hills

Peace of the Puzzle

"For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace." --1 Corinthians 14:33

Read: 1 Corinthians 14

I've never been very good at riddles. My brain just doesn't work like that. Crosswords? Forget 'em. For the life of me, I can't keep from looking up the answers in the back of the book. But puzzles? Well, that's a different story. Loretta and I enjoy a good puzzle. Shopping for one is easy too. You just find a cool picture, and that's it. You bring it home, spread the puzzle out on the table, prop up the photo and get to work. It's not long before what used to be in pieces begins to take the shape of the goal.

But how easy would it be if you took away the box with the picture on it? Tough, right? Or what if you turned off the lights, what then? How easy would it be to put that puzzle together?

For those without Christ, that's life. They piece together hours, days and weeks, assembling their lives -- on feel alone -- without Christ. As Christians, our lives are not easily assembled either. (If you're with me, say 'amen'.) Though we have Christ as our picture of perfection and more than enough light for a million-piece-life, we still stumble and struggle to put it together. Yet deep inside, we have that missing 'peace', don't we?

You know, Loretta and I can both be looking for the same piece of our little puzzle and when one of us finds it, what's the first thing we do? We show it to each other. We share it. Then we watch how it fills the empty space. And it's not long before what used to be in pieces begins to take the shape of the goal. You and I have the missing peace, and someone we know is searching for it. Let's show it. Let's share it.

--Jimmy Peña

Question: Whether at work, school, gym or even socially, where can we share Christ more unashamedly? Will you commit to sharing Christ with someone today? Use this (stole it from my grandmother): When you encounter someone who acts like a Christian, ask them, "Are you a Christian?" If they say, "Yes", say, "I thought so." If they say, "No", just tell them, "Oh, you'd make a great Christian." And then take it from there...

PLAYER PROFILE: Louie DeDonatis

Find out how this collegiate athlete has made relationship with the Lord his focus and what he has done on the field to build closing speed and game-changing stamina in this exclusive Q&A.

>> Q&A with Louie DeDonatis

The Race with Grace

"Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ." --Colossians 3:23-24

Read: Colossians 3

Her face says it all. Exhaustion meets joy and mission meets accomplishment. Now, I don't mean to over-dramatize the moment but I think Paul was on to something when he talked about the Christian life as a race -- a race that believers are called to run with endurance, never aimlessly. Over the last few years, we've written entries after marathons, many of which are among my favorites. But this picture, taken mere seconds before she saw me, pretty much sums it up. And with the week's race being almost over, I thought it appropriate for today.

For some of you, the week was steep. The phone never rang, the e-mail didn't arrive, or your health didn't cooperate. For others, everything was downhill, and you could do no wrong. Either way, I think our dear friend Sandie Powell said it best when she said, "The amazing thing is that He is as proud of our attempt (to run) as he is in our finish." And she's right. Did Loretta win the marathon? Well, maybe only in my eyes, but my eyes are the only ones that mattered. She wasn't the fastest, but she gave it all she had, and there was no doubt where she was headed.

I want to live like that, don't you? Everything we do and say, how we treat health and how we love others to show the world that we're on a road that leads to the only One that matters. From start to finish, we're in this race with grace. And after the uphills, the downhills and even the pitfalls, when mission meets accomplishment -- not ours, His -- our face will say it all.

--Jimmy Peña

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Health Doesn't Come Naturally

"You were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies." –1 Corinthians 6:20

Read: 1 Corinthians 6

Running up the first steep hill of her half-marathon recently, my wife Loretta came up behind a man going maybe half her speed. But since hills are hills, they struggled up together, each at their own pace -- two warriors needing the same air to answer the call of the hill. Halfway up, Loretta passed him, but not before they gave each other verbal encouragement.

You know, we've received a number of heartfelt e-mails and messages lately from many of you in dire need of encouragement to exercise. You've expressed that, for whatever reason, you just don't feel motivated. Well friends, we're praying for you. But at the same time, truthfully, not feeling motivated to honor the body is like saying you're not motivated to be honest. Remember, just because something doesn't come naturally to you doesn't mean you're not called to do it.

So please be encouraged. And do what God has mandated by respecting your body as one of His valuable tools. And oh, yes, the man Loretta was running with on the hill? He had no legs. Using his arms alone, he slowly turned the wheels of his chair over and over and over. Why did he climb? Well, he probably had a few good reasons, but the fact that it came naturally probably wasn't one of them. But no matter what (or why), like you and me, He was simply in the race and the hill was in the way. Answering the call of the hill isn't easy, but because Jesus said yes to His, you can say yes to yours.

--Jimmy Peña

HEALTHY WEIGHT LOSS Reality-show rapid may not be realistic, or sustainable

A generation of crash diets and miracle fitness programs have fed into our collective and undeniable need for instant gratification. The good news and bad news is that some of these gimmicks work -- if only for a time -- keeping our eyes fixed attentively on the scale. No decrease in weight today? Take heart. The small print says it all: "Results not typical." Healthy, sustained weight loss may not be as rapid as you'd like, despite whatever conceptions NBC's "The Biggest Loser" may have created.

"Usually when people lose a lot of weight quickly, it’s mostly water weight," says PrayFit contributing nutritionist Emily Ann Miller, MPH, RD. And once the water weight is gone, the frustration tends to set in, she says. "The early weight loss creates false expectations about the rate of subsequent future weight loss. A weight loss rate of 0.5-2.0 pounds per week is more likely to mean that your weight loss is from fat tissue. It also usually means that the weight loss is more likely to be maintained over time.

If you're striving to lose a few pounds, commit to making solid, sustainable lifestyle changes that can help you be a better steward of the body you have been given.

>> 8 WAYS TO EAT BETTER...FOREVER: What changes should you make if you're struggling to lose weight? Here are eight simple strategies anyone can start using today to start melting away inches and pounds.

Emily Ann Miller, MPH, RD is a registered dietitian and works at a Washington, D.C.-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 D.C. area. You can view more of Emily’s nutrition tips and updates by following her on Twitter, @EmilyAMillerRD.