invitation

You Don't Have To

"Do not remember the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you, Lord, are good." --Psalm 25:7

Read: Psalm 25 Earlier this week I received the most incredible and undeserved invitation. Details to come, but later this Fall, Loretta and I will be special guests at Baylor University, my alma mater. In the days leading up to a special Saturday event, we'll have the unique opportunity of speaking to students, staff and the community. We're so blessed and excited. Can I get a "Sic'em Bears?"

You know, the idea of going back and showing Loretta some of my old stomping grounds after all these years is already making my heart pound. I've even started taking notes on things I want to be sure and discuss with the students in particular. Oh man, to be able to go back and talk to a younger Jimmy Peña.  What would I tell him? (Other than to enjoy his hair line while he can and to eat more fiber. He'll just have to trust me on both.) So many things come to mind. But one thing I know, I'd make sure to find my way to old Russell Gym. I'd stand right next to young Jimmy as he eyed his next lift. While the gang of Russell Rats yell and scream in one ear, I'd whisper in the other, "You don't have to. You don't have to lift that much weight."

Carrying the weight of the past gets heavy, does it not? Yesterday's mistakes can feel heavier than a 500-pound bar across your back. I know, because I've carried both. But like the old Gaither hymn reminds me as I type this sentence:

"I'm free from the fear of tomorrow. I'm free from the guilt of my past. I've traded my shackles for a glorious song. I'm free. Praise the Lord, free at last."

If you're carrying yesterday's burden today, the Cross of Jesus says we don't have to. And we have the most incredible and undeserved invitation to embrace it.

--Jimmy Peña

For Discussion: Even though I know I would change some things in my past, I believe the good Lord has worked it all out. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that if I hadn't gone through some of my mistakes and wrong turns, I wouldn't be living the life I live today. Share your story. Give us your comments below. And have a great weekend everyone.

LISTEN, WATCH, INVITE: Life is not about the body. Our health is a means of praise. This fundamental message, which has become the heart of PrayFit in the last several years, has always been at the heart of Jimmy's philosophy on exercise and nutrition. But to put it in a paragraph here doesn't do it justice -- to hear it from the man himself is a convicting experience for anyone who has the opportunity. Use the links below to explore what we mean...

Listen >> Many of Jimmy's favorite devotionals are available here as audio files. Click here to "hear" PrayFit's founder articulate his passion for your health.

Watch >> The mission of PrayFit isn't six-pack abs -- it's stewardship. Click here for a video compilation of Jimmy's heartfelt message about caring for the bodies that carry these souls.

Invite >> Finally, if this is a message that you feel your family, your church or your community, then reach out to us today to find out how you can bring Jimmy to your next Sunday service or event. Click here for more info.

For additional PrayFit resources, such as books or DVDs, click here.

Through Your Life

"For who in the skies above can compare with the Lord?" --Psalm 89:6

Read: Psalm 89

Yesterday I got the most humbling invitation. The Director of Alumni Relations e-mailed me and said that the Regional Alumni Selection Committee selected me as one of four Distinguished Alumni of The University of Texas at Tyler where I attended graduate school. Not only that but I've been invited to accept the award at the Alumni Awards Gala in March being held in our honor. Friends, family and former professors will be there to celebrate and reminisce with me. Part of their correspondence said, "Thank you for your talent, your accomplishments and for bringing attention and value to your alma mater through your life."

Now, I'm sure we'll be sharing details as it comes closer, and we're already praying for the opportunity to speak at a church while we're there, but let's go back to the end of that sentence. "Through your life." Not throughout my life, but through it -- within it, inside it. Reading it the first time was rough, but re-typing it was even tougher; talk about humbling and undeserved. In that moment, I wished I had been a better student.

It's easy to think of Heaven on days like this. We've accepted an invitation we don't deserve, to celebrate a reward we didn't earn. You know, if we're allowed to reminisce about earth as we sit at Heaven's table, I know for certain that I'll wish I had been a better Christian, a stronger witness, and a closer follower. What could I have done with my life, my words, my thoughts, and my health for the Lord? Oh, but grace. Thankfully like the old hymn says, we'll "turn our eyes upon Jesus and look full in His wonderful face. And the things on earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace."

--Jimmy Peña

Question: Someday, we may just find out what more we could have done with our lives and health for the cause of Christ. I want my list to be short. What changes will you make today to ensure that you are as able and capable physically to fulfill your purpose? Let us know in the comment section below.

TRAINING TIP: RUNNING

When you get in from a run, do your back, arches and everything else hurt? We share your pain, but hopefully not for long. With these easy tips to correct your stride, your runs may quickly become more enjoyable. And in delight, there is consistency.

>> Click here for three ways you can improve your stride today.

>> The Word is out...PrayFit's new, challenging at-home workout DVD is helping people build physical and spiritual muscle! Still one of Amazon's top new releases in faith, this workout is the perfect way to reclaim your health. Share the link below with others, or order yours today!

A Thankful List

"In everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." --1 Thessalonians 5:18

Read: 1 Thessalonians 5

Do you like lists? I love lists. My wife and I can be driving, and all I have to say to her is, "Give me your top three for dinner" and she knows I'm asking her to name me the three people she would love to have over for a meal. Without hesitation, Kate Winslet, Dr. Charles Stanley and Derek Jeter are scooting their chairs under our table. We've done things like that for years. And don't get me started about New Year's resolutions. We've saved every list of resolutions for 18 years. Not only that, we witness, sign and ratify them. (I wish I were kidding). What can I say? I love lists.

Do you have one? A list of things for which you're the most thankful this year? What better week than this to consider it. Could be a friend, or new job or maybe your health has improved. (That last one would make mine, FYI.) Take a minute to think of, or better yet, jot some things down. Use our comment section if you'd be so bold. What are you the most thankful for as you look back on this year? Give me your top three. And if you say Derek Jeter, I just might have you over for dinner.

--Jimmy Peña

P.S. God has a list, and we're on it. You and I will be sitting at His table someday if we say yes. The invitation is open. It's up to us to accept it.

ASK THE NUTRITIONIST with Emily Ann Miller, MPH, RD

[Q] I am looking to save calories where I can and I know that switching to lower-fat milk is an easy way to do that but I love whole milk! What's the best way to switch without going crazy?

[A] That's a great question. Milk is a great source of healthy protein and should be part of any healthy lifestyle but a lot of people do love the whole and find it hard to switch to lower-fat and therefore lower-calorie milk. If you have a hard time switching from higher-fat milk, try combining half of the higher-fat with half of the lower-fat, and gradually change the ratio so that the amount of lower-fat is increasing. This will help your taste buds to adjust and eventually, you will probably prefer the lower-fat! The same concept works for switching from regular to diet soda.

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.

ON YOUR MARK

July 22, 2011Read: 1 John 1

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” –1 John 1:9

Well, we’re at the end of marathon week. If you missed any of the entries, we hope you go back a few days and catch up. But on this final leg, I’d like to go back to what Loretta said at 4:00 a.m. the morning of the race. Sitting on the edge of the bed, with barely enough light to tie her shoes, she paused. Her unpinned race number lay beside her, along with the invitation to the race, and with a nervous smile she said, “Am I really doing this?” “You’re ready,” I told her. “I’ll see you at the finish.”

And when I finally found her, 26.2 miles and just over four hours later, amidst the crowd and celebration, you know what she did? After a long, happy, tearful hug, she showed me her medal. Did she win? Well, in my book, yes. But actually, everyone had a medal. The prize went to anyone who accepted the invitation to the race.

Friends, God invites us to accept Jesus into our hearts and lives. When we do, we join a race He’s already won on our behalf. Our job is to trace His steps and help others do the same. See you at the finish.

–J.P.

RESTED DEVELOPMENT

One thing we haven’t discussed in our PrayFit marathon week?  The importance of good rest following the race. In fact, experts say to take as long as a week or two to fully recover. Light activity like walking or easy swimming are excellent ideas to help the joints and muscles recover from the vigorous strain of a long run like the marathon, not to mention the weeks of preparation necessary to complete it.

Our plea to adhere to good rest is not limited to marathoners. If that were the case, few of us would be resting! So in general, our bodies need good rest and recovery time, so feel free to take time off every few months, performing mild activity for a few days at a time to maximize recuperation. Also, take time to get an adequate amount of rest each week. If you’re sore, fatigued or otherwise limited, it could be your body’s way of telling you to back off slightly. Serious lifters, for example, will train a single bodypart hard then rest it for a full week.

Rest will help your joints and muscles, while also providing your mind some time to recover. Good message for a Friday? We think so.

>> CHANGE YOUR LIFE: "PrayFit: Your Guide to a Healthy Body and a Stronger Faith in 28 Days," isn't just a "how to" book. In a strange departure from the fitness genre, PrayFit address the "why." Once you address the why -- being healthier for your spouse or kids, setting an example for your congregation -- the "how" becomes easy. Read up on the core message of PrayFit, place a book order, or gift someone else with faith and fitness by clicking here.

BACKGROUND CHECK

November 30, 2010Read: John 4

"Jesus answered her, 'If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.'" --John 4:10

Earlier this year, I was asked to participate as a fitness consultant on a very popular television show. Along with their invitation came paperwork, questionnaires and a background check. Even though an offer was on the table, and I'd been on this show before, I still had to prove I had the chops. And while I was so honored with the invite, I declined due to several scheduling conflicts and commitments.

What if our relationship with Jesus was dependent on our past? What if our ability to approach God was based on a background check of biblical proportions? If it was, the woman at the well might have sought a different source of water. Paul, Jacob, Peter, me, you...all checkered pasts and spotty resumes; the fallen need not apply.

But we serve an approachable Savior. So don't get held up on the blemishes of your resume. His scars are proof He has all the background on us He'll ever need.

--J.P.

DID YOU KNOW?

According to a new study, over 600,000 people die each year from secondhand smoke; the majority of them children.

>> INTERACT: Get engaged with other PrayFit readers by sharing thoughts, links and photos at the Official PrayFit Facebook Page.