angels

Joy To The World

Friends, today will be the last entry until after Christmas. And I'd like to simply take a second to wish you a wonderful week. Your health, family and entire lives are on my mind each and every day. Trust that. We have a lot in store next year, but we'll get to those 2014 dreams soon enough. For now, please know how much you mean to me. We'll have a gentle presence on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram over the coming days, but devotions will return December 30th. So, from all of us, I hope you have a wonderful Christmas. Celebrate Jesus, enjoy loved ones. Joy to the world.

Jimmy

His Name Is John

"How can I be sure this will happen? I am an old man, and my wife is well advanced in years." --Luke 1:18

Read: Luke 1

Not his best moment. If you read today's chapter, you know that Zacharias has just been given really great news; news of eternal significance. He's been told that Elizabeth will bear him a son. And his son will go before the Lord with the spirit and power of Elijah no doubt. He'll be the frontrunner! And not only that, the courier of this miracle message wasn't a neighbor. It wasn't a trusted uncle or even the High Priest. No, Zacharias heard this first-hand from -- wait for it -- none other than Angel Gabriel himself.

Now, all things being equal, you'd think it would prompt Zacharias to simply rejoice, trust and obey. But as you read in today's verse, Zacharias chose to respond like you and I often do.

Who me? I'm not qualified for that job, have you seen my resume? Who me? A missionary? Have you read my laundry list of weaknesses? Who me? Regain my health after years of negligence? What good can this body accomplish?

There's no telling how effective we would be for the Lord if we trusted the things God lays on our hearts. You know, the little faith of Zacharias spoke volumes, so Gabriel made him mute. Months later, on the very day of his son's birth, those standing around Elizabeth objected to his given name. But Zacharias -- still mute -- boldly wrote on his tablet: HIS NAME IS JOHN.

In that instant, the Bible says he got his voice back.

--Jimmy Peña

Question: When you and I let fear and doubt cloud our hearts and minds, we too become mute. Isn't it interesting that Zacharias was only allowed to speak after he changed his heart and trusted? What has God put on your heart that you need courage for?  What roadblocks and barriers are rearing their heads? What is your God-given plan? Let's clear our throats and speak.

TRAVEL UPDATE: Speaking of getting voices back, today I head to Florida. I'll be speaking tomorrow night at First Baptist Church in Bartow! So very grateful to be invited to this wonderful church and venue. Please pray for me as I prepare to share my heart with the nice people of Bartow. We'll be back to entries on Monday, September 23rd. Be blessed everyone.

>> JIMMY ON THE MIC: Thousands across the country have had the opportunity to hear Jimmy deliver his message in person, with a great many of them telling us -- and others -- how they were impacted. This message, by the author of the blog She Does Justice, is a great example of what folks are taking away from these events. To find out how you can bring Jimmy to your next event, e-mail us for more info! Click the video below for a sneak preview of what you can expect!

Increase Our Faith

"The apostles said to the Lord, 'Increase our faith!'" --Luke 17:5

Read: Luke 17

Faith. It's been a neat week, has it not? If you've been with us each day, we've discussed faith as the reason we take the hits that life throws in our direction. We've watched it as it gets us to our feet and walks us to class, and we've learned that it's the reason we sacrifice the dearest things in life for the One we can't live without.

You know, each weekday for nearly six years, we've written to you about health, fitness and food with the hope that you'd enjoy a more abundant lifestyle. Be it for yourself, your spouse, your kids, co-workers and friends, a genuine care and Godly honoring of the body is the best way to live life. But it's my hope that if you don't remember a thing we say about training or take a bite of one our recipes, you leave here everyday with a message. As Eric will attest, my favorite button on the keyboard is the delete button. I admit, it's true. Not a word gets to you before it really gets to me. We don't write sentences to fill a page but to fill your hearts. (Some of you are likely thinking I should hurry to the end of this page. Well, I agree.)

Faith after all -- like James says -- is dead to the world if it's not accompanied by action. What's the age-old truth? Saved by grace and faith proves it? I say we go out there and do just that.

--Jimmy Peña

Question: How has your faith increased this year? How has your health helped you see your relationship with the Lord differently? And conversely, how has your walk with the Lord helped you decide how to take care of yourself? Friends, we sure are glad you're with us each day. May God bless all of you this weekend and we'll see you on Monday.

PAUSE, LISTEN, REFLECT: Did you know that many of PrayFit's top devotionals are available on audio? If you're looking for additional inspiration to finish the week -- and who isn't? -- you can click here for a selection of messages, read by PrayFit founder Jimmy Peña. Take in a few devotions, then share the link with friends and family.

“This exciting devotional will enable you to live out the Scripture which says to ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength! (Mark 12:30 NIV)” — Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers, 2010 American League MVP

>> Josh Hamilton, now patrolling the outfield for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, was PrayFit's first official endorser back in 2010. This list later grew to include such names as actor/producer Tyler Perry, TV host Mario Lopez, boxing champion Robert "The Ghost" Guerrero and more. Click here to find out who else has found value in PrayFit's daily messages, books and exercise plans.

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. To find out how you can bring Jimmy to your next church service, retreat or community event, contact us at info@prayfit.com today!

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

Shepherds In Suits: Part II

"For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways." --Psalm 91:11

Read: Psalm 91

So yes, Part II. I didn't plan to write about those Shepherds in Suits again, but what happened Sunday just begged it. Sitting in an intimate gathering to celebrate the life of a fitness publisher who recently passed away, I listened as men and women shared their memories. The room was full of familiar faces. Writers, photographers, publishers and editors that I've worked with for over 14 years; a bit of a reunion. But one familiar face I didn't expect to see, was a face nobody recognized or even noticed.

Wouldn't you know it, standing against the wall a few feet from the guest speaker was one of my shepherds from across the world over three years ago. Same suit of armor, same focus, same purpose. This particular shepherd had the previous honor of protecting one of our former Presidents on Marine One. So to say the speaker was in good hands on this day is an understatement. In that moment, I squeezed Loretta close to me. I couldn't help but think of the angels that God has sent to protect me and my family. We can't see them, but I know they're there.

Max Lucado once wrote, "God sends his best troops to oversee your life. Imagine the President assigning his Secret Service to protect you, telling his agents to motorcade your car through traffic and safeguard you through crowds. How will you sleep knowing heaven's finest are doing just that? You are not alone. Heaven's mighty angels watch over you." Someday as we celebrate Heaven and honor Jesus, we too will have a reunion. Loved ones who went before us, and strangers who are no longer strangers will all be there. And so will our angels. I hope I get to thank mine. You know, we are safe to pursue an abundant life. We're watched. How bold does that make you feel as you tackle your day knowing you're flanked by God's army? Let's show them.

--Jimmy Peña

1.5 - Hours of leisurely walking per week shown to improve cognitive function among women, compared to those who walked less than 40 minutes (Source: MedicineNet.com)

There Goes My Hero

"Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these?" --Isaiah 40:26

Read: Isaiah 40

With the recent Avengers craze, I have to ask: What would your super power be? I know, it's kid's stuff, but somehow that question still makes it to the grown-up table. So let's pretend. Would you travel through time? Gain super strength? Or maybe my favorite -- you'd fly. C'mon, how many of us have ever wanted to swoop down and save the day?

But we can't. We can't find the car keys let alone leap tall buildings. Saving the day will just have to wait. But we should remember that while we're not caped, we are crusaders -- crusaders flanked by angels, sent to protect the only thing that will eventually fight gravity and win: our souls.

So if you're feeling grounded and restless, that's okay. This isn't home. You and I were meant for a land far, far away. All we need to do is wait for our Hero to save the day. And guess what? We'll rise up with renewed strength and fly.

--Jimmy Peña

Question: Who is your hero of the faith? Share your testimony in the comments section below.

NUTRITION TIP: A Little White Lie? By Emily Ann Miller, MPH, RD

A number of people I have counseled in nutrition are confused about the differences between brown sugar and white sugar. Some believe that brown sugar is healthier, using the logic that brown (whole grain) bread, rice, and pasta is better than the white (refined) versions of those products.

Actually, brown sugar is virtually equal to white sugar in calories and nutrient content. The only difference is that molasses has been added to brown sugar, which gives it its color and distinct taste. They key to maintaining a healthy weight is to use both types of sugar in moderation.

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.

PRAYFIT 33: Have you committed to take the PrayFit 33-Day Total Body Challenge? Order your DVD today to start this home-based, body-and-soul makeover, led by PrayFit founder Jimmy Peña. Then, keep up with the rest of the community, or just share your daily progress, at the PrayFit forums. "In just 33 minutes a day for 33 days, we can honor the one who gave us 33 years," Jimmy says.

Crusaders

"Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these?" --Isaiah 40:26

Read: Isaiah 40

What would your super power be? I know, it's kid's stuff, but somehow that question still makes it to the grown-up table. So let's pretend. Would you travel through time? Gain super strength? Or maybe my favorite -- you'd fly. C'mon, how many of us have ever wanted to swoop down and save the day?

But we can't. We can't find the car keys let alone leap tall buildings. Saving the day will just have to wait. But we should remember that while we're not caped, we are crusaders -- crusaders flanked by angels, sent to protect the only thing that will eventually fight gravity and win: our souls.

So if you're feeling grounded and restless, that's okay. This isn't home. You and I were meant for a land far, far away. All we need to do is wait for our Hero to say the day. And guess what? We'll rise up with renewed strength and fly.

--Jimmy Peña

P.S. Speaking of heroes, I'd like to share with you that my dad, Jerry Peña, has lost 40 lbs over the last 5 months. He's done it simply by eating less and walking a little more. And if he strolls by you, just know, there goes my hero on earth. Way to go Pop. I love you.

NUTRITION TIP: A Little White Lie? By Emily Ann Miller, MPH, RD

A number of people I have counseled in nutrition are confused about the differences between brown sugar and white sugar. Some believe that brown sugar is healthier, using the logic that brown (whole grain) bread, rice, and pasta is better than the white (refined) versions of those products.

Actually, brown sugar is virtually equal to white sugar in calories and nutrient content. The only difference is that molasses has been added to brown sugar, which gives it its color and distinct taste. They key to maintaining a healthy weight is to use both types of sugar in moderation.

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.

PRAYFIT 33: Have you committed to take the PrayFit 33-Day Total Body Challenge? Order your DVD today to start this home-based, body-and-soul makeover, led by PrayFit founder Jimmy Peña. Then, keep up with the rest of the community, or just share your daily progress, at the PrayFit forums. "In just 33 minutes a day for 33 days, we can honor the one who gave us 33 years," Jimmy says.

RATE OF FAILURE

"I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!"— Galatians 2:21

Much is made of the failure rate in baseball.  A successful hitter, it is said, fails to get a hit seven out of every 10 trips to the plate. Despite this otherwise abysmal statistic, those who perform up to such a strict standard are held in high regard. The familiar sound of bat meeting ball is met by a chorus of applause, the hitter greeted by high fives and offered hands of affirmation by teammates upon his return to the dugout. The spoils of a job well done.

In our walks with God, the only measure of success -- the perfection of Christ -- makes failure a certainty. More often than not, despite our best efforts, we will swing and miss at opportunities to glorify God in how we live, work and play. Still, despite no quantifiable measure of achievement and no earthly rewards to be won, we test ourselves, training for a contest in which the outcome has already been determined. Because we know that someday, no matter our rate of failure, we too will be greeted -- not by the roar of the crowd but by choirs of angels. The spoils of a life redeemed by grace.

--Eric Velazquez

LIFE AND TIMES OF AN AGING ATHLETE What does science have to say about your ability to train into your 40s?

Aching backs, ailing knees and rapidly-declining energy levels. Once you hit your 40s, these may be a few of your least favorite things, perhaps even to the point of discouragement. Why train if I can't do it the way I did 20 years ago? Well, science has plenty to say about that. According to Jim Stoppani, PhD, co-author of "PrayFit: Your Guide to a Healthy Body and a Stronger Faith in 28 Days," some of your best years may be ahead of you yet.

Researchers at the University of Central Florida (Orlando) placed untrained men and women between the ages of 18 and 40 on a 12-week periodized, twice-per-week, strength-training program for their non-dominant arm (the opposite arm served as a control). All three groups gained about 20% more muscle on their arms. The only benefit of being younger was the ability to gain slightly more one-rep max strength on the preacher curl. The older the subjects were, the more strength and muscle size they had when they started the 12-week program. Typically, the more strength you have, the less strength you can gain.

"There really is no difference in the ability to gain muscle size as you age, at least up to 40 years old," Stoppani says. "You may find it tougher to increase one-rep strength but you are likely stronger at the beginning of a program than younger trainers are. It really is never too late to start lifting weights."

>> Why not get a head start on banking some of that strength now? Try this at-home bodyweight program for starters, or visit JimStoppani.com for detailed, member-exclusive workout plans.