baptism

Even If It's Dirty

"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit." --Matthew 28:19

Read: Matthew 28

There was something in the water yesterday. Twenty-five people were baptized in the late service alone, with more in both the early service and evening service to follow. Oh my friends. One by one, their stories of how they came to know Jesus were read. One woman had a learning disability and yet she learned the most important thing in life. Another man was being baptized one year to the day of a traumatic brain injury and he needed special assistance throughout. And even though I was a weeping mess, none of them hit me quite as hard as did the images from the prison ministry.

Perhaps much like yours, our church has a state-of-the-art mobile baptistry, equipped with viewing window and dual enter and exit staircases. Each person that was baptized was greeted with a warm towel as they walked into the open arms of loved ones. It's always a beautiful service. But then on the big screens we saw images of inmates being baptized in trash cans and dumpsters; each man raised out of that dirty water only to be thrown the same prison-issue shirt they had taken off minutes earlier. A grim reminder that they were still bound by bars for the crimes they'd committed. Isn't that a picture? Guilty inmates turned prisoners of grace.

You know, because there's power in the blood, there's just something in that water. Even if it's dirty.

--Jimmy Peña

Question: Have you committed your life to Christ? If so, have you taken the step of obedience of baptism? I remember when I was baptized by my sweet preacher, Rev. Henry Powell. Not before or since have I ever felt "so clean," if that makes sense. I'll never forget it. And neither will you. Much like we talk about how our approach to health -- not how we look but our heart toward health -- is a way to praise the Lord, baptism is a way to publicly profess your faith. There is something in the water. Share your thoughts below and have a great and awesome week.

P.S. On our Pastor's blog he's posted a letter from an inmate. It's a must-read. Click here for the amazing story.

THE HEART OF PRAYFIT Rather than start the week off with a workout -- as is the custom -- we want to serve you with our core message. We're sure you'll train with heart today. This video gives you a glimpse of ours.

>> To bring this message to your church, write us at info@prayfit.com!

In Loving Memory

I held his wrist. As an 8th grader, I walked the isle at Cielo Vista Baptist Church and committed my life to Christ. A week later, I waded into the water of the baptistry in front of my family and friends and listened as my Preacher asked me, "Jimmy, do you know Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior?" And then I held his wrist with one hand and pinched my nose with the other. I've never felt cleaner then the day I came out of that water.

Last week, various heroes of the faith remembered and honored the life of Reverend Henry Powell. From funny memories, to countless and blessed congregations from around the world, I sat and unsuccessfully fought back tears. And nothing I heard was as amazing as the eulogy written by his wife of 49 years, Sandie (my Sister Powell) which was read aloud by their son Tim. I'll never forget it. And while I know Brother Powell is with the Lord today, I couldn't help but think about his still, sweet body. If those feet weren't tip-toeing through the house to deliver Christmas gifts to grandkids, they were in the dangerous underground of China quietly delivering bibles and leading other pastors. If those hands weren't rooting for the Lobos, they were rooting for snotty-nosed kids just like me to live right. And if that heart wasn't beating in honor of his wife, it was breaking for the lost to know Christ as Lord.

You know, in ceremonies like these, we've all heard someone say that "It's not him" or "It's just a body." Well, I can't help but humbly and respectfully disagree. Especially when you consider that God made it, and all of the people who won't be reached without it. In fact, what did Jesus show Thomas in the upper room? And what didn't they find when the stone was rolled away? That's right. Not just a body. So you see, it's no wonder God said to honor that which carries and protects the soul. And that's why, when it was my turn to stand near and say goodbye to my sweet preacher who introduced me to Christ, I held his wrist...one more time.

--Jimmy Peña

P.S. Brother Powell would often urge us to "Do what you can. Do ALL that you can. And do it now." May that be an instrument you and I use today and each day to serve the Lord and others. I know I am. I know I will.

Should friend's desire, memorial contributions may be made to:

Outreach to Asia Nationals P.O. Box 2440 Winchester, VA 22604 or visit

www.outreachtoasianationals.org

RUNNING TO WATER

May 2, 2011Read: 1 Thessalonians 5

"Rejoice always,  pray continually,  give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." --1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Today was baptism day at church. If you've never been to one of these services, you should know -- it's not just the baptized that need towels. Fully immersed believers up front and tear-soaked pews throughout mean that everyone is leaving wet.

But for one family, there wouldn't be any dunking. They explained to us that their daughter was being baptized differently -- with a few sprinkles of water instead of the complete immersion -- because she had a rare and dangerous skin disorder that makes her particularly vulnerable to injury. A pat on the back, an unexpected stumble or an overzealous hug from someone who doesn't know any better could literally pull the delicate skin from her 10-year-old body.

Yet there she stood, proud and determined, ready to publicly declare her love for the Lord.

With my two, healthy, rambunctious daughters causing mayhem just a few doors away in Sunday school, I quietly reflected on what this family must have endured to come to this day. Hospital visits, constant anxiety, sleepless nights and enough tears to fill the baptismal they now stood beside. In a desert of hopelessness, when most would surrender to the sand, this family ran to the water that gives life.

--E.V.

WORKOUT OF THE WEEK: 100 LUNGES

The lunge is a fantastic exercise for just about any part of the fitness demographic. Those looking to boost athleticism can enhance balance and improve overall leg strength. Those concerned with aesthetics can burn a ton of calories while shaping their entire lower-body musculature. Even seniors and those coming back from injury can use the lunge to improve stability and coordination. The message is clear: this all-purpose movement should be a staple of your exercise routine.

First, let us revisit the basics of the lunge:

Lunge | Focus: Quads, glutes,  hamstrings | (VIDEO)

Stand with your feet together, abs tight and eyes focused forward. Step forward with one foot. Bend both knees to lower yourself, making sure your front knee doesn’t pass your toes on your front foot. Stop just short of your rear knee touching the floor and reverse directions, driving through the heel of your forward foot to return to the start. Alternate legs for reps.

This week, your goal is to complete 100 lunges. Yes, that's 50 per foot. Advanced trainees won't get off easy, though. Here are our week's guidelines. Choose a workout challenge, based on your experience level.

Beginner: Perform 100 lunges before Friday. If it's 10 lunges at a time, twice a day, each day this week, then that's fine. Just make sure that you reach 100 by Friday.

Intermediate: Perform 100 lunges for time today. Mark your time. Thursday, perform 100 lunges again and strive to beat Monday's time. Use Thursday's time as your benchmark for next week's workouts.

Advanced: Perform 100 lunges each day this week for time. If you beat your time by more than 10 seconds in any workout, use 10-pound dumbbells (or heavier) for the next. Your goal is still to beat Monday's time each workout. Carry this process into next week's workouts.

>> GEAR UP: If you're faithful and into fitness, it's time to start dressing the part. Head over to our online store to pick up some of our newly-redesigned PrayFit gear. If you're looking for a structured fitness and nutrition plan, pick up a copy of "PrayFit: Your Guide to a Healthy Body and a Stronger Faith in 28 Days."

>> EXERCISE CENTRAL: If you need more guidance on PrayFit's core exercises, click here.