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Time To Live

"So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine." 1 Samuel 17:50 "He struck down the Philistine." You know, I've thought a lot lately about the young David and the day he floored the giant. Not sure why, but in my mind I find myself with a sling in one hand, while rolling a stone between my thumb and index finger in the other. I want to pick a fight.

With God's Word and His wisdom echoing down the corridors of my brain, tamed courage paces back and forth within my self-imposed and carefully designed cages. Friends...it seems my health, my faith, my income, stewardship, prayer life, my thought life and my witnessing to others all deserve and require a glance down at my stone and sling. What am I waiting on? What are you?

I think it's time to say, "Goodbye, comfort zones" and "So long, easy." In fact, in the time that it's taken me to write today's entry, I've realized that I don't have to pick a fight. The fight is waiting for me. It's raging. I gotta get in it. Do you?

What battles will you face this week? Will your pride be bruised? Will vanity get the better of you? Will your self-control actually lose it? Does your health need more attention? Less attention? Do you need to talk to that neighbor? Call that friend? Thankfully, whether we succeed or not, God's mercy is new each day and Jesus is in our hearts, so who do we have to fear? Let's engage. Let's get in it. It's time to mix it up. I have my stone and sling. Got yours? If the world needs proof that grace changes people, here we come.

--Jimmy Peña

Question: What health battles are you fighting? Are you dealing with an illness? Perhaps you're battling a food dependence or you've been neglecting your fitness routine? Let us know in the comment section, because we want to help you with your most powerful weapon: prayer. We promise to lift you up.

Song In Your Heart: As I was finishing-up today's entry, a song by the group 33Miles came on, "Live." Just spoke to me as I was trying to speak to you. Hope you enjoy the lyrics.

Who told you that you were all alone? Who told you that this is all there is? What's holding you so you can't take hold of hope? You're stuck so deep that you can't move. Don't you want to live? Live! Cause you are made for so much more than this. Live! Knowing that God loves you He's been with you all along He wants you to know the truth so you can live You're worth enough that He died for you His heart burns with love and desire for you Don't be afraid to receive Don't be afraid to believe That you can. He knows what your pain feels like Rest through His arms all night So don't you give up now Let Him show you how to live. Oh yeah, don't you want to live? Live.

FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT Thank you so much for your constant support of our little ministry and for wearing the PrayFit gear to the gym, on the road, beach, bike ride or wherever you health takes you. Ladies Black I FoughtYou're a blessing to us and to those around you for doing so. >> Click here to browse all the new merchandise offerings from PrayFit!

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Inspect What He Expects

Years ago, while cutting my teeth in leadership and service, I learned how important it was to inspect what you expect. Daily checklists and standard operating procedures were the keys to the satisfaction of both the consumer and the team around you. Here's a neat insight. In some of the finest hotels in the world, the housekeeping department employs a very simple strategy. In the back of the hotel -- or the back of the "house," as it's called -- they hang pictures of guest rooms. Within the frames are immaculate, impeccably clean, spotless rooms, with nothing out of place. Get this...they view them daily. That way, they know exactly how each room should appear, making it easier to create excellence. Each time a guest enters the room, it's perfect. Those pictures hang there as reminders of the standard that must be kept. When it comes to our lives as believers, Christian athletes or fitness-minded individuals, we too have checklists and standard operating procedures. We track our training and measure our meals, striving for a stewardship-savvy life. And by God's Word, our thoughts, motives, actions...our hearts can be measured daily. But try as we might, we're not always 5-Star. Some days we're more like a flickering no vacancy sign; not today, can't stay, go away. Isn't it true? We inspect what He expects only to find that we don't always think purely, speak kindly or act humbly.

Because of that, Jesus hung on the cross and paid for our sins, reminding us of the standard we couldn't keep. We need to go there daily.

--Jimmy Peña

Inspection: When it comes to fitness, do you inspect what He expects? If Jesus were the standard that determined your outlook on your health, would that force you to train more or less?

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BRING PRAYFIT TO YOUR TOWN

Sometimes, it's just a family that needs recalibrating in the areas of faith and fitness. But sometimes, it's your church family that could use a little tune-up. Congregations across the country have welcomed Jimmy and his message of health as a means of praise, using it as a way to kick off a revival of sorts...and your town could be next. Contact us at info@prayfit.com to schedule a visit from the PrayFit team! As always, for churches and other non-profit events there is never a speaking fee. Talk to your pastors and leaders. Reach out to us and let's see health as a means of praise, together.

A Prayer About The Ultimate Romance

Hey everyone, for my birthday yesterday, Loretta got me what I'd mentioned to her a few weeks ago -- a new daily prayer devotional by Reverend Scotty Smith called Everyday Prayers. And appropriately, being Valentine's Day, Pastor Scotty writes the perfect prayer for the occasion. I wanted to share it with you. A Prayer About the Ultimate Romance

"I belong to my lover, and his desire is for me." --Song of Solomon 7:10

Dear Lord Jesus, it’s the weekend in our culture in which red hearts, overpriced cards, dark chocolates and cut flowers abound — Valentine’s Day is upon us. For some, it’s a day of incredible kindness, sweetness and gratitude. For others, it’s a day in which brokenness, loneliness and emptiness are magnified. For all of us, it should be a day in which are deepest longings for intimacy and connection find their way home to you, Jesus, the consummate lover.

I praise you for how generous you’ve been to me, in giving me rich tastes, tangible expressions, and a sensate celebration of genuine love in my marriage. There’ve been times when I’ve wondered how heaven itself could hold more joy than what I’ve known with my spouse…

But I equally praise you for showing me, time and time again, that no one human being (or any number of them)… no human romance story… no torrid love affair can possibly fill the vacuum in my soul that’s uniquely Jesus-shaped. Even the best marriage is two broken people, two redeemed sinners who will ultimately not be enough for the other.

Grant me, no, grace me with a deeper and richer experience of belonging to you, Jesus. You’re the ultimate Spouse. I know this, but I want to know it. One moment I believe you truly desire me, and in the next I’m filled with disconcerting unbelief. It’s in those times when I’m not alive to your pursuit of me, love for me and delight in me that I place unrealistic demands on other relationships. Instead of a steward, I become a user of others. Instead of a servant, I take up a scorecard to measure them by my expectations. Forgive me and free me from all such nonsense.

Let me love as you love me, until the day my betrothal becomes the day of great banqueting — the Day I long for more than any other… the Wedding Feast of the Lamb. So very Amen, I pray, in your tender and tenacious name.

--Scotty Smith

Scotty Smith is the Pastor for Preaching, Teaching and Worship at Christ Community Church in Franklin, Tennessee. Told you he was good. Thanks for reading. And blessings to everyone on Valentine's Day. Scheduling note: the PrayFit Daily will resume on TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 18. Are you subscribed? If not, click here.

Walking Joshua To Class

"So Joshua ordered the officers of the people." --Joshua 1:10

Read: Joshua 1

I used to dread 5th period math. Oh, I was fine with numbers, but it was the getting to my math class that had me shaking in my little boots. Each day that semester, a small group of bullies would hang out by my locker, calculating ways to torment me until one day, I got smart and asked my Bubba to walk me to class. Little did they know that the skinniest kid in school was the younger brother of the toughest. They -- uhh -- they did the math.

In our passage today, Moses has just died and the responsibility fell on Joshua. In preparing Joshua to address the people, you notice God say things like, "Nobody will be able to stand against you," (v. 5) "Be strong and courageous," (v. 6) "Be strong and very courageous," (v. 7) and then again God finishes his holy encouragement with, "Have I not commanded you, be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." (v. 9)

God walked Joshua to class.

You know, I don't remember ever being scared again on the way to math. Not because of who I was, but because of who walked with me that day. If you notice, God didn't tell Joshua, "Chin up, you have the power, trust your instincts, believe in yourself." No, God knew Joshua could stand tall because he wouldn't be alone. And what was Joshua's response? After nine verses of God's assurance, we learn Joshua didn't hesitate. That's right. He ordered. He commanded. He pushed forward in faith and trust.

Folks, faith says that there aren't enough problems waiting around today's corner that can add up or stand up to the One you bring with you. Life hits hard. Life can bully. And if we rely on our "selves," we do have reason to fear. But like Joshua and that skinny fifth grader, you and I don't walk to class alone.

--Jimmy Peña

For Discussion: Hope you've enjoyed taking a look at Joshua and Caleb this week. Such dreamers and fighters. What are you facing that needs your absolute faith and trust that God is with you? Health, financial, relationships, hardships? What can we be praying with you about?

Additional Reading: Hey everyone, the grandson of Billy Graham writes a wonderful blog on The Gospel Coalition. His name is William Graham Tullian Tchividjian. Oh guys, the Gospel Coalition, specifically Pastor Scotty and Pastor Tullian have been an enormous source of strength for me over the last month or two. Tough times have really compelled me to dig deep into grace and trust. These giants of the faith have really helped. I post this particular entry from Pastor Tullian because it speaks about how it's not our strength. It's a must-read. If you take the few extra minutes, enjoy. I want to be just like these guys.  

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Life's Greatest Pleasure

"People will be lovers of themselves." --2 Timothy 3:2

Read: 2 Timothy 3

I happened to run across one of those motivational posters this weekend. You know, the kind with those powerful statements meant to inspire you to be all you can be. Well, even though it wasn't exactly new to me, this one caught my attention nonetheless. It said, "The greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you can't." Evidently, people agreed because it had about a million "likes" underneath it. And why not? Who doesn't want to show the world? But then it dawned on me: How many times someone has actually said to me, "Jimmy, I don't think you can do that." How 'bout you?

You know, if there's one thing I've noticed about the fitness industry it's that there's a self-placed chip on its shoulder and the delusion that someone is daring to knock it off. For whatever reason, Godly confidence has been replaced with a harsh, in-your-face tone, backed up with visuals. That topic demands a week's worth of devotions on its own but let me take it further. Even if it was true -- even if the world placed bets against one's "ability" to be do something, in fitness or otherwise -- is proving the world wrong really life's greatest pleasure?

"If man says I can't, and God says I shouldn't, I'd rather show Him than show them."

The correct answer brings me a long way to this point, and one that we try and get across at PrayFit: Let's not take so much pleasure in doing what others say we can't. Let's instead take pleasure in doing what God says we can. If they intersect, great. If they don't, even better. Besides, if man says I can't, and God says I shouldn't, I'd rather show Him than show them. But God runs this body. If you're jumping through hoops of comparison or climbing mountains of ego, stop. Drench your day in the gospel. The taunts and dares around you are subject to Jesus.

--Jimmy Peña

For Discussion: Can you spend so much time in the gym or counting calories trying to "prove" the world wrong (whoever that is) that you actually miss what God is calling you to do with the health you're building? What if the world said, "Believer, I bet you can't invite a perfect stranger to church. I bet you can't give to the homeless person on the corner. I bet you can't be modest." If that's what the world said we couldn't do, I wonder if we'd try to prove it wrong. Would it help us if we realized those things are God's will already? Share your thoughts below.

ONE-MINUTE LESSON: CRUNCH Build abdominal strength by mastering this do-anywhere exercise

In 2014, many of us will be trying to get in better shape. We'll be training our bodies to lift more, run farther, swim faster, jump higher. But no matter the demand we are placing on these bodies, a strong set of abdominal muscles is of paramount importance but maybe for a different reason than you're thinking. Infusing your abs with strength and endurance helps you to do all of those other things that you were counting on doing better this year because all roads pass through your core. A fitter middle means greater success, literally, in everything else. The crunch is a great move to get you started. Here's how to get it right.

http://youtu.be/bSarSds5Whg

Crunch | Focus: Upper abs

Lie face-up on the floor with your hands cupped gently behind your head (do not pull on your neck). Keeping your knees bent and with your feet flat on the floor, crunch your upper body up until your shoulder blades are off the floor. Squeeze your abs then lower yourself back to the start and repeat.

TIP: New to crunches? Try performing 15 slow, controlled repetitions for 3-4 total sets. Rest 30 seconds between sets. If you're more advanced, try setting a clock by your work, starting at one minute of continuous crunches and adding 10 seconds every workout.

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Thousands of people have chosen to receive the PrayFit Daily in their inboxes each morning. If you haven't signed up for this complimentary service already, simply click the links provided here. Click, type, send -- it could be the most rewarding 30 seconds you spend on the computer this morning! And if you want to help us go viral with this sign-up drive -- if you want to help us continue our faith-and-fitness revival -- you can do so by sending friends this link:

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The Home Of Your Dreams

"I was glad when they said unto me, 'Let us go to the house of the Lord.'" --Psalm 122:1

Read: Psalm 122

It's the home of your dreams. White picket fence, freshly cut grass, backyard with a grill. It's that kind of home. When you close your eyes and grin, you're swinging on that front porch watching kids that miraculously -- and perhaps unfortunately -- have your nose. It's the home of your dreams. But despite your best offer, the price is too high. All the money you have can't justify the money you'd owe, so you're labeled unworthy; declined.

Say, ever been in a billionaire's bedroom? Ever walked the President's garden? Well, one thing is for certain: I will never own either. But while I've seen things that only a ton of money can buy, God is building us a mansion that no amount of money can. The offer was Jesus, the payment was His blood, and the asking price is faith. And if you've accepted, the key is yours. Interest paid. The title made to you. Home. The home of His dreams will someday be yours.

So as you and I strive for our little slice of Heaven on earth, be comforted when the world declines you. Because while He keeps asking, God knows what it's like for people to say His offer just isn't enough.

--Jimmy Peña

P.S. Sometimes the bodies that house our souls aren't exactly up to par. Whether by an unforeseen circumstance or perhaps neglect, you feel the Spirit grieve because of it. If so, we want to pray for you. What are your hurts today? What can we pray for? We want to know so we can lift you up. Either let us know or simply say, "Unspoken" and we promise to pray.

HOLY YOGA Many of you know that I've been through some health issues over the course of the last few years. Well, part of my physical therapy for both my cervical replacement and my recent lumbar spinal fusion incorporated some doctor-prescribed/approved yoga moves. Of course, my yoga was limited and supervised, but even as I came home and began my solo treatment, the stretching and strength-building benefits of yoga have remained part of my repertoire.

We get plenty of emails and requests for yoga here at PrayFit, but admittedly, we stay in our lane and leave yoga to the experts. But if you are interested in trying yoga, I urge you to try yoga...BUT from a Christian standpoint. There is one company that I am honored to share with you. Holy Yoga, led by our friend Brooke Boon, is a coast-to-coast and worldwide phenomenon that has nestled and delivered yoga within the Gospel. Beginning today and as we push forward, anything yoga-related will come from our friends at Holy Yoga. If you already love yoga or you're simply interested in learning more, I sincerely urge you to learn from Brooke and her staff.

Check back with us throughout the week as we lean on Brooke to bring you some solid, foundational points to consider for this body-and-soul strengthening practice.

>> To read ahead in the text, visit Holy Yoga's home page by clicking here!

PRAYFIT: WHO WE ARE

If you're reading this, we're blessed to have you. Whether you're a longtime reader of the faith and fitness writings we've been posting here since 2009 or a newbie who stumbled upon us in a friend's Facebook news feed, we take our commitment to you very seriously. We hope that you'll find the inspiration and practical tools necessary to become a better steward of your health.

Newcomer or not, we hope you'll take a second to read the broad strokes on who we are, what we believe and what our mission is. Our prayer is that the soul of PrayFit speaks to yours...

>> WHAT IS PRAYFIT ALL ABOUT?

SOCIAL NETWORKS: Now you can "like," "join," "tweet" and "watch" faith and fitness at your leisure. Click the links below to get plugged in with the rest of the PrayFit community in 2014! Facebook HeavenUp Twitter Instagram YouTube

SIGN UP FOR THE DAILY!

Thousands of people have chosen to receive the PrayFit Daily in their inboxes each morning. If you haven't signed up for this complimentary service already, simply click the links provided here. Click, type, send -- it could be the most rewarding 30 seconds you spend on the computer this morning! And if you want to help us go viral with this sign-up drive -- if you want to help us continue our faith-and-fitness revival -- you can do so by sending friends this link:

SUBSCRIBE: http://bit.ly/cSd8tp

 

The New Year Is In Me

"Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old is gone, the new is here." --2 Corinthians 5:17

Read: 2 Corinthians 5

The confetti is all but cleaned up, the streamers are in the trash, Christmas decorations have been stored and the calendar is brand new. Deep breath...and...let it out. So THIS is 2014! But it doesn't take long for things to feel normal again does it? For some reason, the commute this morning is still bumper-to-bumper, co-workers are still grumpy and junk food made its way back to your lunch box. Seems last year's ho-hums and habits still cast their shadows.

Truth is, a new year is only new if we make it that way. For you and me, a change in year only matters when it changes in here (this is me pointing to my heart). So starting today, no matter what seems old, let's find a way to make it new. That commute? Try seeing it as an extended quiet time with the Lord. Those co-workers? Be the only one in the office unwilling to gossip or grumble. And at lunch, be the first to push away from the table as a way to praise the Lord for health. Slowly but surely, we'll realize the difference is in us. Seems those weren't shadows after all. It was shade.

–Jimmy Peña

For Discussion: You and I aren't strong enough to overturn our circumstance, but Jesus is. And if we rely on Him each day, we can conquer our battles. Anxiety, health, job-related stress -- all of it needs to be placed at the foot of the cross as soon as our feet hit the floor. The closer we get to Him, the more shade we find. Welcome back, kids. And welcome, 2014.

PRAYFIT: WHO WE ARE

If you're reading this, we're blessed to have you. Whether you're a longtime reader of the faith and fitness writings we've been posting here since 2009 or a newbie who stumbled upon us in a friend's Facebook news feed, we take our commitment to you very seriously. We hope that you'll find the inspiration and practical tools necessary to become a better steward of your health.

Newcomer or not, we hope you'll take a second to read the broad strokes on who we are, what we believe and what our mission is. Our prayer is that the soul of PrayFit speaks to yours...

>> WHAT IS PRAYFIT ALL ABOUT?

SOCIAL NETWORKS: Now you can "like," "join," "tweet" and "watch" faith and fitness at your leisure. Click the links below to get plugged in with the rest of the PrayFit community in 2014! Facebook HeavenUp Twitter Instagram YouTube

SIGN UP FOR THE DAILY!

Nearly 10,000 people have chosen to receive the PrayFit Daily in their inboxes each morning. If you haven't signed up for this complimentary service already, simply click the links provided here. Click, type, send -- it could be the most rewarding 30 seconds you spend on the computer this morning! And if you want to help us go viral with this sign-up drive -- if you want to help us continue our faith-and-fitness revival -- you can do so by sending friends this link:

SUBSCRIBE: http://bit.ly/cSd8tp

All Things New

"Good luck, Jimmy." And after a handshake on Friday, I walked out of physical therapy for the last time. Time flies right? After six months, the surgical site and surrounding tissues are as healed as can be. Doctors say they're not worried about the artificial disks or fusions, but they're more concerned about preserving and sparing the disks I have left. As far as therapy, I soaked up every minute. Of course, as I left I wanted them to be standing at the door waving and shouting, "You're as good as new kid, now go and conquer!" Instead, with one hand I got a long, exhaustive list of Do's and Don'ts, and with the other I got, "Good luck, Jimmy."

Aren't we glad that when Jesus heals the sinner's heart, He doesn't send us off with a list of Do's and Don'ts? He doesn't fix our problem and wish us luck with all the rest. No, He makes all things new. So new, in fact, that when God looks on our lives, He sees the life of His Son. Completely healed. Whole again. Restored. Yesterday we talked about how the chains of daily life get lighter the closer we get to the ground, but when it comes to the weight of our sin, He doesn't just make it light, He blots it white.

Your back may not be broken in pieces or held together with pins, but sometimes your life feels shattered and you feel like you're hanging on by a thread. Scars don't remind you of your weakness...but overdue bills do. So do rejection letters, pink slips and the doctor's diagnosis. Everywhere we turn we face daily, constant reminders of our need of a Savior. A Savior who makes all things new.

--Jimmy Peña

For Discussion: Thought you'd like to know the status of my back. Help me praise the Lord that I'm through PT and can begin a new stage of rehab. We often ask for prayer requests, but what praises and celebrations do YOU have to report? For what can we help you praise the Lord? Let us share your excitement! Let's give God the glory together.

>> SOCIAL NETWORKS: Now you can "like," "join," "tweet" and "watch" faith and fitness at your leisure. Click the links below to get plugged in with the rest of the PrayFit community. Facebook HeavenUp Twitter Instagram YouTube

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Nearly 10,000 people have chosen to receive the PrayFit Daily in their inboxes each morning. If you haven't signed up for this complimentary service already, simply click the links provided here. Click, type, send -- it could be the most rewarding 30 seconds you spend on the computer this morning! And if you want to help us go viral with this sign-up drive -- if you want to help us continue our faith-and-fitness revival -- you can do so by sending friends this link:

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To God Be The Glory

Don't worry everyone, I'm not a poet and I know it. But since it's Friday, I thought I'd add some rhyme to our reason. Indeed, we all know and agree that there is a reason for health -- to thrive, look alive, live abundant for family, church and the world. And we're up for the task, because all good things are possible through Him and all good things we do for Him. He gets all our praise.

So this is me, to all of you, to faith, to health...to God be the glory.

PF Poem by JP

If you missed any entries this week, we hope you browse the archives and see what we talked about. And be sure to chime in on our Secret Shopper Poll. We're overwhelmed by your feedback.

>> SOCIAL NETWORKS: Now you can "like," "join," "tweet" and "watch" faith and fitness at your leisure. Click the links below to get plugged in with the rest of the PrayFit community. Facebook HeavenUp Twitter Instagram YouTube

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Nearly 10,000 people have chosen to receive the PrayFit Daily in their inboxes each morning. If you haven't signed up for this complimentary service already, simply click the links provided here. Click, type, send -- it could be the most rewarding 30 seconds you spend on the computer this morning! And if you want to help us go viral with this sign-up drive -- if you want to help us continue our faith-and-fitness revival -- you can do so by sending friends this link:

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What Was I Thinking?

Genuine fear. That's what I felt the day after my 12th birthday. Allow me take you back. A couple of friends and I stayed the night at a buddy's house for his birthday. We played games, watched TV -- kid's stuff. But the next day -- the day -- one of us found an itzy bitzy, harmless, spool of wire outside. So what did these little boys do? Played with it, of course. We bent it, rolled it, played Army with it. No harm, no foul. That is, until we stuck it into the valve stem of a parked car tire.

SSSSSSSSSSsssssssssss. DOWN...Down...down....flat. Mind you, it would have been bad enough had we stopped with that first one. But no, we three geniuses decided to hit every other car in the entire apartment complex. I'm chuckling as I type this question but..."What was I thinking?"

Sitting in the apartment office, I stared out the window at flashing police lights. But truthfully, I wasn't thinking about the police, I was thinking about Daddy. Waiting for our parents to show up, I knew I was dead. The other two boys knew I was dead too. See, they knew Papa Peña. Before I knew it, I heard his voice from the other room. The first words out of his mouth? "Where is he?"

I won't go into too much detail -- to protect the innocent -- but suffice it to say that little Jimmy never got into trouble again. Later that night, both my parents came into my room to give me love. Even though it was hours later, I was still crying because of how I disappointed them, and because my older brother kidded me "in all seriousness" that Mom and Dad were shipping me off. (Pretty sure my brother got in trouble for that.)

Why do I tell that story during our "Fear Less" week? Because to this day, I love and respect my Daddy more than life itself. Growing up, I loved him, respected him, and feared him. And guess what...I still do.

PrayFit friends, help me wish my sweet Daddy a very Happy 70th Birthday come this Saturday. I love you, Papa.

Still my father's son, Jimmy

For Discussion: On this Halloween, I thought I'd share the scariest moment of my life with you, wink wink. Love and fear. Isn't that an amazing combination? It molds us. Shapes us. Develops us into the kind of people God designed us to be. 

IMG_4821GEAR UP!: Please help us make room for our Fall and Winter line! Please take a quick look at the store to find our t-shirts and tanks with some of our favorite verses. Friends, it's through your giving that we're able to continue the ministry of PrayFit and we are so grateful. We hope these items bless your life and your testimony as Christians with a heart for health. Thank you for your love and support.

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Nearly 10,000 people have chosen to receive the PrayFit Daily in their inboxes each morning. If you haven't signed up for this complimentary service already, simply click the links provided here. Click, type, send -- it could be the most rewarding 30 seconds you spend on the computer this morning! And if you want to help us go viral with this sign-up drive -- if you want to help us continue our faith-and-fitness revival -- you can do so by sending friends this link:

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Bring On The Crew

"He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful." --John 15:2

Read: John 15

IMG_8120Shall we? Let's go this way. I have a friend I'd like you to meet. See, just down this street -- not too far away from that palm we talked about recently -- is a row of trees. And for years I've watched pruning crews pull up and do their work. I admit, it's painful to watch. Cut, snip, snap, buzzzz. And just like that, the crew cleans up the rubble and off they go, leaving nothing but a seemingly empty, barren-looking tree. And here we are. A couple of weeks ago, I took the picture on the left. To the right: the same tree today.

Now, I'm not the first person to see Heaven in a pruning process, and I won't be the last, but I've learned a few simple things. 1) The pruning process helps keep trees healthy. 2) Trees will eventually bear more branches and fruit. 3) Pruning allows more light and oxygen to reach the center of the tree. And 4) pruning trains a tree to take the shape the owner desires.

I probably don't have to say another word, but as long as we're walking, it leaves me no choice. In the area of faith, health, fitness, food, what do we need to prune? Perhaps, for starters, instead of grabbing the cell phone or logging on each morning, we instead reach for God's word or Godly devotional (cut). We can rid the pantry of unhealthy food choices and fill it with natural, healthy alternatives (cut, snip). We can park away from the mall's entrance, take the stairs, walk the block with spouses, play outside with kids. (cut, snip, buzzzz, TIMBER!!).

And when the rubble at our feet is cleared away, we're left with more time for the Lord, healthier options to eat and better alternatives to spark metabolism. Yep, I'm not the first person to see Heaven in a pruning process, but if you and I can get healthy, bear more fruit, and allow His light to hit us deeply so that we take the shape spiritually and physically that He desires, I say, "Bring on the crew."

Thanks for the walk. This is my stop.

--Jimmy Peña

RECIPE OF THE WEEK: BBQ Chicken Pizza

Forget delivery. Stay on track with this healthy alternative to a guilty favorite.

>> Click here for the recipe!

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Worn-Out Tools

"So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height, for the people worked with all their heart." --Nehemiah 4:6

Read: Nehemiah 4

Like it was yesterday, I remember walking out of my English professor's office angry, upset and embarrassed. Gritting my teeth and holding back tears I marched, but I didn't get very far. "Excuse me, Mr. Peña!" And Coach Jim Loweree proceeded to alter my life. See, I had poured my heart into a project. Gave it everything I had. I stayed up late, studied early, went the extra mile. That's just what you did at the prestigious Cathedral High School in El Paso, Texas. It was the home of The Fighting Irish -- a place of faith, unparalleled scholastics, sport, and most of all, tradition. But alas, I bombed it. To make matters worse, Coach Loweree was a man I idolized. I wanted nothing more than to maintain a perfect GPA and impress him along the way. And in a matter of seconds, both goals were gone.

Speaking of goals, earlier that year, I successfully recited the famous poem "If" by Rudyard Kipling to Coach Loweree. I never missed a beat when it came to recitations. I loved that part of class. Speeches by President Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr. and others, all by heart, not one word missed. But a line from "If" has been rolling around my brain lately:

"Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken, and stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools."

Worn-out tools. Midway through my three-month spinal fusion process, I'm walking steadily and doing my prescribed bends. Yes, to Rocky music, no doubt. We're just praying that the new hardware fuses perfectly with the bones, and that the same success we saw with my neck replacement occurs in my lower back. God's will we pray.

I wonder, have you ever had to rebuild anything? A business or a home? Perhaps another aspect of your life and maybe even your health. Well, rebuilding is a faith issue. Not in our ability to make things as they once were but for Whom we build. Because when things fall apart, when we watch the things we gave our life to break, He's why we stoop.

And remember how I mentioned that Coach changed my life? Well, he did. In the schoolyard that day, he told me that I was going to have to start all over. Yep, he stole a line from Kipling himself. But Coach also told me not to take grades so seriously, to keep working hard, keep honoring my parents and to stand up straight after a test if I did my best, regardless of the grade. Funny, I took his advice. I never made straight A's again. But after six book projects, 15 years of newsstand articles and my highest honor -- this website -- I hope Coach knows his freshman English class and that afternoon talk in the yard changed a kid. So thanks, Coach. I'm still stooping. Still rebuilding. My life's work is my faith and health. Perfect for worn-out tools like mine.

--Jimmy Peña

GYM TIP: There's more than one way to use a treadmill. A recent study found that those who pedaled backward on treadmills and elliptical machines gained greater quadriceps and hamstring strength and had greater aerobic capacity than those who went forward. Click here for more.

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Naming Grace

"But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound." --Romans 5:20

Read: Romans 5

Yesterday we asked our followers on Facebook and Twitter this question: What word best describes grace? The answers flooded in: Acceptance. Love. Gift. Undeserved. Peaceful. Unmerited Favor. Continuous. Free. Beautiful. Unconditional. Neverending. And many other wonderful responses.

Such a neat exercise, naming Grace. My preacher, Brother Henry Powell, used to say that when you accept Jesus, you're in the palm of His hand and when God looks at you, He sees you through the blood of His son and nothing -- NOTHING -- can remove you from His hand. I can still hear my preacher saying it. And friends, the fact that God doesn't see your sin and mine? That's grace. It truly is acceptance, love, a gift, undeserved, peaceful, unmerited favor, continuous, free, unconditional and never-ending. And let me offer my own: saving -- and of course -- amazing.

Oh, that reminds me. One Twitter response I got from @larishaJ made me smile in agreement when she replied with: #secondchance. Yes indeed @larishaJ -- our "only" chance, really. Grace is our only chance.

--Jimmy Peña

For Discussion: Speaking of a neat exercise, how does grace shape the way you view your health and fitness? Does it empower you to be a better steward? Knowing God sees your heart, maybe it humbles you? Perhaps you're too focused on the outer man or woman, or maybe not enough. We'd love to read your thoughts and comments.

TRAINING ROOM TIP: Recover with R.I.C.E. When it comes to managing injuries such as twisted ankles and sore shoulders, there's a lot of misinformation out there. Should you heat it? Massage it maybe? The answer is simple and it boils down to four letters: R-I-C-E. Click the link below to get in touch with your inner athletic trainer and manage your nagging injuries better.

>> R.I.C.E. stands for...

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Nearly 10,000 people have chosen to receive the PrayFit Daily in their inboxes each morning. If you haven't signed up for this free service already, simply go to our homepage and look for the box pictured here. Click, type, submit -- it could be the most rewarding 30 seconds you spend on the computer this morning! Already subscribed and not receiving it? Make sure your spam filter hasn't been catching it. And if you want to help us go viral with this sign-up drive, you can do so by sending friends this link:

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He's Strong. We're Weak.

"For by grace you have been saved and that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast." --Ephesians 2:8-9

Read: Ephesians 2

It just never seems to end, does it? This pursuit of health. For you, maybe it's another day in the gym, looking at that same row of dumbbells. Or maybe it's walking another lap around the familiar track with the expected turns. Either way, picking up the weight or the pace are the keys to change, improvement or even maintenance. More...again. Again, some more. Besides, you're only as good as your last workout, so you huff and puff...(rough). Folks, aren't we glad Heaven doesn't require the same?

Let's face it, we're just not strong enough, fast enough, good enough. Fortunately, Jesus lifted our heaviest burden and walked the steepest hill. We can stop fighting a fight He's already won. In fact, the next time you're struggling to lift yesterday's dumbbell with a body designed to weaken, or you're trying to keep your previous pace with steadily slowing legs, take a second and smile. Go ahead. Just grin and shake your head. Let it remind you of just how small and weak you are, and just how big and able He is. I admit, whenever I do that, I seem to be a little stronger and a little bit faster. I don't know. Maybe it's because I realize He's put me in charge of something that requires my effort.

--Jimmy Peña

STRENGTH TIP: Go Unilateral Did you know that by training one limb at a time, you can actually produce 20 percent more force? Get the inside scoop here.

NETWORK, SHOP, CHAT, SOW Take advantage of the many outlets and resources available to the PrayFit Nation

>> SOCIAL NETWORKS: Now you can "like," "join," "tweet" and "watch" faith and fitness at your leisure. Click the links below to get plugged in with the rest of the PrayFit community. Facebook HeavenUp Twitter YouTube

>> SHOP: Spread the health via your apparel at the PrayFit online store. Custom hats, cozy tees and logo wristbands are all available at the click of a mouse, with easy shipping. You can also pick up PrayFit books and DVDs to help you start living a healthier lifestyle here. Click to get started.

>> CHAT: Are you already a member of our forums? Get back in on the discussion by clicking here. Not yet signed up? All it takes is 20 seconds to get started. Click here.

>> SOWING: Plant the seeds of health and fitness in your church by arranging a visit from PrayFit founder Jimmy Peña. Learn more about his message by clicking here, or write us at info@prayfit.com to start planning dates!

"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, 6-Time Boxing World Champion

>> Catch Robert Guerrero in action this weekend as he squares off against pound-for-pound champion Floyd Mayweather on Showtime Boxing. For more info on the fight, click here!

Be Really Still

“Be still and know that I am God.” –Psalm 46:10 Read: Psalm 46

If you’ve never had an MRI procedure, let me paint the scene. You lay down and the technician gives you ear plugs to numb the deafening sounds that are soon to come. You get secured into position and after a short list of instructions, you’re sent inside this narrow tube. Claustrorphobes should skip the next sentence, because they send you in head first, so that your entire body is inside the casing, with just a couple of inches between the end of your nose and the inside of the cylinder. To say you feel vulnerable is no exaggeration. You battle mental questions like, “What if I can’t get out? What if the power goes out? What if?!”

Your only solace is the comforting voice of the tech that booms around you throughout the exam, repeating his instructions and making sure you’re okay. The most important thing? Be very, very still. Regardless of what’s going on around you, what you hear, as well as your seemingly helpless predicament, don’t move a muscle until the test is done. If you’re able to be still, the physician has a better chance to determine what’s going on inside. You know where I'm headed.

We have a lot going on around us; from the economy, to security issues to health problems. Sometimes we feel trapped, surrounded by the strange but familiar sounds of a life we’ve chosen, asking scary questions like, “What if I don’t get better? What if I fail? What if?!” Yet the most important thing? Be as still as we can, and listen for His voice through the noise.

--Jimmy Peña

P.S. Friends, the above entry is a repost from 2010, prior to my first spine surgery. Well, yesterday I had another MRI. And for the first time ever, halfway through the test, I had to get out. For whatever reason, I lost my breath and opened my eyes; both of which they strongly discourage. Not sure what happened in there, but as I exited the machine, the tech was standing at my side. He completely understood. After a minute of catching my breath (and wits), I nodded as if to say, "Let's do it." Oh folks, the Lord understands we want to get out sometimes. But He's right there. It's Friday, friends. Let's do it.

NETWORK, SHOP, CHAT, SOW Take advantage of the many outlets and resources available to the PrayFit Nation

>> SOCIAL NETWORKS: Now you can "like," "join," "tweet" and "watch" faith and fitness at your leisure. Click the links below to get plugged in with the rest of the PrayFit community. Facebook HeavenUp Twitter YouTube

>> SHOP: Spread the health via your apparel at the PrayFit online store. Custom hats, cozy tees and logo wristbands are all available at the click of a mouse, with easy shipping. You can also pick up PrayFit books and DVDs to help you start living a healthier lifestyle here. Click to get started.

>> CHAT: Are you already a member of our forums? Get back in on the discussion by clicking here. Not yet signed up? All it takes is 20 seconds to get started. Click here.

>> SOWING: Plant the seeds of health and fitness in your church by arranging a visit from PrayFit founder Jimmy Peña. Learn more about his message by clicking here, or write us at info@prayfit.com to start planning dates!

"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, 6-Time Boxing World Champion

Sown Up With Love

"He is before all things, and in him all things hold together." --Colossians 1:17

Read: Colossians 1

To imagine God carefully knitting our souls together is, well, tough to imagine. It's easier to picture Him forming mountains than it is to see him fashioning hearts. But nothing in all creation was created with more care. Compared to you, Everest is a mole hill and the Sahara is a single grain of sand. Are the heavens amazing? Absolutely. Does the earth pronounce His splendor? Without a doubt. But only you and I were sown up with one distinguishing trait and something no star above can claim: choice.

And much like an artist puts a signature on his work, God signed us. That's right. In our very cells, God made His mark. Pictured here is the actual structure of the protein molecule that binds all of our cells together: Scientists call it laminin, but let's just call it love.

--Jimmy Peña

Question: I first learned about Laminin from my Louie Giglio. Folks, isn't it amazing how we're held together? From Heaven down to earth, it's all about the Cross. What will you do today to protect what protects you?

To hear Louie Giglio talk about Laminin, watch his Indescribable series. Be blessed! (I had the blessing of listening to Louie for 4 years at Baylor University.) While I was at Muscle & Fitness, Louie was the one who first told me that we need to "embrace our smallness". A theme that I would never forget.

 

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Nearly 10,000 people have chosen to receive the PrayFit Daily in their inboxes each morning. If you haven't signed up for this free service already, simply go to our homepage and look for the box pictured here. Click, type, submit -- it could be the most rewarding 30 seconds you spend on the computer this morning! And if you want to help us go viral with this sign-up drive, you can do so by sending friends this link:

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Carry Your Purpose

"'Go into that village over there,'" he told them. 'As you enter it, you will see a young donkey tied there that no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here.'" --Luke 19:30

Read: Luke 19

There he was. Tied up. Who knows how long he'd been waiting? The most insignificant of animals with an 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...

If you're like me, you've questioned your significance. Is this really what I was meant to do? Well, the next time you ponder your purpose, think of that donkey. Jesus asked for him specifically. Sure, the Lord could have chosen any method of transportation, but He chose him. Uniquely qualified, his purpose was to carry Jesus to His.

Forgive my imagination, but I like to think that a donkey nobody had ever ridden knew exactly who he carried. 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. After all, Jesus, the Maker, needed a ride.

--Jimmy Peña

Question: Have you ever pondered your purpose? Ever wondered what Jesus could use you for? No matter what your life's calling or trade, there is someone you know or someone you don't who is empty and lost. You're hand-picked. Like the donkey in our story, you may be the carrier of their only hope. So, deliver.

PRAYFIT NUTRITION: MILK There’s a good alternative for those sensitive to cow’s milk

If you’re sensitive to cow’s milk, you might try the goat variety. Did you know that goat’s milk has more essential amino acids and more omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, phosphorus and magnesium than cow’s milk? With all that said, its protein is easier to digest than cow’s milk and has less lactose. Wondering about the taste? It’s a bit on the sweeter side.

>> DAILY FEED: Wanna get PrayFit sent to your inbox on a daily basis? Sign up here, and tell your friends and family to do the same!

A Captive Audience

"They that wait upon the Lord will renew their strength. They shall mount up on wings as eagles." --Isaiah 40:31

Read: Isaiah 40

A couple of years ago, we reported that the Orange County Zoo had a special guest come to visit. Well...he's back. Every day, a wild bald eagle has been seen perched on a tree overlooking the zoo's eagle exhibit. And each time he draws near the enclosure, he can be heard vocalizing with the birds below. Imagine, a majestic bald eagle, free and able to go anywhere in the world, is most content near the captive. Why? Simple. He's in love. Experts say the wild eagle has an infatuation with a female eagle inside the enclosure and, even though the two will likely never meet, he never leaves her side.

Makes me think...In all His majesty and freedom, nothing captures God's attention like you and me. He shows up in our days, loves to talk with us, and He never leaves our sides. Why? Simple. He's in love. The object of His affection? Us. And like it says in Isaiah, although at times we feel trapped, He's with us everyday. And if we wait on Him, we'll do just like that eagle...and fly.

--Jimmy Peña

Question: In what areas are you waiting on the Lord? You're praying diligently, perhaps for the job to come through, the house to sell, the prognosis to improve? What can we help you pray for?

HEALTH, ON THE SIDE Side dishes are supposed to be an accompaniment, but many favorites can jam in more calories than you want for an entire meal. Lighten up your plate with these healthy (but still delicious) substitutions.

Instead of: French fries Choose: Oven-baked fries The Payoff: At least 30 percent less fat

Instead of: Mac and Cheese Choose: Rice Pilaf or 5-Ingredient Cheesy Rice The Payoff: A healthy reduction in fat, cholesterol and calories.

(If it’s mac and cheese or bust, try our tips for lightening up your favorite recipe.)

Instead of: Mashed potatoes Choose: A baked sweet potato or sweet potato oven fries The Payoff: Half the calories and piles of vitamin A

Instead of: Butter-drenched vegetables Choose: Roasted seasonal veggies The Payoff: Big flavor for a fraction of the fat and calories

Instead of: Creamy salad dressing Choose: Vinaigrette The Payoff: Healthier fats and 40 calories less per tablespoon

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.

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The Race with Grace

"Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ." --Colossians 3:23-24

Read: Colossians 3

Her face says it all. Exhaustion meets joy and mission meets accomplishment. Now, I don't mean to over-dramatize the moment but I think Paul was on to something when he talked about the Christian life as a race -- a race that believers are called to run with endurance, never aimlessly. Over the last few years, we've written entries after marathons, many of which are among my favorites. But this picture, taken mere seconds before she saw me, pretty much sums it up. And with the week's race being almost over, I thought it appropriate for today.

For some of you, the week was steep. The phone never rang, the e-mail didn't arrive, or your health didn't cooperate. For others, everything was downhill, and you could do no wrong. Either way, I think our dear friend Sandie Powell said it best when she said, "The amazing thing is that He is as proud of our attempt (to run) as he is in our finish." And she's right. Did Loretta win the marathon? Well, maybe only in my eyes, but my eyes are the only ones that mattered. She wasn't the fastest, but she gave it all she had, and there was no doubt where she was headed.

I want to live like that, don't you? Everything we do and say, how we treat health and how we love others to show the world that we're on a road that leads to the only One that matters. From start to finish, we're in this race with grace. And after the uphills, the downhills and even the pitfalls, when mission meets accomplishment -- not ours, His -- our face will say it all.

--Jimmy Peña

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Change in Heart

"Nothing will be impossible for you..." --Matthew 17:20

Read: Matthew 17

To hear this devotional read by Jimmy himself, click play here: [audio:https://s3.amazonaws.com/PrayfitAudio/Change+In+Heart.mp3]

I was asked recently if I thought 33 days was a long enough period to create a change in heart and transform a life. The person on the other end of the question was referring to the time-frame we have listed on our DVDs. And my answer was two-fold. First, a month is both anecdotally and scientifically justified in helping people create habits, so we're confident to that end. After all, our resources are all about helping people get a jump-start on good, solid daily routines of devotions and exercise.

But then it hit me. I'm the wrong person to answer the question. Instead, I say we ask the woman at the well, the blind man in the temple or the criminal on the cross. Let's ask them about the day they met Him. After all, from the moment you meet the one who forgives your past, gives you sight, or secures your future, the only real timeframe in question is any moment spent without Him.

So while we could have written our books or these DVDs to be any length, it's remembering the lengths He went to show us His love that cause a change in heart. You know, it's ironic...we're bold to declare that faith can move a mountain, and yet we doubt it can help us move a muscle.

--Jimmy Peña

>>LISTEN: Spend a few minutes taking a listen to the founder of PrayFit, as he provides message that both inspire and encourage you as you make strides toward better health in 2013. Our new "Listen" page allows you to play select devotionals and share them with your social networks. Click here to hear...

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