surgery

His Work, One Year Later

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

Read: Romans 5

Jimmy-backDon't bend, twist or lift anything heavy. Avoid slipping and falling. Those were my instructions 365 days ago. See, by sticking to those rules, the odds were in my favor for solid fusion between the new hardware and bones. Simply, the surgery needed to take. No pressure. The doctor did his thing, but now it was up to me. Stick to the rules, and I won't ruin his work.

I can't tell you how many times over the last year I wondered if I messed things up. Did I twist too much at the waist? Bend down too far? And yes, I stumbled a time or two. Oh the fear that set in. I wanted to go back to the surgery date and start over. This time with no mistakes, no tumbles, no wrong turns.

Have you ever wondered if grace "took?" After a mistake, a tumble, a stumble, have you ever thought, "Surely God can't forgive me again" or "When I got saved, did I mean it enough? Like, enough enough?" After my slip and fall, the first thing I imagined was that I ruined the doctor's work. He gave me a brand new chance and I blew it. But I have good news. Yesterday at my one-year check-up when my surgeon looked inside, he saw fusion, healing, and progress. Grace happened.

Aren't we glad that God gives us a brand new heart? His. And thankfully -- gracefully -- when God looks inside and looks at your life and mine, He doesn't see our sin, He sees the blood of His Son. He doesn't see a heart held together by a very thin thread; as if one more fall would sever the relationship. No, when you and I accept Him as Lord, there is perfect, permanent fusion; based not on our ability to stick to the rules but all because of what He did at Calvary. We try to avoid slipping and falling, yes, but there is peace in knowing that grace took. We can't ruin His work.

--Jimmy Peña

For Discussion: I think the fact that our health is our responsibility is a healthy reminder that we can't earn grace. A show of hands of those who feel motivated to take better care of themselves physically because of what God did for you spiritually? Is there a better reason to take care of ourselves? I guarantee there isn't.

BRING PRAYFIT TO YOUR CHURCH

Jimmy Peña's message of health as a means of praise is being well-received by congregations around the country. His storytelling approach to how a healthy body can strengthen the body of Christ and inspire abundant living is a message you don't want to miss. For speaking appearances, ministry assistance, media inquiries, write us at info@prayfit.com. Share this information with pastors, elders and influencers with the knowledge that there is never a speaking fee for churches!

"Let The Healing Never End"

"Jesus wept." --John 11:35

Read: John 11

If you haven't read today's chapter, Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem. And when Mary finally reached Jesus, Lazarus had been dead four days. Perhaps they thought Jesus didn't hurry or didn't notice. Either way, the grief and pain that Mary and the others were feeling moved Jesus to tears. Although Lazarus would soon be having a good laugh, Jesus cried. Why? Because their loss was His too, and their pain hurt. Imagine that for a second. Their agony hit His heart and...gush.

Yesterday I received encouraging news with one of my surgeons (last year's). But it wasn't an easy appointment. So important was this check-up that I had my wife, mother, dad and small corner of friends hitting their knees for me. I even bet my mom went old school -- like biblical -- and prayed in a closet. And it was the doctor who delivered the good news to a teary Loretta. But he wasn't crying with her. He didn't console her, hold her and he definitely didn't cry. Why? He knew the outcome. He saw her tears and quickly knew how to dry them.

You know, if Jesus could instantly dry the eyes of a broken Mary, surely He could prevent His own from welling up. But aren't we glad He knows how we feel? And shows it? Which makes me think, that probably wasn't the last time Mary cried, or cried out to a healing God. And yesterday wasn't the last day we'll follow her example. I'm learning that it's true that on this side of Heaven, the healing never ends. Like you, I often want Him to hurry or notice. If I didn't know better, I'd say this life looks a lot like that short road to Bethany.

--Jimmy Peña

P.S. Incidentally, tomorrow is my 14-day check-up with the neurosurgeon. Let the dust fly, and like my boys of the group Salvador sing, "Let the healing never end". Amen?

REPORT: ROOT OF THE PAIN Are you walking around each day with chronic pain in your knees or back? It might not be the thrashing you put on your body in your formidable years. It may be the few extra pounds you've accumulated since. The good news is that there's an easy fix.

>> Get the full report here.

LISTEN: Want to take in some of your favorite entries direct from Jimmy? Click here for a selection of audio devotions and be sure to share the link with your social networks!

Two Tributes

"Then he said to them all: 'Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.'" --Luke 9:23

Read: Luke 9

Undeniably effective for building strength and changing the way your body looks, feels and performs, the squat also happens to be remarkably humbling. As I was looking at today's scheduled workout, I started to look for excuses to avoid my date with the barbell, but then it hit me: I should be thankful I can squat at all.

You see, while I was here racking my head for reasons to avoid this workout, a close friend of mine was struggling with a physical ailment, longing for the day when he could once again test his mettle in the squat or any kind of physical fitness for that matter. He would do anything to get under that bar, to feel the weight pressing him into the floor, to tremble through the uncertain descent that skilled squatters so willingly endure -- and to rise again.

This friend of mine who would give anything to trade places with me on my toughest training day of the week reminds me of another Who traded places with me for all my days to come -- of One who willingly carried the crushing weight of the cross and a certain descent into the tomb, only to rise again.

So today, tossing aside my fears and hesitations, I paid physical tribute to two friends. For one, I squatted. And for the other, I knelt.

--Eric Velazquez

PRAYER REQUEST: This morning, as most of you read this, PrayFit founder Jimmy Peña will be undergoing surgery on his lumbar spine. We ask that you join the rest of our family in praying for him.

Lord, we thank you for the miracles that are our bodies. While we know that our bodies won't last Heaven, we pray that you would help us to be good stewards of our health however long we have on earth. This morning, Father, we pray for Jimmy -- we pray that You would ease his anxiety and fortify his body and mind for the procedure that he is to endure. We pray for his physicians -- we pray that you would bless them with wisdom, discernment and steady hands as they work to repair Jimmy's spine. Finally, we pray for his wife, Loretta -- we pray that you would fill her with courage, energy and her usual, exceptional strength as a woman of God. Lord, we know that You are in control and that you will be by His side throughout it all. We ask that You would whisper your presence into his heart and that you would instill in him a courageous, unwavering trust in knowing that the doctor's hands are in Yours. Lord, today we pray for the body of the man who has made a ministry out of helping so many others take care of theirs. In Your name we pray...amen.

>> Share your own prayers and thoughts for Jimmy below, if you'd like, or drop him a personal message at jimmy@prayfit.com. Thank you for your support!

>> Next week, May 20-24, PrayFit will be going on temporary hiatus, with no new daily devotions or health content being posted to the site. We will be taking the week to commit to prayer for Jimmy's recovery. You can still find tons of valuable content throughout the site (see links below) and can expect delivery of the PrayFit Daily to resume Monday, May 27.

Training - Workouts, training tips and health news

Nutrition - Recipes, eating strategies, weight loss advice

Devotions - You can search our entire library of devotions here

Listen - You can hear select devotions read by Jimmy here

Stopped in His Tracks

"When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out, 'Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.'" --Mark 10:47

Read: Mark 10

A few hours before surgery, Loretta and I were reading together about the blind man sitting on the side of the road in Jericho. His name was Bartimaeus. When Bartimaeus heard it was Jesus who was walking by, he began to shout out, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" Over and over he yelled. Despite being rebuked by others, he continued to shout, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" And it's the reaction of Jesus that touched my heart that morning of the surgery. The bible says that when Jesus heard him shouting, He stopped walking. Some bible versions say that He "stopped in his tracks," and other translations say He "stood still".

Oh my sweet family and friends, although I'm not blind, I was begging. A month ago, I didn't want the Lord to take another sweet step. Seconds before surgery, a nurse tried small talk, but I'm afraid she sounded more like the teacher in the Charlie Brown cartoons. They transferred me to the operating table which, for all I knew, sat on the side of that dusty road in Jericho. When the doctor said he would see me in recovery, I slowly turned my head to the side, and as tears streamed from my shut eyes, I stole a line from Bartimaeus and fell asleep.

Well, I'm beyond blessed to report that the surgery was successful. Jesus stopped in His tracks. Praise God, He stood still to hear a prayer. You know, when Bartimaeus received his sight, the very first thing he did was follow Jesus along the road. I suppose he figured the best test of his new peepers was to focus on the One who finally made them work. I plan on doing the very same thing.

--Jimmy Peña

P.S. A little over 10 months ago, while I was traveling, writing and working, I was hit with a debilitating infirmity. I came home to begin medical treatment, and since January, I've lost 50 pounds of healthy tissue -- not the good kind of weight loss. I weighed more at age 14 than I do at 40. But what you have just read was a personal journal entry that I wrote to a small group of family members who prayed for me as I went into surgery. And this week -- my first week back in a month -- I'm sharing some of those entries with you; things God has taught me through His word and through the fire. You know, at PrayFit we believe health is a means of praise. Well, never in my life has that been more true.

WORKOUT OF THE WEEK: USER CHOICE Tell us what your workout of the day or week is and we might use it to help others as next week's training program. Be specific and thorough. You lead the group! Nearly 10,000 people will get your workout, so make it count!

>> If you're looking for ideas to get you started, visit our Fitness page by clicking here.

DIAGNOSIS: MIRACLE

September 20, 2011Read:  Luke 7

"But say the word, and my servant will be healed." --Luke 7:7

Last night as I sat to write today's entry, I had an unexpected guest. But wait, let me back up. Two weeks ago, while sitting in the same spot, I heard a faint knock at my door. The kind of knock where you're really not sure, so you pause and wait to see? Well, sure enough, another knock. Opening my front door, I bore witness to my dear friend, Alan.

A neighbor and colleague -- pale, sweating, and collapsing in my arms. Minutes later, sitting in the ambulance with him, he was sure it was a kidney stone. Later that night, the doctors were sure it was cancer. A sizable tumor had taken his kidney captive, and he was bleeding internally. His surgery to remove both his kidney and tumor was yesterday. Or so we thought.

Last night as I sat in my spot to continue our look at health and devotion, walking across the parking lot was my unexpected guest...Alan. With his arms up, his first words were, "What tumor?" Three doctors from the most prestigious medical institution in Los Angeles couldn't find today what all three of them saw the day before. Alan recalls, "I was being wheeled to the operating room, and I heard a doctor say, 'We can't find the tumor'."

What some might call a misdiagnosis, Alan is calling a miracle. In fact, his primary physician says that in over 35 years of performing surgery, he's never seen anything like it. And oh, I should also report that minutes before he was taken to the operating room, Alan got on one knee and proposed to his girlfriend. She said yes.

God, thank you for being the unexpected guest in our storms of life. You walk on water and into hospital rooms. Help anyone reading these words say 'yes' when you knock. Amen.

--J.P.

EQUAL PROPORTIONS, BETTER HEALTH How simple balance can help you live longer

With all the fad diets out there that promise to help you lose weight for good, the best one may have been under your nose this whole time. Scientists at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology found that the body responded best to a diet that was split equally among the three macronutrients -- carbs, protein and fat. Their research pointed out that this type of diet limited inflammation as well as certain type of cancers by acting favorably on key genes.

Ironically, this is the dietary approach advocated by Jim Stoppani, PhD, co-author of "PrayFit: Your Guide to a Healthy Body and a Stronger Faith in 28 Days." Says Stoppani: "This not only makes the diet easy to remember, but it ensures that you are taking in a well-balanced diet that provides adequate amounts of quality protein for repair and regeneration of tissues, healthy sources of carbohydrates for energy, and healthy fats for proper brain function, cardiovascular health and joint function. When these three macronutrients are eaten in equal quantities (and in proper amounts), fat loss is optimized, while important muscle tissue is spared. In addition, research shows that when protein and carbs are eaten in equal amounts, brain function is optimized, allowing you to be more efficient at work and on all cognitive tasks – such as your daily devotionals!"

>> For the full PrayFit diet, pick up a copy of "PrayFit: Your Guide to a Healthy Body and a Stronger Faith in 28 Days" from Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

>> For the details on the Norwegian study, click here.