Halls to Walk

April 30, 2014

“He never sleeps. He never slumbers.” –Psalm 121:4

Read: Psalm 121

There exists within Wendy’s parents’ beautiful Craftsman-style home — the home in which we are currently guests — a single hallway that stretches the length of the home, ending in one of the home’s two bathrooms. And for a child at night in search of a drink, this journey can seem interminable, fraught with danger, dancing shadows and creaking floorboards beneath each fearful step. Especially for my daughters, who seem to have inherited their mother’s imagination.

Last night, as I sat typing at my keyboard, the last of my clan to turn in, I heard some footsteps navigating the hall. But something was different — the steps lacked their usual, tentative pace. I rose to meet my youngest, Ella, as she walked in to grab her drink. Hair messed, she sat the cup down on the sink and turned to make the long trek back to bed.

“Are you okay, baby?” I asked her, turning to walk her back to her room.

“Yes, daddy,” came the hushed reply.

Just then, as my eyes adjusted to the darkness of the hall, I caught a glimpse of her older sister Mya standing against the wall.

“Mya, you too?” I asked, fearful that I’d be proctoring these hallway pilgrimages the whole night through.

“Ella woke me up and asked me to come with her.”

That’s why Ella’s steps were sure. Because her big sister was standing guard. It was the perfect vantage point for this sisterly sentinel — right there amid the onerous wooden floors and creeping shadows, a gesture of assurance that removed Ella’s fear of the journey. Mya waited until Ella had passed her on the way back to bed before abandoning her post, and the two returned to the safety of their sheets together.

We all have halls to walk. And in the dark, our imaginations can easily get the best of us. The noise of our footfalls against the silence can make us doubt whether the journey is worth the danger. But there’s water at the end of this walk and Who you ask along with you matters.

–Eric Velazquez

For Discussion: You know, the woman at the well went looking for water, too. Jesus, knowing her fears — and her thirst — gave her living water. She would never have to walk in fear again because He was with her. No matter your hallway, because of the One who walks with you, you can stride with certainty. As we wind down the week, what halls do you have to walk? Deadlines? Doctor’s appointments? Does it comfort you to know Who is beside you along the way?

Final Prayfit Diet Cover>> THE PRAYFIT DIET continues to inspire people to eat and live healthier lifestyles! We show you how to design the perfect plate and how to anchor your progress to your deepest motivation: health as a means of praise. See how this balanced, easy-to-follow eating plan — backed in faithful stewardship — can help you! Order yours by clicking here.

JOIN THE “DAILY” CROWD

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The Race With Grace

April 30, 2014

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” –Colossians 3:23-24

Read: Colossians 3

At The WallHer face said it all. As Loretta finished the Nike Women’s Half Marathon this weekend, exhaustion met joy and mission met accomplishment. Now, I don’t mean to over-dramatize the moment, but I think Paul was on to something when he talked about the Christian life as a race — a race that believers are called to run with endurance and never aimlessly. Over the last few years, we’ve written entries after marathons, many of which are among my favorites. And with the week’s race being almost over, I thought it appropriate for today.

For some of you, the week was steep. The phone never rang, the e-mail didn’t arrive, or your health didn’t cooperate. For others, everything was downhill, and you could do no wrong. Either way, I think our dear friend Sandie Powell said it best when she said, “The amazing thing is that He is as proud of our attempt (to run) as he is in our finish.” And she’s right. Did Loretta win the D.C. Half Marathon last weekend? Well, maybe only in my eyes, but my eyes are the only ones that mattered. She wasn’t the fastest, but she gave it all she had and there was no doubt where she was headed…straight to me.

I want to live like that, don’t you? I want everything I do and say, how I treat my health and how I love others to show the world that I’m on a road that leads to the only One that matters. From start to finish, I’m in this race with grace. And after the uphills, the downhills and even the pitfalls, when mission meets accomplishment — not ours, His — I want my face to say it all.

–Jimmy Peña

P.S. Fresh off the D.C. Half Marathon, there may be a couple of race-themed entries next week. In the pic above, Letta has just found her name on the Nike wall. Neat moment…

“The amazing thing is that He is as proud of our attempt (to run) as he is in our finish.” –Sandie Powell

PRAYFIT DIET: CARB SWAPS
Making simple switches can help you to slow down digestion and boost your health

When it comes to the age-old struggle between white rice and brown rice, which one comes out on top? In The PrayFit Diet, we take to answering this question and others like it.

While white rice is not necessarily bad for you, it can be higher on the glycemic index — meaning a higher spike in blood sugar — which is not ideal for weight loss. But provided you are not dousing it in butter and other calorie-rich sauces, you’re not doing too bad for yourself. However, since eating two servings or more per week of brown rice has been shown to decrease your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 16 percent or more, brown rice holds the edge.

>> To get more healthy-living carb swaps like this, pick up a copy of The PrayFit Diet today!

Grace Defined

April 28, 2014

“For by grace you have been saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God, not of works, so no man can boast.” –Ephesians 2:8-9

Read: Ephesians 2

How much work does it take to transform your health? If you asked a hard-gainer how much work it takes to add muscle, they’d tell you it’s pretty tough. Or ask someone who’s struggled their entire life to maintain a healthy weight and you may get a similar response. We need help. We get educated, seek council, take cooking classes, hire trainers, study video. And we’re not even discussing unforeseen illnesses, or even problems with immodesty or pride. Whether it’s for motivation, specific guidelines, disease control or humility, we need assistance in our effort of Godly, physical stewardship.

So with our focus on grace this week, I decided to look it up. Webster defines grace as “Divine assistance given for sanctification.” Now, if you think about how much help we need when it comes to health, how much assistance do you think we need when it comes to Heaven? A little? A lot? A lot, alot? That’s why Webster’s take on grace falls short, doesn’t it? Did you catch it the first time? Assistance, right? So while I was at it, I looked that up too. To define assistance, Webster uses synonyms like “a boost, helping hand, a leg up.” Makes sense to the world. We do our share of the work, and God does His. We try our best, but when our best isn’t good enough for Heaven, He gives our souls a boost.

But grace is more than what Webster might call a hearty helping of chicken soup for the soul. No, our souls need more than help. In fact, we don’t need help, we need Him. If grace were just a boost on God’s part, then you and I could boast in our works. His share. Our share. But we don’t share. Health is never earned. What would ever make us think grace could be?

–Jimmy Peña

PRAYFIT DEVOTIONS ON AUDIO

Are you a fan of the PrayFit Daily devotions? Were you aware that many of our best devos are now on audio? Click here to give a listen to a selection of inspirational entries from PrayFit founder Jimmy Peña.

>> THE PRAYFIT MINUTE: LISTEN

BRING PRAYFIT TO YOUR CHURCH

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

The Promise of Grace

April 27, 2014

“Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.” –2 Corinthians 12:8

Read: 2 Corinthians 12

This being “Grace Week,” I wanted to share (or remind some of you) of a phone call I took from a listener while I was on Moody Bible Radio a while back.

She struggles with a physical ailment — one she can’t shake. Lord only knows how many times she’s gone to the foot of the cross for healing. The sleepless nights, the prescriptions that don’t help, the brokenness untold. Perhaps she asks Heaven if this is how she’ll have to endure earth. Maybe you can relate because you’ve whispered similar on your own tear-stained pillow.

Paul could. We don’t know for sure what Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” was but we do know he was soul-stricken by it. Whether it was physical or spiritual, Paul begged God to remove it. God’s response? Let’s hear it from Paul:

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

Paul mentions that God said, “No” in order to prevent him from becoming conceited. And yes, it’s only God who knows what He’s protecting you and me from or, like Paul, what God is enabling us to do in an even better way when the answer is no.

Today you may be searching for the answer to the question Why? If so, rather than strain to see clearly through that prism of uncertainty, shut your eyes and pray for God to be seen through you instead. Though many of us are hurting, be encouraged. If your body is failing, He won’t. If your limbs have stopped working, He hasn’t. Let’s stand close to Paul and let our pain be bathed in that same promise…”My grace is sufficient for you.”

–Jimmy Peña

Final Prayfit Diet Cover>> THE PRAYFIT DIET continues to inspire people to eat and live healthier lifestyles! We show you how to design the perfect plate and how to anchor your progress to your deepest motivation: health as a means of praise. See how this balanced, easy-to-follow eating plan — backed in faithful stewardship — can help you! Order yours by clicking here.

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.