Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Realizing that I Need God and His Power, Wisdom, and Love - In Jesus!


Dear Members and Friends of St. John,

 

As I try to catch up from having been out of town for a number of weeks, there are various thoughts and experiences running through my mind.  The experiences are separate and different, but the thoughts have a similar thread.

 

Just recently I was visiting an elderly member in their home.  This member is truly concerned about a much younger member of her family.  This member’s loved one has struggled with behaviors that are self-destructive.  Thankfully, the younger person continues to struggle and has not given up. 

 

However, as this member and I discussed young people in general and the troubles of life, two realizations came to our lips. Sometimes the younger the person, the more they think they know about life.  Maybe you’ve run into someone who thinks they know everthing!  Thinking we have all the answers can be dangerous to a healthy life, especially when the unexpected is always right around the corner.  A second characteristic from many young people we know which we discussed is that of thinking they are indestructible!”  After all, it looks like all of life is in front of a young person.  So risky and unhealthy behaviors can just seem like someone else’s needless worry.  But, when the realities of life show themselves, the struggles of life can seem overwhelming!  When those life realities show themselves then even a young person realizes they need help.  In all honesty, they need God, and His power, and wisdom, and His love.

 

Last week while I was in moose camp hunting, and winding down from the busy-ness of work, and processing my dad’s illness and funeral, the beauty of the world around us struck those of us who were in camp.  I have hunted for over 25 years with St. John member, Gerry Zellar.  This year we were also joined by Gerry’s friend, Tom Anderson.  On a beautiful fall day, with the sun shining and temperature in the 60’s, as the mountain were covered with the red undergrowth of cranberries and fireweed, and as the birch trees glowed with their bright yellow leaves, Tom made an observation.  “All you have do is to look at the world around us to see that God is here.”  The beauty was striking and the hand of God was obvious.  But, as we considered Tom’s statement, we realized there are some who don’t see or know or believe in the loving, powerful hand of God.  We agreed, for those who miss seeing God’s hand in the beauty of creation, they need God, and His power, and wisdom, and His love.

 

Last year at this time I was in Florida, preparing to celebrate my dad’s 90th birthday.  We held a party for him on September 23 attended by many family and friends.  When the main party was over my dad looked at me and said, “Well, I’ll see you again in 10 years.”  He was expecting to celebrate his 100th birthday!  But, I’m sure you heard my dad died last month.  Yet, none of us live in this world forever.  We are sinful people in a fallen world and we all face death.  The truth for all of us is, we need God, and His power, and wisdom, and His love.

 

There is a verse of Scripture which talks about those who reject God.  Psalms 14 and 53 share this truth from God.  The fool says in his heart, "There is no God." Denying that we need God, or denying His existence are foolish behaviors and attitudes.  Yet, even if someone thinks they are indestructible, even if someone thinks the world and its beauty are an accident, the realities of the world catch up with us and cause us to see our mortality.

 

What a blessing that God has loved us and sent his Son, Jesus, for foolish, sinful people like you and me.  For all of us facing our guilt, our foolishness, our weakness, and our mortality, Jesus is God’s wisdom.  Romans 5:8 is one of my favorite verses in the Bible sharing the wonderful truth of God’s love.  “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

 

As I try to get back into the swing of daily living, I know this truth: I need God, and His power, and wisdom, and His love, especially as He loves me in Jesus.

 

A Child of God, Realizing that I Need God, and His Power, Wisdom, and Love in Jesus!

Pastor Jonathan   

 

P.S.  I did go moose hunting September 5-14.  It is always good to get away in the woods.  I also had a special permit that would allow me to shoot any bull this year.  However, while I saw cows and heard bulls in the woods, I did not see a bull to shoot.  Nevertheless, since I’m 65 I gave my proxy to Gerry Zellar.  So, while I did not shoot a moose, my permit did – the day after I left!  Here are some pictures from the hunting trip.  https://photos.app.goo.gl/yy6R9BkVZdwsD4iF9

 

P.P.S.  I got a surprise from my dad recently.  One of my nieces was going through some old documents and found an old yearbook.  In that year book, when asked his plans, my dad said, “Would rather go to Alaska.”  Hmmmm!  https://photos.app.goo.gl/PriMSak2fuuwPQTw8

 

P.P.P.S.  Being gone from home can be tough for anyone.  When you are a pastor and you are gone, as I have been, that can be especially difficult.  How can you shepherd God’s people when you’re out of town?  Yet, our elders have encouraged me to take care of myself.  In many ways, that means getting away.  I want to share a BIG THANK YOU to all who kept on while I was gone.  Thanks to Judy and Ethan in the office, to leaders who continued to serve.  Thank you especially to Hunter Richards, Randy Luffberry, Scott Manke, Karl Kopperud, and Carl Jacobson who led Sunday and Wednesday worship while I was gone!!!!

 

 

 

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ABOUT ‘THOUGHTS FROM THE PASTOR’ -   I am sending these e-mail messages, hopefully weekly, to all St. John members and friends whose e-mails I have.  (I am regularly adding new names of friends and members – in case you are just receiving this e-mail for the first time.)  However, if you do not want to receive this e-mail, please let me know, and I’ll gladly leave your name off my list for this message.

 

******

 

PAUL KUNKEL BIRTHDAY PARTY – Long Time St. John member, Paul Kunkel, turns 90 this month.  His family has invited the members of St. John to a birthday party at the Palmer Senior Center on Saturday, September 29, from 3:30 – 5:30 p.m.

            The family asks that you send them greetings or pictures ahead of time for display.  You can send them to

            Paul Kunkel

            c/o Cassandra Tilly (daughter)

            PO Box 80216

            Fairbanks, AK  99708

 

SUNDAY SCHOOL STARTS FOR THE 2018-2019 SCHOOL YEAR – Sunday School starts for ALL AGES this Sunday, September 9, at 9:45 a.m.

 

·       Wooly Lambs – This class taught by Carol Gustafson is for children beginning at birth, with their parents, until 3 years old.

 

·       Sunday School For Elementary Aged Children – There are classes for children beginning with nursery (aged 3) through 5th grade.

 

·       Middle School and High School Classes – There are separate classes for Middle School (grades 6-8) and High School.

 

·       Adult Classes –

 

o   Acts will continue through September taught by Jim Summers

§  -September 9 - Acts chapters 25-26

§  -September 16 - Acts chapter 27

§  -September 23 - Acts chapter 28

§  -September 30 - After Acts (the rest of the story)

 

o   Christian Stewardship Principles is another opportunity to grow taught by the Stewardship Board beginning October 7.

 

o   A Book of the Bible (to be determined) – will be taught beginning in October.

 

OPPORTUNITIES TO SERVE

 

PERMANENT FUND CHECKS (PFD) WILL BE COMING OUT SOON.  For years St. John has encouraged members to consider tithing off their PFD’s.  If all members did so our finances would be way ahead, and we could do much more for our Lord!

 

THE LUTHERAN CHURCH EXTESION FUND (LCEF) is a bank run by our denomination that exists for the purpose of growing God’s Church.  This bank takes deposits from church members and then makes loans to churches for buildings, and to church workers for homes.  The rates paid to member investors, and the rates charged churches and church workers are usually better than commercial rates.

St. John’s loan is with LCEF.  Our current rate of interest is 3.75%.  However, we could lower the rate by 1/8 % if we have 15% of communicant members as investors.  We would need 90 new investors for this break.  We can lower our rate by ¼% if we have 25% of our communicant members, or 167 individuals as investors.

On Sunday, August 12, the Church Council voted to try to at least reach the goal of 100 investors in LCEF.  This doesn’t have to be 100 families, but 100 individual accounts.  So, for example, grandparents can start accounts for grandchildren.  We will hear more about this opportunity in worship in the coming weeks.

Information and applications are on a table in the narthex.

 

ST. JOHN ACTIVITIES AND OPPORTUNITIES

 

 

DID YOU KNOW THAT SUNDAY SERMONS ARE RECORDED AND OFFERED ON LINE ON OUR ST. JOHN WEBSITE?  The July and August recordings are available here:  http://www.stjohnpalmer.org/main_pages/worship.htm.

 

Prayer Ministry Opportunity – There are Elders in Pastor Allen’s former office between worship who are available for prayer each Sunday between services.

 

 

TUESDAY

·       Promise Keepers Men’s Group – Promise Keepers will meet on Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m. beginning on Tuesday, October 2.  This year we will study the book “Gospel DNA”.  Come and join us.

 

WEDNESDAY

·       Quilting – The St. John Ladies Quilt from 9:30 to 11:30 each Wednesday morning.  These quilts are distributed to those in need to share Jesus love in our local community, our state, and around the world.

 

·       Lifelight – Lifelight Bible Classes are held at noon.  We share a pot luck lunch of leftovers.  Classes will start on October 3.  This year we will study Genesis.

 

·       CONFIRMATION – Wednesday Confirmation classes for those in grades 6-8 will begin on Wednesday, October 3, at 2:45 p.m.

 

·       WEDNESDAY WORSHIP – Wednesday worship is offered each week at 6:30 p.m. at St. John.  This service gives another worship opportunity to God’s family in addition to Sunday worship services.  If a person cannot worship on Sunday, the same readings from Sunday are used on Wednesdays, with a different sermon from the Sunday morning sermon.  In addition, if someone wants an additional opportunity for growth and fellowship and praise, Wednesday worship can provide that opportunity.  Come and join us on Wednesday evenings at 6:30 p.m.

 

WEDNESDAY YOUTH ACTIVITIES

 

·       Middle School Youth meet at St. John from 5-6:00 p.m. on Wednesdays.

 

·       High School Youth meet at St. John on Wednesday evenings at 7:00 p.m.

 

FRIDAY

         FRIDAY - NEW ORIGINAL BIBLE STUDY – Twenty and thirty something’s meet at the home of Hunter and Elizabeth Richard, 340 North Bonanza, on Friday nights for Food, Fellowship, and Bible Study.

 

SATURDAY

         SATURDAY ST. JOHN MEN’S BREAKFAST - The St. John men’s group, Promise Keepers, is meeting on Saturday mornings this summer at the Noisy Goose at 7:30 a.m. for food and fellowship.  ALL MEN are invited to join us.  “Fathers, feel free to bring your sons too!  This group meets even when the pastor is out of town.

 

OTHER OPPORTUNITIES FOR GROWTH AND FELLOWSHIP

 

“CHRISTMAS MARKET, MUSIC, AND LUTHER TRIP” TO AUSTRIA AND GERMANY AT THE END OF 2019

 

Pastor Jonathan and Kathy Rockey will be leading a trip to Germany November 26-December 10, 2019.  We will start in Vienna and end in Berlin.  The focus of this trip will be Christmas markets, music, and Martin Luther.  Information about the itinerary, cost, and registration can be found at this link from Luther Tours. - https://www.christiantravelplanners.com/tours/item/181-christmas-markets-austria-and-germany.html

Already, about 25  people have indicated an interest in attending.  If you want to know more about this trip talk to Pastor Rockey or Kathy.

 

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DID YOU KNOW THAT MUCH INFORMATION ABOUT ST. JOHN is available on our church website?  On our web page you can find sermons, newsletters, and these weekly devotions.  The link is:  http://www.stjohnpalmer.org

In fact, IF YOU WANT TO RECEIVE YOUR MONTHLY CHURCH NEWSLETTER BY E-MAIL please e-mail Judy Stahancyk and let her know.  You can call at 745-3338, or e-mail Judy at judy@stjohnpalmer.org. If you receive the newsletter by e-mail it saves printing, postage, and time compiling the newsletter.  Also, you receive the monthly newsletter more quickly!!

 

Monday, September 3, 2018

Praying and Striving to Reflect the Eternal Faithfulness of Jesus


Dear Members and Friends of St. John,

 

I was with my dad when he passed away on Saturday morning, August 25, around 5:30 a.m.  That afternoon my dad’s five children met with staff from the funeral home to plan his funeral.  We sat around the table with the funeral director, Joseph, with his administrative assistant, and with a lady who works on site at the cemetery. Her name was Mary Jo.  During our sharing and planning we mentioned that my dad had visited my mom's grave every day since she died in January of 2011.  Mary Jo asked, "Does he drive a bronze car?"  Well, yes my dad drove a bronze Toyota.  She then followed up our statement by reaffirming, "Yes, he was there every day, and sometimes twice a day.  He'd get out and talk, and then get back in his car and drive away.  We haven't seen him in a while.  We wondered where he was."  Of course, Dad had given up his drivers' license in January, so he could no longer visit my mom’s grave unless someone else took him.

 

My brother James is Pastor of Amazing Grace Lutheran Church in Oxford, Florida, just south of Ocala.  James had recently visited with Pastor Bob Besalski, our former pastor for many years at First Lutheran Church in Gainesville, who, in some very real ways, is still pastor to our family.  Bob lives a block or so from my dad’s former house and kept in touch with him.  After hearing the story from Mary Jo, James related that Bob had told him that he had never seen anyone grieve as long for his spouse as my dad did.  After all, you don’t often hear of someone visiting the grave of their spouse daily, more than seven years after their death!

 

Some might think my dad was grieving.  And in a way he was.  Dad sorely missed my mom since she died.  But, I tend to look at Dad's behavior in another way that tells us about who he was and is.  Dad was faithful.  In his wedding vows he promised to love and cherish Mom "till death do us part."  My dad didn't just take that to mean till my mom's death.  Dad loved and cherished my mom until his death.  So he kept visiting her grave.  Dad was faithful.  Yes, my dad missed my mom and longed for her.  But he kept living his life.  Dad worshiped.  He spent time with family.  He took care of daily chores.  And Dad visited my mom's grave every day until he stopped driving.  Even after he couldn’t drive, he still sometimes he got to her grave.  My dad was faithful.

 

Faithfulness describes my dad in other areas of his life as well.  At one time or another he served in every office and on every board possible at First Lutheran Church in Gainesville.  Dad wasn't looking for recognition.  He didn't demand respect or privilege.  It was part of who He was as a child of God, part of his relationship with Jesus.  Yes, my dad was faithful in his relationship to his family.  He was also faithful in relationship to His Lord and Savior.  Even after he couldn't drive he was in church most every week.  He continued daily times of devotion and prayer.  After his death his granddaughter looked at his devotional material.  It was open to Wednesday, August 8, the last day before he fell and ended up in the hospital.  Perhaps the word that best describes my dad, in my eyes at least, is “faithful.”

 

Some may see this faithfulness as a virtue in my dad.  But even more, I'm convinced that my dad's faithfulness is a reflection of the grace and greater faithfulness He knew he received from Jesus, our Savior.  In John 10:11 Jesus says, "I am the good shepherd.  The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep."  Jesus’ laying down His life for us is grace.  Jesus’ sacrifice is undeserved love.  My dad knew and trusted Jesus' saving love. 

 

But then, later in chapter 10, Jesus follows up on this message of grace with a message of His faithfulness.  "27  My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me.  28  I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand."  (John 10:27-28)  Jesus doesn't just lay down His life for His sheep.  He gives eternal life to all who follow Him and believe in Him!  Eternal life!  No one can take Jesus’ love away from His followers.  Jesus is eternally faithful.

 

My dad knew he was a sinner who was unbelievably blessed by the life and the death and the resurrection of his Good Shepherd, Jesus.  Dad believed that this grace of Jesus was eternally true.  My dad heard the voice and the call of his Good Shepherd to follow his faithful savior.  So my dad, as well as he could, sought to live faithfully himself in his relationship with His Lord.  He sought to be a faithful servant in God's church.  And he was faithful to my mom and to our family.

 

My dad also taught his family faithfulness.  With his words and in his actions he called each of us to honesty and responsibility.  He called us to Christian lives of that put our faith in Jesus into action.  He lived faithfully, and he taught faithfulness.

 

I hope and pray that I can serve my Lord and honor my dad's memory by serving Jesus and His church, and my family, by faithfully reflecting the grace and eternal love of my Good Shepherd.

 

A Child of God, Praying and Striving to Reflect the Eternal Faithfulness of Jesus,

Pastor Jonathan   

 

P.S.  Here are some pictures from Dad’s funeral, 8-29-2018, https://photos.app.goo.gl/bMddU1XmpfFgBvHD7.

 
 

P.P.S.  I updated the slide show I put together from my dad’s life.  You can watch it on this link.  https://photos.app.goo.gl/J4LjF4SRk2csw1NY6

 

P.P. P.S. I returned home from Florida and took some family members fishing on Labor Day.  This was a first salmon for my grandson, Jackson.  https://photos.app.goo.gl/22x4N7u9avZGXiCU9

 

P.P.P.P.S.  I drew an “any bull” permit this year and planned to be hunting at this time.  I will be gone for a week or a week and a half.  There may not be a “Thoughts from the Pastor” next week.

 

 

******

 

ABOUT ‘THOUGHTS FROM THE PASTOR’ -   I am sending these e-mail messages, hopefully weekly, to all St. John members and friends whose e-mails I have.  (I am regularly adding new names of friends and members – in case you are just receiving this e-mail for the first time.)  However, if you do not want to receive this e-mail, please let me know, and I’ll gladly leave your name off my list for this message.

 

******

 

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Overwhelmed by the Love and Concern of God's People

Dear Members and Friends of St. John,

Most of you know that my dad took ill a couple of weeks ago and that he died this past Saturday morning.  When Dad was placed in hospice on Monday evening, I asked my brothers and sister if I should come down to Florida to be with my dad.  Yet, how long would my dad be in the facility?  A couple of days?  A few months?  A fellow pastor I highly respect indicated that I was "between a rock and a hard place" because we don't know what it meant that my dad was now on hospice.  However, when the medical staff suggested that their estimate was that my dad had between 4-6 days to live, I got on a plane the following day and flew to Florida.  I was with my dad all day Friday, and I was with him Saturday morning when he passed away.

One experience that has struck me during this time of sadness and grief at my dad's illness and passing is the tremendous outpouring of care, of concern, and even of love.  I received, and am still receiving, phone calls, texts, hugs, and e-mails from people who want me to know personally that they are praying for me and for my family, and that they care for us.  Two people even sent or posted prayers for us.  And then, as my dad was dying and after he passed, members of my family posted on Facebook.  In response to one post alone there were over 250 personal messages of hope, of support, and of caring.  What a blessing to be comforted by such love and support!!

Actually, showing such love and concern is the way God intends His church live.  God intends for the church to be a family that supports one another as fellow children of our Heavenly Father.  In Romans 12 and in 1 Corinthians 12 God moved Paul to describe the church as "the body of Christ."  in this body each part has a place and a task.  In this church all care for one another.  Listen to these verses about "the body."  "25 . . . God has so composed the body . . . 26 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.  26  If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.  Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it."  (1 Corinthians 12:25-27)

"I do not believe I am alone in receiving such support from my congregation.  You heard those words, "If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together."  There are many who have recently faced life challenges, faced family difficulties, faced financial set-backs, or who have been afflicted by illness or loss.  Time and again in the recent life of our congregation I have seen these people supported by God's children.  Often problems are so big we see no way to solve them.  But, fellow members of the family of Christ can still stand beside those going through tough times. They can and do express care, give support, and bring the presence and the love of God to life's trials.  Such family love in God's church truly does make a difference.  I have seen such loving support work God's grace time after time.

Unfortunately, since the church is made up of sinful people who need a savior, the church does not always act lovingly.  Sometimes our sinful nature can show itself in ugly ways.  I have noted that political fights, when two different viewpoints oppose one another, are ugly.  But, because God's people think the are not just dealing with what is right, but with ultimate truth, church fights can be even uglier.

Nevertheless, I am thankful that God's children at St. John have been there to care for so many in of need.  I am thankful and amazed at the support and Christian love I have received and continue to receive.

Such love and care among God's people should not be a surprise.  On the night before His death Jesus told His disciples, "A new commandmet I give you, that you love one another: just as I love you, you are to love one another." (John 13:34)  God expects us to love and care for one another.  But, that command can seem overwhelming.  Jesus, the Almighty Creator, gave up his home in heaven to come to earth and love us.  Jesus, the Lord of all, lived the righteous life of a servant to love us.  Jesus, the eternal Alpha and Omega, suffered and died on the cross to love us.  And, because He loves us, Jesus, the Son of God, rose again from death and lives in heaven calling all to the gift of eternal life in heaven through faith in Him.  Imagine, Jesus calls us to love one another the way that He loves us!  That can seem overwhelming!

But, when we receive love, we are naturally moved to share love.  When we receive grace and forgiveness, through Jesus, the natural response is to show mercy and forgiveness to others.   When God's children show us love and concern, the natural reaction is to show such loving concern to other children of God.  So, "If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together."

My family and I have hope and assurance in regard to our dad.  Dad knew Jesus and knew His saving love.  My dad has rejoined my mom in the presence of Jesus in heaven.  Nevertheless, the loss is real.  Thank you for your many expressions of love and concern.  Such love and care is overwhelming.

A Child of God, Overwhelmed by the Love and Concern of God's People,
Pastor Jonathan 

P.S. I put together a slide show from pictures I have from my dad’s life.  You can watch it on this link.
https://photos.app.goo.gl/J4LjF4SRk2csw1NY6

P.P.S.  My computer died on Tuesday morning.  I am "hi-jacking" Kathy's computer for a while.  However, many regular e-mails will not be sent until I get home and get the computer fixed.  Maybe I need some time to reflect.

******

ABOUT ‘THOUGHTS FROM THE PASTOR’ -   I am sending these e-mail messages, hopefully weekly, to all St. John members and friends whose e-mails I have.  (I am regularly adding new names of friends and members – in case you are just receiving this e-mail for the first time.)  However, if you do not want to receive this e-mail, please let me know, and I’ll gladly leave your name off my list for this message.

******



 Jonathan Rockey
Child of God
Husband, Father, Son, Grandfather
Senior Pastor, St. John Lutheran Church
907-841-4066 - cell
907-746-5131 - home
907-745-3338 - church
907-746-6117 - fax











Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Standing on and Trusting in THE Rock, Jesus


Dear Members and Friends of St. John, 

 

When I received the call in January of 1991 to serve St. John Lutheran Church in Palmer as pastor, the person to whom I spoke was Pete Probasco.  Pete was congregational president and has been a pillar (Galatians 2:9) at St. John since the late 60’s.  He is a man of faith and integrity respected by many.  Pete is only about 5 years younger than my dad.  So, in some ways, Pete has not only been a member of St. John and a partner in ministry for our Lord, Pete has been like a father figure.  When Pete speaks, I try to listen.

 

So, a couple of years ago Pete was rushed to Mat-Su Regional with a health concern that turned better quickly.  However, in that initial time of concern and of not knowing what was going on, Pete’s daughter, Emily, indicated her concern in the moment.  She understandably wanted her dad to live, for this health scare not to be fatal.  She said, “He’s my rock.” 

 

I replied in a way I now think may have been a little harsh.  But, I told Emily (as closely as I can remember), “He’s not your rock, Jesus is.  And, your dad knows Jesus.  Jesus is there for your dad now.  And Jesus is with you, and gives you strength.”  I understood Emily’s concern.  Her dad has been a “rock of faith and love” in the lives of his family, and in the lives of many others.  In some ways Pete has been a rock to me.  But, we do know that some day we will all be called home.  Jesus is our rock now, and eternally. 

 

Peter, the apostle, and many others describe Jesus as our “rock”, our “stone” on which we build.

4 As you come to him, the living Stone-- rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him-- 5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For in Scripture it says: "See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame."

 

We cannot trust ourselves for eternity.  We have rebelled against God.  We have hurt even those we love.  All of us are weak and sinful.  If we try to stand only on who we are, we fall, because we are not perfect.

 

But, there is one who is perfect, Jesus Christ, the Son of God who lived a righteous life.  This perfect man did not need to die for sin, but He did suffer and die to pay for our failure and our sins.  And thankfully, Jesus is stronger than sin and death and He rose again and offers forgiveness and eternal life to all who believe in this “rock”, our Savior.

 

I say all this because my own dad is dying.  He turned 90 last September and has lived by himself until he fell 2 weeks ago. But, this fall has led to confusion, and pneumonia, and the inability to swallow.  He has not been able to eat or drink for over a week, and at the recommendation of the doctors my dad was placed in a hospice facility on Monday evening.  On Tuesday I learned that the medical staff do not expect my dad to live more than a week.

 

My brother Stephen posted about my dad on Facebook and it has been interesting to watch the hundreds of responses and comments of support and love.  One friend, Margaret Rickers-Hinchey, the wife of Pastor Don Hinchey, who served for a couple of years at my dad’s congregation in Florida wrote,

“Oh my! Bob Rockey has been such a rock for everyone... peace to you all at this challenging time!”

 

Maybe I am with Emily on this one.  My dad has been a “rock” in my life, if not THE Rock.  He is a man of faith who lived what he said he believed.  Even at 90 he worshiped each week.  He spent time daily in devotions.  He served in most every position at his church.  His name is on the plaque at First Lutheran as president when the current church was completed in 1967.  Three of his children became church workers.  And, my dad loved his family with equal faith and fervor.  Until he gave up his driver’s license in January he has visited my mom’s grave every day since she died in January of 2011.  He has been a source of love and an example of faith to all 5 of his children, myself included. 

 

My dad has been asking for my mom, and for his brother.  I leave for Florida on Wednesday night with tears at our coming loss, but with assurance that my dad’s Rock is Jesus, and my dad will soon get his wishes to be with my mom and his brother in our Savior’s presence.

 

Maybe another Facebook post on Wednesday helped point me back to my true Rock.  Pete Probasco’s son, Peter J. Probasco, wrote me,

 

Jonathan my prayers are with you and the Rockey family. Times and decisions like these are very difficult, however as you have always shared with us, it is comforting to know that through God’s grace and love for those who know and accept Jesus as our saviour we rejoice!  (Thanks, Peter!)

 

My dad knows Jesus.  He has built his life on The Rock and we have seen Jesus in my dad’s life.  I am thankful for my dad’s faith in Jesus, and I pray I can be such an example to those around me.

 

 

A Child of God, Standing on and Trusting in THE Rock, Jesus,

Pastor Jonathan          

 

P.S.  I talked to my dad on the phone on August 6 and had a good conversation.  But, since his fall on Wednesday, August 8, he has gone steadily downhill.  I am leaving Wednesday evening after worship to be with my Florida family in anticipation of my dad’s passing.

 

P.P.S.  We had two more good fishing trips.  What a year!

·       On Friday, August 17, I went fishing with Ethan Mirly and Gerry Zellar.  https://photos.app.goo.gl/xPtjH5fXt7YkmNj8A

 

·       On Monday, August 20, I took Sara Guhl’s grandson, Gaelen Swigart, my son, Tim, a baseball player from Tim’s team, and the player’s girlfriend.  We stopped at noon with a good catch of fish.  Here are some more pictures. https://photos.app.goo.gl/aKUMNiFsvRobUkHH9

 

P.P.P.S.  On Friday, August 17, I mowed the grass and worked in the garden after fishing.  On Saturday I went to pick some lettuce from the garden and found collards and swiss chard missing.  Here are some pictures from “An Un-expected Loss” and evidence of the culprit.  https://photos.app.goo.gl/e4uSS12hVLVgpFTr5

 

 

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ABOUT ‘THOUGHTS FROM THE PASTOR’ -   I am sending these e-mail messages, hopefully weekly, to all St. John members and friends whose e-mails I have.  (I am regularly adding new names of friends and members – in case you are just receiving this e-mail for the first time.)  However, if you do not want to receive this e-mail, please let me know, and I’ll gladly leave your name off my list for this message.

 

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ST. JOHN CALLS ETHAN MIRLY AS PERMANENT DCE – At the August 19 Voters’ meeting of St. John, Ethan Mirly was called as permanent DCE for St. John.  Ethan will now pray about his response[S1]  to this call through St. John.  Please keep Ethan and St. John in your prayers.

 

FAMILY PROMISE – St. John hosts Family Promise families the week of August 26- September 2.  We are looking for folks to stay the night, to provide meals, and to spend evenings with our guests.  There is a white board in the narthex where you may sign up to help.  Also, you could call Melanie Kopperud at 232-8380.

 

NATIONAL YOUTH GATHERING MEETING SUNDAY EVENING, AUGUST 26, 7:00 P.M.  If your children would like to attend this July 2019 opportunity to grow in faith, or if you have any questions, plan to attend this meeting.  If you have more questions call Ethan Mirly at (573) 270-3956.

 

 

 

OPPORTUNITIES TO SERVE

 

 

THANK YOU!! – Mark and Nicole Ford will be leaving August 24 to move Minnesota for Mark’s new job with the FAA.  The Ford’s are very active at St. John.  Mark is congregational treasurer and Nicole has staffed our nursery.  Thanks to the Fords for their service.  God’s blessings for the new adventures.

            THANKS to Kristine Neslund who is now staffing our church nursery, and to Becky (Maxwell) Lutz who has offered to work with Garnet Robertson on the church treasurer job.

 

THE LUTHERAN CHURCH EXTESION FUND (LCEF) is a bank run by our denomination that exists for the purpose of growing God’s Church.  This bank takes deposits from church members and then makes loans to churches for buildings, and to church workers for homes.  The rates paid to member investors, and the rates charged churches and church workers are better than commercial rates.

            St. John’s loan is with LCEF.  Our current rate is 3.75%.  However, we could lower the rate by 1/8 % if we have 15% of communicant members as investors.  We would need 90 new investors for this break.  We can lower our rate by ¼% if we have 25% of our communicant members, or 167 individuals as investors.

            On Sunday, August 12, the Church Council voted to try to at least reach the goal of 100 investors in LCEF.  This doesn’t have to be 100 families, but 100 individual accounts.  So, for example, grandparents can start accounts for grandchildren.  We will hear more about this opportunity in worship in the coming weeks.

            Information and applications are on a table in the narthex.

 

 

ST. JOHN ACTIVITIES AND OPPORTUNITIES

 

 

 

SUNDAY EDUCATIONAL AND GROWTH OPPORTUNITIES

 

·       The Book of Acts is being taught by Jim Summers in the fellowship hall.  There is nursery care offered during the class.  Here is a coming schedule for the class on Acts.

-August 19 - Acts chapters 20 & 21

-September 2 - Acts chapters 22 & 23

-September 9 - Acts chapters 25-26

-September 16 - Acts chapter 27

-September 23 - Acts chapter 28

-September 30 - After Acts (the rest of the story)

 

·       Prayer Ministry Opportunity – There are Elders in Pastor Allen’s former office between worship who are available for prayer each Sunday between services.

 

·       Regular School Year Sunday School –  Regular Sunday School starts the Sunday after Labor Day, September 9.

 

REGULAR SUMMER ACTITIVIES DURING THE WEEK

 

·       WEDNESDAY

 

o   WEDNESDAY WORSHIP – Wednesday worship is offered each week at 6:30 p.m. at St. John.  This service gives another worship opportunity to God’s family in addition to Sunday worship services.  If a person cannot worship on Sunday, the same readings from Sunday are used on Wednesdays, with a different sermon from the Sunday morning sermon.  In addition, if someone wants an additional opportunity for growth and fellowship and praise, Wednesday worship can provide that opportunity.  Come and join us on Wednesday evenings at 6:30 p.m.

 

o   YOUTH ACTIVITIES

o   Middle School Youth meet at St. John from 5-6:00 p.m. on Wednesdays.

 

o   High School Youth meet at St. John on Wednesday evenings at 7:00 p.m.

 

o   On August 29 the Middle School and High School Youth will go to the State Fair.

 

·       FRIDAY - NEW ORIGINAL BIBLE STUDY – Twenty and thirty something’s meet at the home of Hunter and Elizabeth Richard, 340 North Bonanza, on Friday nights for Food, Fellowship, and Bible Study.

 

·       SATURDAY ST. JOHN MEN’S BREAKFAST - The St. John men’s group, Promise Keepers, is meeting on Saturday mornings this summer at the Noisy Goose at 7:30 a.m. for food and fellowship.  ALL MEN are invited to join us.  “Fathers, feel free to bring your sons too! 

 

 

OTHER OPPORTUNITIES FOR GROWTH AND FELLOWSHIP

 

 

“CHRISTMAS MARKET, MUSIC, AND LUTHER TRIP” TO AUSTRIA AND GERMANY AT THE END OF 2019

 

 

Pastor Jonathan and Kathy Rockey will be leading a trip to Germany November 26-December 10, 2019.  We will start in Vienna and end in Berlin.  The focus of this trip will be Christmas markets, music, and Martin Luther.  Information about the itinerary, cost, and registration can be found at this link from Luther Tours. - https://www.christiantravelplanners.com/tours/item/181-christmas-markets-austria-and-germany.html

Already, about 25  people have indicated an interest in attending.  If you want to know more about this trip talk to Pastor Rockey or Kathy.

 

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DID YOU KNOW THAT MUCH INFORMATION ABOUT ST. JOHN is available on our church website?  On our web page you can find sermons, newsletters, and these weekly devotions.  The link is:  http://www.stjohnpalmer.org

In fact, IF YOU WANT TO RECEIVE YOUR MONTHLY CHURCH NEWSLETTER BY E-MAIL please e-mail Judy Stahancyk and let her know.  You can call at 745-3338, or e-mail Judy at judy@stjohnpalmer.org. If you receive the newsletter by e-mail it saves printing, postage, and time compiling the newsletter.  Also, you receive the monthly newsletter more quickly!!

 

 

 

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Sharing the Good News of Jesus Through Relationships and . . . Fishing


Dear Members and Friends of St. John, 

 

The Leonardo da Vinci painting, “Mona Lisa,” does not sit in a private home where only the owners can enjoy its intrigue and beauty.  This famous masterpiece is prominently displayed in the Louvre Museum in Paris, where any who visit the museum can consider the famous smile of the woman in the picture.  In other words, the beauty of a great painting is not to be hidden, but to be shared.

 

Jesus told His disciples something similar in His “Sermon on the Mount.”  He instructs His disciples that because of their relationship with Him, they have something to share, not to hide.  14 "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.  15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)

 

The light which followers of Jesus have to share is Jesus Himself.  He is the “light of men . . . [that] shines in darkness.” (John 1:4-5)  Jesus is “THE Light of the world” (John 8:12) which shines in this dark world of sin and of evil.  In the face of evil, Jesus is holy and righteous.  In this world of selfishness and hatred, Jesus is sacrificial love.  In this world of guilt, Jesus brings forgiveness.  In this world of death, Jesus brings life.  He is “The Life.” (John 14:6)

 

So, like the Mona Lisa is not hidden but displayed, Christians naturally want to share Jesus and His love and His affect on our lives.  How to share the Light of the World is the question we ask ourselves.  There are some examples of large numbers of people coming to faith at one time.  In the book of Jonah the whole city of Ninevah came to repentance and acknowledged God.  In Acts 2, 3000 people came to faith and were baptized on Pentecost Day as the Holy Spirit powerfully filled God’s people.  But, most often the good news of Jesus, the Light of the World, is shared on a personal, one-to-one basis. 

 

So, family members have brought family members to know and believe in Jesus as their Savior from sin for eternal life.  Friends have shared their faith and hope in Jesus with friends, and allowed God’s Spirit to work faith.  Sometimes a “random act of kindness” becomes an opportunity to witness to a stranger the reason for that kindness, the underserved love a Christian believer receives in Jesus.

 

For a Christian, sharing Jesus is not like selling a product.  That would be using friendships and relationships as a vehicle to accomplish a purpose we desire, but others may not want.  But, when we love someone, when we are friends with someone, we share ourselves, and in turn others share themselves with us.  A Christian is a person who is changed by the love and the power and the grace of Jesus.  So, when we share who we are, we are also sharing with others the person whom Jesus made us to be.  When a Christian shares themselves, they naturally also share Jesus.

 

This is a long introduction to talk about some sharing of Jesus I did last week.  Somehow, I have discovered that I really enjoy fishing.  Catching is even better, but just being outdoors, by the water, looking for fish, and seeing the other wonders of nature which God created, all this brings a peace and a joy to my heart. 

 

From August 6 to August 13 I got to go fishing 5 times!  Once, on Wednesday before work, I had been asked to take someone fishing, but then they couldn’t go.  I went fishing anyway.  However, the other four times I went fishing I took someone who had indicated they were interested in a fishing trip.  When I take people fishing I get to share a part of me that I enjoy, but I also get to create or build relationships.  And when I share, I hope and pray and believe that Jesus who loves me and saves me is also shared with my family and friends.

 

My doctoral dissertation in 2008 was entitled, “Fishing for Men While Fishing With Men.”  This dissertation was not so much a theory to be tested, but more so a lesson I had learned.  When I share the things I love with others, I can also share with others the grace and love Jesus has given me.

 

Fishing is not the only way to build relationships.  My wife likes to sew and to quilt, and enjoys sharing her gifts and her talents with others.  But, when she teaches another person to sew, or when she works with someone on a quilt, Kathy is also sharing herself.  And the person Kathy is has been greatly influenced by God’s love for her in Jesus.  So when Kathy teaches sewing, she also shares Jesus.

 

Has Jesus changed your life for the good?  Would you like to “let your light shine” before others?  What are the joys of your life?  Think of how you can share your passions with others.  As you share, may Jesus shine through you!

 

A Child of God, Letting the Light of Jesus Shine Through Me While Fishing,

Pastor Jonathan          

 

P.S.  It was a really good week for fishing.  In fact, last week may have been the best week I ever had in the Mat-Su for catching salmon.  Here are some pictures.

 

·       I took Sara Guhl, daughter, Ellen, and grandson, Gaelen fishing on Monday, August 6.  https://photos.app.goo.gl/BErYuC7UnYMLewbUA

 

·       I was supposed to take my daughter Mary fishing early Wednesday, August 8.  However, she had work, so I went by myself.  https://photos.app.goo.gl/gdnDK7pGchtAunDg7

 

·       I took Pastor Jake Dickerhoff (Beautiful Savior Lutheran, Anchorage), his dad, Scott, and his sons, Griffin and Oliver, fishing on Friday, August 10.  https://photos.app.goo.gl/2jz3fXPEYTS1TQc79

 

·       I took my daughter, Mary, and Dave Nufer and his daughter, Kaycee, fishing on Saturday, August 11. https://photos.app.goo.gl/hoCTGkJSonqThvg98

 

·       I took Kym Miller and Ethan Mirly fishing on Monday, August 13.  Here are a couple of pictures.  https://photos.app.goo.gl/25qD7NfsfZrBsyNM9

 

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ABOUT ‘THOUGHTS FROM THE PASTOR’ -   I am sending these e-mail messages, hopefully weekly, to all St. John members and friends whose e-mails I have.  (I am regularly adding new names of friends and members – in case you are just receiving this e-mail for the first time.)  However, if you do not want to receive this e-mail, please let me know, and I’ll gladly leave your name off my list for this message.

 

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