Friends Lift

October 22, 2014

Read Mark 2:1-12

The two lived on the same block as kids. Both had strict, loving parents. Daily chores included loading hay, carrying feed and helping in the fields. Their young backs were growing strong because of it. After school and homework, they’d meet up in the streets to play childhood games till dark. They were tight-knit. Best pals.

As it turned out, the two had a mutual friend that lived down the street. Their same age, he couldn’t walk; paralyzed from birth. But that didn’t stop him from telling a good joke or razzing the game’s underdog. He was part of the crew. One of the boys.

As years passed, they grew into strong and able men with families of their own. Except, of course, for the one who was crippled. His two buddies checked on him daily though. He had a place at their table on holidays. He was the full-time ref in neighborhood competitions. They worshiped together each weekend. Indeed, after all the years, still tight.Faith inscription on a granite block

Well, when news arrived that He was in town, the two ran toward each other’s homes. In fact, they met in the middle and took turns catching their breath as they talked about their plan. Strong boys became strong men, and carrying their friend all the way across town to the One they say was able to work miracles made all those childhood chores worth it. And in fact, those chores made it possible.

The crowd around the house made it tough to get inside through traditional means. Holding the ends of the bed, the two looked at each other as if sharing the same memory; hauling hay, hoisting feed, playing games and growing up. Only one thing left for friends to do. Lift.

Most of us are familiar with the actual Biblical account of the friends who lifted their friend through the roof to be healed, but isn’t it neat to wonder what got them there? What we do know is that Jesus was pleased with the faith of those guys. And they exercised that faith with their backs. You know, I like to imagine the three of them walking home together don’t you? Who knows, maybe they played a street game for old times sake. Someone had some catching up to do.
Jimmy Peña

For Discussion: You never know who your health is for…

 

 

Can Anything Good Come Out Of This?

October 21, 2014

“‘Can anything good come from Nazareth?’ Nathanael asked. ‘Come and see,’ said Philip.” –John 1:46
Read: John 1

What a verse. What a story. (If you haven’t already, I urge you to read John 1 before continuing. I’ll wait.) Like I said, what a story. Oh, I’m sure Nathanael meant well. After all, so do you and I, right? We’ve asked the same. Just replace Nazareth with your hurt. Can anything good come out of your diagnosis? The unemployment? The heartache? Lord knows I’ve asked this year. Can anything good come out of this?come-and-see

Sitting in crowded waiting rooms, watching my doctor go from room to room, just begged the question. But I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I wouldn’t be as close to the Lord today, I wouldn’t have had a chance to share Christ with my neighbor, and I wouldn’t have such a hunger for God’s word. In fact, reading through the Gospels this month, I’ve come to realize more than ever that Jesus healed so many people physically in order to heal the world spiritually. Everywhere He turned, more healing, more believing.

It’s no wonder Philip answered like he did. And I like to think he had a grin on his face when he said it: “Come Nathanael. Come…and see.”

–Jimmy Peña

For Discussion: Can anyone relate to Nathanael? Ever asked his question? Tell me how God saw you through it. I’ll wait.

P.S. Guys, if you didn’t catch yesterday’s entry, skip it and head straight to the prayer requests. Help us pray for each by name. I hope this week is already blessing you and those you love.

Your Suffering Is Your Sermon

October 20, 2014

For years, we’ve said that our health is a means of praise and that our fitness can be a witness, and it’s the truth. But if you look through the gospels, you won’t find Jesus with the fit and fiddle. You won’t find him around the strong, talking about able muscles, clear lungs or stable legs. And He certainly never wanted us to boast or show any of those things off. Nope. Where do we constantly find our Savior? With the sick. The ill. The needy, hurting, ailing, failing, and wailing. Fitness is a witness – yes – but like Max Lucado says, “Your suffering is your sermon.”Peace-in-the-Valley

This week, we’ll look back at a few times the Lord allowed me to confess it. And at the same time, I’ll ask you to share your life, your pain, your strain and the stories of those you love. Friends, our God is at much at work during our illness as He is during our mountain-top moments. Thing is, we tend to ignore Him the closer we get to the peak.
Jimmy Peña

For Discussion: How we handle our pain-free abilities and gifts of good health can serve a mighty purpose – we can’t downplay it – but where we go in times of pain and sickness says more to others about the God we serve than all of that combined. Who’s ready for this week? And as we begin this Monday, does anyone have prayer requests? Let’s go to the Lord together. List your need or simply say, “Unspoken” and I promise we’ll all pray for you.

 

Finally, The Chorus

October 17, 2014

Finally, the chorus. As a noun, the definition of chorus means, “A piece of music, especially one forming part of a larger work.” And as a verb it means, “To say the same thing at the same time.” Yes, finally, the chorus.sheet-music-34

As I’ve found my corner of the house each night to punch this keyboard, I’ve turned this song on. And each day that I’ve gotten out of bed to start the day, it’s been my theme. So finally, Friday, the chorus.

Friday is typically a recap or summary of the week, and it’s been a good one, amen? Neat to circle the wagons around a theme. The prodigal son and his turn for home – coupled with a father’s grace – is enough to fill a week like this, and it’s enough to fill the weak like me.

Carry on my wayward son, they’ll be peace when you are done.
Lay your weary head to rest.
Don’t you cry no more
.

The chorus. My life and health – YOUR life and health – beautiful music that forms part of a larger work; the song of creation. And guess what? We’re saying it at the same time. The definition of me and you is the life we live for Jesus. Faith is the key, love is the rhythm, and grace is the bridge. And if we’re listening, Jesus our Savior and Conductor is giving us our only note: “me, me, me,…Me.”

- Jimmy Peña

For Discussion: Anyone still with me this week? Much love guys. Have a good weekend. Thank you for your constant prayers and faithful reading. Power, off.

Your Life’s No Longer Empty

October 16, 2014

Yesterday on social media, Pastor Scotty Smith said, “Pray as if everything depends on God, because it does.” To which someone replied, “Don’t forget to work like it depends on you.”

Now, at first that seems reasonable. Pray like it depends on God. Work like it depends on you. But what Scotty gently countered with was spot on: He said, “Nope. Because if I work like it depends on God, then I work harder, with more joy and more hope.”

Working hard with joy and hope – not in order to achieve or gain what’s to come – but simply because of what’s to come. Ah, enter the wayward son…

Carry on, you will always remember.
Carry on, nothing equals the splendor.
Now your life’s no longer empty.
Surely Heaven waits for you.”cuprunnethover-1

For Discussion: Colossians 3:23-24 says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as unto the Lord and not for man…” What does this verse, or rather, how does this verse help you in your daily routine of health and fitness? Does it convict you to work harder or perhaps does it convict you to train for the right reasons? Maybe both? Does it help you evaluate your motives? Whatever the case may be, when we train knowing it all depends on God, we’ll have more joy, more hope along the way. And He gets the credit. Beat that with a stick.

Wayward Son, Part II

October 15, 2014

“So he got up and went to his father.” –Luke 15:20

We had a rule growing up. If my brother and I got in trouble for doing something wrong, we weren’t allowed to keep pouting about it. No sir. Once it was done, and my brother got what he deserved, it was over. Finished. Like it never happened. Well okay, we suffered consequences, yes, but it wasn’t held over our heads. In fact, if I was pouting about it later on, you guessed it, I got in trouble for pouting. You know what that taught me? Trust. I trusted my parents. I knew what to expect. Periodically reprimanded, constantly loved.

Although he came back with memories of deeds as stinky as his pig-slopped clothes, yesterday’s prodigal couldn’t stray beyond his father’s love. Before he knew it, a robe replaced his rags, a ring dressed his hand and a feast filled his belly. And while you and I may not have mud on our shoes, there’s not a person reading this sentence who doesn’t need that kind of grace from a grace-giving God.images

You know, many of us have treated our bodies — our inherited health — much like the prodigal treated his promised pay. We’ve over spent and wasted it. But something tells me the prodigal son took better care of the things he was given after he got home. And so can we. For some, there’s a family waiting for you, too; waiting for you to start eating better, to stop smoking, to start exercising. They’re waiting to celebrate you. Who’s coming home, been home, staying home? You’re the life of their party. It doesn’t begin without you.

–Jimmy Peña

For Discussion: Knowing that God sees our hearts – not our waistline – should invigorate and empower us to be better stewards of health. We’re constantly loved. Doesn’t that fire you up to live your entire life to its fullest? Let’s see a few “YES” comments. We ask again: Who’s coming home, been home, staying home?

Wayward Son, Part 1

October 14, 2014

“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare and here I am starving to death!’” –Luke 15:17
Read: Luke 15

You know the story. A silhouette appears on the horizon. Too far away to distinguish, but a father who’s been waiting for his son to come home can’t help but wonder. Squinting, he raises his hand over his eyes to block the sun’s glare.A lone figure in the distance below a setting sun on a deserted beach As the distant figure gets closer, the father begins to walk in that direction; slowly at first, trying to match the pace of his visitor. Until he realizes this is…this is no visitor. It’s him. It’s his boy. His long, lost son was home. And with compassion and forgiveness, he ran to him, embraced him, kissed him, clothed him and fed him. Grace happened.

You know the story. The prodigal son is nothing new to you. The son takes his inheritance and high-tails it his way to the highway. You know the story. And in one way or another maybe you’ve lived it. Perhaps you’re living it now. Maybe not with an inheritance, but perhaps with your inherited health. Long hours, long days, obligations, deadlines, family matters, friends that matter, must-see TV and your must-read social media find you on foreign soil; a place you were never designed to be. Maybe it’s time to go home.

–Jimmy Peña

For Discussion: How could I not revisit the prodigal son during our “Wayward Son” review? Grace happened, amen? Yesterday we talked about a sweet spirit and a strong soul. I think the father in the story of the prodigal son had both. 

Sweet Spirit, Strong Soul

October 12, 2014

Well, Monday…we meet again.

And with that, hey everyone. I’ve been excited to begin this new series “Carry On Wayward Son” with all of you this week. I hope you don’t miss a day. Being a baseball fan, I’m not the biggest football fan among us, but I keep up with my Baylor Bears and Dallas Cowboys. (Hopefully I didn’t just lose too many of you with that truth.) But during Saturday’s Baylor/TCU game, I heard the announcer say about a Baylor player, “He’s got a sweet spirit but a strong soul.” Wow. Guys, had he been sitting here with me as I type this sentence he could not have summarized our upcoming week any better. Sweet spirit, strong soul.

And our theme for the week comes from an unlikely song; Carry On Wayward Son by Kansas. WaywardSonDo you know it? Look up ‘wayward’ in the dictionary and synonyms like willful, stubborn, headstrong, disobedient, undisciplined, unruly, wild, unmanageable, difficult, rebellious, defiant and impossible make the list. Any wayward sons and daughters reading this today? Well, a wayward son is writing it.

I tell you, few lyrics of any song carry as good of a picture of grace – even as it relates to our temporary health. And over the next few days I’m going to try to navigate us through them. Hopefully, whatever you’re facing, something you read this week will help your sweet spirit and strong soul carry on.

Carry on my wayward son
There’ll be peace when you are done
Lay your weary head to rest
Don’t you cry no more
.”

EXCITING NEWS:
Super Early Bird Registration
for: PrayFit RISE begins today! Click the link and read more about the wonderful event being planned for April 11th, 2015. Share it with friends, because you don’t want to miss this weekend. Matt Brown, Lauren DeMoss, Alisa Keeton, Brooke Boon, Dana White, Shawn Thornton and Scotty Smith are all speaking and helping bring the message that when it concerns our health, “Grace is Enough.”

 

I Am One Of Them

October 9, 2014

In the third century, St. Cyprian wrote to a friend named Donatus: “This seems a cheerful world, Donatus, when I view it from this fair garden under the shadow of these vines. But if I climbed some great mountain and looked out over the wide lands, you know very well what I would see; brigands on the high road, pirates on the seas, in the amphitheaters men murdered to please the applauding crowds, under all roofs misery and selfishness. It really is a bad world, Donatus, an incredibly bad world. Yet, in the midst of it, I have found a quiet and holy people. They have discovered a joy which is a thousand times better than any pleasure of this sinful life. They are despised and persecuted, but they care not. They have overcome the world. These people, Donatus, are the Christians…and I am one of them.” (Max Lucado study bible; Gordon Macdonald, Forging a Realworld Faith)

I paste that quote because the subject of being quiet and holy has been on my mind lately; quiet as it pertains to humility of health as well as service. In reading the books of Thessalonians and James, I’ve noticed some common themes, a few of which we’re going to dive into next week. But make no mistake, our health can have an eternal impact. Not in the way it looks so much, but in how we use it to serve others. Paul urges us to “lead a quiet life, and to work with your own hands,” while James says, “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”

Folks, we are in this place right now to put this body to use for God’s kingdom. If we make too much of its reflection, we’re vain. If we sit idle and don’t put it to work, we waste it. But in a time where health is disregarded as a means of praise, there is a quiet and holy people. They have overcome the world. These people are the Christians, and I am one of them. So are you. Can you think of any higher compliment?

–Jimmy Peña

For Discussion: What does quiet and holy mean to you? What comes to mind? Maybe the phrase makes you think of a particular friend, family member or Biblical character. And for those of you in the fitness industry, what sort of battles do you face in this area?

New Series Monday: I’m out of pocket tomorrow, but please join me next week for a new series titled, “Carry On.“ I hope you all check in each day. You know how I love a good series. 

WaywardSon

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What Do You Say?

October 8, 2014

“I thank you, Lord, with all my heart.” –Psalm 138

Sitting in a waiting room recently, I filled out paperwork, answering questions, checking this box and that one. Circle where it hurts and on a scale from 1-10, rate this, gauge that. And just as I was about to turn in my clipboard, I watched a daughter taking care of her mother in a wheelchair. When a nurse brought the mother some juice, the daughter gently asked, “What do you say?” Then her elderly mom — barely able to hold the bottle — turned and weakly said to the nurse, “Thank you.”

With a lump in my throat I thought to myself, “She knows how to say thank you. She’s just thirsty.” My heart broke on a couple of levels.

But the moment made me wonder if I know how to say thank you. Not sure about you, but I spend a lot of my time listing my life’s aches and pains, inconveniences and delays. Much like that paperwork, my daily prayers often go straight to where it hurts, and what I need, and my worry and fear. Like you, I’m so grateful that in no particular order, I can go right to Him with all of it.

But if I could, I’d erase my answers and start over. Rather than ask God to heal what hurts, I want to mention to Him the things that don’t. I want to circle my blessings. And as I read my list, may I hear that gentle reminder, “What do you say?” And like that sweet women, I know how to say thank you.

–Jimmy Peña

Question: ThankfulWhat are some ways you can thank the Lord for the blessings you have? If you could thank God right now, what would you list? You can share them with us if you’d like. I’m sure they’ll be a blessing to others.