Tuesday, October 26, 2010
story by: lisa petrarca
This past week I had an encounter with a homeless man. I was incredibly pressed for time, on a tight schedule with a mile long list of things to accomplish in a two hour time frame. An elderly man in his 80's, confined to a wheelchair, leather cracked lines road mapping his face, sat quietly in front of my first stop. As I approached his head was cast downward, the simple cardboard sign he held read, "Anything will help." He never looked up as several people walked into the store. He sat silently, as if he was ashamed to be sitting in front of the store asking others for help.
I made a mental note to be sure to buy him food. In my mad rush, I completely forgot. I was leery about giving him cash, not wanting to contribute to any addictions he may have, so I gave him nothing. I felt bad but headed out of the driveway & across the street to grab a quick bite to eat before my next errand. The pang of guilt/prompting of the Holy Spirit grew stronger as I walked up to order. I noticed a stack of food gift cards next to the register & decided to get him one.
I jumped in my car & rushed back to the store. He was still there. As I walked up to him he slowly raised his head, I said, "Here you go, get yourself something to eat." He softly said, "Thank you very much." I let him know that Jesus loved him & quickly headed onto my next list item.
This encounter probably wouldn't have happened the same way, had I not remembered to pray that morning, asking the Lord to fill me with His spirit. I asked that He use me to help others and bring things to my attention. I used prayer as my fuel, my gasoline and God directed me straight to a needy person. Without gas/fuel we wouldn't be able to start our cars, we'd be stuck. A day without prayer is exactly the same thing, we usually are left overwhelmed, anxious and worried, which leaves us unable to focus on the things God has for us that day.
If I hadn't remembered to pray, I know that my plans and schedule for the day would have taken precedence over going out of my way to help someone in need. You see, I allowed God to "Fill up my tank." I specifically asked to be filled with the love of Christ. He responded by taking me straight to someone in need. On my own, I don't always notice things. My schedule is full, my days are exhausting and I wouldn't have the time or desire to meet the needs of strangers. I'm barely able to meet all the needs of my family.
But with God filling me up in the morning, He helps me see the things that He sees. He lifts me up, fills me up and guides my way. Showing me HIS direction for my day! Be sure to gas up today, It's Free and you have a long, busy day in front of you. Don't forget to pray!
But just as you excel in everything-in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us-see that you also excel in this grace of giving.
2 Corinthians 8:7
Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability.
2 Corinthians 8:2-3
Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: "He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor; his righteousness endures forever."
2 Corinthians 9:6-9
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
photo & story by: lisa petrarca
Why is it so hard to learn to walk by faith? Some days I do well and other days I have to get on my knees and stay there until the fear, anxiety and negative thoughts disappear. I've learned to pray through these things.
On those days, my prayers also need to continue throughout my day, with each unsettling encounter, with each self defeating thought, because there is an enemy who wants to bring me and you down. He wants to see us fail.
Prayer and the scriptures is how you defeat him. Just as Jesus did when He was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, He was hungry, and satan came to tempt Him. Jesus came back at him with scriptures, quoting truth, quoting life sustaining wisdom, quoting His Father's words.
Jesus answered, "It is written: "Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God" Matthew 4:19
Jesus answered him, "It is also written: "Do not put the Lord your God to the test" Matthew 4:7
Jesus said to him, "Away from me, satan! For it is written: "Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only." Matthew 4:10
Are you able to do this? When negative thoughts are flooding your mind like a tidal wave, drowning your confidence and self worth, are you able to stop it? Are you reading the scriptures daily, absorbing all that God is trying to reveal to you? He has given you a lifeline, a safety net, a boat to help you reach the other side without drowning. Stop treading water, you will eventually begin to sink. Grab hold of God's life jacket. He has given you the answers to all your questions, just reach out, open the scriptures and pray today.
The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever. My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest. Isaiah 32:17-18
O Lord, be gracious to us; we long for you. Be our strength every morning, our salvation in time of distress. Isaiah 33:2
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
story by Lisa Petrarca
During a recent rain storm, I was on the freeway and switched lanes as my exit approached. My tail end started to hydroplane. I tried to correct it four times, finally my car slid completely sideways, hitting the side of the embankment at 55 mph. My first thought was, "Oh no, I'm going to roll over. This is how it happens, one day you're driving to work and the next minute you're gone."
That morning, before I left for work, I prayed for a hedge of protection around each of my family members, but I forgot to pray for myself.
Now I was headed for certain disaster.
Did that mean that I wasn't protected? Was I still covered by the Lord's grace?
Who is really in charge of my life?
I usually thought that I was & carried my burdens in just such a way:
How can I fix this situation?
What can I do to change things?
I can't fix this so I'm going to just give up?
I don't know what to do, my problems are too big!
But what that one day taught me, in a very terrifying, yet vivid way, I am not expected to handle things alone. I can't control a sliding car, an illness, a terminal diagnosis, infertility, a wayward child, an out of control spouse, an addiction, whatever it is that's going on that I have been trying to control is beyond my capability.
God never intended for us to head out each day alone. He has given us words of encouragement, prayer for protection, a Savior, Jesus Christ for the atonement of our sins, and the Holy Spirit for wisdom & discernment.
As I hit the hill, my car didn't rollover. I slid up it, spun around & ended up coming safely to a stop half way up the hill. A woman ran down the hill, in the pouring rain, hugged me & told me "God was protecting you today!" Before I headed onto the freeway she told me again, "God is looking out for you," and blew me a kiss.
Remember today, YOU ARE NOT ALONE, GOD IS WITH YOU. Pray & ask for His wisdom & guidance to face whatever is sliding out of control in your life.
What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all-how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?
I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples."
Monday, October 4, 2010
story by: Lisa Petrarca
I was running in the race for a long, long time. The finish line seemed to never appear. I stopped and sat down for a while, became discouraged & turned back. Once I reached the starting line, I realized that I was alone there, everyone else was heading to the finish line. I began to sprint, growing weary I sat down to catch my breath. Then I heard a prompting, "Keep going, it's not far now."
I walked at first then began to jog, running into several obstacles along the way. This race was more difficult than I thought. Can I ever finish? "Keep going, it's not far now," was the whisper in my ear.
The dark & cold enveloped me but I knew I was closer then when I first started. I took slow but steady steps forward, stumbling and sometimes falling but always getting back up. In this race I realized I was growing in strength and determination. "Keep going, it's not far now," the ever present voice whispered.
As the dawn broke, a double rainbow appeared before me. I stood in awe and amazement. The arches of my finish line appeared before me. God's love shining down from above.
To reach my finish line I must push forward through life's trials and obstacles. Prayer and the scriptures giving me fuel, strength and light to guide my way, as I continue on in hope and faith. Eventually reaching the beauty of the endless rainbow that signifies God's unconditional, unending love.
According to His eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. In him and through faith in Him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.
I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.