blind

The Hearing Impaired

Jesus said, "If you were blind, you would be without sin. But since you say 'We see', your sin remains." --John 9:41

Read: John 9

"Can you hear my voice?" her Dad asked her. "My voice" he repeated. You may have seen the story yesterday or perhaps you've seen similar videos whereby, through a procedure, people either see or hear their loved ones for the first time. Well, this particular moment made this sentimental fool a mess. Watching Amy Barber hear her family for the first time was enough to make even the Tin Man's heart beat. But it's what Amy said that caused mine to stop. Looking at her dad, she answered his question by saying, "I have to focus, because now I hear everything." Only after she got her hearing did she struggle to hear her dad.

Wow. I'm sure many of you could finish today's entry, but in one deaf sentence, Amy reminds us that we are hearing impaired. We have so much going on, so many voices, so many sounds and distractions coming from all sorts of directions that it's tough to hear Him. Our "hearing" impairs us. And it's because our ears work that we have to focus.

So as we hit the day's agenda, amid the noise that makes its way into our lives, let's finish the exchange as our sweet Father asks: "Can you hear my voice? My voice?"

Actually, I think I will let you finish this one...

--Jimmy Peña

Question: What areas of life do you need to tune out in order to hear Him?

AWARD NEWS: This Friday, PrayFit founder Jimmy Peña will be honored by his alma mater, UT Tyler, as one of this year's distinguished alumni. Read the story here.

WILLFUL DESTRUCTION A few eye-opening facts about the most troubling health problem in America

--The annual healthcare costs of obesity in this country are $147 billion a year. This could rise to as much as $344 billion by 2018, according to one major study.

--Obesity has become one of the most expensive health problems in America today, surpassing smoking, according to a study in Health Affairs.

--Two-thirds of Americans are overweight although 85% of Americans characterize their lifestyle as somewhat/very healthy.

--Obese employee sick days total approximately 39 million workdays and 63 million doctor visits yearly.

--12 million Americans are considered severely obese, defined as more than 100 pounds overweight.

--Nearly a third of the children in this country are overweight and some experts believe up to one third of children will suffer from diabetes at some point in their lifetime.

--For the first time in the history of our nation, some medical experts warn that this younger generation may be on track to have a shorter life span than their parents as a direct result of the obesity epidemic.

Source: CNBC's "One Nation, Overweight"

We Are The Crowd

"Jesus stopped and said, 'Call him.' So they called to the blind man, 'Cheer up! On your feet! He's calling you!' Throwing his cloak aside, he leaped to his feet and came to Jesus."--Mark 10:49-50

Read: Mark 10

No need to adjust your computer screen, that’s indeed the same verse as yesterday's entry. But I just had to go back to it. Ever since we posted last night, I haven’t been able to get a particular thought out of my head: The crowd knew something. Read the verse again.

Typically, we focus on either the blind man, Bartimaeus or, of course, Jesus. But the crowd's response has bugged me for nearly 24 hours. The crowd is…us. Why? Because they knew something. They knew what Jesus had the power to do in the blind man's life. Otherwise, they wouldn't have reacted as if the beggar had just won the lottery!

Read it again. Of all the thousand voices that were clamoring for Jesus to hear, that of a blind beggar behind all the others sitting on the side of the road found the ear of Jesus, and the crowd knew what that meant. Can't you just see them pause, their wide eyes, open mouths, and then their whiplash reactions as they run to the one who's number had just been called?

You and I stand among those who need to heed the call. Read the verse again (last time, I promise). Isn't Jesus calling everyone? Didn't He die for all the world? And if we've been saved and healed…aren't we the crowd who knows?

–Jimmy Peña

Question: Who in your life needs to know what you know?

GYM TIP: There's more than one way to use a treadmill. A recent study found that those who pedaled backward on treadmills and elliptical machines gained greater quadriceps and hamstring strength and had greater aerobic capacity than those who went forward. Click here for more.

bg-speaking-engagementsPeña to be Honored by UT Tyler Alumni Association: Next Friday (March 22), the University of Texas at Tyler Alumni Association will recognize five graduates at its Alumni Gala. Among those being honored will be PrayFit founder Jimmy Peña, who earned a master of science in clinical exercise physiology from UT Tyler in 1998. "It’s easy to think of Heaven on days like this," he said. "We’ve accepted an invitation we don’t deserve, to celebrate a reward we didn’t earn." Click here to read more.

But He Did...

"The people were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled made well, the lame walking and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel." --Matthew 15:31

Read: Matthew 15

What a week. If you missed any of the entries of healing and faith, please take a few minutes to scroll the archives. But as we turn the page on our topic, an entry from February that I wrote in the midst of my storm came to mind today. It was called, "But Even If He Doesn't." Do you remember it? Here's an excerpt.

"At the edge of a fiery furnace, Shadrach, Meshack and Abednego had a decision. Bow to an idol or be thrown in a furnace. They chose faith, believing that God would deliver them from the very fire that tested it. But then they said, 'But even if He doesn't...' That part of the verse has taken up residence inside my heart this week. They didn't jump knowing they'd be delivered. They jumped knowing the Deliverer. I'm shaking my head as I type this sentence. I want an 'Even if He doesn't' kind of faith. Save me, help me, heal me. But even if He doesn't..."

Folks, we all struggle. But I'm fixing my hopes on the promise of eternal life to make sense of the struggles in this one. These bodies -- as frail as they are at times -- are God-woven miracles; temporary on purpose and built "for" a purpose. And I promise you, when mine catches back up with my spirit, look out. After all, back in February I said "But even if He doesn't..."

Hmm...but He did.

--Jimmy Peña

STAT OF THE DAY: If you watched the presidential debates this week, or even if you didn't, you likely realize that health care and the economy are critical issues in this election. But lost in the political posturing of the high cost of health care are the root causes of the spiraling costs. According to a recent report by MSNBC, obesity costs the U.S. $190 billion per year in health care and lost work productivity. Will that come up in the debates? Should it?

PRAYFIT TV Check out and share this inspiring video about the transformative power physical stewardship

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 ministry assistance or to get Jimmy out to your church, write us at info@prayfit.com.

In The Temple

"The blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them." --Matthew 21:14

Read: Matthew 21

When Jesus entered the temple, what He found didn't resemble its purpose. It didn't take Him long to overturn some tables and drive out those who mistreated His holy place. Interestingly, the very next verse says, "The blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them."

Friends, the enemy wants us to abuse the temple, this body. He wants us to either neglect it so we can't live an abundant life, or he wants us to lose perspective with vain eyes. If you can't see beyond the physical, or if you haven't given your health enough attention, ask Jesus to overturn some tables. He can rebuild what we've destroyed. After all, it's His temple. And that's where He heals the blind and the lame.

--Jimmy Peña

WORKOUT OF THE WEEK: 24-MINUTE COMPLEX

After a five-minute warm-up, you'll dive right in to the lower body complex. Move from exercise to exercise without rest. Once you have completed the leg complex, you'll move directly into the upper body complex. Keep the same cadence, moving quickly between exercises -- minimizing rest will help you keep to the 24-minute mark we've assigned here. If you adhere to the "rest minimal" policy, the 24-minute mark should get you through the lower body and upper body complexes four times each.

The pace provides a powerful fat-burning punch and the multi-joint nature of the exercises creates a powerful metabolic effect, which extends your calorie burn long past your final rep. This workout can also produce measurable gains in strength and endurance fairly quickly. To start, try this workout 2-3 times per week, always on non-consecutive days to maximize recovery between sessions.

LOWER BODY Static Wall Squat (hold a 90-degree squat against the wall for 1 minute) Jump Squat (1 minute) Static Wall Squat (1 minute)

--Hold your wall squat in a position that puts your thighs parallel to the floor. If you can't hold this position, you can increase the angle at your knees so that you are standing slightly taller. But try to start as low as you comfortably can, moving up the wall only as you fail at the lower position.

UPPER BODY Push-Up (complete as many push-ups as possible for 1 minute) Plank (hold the plank for 1 minute) Push-Up (complete as many push-ups as possible for 1 minute)

--If you need to modify and do your push-ups from the knees, please do so. Ideally, you should resort to the knees version only once you have failed the standard version -- even if it's only a few. This will ensure that you progress toward being able to complete more standard push-ups in the long run.

>> For more exercise descriptions and videos, click here.

READING LIPS

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”— Matthew 5:16

To a lot of people, the cliche "Actions speak louder than words" means something. But if you can't hear, it means everything. I thought of that the other night while sitting outside of Trader Joe's grocery store with my lab Josey. She and I have become somewhat of regulars outside of the exit door. Well, at this particular Trader Joe's, there's a very nice man (we'll call him Matt) whose worked there for years. He mans the cash register, stocks shelves, and is often outside helping organize shopping carts. I've never seen Matt without a smile on his face. Seeing Josey, he walked over to us, knelt down and began to give her love as he often does. I grinned in appreciation, then noticed a mother and her small boy holding hands walking up behind him. Cue the lesson.

"Excuse me...why is the light off?" I looked up at them before glancing back to Matt. Speaking a little louder she said, "Excuse me, sir..." Now, at this point, Matt was getting Josey good behind the ears (and she's milking it of course) until the woman tapped Matt on the shoulder. He turned as he stood up, and she repeated herself, "I'm sorry to bother you, but my son is curious why the light is off on the side of the building." The two simultaneously pointed up to the marquee, which by that time of night should already be on. Matt looked up, nodded in recognition and then enunciated as deliberately as he could, "Light. Off."...then the three of them walked inside together.

Please forgive all the detail, but that night I was at a loss for words. See, like Matt (deaf since birth) the world can't hear us. And like the little boy and his mom, you and I have to show them the light. Our actions mean everything. We can say what we want, but unlike Matt, people don't read lips. (Thank you Lord for putting us on that bench).

Well, a block away from the store, I turned back. The light was on. Only because someone who could see decided to show someone who couldn't hear.

--Jimmy Peña

Question: How will we shine light in a dark world this week? How can our attempt to care for our health be one small way we do that? Please share your comments below.

Workout of the Week: Push-Ups and Planks

If you're short on time, but long on enthusiasm, today's workout will meet both needs. No equipment required -- all you need is some open space and 5-10 minutes. Even if you had other plans for the day's workout, indulge us and give it a try anyway.

Plyo Push-Up: Akin to a normal push-up, this version requires you to have your hands leave the ground on each rep. The plyo push-up stimulates and innervates the fast-twitch fibers (the ones most responsible for tight, toned muscles). Upon failure -- the point at which you can no longer continue with good form -- go right into the...

Standard Push-Up: Do as many as you can. The push-up works the chest, front shoulders and triceps, not to mention your core musculature. Upon failure move right into a...

Straight-arm Plank: Basically, you're in the start of a push-up position with your arms straight, palms pressing into the floor, back straight and abs tight. Hold that position for as long as possible. When your arms begin to shake and fail, lower yourself to your elbows and begin the...

Standard Plank: Hold that position above the floor until failure. Like the straight-arm version, the plank works the innermost core muscles (transverse abdominis), the muscles that support your spine and ultimately your entire body.

After a brief rest, repeat that sequence. Chart your reps (or total time) for each exercise and strive to do better the next time you try this workout.

COMING SOON!: This week marks the official release of PrayFit’s first DVD, now available for pre-order on Amazon and other retail websites. Reserve yours by clicking here or shop for friends.

SHOP: Looking for the best in non-DVD PrayFit products for the health-minded believers in your life? Click here to visit the PrayFit store.

 

 

HE UNDERSTANDS

November 18, 2011 Read: Hebrews 12

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." -- Hebrews 12:1

I think God understands the marathon. Many people will tell you that a marathon is all about the journey, the memories. Well, yes and no. While the memories have their moments, what awaits us at the end is really what it's all about. I mean, I loved the music at mile 12, but I didn't hang around for an entire song. It played, not so much that I would enjoy, but more so that I would endure.

When I began the race, I had a running partner as well as a dedicated pacer (the pacer's name was Paul, by the way.) But as you learned this week, a little over midway through the race, my body started to fail me. And when the partner and pacer ran ahead, I had to slow down. But had that not happened, I would have missed the blind man with his guide, and the woman in the wheelchair with no legs. And yes, I would have missed the two men who led me my last few miles of the race. Two men wearing identical shirts; bright yellow jerseys with black letters. Unmistakable to me. Not so much for the color combo, but for the words on their backs. On one shirt, "Father", and on the other, "Son". Oddly enough, the only comfort I could muster at the time was written on the back of two strangers.

The journey is one thing. But while our bodies fail us, friends leave us, and pacers lose us, the only real comfort is who we follow to the finish. I think God understands the marathon.

P.S. At dinner that night, I watched a lady limping her way through a restaurant. As she passed our table, I said, "Congratulations". Surprised, she thanked me. Hmm. You can always tell the runners. You can see it in their walk.

--Jimmy Pena

WEEK IN REVIEW

Faith

>> FOREVER ROAD: Each step is worth it when we remember who awaits us in the end

>> WHATEVER YOU DO: No matter how painful the pace, keep going

>> TRACKING NUMBERS: Following the steps of the one who's already won the race

>> TIRED OF RUNNING: His favorite place to run is to our rescue

Fitness

>> RUNNER'S RESOURCES: Our favorite digital haunts for running advice

>> SPEED TRICK: A surprising benefit of running sprint intervals

>> MASS FRUIT: How apples contribute to greater muscle gain

>> RECIPE OF THE WEEK: Spicy pulled pork

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.