Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Race

by: Lisa Petrarca

The first race was about to start, Elijah was to run the 400 Meter event (1 complete sprint around the entire track). Immediately following his race he had to line up for his 200 Meter event. He would have no time to rest in between.

In prior years, he trained rigorously to prepare for all of his meets. This training is what enabled him to be so successful. Capturing the Southern CA Championship Gold medal year after year. This year has been quite different. He had become used to winning with such ease, that whenever he was asked to start training, he would reply, "Let's start next week". Week after week went by without any training. Before he knew it the season was upon him. He had run out of time.

The 400 Meter race began, he pulled out way ahead immediately. As he rounded the last turn and was running down the final stretch, his legs began to tighten, his head bobbed forward and back trying to propel himself across the finish line. The other racers started to inch closer. Willing himself across the finish line he captured first place. However not with the ease of prior years.

He headed over to line up for the 200 Meter race and collapsed on the ground trying to stretch out his cramping, ill prepared muscles. He wondered how he could run another race when he was barely able to stand. He slowly got into position knowing that this race wouldn't end as well.

The gun sounded and he was able to stay neck and neck with the top two racers until the last 100 meters. They darted ahead as his legs were moving but felt like 100 pound weights. He crossed the finish line in 3rd place. Disappointed but knowing that his lack of preparation had put him in this position.

We all need to prepare for the events in our life. Most people are aware of this no matter what sport they play...practice and preparation is ALWAYS needed. Unfortunately, like Elijah, we are ill prepared for the race that God has planned for us.

He has set up practice times (daily prayer and scripture reading), teaching us how to become closer, trust, have complete faith, inner strength and peace through him. This prepares us for the big event or GAME DAY. When he puts us on that track, field, or court of life. When we are to become the person that God has been preparing us to be. Don't waste your practice time! Will you be ready and strong enough to win the race for which God has called you?

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 1 Corinthians 9:24,25

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

Friday, April 17, 2009


A successful Christian business man was growing old and knew it was time to choose a successor to take over the business. Instead of choosing one of his directors or his children, he decided to do something different. He called all the young executives in his company together.

He said, "It is time for me to step down and choose the next CEO. I have decided to choose one of you. "The young executives were shocked, but the boss continued."I am going to give each one of you a SEED today - one very special SEED. I want you to plant the seed, water it, and come
back here one year from today with what you have grown from the seed I have given you. I will then judge the plants that you bring, and the one I choose will be the next CEO"

One man, named Jim, was there that day and he, like the others, received a seed. He went home and excitedly, told his wife the story.

She helped him get a pot, soil and compost and he planted the seed. Everyday, he would water it and watch to see if it had grown. After about three weeks, some of the other executives began to talk about their seeds and the plants that were beginning to grow. Jim kept checking his seed, but nothing ever grew. Three weeks, four weeks, five weeks went by, still nothing. Potted plantBy now, others were talking about their plants, but Jim didn't have a plant and he felt like a failure.

Six months went by--still nothing in Jim's pot. He just knew he had killed his seed. Everyone else had trees and tall plants, but he had nothing. Jim didn't say anything to his colleagues, however. He just kept watering and fertilizing the soil - He so wanted the seed to grow.

A year finally went by and all the young executives of the company brought their plants to the CEO for inspection. Jim told his wife that he wasn't going to take an empty pot. But she asked him to be honest about what happened. Jim felt sick at his stomach, it was going to be the most embarrassing moment of his life, but he knew his wife was right. He took his empty pot to the board room. When Jim arrived, he was amazed at the variety of plants grown by the other executives. They were beautiful--in all shapes and sizes. Jim put his empty pot on the floor
and many of his colleagues laughed, a few felt sorry for him!
Planting the seed
When the CEO arrived, he surveyed the room and greeted his young executives. Jim just tried to hide in the back. "My, what great plants,
trees, and flowers you have grown," said The CEO. "Today one of you will be appointed the next CEO!" All of a sudden, the CEO spotted Jim at the back of the room with his empty pot. He ordered the financial director to bring him to the front. Jim was terrified. He thought, "The CEO knows I'm a failure! Maybe he will have me fired!"

When Jim got to the front, the CEO asked him what had happened to his seed - Jim told him the story. The CEO asked everyone to sit down except Jim. He looked at Jim, and then announced to the young executives, "Behold your next Chief Executive! His name is Jim!"

Jim couldn't believe it. Jim couldn't even grow his seed. How could he be the new CEO the others said?

Then the CEO said, "One year ago today, I gave everyone in this room a seed. I told you to take the seed, plant it, water it, and bring it back to me today.

But I gave you all boiled seeds; they were dead - it was not possible for them to grow. All of you, except Jim, have brought me trees and plants and flowers.

When you found that the seed would not grow, you substituted another seed for the one I gave you. Jim was the only one with the courage and honesty to bring me a pot with my seed in it. Therefore, he is the one who will be the new Chief Executive!"

Planting the Seeds

If you plant honesty, you will reap trust

If you plant goodness, you will reap friends

If you plant humility, you will reap greatness

If you plant perseverance, you will reap contentment

If you plant consideration, you will reap perspective

If you plant hard work, you will reap success

If you plant forgiveness, you will reap reconciliation

If you plant faith in Christ, you will reap a harvest

So, be careful what you plant now; it will determine what you will reap later.

To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever. But you brought my life up from the pit, O Lord my God. When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, Lord, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple. Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs. But I with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the Lord.

Jonah 2:6-9

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Take The Gift

Take The Gift
by Lisa Petrarca

Crossing the busy intersection, there stood “Moses,” a local street preacher who received his name from the people in town. He can be seen on any given day at the Huntington Beach or Newport Beach Pier. He doesn’t shout out or yell at people as they pass by, he stands at the corner, while people wait for the light to change. He reads from the Bible, verse after verse, hoping that God will use him to touch someone’s life. He has chosen the life of a servant. He knows that people laugh, mimic, mock and call him a freak, but he just continues to read. He has sacrificed his own personal need to be accepted and focuses on others.

Directly across the street, a large group of people is circled around something. Pushing up through the shoulder-to-shoulder crowd I peak through to see what is so interesting to hold everyone so captivated. There is a man, about the same age as “Moses” but unlike “Moses,” he must be a VERY important person to have so many people stop and take time out of their busy day to listen to him. I finally squeeze my way close enough to stand on my tippy toes to get a glimpse of this obviously VERY IMPORTANT person. The moment my eyes focus on his face, I hear him shout, “Everyone ready…here goes!” In his hand he is holding the largest, thickest nail I have ever seen. In his other hand he is grasping a hammer. He places the nail up into his nose and begins to hammer it in. The crowd responds with loud gasps and some even cover their eyes…only to remove them to watch again. I rapidly turned around and pushed my way back out.
Glancing across the street I see Moses still standing stoically alone, holding God’s word and waiting for the crowd to come his way.

In today’s world, the one who can shock and horrify people is the one who draws the crowd. The preacher on the corner is ignored…“He’s crazy!”

This Easter, remember that Jesus also had huge nails hammered into his body, Not for entertainment, not to draw huge crowds, but to save each and everyone of us. His ultimate sacrifice should not be taken for granted. Don’t waste this precious gift he has freely given you. We all sin…we all can be forgiven. TAKE THE GIFT!

When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. Colossians 2:13-15