Worn-Out Tools

April 25, 2014

“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. One week away from my one-year spinal surgery check-up, we’re just praying that the new hardware is still a “go” with the bones and that the same success we saw with my neck replacement occurs in my lower back. God’s will we pray. And then it’s on to the next level my friends.

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

ATTENTION PASTORS: You lead, they’ll follow. Church leaders across the country have worked with us to help them develop curriculum and small groups geared toward physical stewardship. If you’re looking for a book that you can be sure eschews vanity while celebrating grace, then look no further. We were blessed to receive this endorsement from one of our nation’s most celebrated pastors.

Practically everyone I know wants to lose weight and get more fit—myself included. This battle is as much spiritual as it is physical, and most exercise and diet specialists miss this, but not Jimmy Peña and his PrayFit Diet plan. Getting fit God’s way ensures you have the proper perspective on how and who God made you to be. When you have this foundation firmly in place, you will not be motivated to get fit to prove you are a somebody, but to express the somebody you are in Christ.

–Randy Frazee, author of Making Room for Life, The Heart of the Story and senior pastor at Oak Hills Church

>> To order your copy of The PrayFit Diet, click here!

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Pick Up Your Bed

April 23, 2014

“I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” –Mark 2:11

Read: Mark 2

It took four men to get him near Jesus. Four men who wouldn’t stop until they made a breakthrough, literally. The bible says that “when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying.” Reading this story a few weeks ago, some things dawned on me. First, the breakthrough — the realization that there was no other option; no Plan B. Jesus was in the healing business and their friend was buying.

Then, before Jesus does for the paralytic what the man thought he needed most, Jesus says, “Your sins are forgiven you.” (Wait, what? His sins? Why not first heal his legs?, I wondered.) Then Jesus answered my question when He asked the scribes, “Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise, take up your bed and walk?’”

In case there was any doubt of His ability to forgive sins, Jesus went ahead and said to the paralytic, “I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” A paralyzed man carrying his prison back home is enough to quiet the doubters. And here’s my last thought…he carried his bed home. Jesus put him to work. He didn’t say, “Tell others what I did for you,” or “Show off your legs.” No, carrying his bed said it all.

You’ll forgive the long entry, but all I want to do is carry my bed. Our blessing of health is an opportunity to go to work; for family, friends, those less fortunate, our health is a means of praise. Someone you know needs a breakthrough. I did. And I’m betting the healed man in our story lifted other people’s burdens from that day forward, wouldn’t you agree? If you do, pick up your bed. Let’s go to work.

–Jimmy Peña

For Discussion: Who are you in today’s story? Are you in need of a breakthrough? Dealing with an illness, infirmity or other struggle? Perhaps you’re a friend, helping someone through the roof by praying for them, listening to them? Maybe you feel like you’re one of the crowd, the onlookers, not really engaged either way, be it with your health or the health of someone else. Well, we know who we are NOT in this story, so let’s go. Who needs prayer? Let’s lift someone through the roof. Let’s place someone you know and love as close the healer as we know how to. As always, simply say “Unspoken” and the team and readers will pray for you.

WEIGHT LOSS X FACTOR: SLEEP

How did you sleep last night? While people desperate to lose a few pounds and inches like to focus on fitness and nutrition, there are a number of factors that can work for you — or against you. One that is typically underrated is good, old fashioned shut-eye. Find out what the research says about how all those late nights can be moving the scale in the wrong direction.

>> Click here for the study from CNN Health.

JOIN THE “DAILY” CROWD

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 continue our faith-and-fitness revival — you can do so by sending friends this link or sharing it with your social networks!:

SUBSCRIBE: http://bit.ly/cSd8tp

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.

The Temptation of Pride

April 23, 2014

“Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this?” –Acts 3:11

Read: Acts 3

When Peter and John came across the lame man at the temple gate, Peter said to him, “Look at us.” When the lame man fixed his eyes on them, Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” (Acts 3:6) And as you’ll see later in the passage, all the people later saw the man walking, leaping and praising God, and they ran to Peter and John in awe.

Continue Reading »

Unearned Health

April 21, 2014

“Every good and perfect gift comes from above.” –James 1:17

Read: James 1

You’ve likely seen someone boast that health is “Always earned, never given.” Sounds reasonable, right? You put in the work, you get the reward. Sounds reasonable, but it’s not true. Health is not earned. Granted, some people appropriately celebrate their health (and hopefully more and more of us each day), but even the byproducts of that discipline — toned muscle, greater endurance, increased strength — gift…gift…gift. Oh we don’t like to admit it. We like to think we’ve earned the right to raise that banner and boast, “I EARNED THIS!” But in truth, it’s when we realize we have undeserved and unearned health that we can make the greatest impact with it.

You might also consider the flip-side. There are those among us who are statistically apparently healthy, but who choose a sedentary lifestyle over an active one. Those who opt for poor food choices over balanced, sensible meals. Despite great genetics, honorable stewardship is the furthest thing from their minds. If you’re like me, you may have people close to you who have absolutely no health issues, but have no issue with abusing it; alive but not living. Healthy vital signs? Sure. Earned? No. A gift. Unopened, but a gift nonetheless.

Whether they’re opened or still neatly wrapped, the bible says that every single gift comes from above and that includes the body. So just remember, as you wake up with grace and mercy, check and see if your limbs work and if your heart’s beating. If all systems are go, then celebrate! Treat life like a Christmas morning kind of present. Open it up! It’s when you see what’s inside that you can really see what’s inside you! And you can’t give God the glory and claim it at the same time. Christians have to choose. So choose to walk, train, run, swim, strive, push, claw, climb, and reach with every single, grateful, thankful, humble, undeserved, unearned gift of health you got.

–Jimmy Peña

For Discussion: All you have to do is visit a children’s cancer hospital and the idea that health is earned quickly evaporates. Are you a fitness person? A runner? A lifter? Is it difficult for you to accept the truth that you don’t earn your health? 

RECIPE OF THE WEEK: Honey Nut Oatmeal

What do you have lined up for breakfast today? This tasty, balanced gem from The PrayFit Diet (available now), is an energy-packed, motor-revving recipe that is easy to prepare.

Ingredients
½ cup dry rolled oats
Water
2 teaspoons honey
2 tablespoons chopped almonds
Pinch cinnamon

Directions
Prepare oats according to package directions. Top with honey, almonds and cinnamon.

THE 33 DIFFERENCE: The dry rolled oats provide a great source of slow-digesting complex carbs for long-lasting energy. Honey gives you a quick jolt of healthy sugars to replenish fuel stores after your overnight fast. Almonds add great taste and texture to the oatmeal while providing quality fats to further slow digestion, while the cinnamon helps to stabilize blood sugar.

>> Find 33 days worth of healthy eating solutions just like this in The PrayFit Diet! To order yours, click here now.

Rally Caps

April 20, 2014

For his work on things like gun control and childhood obesity, Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg was recently quoted in The New York Times as saying, “I am telling you if there is a God, when I get to heaven I’m not stopping to be interviewed. I am heading straight in. I have earned my place in Heaven. It’s not even close.”

The day after Easter is always an exciting day for me. Upper room moments happened all over the world as believers celebrated Jesus conquering death and rolling away stones. Many of us woke up this morning with a new spring in our step, lease on life and mountains to climb. And when it comes to our healthy goals, when Jesus defeated death, He gave us every reason we need to look alive!

So why do I lead off this week with a quote from Bloomberg? Well, because it truly is how the world thinks; that Heaven is about our merit, our deeds, our works, our good, our effort. That somehow our “best” earns us the right to shake a fist, beat our chest and make demands. Well, if Bloomberg was right about anything, it’s not even close. Like my Pastor said, “That interview is called the Judgement.”

As believers, the Cross of Calvary and the empty tomb are where our hope rests. Tethered to Heaven by grace, faith is our battle cry. It’s a rally cap kind of day. Before we lace ‘em up, send chalk flying or hit any sort of healthy routine, let’s remember that the best way to show others what we celebrated yesterday is not in the weight we lift or the miles we log, but in the love we show. The power is His, the credit, the merit, the worth, the greatness, the majesty and glory are all His. It’s the day after! Rally caps!

–Jimmy Peña

For Discussion: Will you be intentional with your love today? Between sets, miles, at the check-in, the check-out, show them what happened yesterday.

Prayer Request: By the time you read this entry, Wendy Velazquez (wife of PrayFit VP Eric Velazquez) will be undergoing some major and extensive knee surgery. Doctors will be repairing her torn medial meniscus, and they could also find that her ACL needs repair once the surgeon is inside. We’ll know more soon. So please be praying for her, her surgeons, Eric and their girls through it all.

Final Prayfit Diet CoverA 33-DAY MAKEOVER

The simplicity of The PrayFit Diet — perfect caloric balance with protein, fat and carbs — can help you get incredibly healthy and find your motivation for a lifetime to stay that way. Here are a few of the more frequently asked questions about this effective eating plan

Q: Is the PrayFit Diet a diet?

A: The PrayFit Diet is only a diet in name. It is more accurately described as a lifestyle adjustment that addresses our relationship with food. It is a 33-day program that calls for balanced caloric intake from the three macronutrients (protein, fat, carbohydrates). Research shows that when food is eaten in these proportions, health is maximized, fat loss is optimized and inflammation is minimized.

Q: Why is it 33 days?

A: The PrayFit Diet was built out as a 33-day plan because it pays tribute to the 33 years Jesus gave us and because a month-long plan is proven to by research to be highly effective time frame to create change within the body and to develop positive eating habits.

Q: How much weight can I lose on the PrayFit Diet?

A: This is perhaps the most asked question when it comes to any nutrition book. Those who follow the program to the letter, particularly those with more weight to lose, can lose up to 20 pounds in 33 days in combination with regular activity. But this book goes so far beyond the pounds and inches that you stand to lose this month. Because we don’t ask you to eliminate any macros, as is the case with some “diets,” you are not left feeling deprived. You will be getting enough carbs to fuel workouts and daily activity, enough protein to repair and build muscle and enough fat to cushion joints and bolster heart health. Because of this, the PrayFit Diet is utterly sustainable. No need to cycle off and come back to it. By following the principles outlined in these pages, you’ll have the only manual you need to feed yourself and your family healthy, wholesome meals, day in and day out, forever.

>> To order a copy of The PrayFit Diet for yourself or someone else, click here!

We’re Silent

April 17, 2014

“It is finished.” –John 19:30

Read: John 19

Today, we’re silent. Like the angels for six hours that Friday, we’re still. Like the naysayers and doubters, who waited at the foot of the cross to hear Jesus take back His promises, and with the disciples who hid their faces from the enemies who sought them, we’re speechless. It’s Friday. And it is finished.

Uphill Battles

April 17, 2014

“Carry each other’s burdens.” –Galatians 6:2

Read: Galatians 6

>> AUDIO: Click here to listen to Jimmy read today’s entry.

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Uphill battles. If anyone understood the phrase, Simon did. Simon of Cyrene was of course the man who helped Jesus carry the cross up the hill toward Calvary. In one moment, a bystander. The next, a cross bearer. He did literally what you and I are called to do figuratively. Little did he know the example he was setting. I wonder if he knew his sin would soon be nailed to the tree he carried.

Uphill battles. If anyone understood the phrase, Jesus did. Yet Jesus knew that what He faced, He had to face alone. Nobody on earth, above or below, could take His place as He took ours. But the thought of you and me facing our days without hope was enough to kill Him. The weight of the cross and our helplessness were more than He could bear.

Simon, Jesus. Two men, one cross and an uphill battle.

–Jimmy Peña

EATING IN BIBLICAL PROPORTIONS

So what’s our new book about anyway? The PrayFit Diet, available in stores now, can help you feel your best, not by starving you or cutting out carbs but by showing you how to eat in balance. Perfectly proportioned meal planning that improves vitality while keeping you fulfilled! This faith-filled manual is fortified by real science demonstrating that when all three macronutrients (protein, fat, carbs) are eaten in equal caloric ratios, magic happens. Inflammation is reduced, energy improves, other health markers improve. You have enough energy from carbs to power through workouts, enough protein to support muscle repair and retention and enough healthy fat to cushion joints, improve heart health and support brain function. Taken in total, this can help you become a better steward of your physical health! If any (or all) of this sounds like something that you or a loved one can benefit from, grab a copy or two today by clicking here.

Carry Your Purpose

April 15, 2014

“‘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

I know I talk about him each year, but I just love him. I hope you don’t mind…

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 sentimental 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 humble 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 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!

Hope Does Not Disappoint

April 14, 2014

“Hope does not disappoint.” –Romans 5:5

Read: Romans 5

I’ve always loved today’s verse. Read it again. I’ve purposefully held out the surrounding verses, because I want to focus on this phrase for a second. See, when the world mentions the word “hope,” its tone is usually one of question or doubt. I hope I get an “A”. I hope she likes me. I hope nobody notices. I hope….

Well, the Bible says that strength comes to those who hope in the Lord. No question there. No sign of doubts. It’s a done deal. Why? God…will…come…through…for…us. How do we know? He died for us. That’s why Paul said in Romans 15, “May the God of hope fill you with joy and peace.” Look up and read the verse again out loud.

Are you in need of a sure thing? When dreams allude us and people fall short, and all we want is a glimmer:

We know that suffering produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” –Romans 5:3-5

It’s the ultimate catch-22. If we invite the God of hope into our hearts, He delivers it on impact.

And you know what they say about hope.

–Jimmy Peña

DID YOU KNOW? There are two times of the day when simple (fast-digesting) carbs, such as white bread and sugars, are less likely to impact your waistline: first thing in the morning and after a hard workout. During sleep and exercise, your body burns through stored sugars, leaving you in something of a carb deficit. At most other times of the day, excess carbs or fast-burning carbs are more likely to result in stored body fat.

(Page 59, The PrayFit Diet)

WORKOUT: PRAYFIT 33

We’ve been talking a lot about nutrition lately and we hope that you are all enjoying the abundance set forth in The PrayFit Diet. But if you’re looking for workouts that can truly send your results off the charts, we’ve got just the thing. Either of PrayFit’s two at-home workout DVDs can help you build strength and burn body fat, taking greater advantage of the food prescriptions we lay out in The PrayFit Diet. Try this sample workout, led by Jimmy, then pick up your DVDs to help accelerate your results by clicking here.

Tray Tables Full Of Dreams

April 14, 2014

laptop“We’ve reached our cruising altitude. At this time you may use all approved electronic devices…”

Flying back from The 700 Club taping last week, I sat staring at the tray table in front of me. It all happened so fast, I thought. Instead a sit-down interview plus cooking demo, they decided to make it a kitchen segment. I did my best to try and convey the message of grace while showing a day’s worth of food. The team (Eric) busted my chops for closing my eyes so much. Passion, I laughed back in a text. Just pure passion. Oh friends, what a blessing of an opportunity.

Where was I? Ah, yes. The plane ride home. Well, across the aisle, a gentleman was thundering away on his laptop. A tall fellow, his knees were near his chest but that didn’t stop him from furiously typing with purpose. For nearly five hours his eyes never left the screen. Meanwhile, I was exhausted and I could feel my glands getting swollen and a tickle in my throat. The days of little sleep and all the emotion were catching up to me. I was ready to get home.

Long flight story short, “Ladies and gentlemen, the Captain has turned on the fasten seat belt sign as we’ve begun our initial descent into LAX.” Music to my clogged ears. And for the first time since we took off, my neighbor stopped typing and made a mad dash to the lavatory. Placing the computer on his seat with the screen open, I couldn’t help but read the heading of his document. In big, bold letters it read, “PASSION PROJECTS.” No wonder. I wish you could have seen me grin and nod at him as he returned to his seat. I was this close to encouraging him. After all – because of grace – I’m living mine.

As we begin a week’s worth of devotions surrounding the holiest of weeks, passion will be a common theme. Of heart, of health, of hope. Please join us each day. Let’s dive into Scripture together. Let’s look at training, running, activity and balanced eating. If there’s ever been a week to celebrate abundant life for the right reasons, this is it. Welcome to Monday.

–Jimmy Peña

RECIPE OF THE WEEK: Tilapia with Mango Salsa

Our recipe of the week comes directly from the pages of The PrayFit Diet. Like every other recipe in the book, it is a tasty concoction from the mind (and kitchen) of Food Network contributor Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC.

Ingredients:
1 mango, peeled and diced
½ cup chopped red bell pepper
½ cup chopped cucumber
Juice of ½ lime
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
Salt
Hot sauce
8 ounces tilapia
1 tablespoon canola oil

For the salsa, combine mango, pepper, cucumber, lime juice, and cilantro. Season with salt and a few dashes of hot sauce, if desired; set aside.

Season tilapia with canola oil, salt, and hot sauce. Cook fish in a nonstick skillet or grill for 3 to 4 minutes per side or until completely cooked through. Serve topped with salsa.

THE 33 DIFFERENCE: Tilapia is a healthy, protein-loaded mainstay on the PrayFit Diet, and there are a number of ways you can prepare it. But after you try this recipe, you may be more of the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” persuasion. By combining mango, bell pepper, cucumber, lime, and cilantro, you get a flavor explosion that jazzes up an already amazing source of protein and healthy dietary fat.

For another recipe and an excerpt from the The PrayFit Diet on BeliefNet, click here!