prisoner

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.

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PROMOTED PRISONER

June 21, 2011Read Romans 8 "...nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." --Romans 8:39 "Captured U.S Solder Receives Second Promotion in Two Years"

That's the headline that caught my attention this past weekend. While we don't typically turn our heads to promotions and awards, when they're given to someone behind enemy lines, it's a different story.

Bowe Bergadhl was a private first class two years ago and has now been promoted to the rank of sergeant. His family was given the honor this weekend, to which his father closed his remarks to his son with, "Be patient and kind to those around you. You are not forgotten. You are not forgotten."

You know, at times we feel like we're on foreign soil. The thing is, we are. We're definitely not at home. But if we're captured by grace, we've been promoted behind enemy lines. You and I are prisoners of hope. So let's be patient and kind to those around us...we are not forgotten.

--J.P.

STUDY: OBESITY LINKED TO CHRONIC PAIN

Knees hurt? Back sore all the time? Before reaching for another dose of ibuprofen, you might wanna check the scale. A recent study reaffirmed what you might already know -- that carrying around excess weight puts you at much higher risk for chronic pain.

In the study, conducted at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, obese men were almost 21 percent more likely to develop chronic lower back pain than men of normal weight, and 22 percent more likely to develop neck or shoulder pain. Obese women were also 21 percent more likely to develop lower back pain than women of normal weight, and 19 percent more likely to develop neck and shoulder pain.

Based on the results, researchers believe that even moderate physical exercise -- just one hour or more per week -- "can, to some extent, compensate for the adverse effect of being overweight and obese on future risk of chronic pain."

>> For the full story from Reuters, click here.

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YOU'RE FREE TO GO

January 7, 2011Read: Hebrews 9

"Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sin." --Hebrews 9:22

If you blinked, you missed this story. Earlier this week, a man was released from a Texas prison after spending 30 years behind bars for something he didn't do. Thirty years! I was eight when he began his sentence. This week, based on the evidence, a judge admitted the mistake, and set him free. Unbelievable.

He said he didn't quite know how to respond when the judge said, "You're free to go." I suppose if you've lived trapped your whole life, the reality of living free would be foreign.

But what the judge said to the prisoner, God says to us each day. We may not be in jail, per se, but we often feel imprisoned -- shackled by burdens and trapped by mistakes. Thankfully, God sees all the evidence -- Jesus -- and sets us free. Unbelievable.

--J.P.

SOUP FOR YOU Keep out the winter chill with this healthy broth From Dana Angelo White

Ingredients

1 quart low-sodium chicken broth

1 cup whole-wheat pasta recommended (rotelle or other small shaped pasta recommended)

1 cup frozen green peas

2 cups baby spinach

3/4 cup mushrooms, quartered

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

4 tablespoons shredded Parmesean

Directions

Bring chicken broth to a boil in a medium saucepan. Once boiling add pasta and cook for 5 to 6 minutes Add peas, spinach and mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and continue to cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes. Serve topped with Parmesan cheese.

Nutrition analysis per serving: Calories: 120; Total fat: 2g; Saturated fat: 1g; Carbohydrate: 18g; Protein: 9g; Sodium: 360mg

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