It’s Real

September 16, 2014

I won’t sugarcoat it. The adversity I’m talking about this week isn’t watered-down. Friends, I’m not talking about the kind of adversity that’s accompanied by “enjoyable” pain; like my old training days and the temporary, tough, voluntary and enjoyable pain that I knew would get me to my goals.

No, the adversity I’m talking about is the kind many of you are going through. The kind accompanied by a pain you never saw coming. A pain you don’t know if you can endure, because you don’t know if it will ever end. The kind of pain that’s disorienting, because you can’t remember what it felt like not to hurt. The kind of pain accompanied by excruciating, debilitating, humiliating misery. Physical, emotional, financial, relational adversity. And it’s real.

I’ve been studying Habakkuk, and this man is a Biblical role model. After sobbing and moaning miserably, screaming for God to work, he learned the brutal Babylonians would soon destroy his homeland. Yet despite his unbearable circumstance, Habakkuk provided us a response to our own: “I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. The Lord GOD is my strength…(Hab. 3:18). And in the midst of adversity – with chaos swirling about him – we find Habakkuk worshipping.

Looking back 20 years ago, I’d often have Loretta turn up the music from the other room to ready my heart for my training. Two years ago, I begged her each day to turn up the music from the other room to drown out the sound caused by the pain of my infirmity. Same music, same body, different faith. Perhaps like you today, my spirit of enthusiasm characterized my suffering.

Guys, we have permission to hurt. We have Biblical examples of those that hurt so deep – physically, spiritually, emotionally – they wailed. Like me, like you, adversity draws it out of us. It might not be pretty, but it can be the first sound of worship.
Jimmy Peña

For Discussion: Habakkuk sobbed, screamed, then sang. He worried, wailed then worshipped. What an example. Is this week reaching you? What can we pray with you about?

 

God’s Purpose for Adversity

September 15, 2014

Adversity. There’s not a person reading this page that hasn’t faced adversity in one way or another. Whether in a relationship, a financial situation, the loss of a loved one, or perhaps even in health….adversity touches us all. This week we’re going through some together.

Pastor Levi Lusko says, “The largest pain calls for the loudest praise.” If you’re wondering how that makes any sense, this week we’ll look at the likes of David. Why David? Well, David wrote many of the psalms of praise while hiding in the bleakness and darkness of what? Caves. We’re gonna follow the prophet Habakkuk. In his desperation and fear of the Babylonian army, Habakkuk went from worrying, to wailing, to worshipping. And finally, we’ll look at Jacob. After wrestling with God, Jacob was weakened physically to be strengthened spiritually. What better way to walk through life than with a limp that proves you were with God Himself?

If this week teaches us anything, I hope it’s these things:
1) You and I have permission to hurt.
2) We need to go through our trials with a spirit of enthusiasm that characterizes our suffering.
3) It’s best to bring our pain to the One who can do something about it.

Everyone with me? If I’ve ever wanted to encourage you to not miss an entry, it’s this week. Someone you know and love – and that someone may be in your morning’s mirror – needs to hear this week’s message. What is your reaction in the midst of adversity?
Jimmy

Welcome To The PrayFit App
Well friends, it’s live. Or should I say, ALIVE!? prayfitThe new PrayFit App is available for download. For some it represents the most convenient way to receive PrayFit. The good Lord provides, amen? We’ll be adding to it daily, but help us praise the Lord.

 

 

 

Add Steel To The Spine

September 11, 2014

Yesterday I shared this on social media:

Steel

“Hey guys, Been a while since I went freestyle, but if I can add something to the previous post…the fact is, don’t ever let anyone try and convince you of the “health gospel.” There is no health gospel. You can see health THROUGH the Gospel, but a man’s health doesn’t prove his spiritual strength or his relationship with the Lord. That’s complete nonsense. And any “faith and fitness” blog or website that says that one of the measures of a man or woman is by his or her good health, drop them, unlike them. Run.
Can our approach to fitness and health be a witness, sure, but truth is friends, they’d feel really uncomfortable around Paul, or Jacob, or Sarah, or Job. When they shove the “You-earn-your-body, believe-it-and-you-will-ALWAYS-achieve-it” and the “You-always-get-what-you-work-for gospel ” in your face, kindly hand them the Gospel of grace and tell them that God will work it out, EVEN FOR THOSE THAT CAN’T WORKOUT. Trust your brother. I know it’s true. Jesus loves me, this I KNOW. In sickness and in health, He loves me. Just drown out that noise and listen for HIS VOICE. Train as hard as you can for as long as you can, but stiffen your spine with God’s word now. Love you all. – Peace and grace
.” – Jimmy

Well, next week, I’m gonna take that message up a notch with a new series of devotions on adversity and triumph. Anyone ready to read those? Cause I’m ready to write them. We’ll look at the likes of Jacob and read through books like Habakkuk together. Put your seat belts on. Our greatest praise comes from our darkest days, and we’re going to have a spirit of enthusiasm that characterizes our suffering. I hope you don’t miss a day. Plus we have some pretty special news to share. Have a great weekend. Work hard, stay small and dependent.
Jimmy Peña

 

The Lord Hears

September 11, 2014

“Yes, Lord, your servant is listening.” –1 Samuel 3:10
Read Samuel 3

I’ve been taking meetings this week for the next year’s PrayFit RISE conference, and I find myself praying for God’s will and protection more than ever before. Have you ever been in such a place? I just want Him to be pleased. As I sit around listening to all sorts of voices around the room, all I want to hear is His.

In 1 Samuel, young Samuel was awakened by God three times, but he thought Eli was calling him. And as we learned from the text, when Eli finally understood what was happening, he instructed Samuel to answer God with, “Yes, Lord, your servant is listening.”

Makes me wonder: Could we already be as fit as necessary to accomplish God’s will for our lives, but so focused on being as fit as possible that we miss it? (Who could write an entry with that question? Read it again. Any volunteers?) And if we are as fit as necessary (or as possible), are we listening? Like, really listening?

Anyway, Samuel ended his life as well as he started. His mom, Hannah, had trouble conceiving him but the Bible says that God remembered her. And because of that, she named her baby “Samuel” which means “The Lord hears”. Maybe it’s just me, but I think it’s neat how the very first words from young Samuel (The Lord hears) were, “Yes Lord. Your servant is listening.”

–Jimmy Peña

For Discussion: Samuel ended up being one of the most obedient and effective men in the Bible. A priest, judge, a prophet and an anointer of kings. And, appropriate for us at PrayFit, he was the one that God told, “Do not look at his outer appearance…For the Lord does not see what man sees. Man looks at the outer appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” Friends, I don’t want us to ever miss what God has for any aspect of our lives. I want us to hear what God wants and for us to put everything we have to use for His glory. For me, I may not have the physical tools I used to, but my heart’s ears still work. And God hears those who are listening.

REGISTRATION for PrayFit RISE coming soon!

PrayFit Rise is the first faith and fitness conferences of its kind; an experience that celebrates Jesus, His love, our growth in grace and service to the community while seeing health through the Gospel’s lens. PRAYFIT-RISE-LOGO-FINALPromoting PrayFit Rise is Exercise Physiologist and New York Times bestselling author Jimmy Peña – founder of PrayFit Ministries.

PrayFit RISE will allow everyone of all ages to celebrate faith while learning to live a healthier, humble, modest, service-driven, grace-filled life.

Spanning across Los Angeles and surrounding areas, invitations will touch as many as possible and marketed as a celebration of Jesus, His love and grace, faith, fitness, food and more! Preachers, world-renowned Christian speakers, dietitians, fitness experts, surprise celebrity visits, and one of America’s most adored Christian bands will be on-hand at PrayFit Rise to make it an unbelievable experience for everyone.

To partner or to become a sponsor, send us an email at info@prayfit.com. Venue to be announced in the coming days!

In The Meantime

September 10, 2014

It’s well-documented that 20 years ago when Yankees ownership asked then professional scout Dick Groch if he thought Derek Jeter 1600x700q80would be going to Michigan after high school, he famously replied, “The only place this kid is going is Cooperstown.” Few predictions have ever proved more true. We’ve merely had two decades to see what Derek Jeter would do in the meantime.

You know, blessed with having a master’s degree in clinical exercise physiology, I can tell you why muscle reacts the way it does. I can detail why our cells become oxygen-efficient through cardiorespiratory training. In my sleep, I can meticulously diagram the energy systems. I can discuss the finer points of the overload principle and how the body reacts to less, more or the same stimulus from one day to the next. The chemical reaction of fiber damage? Yes. Agility, flexibility, endurance, atrophy? Yep, those too. Like I said, I can explain a lot about this body, but my feeble self can’t explain why God gives grace to the soul inside.

All I know is that if you were scouting me the day I accepted Jesus as my Savior, the only place you’d be certain I’d be destined for is Heaven. What I would do in the meantime – college, grad school, marriage, a publishing career, PrayFit.com, PrayFit Ministries and a lot of stumbles, strikeouts, falls and falters – surely wouldn’t deserve it or prove it, but unlike Cooperstown, Heaven isn’t dependent on votes.

Yeah guys, ever since I was a kid, I’ve always been passionate about things in my life. I’m all in. Sentimental. And my favorite athlete of all-time is about to take a final bow. He’ll climb out of the dugout one last time to tip his cap to the crowd and to those of us watching at home. And I promise you that I’ll be standing in the middle of my living room when he does, holding my wife with one hand and tipping my cap to baseball’s Captain with the other. It won’t be pretty in the house of PrayFit. After all, between the day of Mr. Groch’s prediction of Jeter’s destination to the moment of his ultimate induction into baseball’s promised land, I watched what he did in the meantime.
Jimmy Peña

For Discussion: Guys, is anyone a thinker like me? Somebody please say ‘yes.’ Do you ever hold sand in your hand and think of Abraham and the stars and the length of eternity? Do you ever let neat things like baseball and legends and halls of fame remind you of Jesus and grace and love and faith? Because of the Cross of Calvary, we’re assured Heaven. Oh Lord, what would you have us do in the meantime?

Glowing With Health

September 9, 2014

“Rise and anoint him; this is the one.” –1 Samuel 16:12

Believe it or not, I used to sing solos in church and school. Growing up in a gospel-singing family I guess you could say it was in my blood. Too funny: my first solo in the 4th grade was John Denver’s “Take Me Home Country Roads.” I remember mother made me wear this Davy Crockett-looking jacket with leather strands hanging down from everywhere. I can assure you I wasn’t much to listen to, but I bet I was something to behold. She probably still has the jacket.

Speaking of something to behold, my favorite solo in church was a song about young David called “Shepherd Boy.” I thought of that old song yesterday while reading about Samuel. See Samuel was the one who anointed David as the future king. The last of all the brothers to pass in front of Samuel, the Lord said, “Rise up and anoint him. This is the one.”

I know I’ve talked about David in the past — about how he chose stones to defeat his giant. But something in my reading caught my attention. As he was being brought before Samuel, the Bible says of young David, “He was glowing with health…” (ch.16:12) Neat right?

This is the way they described the shepherd boy from the pastures of Bethlehem.
The shepherd boy who would drop the armor and then drop Goliath.
The shepherd boy who would hide in caves, fight entire armies, and write Psalms.
And above all, this is the way they described the shepherd boy who would come to be known as a man after God’s own heart.

Friends, like we said yesterday about having ears for what God hears, may that be our goal — to glow with health, for no other reason but that our hearts are looking more and more like His.
–Jimmy Peña

For Discussion: CoolingpassionI doubt there’s a higher compliment in all the Bible than what David is known for: For his heart to look like God’s. Anyone agree? And doesn’t the thought of “glowing with health” for that reason do something to you? Just, wow.

 

Keep Your Ears Open

September 7, 2014

We got to Balboa park on Saturday morning at the perfect time. I got the perfect parking spot under perfect weather. Loretta, about to run her 5 miles, and me, about to do my pull-ups, push-ups and modified dips. A kiss goodbye and “be careful,” and we were set. Just, perfect. Wait, my music. Where’s my iPod?

Many of you know that sometimes you just want to get lost in your music for a training session, a walk or a good run. Well, Saturday I wanted my ears thumping and my heart pumping. I was ready to take things to another level, test the boundary, push my limit. Sometimes music is the perfect training tool, so I turned my truck upside-down but no iPod. Grrr.

Well, I got to the overhead bar and dips station and began to warm up, but before my first rep, I heard a gentleman talking to a friend about her upcoming wedding. He said with love, “He needs to know how important Jesus is to you and that you want to get married in church and that you need your relationship to honor God.” He went on and on. Then she responded by describing the difficulty she faced. He’d volley and she’d return. It was a sweet conversation.

Not exactly sure how it happened, but it wasn’t long before I – an imperfect stranger – was sharing his testimony of grace and of my wife and how good God has been. We had the nicest time encouraging one another and boasting about the Lord. An hour later, here comes Loretta from her run. I asked their names and we all shook hands. We had become such fast friends, I asked if we could all pray together and we did. Then Loretta and I said goodbye, jumped in the truck and went home. I never did one pull-up.

I start the week with this quick story, because whether it’s at work, or school or even in the gym, it’s so easy for us and even expected of us to block everything and everyone out. And trust me, I get it. But had my music been blaring in my ears, I never would have heard them talking, never would’ve had the chance to share the Lord, and we certainly wouldn’t have been praying together in the middle of Balboa park on a perfect day for a workout. Now, I’m not suggesting we don’t get into the zone or turn up the volume, but I am suggesting that someone we’re around this week just might need your ear or mine. Let’s make sure they’re open.

God, You’re the music. Give us Your ears today and each day this week, Lord.
Help us listen for the things You’d have us hear. Drown out the noise. What You have to say to us is life’s melody – our favorite song – and we don’t want to miss a note. So please turn up the volume of our hearts toward You and toward the needs of others. Ears thumping, hearts pumping. In Jesus’ name, and for His sake, Amen.

Jimmy Peña

P.S.
Getting out of the truck at home, guess what I found? :-)

For Discussion: Can I ask a favor? If you’re listening, say ‘amen’ in the comments section. And friends, a new song I’d like you to carry in your heart this week comes from a brother in Christ, his name is Smokie Norful and his new album is called “Forever Yours.” Bless your life and download it from iTunes, and the song I’m talking about is called, “Imperfect Me”. Here are a few of the words:

When I’m a bird with one wing,
A song with no melody,
Somehow I fly and sing
Because of how You see me.
Imperfect me.
What do you know that I don’t?
And how do you hear…hear that song in me?
I say I’m lost, You see I’m free.
How do you see the good in imperfect me
?
ImperfectMe

Jesus Is The Reward of Trust

September 3, 2014

“These trials will show that your faith is genuine.” –1 Peter 1:7

Some of you may recognize this story from my latest book, but in 2006, I fulfilled one of my childhood dreams by sitting down for an exclusive one-on-one conversation with Sylvester Stallone. He was promoting a new product, and so my editor-in-chief — knowing just how special the moment would be – sent me to chat with him. The interview was scheduled just a few months before Rocky Balboa would hit theaters.

Walking into the host hotel, I remember Loretta straightening my tie before I headed up to the suite to conduct my interview. It was a moment I’d never forget. I even carried my master’s thesis with me so Stallone could sign it where I had given Rocky praise nearly a decade earlier. Sitting there, just the two of us, was both surreal and motivating, to say the least. I remember wishing that I could convey just how much of an influence he had been on my life. But before I could, he said something that I repeat to myself to this day. In fact, you’ve likely heard it repeated in commercials or motivational videos. But to one of my questions, he said:

Jimmy, in my next film, I wrote that the world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows, and it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much can you take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done. But you gotta…take…the hits.”

Faith. That fireproof, battle-tested, unquenchable reservoir. It’s why we take the hits, amen? It’s how we move forward. It’s not only the means we need to get back to our feet, it’s the reason we try. Faith in Jesus. He’s the reward of trust.

–Jimmy Peña

P.S. Stallone signed the acknowledgments page of my thesis. Neat moment. KeepPunchinHe wrote, “Keep punchin.”
I am, Sly. I am buddy.

For Discussion: What hits are you taking this week? What can I and the community help pray with you about? List it here and I promise we will lift your name and need in prayer. If you’d rather not be specific, simply say “Unspoken” and we promise to raise you up.

GIVE TO PRAYFIT MINISTRIES:
For those that haven’t been on the site yet this week, we’re humbly announcing that we are a non-profit organization. I am so humbled and excited about what God is doing and what He will do. Everything – from our daily devotions to the new small group curriculum we’re developing and ambassador programs, to next year’s PrayFit Rise Conference – will all fall under the non-profit umbrella of PrayFit Ministries. PrayFit MinistriesIf you’d like to be a sponsor of all we’re doing, please click the GIVE button on the home page. You can make a one-time donation of any amount or perhaps become a monthly sponsor of any amount. With all my heart, I thank you for any commitment you make toward helping us with this mission of changing hearts, transforming communities and helping others see health through the gospel’s lens.

A Sane Estimate

September 2, 2014

My faith has never moved a mountain.

The Bible says, “Don’t cherish exaggerated ideas of yourself or your importance, but try to have a sane estimate of your capabilities by the light of faith that God has given to you.” (Rom. 12:3) That verse demands a week’s worth of devotions, amen? Reminds me of a short story Max Lucado once told,

An elementary–age boy came home from the tryouts for the school play. “Mommy, Mommy,” he announced, “I got a part.  I’ve been chosen to sit in the audience and clap and cheer.” When you have a chance to clap and cheer, do you take it? If you do—then your head is starting to fit your hat size!

No, my faith has never moved a mountain. Live long enough, serve the Lord long enough, and you begin to realize your role. I’m learning my part. I hope you are too. That’s one of the main reasons I started PrayFit, and one of the primary areas this ministry will continue to focus on.

Next week we begin a new series (I’m so excited) because our health plays a part in the bigger story. How we approach that role means everything. After all, growing in grace as a Christian in the fitness industry means realizing that honoring God with our body has nothing to do with intensity, but has everything to do with intent.intent Guys, it’s time to quit cherishing exaggerated ideas of ourselves and time to start answering the smaller questions: What have we done, what are we doing and what will we do for God and others with the gift of health God gives us? Talk about a measurable, sane estimate. - Jimmy Peña

GIVE TO PRAYFIT MINISTRIES:
The blessing is true: We are a non-profit organization. I am so humbled and excited about what God is doing and what He will do. Everything – from our daily devotions to the new small group curriculum we’re developing and ambassador programs, to next year’s PrayFit Rise Conference – will all fall under the non-profit umbrella of PrayFit Ministries. PrayFit MinistriesIf you’d like to be a sponsor of all we’re doing, please click the GIVE button on the home page. You can make a one-time donation of any amount or perhaps become a monthly sponsor of any amount. With all my heart, I thank you for any commitment you make toward helping us with this mission of changing hearts, transforming communities and helping others see health through the gospel’s lens.

Pull, Together

September 2, 2014

I’ll never forget it. I was 19; the newest member of a very small band of brothers. We weren’t an official group on the Baylor University campus, by any means, these “Russell Rats.” We had no membership roster, no board of directors or rules and regulations to speak of, but we were very exclusive. And although we weren’t organized, we did pay our dues — dues of a different kind that were collected daily. As far as acceptance into the group, well, it just happened. Call it a nonverbal recognition of pure heart. If you had it, you were in. And rather than Greek letters across our chest, we had chalk and sweat across our backs. There was no mistaking our crew.

In the late 80s, a small family of guys came one by one into the best (and only) fitness center on campus, Russell Gymnasium. The gym itself was actually a corner hole-in-the-wall within a bigger auditorium of basketball courts, with a two-tone, green concrete wall separating the outdated Universal equipment and rusty dumbbells from the courts next door.

Well, one sunny Waco afternoon, at a campus-wide celebration called Diadeloso (Day of the Bear), the group decided to enter itself into the annual tug-of-war competition. We wanted nothing more than to show the fraternities what real strength felt like. After a lot of hooplah, we marched — in slow motion if I recall — onto the sand. We could hear the audible gasp from the opposition. We nodded to one another with pre-victory smiles. After all, not only were we obviously strong, we had ourselves a plan. We reasoned that because we outweighed the competition, only half the team would pull when the whistle blew. And when one of us gave the signal, the rest of us would begin pulling. Trust me. We had it covered.

Well, we found our grip as our competition found theirs. I remember they were a preppy bunch. Handsome. But no doubt mismatched. We did our best not to giggle. The referee raised his hand to alert the start of the match and the whistle blew. And?!…..We got crushed.

Within 20 seconds, we were pulled across the line. It felt as if the rope was somehow cleverly tied to a Ford F-150. What happened you ask? Well, a couple things actually. First, they had seven guys and we had six. Completely fair because the only limit was total weight, but an extra pair of arms pays off come to find out. But I think we lost miserably because we were overly confident and planned poorly.

Why the long stroll down memory lane? Well, if I learned anything that day as I lay face down, swallowing dirt and pride, it’s that we can never underestimate the enemy in life, and we can’t wait to start pulling. Plainly said, we have to give it all we have, never saving anything for the second half, the second set, the climb down, or the swim back. We can’t wait to share Christ, visit the widow, give to the needy. The fact that you’re reading and I’m typing means we’re knee deep in sand and it’s quick.

Friends, we have to be humble constantly and plan wisely. In every area of life, be it with quiet times, workouts, relationships, school, work…a humble heart and wisdom will please God every time. So hang on tight. And when the sun comes up and you’ve given God your day, just start pulling.

–Jimmy Peña

P.S. Four years later, I led a team of seven onto the sand. We won every match but the last one; to a team of…eight.

For Discussion: Are you waiting to pull with your life? Your quiet times with the Lord? Your health? If I can help you start pulling, talk to me. I want to help. And if you have similar memories where you were humbled, please share!

GIVE TO PRAYFIT MINISTRIES:
Well my friends, I mentioned it last week and it’s official. We are a non-profit organization. I am so humbled and excited about what God is doing and what He will do. Everything – from our daily devotions to the new small group curriculum we’re developing and ambassador programs, to next year’s PrayFit Rise Conference – will all fall under the non-profit umbrella of PrayFit Ministries. And we need you. Pulling together never meant so much to me. I’ll say it again. We need you.

Guys, it’s through your giving that all of it will be made possible. Having a heart for what we’ve done over the last 6 years, perhaps you’d love to be a part of sponsoring the conference or anything we’re doing at PrayFit on a daily basis. If so, please click the GIVE button on the home page. You can make a one-time donation of any amount or perhaps become a monthly sponsor of any amount. Nothing is too big or too small, and we are grateful to partner with you. I’ve never been very good at selling merchandise, and I know I’m not very savvy at fundraising, but all I know is what the good Lord has placed upon my heart to do with my life and this ministry. May all we do together bring glory the Lord.