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Creator, Curator

"For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." --Ephesians 2:10

Read: Ephesians 2

God is a lot of things. To be more precise, He is everything. But certain of His attributes are more salient to us at different times. Today, you cling to His grace. Last week, you were grateful for the comfort of His word. But we are also sometimes just plain taken with His workmanship -- the artful, purpose-driven brushstrokes that He has made on everything we see. Masterpieces, all, to be sure. But what do you think is the pièce de résistance in His divine gallery? An expansive cosmos? Brimming oceans?

The world of art is a fickle one, where value is determined by discriminate buyers. The smallest imperfection can turn a multimillion dollar print into kindling -- colorful canvas that no one would want to hang in their foyer.

Similarly, we are all a part of our Father's collection, each of us besmudged by our own sin. But the same hands that created us are the same that maintain us. Day to day, we are touched up, reframed, resituated. In this gallery, the Creator is also the Curator and in His hall, we are never devalued.

--Eric Velazquez

For Discussion: Do you train regularly? If so, what is your true aim? How much time do you spend in the mirror evaluating the fruits of your labor? One of the "smudges" we all share is the desire to take credit. So let's try to remember Whose image we're supposed to reflect and whose handiwork we're really evaluating in the first place.

 

THE ULTIMATE HEALTH CARE SOLUTION New ABC report sheds some light on what really is the best medicine

"Millions of people in our society suffer from a ridiculous number of health problems -- some major, some minor that could become major -- because they lack basic fitness," writes Jordan Metzl, MD, in his new book The Exercise Cure. And it's not just making us fat and lazy -- it's also bankrupting the nation. "Based on current estimates, the United States spends more than $2.6 trillion -- 17 percent of the gross national product -- on health care. That's $8,300 per person," he adds.

Can we be doing more to solve the health care crisis in America?

>> For the full story, 9 Health Problems That You Can Treat with Exercise, click here.

Full Hands In, Full Hands Out

"He told them, 'The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.'" --Luke 10:2

Read: Luke 10:2

For anyone who has ever worked in the restaurant industry, you might be familiar with the phrase, "Full hands in, full hands out." This simply means that when you go into the kitchen, you take something from the restaurant floor, maybe empty plates or things that need to be put away. And when you come out of the kitchen, you bring something with you, like food to a table or cups to restock; whatever it is, you come out with full hands. This helps everyone work as a team and keep the ship running smoothly and effectively so that everyone has everything that they need.

I often relate this to my daily spiritual life as well as my physical stewardship. I am surrounded by so many that add to my life and allow me to have “full hands in" -- family support,  church, or a close friend, for example. When we receive, we must also turn around and share that with others. Maybe it’s love, a healthy recipe or tip, or even a life lesson. But I am praying that I am able to be a river and not a reservoir. I want to allow His blessings to flow to me and through me. Full hands in, full hands out.

--Allison Earnst

Question: How can you and I become a river that flows into someone's life today? What blessings have you received that you can now offer to others? Make that part of your day's agenda. And, if possible, be a blessing to someone without them even knowing where it came from.

PrayFit's contributing writer, Allison Earnst, is a fitness expert, motivator, competitor and mother of three. She's been featured in numerous magazines including FitParent, Natural Muscle and Oxygen magazine. She has shared her fitness story on Good Morning America, Extra TV and Lifetime's "The Balancing Act." You can visit her blog by clicking here.

HEALTH TIP: TAKE IT OUTSIDE Do you workout in a gym? In your home? Well, if you are finding it tough to reach your fitness goals or if you're looking to rejuvenate your program, you may want to take it outside. Research offers some positive research on just how important a little Vitamin Sunshine can be for your training this summer.

>> For the full story, click here.

Say Something

"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations." --Matthew 28:19

Read: Matthew 28

A recent conference call took an interesting turn. See, I was blessed to be the link between my friend (the reason for the call) and a potential group of investors. Compared to the names on the line, I was definitely the little man.

Well, things seemed to be going just fine, but as the meeting was coming to a close, my friend did the unexpected. In his closing remarks to everyone he said, "Jimmy speaks for me." And then he hung up. (Cue the crickets) In one sentence, my role changed. Four little words converted me from little man to middle man. The reason for the call was gone, but I was his voice. Eyes wide, heart pumping. "Say something" I thought to myself. (Cue the life lesson)

Friends, you and I represent the Reason for our call; in how we speak, work, live...and move.

Say something.

--Jimmy Peña

FAST FACT

47 Percentage reduction in symptoms of depression for those who walked 30 minutes, 3-5 times per week.

Source: MedicineNet.com

Make Believe

"So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing." --1 Corinthians 9:26

Read: 1 Corinthians 9

As I was leaving Gio's Boxing Gym in Burbank (Calif.), amid the familiar cadence of speed bags and jump ropes, something a cornerman yelled to his boxer caught my attention. "Stop trying to look like a fighter and be a fighter!" he said. I literally stopped in my tracks. What a powerful statement. Just how powerful, I'd realize just moments later.

Walking toward my truck, I came upon a film crew about to shoot a documentary -- a boxing documentary, no doubt. Lights, cameras and make-up. I stood for what seemed like years and watched a make-up artist applying shades of purple, black and blue to an actor's face and under his eyes. Boxing gloves? Check. Legitimate shorts? Those too. But he wasn't dressed for - nor returning from - a real battle. "Stop trying to look like a fighter and be a fighter," ironically echoed in my head.

I wonder about my faith. And maybe you wonder about yours. Am I a make-believer in life? Or do I help make believers with my life? Like the verse above, I don't want to shadowbox. I want purpose. Give me somethin' to hit.

--Jimmy Peña

Question: In what area of your life, spiritually or physically, do you need to stand to fight? How can the Prayfit community pray for you? List your battles below or simply list them as "unspoken request(s)".

REPORT: CHILDREN OBESITY SPILLING INTO MANUFACTURING

A CNN report recently called attention to the latest casualty in the childhood obesity epidemic: school furniture manufacturers. Because of the expanding waistlines of children -- a full 15 to 17% of all kids are over 95th percentile for obesity -- manufacturers are forced to develop desks that can accommodate them. Child car seat manufacturers are also having to adjust with new designs to keep heavier kids safe.

"Childhood obesity affects their safety in matters beyond child seats and ill-fitting school furniture," the report says. "Obese kids are more likely to get heart disease, high cholesterol and high blood pressure and are more prone to diabetes, bone and joint problems. Their health problems are also more likely to follow into adulthood."

>> For the full report from CNN, click here.

ACTION PLAN: Let's be part of the solution. Today, take stock of how much activity your children are getting each day, taking physical education at school and organized sports into account as well. Discuss the importance of regular activity with your child and make today the first day of a scheduled family “workout,” where you spend 15-20 minutes exercising, walking or playing together.

He's My Brother

"Then I sent Moses and Aaron..." --Joshua 24:5

Read: Joshua 24

A great friend and mogul said to me yesterday, "I believe God puts people in your life to help show you where you're going." His statement couldn't have been more true about the day nearly seven years ago when I met then writer extraordinaire and future PrayFit VP Eric Velazquez. Little did I know that when I shook Eric's hand in the offices of Muscle & Fitness Magazine, God was showing me where I was going.

In the context of PrayFit, if I could humbly assign Eric a biblical counterpart, it would probably be Aaron. If you're thinking, "Aaron! Yes, of course! Aaron...wait...who's Aaron?" well, that helps my point. Aaron was Moses' brother. Often overlooked, but when Moses was in need, God sent Aaron. Moses stuttered, so God delivered. Aaron 'spoke well' and they became a team.

So please allow me to use the comparison to publicly acknowledge Eric and his selfless, often invisible, critical and fantastic work he does day in and out. If it weren't for Eric, there would be no daily message. If he's not writing amazing articles for the biggest fitness magazines in the country, or inspiring people to grow closer to the Lord and healthier in the process, he's smoothing out my stutter. He's my brother, and we're a team.

If you've been following PrayFit for any length of time, please help me in publicly thanking Eric for who he is and what he means to us all.

--Jimmy Peña

HEALTH FACTS, BY THE NUMBERS The AHA's most recent report on obesity and its ties to heart disease

149,300,000 - Number of U.S. adults (age 20 and older) that are overweight or obese

33.7 - Percentage of U.S. adults (age 20 and older) that are obese

23,600,000 - Number of U.S. children (age 2 to 19) that are overweight or obese

16.9 - Percentage of U.S. children (age 2 to 19) that are obese

33 - Percentage of U.S. adults that report doing no aerobic leisure-time activity

71 - Percentage of U.S. adults with cardiovascular disease that were overweight or obese

1 in 3- Deaths attributable to cardiovascular disease in the U.S.

Source: American Heart Association Statistical Update on Heart Disease and Strokes (2012)

OPEN HOUSE

August, 11, 2011Read: Isaiah 1

"Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow." --Isaiah 1:18

Walking Josey around the neighborhood this last weekend, I came across an open house sign. The arrow pointed us up the street, so...up we went. Interestingly, the closer we got to the house, the nicer things seemed. The manicured lawn looked like the greens of The Masters Golf Tournament at Augusta. Smiling neighbors waved at the milkman. Kids played hopscotch. Josey chased cartoon animals across the street while Mr. Bluebird rested upon my shoulder. After all, it was an open house. And everything seems perfect at an open house.

Okay, maybe the cartoon animals were a little much, but as I stood watching the people going in and out, I could relate to the owner who had clearly taken great pains in preparing the house to make a good first impression. Before we let anyone in our lives, we hide the dirt. We sweep regrets under the rug, polish the pain and spit-shine the shame. We don't want anyone to see the proof under the roof.

Isn't it comforting to know that we don't need to clean ourselves up before we let Jesus in? We can stop scrubbing failures from the floor and just open the door. Besides, the asking price for our heart's home is way too high for anyone but Him, and He paid it in full.

--J.P.

FUEL AND FAT

Like most Americans, you probably paid somewhere near $4.00 a gallon at the pump this week. But before you go and blame Middle East unrest, market instability or rapid inflation, you might want to consider the following statistic.

According to Entrepreneur Magazine,  nearly one billion gallons of additional fuel per year can be attributed to the average weight gain between 1960 and 2002 of people living in the United States. This represents nearly three times the total amount of fuel consumed by all passenger vehicles each day based on current driving habits, or approximately 0.7% of the total amount of fuel consumed by passenger vehicles annually. Moreover, it is estimated that over 39 million gallons of fuel are consumed annually for every one pound increase in average passenger weight.

In other words, the heavier we get, the harder our cars, trucks, trains and planes have to work to transport us from A to B.

Source: Entrepreneur Magazine

WE WEAR HIS NAME

March 4, 2011Read: Philippians 1

"For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain." --Philippians 1:21

Yesterday, we at PrayFit confirmed plans to promote, endorse and sponsor one of our favorite athletes. A champion in and out of the ring, Robert "The Ghost" Guerrero and PrayFit agreed to terms for his HBO Pay-Per-View televised fight on April 9. We are absolutely ecstatic. A man of God, a loving husband, and a three-time world champion, Robert Guerrero's trunks will carry a new logo: PRAYFIT.COM

In the middle of the ring and in the heat of battle, he'll be wearing our name.

You know as believers in the fight of our lives, we wear His name. With His blood, He stamped his promotion and endorsement on our hearts. He says, "He's mine! She's with me! I'm in their corner!" And any scars we show, we bear for Him. May the marks we bear point others to the cross. So whether it be at work, home, school or with your health, consider this moment the bell, and let's make it a good fight.

--J.P.

“Being a big believer in Jesus Christ, PrayFit gets me on track to start my day off in the right direction.  In boxing there is no room for error. You have to be not only be physically prepared but spiritually strong as well.”

Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero, 3-Time Boxing World Champion

PRAYFIT WEEK IN REVIEW

>> WORKOUT: Test your mettle and build your endurance with this run-based workout

>> REPORT: Pecans boost heart health

>> RECIPE: Healthy BBQ chicken pizza. Do we have your attention now?

>> NUTRITION: PrayFit rates five dairy-free alternatives to cow's milk

WATCH!!!: Catch the highlights of Robert "The Ghost" Guerrero in his last fight, a decisive, HBO-televised win over 2004 Olympian Vicente Escobedo.

SHARE: Looking for quick-hit exercise and nutrition information, ideas and programming? Visit our new Fitness and Nutrition pages and be sure to use the new social networking features -- recommend, share, tweet, e-mail -- up top to help spread the word.

READ: "PrayFit: Your Guide to A Healthy Body and A Stronger Faith in 28 Days," now available in stores, is a fantastic, fundamental guide for anyone looking for a renewal of faith and fitness. The book includes 56 days of daily devotionals, complete exercise programs for both beginners and intermediates, as well as full meal plans to speed your results. To pick up a copy for yourself or a friend, visit Barnes & Noble or Amazon today!

THE DAY BEFORE

November  9, 2010Read: Matthew 1

"The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means 'God with us.'"  --Matthew 1:23

No matter how old you might be, chances are you've experienced a few important "day befores." Turn back the clock and you might remember the day before you: graduated... got married... got promoted...

While all those days bring back a number of different memories for us, each moment has one common denominator: a new title.  The next day you were: a graduate... a wife... a boss... The day before, you were none of those.

Turn back the clock and we once knew God as Yahweh, Abba, The Great I AM, and the Alpha & Omega. But then one day God became: flesh... a baby... Immanuel...

Creation…meet creator. And once you meet Him, you'll never be the same again either. You can bet your soul you'll be different than you were...the day before.

--J.P.

FAST FOOD: KIDS IN THE CROSSHAIRS

It may sound like hyperbole, or a scare tactic concocted by those of us in the health industry who have taken a defensive posture against obesity. But it is worth noting that the fast food industry has ramped up its effort to attract more young people to its establishments.

"In 2009 preschoolers saw 56% more ads for Subway, 21% more ads for McDonald's and 9% more ads for Burger King, compared with 2007," the story says. "Children age 6 to 11 saw even more: 59% more ads for Subway, 26% more for McDonald's and 10% more for Burger King."

In addition, more of the available options for kids are -- surprise! -- unhealthy. French fries are served in kids' meals an astounding 86% of the time, for example.

"We should be clear that the fast food industry is not solely to blame for the rise in child obesity," says PrayFit editorial director and father of two Eric Velazquez. "Parents have to make a conscious effort to prepare more healthful meals at home and to help their kids make better choices when you are in the drive-thru. Of course, occasional indulgences are fine but making good choices as often as possible can go a long way toward instilling good habits reversing the trend of weight-related health issues in America."

>> Read the full story from the L.A. Times here: Fast food restaurants market too heavily to kids, says study