. Isn't it true? They knew what to do, and they were the first to do it. Do what exactly? Well, they did literally what you and I do metaphorically. They praised Him in the storm. We know the story. First came the wind, then the waves. And with teeth chattering and knees knocking, the terrified bunch woke the only one who could put the sea to sleep.

This week is such a good reminder for me that Jesus may have been asleep in the boat, but He wasn't asleep at the wheel. And it's not that the storm wasn't threatening, or that the disciples were silly for being scared. No, the storm that night was real. But Jesus took their fears seriously.

Of all the things we can learn from this story, it's that Jesus didn't hush the storm to prove its insignificance. He hushed it to show their significance to Him.

Your storms are real. Our fears are real. But when your teeth chatter and my knees buckle, we can follow their lead, amen? They knew what to do. We can too. In many ways, we're in the same boat. Brings a lump to my throat to think He's patiently waiting for me to wake Him up.

--Jimmy Peña

Final Prayfit Diet Cover

THE DAY IS HERE!: What a gift of grace. Our book, The PrayFit Diet, has finally arrived. I know we've been talking about it for a couple weeks now but please help us celebrate by thanking the Lord with us and for praying for us -- that this book will find its way into the hearts and hands of churches, small groups and individuals all across the country. Whether someone is looking for a Gospel perspective when it comes to food or whether someone is seeking a prescriptive, abundant, life-long meal plan and teaching tool, this book is for them. I personally appreciate everyone who has helped us spread the word about this beautiful book and I thank you in advance for sharing this news with your friends, family or even your Pastor and leadership. I'm at your feet.

"Practically everyone I know wants to lose weight and get more fit -- myself included. This battle is as much spiritual as it is physical, and most exercise and diet specialists miss this, but not Jimmy Peña and his Prayfit Diet plan. Getting fit God's way ensures you have the proper perspective on how and who God made you to be. When you have this foundation firmly in place, you will not be motivated to get fit to prove you are a somebody, but to express the somebody you are in Christ." --Randy Frazee, author of Making Room for Life and The Heart of the Story, and senior pastor at Oak Hills Church

Inspect What He Expects

Years ago, while cutting my teeth in leadership and service, I learned how important it was to inspect what you expect. Daily checklists and standard operating procedures were the keys to the satisfaction of both the consumer and the team around you. Here's a neat insight. In some of the finest hotels in the world, the housekeeping department employs a very simple strategy. In the back of the hotel -- or the back of the "house," as it's called -- they hang pictures of guest rooms. Within the frames are immaculate, impeccably clean, spotless rooms, with nothing out of place. Get this...they view them daily. That way, they know exactly how each room should appear, making it easier to create excellence. Each time a guest enters the room, it's perfect. Those pictures hang there as reminders of the standard that must be kept.

When it comes to our lives as believers, Christian athletes or fitness-minded individuals, we too have checklists and standard operating procedures. We track our training and measure our meals, striving for a stewardship-savvy life. And by God's Word, our thoughts, motives, actions...our hearts can be measured daily. But try as we might, we're not always 5-Star. Some days we're more like a flickering no vacancy sign; not today, can't stay, go away. Isn't it true? We inspect what He expects only to find that we don't always think purely, speak kindly or act humbly.

Because of that, Jesus hung on the cross and paid for our sins, reminding us of the standard we couldn't keep. Do we go there daily?

--Jimmy Peña

Inspection: When it comes to fitness, do you inspect what He expects? If Jesus were the standard that determined your outlook on your health, would that force you to train more or less?

Secret Shopper Poll: The best hotel chains employ "secret shoppers" to help grade each department in the house. Secret shoppers provide invaluable feedback to leadership to help them best serve guests. We want that kind of feedback from you. Today and over the next few weeks, we'll be asking some questions of you to help us better serve you. And if we don't ask, tell us anyway.

In full disclosure, with more products on the horizon to best serve you, we've been having strategic planning meetings with our new management team. One of the more common items mentioned in our sessions is whether or not we would be more effective if we delivered a weekly newsletter versus a daily fitness devotional. You're the secret shopper. I'm the executive in charge of service and I want to inspect what YOU expect. What would you rather see?

A. A Daily Fitness Devotion or B. Weekly Newsletter

It should be noted that either choice would include the same core messaging that you have come to know and expect from PrayFit!

PERCEPTION: What do we think about our weight?

While studies show that those who are dieting have a better chance of keeping on track if they weigh themselves regularly, there are a great many people that don't know how much they weigh. But Columbia University researchers found that most moms and kids who are overweight tend to underestimate their weight -- and each other's.

>> Click here for the sobering study.

 

They Knew What To Do

"Teacher, don't you care if we drown?" --Mark 4:38

Read: Mark 4

The disciples knew what to do. Isn't it true? We try and relate to those great men on so many levels, but for some reason, this week's theme on fear seems especially relatable. They knew what to do, and if you think about, they were the first to do it. Do what exactly? Well, they did literally what you and I do metaphorically. They praised Him in the storm. We know the story. First came the wind, then the waves. And with teeth chattering and knees knocking, the terrified bunch woke the only one who could put the sea to sleep.

Of all the things that we talked about this week, what did you connect with? For me, I think the truth that He takes our fears seriously has been a source of comfort. Take a look at our story today. Jesus may have been asleep in the boat, but He wasn't asleep at the wheel. And it's not that the storm wasn't threatening, or that the disciples were silly for being scared. No, the storm that night was real. But Jesus took their fears seriously.

Of all the things we can learn from this story, it's that Jesus didn't hush the storm to prove its insignificance. He hushed it to show their significance to Him.

Your storms are real. Our fears are real. But when your teeth chatter and my knees buckle, we can follow their lead, amen? They knew what to do. We can too. In many ways, we're in the same boat. Brings a lump to my throat to think He's patiently waiting for me to wake Him up.

--Jimmy Peña

For Discussion: Even though He was asleep that night, I like to imagine Jesus asleep with one eye open waiting for us to call on Him. Maybe even with a little grin. I don't know, but His face, His grin makes our worries cease. Whatever you're going through, I hope this week blessed your life and the lives of those you love. If you missed any of this week's entries, we hope you find some time to go back and review. Many of us are in need of comfort and prayer during times of fear, so please lift some names up.

SCHEDULE A FAITH & FITNESS WEEKEND FOR YOUR CHURCH!

Jimmy Peña's message of "Life is not about the body, but health is a means of praise" is being well-received by congregations around the country. His story-telling approach to how a healthy body can strengthen the body of Christ and inspire abundant living is a message you don't want to miss. For speaking appearances, ministry assistance, media inquiries, write us at info@prayfit.com.

Serious Courage

Jesus takes our fears seriously. In fact, he takes our fears more seriously than we do. Imagine that for a second. Before He left earth, He left no doubt about it. More than any other command, Jesus urged us to not fear. Of everything we know the Lord said to us while dwelling among us, "fear not" topped the list. If you think about it, what stops us from sharing our faith with strangers? What hinders us from loving the unlovable, forgiving the unforgivable or attempting the impossible? Fear, fear and more fear. It's no wonder He encouraged courage.

Fear paralyzes us. Bringing up the rear of the group on Saturday night, I was able to see things as they happened. And the one constant that fear forced the group to do was stop. Stop walking. Stop moving. Stopped cold and frozen. Predictably, at the stop sign of fear, we slam on the breaks.

Fear fools us. In one of the mazes, we were asked to wear 3-D glasses. Things appeared to be coming straight for us and fast. Better duck or get gobbled! But halfway through that maze, I took my glasses off. Turns out that things were actually much further away than they appeared. What a difference it was to see the source of fear with clear eyes.

Dear friends, Jesus takes our fears more seriously than we do. At a stop sign of fear? Run it. Blinded and confused? Try it with clear eyes. In the face of today's fear, let's take Him seriously, allowing courage to be our default reaction.

--Jimmy Peña

For Discussion: What has fear stopped you in pursuing today? Will courage be your default reaction? Friends, prayer is the key. What do you need courage for today? Whether for health-related issues or otherwise, list them below or simply say, "Unspoken...serious courage needed."

5-STEP FRIDGE MAKEOVER Use these strategies to clean up your diet for healthier eating and faster weight loss

If you're looking to get your nutritional house in order, you need to first make some simple swaps. Our contributing nutritionist, Dana Angelo White, offers up five of her favorite -- and least painful -- ways to make your fridge a waistline-friendly environment.

>> Tip No. 1 - Click here

MORE NUTRITION NEWS & NOTES

>> NEED A TREAT?: You can indulge without going overboard. Try this fall recipe for orange-chocolate cookies!

>> COMPLETE THE CLEAN-UP: After your fridge makeover, try these eight tips to start eating better, forever!

>> WHEY PROTEIN TUTORIAL: Learn how this supplement can help aid recovery, build strength and burn fat.

The Imperfect Game

Pretty neat weak. I liked our theme: "Closers." Great life-enders. Thumbing through God's word and some books of my favorite authors, the number of remarkable men and women (and yes, even the donkey) who finished their life's game with the kind of endurance that Paul penned is jaw-dropping. Just count all the pitfalls, the pitiful, and the pits! What a pit-y party. And, well, it might as well have been. Because while their lives were heavenly, inspired and God-breathed, each one of them -- like you and me -- needs amazing pity.

On June 3, 2010 Armando Gallaraga was one out away from pitching only the 21st perfect game in baseball history. Not only did he hold the opposition to zero hits, he never even walked a batter. Each of the first 26 hitters he faced sat down. But with only one out left in the 9th, umpire Jim Joyce mistakenly called a hitter safe at first. The blown call cost Armando his place in history. From perfect to imperfect, just like that. Getting support around baseball as well as from Armando himself, a tearful and regretful Jim Joyce was quoted as saying, "Nobody's perfect."

With baseball's closer role woven throughout our theme this week, I thought of that game. That imperfect game. You and I have made some blown calls in life, haven't we? That one day. Those dumb days. Bad judgement calls. If we could take them back, we would. But since we can't, our chance at a perfect life is impossible. We'd have a better chance of swallowing the ocean than being flawless. Enter Jesus, The Savior.

Imagine it. He takes our place on the hill. His was a sinless, sacred life. Blameless. Spotless. Perfect. But because of our sin, He climbed on the cross and died for each one. Amazing pity. When God looks at your life and mine, He sees the life of His Son. No blown calls. He alone was worthy to take the loss, in order that we could win what only perfection can earn. And in what hour on Friday does the Bible say our Savior's eyes closed? Yes. In the 9th.

--Jimmy Peña

For Discussion: If you missed any of this week's entries, be sure and see A Life Spent Saving, Out of the Pits, The Purpose Fulfilled Life and The Set-Up Man. We hope they blessed your week and life. Do you have a favorite Biblical closer? Someone we didn't mention? We'd love to read it. Share it with us. Have a good weekend. And please don't miss Monday's entry. I'm already excited to write it.

IMG_4821GEAR UP!: We're getting ready to load our FALL LINE of clothing and accessories, so it's time to clear the store! Please take a quick look at the store to find our t-shirts and tanks with some of our favorite verses. Friends, it's through your giving that we're able to continue the ministry of PrayFit and we are so grateful. We hope these items bless your life and your testimony as Christians with a heart for health. Thank you for your love and support.

A Life Spent Saving

The SandmanHis father was a fisherman. During low tide, he and his friends would fashion fish nets into makeshift baseballs, milk cartons into mitts and use tree branches for bats. The boy who would come to be known as "Sandman" played in it until the tide came in. Not much has changed.

Regarded as the greatest closing pitcher in the history of baseball, Mariano Rivera took the mound -- the hill -- one final time. After recording two outs in the ninth, the waves were crashing near his feet and the sun was setting. So, counterparts Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte went out to get their friend.

"It's time to go," Jeter said.

And that was it. The tide came in. Teammates embraced, tears flowed and millions of fans around the world wept. The man whose job it was to bring an end to games had reached the end of his. The man credited with the most "saves" in history didn't save anything for the next day.

As promised, this week will be a week with a theme. So plan on spending time each day studying the lives of men and women who finished strong for the cause of Christ. Biblical closers, if you will. Some overcoming incredible obstacles to fulfill their God-given dreams; all called by God to finish better than they started. Any names come to mind? Any favorites you hope we cover? I hope you're blessed by what you read.

Friends, Jesus found fisherman on the sand with one goal on His mind, to climb a hill and save us. Because of that, may you and I treat each day like it's low tide.

--Jimmy Peña

For Discussion: Just in time, the "Sandman" goes out to the mound after the game to gather a little to take home with him. What a moment in the sand. And if you take a look at this video in its entirety, you'll see the cloud of witnesses -- his teammates -- in the dugout greet and embrace Mo. Imagine the cloud of witnesses awaiting us. Of course, it won't be our life they applaud. It won't be our name they echo. It will be His. We will cry, "Jesus." Is there a better end to a life He saved?

Pick Up Your Bed

"I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house." --Mark 2:11

Read: Mark 2 It took four men to get him near Jesus. Four men who wouldn't stop until they made a breakthrough, literally. The bible says that "when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying." Reading this story a few weeks ago, some things dawned on me. First, the breakthrough -- the realization that there was no other option; no Plan B. Jesus was in the healing business and their friend was buying.

Then, before Jesus does for the paralytic what the man thought he needed most, Jesus says, "Your sins are forgiven you." (Wait, what? His sins? Why not first heal his legs?, I wondered.) Then Jesus answered my question when He asked the scribes, "Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, 'Your sins are forgiven you,' or to say, 'Arise, take up your bed and walk?'"

In case there was any doubt of His ability to forgive sins, Jesus went ahead and said to the paralytic, "I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house." A paralyzed man carrying his prison back home is enough to quiet the doubters. And here's my last thought...he carried his bed home. Jesus put him to work. He didn't say, "Tell others what I did for you," or "Show off your legs." No, carrying his bed said it all.

You'll forgive the long entry, but as I'm recovering this summer, all I want to do is carry my bed. Our blessing of health is an opportunity to go to work; for family, friends, those less fortunate, our health is a means of praise. Someone you know needs a breakthrough. I did. And I'm betting the healed man in our story lifted other people's burdens from that day forward, wouldn't you agree? If you do, pick up your bed. Let's go to work.

--Jimmy Peña

For Discussion: Who are you in today's story? Are you in need of a breakthrough? Dealing with an illness, infirmity or other struggle? Perhaps you're a friend, helping someone through the roof by praying for them, listening to them? Maybe you feel like you're one of the crowd, the onlookers, not really engaged either way, be it with your health or the health of someone else. Well, we know who we are NOT in this story, so let's go. Who needs prayer? Let's lift someone through the roof. Let's place someone you know and love as close the healer as we know how to. As always, simply say "Unspoken" and the team and readers will pray for you.

4 TIPS FOR BETTER MORNING CEREAL

Do you love to start off your morning with a bowl of cereal? That's not necessarily bad...if you're making the right choices. PrayFit contributing nutritionist Christie Menna, MS, RD helps us sort out the business of better breakfast.

>> Click here for the tips! SIGN UP FOR THE DAILY!

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You Don't Have To

"Do not remember the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you, Lord, are good." --Psalm 25:7

Read: Psalm 25 Earlier this week I received the most incredible and undeserved invitation. Details to come, but later this Fall, Loretta and I will be special guests at Baylor University, my alma mater. In the days leading up to a special Saturday event, we'll have the unique opportunity of speaking to students, staff and the community. We're so blessed and excited. Can I get a "Sic'em Bears?"

You know, the idea of going back and showing Loretta some of my old stomping grounds after all these years is already making my heart pound. I've even started taking notes on things I want to be sure and discuss with the students in particular. Oh man, to be able to go back and talk to a younger Jimmy Peña.  What would I tell him? (Other than to enjoy his hair line while he can and to eat more fiber. He'll just have to trust me on both.) So many things come to mind. But one thing I know, I'd make sure to find my way to old Russell Gym. I'd stand right next to young Jimmy as he eyed his next lift. While the gang of Russell Rats yell and scream in one ear, I'd whisper in the other, "You don't have to. You don't have to lift that much weight."

Carrying the weight of the past gets heavy, does it not? Yesterday's mistakes can feel heavier than a 500-pound bar across your back. I know, because I've carried both. But like the old Gaither hymn reminds me as I type this sentence:

"I'm free from the fear of tomorrow. I'm free from the guilt of my past. I've traded my shackles for a glorious song. I'm free. Praise the Lord, free at last."

If you're carrying yesterday's burden today, the Cross of Jesus says we don't have to. And we have the most incredible and undeserved invitation to embrace it.

--Jimmy Peña

For Discussion: Even though I know I would change some things in my past, I believe the good Lord has worked it all out. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that if I hadn't gone through some of my mistakes and wrong turns, I wouldn't be living the life I live today. Share your story. Give us your comments below. And have a great weekend everyone.

LISTEN, WATCH, INVITE: Life is not about the body. Our health is a means of praise. This fundamental message, which has become the heart of PrayFit in the last several years, has always been at the heart of Jimmy's philosophy on exercise and nutrition. But to put it in a paragraph here doesn't do it justice -- to hear it from the man himself is a convicting experience for anyone who has the opportunity. Use the links below to explore what we mean...

Listen >> Many of Jimmy's favorite devotionals are available here as audio files. Click here to "hear" PrayFit's founder articulate his passion for your health.

Watch >> The mission of PrayFit isn't six-pack abs -- it's stewardship. Click here for a video compilation of Jimmy's heartfelt message about caring for the bodies that carry these souls.

Invite >> Finally, if this is a message that you feel your family, your church or your community, then reach out to us today to find out how you can bring Jimmy to your next Sunday service or event. Click here for more info.

For additional PrayFit resources, such as books or DVDs, click here.

The Scars & Stripes

"...and by His stripes we are healed." --Isaiah 53:5

Read: Isaiah 53

One day while driving along the canyon in Los Angeles, I came across a tall, old tree in the front yard of a beautiful home. Next to the tree stood an equally tall flag pole. Now, most days I probably wouldn't have noticed, but as I went by I realized the flag was tangled around some branches, evidence of some recent high winds. Now, you may be just like me, but something stirs inside when I see the stars and stripes helpless like that. I don't know, but our symbol of freedom shouldn't be stuck to a tree. It was wrapped so tight in fact, I literally said to myself, "Oh, someone has to climb up there."

With amazing pity for my crimes and yours, our Freedom willingly crawled up that old rugged cross. We were helpless, so someone had to climb up there. And Jesus, with His scars and stripes, embraced it.

--Jimmy Peña

Happy 4th of July everyone. Celebrate freedom! Please look for our next PrayFit entry on Monday, July 8th!

PRAYFIT USA!

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It's The Stuff

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." --Hebrews 11:1

Read: Hebrews 11

You know the feeling. I do too. Bottom of the ninth, two outs, and your favorite batter hits one deep. You stand, your eyes widen, your mouth opens! It's going, GOING...caught. That's the ball game, your team loses. But for a few short seconds, the thrill of what could have been did a tap dance on your heart. And it felt great while it lasted. Really great.

I had that feeling yesterday. Opening an email that had been forwarded to me from my team, I lived the whole "home run" scene. In my mind, I was rounding third base in slow motion as the sound of trumpets and the crashing of cymbals rang in my ears. That is, until I realized I didn't read page two. Thud. The tap dance was over, the music had stopped. And I was out. But boy, when you get a glimmer, it's like...there's hope. You have a pulse! Boom, boom. Just typing the memory of the moment brings it back to the surface.

You know, I wonder how many times Noah peeked out the window? While he hoped for land, he was in the boat because of faith. Fast forward a few thousand years and there's the centurion. While desperately hoping his servant would live, Jesus healed him because of what? His faith. I think that's why I love the first part of our day's verse. "Faith is the substance." The substance! Folks, it's the stuff. It's the matter. It's the stuff that matters.

--Jimmy Peña

Question: What are you waiting for in faith? Just like the olive branch meant land for Noah, you too may be waiting for God's divine intervention. What can we be praying for in faith for you? Let us know. If you'd like, as always, simply say "unspoken" and we promise to lift you up. You know friends, someday, that eye-popping, jaw-dropping thrill will never end, and the music will never stop. That's what faith is for. Let's pray together.

Banana Blueberry Pancakes1RECIPE OF THE WEEK: Banana Blueberry Pancakes

Breakfast recipes two weeks in a row? You betcha. This first meal is critical for success the rest of the day. It breaks your overnight fast, provides much-needed fuel to your brain and muscles and, if you do it right, sets the dietary "tone" for the rest of the day -- eat healthy, and you're bound to do so for the rest of the day. Kimberly Fuller's fruity pancake recipe will provide a welcome addition to your breakfast menu.

>> Click here for the recipe!

#nofilter

"By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." --John 13:35

Read: John 13

Have you ever taken a picture that was so good, so clear, so perfect that when you shared it, you needed everyone to know that you didn't use a filter? Why? Because you wanted others to know that you had nothing to do with it. It was that good. You were just happy to pull back the curtain. Speaking of pictures, I'm rather a novice at Instagram (@prayfit), but you'd be surprised at how good of a photographer I think I am after a few nifty filters. A shade here, a little darker there. Oh yeah. Now it's ready to be shared.

Curious, but have you ever wondered to yourself, "What kind of a filter am I for Christ?" The bible says in John 13, "By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." I guess you could say that love is the bible's version of a filter. But we use our own, don't we? We gloss ourselves up. "Surely people will know that I'm a believer based on my physical and mental strength. I'm absolutely positive that the world needs to experience God through my charisma. And since I'm supposed to be strong and courageous -- in case you want to get run over -- I'm coming through in Jesus' name!" But really, the filter we should be using is a filter of love. Otherwise, we're just blocking the view.

Boy, aren't we so thankful that we wear Jesus on our hearts? Like we said last week, when God looks at us, we're seen filtered through the blood of Jesus Himself. And we had nothing to do with it. That's love. And it's all ready to be shared.

--Jimmy Peña

For Discussion: Are you delivering your message at work, school, social media, or in your community with love? Do this today: Before you press send, post, call or offer any advice to anyone, whisper, "Lord, is this your will? And am I showing your love with my words and deeds?"

RECIPE: Chicken or Tuna Salad Pockets

Selecting the proper protein to build a dinner around can be fun — unless you’re crunched for time. If you need a speedy solution that’s healthy and palate-pleasing, try this recipe from PrayFit contributing nutritionist Emily Ann Miller, MPH, RD.

>> Click here for the recipe.

Naming Grace

"But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound." --Romans 5:20

Read: Romans 5

Yesterday we asked our followers on Facebook and Twitter this question: What word best describes grace? The answers flooded in: Acceptance. Love. Gift. Undeserved. Peaceful. Unmerited Favor. Continuous. Free. Beautiful. Unconditional. Neverending. And many other wonderful responses.

Such a neat exercise, naming Grace. My preacher, Brother Henry Powell, used to say that when you accept Jesus, you're in the palm of His hand and when God looks at you, He sees you through the blood of His son and nothing -- NOTHING -- can remove you from His hand. I can still hear my preacher saying it. And friends, the fact that God doesn't see your sin and mine? That's grace. It truly is acceptance, love, a gift, undeserved, peaceful, unmerited favor, continuous, free, unconditional and never-ending. And let me offer my own: saving -- and of course -- amazing.

Oh, that reminds me. One Twitter response I got from @larishaJ made me smile in agreement when she replied with: #secondchance. Yes indeed @larishaJ -- our "only" chance, really. Grace is our only chance.

--Jimmy Peña

For Discussion: Speaking of a neat exercise, how does grace shape the way you view your health and fitness? Does it empower you to be a better steward? Knowing God sees your heart, maybe it humbles you? Perhaps you're too focused on the outer man or woman, or maybe not enough. We'd love to read your thoughts and comments.

TRAINING ROOM TIP: Recover with R.I.C.E. When it comes to managing injuries such as twisted ankles and sore shoulders, there's a lot of misinformation out there. Should you heat it? Massage it maybe? The answer is simple and it boils down to four letters: R-I-C-E. Click the link below to get in touch with your inner athletic trainer and manage your nagging injuries better.

>> R.I.C.E. stands for...

THE DAILY, DELIVERED

Nearly 10,000 people have chosen to receive the PrayFit Daily in their inboxes each morning. If you haven't signed up for this free service already, simply go to our homepage and look for the box pictured here. Click, type, submit -- it could be the most rewarding 30 seconds you spend on the computer this morning! Already subscribed and not receiving it? Make sure your spam filter hasn't been catching it. And if you want to help us go viral with this sign-up drive, you can do so by sending friends this link:

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Two Tributes

"Then he said to them all: 'Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.'" --Luke 9:23

Read: Luke 9

Undeniably effective for building strength and changing the way your body looks, feels and performs, the squat also happens to be remarkably humbling. As I was looking at today's scheduled workout, I started to look for excuses to avoid my date with the barbell, but then it hit me: I should be thankful I can squat at all.

You see, while I was here racking my head for reasons to avoid this workout, a close friend of mine was struggling with a physical ailment, longing for the day when he could once again test his mettle in the squat or any kind of physical fitness for that matter. He would do anything to get under that bar, to feel the weight pressing him into the floor, to tremble through the uncertain descent that skilled squatters so willingly endure -- and to rise again.

This friend of mine who would give anything to trade places with me on my toughest training day of the week reminds me of another Who traded places with me for all my days to come -- of One who willingly carried the crushing weight of the cross and a certain descent into the tomb, only to rise again.

So today, tossing aside my fears and hesitations, I paid physical tribute to two friends. For one, I squatted. And for the other, I knelt.

--Eric Velazquez

PRAYER REQUEST: This morning, as most of you read this, PrayFit founder Jimmy Peña will be undergoing surgery on his lumbar spine. We ask that you join the rest of our family in praying for him.

Lord, we thank you for the miracles that are our bodies. While we know that our bodies won't last Heaven, we pray that you would help us to be good stewards of our health however long we have on earth. This morning, Father, we pray for Jimmy -- we pray that You would ease his anxiety and fortify his body and mind for the procedure that he is to endure. We pray for his physicians -- we pray that you would bless them with wisdom, discernment and steady hands as they work to repair Jimmy's spine. Finally, we pray for his wife, Loretta -- we pray that you would fill her with courage, energy and her usual, exceptional strength as a woman of God. Lord, we know that You are in control and that you will be by His side throughout it all. We ask that You would whisper your presence into his heart and that you would instill in him a courageous, unwavering trust in knowing that the doctor's hands are in Yours. Lord, today we pray for the body of the man who has made a ministry out of helping so many others take care of theirs. In Your name we pray...amen.

>> Share your own prayers and thoughts for Jimmy below, if you'd like, or drop him a personal message at jimmy@prayfit.com. Thank you for your support!

>> Next week, May 20-24, PrayFit will be going on temporary hiatus, with no new daily devotions or health content being posted to the site. We will be taking the week to commit to prayer for Jimmy's recovery. You can still find tons of valuable content throughout the site (see links below) and can expect delivery of the PrayFit Daily to resume Monday, May 27.

Training - Workouts, training tips and health news

Nutrition - Recipes, eating strategies, weight loss advice

Devotions - You can search our entire library of devotions here

Listen - You can hear select devotions read by Jimmy here

The Three Rs

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord." --Colossians 3:23-24

Read: Colossians 3

A few years back, I read a great story from Max Lucado about 'giving God our boat'. He talked about how Peter and the others caught nothing until they surrendered the boat to Jesus. They turned over their jobs to the Lord and great things happened.

But we need to see all aspects of life as a boat to surrender, our health being one of them. For that to happen, we need to agree that being  healthy is a matter of obedience and an opportunity to praise God. To accomplish this, we need to renew, recalibrate, respond.

Renew: See health and fitness differently each day. See it as a way to show thankfulness and praise. Recalibrate: Measure the day's events, working to make room for your responsibility of greater fitness. Respond: Commit. Get up and move, utilizing your God-given abilities and gifts to better serve him.

Do you see your health as merely a state of being? Or is your view out of balance -- more self-centered than God-centered? Maybe you're not training right now at all, and you easily excuse lack of activity against your busy schedule and responsibilities. And finally, perhaps you're simply ready to say, "Jesus, takeover my health. Renew my mind and help me respond each day with a commitment worthy of the gift of life you've given me."

Wherever you are in your health walk, remember, God formed us, gave us our bodies--how we take of them is our response.

--Jimmy Peña

FOOD TIP: Great Starts

People always talk about how breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It puts a halt to muscle-wasting, sets your blood sugar right, crushes food cravings and provides you energy for whatever the day holds in store for you. But what does a perfect breakfast look like?

>> Click here to find out!

The Home of Your Dreams

"I was glad when they said unto me, 'Let us go to the house of the Lord.'" --Psalm 122:1

Read: Psalm 122

It's the home of your dreams. White picket fence, freshly cut grass, backyard with a grill. It's that kind of home. When you close your eyes and grin, you're swinging on that front porch watching kids that miraculously -- and perhaps unfortunately -- have your nose. It's the home of your dreams. But despite your best offer, the price is too high. All the money you have can't justify the money you'd owe, so you're labeled unworthy; declined.

Say, have you ever been in a billionaire's bedroom? I have. Ever walked the President's garden? Yep, me too. And one thing is for certain...I will never own either. But while I've seen things that only a ton of money can buy, God is building us a mansion that no amount of money can. The offer was Jesus, the payment was His blood, and the asking price is faith. And if you've accepted, the key is yours. Interest paid. The title made to you. Home. The home of His dreams will someday be yours.

So as you and I strive for our little slice of Heaven on earth, be comforted when the world declines you. Because while He keeps asking, God knows what it's like for people to say His offer just isn't enough.

--Jimmy Peña

P.S. Sometimes our bodies that house our souls aren't exactly up to par. Whether by an unforeseen circumstance or perhaps neglect, you feel the Spirit grieve because of it. If so, we want to pray for you. What are your hurts today? What can we pray for? We want to know so we can lift you up. Either let us know or simply say, "Unspoken" and we promise to pray.

FUEL AND FAT

Like most Americans, you probably paid somewhere near $4.00 a gallon at the pump this week. But before you go and blame Middle East unrest, market instability or rapid inflation, you might want to consider the following information.

>> Click here for the story.

Opening Day

"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." --Romans 8:1

Read: Romans 8

Yep, I'm too predictable aren't I? For me, today marks the beginning of the 2014 Major League Baseball season. Of course, many of you know we're thrilled that the Boys of Summer have taken the field. In fact, I'm not kidding when I say I've been whistling "Take me out to the ballgame" a lot lately. (And maybe now so are you.)

But as I'll watch my beloved Yankees take the field today, it occurs to me that Opening Day can teach us a lot about grace. Reason being, right before player steps into the batter's box, each person's average on the screen will be .000 -- a clean slate. Reverend Scotty Smith says, "Jesus didn't just die to give us a clean slate, but to give us His righteousness." Take a swing at that for a second.

You know, each morning you and I step up to the plate ready to swing away at whatever the day throws at us. Thankfully, no matter how many strikeouts we had yesterday, God's mercy is new with each plate appearance. And with Easter fast-approaching, it feels so appropriate, no? Jesus conquered death so we can have life; an abundant life with no record of wrongs. When Jesus rose from the grave, He gave us every reason we need to look alive. You know, I'm now whistling a medley. "Take me out to the ballgame"...because I know "He Lives".

--Jimmy Peña

FAREWELL to THE CAPTAIN Today will be my favorite athlete of all-time, Derek Jeter's, last first bat of the season. I won't try to explain what it means to me, but I will express this. Many of the things I'm doing at PrayFit may very well be my last. I'm not sure - neither are you - of how many at-bats we have left. And much like Jeter demonstrates in this picture, I thank the Lord everyday for inspiring PrayFit. Maybe you're saying the same thing about a dream you're living. If so, here's a virtual fist-bump from me to you. Here's to a new day, a new season, a new opportunity to swing away.

The Captain

It's Friday

"Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the skull (in Hebrew, Golgatha)." --John 19:17

Calvary 2Friday. Today we'll do like the angels and stay silent.

Friday. Like the criminal on the cross -- despite the miracle in our hearts -- we can't move.

It's Friday. No hitting the gym to lift or taking to the road to run. Call me old fashioned or sentimental, but there's something about the day Jesus was on the cross. If we were there that day, I doubt we'd be focused on our bodies. I think we'd be focused on Him. Let's go to the cross. It's Friday.

--Jimmy Peña

Dad Hands

"So the other disciples told him, 'We have seen the Lord!' But he said to them, 'Unless I see the marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.'"--John 20:25

Read: John 20

The older I get, the more my hands are looking like my dad's. I'll be typing or writing something, and I'll pause to look at my hands and immediately think of his. But unlike my clumsy paws, Dad can actually put his to work. He can fix everything or put anything together. Weld it, untie it, prime it, paint it, dig it...you name it, if we put it in his hands, he's able.

It's funny...despite that knowledge, I've often handed something to Dad for help, and immediately began to tell him how do it or what I think should be done next. To which Dad simply says, "James, am I doing this, or are you?" Gulp!

I think we have the tendency to do the same with the Lord. We pray for His guidance, ask for His help, and we "give it to Him," yet we never really let go of worry, doubt or control. (A show of hands of those who can relate...)

But we need to remember that the very same hands that reached for a sinking Peter on the water, and rubbed mud into the eyes of the blind, are the very same hands that still reach for us today. They assure us in hospital rooms and lead us through the dark times. It's no wonder Thomas wanted to see His hands. He can hold us like a newborn baby in one, while holding off Satan's army with the other. He wants us to bring Him our knots each day. It's what He does. He's got Dad hands, and He is able.

--Jimmy Peña

Question: During this holy week, what about you needs to be in His hands today? Your job? A relationship? Anxiety? Your heart? Whatever it is, He is right there. You can touch Him. You will never be the same.

STUDY: Obesity Linked to Chronic Pain

Knees hurt? Back sore all the time? Before reaching for another dose of ibuprofen, you might wanna check the scale. A recent study reaffirmed what you might already know -- that carrying around excess weight puts you at much higher risk for chronic pain.

>> Click here for the story.

Self-Made

"Do you not know I have the power to have you crucified?" --John 19:10

Read: John 19

You can't pick up a newspaper, click on a website, or in many cases, look in the mirror without seeing someone claiming to be "self-made." Look to any industry, and there's someone who claims that they got to the top on their own; the Captain of a solo flight from rags to riches. Truth is, thinking we've made it to the top of anything alone is not only tough to swallow, it's dangerous to digest. Like someone once said, "A self-made man runs the risk of worshiping their creator."

Pilate took that risk. He raised his resume in the face of Jesus and beat his own chest. "Do you not know I have the power to have you crucified?" 

Folks, of all weeks, this is one that should remind us that we are nothing without Him. Alone, you and I are self-made messes. And when it comes to our health, if we're blessed to have it, it's a gift. Even the motivation to maintain it is a gift. We can't boast. You and I can't generate any of it alone. So as we recalibrate our souls this holy week, be sure to embrace the real meaning of fitness; service. Let's not get so caught up in the process of health that we forget about the purpose of it. As fitness-minded believers, we'll make the greatest impact when we look in the mirror and see only God's hands and feet.

--Jimmy Peña

RECIPE OF THE WEEK: Arugula Pesto

Enliven your pasta repertoire with this healthier summer sauce from PrayFit and Food Network contributor Dana Angelo White. For the recipe, click here.

>> SOCIAL NETWORKS: Now you can "like," "join," "tweet" and "watch" PrayFit. Click the links below to get plugged in with the rest of the PrayFit community. Facebook HeavenUp Twitter YouTube

Carry Your Purpose

"'Go into that village over there,'" he told them. 'As you enter it, you will see a young donkey tied there that no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here.'" --Luke 19:30

Read: Luke 19

There he was. Tied up. Who knows how long he'd been waiting? The most insignificant of animals with an inconsequential life. No thoroughbred blood running through his veins. His next meal was his only solace between chores. A helpless laborer, a meaningless creature. When, all of a sudden...

If you're like me, you've questioned your significance. Is this really what I was meant to do? Well, the next time you ponder your purpose, think of that donkey. Jesus asked for him specifically. Sure, the Lord could have chosen any method of transportation, but He chose him. Uniquely qualified, his purpose was to carry Jesus to His.

Forgive my imagination, but I like to think that a donkey nobody had ever ridden knew exactly who he carried. I bet he did his best to make Jesus proud. Of course we don't know what the Lord said to him as He got off and walked away, maybe nothing. But this writer likes to think that as the crowd took Jesus the rest of the way, that little donkey stood taller than ever. After all, Jesus, the Maker, needed a ride.

--Jimmy Peña

Question: Have you ever pondered your purpose? Ever wondered what Jesus could use you for? No matter what your life's calling or trade, there is someone you know or someone you don't who is empty and lost. You're hand-picked. Like the donkey in our story, you may be the carrier of their only hope. So, deliver.

PRAYFIT NUTRITION: MILK There’s a good alternative for those sensitive to cow’s milk

If you’re sensitive to cow’s milk, you might try the goat variety. Did you know that goat’s milk has more essential amino acids and more omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, phosphorus and magnesium than cow’s milk? With all that said, its protein is easier to digest than cow’s milk and has less lactose. Wondering about the taste? It’s a bit on the sweeter side.

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