sports

The Purpose Fulfilled Life

Hope you're enjoying the week looking at some of life's closers. First Mariano Rivera, and then of course Joseph. And while Joseph was unavoidable, the next two, I argue, are undeniable. If you've been with us for any stretch of time, you know they're a couple of my favorites.

"See the suit I'm wearing? It's a brand new suit. My children and my grandchildren are telling me I've gotten a little slovenly in my old age. So I went out and bought a new suit for this luncheon and one more occasion. You know what that occasion is? This is the suit in which I'll be buried. But when you hear I'm dead, I don't want  you to immediately remember this suit I'm wearing. I want you to remember that I know where I'm going." 

The man who said that is none other than Billy Graham. What a way to live and finish, amen? Sure sets the bar high, doesn't he? So does this next one.

There he was. Tied up. Who knows how long he'd been waiting? The most insignificant of animals with a seemingly inconsequential life. No thoroughbred blood running through his veins. His next meal was his only solace between chores. A helpless laborer, a meaningless creature. When, all of a sudden, Jesus asked for him specifically. In that day, donkeys were known to protect sheep, but that day he carried The Lamb. God chose him. Uniquely qualified, his purpose was to carry Jesus to His. He delivered. I suppose you could say he was born for this moment.

You may have heard me say it before, but I like to think that a donkey nobody had ever ridden knew exactly who he carried. And I bet he did his best to make Jesus proud. Of course, we don't know what the Lord said to him as He got off and walked away, maybe nothing. But this writer likes to think that as the crowd took Jesus the rest of the way, that little donkey stood taller than ever. The only one who noticed him and needed him was the One he just carried.

Let's make it our life's purpose to close-out life -- like Billy and the donkey -- and be remembered for where we're going, and who we carried along the way.

--Jimmy Peña

For Discussion: What a contrast in closers, don't you agree? Bill Graham and the donkey. One life spent evangelizing the world, filling years with special moments. The other called to be ready for just one. Man oh man. That's tough to type. You and I are no Billy Grahams, but I would have proudly been the donkey.

 

Saved. Alone.

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

Read: 1 Thessalonians 5

Over 100 years ago, a very successful lawyer and real estate mogul, Horatio Spafford, lost a lot in the great Chicago fire of 1870, but years later he lost much, much more. The fire left thousands homeless, and Horatio and his family spent years helping those less fortunate. Exhausted, Horatio and his wife, along with their four daughters planned a cruise to Europe. But just prior to pushing off, Horatio was called upon to stay for business. Still, he sent his family on their much-needed vacation.

Their ship however, the Ville du Havre, didn’t make it to England. Horatio learned of the tragedy through the now famous and urgent telegram from his wife. It read simply, "Saved. Alone."

I'm probably not the first person to do a poor job of summarizing the story of Horatio Spafford, but I was reminded of it yesterday while on a walk with my dog, Josey. As I turned a corner, talking to the Lord about my needs and concerns of our new website, I came across a homeless woman; mid-thirties, sunburned, sitting next to what looked like years of life in a shopping cart. I smiled, and she called Josey "perty." As I continued to walk, I thought to myself, "I'm worried about web traffic. She lives in traffic."

This week is a good reminder to hug those close to us, and to help those less fortunate. And 130 years later, Horatio can help us do just that. You may not recognize his name, but you know his famous hymn. As he boarded a ship to find his wife, he wrote these words:

"It is well with my soul. When peace like a river attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll; Whatever my lot thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well with my soul!”

Good words for us to remember and repeat as we give thanks, if for no other reason than being saved alone. So from our families to yours, have a blessed Thanksgiving weekend.

--Team PrayFit

>> The PrayFit Daily will continue on Monday, November 26. Until then, you can continue to interact with the PrayFit Nation via Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, or visit our forums.

>> This weekend (Saturday, Nov. 24), catch PrayFit endorser Robert Guerrero in action on HBO as he takes on Andre Berto in what is shaping up to be one of the best boxing bouts on the 2012 calendar. Check out our Q&A with Robert as he prepares for this weekend's fight by clicking here.

Pre-Game

"For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." --2 Timothy 1:7

Read: 2 Timothy 1

Imagine a coach before a big football game. The team has taken a knee and their helmets are off as they await the last few words of encouragement from their leader. The coach stands before them, clears his throat and says, "Now listen up, boys. We got here as a team and we'll finish as one. I believe in you. But...I gotta admit, I think the other coach is smarter than me, and the other kids? Well, they're a lot bigger than you. But hey, it was a fun season. Try not to get hurt. Now, let's go!"

Not much confidence in those words, right? Aren't we glad that's not how God sends us off into the world to tackle our biggest foes -- foes of financial hardships, health issues, relationship battles and good old fear and doubt? On the contrary, if God had a blackboard, He'd outline our daily route...straight to the cross on every play, every day. His pre-game speech might be brief: "Be strong and courageous, for I am with you wherever you go" (Joshua 1:9). What else do we need to hear?

Question: The bible is full of wonderful, motivational verses that remind us of God's power and strength. What's your favorite? Tell us in the comments section below.

--Jimmy Peña

JIMMY PENA TO SPEAK AT MOM'S SQUAD MOTHER'S DAY CELEBRATION IN CLEVELAND

In less than two weeks (May 5), PrayFit Founder Jimmy Peña will join Grammy and Dove Award Winning sensation Point of Grace at the Mom's Squad Mother's Day Celebration in Ohio, hosted by Cleveland's 95.5 THE FISH.

"It's such a blessing to be included in such an important event, to be speaking to so many influential women and to be sharing the day with the amazing women of Point of Grace!" Peña says.

Do you want Jimmy and the PrayFit team to come to your church or business to share his motivational story of health as a means of praise? Using biblical characters and motivational scenarios, Jimmy will help motivate and inspire you and your congregation to view health differently than ever before. E-mail us at info@prayfit.com for more details!

Benchwarmer

"So Sarah laughed to herself." --Genesis 18:12

Read: Genesis 18

Benchwarmer. Not something that sat well with me. But during my sophomore year in high school, I endured it for the first time in my life. See, I was a baseball player, and a good one. But basketball? I probably should've hung up the Air Jordans as a freshmen. Sitting at the end of the bench during a blowout game, I hoped my friends and family would assume I was injured; maybe I twisted an ankle during warm-ups or something. But with a little over a minute on the clock, the unthinkable happened. Coach called my name.

"Reluctant" would be putting it mildly. I literally peeled myself off the chair. I stripped my warm-up off my cold body and joined the otherwise sweaty and necessary group of kids on the court. What's the use, I thought. The clock ran out, we shook hands, and I put my warm-up on as slowly as I had removed it.

Well, leaving the locker room that night to face the awkward "good game" from loved ones, Coach stopped me. He said something that I'd carry the rest of my life. He said, "I wanted to see your reaction when I called for you late in the game. Jimmy, it's never too late to make an impact."

Maybe you're wondering what kind of influence you can have. Perhaps you think it's way too late in the game for God to use you. That family member? Too far gone. That group of friends? Too set in their ways. No way God is calling me from the bench at my age, with my past. 

Folks, God has a way of doing the unexpected. And if He noticed Sarah laughing at the news of her baby on the way, rest assured He sees our reaction. So, take a minute to consider what the Spirit is whispering to your heart. If it's too lofty, too lowly, too late...God just may be looking for our reaction to His call. Carve this into your heart...If God calls for you, it's never too late to make an impact.

--Jimmy Peña

WALKING FOR HEALTH Just an hour of this low-impact activity per day can make you 50% healthier

Watch some TV? No judgement here. We like NCIS: Los Angeles, too. Just make sure you go for a walk after. New research put out by the American Heart Association showed that an hour of walking per day can cut your genetic tendency toward obesity as a result of watching the picture box by half.

"In our study, a brisk one-hour daily walk reduced the genetic influence towards obesity, measured by differences in BMI by half," said Qibin Qi, Ph.D., study author and a post doctorate research fellow in the Department of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, Mass. "On the other hand, a sedentary lifestyle marked by watching television four hours a day increased the genetic influence by 50 percent."

The study included 7,740 women and 4,564 men from the Nurses' Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-up Study. Researchers collected data on physical activity and TV watching two years prior to assessing BMI.

>> For the full story, click here.

The Closer

"No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father."  --Matthew 24:36

Read: Matthew 24

With baseball season approaching, we thought we'd warm everyone up for our favorite time of year by talking about...the closer. For those who don't know, the closer is someone who specializes in sealing the deal. See, in baseball you play until the game is over. Not the case in other sports. Take basketball for instance. There's a minute left, you're up five points and rather than drive to the basket, you run out the clock. In football, you take a knee. Soccer, hockey -- you name it. Most major sports have a way to play it safe.

I think we all have the tendency to play it safe on occasion. As Christians, we can get into a mindset of "I'm saved, I can coast, I think I'll run out the clock today." But days can turn into weeks and weeks, years. Which reminds me, in baseball, there is no clock. You don't know how long a life -- I mean -- a game can last. Thus, the need for a closer. Someone who does his best work at the end.

Recently I read that Billy Graham hopes to preach one more time before the Lord takes him home. Even though he struggles to stand, Billy still wants the ball. Talk about a closer.

Now, granted, we're no Billy Grahams, you or I. Nobody's waiting to hear our last words. Or are they? The fact that we're reading this sentence means we're still in the game and the ball is in our hands. So stay warm. We just never know when we'll be needed to take the hill.

--Jimmy Peña

5 WAYS TO GET MORE SALMON

Tired of chicken breasts? Add some heart-healthy salmon into your weeknight meal plan. Here are five easy ways to prepare this healthy and sustainable, omega-3-packed fish.

Smoked Prepared smoked salmon is a great alternative when you don’t have time to cook. Wrap around asparagus stalks for a fancy but effortless appetizer or along with a salad for a light meal.

Poached Cooking salmon in a bath of wine, water and spices infuses it with flavor while keeping it tender and flaky. It keeps the calories low, too!

Grilled Thread chunks of skinless salmon onto skewers and grill for dinner in minutes. Sprinkle with a spice rub to add big flavor without marinating.

Wrapped Wrap salmon fillets in foil packets with lemon and fresh herbs for quick cooking and easy clean up.

Seared Finely chop fresh salmon in the food processor for a tasty burger. Flavor it up with sweet pineapple and spicy chili pepper then give a quick sear in a nonstick skillet.

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition.

STRENGTH IN SPLINTERS

"Jesus said, 'It is finished.' With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit."— John 19:30

Playing baseball with wooden bats is the purest form of the game there is. The bat doesn't lie -- hitters' weaknesses are routinely exposed and hitters' strengths are more easily neutralized. These athletic implements, usually carved out of Northern Ash, are easily broken -- sometimes splintering dramatically -- either as a result of a bad swing, a good pitch, or some combination of the two.

Wood composites offer a stronger, albeit significantly more expensive option, for hitters looking to prolong the life of their lumber. These modernized bats are comprised of various woods and synthetic internal supports that allow them to perform like natural wooden bats but with a significantly longer lifespan. They provide a durability that typical wooden bats simply cannot. Still, the use of these repurposed trees for sport pales in comparison to the most notable, or notorious, wood in history -- the crudely fashioned posts used by the Romans to crucify Jesus. Two thousand years later, the image of the cross at Golgotha remains both evocative and empowering, a reminder that our fragility is divinely and miraculously reinforced by His.

It may be a technological triumph that composite bats offer the resilience needed to endure the rigors of constant wear on the ball field. But the strength to persevere in this life may be found in the simple, collective durability of the splinters of a cross.

--Eric Velazquez

COMPOUND MOVES If you are looking to build strength, devote your energy to multi-joint moves

The three most popular, widely-used lifts in the gym are the bench press, deadlift and squat. Referred to as “The Big Three,” these moves fall into a category of exercises called compound, or multi-joint, lifts. These exercises require movement at more than one joint, which means that more total muscles have to get involved to complete each rep. And the more muscle you work, the more muscle and strength you stand to gain. As a bonus, the more muscle you recruit on a given exercise, the more calories you burn. Finally, any measure of muscle gain will improve your metabolism since muscle is calorie-eating tissue.

Anyone looking to gain strength would be best served by doing compound moves, almost exclusively at first. Isolation, or single-joint, moves like curls, pressdowns, leg extensions or leg curls have their place in physique building, but they are secondary exercises that should only be implemented once you have built an adequate base of strength from which to work.

But The Big Three don’t stand alone in the strength-gain column. Here are a few more exercises that make you stronger in a hurry:

Barbell row Pull-up Dip Bodyweight squat Lunge Push-up

>> For exercise descriptions and videos, click here.

>> For more workouts and exercise tips, click here.

33-DAY TOTAL BODY CHALLENGE: Looking for a complete workout that includes compound movements? Pick up the PrayFit 33-Day Total Body Challenge, available now at Amazon. This at-home program provides everything you'll need to start training for faster results while honoring the One who made you. "We don't strive to be healthy in order to be loved by God," says PrayFit founder Jimmy Pena. "We strive to be healthy because we are."

>> View the trailer here.

 

GUMPTION

"Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air."— 1 Corinthians 9:26

I'm definitely old-fashioned, but who reading this remembers tryouts? I thought of it yesterday when I asked, "Who won?" to a young boy and his mom as they came back from his soccer game. They replied, "Oh, we don't keep score. In this league, we don't keep score and everybody plays." Hmm. I tried to hide my confusion, but had she replied in Yiddish it would have made as much sense.

You know, if Paul were in sports, I think he would have enjoyed keeping score. The way he talked of disciplining his body like an athlete, or how passionately he wrote of running the race. Something tells me, Paul would have understood the "thrill of victory and the agony of defeat." Of course, Paul would be the first person to teach us of grace and forgiveness, but a record of wrongs is not the issue at stake. The issue is more about the kind of fight we have in us for the faith, as well as for the body. Like Paul, it's time to follow our instincts.

Truth be told, if our health was required for Heaven, well, we'd be in bad shape. And if God kept score on our day's losses, we'd lose. But it's because of those things that we might as well toughen up. Who knows how effective we could be for the kingdom if we exercised a little more Godly gumption. Not in order to win favor, but because we have favor.

Oh, and I have to report, as my neighbor disappeared into her home, the little boy stuck his head out the front door, put his hand up to the side of his mouth as if to tell me a secret from across the street: "We won 11 to nothin'!" he yelled with a whisper. Atta boy, I thought. Gumption. He's a carrier. And so are you.

–Jimmy Peña

WEEK IN REVIEW Revisiting a week's worth of faith and fitness

Faith

>> READING LIPS: Showing the light in a world of darkness

>> NOW WHAT?: Abraham, Moses and Joshua asked. Shouldn't you?

>> WHEN HE KNOCKED: No need to clean up to take a bath

>> GOD WILL COME THROUGH: When in doubt, look up

Fitness

>> WORKOUT OF THE WEEK: Push-ups and planks

>> MEMORY FOOD: What super fruit can boost your ability to remember stuff?

>> RECIPE OF THE WEEK: Sauteed kale

>> PORTION CONTROL: How to eat 22% less this holiday season

COMING SOON!: This week marked the official release of PrayFit’s first DVD, now available for 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.

FIT TOGETHER

January 18, 2011Read: Matthew 18

"For where two or more gather in my name, there I am with them." --Matthew 18:20

Among the things I miss most about playing sports in high school and college, would be those times when coach would huddle us up to give us words of motivation. We'd all take a knee, and at the end, he'd say, "Everybody in." He'd put out his hand, and we'd stand to put ours atop his. At that very moment, there was nothing more important. I learned then that powerful things happen when people come together with a common purpose and a serious plan.

I thought of those old memories today because a small group from El Paso formed a new PrayFit huddle this week. They're teaming together to share faith, fitness and accountability because they know our health is an obligation as well as a means of praise.

Speaking of small groups, we don't know what all was said among the disciples in the upper room, on shorelines, or on hillsides, but something tells me they huddled. When it was time to get everyone's attention, I like to think they brought it in real close like teams do. After all, if our faith had a team, they were the first string. And to think, what they said to each other before that first huddle broke, eventually got to you and me. Common purpose, serious plan. Powerful.

--J.P.

DID YOU KNOW?

In this country, there are just as many people who exercise regularly as those that don't. In a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2009, 35% of adults 18 years and older were found to engage in regular physical activity. The same study showed that a full 33% engaged in zero leisure time activity at all.

So if you're part of the 35%, then bravo. But this shows that some 65% of Americans do not exercise regularly.

Care for another stat? According to the CDC, 34% of Americans 20 and over are obese.

The message is clear: it's time for us to get moving.

Source: CDC

>> SHOP: Looking for PrayFit in print? Read more on "PrayFit: Your Guide to a Healthy Body and a Stronger Faith in 28 Days" by clicking here, or visit Barnes & Noble or Amazon today!

>> CALLING ALL KENTUCKIANS: If you're from the Louisville, Kentucky area and are following us here on PrayFit.com, reading our book or have rededicated yourself to faith and fitness in 2011, we want to hear from you! Contact us at info@prayfit.com for more details on an opportunity to share your story.

>> SUCCESS STORIES: Whether it's completing your first 5K, doing your first pull-up or getting your cholesterol down, we want to hear your success story. Share with the PrayFit community by clicking here.

THE CLOSER

October 26, 2010Read: Matthew 24 “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” -- Matthew 24:36

Seeing that my baseball season is over, I thought I’d give you another reason why I love America’s pastime: the role of the closer. The closer is someone who specializes in sealing the deal. See, in baseball you play until the game is done. Not the case in other sports. Take basketball for instance. There’s a minute left, you’re up five points and rather than drive to the basket, you run out the clock. In football, you take a knee. Soccer, hockey — you name it. Most major sports have a way to play it safe.

I think we all have the tendency to play it safe on occasion. As Christians, we can get into a mindset of “I’m saved, I can coast, I think I’ll run out the clock today.” But days can turn into weeks and weeks, years. Which reminds me, in baseball, there is no clock. You don’t know how long a life — I mean — a game can last. Thus, the need for a closer. Someone who does his best work at the end.

Recently I read that Billy Graham hopes to preach one more time before the Lord takes him home. Even though he struggles to stand, Billy still wants the ball. Talk about a closer.

Now, granted, we’re no Billy Graham you or I. Nobody’s waiting to hear our last words. Or are they? The fact that we’re reading this sentence means we’re still in the game and the ball is in our hands. So stay warm. We just never know when we’ll be needed to take the hill.

--J.P.

DIABETES: A SCARY SITUATION

No need to look for ghosts and goblins this Halloween. Those in search of a scare need only look at the latest study on diabetes released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Type II diabetes has become one of the greatest health problems facing mankind. An estimated 285 million people have diabetes in the world today. Sadly, because it's a condition that you can live with relatively symptom-free for years, people are failing to see cause for alarm. A new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) may change that. According to the CDC, as many as 1 in 3 Americans could be diabetic by 2050 unless action is taken.

Diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death in 2007, and is the leading cause of new cases of blindness among adults under age 75, kidney failure, and non-accident/injury leg and foot amputations among adults. People with diagnosed diabetes have medical costs that are more than twice that of those without the disease. The total costs of diabetes are an estimated $174 billion annually, including $116 billion in direct medical costs. About 24 million Americans have diabetes, and one-quarter of them do not know they have it.

To read the full report by the CDC click here: Diabetes on the Rise

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