I make a habit of writing blog posts about those who have been a major influencer in my life. It’s called my Profound Impact list. It’s my tribute to those who I have looked up to in life and remember fondly in death. The first one of these would be my grandfather, Clifton Raeke, who I wrote about two years ago in a blog post.
Pastor Jim Stalder joined my list this past Friday when he went to be with the Lord.
He was my family’s pastor from when I was a baby until I was about five years old. We stayed close with their family as I grew up. He attended my parents’ Bible study and I got to witness first-hand his passion for scripture and evangelism. After I got married to Bailey, we attended the church where he used to serve and still attended. I would talk to him occasionally on Sunday mornings.
Honestly, I didn’t even know him that well but I observed him closely. Pastor Stalder loved his wife, his family, and the Church. He loved being in fellowship with God’s people. He was a humble man with a deep conviction for peoples’ souls. He made them laugh. He added many years of wisdom to the Sunday morning Bible study. I wasn’t the only one he influenced, though. I saw his grandson, Ben, follow in his footsteps and begin seminary last summer. He impacted a lot of people.
Most importantly, however, he was a strong follower of Christ. He held onto Christ as his rock because he knew nothing else could save him from his sinful heart. He would readily admit his faults. Pastor Stalder pointed to Christ in everything he did because he had a deeply held belief in what his Savior did for him on the cross.
The reason he fits into my Profound Impact list is because he baptized me on Christmas day, 1994. He acted as a tool that God used to cleanse me of my natural sin. As Christians, we believe that baptism is a means by which God gives us grace and gives us His Holy Spirit. We are part of His family. And because of that, we don’t believe baptism is anything that we do ourselves but totally and completely God’s work in our lives.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.Ephesians 2:8-9
Pastor Stalder believed that. He truly believed that he was merely a tool in God’s toolbox. He didn’t believe my baptism was anything that he did but that it was completely God’s doing. That’s why he’s on my list. He’s someone I saw give God everything he had so that God could use him wherever needed. And because of that, he helped start me on a spiritual journey that is not yet finished.
That inspires me.