Tuesday, March 29, 2011

What Are You Doing With Your Talents?

We all have big hopes and dreams. But ask yourself, "Am I being faithful in the little things...the everyday gifts, tasks and challenges that the Lord has put in front of me?"

Our daily activities have a way of overwhelming us to the point that we don't give each task our all. Each experience, hardship and blessing is for a purpose. The Lord hands out special talents, gifts and difficulties, yes difficulties too. Without them, we wouldn't experience growth, gratitude, faith and trust. Which brings me to the story told by Jesus, "The Parable of the Talents," in Matthew 25:14-30.

A man going on a journey entrusted property to three servants, One received five talents, (a talent was worth more than $1,000.00.) The second man was given two talents and the third servant, given one talent. The servant who received five talents went and immediately put it to work and gained five more. The second servant made an additional two talents, but the third servant went off, dug a hole and buried his. When the master returned, the first two men each said, "Master you have entrusted me and I have gained more." He replied, "Well done good and faithful servant! You have been faithful in a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your masters happiness.

The man who buried his one talent said, "Master, I knew you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not gathered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you." His Master replied, "You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not gathered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest. Take the talents from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

Did you catch that the servant with one talent was "afraid", so he did nothing?

I'm often guilty of being afraid, I think we all are at some time or another, but I can't hide in my fear. I don't want to be known as a
"worthless servant." I don't want to shrink back in my fear. I want to step up and be bold through Christ who strengthens me.

Don't hide and bury your talents. The Lord has entrusted you with them for a purpose. Along with that desire, He has filled you with a gift to help fulfill His Will for you, the gift of the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ paved the way, endured unthinkable pain and yet, He never shrunk back, He turned to His Father in difficult & scary times, just as we must, then one day we will hear, "Well done good & faithful servant!"

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Let The Storm Rage On

photo & story by: lisa petrarca

I was sitting in church, looking out the window as we sang to the background howl of the wind, palm trees bending sideways, resisting the powerful gusts threatening to uproot them. The ominous dark clouds quickly moving in, smothering the warmth of the sun as it illuminated, trying to shine through, thick droplets quickly followed, beating against the window pane.

I sat enjoying the beautiful worship music...warm, content and full of peace. Thankful to be inside the safe shelter of church, worshiping the Lord. The serenity within brought my attention to the direct contrast raging just outside our doors.

Everyday we are faced with life's storms. Some are short, quick little bursts, while others seem to pound us for months, even years. The Lord has told us that we can have peace even during the storms. We need to learn to rely, trust & depend on Him, through the renewing of our minds. Removing all negative, self-defeating thoughts & words, letting the Holy Spirit guide us into REAL truth.

Each day, pray for the Lord to strengthen & comfort you so that you can feel the life giving safety that only HE can provide. A place where you can sit in perfect Christ like peace, while the storm rages around you. Knowing that your Heavenly Father is watching over you. He will take care of you...learn to trust Him, putting HIM first in your life.

"A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace." 1 Corinthians 7:15

"Because he loves me," says the Lord, "I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation." Psalm 91:14-16

"If you make the Most High your dwelling - even the Lord, who is my refuge - then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent. For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone." Psalm 91:9-12

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." Jeremiah 29:11-13

Monday, March 14, 2011


story by: Lisa Petrarca

Our Heavenly Father knows how much we struggle with fear. It is consuming, overwhelming & stifling. Fear has a way of grasping hold of you & dragging you down until it's grip pulls so tightly you feel as if you're drowning, sucked deeper & deeper into the dark abyss. Trying desperately to swim to the top for air, but never finding enough fortitude & determination to push yourself to the surface.

It's in those times, when our strength & courage has diminished, the Lord is waiting for us to call HIM. HE DOESN'T WANT OR EXPECT US TO DO IT ALONE. He only asks that we SEEK HIM & HIS STRENGTH.

Fear is a tool of the enemy. He tries to shut us down, hold us back & keep us stagnate. He uses fear to manipulate our thoughts and eventually our actions. Do any of these sound familiar?

1. "I can't do it?"
2. "I'm not smart enough?"
3. "I always ruin everything!"
4. "What's the use, it wont ever change."
5. "No one really likes or truly cares about me!"
6. "I've made too many mistakes & bad choices in my life."
7. "I don't deserve better."
8. "Who would ever love me?"

The list of negative, self defeating thoughts can become endless, filling us with fear, controlling us. But the Lord wants to change those thoughts. He wants to heal all the lies, hurt & brokenness that the enemy has used to sway you for years.

As you pray, ask the Lord to teach you how to replace those self damaging thoughts. When destructive words pop into your head, replace them & SPEAK THE LORDS TRUE & LOVING WORDS. Start hearing and saying the things that your Heavenly Father thinks about you:









My love for you reaches higher than the mountains and stretches wider and deeper than the sea. Take the love that I offer. My love will set you free. BELIEVE, "BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD."

Isaiah 26:3
"You will keep perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the Rock eternal."

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Need a Transformation

story & photo by: lisa petrarca

How transforming is prayer? Can it really change things?

It took me years to really understand the importance of "talking" to God. Allowing Him to come into EVERY area of my life. A lot of times I put Him in a box. Allowing the Lord access to certain areas; my sick friends and family members, when I needed a job or a place to live. Always during the difficult or needy times. I knew those things were okay to pray about. The "normal" requests. But as my walk with the Lord grew deeper, I began to open up every area. Even those deep, dark, dreary areas that remained hidden. Tucked so far back that I often forgot the problems were still there, lingering around.

But in learning to let go...I learned that God wants every part of me. Not just the "normal" everyday things. He wants my trust, He wants to know that I truly believe that HE CAN make ALL things new. The first step became releasing my doubt. Once I prayed, I made a conscious choice to believe. I chose to let go of any doubt and know that when He answers my prayers, it will be the way that is best for me, not necessarily exactly as I want it.

That is where faith and trust come in. Removing the doubt first then relying, believing, expectantly waiting for HIS WILL regarding my prayers. Allowing Him access to every area, every weakness, every self doubt, hurt, pain or shame. LETTING HIM IN, knowing that HE CAN AND WILL heal and transform me. TRUST IN THE LORD!

Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place. Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you. Save me from bloodguilt, O God, the God who saves me, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.
Psalms 51:6-15

Monday, March 7, 2011

Details in a Miracle

photo & story by: lisa petrarca

Walking down the stairs, large red passes hanging from our necks marked, "Guest," we headed below the Honda Center stadium in Anaheim, CA. We were unsure what awaited us, but felt very privileged to be sharing this moment with our dad.

We were taken to a holding room with several people. Pushing our way back trying to find a spot to stand, I put a call into the PR Rep, as instructed by the The Detroit Red Wings PR Executives. I was told they were in a press conference but would be done in a few minutes. I assumed, as did my family, that we would be staying in this area & mingling with the coaches and players along with all the other "guests."

This was a gift to my dad, first surviving inoperable 4th stage lung cancer and now getting to meet The Detroit Red Wings Hockey coach, Mike Babcock (also the gold medal winning Canadian Olympic Hockey coach) and the players.

My dad grew up in Michigan and was actually asked to try out for their farm team as a goalie. He chose to join the Marines and served his country. Upon returning, he played for the semi-pro team, The Reno Aces for several years.

I received another call a few minutes later. The PR rep came and took us down the hallway, as we entered a room, Mr. Babcock and the entire coaching staff were standing there to greet my dad. We were alone in the room visiting with them for about 15 minutes. They also invited my dad and mom to come to their practice in Phoenix and hang out with the team.

This was so much more than I ever expected! The special attention, time and treatment my dad received was such a blessing!

While driving to work the next morning, so full of gratitude, I turned to see a large sign on the side of a car, "Jesus' Detailing." How appropriate...at that moment, I thought of how Jesus sits at the right hand of God interceding on our behalf...even the special little details that we never expect.

Never give up hope...Jesus is interceding on your behalf and Heavenly Father is faithful to answer!


31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 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? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written "For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered"
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.