Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Trapped in a Raging River

story by: lisa petrarca

Billy was a young freckled face, precarious, adventure seeking boy of 12. He lived in the beautiful, lush state of Montana and enjoyed hiking and fishing. One warm spring morning he headed out to fly fish in the river not far from his home. As he came upon his favorite spot, he noticed that the river was swollen from a rain storm that had hit a few days prior. It was racing, swiftly winding around the bend with amazing speed and force.

He stood at the edge, dressed in his chest high fishing waders, contemplating if he should attempt it. His father always warned him not to go in after a rain storm until he knew it was safe and the water had slowed down. His mind began to rationalize, "It'll be okay, I know this river and besides I'm a strong swimmer." He pushed aside the nagging feeling that this was a bad idea and stepped cautiously into the white capped water.

Two steps in and he was sucked under. He popped up for a minute, gasped for air and was tossed, thrashed and flipped back down. His suspender caught on something & held him down. He frantically tried to free himself, all he could think of was, "I need air." As he started to suck water into his lungs he prayed, "Please Lord, save me. Please help me, I'm drowning, I need you." He was immediately yanked up, someone's hand lifted him out of the water pulling him onto the embankment. He coughed, gasped, and looked around for the person who saved him. Two men were running toward him shouting, "You okay kid?" We thought you were a goner." Billy stammered, "D d did you save me?" Unable to comprehend how these two men could've pulled him out from around the bend.

"Naw, you were just lucky," they replied.

"No, really someone grabbed my hand and pulled me," he replied.

"No kid, there's no one around but us, the force of water must have catapulted you to the shore."

That's when Billy realized that the Lord had heard and answered his prayers. He looked at the men and said, "I prayed and God answered, he reached into the water and set me free."

We go about each day, never having enough time for God. We face difficulties and struggles in our lives, but we can have Jesus as our lifeguard, He is our Savior.

Why do we think we can head out on our journey alone? The Lord knows the way you are going. He knows the obstacles you will face. He has the tools to get you there safely. Don't head out today on your own - let God be your guide, He's the expert. If you feel like you're drowning, cry out to the Lord and know that He will hear you. He can be found through prayer and scripture study.

Psalms 20
- May the Lord answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you. 6- Now I know that the Lord saves his anointed; he answers him from his holy heaven with the saving power of his right hand. Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.

Psalms 25
4, 5- Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


author unkown

As I faced my Maker at the last judgment, I knelt before the Lord along with all the other souls.

Before each of us laid our lives like the squares of a quilt in many piles; an angel sat before each of us sewing our quilt squares together into a tapestry that is our life.

But as my angel took each piece of cloth off the pile, I noticed how ragged and empty each of my squares was. They were filled with giant holes. Each square was labeled with a part of my life that had been difficult, the challenges and temptations I was faced with in every day life. I saw hardships that I endured, which were the largest holes of all.

I glanced around me . Nobody else had such squares. Other than a tiny hole here and there, the other tapestries were filled with rich color and the bright hues of worldly fortune. I gazed upon my own life and was disheartened.

My angel was sewing the ragged pieces of cloth together, threadbare and empty, like binding air.

Finally the time came when each life was to be displayed, held up to the light, the scrutiny of truth. The others rose; each in turn, holding up
their tapestries. So filled their lives had been. My angel looked upon me and nodded for me to rise.

My gaze dropped to the ground in shame . I hadn't had all the earthly fortunes. I had love in my life, and laughter. But there had also been trials of illness, and wealth, and false accusations that took from me my world, as I knew it. I had to start over many times. I often struggled with the temptation to quit, only to somehow muster the strength to pick up and begin again. I spent many nights on my knees in prayer, asking for help and guidance in my life. I had often been held up to ridicule, which I endured painfully, each time offering it up to the Father in hopes that I would not melt within my skin beneath the judgmental gaze of those who unfairly judged me.

And now, I had to face the truth. My life was what it was, and I had to accept it for what it was.

I rose and slowly lifted the combined squares of my life to the light. An awe-filled gasp filled the air. I gazed around at the others who stared at me with wide eyes.

Then, I looked upon the tapestry before me. Light flooded the many holes, creating an image, the face of Christ. Then our Lord stood before me, with warmth and love in His eyes. He said, 'Every time you gave over your life to Me, it became My life, My hardships, and My struggles.

Each point of light in your life is when you stepped aside and let Me shine through, until there was more of Me than there was of you.'

May all our quilts be threadbare and worn, allowing Christ to shine through!

God determines who walks into your life...it's up to you to decide who you let walk away, who you let stay, and who you refuse to let go.

When there is nothing left but God that is when you find out that God is all you need.

Father, bless all my family & friends in whatever it is that you know they may need this day! And may their life be full of your peace, prosperity and power as they seek to have a closer relationship with you. Amen.

"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not put out the Spirit's fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil. May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it."
1 Thessalonians 5:16-24

"In you, O Lord, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame. Rescue me and deliver me in your righteousness; turn your ear to me and save me. Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go; give the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress. Deliver me O my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of evil and cruel men. For you have been my hope, O Sovereign Lord, my confidence since my youth. From birth I have relied on you; you brought me forth from my mother's womb. I will ever praise you. I have become like a portent to many, but you are my strong refuge. My mouth is filled with your praise, declaring your splendor all day long."
Psalm 71:1-8

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

In the Midst of It

I sometimes think that when things continue to go bad in my life, the lesson I haven't learned is to let go. I'm not able to control everything, I need to turn it entirely over to Heavenly Father. Yes, easier said than done I KNOW! But I've learned to read the scriptures every morning before I start my day (there is incredible power in His word) and pray throughout the day when I become overwhelmed.

I think of how Paul was able to sing praises to God while he was locked in prison, beaten, tortured and still find the peace to sing in the midst of it.

How Daniel, a faithful servant, would not stop praying to God even though he knew he could be killed, he prayed boldly, with the windows open for all to see. He was thrown into a lions den, never worrying or doubting, just praying with continued faith in the midst of his supposed imminent death. He was saved through his unwavering faith and trust.

Job, a faithful man, who was stripped of his wealth, homeless and riddled with sores and wounds, was told by his friends and wife to curse God and die, but he refused. He continued on in faith and trust knowing that it was for a purpose in which he didn't understand. He was eventually blessed beyond his wildest dreams.

God's own son, our Savior Jesus Christ, bled from every pore and suffered and died on the cross for our sins, shouting out in his darkest hour, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." Ultimately saving each and every one of us through the power of His sacrifice.

God could have stopped each of these events, but every situation was for a purpose, a purpose beyond our comprehension. We can now read these historical stories in the Bible and see why they happened. We have these past examples to help us get through our difficulties. It serves as a reminder to constantly pray, read the scriptures, and lean on the Lord in our darkest hours, for He alone can ease our pain & suffering, bringing us to a place where we can even sing His praises in the midst of our trials.

Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith.
Hebrews 4:1-2

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Hebrews 4:14-16

Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are confident of better things in your case - things that accompany salvation. God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.
Hebrews 6:9-12

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Caught In the Eye of an F-4 Tornado

David Young revisits the scene of the F-4 Tornado

It was good Friday and the Tennessee minister decided to go for an early jog before his church service. He often ran, praying and talking to God as he went. After a few miles, it began to hail, then the lightening started, he quickly realized he was in trouble.The tornado moved swiftly upon him. He instinctively grabbed for the nearest tree & clung to it with all his might. As the wind began to pick up, he found his body flying straight out, waving like a flag in the wind.

David Young vividly recalls:

"The front wall of the tornado was bad, but when it passed, I found myself in the strangest world I’ve ever seen. I was in the eye of the tornado, and I knew it. I dropped back to the ground and instinctively curled around the tree again. A lot of debris was still shooting across the river, firing across my line of sight like meteors. But now I also saw debris spiraling inside the vortex of the tornado. Close to me, it was traveling at lightning speed, racing around and around just like you’d expect.

But farther up, along the inside of the funnel, the debris was moving slowly, gracefully, almost playfully at the top. It wasn’t circling; it was dancing, up and down more than from side to side. I don’t know how far up I could see, but it seemed like miles. A strange light illuminated the inside of the tornado. It was totally surreal. It was peaceful, calm, and, I hate to say it, incredibly happy. I fancied that angels were performing a ballet just for me at the top of heaven’s ladder. So this is what’s inside a tornado, I remember thinking.

It is not possible to describe the feelings you get in the eye of a tornado. There is such a mixture of primal feelings—blood pulsing, mouth drying, eyes focused, heart racing, muscles taut. Everything that has been you, in my case for 48 years, comes down to one infinite point and freezes; your breathing calms and your mind seems to step out of your body and look around in amazement. You notice the smallest details: a leaf blowing past, a small sound, the strange illumination inside the vortex. You watch the inside of the funnel as though you were watching a movie. There’s a strange sense of detachment.

And you feel, at the same time, both all alone and totally immersed in the love of God. I mean that literally. In the eye of the storm, there is no one else, and as far as you can tell, the entire world is now gone. The peace, the beauty, and the overwhelming view up the vortex above all lead you to feel an intimacy with God. I felt loved in the eye, and even now that feeling moves me to tears."

David felt as though the Lord had protected him. God could have completely stopped the storm or kept David out of it, but he didn't. He chose to put David right in the middle of that tornado. As everything raged around him, God protected David, placing him in the safest part of the vortex.

As life's storms rip, spin and throw your emotions & body around, you can learn to rest in God's arms, morning, noon and night. The "eye of the storm" symbolizes God's love and peace. He is right at the heart, the middle, the center of your life, ready to keep you safe. Your tornado may be raging all around you, spinning out of control, but the Lord will keep you in his safe embrace, in His "Eye," His unending love. Call out to Him in prayer today and let Him carry you safely through.

"By His breath the skies became fair; His hand pierced the gliding serpent. And these are but the outer fringe of His works; how faint the whisper we hear of Him! Who then can understand the thunder of His power?"
Job 26:13-14

"Does God listen to his cry when distress comes upon him? Will he find delight in the Almighty? Will he call upon God at all times? I will teach you about the power of God: the ways of the Almighty I will not conceal. You have all seen this yourselves. Why then this meaningless talk?"
Job 27:9-12

"How you have helped the powerless! How you have saved the arm that is feeble! What advice you have offered to one without wisdom! And what great insight you have displayed! Who has helped you utter these words? And whose spirit spoke from your mouth?"
Job 26: 2-4

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

You Are Not Alone!

story by: lisa petrarca

Have you ever felt so completely exhausted and overwhelmed with life? Does it seem when you start to find a little bit of peace, something happens to destroy it? There's always something trying to steal your joy. Recently, while talking with a friend about struggles and difficulties, I realized that through it all, after many years of wondering, "How can I ever make it through this? When will I stop being sad, worried and depressed about everything?"

The realization came at a time when the world would think, "How sad, they had to sell their home and start renting again. They barely have enough money to cover the basic necessities each month." But I've never had such complete and total peace. I've learned to stop constantly worrying. I've learned the secret to letting go of every negative, self defeating thought. I've learned to release the overbearing weight of guilt and shame. Most importantly, I've learned that I'm not alone to deal with these things. I want to share this secret, shout it out to everyone who feels as if they are sinking, drowning in life's sea of problems.


Let go of these things. I know it sounds ridiculous. You might say, "Yeah right, you're crazy, you don't know the mess I've made of my life, the sickness I'm dealing with, the situation I'm in?" I too never thought it was possible. I'd done so much damage it seemed beyond repair. That's just it though, it was beyond anything I could change alone. I needed help, I needed encouragement, guidance, peace, faith and forgiveness.

I started with baby steps, praying each morning, sometimes breaking down completely, crying, asking the Lord to change me, and everything in my life. Then I picked up a book, it changed my negative thought patterns. I opened the Bible and read one single scripture in the morning, then slowly began to read a little more. Strongholds in my life began to tear away. My worst fears, negative self talk, lack of trust, self pity, and walls of protection all began to disappear. I was being set free, one prayer, one scripture at a time. The transformation started to take shape. I wasn't being controlled by anger and fear, I was set free, no longer bound by the chains that life and it's difficulties attached to me.

God had given me His peace, it overcomes any and ALL circumstances. His gift, His son, Jesus Christ died for us to be set free. If we call on Him, let go of our troubles and ask HIM to carry them, forgive us and believe that He CAN and WILL do this, you'll find a peace that sustains you throughout every storm of life.

Just think, it all started through prayer, reading the scriptures and getting to know my Father in Heaven and Savior Jesus Christ. My peace is now beyond my circumstances, beyond my troubles, beyond my fear, it's life sustaining. Take small steps today and see where the Lord can take your life.

Is it too much to give the Lord 15 min. of your time to finally have peace?

If you call Him, He will answer.

"I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you. I said, "You are my servant;" I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:9-10

"In those days, at that time," declares the Lord, "the people of Israel and the people of Judah together will go in tears to seek the Lord their God. They will ask the way to Zion and turn their faces toward it. They will come and bind themselves to the Lord in an everlasting covenant that will not be forgotten. "My people have been lost sheep; their shepherds have led them astray and caused them to roam on the mountains. They wandered over mountain and hill and forgot their own resting place." Jeremiah 50:4-6

"Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."
Isaiah 40:28-31