Tuesday, July 14, 2015

But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. -2 Corinthians 12:9

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. -Romans 8:28

It is an amazing gift: When we read passages of Scripture -- or even another Christian's account of God touching their lives -- the Holy Spirit gives us a supernatural understanding of those words (John 14:26, 16:13) so that we are able to apply them to our lives and share them with others. A more amazing gift still is when God gives us an opportunity to experience His Word.

The gift of experiencing God's Word is something that has happened to me a few times (i.e., when I was so badly hurt by someone's words and actions that I didn't know what to pray, but I could feel the Spirit interceding on my behalf [Romans 8:26-27]; or when I was facing a situation that should have terrified me, but instead I felt a sense of peace because I focused on God's promises [John 14:27]) -- but without a doubt the events of this weekend were the most powerful imparting of the gift I've yet to receive.

Thursday afternoon I began to get a headache; that headache continued throughout the day on Friday, and by Saturday morning it reached a level where I (a stubborn mule if ever one existed) asked my husband to take me to the local urgent care clinic to get things checked out. With an initial diagnosis of lyme disease and a prescription for antibiotics, we left the clinic thinking that things would get better from there. They didn't. All of Saturday evening and throughout that night I was crying out to the Lord, asking Him to take away a pain so severe there really are no words to describe it. In the midst of my pain and my desperate pleas for relief, I felt Him guiding, telling me that He was not going to take away the pain, but that there was a reason; 2 Corinthians 12:9 and Romans 8:28 were continuously brought before me, and I submitted to His will.

As events unfolded Sunday -- beginning with a trip to the Emergency Room at St. Peter's and ending with a diagnosis of bacterial infection (possibly lyme, but possibly something else [it takes days to get the blood work back]) and even more antibiotics to take -- it was made clear to me exactly what the Lord had done: He allowed me to experience the initial pain because without it I would not have gone to the doctor on Saturday, learned that I most likely had lyme, and gotten my first antibiotics; and He had allowed the excruciating pain of Saturday evening/Sunday morning, because without it, this stubborn mule would not have gone to the Emergency Room, would not have received stronger intravenous antibiotics as well as a second prescription to take home, and thus would not have the correct medications needed to kill the bacteria besieging her body. The Lord allowed me to experience a pain unlike anything I've ever encountered, because without that pain I would not have received what I need to heal.

This weekend, I experienced God's Word, and that is a gift of grace beyond measure.

-Trish Gerstel

Monday, July 6, 2015

About Grace Notes in Music

For me, the music of the ensemble at Emily Olson’s wedding was a huge second blessing. As always, one has to marvel at the effect of notes in the music of the artists: The beginner plays the composition consistently, just according to the score, but the artist -- adding a few extra notes here and there, trills during rests, unexpected brief pauses between notes, a slight shift in the rhythm, added emphasis during certain passages -- makes for beautiful music. These "grace notes" are the musician’s unique effort in interpretation, to capture the mood of the composer.

Translate that into the life of the church: Beyond the church’s standard note-by-note order of worship there are these "grace notes" -- spots of humor in the sermons (planned and spontaneous), a child’s cry at a surprising moment in the flow of the service, freedom of members to interject a thought or a comment meaningfully, a young child’s funny remark during the Children’s Sermon, someone stepping aside during praise time to allow one seated behind them to read the verses on the screen, another's following a coughing old man to help him in the foyer, hearts open and vulnerable to share prayer needs, spontaneous clapping at exciting moments in the praise songs, an occasional "Amen" at an appropriate time. Would not the Composer be pleased?

Doctor Victor Burdick