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Peter and the Fire Pit

"The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter." --Luke 22:61

Read: Luke 22

Have you ever stopped to think about all the great and odd ways that God gets the attention of His people? Lazarus woke up and Jonah saw the inside of a whale. Just run through the bible and we find countless examples of jaw-dropping, head-swiveling surrender to God's presence and authority.

And though you and I don't cheat tombs or choke whales, we can all identify with Peter at the fire pit. Heard any roosters lately? How many opportunities to witness for Jesus have we allowed to go up in smoke? Perhaps around the fire pit of jobs, school or the gym? Like Peter, we all know how it feels to disappoint Christ, and though we'd like to turn back time, Christ turns back our attention. (Notice today's verse.) Just like Peter, it's when our eyes meet those of Jesus that we're broken -- in heart and in spirit -- and His work through us truly begins.

Take Away Question for Easter Week: What does it say to you that amidst the chaos, the trial, and the death sentence, Jesus' attention was on Peter and his darkest hour?

--Jimmy Peña

RECIPE OF THE WEEK: Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

1 butternut squash (peeled, seeds removed and chopped into small cubes) 1 tablespoon olive oil

Kosher salt and black pepper to taste 1 teaspoon fresh thyme 6 cups chicken stock 1 tablespoon olive oil 3 tablespoons unsalted butter ¾ cup chopped red onion 1 ½ cups Arborio rice ½ cup white wine 1 teaspoon saffron 1 teaspoon kosher salt ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper ¼ cup chopped fresh basil 4 cups baby spinach ¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions: Preheat oven to 400-degrees F. Place squash on a large sheet pan and season with olive oil, salt, pepper and fresh thyme. Roast for 20 to 30 minutes, until tender and edges begin to brown. Set aside.

In a large Dutch oven, heat olive oil and butter over medium heat. Add onion and sauté for 4-5 minutes. Add the rice and stir well to coat with oil and butter. Add wine and cook for 2 minutes. Add a ladle of stock, salt, pepper and saffron; stir and simmer until stock is absorbed. Continue to add stock (a ladle at a time) stirring every few minutes. Continue until all the stock has been absorbed and the rice is tender (about 30 minutes). Stir in the basil and spinach, followed by the cheese and butternut squash. Serve immediately.

Nutrition Info Per Serving: Calories: 360 Total Fat:  15.5 grams Saturated Fat:  7 grams Carbohydrate:  44 grams Protein:  13 gram Cholesterol:  24 milligrams Sodium:  815 milligrams Fiber: 4 grams

This week's recipe is courtesy of Dana Angelo White, contributing dietitian to PrayFit and adviser to The Food Network. Find more of Dana's delicious recipes at www.danawhitenutrition.com

What Do You See, Lord?

"You saw me before I was born." --Psalm 139:16

Read: Psalm 139

Awaiting my turn on a recent TV broadcast, I sat in the green room watching the first hour's guest. A woman -- maybe in her late 50's -- was there sharing her fundraising efforts for the homeless and orphaned. Her reply to the host's last question caught my attention. He asked her why she thought God placed this burden on her heart. Through a flood of tears she said, "I just think God saw something in me I never could have seen for myself."

Wow. It felt like she was accepting an award; honored beyond words. Believe me folks, a child is going to find a home, a meal, or both because of this woman. Her words resonated in my head (and heart) as I took my place on the couch. It was my turn. But honestly, I don't remember the host's first question. I struggled to concentrate. "We're back in 5, 4, 3, 2..."

Sarah, David, Mary Magdalene, Peter. To the rest of the world, outcasts and misfits. Too little, too late. But that's not what God saw.

Is this your prayer? Mine too:

"What do you see Lord? What you can see means more to me than what I can't. So show me. My back is strong. My shoulders are steady. I don't want to be empty-handed. Give me the burden that you see me carrying."

--Jimmy Peña

Question: What has God called you to do? What burden has He laid on your heart? What can we help you pray about today?

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NO MORE

November 10, 2011 Read: Ephesians 2

"For by grace you've been saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God." --Ephesians 2:8

"No more school, no more books, no more teachers, dirty looks."

For years, my wife Loretta and I have playfully sung that short tune at the end of each of her college semesters. See, after high school, rather than walk for a diploma, she walked down the aisle. And throughout the years, she's chipped away at her degree at night school, auditioning for the title of graduate. Well, I'm proud to report that today she takes her final final exam. But what's interesting is that, even though she's done with class, the next ceremony isn't until May. So she'll have to wait for her reward, even though she's met her requirement.

Kind of easy to think of Heaven at this point, right? Except, Heaven isn't dependent upon us passing every earthly test. Our days are full of multiple choices, but our performance doesn't chip away at some heavenly quota of credits, and frankly, nobody auditions for grace.

The truth is, someday we'll graduate this life. And like I'll be singing "no more school" to Loretta one last time as she walks through the door tonight, I like to think that we'll hear much the same when we finally meet our requirement, face-to-face.

No more hurt, no more pain. No more struggles, no more strain. All is right, the fight is done. Welcome to Heaven. Your heart, I've won.

--Jimmy Peña

COFFEE & CHOLESTEROL Science explores the connection between your morning java and your heart health

We are a caffeinated nation. Sure, stressful commutes, hectic family lives and TPS reports keep us heading back to the coffee pot multiple times throughout the day but there is also a palate-pleasing allure to a well-brewed cup of java. But while the caffeine gets most of the attention, there are other compounds in coffee to be aware of -- some to be cautious of.

Some worry about coffee's effect on cholesterol because of the presence of certain compounds in the beans. Daily consumption of 10 milligrams of cafestol—the amount in about four 5-ounce cups of French-press coffee—has been shown to raise cholesterol by 8 to 10 percent in four weeks, mostly due to increased LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. Some people are affected more than others, and the effects may be greater in those who have higher cholesterol to begin with.

Luckily, most American-style, drip coffee is practically devoid of these types of compounds and coffee's many health benefits, such as its powerful antioxidant content, may outweigh the risks. Read the full report from the University of California (Berkeley) by clicking here.

 

IN...DEPENDENCE

July 1, 2011 Read: 1 Peter 3

"So he went and preached to the spirits in prison." --1 Peter 3:19

This weekend we celebrate freedom. As a nation, we proudly hail the day we loosened the chains of tyranny from Great Britain. At PrayFit we want to salute the men and women who never lived to enjoy the freedom they fought to protect. Their memory is a reminder both in celebration and memoriam, that freedom is never free.

As believers, we too celebrate freedom; from our past, today's worry and fear of tomorrow. Those prisons have no key, but the cross stamps pardon on our hearts and the doors open. We're meant to live free indeed.

Friends, when it comes to our health, many of us have a burning desire to be free; from guilt, from diets, and from sedentary lifestyles. But no "how-to" guide or fitness guru is more able to help you achieve abundant health than the one who breathed it into our lungs in the first place. Because of His broad stripes, He's the only one we'll need when our health loses its final perilous fight with pain. Surely, we can trust Him with it in the meantime.

--J.P.

HEART HEALTH BULLETIN

Your heart is a muscle. And just like the rest of the muscles in your body, it responds positively to exercise. So it should come as no surprise that doctors are starting to turn away from long-held "rest and relaxation" approaches to heart health and rehabilitation, instead urging patients to train harder than ever. A more efficient heart, they rationalize, is better at delivering blood and oxygen to working muscles for everything from a walk to your car after work to a no-holds barred weight workout. This can fortify you against cardiovascular disease, help you recover from a heart incident and maintain a healthier overall weight.

>> ABC News delivers the details here.

>> RELATED: An introduction to high-intensity interval cardio

>> SHOP: Be sure to check out our newly-upgraded tees for men and women and take advantage of our clearance sale on selected apparel at the PrayFit store!

CALL HIM

May 25, 2011Read: Mark 10

"Jesus stopped and said, 'Call him.' So they called to the blind man, 'Cheer up! On your feet! He's calling you!' Throwing his cloak aside, he leaped to his feet and came to Jesus." --Mark 10:49-50

Most of us can't fathom what the blind man was going through that day outside of Jericho. What we do know is that he spent his days begging in the dark. In the verses leading up to this one, we learn he's rebuked and told to be quiet for calling out for Jesus. But nothing stirs the blind like a close encounter with a sight giver, and when Jesus finally called for him, he jumped.

Nobody knows what you're battling today either. Though your eyes may work just fine, things like family matters, school issues and work problems might be darkening your spirit and blinding you from all that God wants you to see. But whatever you do, don't sit there quietly. Despite what those around you might say, cry out for Him with every functioning sense, and then cheer up and jump to your feet. He's calling you!

--J.P.

RECIPE OF THE WEEK: Baked Salmon

Get a dose of heart-healthy omega-3 fats from this easy and delicious salmon dish. All you need is 15 minutes to prep this quick weeknight dinner. Leftovers are delicious over lettuce for lunch the next day.

Ingredients

Serves: 4 1 1/4 pound wild salmon, skin removed, cut into 4 pieces 2 tablespoons whole grain mustard 2 tablespoons 100% pure maple syrup 1 clove garlic, minced Juice of 1/2 a lemon

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place salmon pieces on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Season with salt and pepper; roast for 10 minutes. In a small bowl, combine mustard, maple syrup, garlic and lemon juice. After 10 minutes of cooking, brush salmon with mixture and return to the oven for 5 minutes or until salmon is just cooked through.

Wild Salmon

Wild caught salmon is a sustainable seafood pick, packed with protein and omega-3 fats — 4 ounces raw has 1,660 milligrams of heart healthy omega-3 fats.

Whole Grain Mustard

You can spot whole grain mustard by the tiny round mustard seeds running through it. Those yellow seeds are packed with iron and selenium; they also contain some omega-3 fats! Despite its low calorie count (only 30 calories per tablespoon), this course mustard adds tangy flavor and texture.

Maple Syrup

It’s not just for pancakes anymore! Maple syrup is an outrageously delicious way to add some natural sweetness to a dish. Make sure to pick 100% pure syrup; there are some imposters out there made from water and corn syrup.

Garlic

This sweet and tangy salmon needs some spice from fresh garlic. There’s some research to support that a compound in garlic called allicin has antibacterial properties. Some other research is looking into how garlic may help lower cholesterol — for now the jury is still out, but it’s delicious either way.

Lemon Juice

Finally, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice balances the sweetness and cuts through some of the strong salmon flavor.

Nutrition Information (per serving):

Calories: 240 Total fat: 9 grams Saturated fat: 1.5 grams Carbohydrates: 14 grams Cholesterol: 50 milligrams Sodium: 125 milligrams Protein: 25 grams

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC is a registered dietitian and is currently a nutrition expert for the Food Network, and has worked as a media spokesperson for Cooking Light Magazine. She has appeared on Good Day Street Talk, Food Network.com, Access Hollywood and GMA Health. Visit her at Dana White Nutrition. You can also visit her blog for more recipes at http://blog.foodnetwork.com/healthyeats/.