Distance Yourself

August 20, 2014

“He who walks with the wise grows wise, but he who walks with fools suffers harm.” –Proverbs 13:20

Leading up to her third marathon, my wife had a simple plan: find her pacer and stay close to him or her no matter what. See, most marathon organizations provide the runners with all sorts of tools and techniques to help them through the grueling course — from seminars on stride, tactics for tackling hills, and perhaps most notably, they offer the runners a pacer.

A pacer is a man or woman capable of finishing the race at an exact time. And when I say exact, I mean exactly that. Kevin (pictured here) ran through the finish line at three hours and 35 minutes — just what he was asked he’d do. Now, Kevin didn’t know who was counting on his pace. All he knew was that someone would be relying on his experience, strength and endurance to help them along their way toward their goal.

In our daily pursuit of spiritual and physical stewardship, we all need pacesetters. People who God places in our lives to help us stay the course. Not only that but God may, in fact, bless us with the privilege of being that for someone else, and it’s an honor we can’t take lightly. Like Kevin, we may or may not know who it is, but someone is depending on us to know the way and show the way. Just take a look at Monday’s prayer requests and yesterday’s comments. Glance back and read some of the pain and the hurt. Then listen closely as others come running up beside to rescue with prayer and encourage with hope. Sounds like a group of pacesetters to me.

–Jimmy Peña

P.S. Kevin was a little surprised when I asked him for a photo. Perhaps it’s typical for the pacers to be invisible after a race. But I had to ask him to stop, especially when I read the back of his shirt. “Distance Yourself” it said. Wow. Perfect for our verse of the day. Thanks for inspiring us Kevin. We want to keep up.

For Discussion: Does anyone have something they’d like to share? A Praise? A request? Unspoken? We’re going to the Lord ALL week for each other. If you happen to read a need from earlier in the week, go ahead and respond here.

BRING US TO YOUR TOWN
In a few weeks, Jimmy will be speaking at Pepperdine University in Malibu, talking health through the gospel’s lens with faculty and staff. We’re so honored. Destiny-pic-5-320x213Expos, conferences and congregations across the country have welcomed Jimmy and his message of health as a means of praise. Your town or event 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.

 

God Understands Your Race

August 19, 2014

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” – Hebrews 12:1

I think God understands the marathon. Many people will tell you that a marathon is all about the journey, the memories. Well, yes and no. While the memories have their moments, what awaits us at the end is really what it’s all about. I mean, I loved the music at mile 12, but I didn’t hang around for an entire song. It played, not so much that I would enjoy, but more so that I would endure.

When I began the New York City Marathon a few years ago, I had a running partner as well as a dedicated pacer (the pacer’s name was Paul, by the way.) But as you learned yesterday, a little over midway through the race, my body started to fail me (a precursor to the years of spinal issues). So when the partner and pacer ran ahead, I had to slow down. But had that not happened, I would have missed the blind man with his guide, and the woman in the wheelchair with no legs. And yes, I would have missed the two men who led me my last few miles of the race. Two men wearing identical shirts; bright yellow jerseys with black letters. Unmistakable to me. Not so much for the color combo, but for the words on their backs. On one shirt, “Father”, and on the other, “Son”. Oddly enough, the only comfort I could muster at the time was written on the back of two strangers.

The journey is one thing. But while our bodies fail us, friends leave us, and pacers lose us, the only real comfort is who we follow to the finish. I think God understands the marathon.

–Jimmy Pena

P.S. At dinner that night, I watched a lady limping her way through a restaurant. As she passed our table, I said, “Congratulations”. She thanked me. You can always tell the runners. You can see it in their walk.

For Discussion: Please go back to yesterday’s entry and read the comments and prayer requests. You’ll see the names and you’ll hear the voices of others in the race. Like me, they need pacers. Like you, someone on the list needs a friend. Guys, we’ve been made more than conquerors and we endure.

For The Runner in You: Please take a look at the store for some of our runner-friendly tanks and caps. I think you’ll like them. Our partner on the caps is none other than Headsweats, so you know it’s the best quality in the business. Thanks Headsweats.

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Forever Road

August 18, 2014

“Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” –James 1:12

Queensboro Bridge. Halfway through the 2011 New York City Marathon is both where this entry was written, and where my race actually began. Nearly two months of ultrasound and countless hours of therapy weren’t enough to convalesce my troubled hamstring. And with 12 miles — or roughly 24,000 steps left to go — the grand, lofty notion of taking just one more was in question. So I wrote this entry.marathon. man

In as much time as it took a thousand runners to pass me by, I wrapped my leg in a makeshift tourniquet using stored gauze, and as many white flags as I could find in my heart. If there’s one thing this most novice of runners quickly realized on that bridge, was that the next step was as necessary as the eventual stride that would be needed to cross the finish line. So this week, we’ll run some of life’s boroughs together.

Friends, life is simply a bridge. Work, school, money, health…all mere mile markers that remind us that we’re in a race. And while we don’t compete against one another, I think sometimes the most daunting of life’s fights occurs when we’re surrounded by fellow runners. Fellow runners who are – by nature – each hamstrung by something, and fighting to turn another corner down Forever Road. Let’s remember that each step is worth it if we know Who awaits us in the end.
–Jimmy Peña

For Discussion: Are you on your marks? Let’s have a good week. If you or someone you love is a runner, I hope you share this entry with them…..Set….Are there any prayer requests? If something is happening this week you’d like us to remember, or you’re dealing with an issue that we can pray about, please let us know. Remember, you can always simply say “unspoken” if you’d prefer and we promise to lift you up….Go.

For The Runners:

“And let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” Hebrews 12:1

“And let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” Hebrews 12:1

A new runner’s tank hit the stores. Some of you wanted this verse in black and pink, and the good Lord provided. Hope you enjoy. Also, If you’re not already following me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, please do! And check out our latest graphic on Instagram. :-)
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Just Something About Him

August 14, 2014

There’s just something about that name. Jesus. Because of that name, we give our weeks themes like grace, faith and discipline. Speaking of discipline, some of yesterday’s comments had me in tears a few times. You have to read the comment from Gianna where God asked her to give up crossfit. Please revisit all of them if you can. They reminded me of something Bill Gaither composed in song, “interviewing” some Biblical characters for their testimonies of the time they met Him and gave it all up. He said, “Jesus Christ, the Son of God, became a man like us. Walked the hills, visited the cities, went to the seashores. He met people where they were. And one by one He changed their lives…”

My brother and I are fishermen. We don’t know a lot about politics or religion, just know a lot about fishing. First time I ever heard His name, my brother came down and said, “You just have to meet this man.” So I went. So I met Him. He looked at me and said, “Come on along. Come with me.” There’s just something about Him. There’s just…something about Him we…we just gave it all up. Gave up the boats and the nets and the fishing, and just went with Him. And I’ve been with Him ever since.

I’m a businessman here in Jericho. Well, actually, I’m a tax collector. He came to my house for dinner one day. We talked for a while and then, well, I don’t know what happened to me. But I ended up giving half of everything I owned to poor people. And to those who I cheated, I gave back four times the amount I took. There’s…there’s just something about Him.

I was at the well drawing water when I first met him. Naturally I offered him a drink. But he wasn’t like the other men I know. He seemed to look right through me. He told me everything I’d ever done. I never met a man like this man. He forgave me!

And that’s how it was with people everywhere. Whether they were rich or poor, young or old, mighty, lowly. When they met Jesus, things happened. Their lives were changed. And like you, I have a testimony. Not Gospel-worthy, but grace needy. A young, hard-charging Texas kid-turned fitness expert-turned frail writer. If I hadn’t met Him, who knows where I’d be? Maybe still big and strong without a scratch on me. But years ago He healed my heart, so I’d just as soon keep the scars. There’s just something about Him.
Jimmy Peña

Your Testimony: Faithful PrayFit reader, Wanda, mentioned in a comment this week that it feels like we’re a close-knit family. And I agree, especially since I read your comments every day. And today, let’s share some more. I’d love to know your testimony. You’re being interviewed about the time you gave it all up. Like the testimonies above, tell us about the day you met Him. I can’t wait to hear.

 

A Disciplined Faith

August 12, 2014

“I’m not going to offer God, my God, sacrifices that are no sacrifice..” –2 Samuel 24:24 (the msg)

Another translation of the verse above? I won’t give God anything that costs me nothing. Continuing our week’s discussion on discipline, here’s a tough question: Would you forfeit your health for the Lord? More specifically, would you give up your fitness lifestyle if God asked you to?

Maybe you’re a runner. An avid runner. Your calendar is marked, not with holidays or birthdays, but with 10Ks. Or perhaps you’re a fitness junkie. You lift, you sprint, you jump rope, you flip tires and you repeat it…six days a week. What if God asked you to give it all up? And no, He doesn’t give you His reasoning because He doesn’t need to explain Himself to you. All you know is that the one passion you have in life — that one thing that fulfills you and makes you you — He wants you to totally relinquish. No more gym. No more road. How would you feel? Sad, confused, both? What would you do?

Well, before you say, “Jimmy, I doubt God would ever ask me to give up something like that,” let’s visit a couple guys who would beg to differ…

When Abraham got to the top of Mt. Moriah, he was both confused and saddened. “Daddy, where’s the lamb?” asked Isaac. But Abraham took the son he loved more than life itself, set him on the altar and raised his knife.

When the rich young ruler approached the Lord and asked Him what he needed to do to have eternal life, Jesus said to sell all his possessions, give to the poor and then follow Him. But the Bible says the rich man walked away sad because he was rich.

Two men, both asked to sacrifice the love of their life. One was sad but obedient, the other was sad because he couldn’t be. The difference? Faith. Faith saved Isaac and spawned generations that outnumber the stars. Faith loved. Faith sensed guidance. Faith followed. Faith swallowed fear. Faith didn’t walk away sad.

Now, Lord only knows what He’s calling you to do (or not do) when it comes to His purpose for your life, but is there anything you need to sacrifice in order to be closer to Him? Since He’s likely not asking you to give up your pursuit of fitness, could it mean you need to carve out time alone with Him? If He’s asking for time with you, do you walk away sad because you’re so “fit”? Or on the flip side, if you’re not honoring your health like God desires, perhaps stewardship is your sacrifice. Maybe the hill of discipline is your Mount Moriah. What is God asking you to do?

–Jimmy Peña

For Discussion: This week is a challenge for all of us in one way or another. Anyone want to share what God is asking of you? Love to hear your thoughts.

Be First, Again.

August 12, 2014

“Peter again denied it, and at once the rooster crowed.” –John 18:27

I can relate to Peter. In one moment, he declares adamantly he would never deny he knew who Jesus was; the next, he does it not once…not twice…but thrice. But still, what motivates me about Peter was that while he wasn’t perfect, he was the one who stepped up. He wasn’t always right, but he was never in doubt.

First to reach for his sword to defend the Lord (only to be taught a quick lesson in self-control), and first to get out of the boat (only to be the example of how we sink without faith). But if you notice a common thread in the stories of Peter, the more he was first to fall, the more he learned to stand.

In our pursuit of a stronger faith, as well as to better health, we often make bold declarations that we will pray more, train more, and eat better…only to do the exact opposite the next moment. But friends, take courage. Keep being first. Set the pace with your family and friends. Remember, Peter knows what it’s like to declare and fail, and to step out and sink. Pursuing obedience is a staggering undertaking. Fortunately, like Peter the pacesetter, we have a Savior who reaches further than the fall.

–Jimmy Peña

For Discussion: Yesterday we talked about our earthly discipline determining our earthly destiny, and today another lesson in obedience and boldness. Who’s with me? Who needs prayer and encouragement? Or who is giving me a high-five and praising the Lord for the strength He’s giving you? Comment below and you’d bless me.

NEW TANK: Please take a look at the store and find our newest tank. Hope you enjoy. It’s a ladies Flowy Black & Pink Tank with one of your favorite verses. Be blessed and thank you for your support of our ministry.

“And let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” Hebrews 12:1

“And let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” Hebrews 12:1

Discipline Determines Destiny

August 11, 2014

I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should.” –1 Corinthians 9:27

Some of you have heard me share this experience, but I think it’s perfect for this Monday. I once had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Charles Stanley with In Touch Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia. I’ve met a few celebrities in my career, but none of them ever made me nervous. Friends, my hands were sweating and my legs were shaking when I had the honor of speaking with him.

Well, anyway, he delivered a message entitled, “Discipline Determines Destiny.” Of course, he made it clear that he wasn’t talking about eternal destiny, but that he wanted to discuss our earthly effectiveness; how we handle our money, our time, our relationships and ohhhh yes, while I was at the edge of my seat, he said it…”how we handle our health.”IDiscipline

None of the other topics received much of a reaction (perhaps because they were expected), but when he asked the question, “Who wants to live a long, healthy life?”, there was a noticeable murmur. When it became quiet, Dr. Stanley simply asked his congregation how they expected to live abundantly when they’re facing avoidable and preventable road blocks of health. Hearing it from me is one thing, but when Dr. Charles Stanley says it, it’s another thing altogether.

As he preached, I scribbled. He used words and phrases like,

The value we place on our health will be evident in our diligence…
Fulfilling, achieving, orderly, less stressful…
Aimless and lethargic versus Godly and confident…
Feeling good about yourself…
Nothing to do with age…
He still has the best in mind for you…
Positive impact on others…health can be a way to witness…
Build better health and a better faith…

Folks, go ahead and quiet the murmur in your mind and settle your thoughts on this one: Your health is important to God. Any personal justification you’ve otherwise convinced yourself with, is false. The call to action this week is a call of discipline. And it doesn’t matter what you decide to do.  Just decide and work within your means. Walk the block or the dog. Do some push-ups or lift some weights. Walk away from the dessert menu and step up to the plate of clean eating. Discipline determines destiny, and if you’re reading this, yours is still unwritten.

–Jimmy Peña

PrayFit @ Pepperdine University

Over the weekend, I made it official that I will be speaking at Pepperdine University in Malibu this semester. Over a 6-week period, I’ll be speaking to faculty and staff about health through the Gospel’s lens. More to come and we’ll be documenting it, but I wanted to share the news with you first. Praise God. Please be praying for me as I prepare my heart, mind and words for this honor.

 

The Island of Grace

August 8, 2014

“He refreshes my soul…” –Psalm 23:3

HammockWe’ve been here before, but I can’t think of a better place to still our hearts and minds than on the island of grace. Be it in the fitness industry or in the aisle at your local supermarket, the water can get choppy, leaving you bobbing in the wake of someone’s opinion, society’s judgments or self-destructive habits of comparison and self-obsession. The under currents are strong, and it’s not long before you’re waving your arms, “Look at me, I measure up! I fit in! Can anyone see me?!”

But the anchor of grace reminds us that health is given for one singular purpose: to bring glory to a mighty God. And as we’ve discussed over the years, that means so many things, and it doesn’t mean so many things. But if you’re tired, don’t worry. Treading water is toughest in really shallow water which is, coincidentally, where the world demands most of your time. But thankfully, God provides a shore. So go ahead and come out. Wrap yourself in a towel of compassion. Have a seat on the beach, run your toes through the sand, take a deep breath, and bask in a warmness only a Godly view of the body can provide.

Next week we’ll hit the water again hard, because our health demands our best. But for now — yawwwwn — I think I found a great spot for a nap.

–Jimmy Peña

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Unless It Was Given You

August 7, 2014

The scene in John 19 is arguably one of the most difficult to read through. Pilate has since ordered Jesus to be whipped and beaten, and a crown of thorns has been placed upon His head. But the pressure of the crowd put fear in Pilate’s heart, so again he questions Jesus. In prideful fury, Pilate demands Christ acknowledge his authority saying, “Don’t you know that I have the power to have you crucified?” (v. 10)  To which the Lord says, “You would have no power over me, unless it was given you from above.” (v.11)

Yesterday on the entry, as well as on our social media outlets, I posted, “Everything you’ve worked for is a gift….” And the scene in John is a sobering reminder of that truth. After all, nobody reading this sentence would argue that Pilate likely “earned” his title. He worked hard, paid his dues, put in the time. His blood, sweat and tears could likely be traced all the way to Ceasar’s front door. But notice Jesus. He wrapped up every position Pilate held, every merit badge, every medal, every title, and all the power and said “…unless it was given you…”

Imagine the blow to his ego. Who is this penniless carpenter to tell me that everything I’ve earned was given me? Squints eyes…grits teeth…shakes fist…saves face.

Yes, fitness takes work. We’re living in bodies designed to topple, atrophy, slow down, crumble and ultimately fail. For that reason, the overload principle is still true: The body will only change according to the level at which you stress it. And that stress takes discipline, diligence, hard work. But as we nod in agreement that the grind is tortuous and the results often glorious, God forbid we ever assume we’d have any of it unless it was given us. So, before we boast in the blood, sweat and tears we’ve shed, think of Pilate. No, better yet, someone else’s would probably be best for us to consider.
Jimmy Peña

For Discussion: NobodyJesus put Pilate in his place, (literally and figuratively). Let’s do ourselves the honor by putting ourselves in ours. What do you think stops us from giving God credit for both the ability to work hard and the results? Is it pride? Like Pilate, do you think we’re influenced by the crowd? The applause? How many “likes” do you think Pilate would get for his ego? Who among us would look Jesus in the face, shake a fist and say, “Jesus, I earned this body you created!” I have trouble even typing that.

 

 

Grace Makes Me See Through

August 5, 2014

We interrupt this regularly scheduled post about growing in grace with an unplanned post about the same subject. Yesterday, I had a slight setback physically, and I took to writing on social media and well, I wanted to share it with you.

“I know, I know; talking about God’s grace again. It’s not that I don’t have anything else to say, but it’s that I can’t exhaust it if I tried. Over twenty years ago, grace was with me every time I got under a 600lb squat or a 405 bench. Week after week, as the chalk was flying and Metallica was blaring, I’d whisper to myself, “I’m saved, I have a future, I’m blessed.” I’d let the fire build in my heart until it was an inferno, and then I’d dig a hole with each rep. Rock and fire. Like a piston, up and down. It’s light! Rack it! Again. More. Again.

Twenty years later, God’s grace got me through things even heavier. When my neck was replaced, grace got rid of my walker. When my lower back was rebuilt, grace let me tie my shoes by myself. And many of you know that when I was stricken with an infirmity of my colon, a risky surgery to repair an involuntary muscle left me with a pain I can’t explain and a lifetime to manage it. But grace sustains me. (I admit, I’d prefer to lose the rest of my spinal disks than to live with this, but I can’t.)

Transparent? Yeah, I’m transparent. Grace makes me see through.

Guys, when life crushes you, God not only repairs, He restores (or He will someday in Heaven.) That’s what we mean when we say grace is enough. If we never get better, Heaven will be more than enough. Why do I always urge grace, fueled by faith and wrapped with humility? Because everyday, amid pain and loss – and before my little workout – I’m still whispering to myself, “I’m saved, I have a future, I’m blessed.”
Jimmy Peñã

For Discussion: You guys praying for me? I’m praying for you. Appreciate you taking the time to read and spend a few quiet moments together as an extended family. Now back to our regularly scheduled program. Have a great day guys.
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