Tuesday, May 31, 2011
story by: lisa petrarca
I was sitting in church, oblivious to what was lurking directly above me. As we began singing, someone behind me gave me a sudden, hard, push to the side. Confused I turned around to see who was shoving me, when she pointed at a spider, dangling from a web, almost resting on my shoulder. My husband who turned to see what was going on, swatted it, swinging the web & spider directly in front of me, as it disappeared somewhere. The rest of the service, I found myself, squirming, itching, and inspecting, I felt like it was on me. I couldn't relax or feel comfortable.
The enemy is just like that spider...sneaking up on you while you are completely oblivious. Just like I thought the spider was still on me, the enemy's lies can trick you into thinking there's no hope. Putting thoughts in your head, making you feel insecure, scared, doubtful...leading you down paths that you shouldn't go, through his lies and manipulation. He began with Eve in the Garden of Eden and continues to this day. Eventually, you find yourself squirming, feeling as though you're unable to get the sin off of you. That's where he'd like you to stay...in self condemnation and sorrow, yet another way to control you. But what you need to remember is the enemy can't hold you in bondage unless you allow him to.
The Lord has promised you something more. A way to be completely forgiven, through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. He's promised to help you remove the "old man" and put on the "new man," freeing you, saving you, releasing you from the self made prison and lies the enemy has held you in. You need to be aware that you are free, you are forgiven. You are a new creation in Christ. Call out to the Lord today, allow him to show you HIS TRUTH.
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them and he has committed to us the message of reconciliation." 2 Corinthians 5:17-19
"Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always." Psalm 105: 4
"Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness and the deepest gloom and broke away their chains." Psalm 107:13-14
Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:22-23
How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!" Hebrews 9:14
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
story by: lisa petrarca
Coach Anthony showed up at the local recreation basketball courts, looking to recruit a few kids to play on his high school, PC Hoops team. He had an abundance of fast, skill position boys, but absolutely no height...which is a must in basketball.
Scanning the courts, he spotted a skinny boy, towering over the other kids, watching them shoot around. He quickly made a bee-line towards the boy, shouting as he approached, "Hey, how tall are you?"
"6'7," he replied.
"Perfect! Do you want to play for my basketball team?"
"Oh, I can't," he quickly answered. "I play baseball."
Really? I could've sworn you were a basketball player with that height," Anthony said in obvious disappointment.
"No, I can't because of baseball, sorry," he shrugged, as he walked away.
One of the boys on the team ran up and said, 'Don't you know who that is coach?"
"No...but he sure looked like a basketball player and I was hoping, our new center," he replied.
"Well he's one of the top baseball players in the Nation! He's probably going to the pro's straight out of high school," he smugly responded.
Anthony had mistaken this star baseball player for a basketball player. His appearance portrayed something he wasn't. An obvious case of mistaken identity. Which brings me to an important question, "Do you give the appearance of something you're not? Do you try to fit in with the crowd, saying and doing things that you're later ashamed of? Or do you strive each day to live a life, showing the love of Christ that is in you?"
We all fall short, and can give others an unclear view of who we truly are inside, often causing "a case of mistaken identity." But God knows you. He knows your heart. You need to seek Him, so your heart and mind can be transformed into who you are in Christ. Moving into all He's called you to be. Daily prayer and scripture study allows the transformation to take place...one day at a time, through a personal relationship with Him. YOUR IDENTITY IS NEVER MISTAKEN WITH GOD. He sees through the hurt, pain and facade. Grow closer and stronger in Him so you can show others who you are in and through Christ, who gives you strength and renews you daily!
"Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened. But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. It is better, if it is God's will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. For Christ died for sins once and for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit..."
1 Peter 3:13-18
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
story by: lisa petrarca
My son had a terrible toothache, off and on for years. He was over 18, so unfortunately I couldn't make him go to the dentist...which he was deathly afraid of. But what he didn't realize was that below the surface, it was being eaten away, little by little. When the pain would subside for several months, everything was great, but suddenly the aching and throbbing would get worse, forcing him to face the fact that once again, there really was a problem.
Eventually, it became so severely infected that he had no choice but to go to the dentist. Unfortunately, it was too late to save the tooth. He'd waited too long to take care of the problem. Now it was going to have to be removed and a bridge built, costing him more money than if he had originally taken care of the problem at the first sign of symptoms.
Our life is often like a toothache. We let sin slowly eat away at our insides. Small things at first, things that we can justify. Things that we think aren't really a problem that needs attention. But slowly, it starts to take root, take hold of us, deeper and deeper at our core. The sin will often flare up, causing trouble, hurt and anger with loved ones or friends. But we push it down and continue on, not addressing the problem. But it's there, rotting inside of you.
You don't realize that you need to go to the source that can take that sin away from you, just like a dentist can remove a toothache, the forgiveness offered from our Savior Jesus Christ can remove sins grip. It's simple and costs nothing. Take the first steps, begin by praying, ask for forgiveness and ask the Lord to help you to overcome the sin. Then spend time daily, talking to Him, as you feel yourself becoming weak in a certain area, PRAY and read a scripture in the Bible (medicine to remove the ache of sin.) The Lord is faithful to answer, but you have to take the first steps and go to Him. Don't wait until you feel you have no other options and you've lost all that once mattered to you. You can remove the pain. Get down on your knees today. He's waiting to lift you up and carry you. His love for you is unending, HE CAN AND WILL MAKE ALL THINGS NEW.
2 Corinthians 5:17 "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"
Ephesians 1:7 "In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace."
Ephesians 2:1 "As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when were were dead in transgressions-it is by grace you have been saved.
Jeremiah 15:19-21 "Therefore this is what the Lord says: If you repent, I will restore you that you may serve me; if you utter worthy, not worthless, words, you will be my spokesman. Let this people turn to you, but you must not turn to them. I will make you a wall to this people, a fortified wall of bronze; they will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you to rescue and save you," declares the Lord. "I will save you from the hands of the wicked and redeem you from the grasp of the cruel."
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
photo: National Geographic
Singing loudly, our voices rising, lifting above the outside rumbling of traffic, people and sirens. Carrying through the park, as we sang, a favorite song of a church member who passed away suddenly last week, in our sorrow, lifting up our praises to the Lord in song.
The church doors were propped open, allowing a cool breeze to flow in. I was captivated by singing coming from directly outside. The joyous song of two small sparrows, perched in the white wooden over-hang, loudly singing along with us. It was mesmerizing, I couldn't take my eyes off them. It was as if they were singing into a microphone, echoing loudly throughout the building, also raising their voices to Heaven. A moment in time, frozen, etched within my soul, knowing that even the sparrows sing praises to the Lord.
Our time here on earth is just a moment compared to eternity. Each day just a flash of light. How you spend that day matters. Take each thought captive, seek to grow closer to Jesus Christ, sharing His unconditional love with others. So when your "moment" has passed, you can hear the Lord say, "Well done my good and faithful servant."
"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me." Psalm 23:4
"But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble. O my Strength, I sing praise to you; you, O God are my fortress, my loving God." Psalm 59:16-17
"My mouth will speak in praise of the Lord. Let every creature praise his holy name for ever and ever." Psalm 145:21
"Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they. Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:26-27, 33
"His master replied, "Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!"Matthew 25:21