Peter

The Temptation of Pride

"Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this?" --Acts 3:11

Read: Acts 3

When Peter and John came across the lame man at the temple gate, Peter said to him, "Look at us." When the lame man fixed his eyes on them, Peter said, "Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk." (Acts 3:6) And as you'll see later in the passage, all the people later saw the man walking, leaping and praising God, and they ran to Peter and John in awe.

But what Peter said to them should rock our world. Peter said, "Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? Or why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we made this man walk?" (v.12) Peter wanted nothing to do with credit. He wanted out of the way. Any praise was deflected before it was uttered. The last thing he wanted was for the people to miss the point of the miracle.

The temptation of pride. Tough for many Christians in the fitness industry. Torn, because the most difficult battle for the gifted Christian athlete isn't the work it takes in the gym, but in the aftermath of pride. Ironic isn't it? Peter and John told the lame man to look at them, but they didn't want to be seen.

--Jimmy Peña

For Discussion: If Christians aren't promoting humility, modesty and meekness in the fitness industry, who will? If not you, who? Are we desperate for others to "look at us" in order to be seen or for them to see Christ? What changes do you need to make in order to be seen less? Knowing that God opposes the proud, in what ways can you follow Peter's example? We know it's odd for a fitness company to NOT be about the body, but then again, our health was important to God long before the fitness industry; an industry that needs revolutionaries to rock its world. Revolutionaries who don't want the crowd to miss the point of the miracle. Will you be one this week?

REVIEW US: We've heard lots of great, early feedback from you all about The PrayFit Diet on our Facebook page and Twitter. Now, we're asking you to share your views on Amazon so that others can see what you like about the book and how it's helping you find biblical balance with your nutrition. Click here to leave a short review for future Amazon shoppers!

4 IMPORTANT FACTS ABOUT CARBS FROM THE PRAYFIT DIET

1 Carbs are the body's preferred source of energy but not all carbs are created equal.

2 Choosing slower-digesting carbs provides better, longer-lasting energy and greater benefits for body composition.

3 Fiber reduces the impact of carbs, aids digestion and helps keep weight off.

4 Carb timing counts. Having carb-heavy foods upon waking and after working out are less likely to be stored as fat.

>> For more info on how carbs, fat and protein work together to improve our health, pick up The PrayFit Diet today!

Meeting His Eyes

"The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter." --Luke 22:61

Read: Luke 22

Have you ever stopped to think about all the great and odd ways that God gets the attention of His people? Lazarus woke up and Jonah saw the inside of a whale. Just run through the bible and we find countless examples of jaw-dropping, head-swiveling surrender to God's presence and authority.

And though you and I don't cheat tombs or choke whales, we can all identify with Peter at the fire pit. Heard any roosters lately? How many opportunities to witness for Jesus have we allowed to go up in smoke? Perhaps around the fire pit of jobs, school or the gym? Like Peter, we all know how it feels to disappoint Christ, and though we'd like to turn back time, Christ turns back our attention. (Notice today's verse.) Just like Peter, it's when our eyes meet those of Jesus that we're broken -- in heart and in spirit -- and His work through us truly begins.

--Jimmy Peña

For Discussion: Have you had "that moment" with Jesus, when you realized that you were broken? When you finally grasped just how much you've let Him down? We have. What freedom did you find in that moment and what has He done with you since?

IN THE CLUB: For those of you who are early readers, be sure to tune in to see Jimmy The 700 Club, talking about our new book, The PrayFit Diet. For air times with your provider, click here. If you miss it, you can catch it later on by visiting The 700 Club homepage.

Drop 'Em

"They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him." --Matthew 4:21-22

Read: Matthew 4

Recently, I was relating to Jimmy how shallow my faith seems compared to the first disciples. Peter was a fisherman. James and John also made a living casting their nets. But this then-anonymous Nazarene walks up and kindly suggests that they leave it all behind (v. 19). And they do. No arguments, no hesitation -- immediate surrender to a higher cause, forsaking their livelihood and everything they'd ever known, simply because they were asked to. Ponder that for a moment. Better yet, put yourself in their shoes. Would you be able to set down your Macbook if He called you? What about your tool belt? Your barbell?

Now, it's easy to think of this story of the first disciples as faith-testing hyperbole -- a tale meant to symbolize our surrender to Christ. But folks, if you had the benefit of living in the context of that verse, you'd go back to the shore to see a pile of abandoned nets and a ship anchored in the shallows with no captain. These were things of great value to men who had very little and they left them behind without batting an eyelash.

We all have things that we place (or misplace) great value on, both tangible and intangible -- things of this earth to which we electively and misguidedly assign value -- material things, workout schedules, turbulent relationships and more. But how much better off would we be if we simply dropped them all and just followed Him.

As you get set to cast your nets overboard today, take pause, look to the shore and just listen. This is a call you don't want to miss and those nets, however important you think they are to the day's haul, won't travel well with you on this journey. All you have to do is drop 'em.

–-Eric Velazquez

For Discussion: There may just be things that we need to abandon to flourish in the splendor of His grace, including the mirror. But stepping away from our reflection isn't the same as stepping away from our health. As Jimmy says, "It's not about the mirror, but about the One we're trying to mirror." It's worth noting that it wasn't the last time these first disciples fished -- they just found new nets and new waters to fish. What (or whom) can you haul in with your commitment to health today?

BRING PRAYFIT TO YOUR TOWN

This weekend, Jimmy is addressing parishioners in Oregon. Could your church be next? More and more pastors, elders and churchgoers are inquiring about how to bring PrayFit's message -- one of stewardship, faith, humility and endurance -- to their next Sunday service. They want their congregations to be as healthy as they can be to take care of the work that needs doing in their communities and on missions abroad. Help us make your church next. Reach out to us at info@prayfit.com for more details. As always, for churches and other non-profit events there is never a speaking fee. Talk to your pastors and leaders. Reach out to us and let's see health as a means of praise, together. For a sample of what you can expect, click play below.

Strong Community

"Simon answered, 'Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets." --Luke 5:5

Read: Luke 5

Smelly. Dirty. Grimy. These are just a few of the ways to describe Peter and his buddies. After all, they spent their days baiting hooks and cleaning fish. I'm smiling as I picture Jesus the Recruiter walking up to this motley crew. Did He pause and grin, crouching down to watch and listen to them work? Maybe after a few minutes, He looked skyward with a smile as if to say, "I found them."

I'm not sure, but I like to wonder what happened in that moment just before the call. What we do know is that of all the fishermen that came off the water, this bunch caught God's attention. And not long after Christ borrowed Peter's boat, the two were catching fish in water too deep for the nets to reach; Peter's preview to the depths of His love.

Friends, remember. Like that little bird reminded us yesterday, you and I have God's attention. So as we start our cars, open our offices, enter our cubicles, prepare for housework or hit the exercise routine, let's do what Peter did and abandon control. Let's just imagine Him saying with a grin, "I found them," and this is that moment just before the call.

--Jimmy Peña

STRENGTH IN YOUR NUMBERS Pastor Randy Frazee of Oak Hills Church in San Antonio once wrote, “The experience of authentic community is one of the purposes God intends to be fulfilled by the church. The writings of Scripture lead one to conclude that God intends the church, not to be one more bolt on the wheel of activity in our lives, but the very hub at the center of one’s life…" Are you plugged into a good church community or small group?

PRAYFIT NEWS: Team PrayFit Gets Stronger From a Team PrayFit standpoint, we grew in strength yesterday. Details to come but we added to our team in a mighty way in terms of representation and management. We're so grateful to the Lord for allowing it. We'll unveil soon, but we're praising God for answered prayer. Join us!

EGGS FOR MUSCLE How did the incredible egg earn its nickname?

Many of you may think that eggs are just a simple breakfast food — something that’s been on your plate every morning since you can remember. But it is so much more, particularly if you’re looking to gain muscle, says Jim Stoppani co-author of “PrayFit: Your Guide to a Healthy Body and a Stronger Faith in 28 Days”(Regal Books). Researchers found that subjects who ate three whole eggs per day gained twice as much muscle in 12 weeks as those who only had one egg per day.

EGG FACTS: One whole egg contains 72 calories, 6 grams of protein, 0 grams of carbohydrate and 5 grams of fat. But don’t worry — about 80% of that fat is monounsaturated and saturated fat, which actually aids in the muscle-building process.

The Temptation of Pride

"Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this?" --Acts 3:11

Read: Acts 3

When Peter and John came across the lame man at the temple gate, Peter said to him, "Look at us." When the lame man fixed his eyes on them, Peter said, "Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk." (Acts 3:6) And as you'll see later in the passage, all the people later saw the man walking, leaping and praising God, and they ran to Peter and John in awe.

But what Peter said to them should rock our world. Peter said, "Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? Or why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we made this man walk?" (v.12) Peter wanted nothing to do with credit. He wanted out of the way. Any praise was deflected before it was uttered. The last thing he wanted was for the people to miss the point of the miracle.

The temptation of pride. Tough for many Christians in the fitness industry. Torn, because the most difficult battle for the gifted Christian athlete isn't the work it takes in the gym, but in the aftermath of pride. Ironic isn't it? Peter and John told the lame man to look at them, but they didn't want to be seen.

--Jimmy Peña

For Discussion: If Christians aren't promoting humility, modesty and meekness in the fitness industry, who will? If not you, who? Are we desperate for others to "look at us" in order to be seen or for them to see Christ? What changes do you need to make in order to be seen less? Knowing that God opposes the proud, in what ways can you follow Peter's example? We know it's odd for a fitness company to NOT be about the body, but then again, our health was important to God long before the fitness industry; an industry that needs revolutionaries to rock its world. Revolutionaries who don't want the crowd to miss the point of the miracle. Will you be one this week?

HEALTH & FITNESS TIP

As summer begins to wane, people are making last-ditch efforts to get in shape. But the key to success may not lie in your routine, or even your diet. To find out what the most important factor is during this time of year, click here.

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The Water's Edge

"One day Jesus was walking along the shore..." --Matthew 4:18

Read: Matthew 4

Although the weather was gloomy last weekend, Loretta and I decided to drive to the coast to relax. As we walked onto the sand, we immediately noticed a sea lion laying on the beach. When the wildlife rescue team arrived, they said it was probably sick and needed to rest, which is why it came ashore. Had it not, those able to save it said it would have surely died at sea.

Now, if you've been on PrayFit for any length of time, you know by now that I'm a little sentimental, so you'll forgive the analogy. But some of the greatest men and women have been rescued near the water. Moses needed courage on the banks of the Red Sea. David needed wisdom as he chose five stones. And on the beach in Galilee, Andrew and Peter met their Purpose face-to-face. Courage, wisdom, a Savior.

Are you facing some heavy work issues? Are you or someone you love in dire need of physical healing? Or maybe you just need a little rest. No matter your needs as we start a new week, His favorite place to run is to our rescue. Let's remember that our only hope in the world is waiting for us at the water's edge.

--Jimmy Peña

10-MINUTE WORKOUT: LEGS

Wanna change your entire body? Start at the bottom and work your way up. By training the large muscles of your lower body with greater intensity, you stand to burn more calories and raise your metabolism. This 10-minute training plan, which attacks your legs with bodyweight exercises only, is designed to set your whole body on a path to transformation. Click below to get started.

>> POWER LEGS

Off You Go

"God doesn't call the qualified, He qualifies the called." I have always loved that saying. Story of my life. But what does it mean? Well, for me it means that God often calls us to do something that we may not feel equipped to do. Sometimes I think, "Who me? But Lord, that isn't what I am best at." Or so I think. I'm reminded of a few biblical examples of those who understood what it meant to be outside their comfort zones. (Moses, Peter, Mary Magdalene...) But when we're obedient, I believe those are the times we grow and are really used by Him.

Reminds me of my recent trip to Allaso Ranch, my amazing church's kids camp where I was a counselor. So many adventures and fun things to do, one of which was the zip line. As I stood in line with my 9-year-old daughter to fly high above the camp and across the lake, she was all smiles. I was smiling too but beneath my smile and sunglasses, I was scared. How is it that my 9-year-old daughter has no fear but me, a grown woman, is apprehensive?

So the guy tells us, "Just sit on the edge, let your legs dangle, lean over and off you go." I literally asked him, "Can you just push me?" (It seemed easier if the choice wasn't mine, but his) "No, you have to do it," he replied. "Ugh," I growled under my breath. I looked over at my daughter beaming at me from the other zip line, she was seated, feet dangling, just waiting for me. I flashed her a big grin, took a deep breath and off we went.

You know what? Experience of a lifetime. In my comfort zone? No. Worth the risk? Yes.

Outside of my comfort zone, I struggle. I sway back and forth between what is comfortable and what is good. It's a tug of war between my mind and my heart. Thankfully, God knows my heart, and He knows yours. He created us to be anything but mediocre, and He cares about the details of our lives. So today, I am going to move forward outside of my comfort zone, in obedience and in faith that the God of the universe has great things in store for me. He has them for you too. It’s His promise. So go ahead, sit on the edge, let your legs dangle and...off you go.

--Allison Earnst

PrayFit's contributing writer, Allison Earnst, is a fitness expert, motivator, competitor and mother of three. She's been featured in numerous magazines including FitParent, Natural Muscle and Oxygen magazine. She has shared her fitness story on Good Morning America, Extra TV and Lifetime's "The Balancing Act." You can visit her blog by clicking here.

TOP DIETS RATED U.S. News evaluates several of the top nutrition plans. Here are the top three

1. Dash Diet This diet plan is heavy on produce and light on saturated fats and salt.

2. TLC Diet Fiber and calcium, two very important parts of any diet, are stressed here.

3. Mediterranean Diet Wine, fish, salads, olive oil. This trendy diet is touted for its balance.

For the full story, click here.

But which one is really best? When selecting a nutritional plan, stories like this can make things even more difficult. Though the U.S. News story rates 20 different diets, each has benefits and drawbacks -- no single plan is the universal choice for body composition or healthful living. And when you consider that each has complicated formulas, painful exclusions and/or odd requirements, their sustainability becomes problematic. For many, simplicity is key to long-term progress which is why PrayFit recommends a diet that lends equal weight to protein, carbs and fat.

Scientists at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology found that the body responded best to a diet that was split equally among the three macronutrients — carbs, protein and fat. Their research pointed out that this type of diet limited inflammation as well as certain type of cancers by acting favorably on key genes.

Ironically, this is the dietary approach advocated by Jim Stoppani, PhD, co-author of “PrayFit: Your Guide to a Healthy Body and a Stronger Faith in 28 Days.” Says Stoppani: “This not only makes the diet easy to remember, but it ensures that you are taking in a well-balanced diet that provides adequate amounts of quality protein for repair and regeneration of tissues, healthy sources of carbohydrates for energy, and healthy fats for proper brain function, cardiovascular health and joint function. When these three macronutrients are eaten in equal quantities (and in proper amounts), fat loss is optimized, while important muscle tissue is spared. In addition, research shows that when protein and carbs are eaten in equal amounts, brain function is optimized, allowing you to be more efficient at work and on all cognitive tasks – such as your daily devotionals!”

It is worth noting that those with other considerations such as intense training or preexisting health conditions will likely need to alter their macronutrient intake accordingly but as the research shows, this type of dietary balance has plenty to offer for the general population.

>> For a glimpse at how balanced nutrition plays out, pick up our book by clicking here. You can find plenty of workouts to go with your redesigned diet right here at PrayFit.com everyday, or you can try our starter training program by clicking here.

Alone in a Crowded Courtyard

"If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also." --John 15:20

Read: John 15

Yesterday's post stirred my heart. Here's how I see the same scene. When Jesus was taken into custody and led to the home of the high priest, Peter followed, wanting to stay as close to Jesus as he could. He did so at his own peril -- if the guards had realized that he was one of the twelve, Peter could have been on the fourth cross at Calvary. But that was Peter...a bold, brazen and unapologetic follower of Christ. Then they entered the courtyard.

Peter sat there, the glow of the firelight on his face, his mind racing with ideas on how he could be used to help his captive Savior. Just then, the flames betrayed more than his concern -- they revealed his identity. Recognized by someone from across the fire, Peter began to shrink from his steely determination and quickly denied who he was and who He was there for. A second mention of his association with Christ brought knots to his stomach. Again he denied. And the third put an arrow through his heart -- because at this denial, he caught the eyes of a crestfallen Christ. Though He knew Peter would disassociate himself, the denial didn't hurt any less.

Whether it's in the court of public opinion or our family's Sunday dinners, we can sometimes feel like loners in a crowded courtyard. Persecuted for who we follow, we can find ourselves absorbing the whispers and suspicious scowls of those across the fire but we can rest on two unquestionable truths: 1) He said it would be this way. 2) Peter became the rock upon which the Lord built His church.

Being alone in the crowd isn't comfortable...just an honor.

--Eric Velazquez

>> VIEWER TESTIMONIAL: If you're not yet convinced that PrayFit can help you change the way your body looks, feels and performs, consider this testimonial from Rich in Memphis, Tennessee.

"I did it! Day 33 is over....I finished strong!

PRAYFIT DVD: $15 Weights and Equipment needed: $0

19-point drop in systolic blood pressure, 10-point drop in diastolic blood pressure (at 41 years old, now into 'Normal Range'), dropped one pant size, found my abs, water has become my beverage of choice, avoiding processed foods more, consuming more fruits and vegetables, fish and lean meats, feeling less stress, better focus, more discipline starting my days with PRAYFIT Daily Devotions...closer to GOD: PRICELESS!

AMEN."

>> If you want to see what the PrayFit 33-Day Total Body Challenge can do for you, visit www.prayfit.com/dvd.

WHAT IS PRAYFIT? Watch the video below, and if you think your church and community can use a faith-and-fitness makeover, contact us at info@prayfit.com.

Meeting His Eyes

"The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter." --Luke 22:61

Read: Luke 22

Have you ever stopped to think about all the great and odd ways that God gets the attention of His people? Lazarus woke up and Jonah saw the inside of a whale. Just run through the bible and we find countless examples of jaw-dropping, head-swiveling surrender to God's presence and authority.

And though you and I don't cheat tombs or choke whales, we can all identify with Peter at the fire pit. Heard any roosters lately? How many opportunities to witness for Jesus have we allowed to go up in smoke? Perhaps around the fire pit of jobs, school or the gym? Like Peter, we all know how it feels to disappoint Christ, and though we'd like to turn back time, Christ turns back our attention. (Notice today's verse.) Just like Peter, it's when our eyes meet those of Jesus that we're broken -- in heart and in spirit -- and His work through us truly begins.

--Jimmy Peña

RECIPE OF THE WEEK: Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

1 butternut squash (peeled, seeds removed and chopped into small cubes) 1 tablespoon olive oil

Kosher salt and black pepper to taste 1 teaspoon fresh thyme 6 cups chicken stock 1 tablespoon olive oil 3 tablespoons unsalted butter ¾ cup chopped red onion 1 ½ cups Arborio rice ½ cup white wine 1 teaspoon saffron 1 teaspoon kosher salt ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper ¼ cup chopped fresh basil 4 cups baby spinach ¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions: Preheat oven to 400-degrees F. Place squash on a large sheet pan and season with olive oil, salt, pepper and fresh thyme. Roast for 20 to 30 minutes, until tender and edges begin to brown. Set aside.

In a large Dutch oven, heat olive oil and butter over medium heat. Add onion and sauté for 4-5 minutes. Add the rice and stir well to coat with oil and butter. Add wine and cook for 2 minutes. Add a ladle of stock, salt, pepper and saffron; stir and simmer until stock is absorbed. Continue to add stock (a ladle at a time) stirring every few minutes. Continue until all the stock has been absorbed and the rice is tender (about 30 minutes). Stir in the basil and spinach, followed by the cheese and butternut squash. Serve immediately.

Nutrition Info Per Serving: Calories: 360 Total Fat:  15.5 grams Saturated Fat:  7 grams Carbohydrate:  44 grams Protein:  13 gram Cholesterol:  24 milligrams Sodium:  815 milligrams Fiber: 4 grams

This week's recipe is courtesy of Dana Angelo White, contributing dietitian to PrayFit and adviser to The Food Network. Find more of Dana's delicious recipes at www.danawhitenutrition.com

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.

The Water's Edge

"One day Jesus was walking along the shore..." --Matthew 4:18

Read: Matthew 4

Although the weather was gloomy last weekend, Loretta and I decided to drive to the coast to relax. As we walked onto the sand, we immediately noticed a sea lion laying on the beach. When the wildlife rescue team arrived, they said it was probably sick and needed to rest, which is why it came ashore. Had it not, those able to save it said it would have surely died at sea.

Now, if you've been on PrayFit for any length of time, you know by now that I'm a little sentimental, so you'll forgive the analogy. But some of the greatest men and women have been rescued near the water. Moses needed courage on the banks of the Red Sea. David needed wisdom as he chose five stones. And on the beach in Galilee, Andrew and Peter met their Purpose face-to-face. Courage, wisdom, a Savior.

Are you facing some heavy work issues? Are you or someone you love in dire need of physical healing? Or maybe you just need a little rest. No matter your needs as we start a new week, His favorite place to run is to our rescue. Let's remember that our only hope in the world is waiting for us at the water's edge.

--Jimmy Peña

10-MINUTE WORKOUT: LEGS Wanna change your entire body? Start at the bottom and work your way up. By training the large muscles of your lower body with greater intensity, you stand to burn more calories and raise your metabolism. This 10-minute training plan, which attacks your legs with bodyweight exercises only, is designed to set your whole body on a path to transformation. Click below to get started.

>> POWER LEGS

>> NEW!!! For a more comprehensive target training routine plus motivation and biblical encouragement, try the NEW PrayFit 33-Day Body Toning System DVD, exclusively through Thomas Nelson Publishing and its family of retailers. Find out more or place an order by clicking here.

Peter and the Fire Pit

"The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter." --Luke 22:61

Read: Luke 22

Have you ever stopped to think about all the great and odd ways that God gets the attention of His people? Lazarus woke up and Jonah saw the inside of a whale. Just run through the bible and we find countless examples of jaw-dropping, head-swiveling surrender to God's presence and authority.

And though you and I don't cheat tombs or choke whales, we can all identify with Peter at the fire pit. Heard any roosters lately? How many opportunities to witness for Jesus have we allowed to go up in smoke? Perhaps around the fire pit of jobs, school or the gym? Like Peter, we all know how it feels to disappoint Christ, and though we'd like to turn back time, Christ turns back our attention. (Notice today's verse.) Just like Peter, it's when our eyes meet those of Jesus that we're broken -- in heart and in spirit -- and His work through us truly begins.

Take Away Question for Easter Week: What does it say to you that amidst the chaos, the trial, and the death sentence, Jesus' attention was on Peter and his darkest hour?

--Jimmy Peña

RECIPE OF THE WEEK: Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

1 butternut squash (peeled, seeds removed and chopped into small cubes) 1 tablespoon olive oil

Kosher salt and black pepper to taste 1 teaspoon fresh thyme 6 cups chicken stock 1 tablespoon olive oil 3 tablespoons unsalted butter ¾ cup chopped red onion 1 ½ cups Arborio rice ½ cup white wine 1 teaspoon saffron 1 teaspoon kosher salt ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper ¼ cup chopped fresh basil 4 cups baby spinach ¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions: Preheat oven to 400-degrees F. Place squash on a large sheet pan and season with olive oil, salt, pepper and fresh thyme. Roast for 20 to 30 minutes, until tender and edges begin to brown. Set aside.

In a large Dutch oven, heat olive oil and butter over medium heat. Add onion and sauté for 4-5 minutes. Add the rice and stir well to coat with oil and butter. Add wine and cook for 2 minutes. Add a ladle of stock, salt, pepper and saffron; stir and simmer until stock is absorbed. Continue to add stock (a ladle at a time) stirring every few minutes. Continue until all the stock has been absorbed and the rice is tender (about 30 minutes). Stir in the basil and spinach, followed by the cheese and butternut squash. Serve immediately.

Nutrition Info Per Serving: Calories: 360 Total Fat:  15.5 grams Saturated Fat:  7 grams Carbohydrate:  44 grams Protein:  13 gram Cholesterol:  24 milligrams Sodium:  815 milligrams Fiber: 4 grams

This week's recipe is courtesy of Dana Angelo White, contributing dietitian to PrayFit and adviser to The Food Network. Find more of Dana's delicious recipes at www.danawhitenutrition.com

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

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. 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 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 week, take a few seconds and pause. Stand in the room with Peter, Thomas and the others. Look around at everyday men and women with an extraordinary mission. 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

WORKOUT OF THE WEEK: Delts & Abs

To start the week, we present a shoulders and abs workout that provides silhouette-enhancing benefits for both men and women. You begin the workout with a total-body move and work your way through progressively more targeted work.

"You start out in the strongest possible position, utilizing your entire body to train the shoulders and slowly begin isolating the different delt heads," says Jimmy Pena, MS, CSCS, founder of PrayFit. "The result is a better v-taper. Stronger shoulders give the visual appearance of a slimmer waistline."

DELTS Dumbbell Squat-Overhead Press* Dumbbell Upright Row Lateral Raise Front raise Bent-over Lateral Raise

ABS Standard Crunch Reverse Crunch Double Crunch

--Perform three sets of 10-12 reps on each exercise in the order listed, resting no more than 60 seconds between sets.

Dumbbell Squat-Overhead Press With a pair of dumbbells, kettlebells or even soup cans, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and toes pointed out slightly. Hold the dumbbells at shoulder level. With your abs tight, chest up and back flat, squat down 10-12 inches then press through the floor to extend your legs as you press the weights overhead to full arm extension. Lower the dumbbells back to your shoulders and repeat.

>> NEWS & NOTES: PrayFit founder Jimmy Pena just completed a Texas tour, hitting several events in El Paso. Get the story, which appeared in the El Paso Times, by clicking here.

>> PHOTOS: Hey Facebookers! Be sure to stop by the Official Facebook page to check out pics of Jimmy Pena's visit to Cielo Vista Church. Then share it and tell friends to do the same.

Just Before the Call

"Simon answered, 'Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets." --Luke 5:5

Read: Luke 5

Smelly, dirty, grimy -- these are just a few of the ways to describe Peter and his buddies. After all, they spent their days baiting hooks and cleaning fish. I'm smiling as I picture Jesus 'the Recruiter' walking up to this motley crew. Did He pause and grin, crouching down to watch and listen to them work? Maybe after a few minutes, He looked skyward with a smile as if to say, "I found them."

I'm not sure, but I like to wonder what happened in that moment just before the call. What we do know is that of all the fishermen that came off the water, this bunch caught God's attention. And not long after Christ borrowed Peter's boat, the two were catching fish in water too deep for the nets to reach; Peter's preview to the depths of His love.

Friends, remember. You have God's attention. So as we start our cars this week, open our offices, enter our cubicles or prepare for housework, let's do what Peter did and abandon control. Let's just imagine Him saying with a grin, "I found them," and this is that moment just before the call.

--Jimmy Peña

WORKOUT OF THE WEEK: Abs Alas, the quest for "six-minute abs" continues. While we won't tell you that great abdominals are a six-minute pursuit, we can tell you that it's possible to get a great workout without spending all day in the gym. The following routine is short but intense and can be added to any existing training program, 2-3 times per week. No prescription for sets -- simply perform as many segments of work as it takes to reach the number listed, resting as little as possible, then move on to the next exercise. The key, as ever, is insisting on progression. Each week for 6-8 weeks, add 10 reps to each abdominal exercise (add 10 seconds to the plank).

Double Crunch - 50 Reverse Crunch - 50 Crunch - 50 Plank - 50 seconds

>> For video demonstrations, click here. BONUS TIPS 1 Never train abs before performing weight training. This can reduce core stability, reduce strength and put you at risk for injury. Save abs for after weights, or do them in a single, dedicated session. 2 Follow this routine with a good cardio session to maximize your body's ability to burn fat locally from that area. Studies have shown that higher-rep abs training followed by cardio can lend itself to "spot reducing," which was previously thought to be a myth. 3 Add in two consecutive low-carb days each week. Recent research has shown this to be more effective for burning fat than extended low-carb dieting or not going low-carb at all. 4 Try tapering your carb consumption in the evening. Your body's metabolism slows as the day wears on, making carbs consumed later in the day more likely (although not certain) to be stored as bodyfat. (Note: If you train in the evening, this is not as important.)

>> To train abs along with PrayFit founder Jimmy Pena, pick up the PrayFit 33-Day Total Body Challenge today!

Be First

"Peter again denied it, and at once the rooster crowed." --John 18:27

Read: John 18

I can relate to Peter. In one moment, he declares adamantly he would never deny he knew who Jesus was; the next, he does it not once...not twice...but thrice. But still, what motivates me about Peter was that while he wasn't perfect, he was the one who stepped up. He wasn't always right, but he was never in doubt. First to reach for his sword to defend the Lord (only to be taught a quick lesson in self-control), and first to get out of the boat (only to be the example of how we sink without faith). But if you notice a common thread in the stories of Peter, the more he was first to fall, the more he learned to stand.

In our pursuit of a stronger faith, as well as to better health, we often make bold declarations that we will pray more, train more, and eat better...only to do the exact opposite the next moment. But friends, take courage. Keep being first. Set the pace with your family and friends. Remember, Peter knows what it's like to declare and fail, and to step out and sink. Pursuing obedience is a staggering undertaking. Fortunately, like Peter the pacesetter, we have a Savior who reaches further than the fall.

--Jimmy Peña

3 TIPS FOR FAT LOSS Master these simple tips to start losing inches and pounds

1 CARDIO TIMING: The best cardio approach is to find a program and stick to it. But if you want to maximize those minutes spent in a sweat, perform your sessions before breakfast or after lifting weights. During these two windows, your body is in a carbohydrate depleted state. And since stored carbs (glycogen) are your body's preferred source of fuel, a lack of them will cause your body to burn fat for fuel faster.

2 CARB TAPER: People like to occasionally go on carbohydrate droughts, opting for ultra-restrictive diets that limit this macronutrient for extended periods of time. But that is ultimately unsustainable. A better approach is to choose mostly slow-digesting, healthy carbs, such as those found in oatmeal, whole-grain foods, vegetables and brown rice. But you can take that a step further by limiting your carb consumption later in the day, when your body is more apt to store them as fat. Have the majority of your healthy carbs at breakfast, then have progressively less as the day wears on.

3 TRAIN HEAVY: Many people are afraid of training with "heavy" weights for fear of injury or, as with many women, for fear of becoming bulky. But lifting progressively heavier weights is really just a sure-fire way to drastically alter your body composition. When possible, train with weight loads that bring about failure around 8-12 reps. This will build more muscle. More muscle means more burned calories while at rest. More burned calories at rest means less stored bodyfat. Research shows that training heavy elevates metabolism higher and for longer than training with higher reps and lighter weight. (And don't worry ladies, "bulking up" from weight training is more of an old wives' tale than solid science!)

>> 28 DAY PROGRAM: Looking for a solid training and nutrition program to help you reach your goals? Pick up "PrayFit: Your Guide to a Healthy Body and a Stronger Faith in 28 Days." This book includes daily devotionals, structured workouts and meal plans that work. Find out more by clicking here.

Don't Miss This Boat

“We worked hard all night and caught nothing.”  --Luke 5:5

Read: Luke 5

Tired, worn, done. In that order. All that work and nothing to show for it. Peter's hands were as raw as they were empty, and the last thing he wanted to do was try again. But Jesus wouldn't let him quit -- not on his watch. In fact, Jesus said, "Now go out to where it's deeper and let down your nets to catch some fish." (v.4)

You know how Peter feels. You're struggling with your health. You've been fishing all night for the right plan or diet but you can't catch a break; not even a nibble of hope. But Peter didn't catch boat loads because of fancy nets and the newest bait. He caught his catch because he trusted, tried again and went deeper. I say we draw a line in the sand. As a matter of fact, Peter's pushing away from the shore. They're calling for you. If you hurry, you can make it.

--Jimmy Peña

Question: Peter's catch isn't point of the story; neither is your physique. So what is? And since Peter's successful catch wasn't required for heaven, why was it important to Jesus?

RECIPE OF THE WEEK: Tangy Carrot Slaw

This makes for a quick, nutritious dish that is a combination of crunchy, soft, sweet, and tangy, and it’s easy to vary the ingredients based on personal preference. Shredded carrots are sold near the bagged salads. This recipe is also good with chopped apple.

Ingredients: 1 (10-oz.) bag shredded carrots 1 (14-oz.) can chickpeas ½ cup raisins or dried cranberries ¼ cup roasted, unsalted sunflower seeds 2 tablespoons olive oil 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice salt and pepper to taste

Directions: Drain and thoroughly rinse the chickpeas, then add to carrots, dried fruit, and sunflower seeds. Whisk together the olive oil and lemon juice and add salt and pepper, then toss with the other ingredients. Serves 6. Best if eaten within 1-2 days.

Approximate nutrition information per serving (not counting salt and pepper to taste): 210 calories, 8g fat (1g saturated), 120mg sodium*, 32g carbohydrate, 5g fiber, 5g protein.

FOOD TIP: A recent study showed that thoroughly draining and rinsing canned beans in a colander can remove up to 40% of the sodium. This tactic should also work for many canned vegetables. Or, you can buy no-salt-added canned veggies and beans, which are becoming increasingly more available.

Emily Ann Miller, MPH, RD is a registered dietitian and works at a Washington, DC-based independent, nonprofit science organization, where her work is currently focused on environmental and policy solutions to obesity prevention. She also speaks to groups about health and nutrition and provides nutrition education to patients at a free medical clinic that serves low-income, uninsured adults in the Washington, DC area. You can view more of Emily’s nutrition tips and updates by following her on Twitter, @EmilyAMillerRD.

IT'S OKAY TO LET GO

October 14, 2011Read: Exodus 4

"The Lord said, 'Throw it on the ground." --Exodus 4:3

Moses was reluctant to part with his staff, but when he finally laid it down in obedience, it became the rod of God. Abraham was asked to lay down his own son upon the altar, and Peter was asked to lay down his nets after catching nothing all night. I'm sensing a theme.

You know, we talk a lot about picking up the weights or picking up the pace in our pursuit of a fitter lifestyle, but God is honored most by what we're willing to lay down. And if we're obedient in the most difficult times, He'll bless us beyond belief. What are you holding that's keeping you from living a more abundant life either spiritually or physically? Whatever it might be, just know that Moses, Abraham and Peter know first hand that it's okay to let go.

--J.P.

RECOVER FASTER WITH R.I.C.E. Learn the basics of injury management to get back to your exercise program sooner

When you roll an ankle playing basketball or feel a pull in your hamstring during a sprint, do you wrestle over what approach to take? Is it heat? Or does ice work best? Should you just wrap it up tight and call it a day? If you can remember the term "RICE," you'll never go wrong with treating acute, soft-tissue injuries like strains and sprains. RICE is an acronym that stands for "rest, ice, compression and elevation," a fundamental injury treatment technique used in training rooms everywhere.

R - REST Forget about making tomorrow's pick-up game. Your body needs time to heal and complete rest is the only way to ensure that the injured soft tissue remains immobile until the pain has subsided and the majority of function has returned.

I - ICE We love to hate the cold stuff. Applying an ice pack to the area, usually for 20 minutes of each hour as soon as possible after the injury, helps to alleviate pain and swelling to the area. Care should be taken not to over-ice, as the extended restriction of blood flow can limit the delivery of nutrients and the elimination of waste from the injured area.

C - COMPRESSION Keeping a good elastic bandage on hand is a good idea if you're active, as this simple implement can help to further reduce inflammation. Wrap the affected area firmly, but not so much so that it is overly restrictive and never sleep with it on -- doing either can unnecessarily or dangerously interrupt important blood flow.

E - ELEVATION Gravity is your friend. If possible, keep the affected limb above the heart in order to reduce swelling and to improve the removal of waste products from the point of injury.

What about heat? From the above, you have probably deduced that most of these steps are designed to limit swelling and blood flow to the injury. Since direct heat increases circulation to the point of application, applying heat before swelling subsides (usually 48-72 hours) can be counterproductive, even if it offers some temporary comfort. To these steps, you can also add a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) such as ibuprofen which will further aid in pain management and the reduction of swelling.

>> For more on RICE, visit WebMD.

HE FOUND YOU

September 29, 2011Read: Luke 5

"Simon answered, 'Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets."--Luke 5:5

Smelly, dirty, grimy -- these are just a few of the ways to describe Peter and his buddies. After all, they spent their days baiting hooks and cleaning fish. I'm smiling as I picture Jesus 'the Recruiter' walking up to this motley crew. Did He pause and grin, crouching down to watch and listen to them work? Maybe after a few minutes, He looked skyward with a smile as if to say, "I found them."

I'm not sure, but I like to wonder what happened in that moment just before the call. What we do know is that of all the fishermen that came off the water, this bunch caught God's attention. And not long after Christ borrowed Peter's boat, the two were catching fish in water too deep for the nets to reach; Peter's preview to the depths of His love.

Friends, remember. You have God's attention. So as we start our cars, open our offices, enter our cubicles or prepare for housework, let's do what Peter did and abandon control. Let's just imagine Him saying with a grin, "I found them," and this is that moment just before the call.

--J.P.

RECIPE: BBQ CHICKEN PIZZA Use this recipe to enjoy a healthier, homemade pizza

If you are easily tempted by the lure of buttery crust, bubbling cheese and a "supreme" piling of toppings, well you're not alone. But as tasty as pizza is, it is generally not the healthiest food on the planet. Sure, a slice or two isn't going to have you flooding over your belt line but indulging more than that (or more often) is a -- dare we say? -- recipe for disaster. This alternative from Dana White, MS, RD, ATC, a writer for the Food Network and contributing nutritionist for PrayFit, helps save calories with healthier ingredients, taking the guilt out of your next pizza night.

>> BBQ CHICKEN PIZZA - CLICK HERE FOR RECIPE

NEW!!! Read up on PrayFit 33-Day Total Body Challenge, the newest home exercise DVD from Lionsgate Entertainment, due out December 6. (Available for pre-order now on Amazon)

DON'T MISS THIS BOAT

September 22, 2011Read: Luke 5

“We worked hard all night and caught nothing.”  --Luke 5:5

Tired, worn, done. In that order. All that work and nothing to show for it. Peter's hands were as raw as they were empty, and the last thing he wanted to do was try again. But Jesus wouldn't let him quit -- not on his watch. In fact, Jesus said, "Now go out to where it's deeper and let down your nets to catch some fish." (v.4)

You know how Peter feels. You're struggling with your health. You've been fishing all night for the right plan or diet but you can't catch a break; not even a nibble of hope. But Peter didn't catch boat loads because of fancy nets and the newest bait. He caught his catch because he trusted, tried again and went deeper. I say we draw a line in the sand. As a matter of fact, Peter's pushing away from the shore. They're calling for you. If you hurry, you can make it.

--J.P.

Question: Peter's catch isn't point of the story; neither is your physique. So what is? And since Peter's successful catch wasn't required for heaven, why was it important to Jesus?

GET IN ON THE DISCUSSION Use our online forums to interact with like-minded folks on all things faith and fitness

>> PRAYER REQUESTS: Needing prayer? Want to pray for others? Dive in to support the PrayFit community here.

>> QUESTIONS FOR THE TRAINER: Got a training issue that needs clearing up? See what others have asked or put a question to our staff here.

>> ACCOUNTABILITY: One PrayFit member is seeking digital workout partners!

 

DAD HANDS

July 28, 2011Read: John 20

"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

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 to 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, assured a doubting Thomas in the upper room, 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. He can hold us like a newborn baby in one hand, while holding off Satan's army with the other. Big or small, He wants us to bring Him our knots each day. It's what He does. After all, He's got Dad hands, and He is able.

--J.P.

EXERCISE IN FOCUS: Power Push-Up

Once you've mastered the standard push-up...then what? We ask, we answer. The power push-up is a great way to build some dynamic, athletic activity into a stale routine.

Power Push-Up | Focus: Lower chest, shoulders, back, abs | (VIDEO)

Get into a push-up position with your body in a straight line, feet together, hands wider than shoulder-width apart and your eyes focused on the floor. Explode yourself up to full arm extension, allowing your hands to leave the floor. Catch yourself with your hands on the floor and decelerate yourself to the start and repeat. Don’t bounce your chest off the floor, but rather start each rep when your chest reaches an inch or so away from the floor.

>> For a video demonstration of this and other exercises, click here.