Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A few days ago I was contacted by someone who I had not seen in about five years -- a person who had caused a great deal of hurt and turmoil in my life about 10 years before that.

Five years ago my attitude towards this individual was bitter. My retribution was to spew out hateful words and to wallow in my wounded pride. When I asked Jesus into my heart, however, His grace showed me how to (and gave me the strength to) forgive the person. As a result, my reaction to them was completely different when they contacted me a few days ago: I understood that their actions all those years ago came from a place of deep hurt (one that they still are striving to fill), and I responded to them in a loving manner.

I'm not sure if my loving response to this individual had any great impact on them (our contact was limited), even though I hope that God used it to draw them nearer to Him. What I do know for certain, though, is that God used it to strengthen me and give me peace. Five years ago, an encounter with this person---one that I reacted to with hate---left me angry and in a dark place for days. Just a few days ago, an encounter with them---one that I reacted to with love---left me feeling joyful and full of gratitude.


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

As I was waiting for a procedure that my husband was getting done today, I noticed an elderly man named Bob sitting there, reading his Bible and underlining scripture. God called me to go talk with him. We had a great conversation and I read some Scripture to him from my Bible. God called me to share His love with this gentleman. We ended with a hand shake and when I told him that I will pray for his wife he said, "God bless you."

After Bob left the room I thought about that statement: I am blessed! God's grace brought Bob and I together in that waiting room today, bringing comfort to both of us.

Stacey Sicko

Friday, October 17, 2014

As many of you know my family has been faced with a difficult situation over the past week: My older brother, Ed, suffered a stroke in the frontal lobe of his brain nearly two weeks ago. This is the part of the brain that controls our impulses and other higher functions. As a result my kindhearted, generous brother who loves the Lord, has become forgetful, combative, and foul-mouthed. Right now my younger brother, Rick, and his wife Kris are the ones who are dealing with it most directly, as they have flown to Seattle -- where Ed lives -- in order to bring him back with them to their home in Minneapolis.

But even in as trying a situation as this one has been, God’s grace shines through!

At one point it looked as if Ed would have to stay in Seattle for two to three weeks to receive therapy. Rick and Kris couldn’t stay in Seattle for that long, though, since they had a home to take care of, jobs to perform, and a wedding to prepare for (Rick’s daughter is to be married on November 1). But Ed would need to be looked after, and he has no friends or family in Seattle. This led me to contact Ken Burdick, pastor of the Seventh Day Baptist Church in Seattle, to ask if he might be willing to check in on Ed. I was upfront about the fact that this would not be a pleasant task, because I didn’t want Pastor Ken to be unaware of what he was agreeing to do. Almost immediately Pastor Ken wrote back to say that both he and his wife would be more than willing to make contact with Ed and provide him with pastoral care. Now, remember, Ken and Ruth do not know Ed from Adam. Remember also that Ed has become a handful, to say the least. And yet Ken was more than willing to do this because, as he wrote, “Christ’s love constrains us” to do what is pleasing to Him (see 2 Corinthians 5:14).

As it turned out, Ed will be moving to Minneapolis -- at least for now -- and Ken and Ruth will not need to follow through for now. But their offer stands, and if Ed ends up back in Seattle for some reason, he will have people there who love and care for him. But here’s the best part: Ken and Ruth’s gracious actions opened the door for me to share my faith and the Gospel with my siblings. They were amazed that anyone would be willing to do this for a stranger, which opened the door for me to explain what a blessing it is to belong to a “family” that will graciously care for one another because they have experienced God’s grace in their own lives.

And that is how God’s grace was at work in my life just this week.

Pastor Matt

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Grace to Let Go

As far back as I can remember, I was a people pleaser. I strived to do things that would make people "like" me so that I could feel as if I had some sort of value. Without the approval of others, I felt worthless.

Today, I praise the Lord every day for opening my heart to the truth of His love: That a Holy God sent His Son to live amongst sinners in a fallen world full of sin and death, and that Jesus Christ was willingly mocked, beaten, hung upon a cross to die, and covered in my sin so that I might have eternal life. This knowledge gives me a true sense of value -- one that cannot be taken away by the ways of this world.

"For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:38-39

-Trish Gerstel