Thursday, September 29, 2011

Rest in the Lord

Dear Fellow Children of God,

This week I’ll be leaving on vacation to go moose hunting.  Yes, a busy fall schedule is upon us.  There are also people and members about whom I am concerned.  I will be praying for them.  There are some ways in which it is always difficult to leave.

However, I also believe what God teaches about the Sabbath.  Have you read the verses about Sabbath and rest?
·        Exodus 20:8 "Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates.

·        Matthew 11:28 "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

·        Mark 6: 31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest." 32 So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.

God calls us to rest in Him.  We can rest because we believe anything really important is accomplished, not by our work, but by God.  We take a day each week to rest in the Lord because we need the Lord and His people in our lives.  But we also take time to rest because we trust Him.  We trust that even when we don’t work, it is God who accomplishes the good we need in life.  Because rest comes from God, I’m not only going hunting, but I’ll also be spending time reading Scripture, and praying, and spending time talking about God’s Word with others in camp. 

There is another way God gives rest.  Has your heart ever been troubled because of something you regret?  Did you ever have trouble sleeping?  Did you ever groan with regret over something you should not have done or said?  In Jesus God forgives our sins and guilt.  He forgives the things that keep us awake.  That is why Jesus says, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

May you find rest in God’s love, and take time to rest and let the Lord bless you.

A Child of God, Taking Time to Rest in the Lord,
Pastor Jonathan

What is a Disciple?

Dear Fellow Children of God,

I am back from my yearly moose hunting vacation.  But while I was in the woods hunting a question kept rolling over in my mind.  “Jesus calls us to ‘make disciples.’  But, what is a disciple?”  Denny Langston and  Pastor Denny Lorenz were at St. John the weekend before I left to go hunting presenting a workshop on Spiritual Gifts called “Tracking the Spirit.”  While we were talking at our home about God’s Church they asked me this question, “What is a disciple?”

The easy answer is that a disciple is not just one of the 12 apostles.  Any follower of Jesus is a disciple.  But, what does Jesus mean when he says in Matthew 28, “Go make disciples?”  Looking at the rest of Scripture we see that Jesus is not just talking about reaching those who don’t know Him, but helping those who do know Him grow in the relationship with Jesus.  He does not want people following Him half-heartedly.  Listen to some things Jesus says about disciples.

John 8:31-32  31 Jesus then said to the Jews who had believed in him, "If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free."

John 13:34-35 - 34 "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

John 15:8-10 8 This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. 9 "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love.

According to these verses being a disciple shows itself as we ‘continue in Jesus’ words,’ as we ‘love one another as Jesus loved us,’ as we ‘bear fruit’ and ‘obey his commands’ Being a disciple begins with going and baptizing, and continues through teaching.  Being a disciple or a child of God is not simply having our name on a church roster, it is a life-long process of growing in the love of God and living out God’s love.  Jesus’ words make it obvious that He wants His followers committed to Him and to His work.  

So, as I was in hunting camp asking myself that question “What is a disciple?” I had to also ask, “How is my discipleship of the Lord?”  We are not saved by our works.  The disciples in Jesus’ day and we today are all sinful and unable to save ourselves.  But, for the Almighty God to send His only Son to die and rise for sinners like us, when we hear and believe that God has loved us in such a sacrificial way, we should want to serve God as Jesus’ disciples with all our lives.

What does this mean for member of St. John as we seek to live for the one who died for us?  How are you doing in living your discipleship?

A Child of God, seeking to live for the one who died and rose for me,
Pastor Jonathan

P.S.  I did not see a legal moose this year.  In fact, for a number of reasons nobody in camp got a moose this year.  However, we spent time in devotions each day, we talked and solved the problems of the world (if only others would listen!), and we enjoyed the Lord’s creation.  Here are some pictures from this year’s hunt:

P.P.S.  I had already begun work on a sermon series for October on discipleship, when I was asked that question on ‘What is a disciple?’  Please note below our sermon series for October.


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 always adding new names of friends and members – in case you are just receiving this e-mail for the first time.)  However, if you don’t want to receive this e-mail, please let me know, and I’ll gladly leave your name off my list for this message. . . Or, if you know someone who would like to receive one of these e-mails, please send me their e-mail address.


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Are You Ready?

Dear Fellow Children of God,

I don’t know his name.  I didn’t meet any friends.  But on Thursday I prayed fervently for a man I never met and for those trying to help him.  After a District meeting ended at noon in Portland, I played golf with some of the others who had attended the meeting.  As we rounded the ninth hole to begin playing the back nine one of the men in our party noticed the party ahead of us running over to the edge of the fairway.  Then it looked like one of the men was doing CPR.  One of our party ran to the club house to inform them, and I took my cart down to see what was happening and if I could help.  A group of men were performing CPR on an elderly gentleman who was down and not responsive.  Another man arrived with the de-fibrilator from the club house.  Those performing CPR continued until the ambulance arrived and the fire department arrived.  I wasn’t needed, but I stayed around and prayed.  I put my hand on the men doing CPR and prayed out loud for them, and for the man that was down.  No other golfers seemed to be playing with him, he was alone.  He never seemed to respond to the CPR, or to the ambulance paramedics or others.  Later I was told he had not made it.

Needless to say our golf game was changed.  After half an hour we skipped the 10th hole and started playing on hole 11.  Making a bad shot did not seem so important.  We were a little quieter than normal during the next holes.  Finally I said, “I’ve been thinking about what else could have been done.  But, I guess the most important things had to be done ahead of time.”  I’m grateful the other golfers had learned CPR ahead of time.  Had the man who died been to the doctor and followed his advice?  Did he know Jesus, ahead of time.?

The words of Jesus from Matthew 25 rang in my ear.  44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

Are you ready if something unexpected were to happen to you?  Do you know Jesus?  Is He part of your life in such a way that you could face a situation like the man on the golf course, whether you were the one who was ill, or the one helping the sick man?  These are important questions!

This week at St. John we have two opportunities to grow in knowing Jesus.
·         Tracking the Spirit will help us begin to answer the question, “WHAT IS GOD’S PLAN FOR MY LIFE?”  This seminar will be held Friday evening from 7-9:00 p.m., and Saturday morning from 9:00 a.m.-noon.  We will look at what Scripture says about God’s plan for our lives.

·         SUNDAY SCHOOL AND ADULT BIBLE CLASSES start this Sunday at 9:45 a.m.  There are classes for children aged 18 months through adults.  This too is an opportunity to grow in knowing Jesus and His love for us.

“Are you ready?”  That’s an important question.  We have some opportunities at St. John to help you answer this question for your lives.

A Child of God, Glad to know Jesus,
Pastor Jonathan


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 always adding new names of friends and members – in case you are just receiving this e-mail for the first time.)  However, if you don’t want to receive this e-mail, please let me know, and I’ll gladly leave your name off my list for this message. . . Or, if you know someone who would like to receive one of these e-mails, please send me their e-mail address.



TRACKING THE SPIRIT – What is GOD’S plan for your life?!  Tracking the Spirit is a series of Presentations that help people see how God empowers us to live as His Children. 
            TRACKING THE SPIRIT 2 will be held at St. John, Friday, September 9, from 7-9 p.m., and Saturday, September 10, from 9-12:00 noon!  (Tracking the Spirit 1 was held at St. John a number of years ago and helped create an awareness of opportunities for sharing God’s love with others.)  Tracking the Spirit 2 will help us see how God has made us who we are and the blessings of living according to God’s plan!  Part of this presentation will be to consider our spiritual gifts.
            Please mark this time on your calendar for an opportunity of Christian growth!

SUNDAY SCHOOL starts the Sunday after Labor Day, September 11.   I hope that you are planning to attend, and to bring your children!

·         WOMEN’S CLASS - Denise Larsen will be teaching a class on  "The Lutheran Difference."  This class looks at issues of current concern from the Lutheran Biblical perspective.  They will meet in the Cry Room in the Sanctuary.

·         SCRIPTURE CLASS - Randy Luffberry continues teaching the “A First Century Faith for the Twenty-First Century Church.”  This book was written by Pastor Waldo Werning, the grandfather of member Aaron Werning.  This class is taking an in-depth look at the teaching of God in Scripture, and practical  ways God’s teachings impact how Christians can and do live in today’s world.  It is helpful and practical direction for St. John as we seek to be God’s people in our community.  They will meet in the church library.

·         TOPICAL CLASS - Linda Griese will teach a class by Gary Smalley on “Relationships.”  Gary Smalley is a well known and well-respected teacher who helps Christian families lives under the grace and direction of God.  This Class with meet down stairs in the church.

REMEMBRANCE SERVICE FOR 9-11 – Sunday is the 10th anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Towers and other targets.  Among those who died on that day at the Pentagon was a young man who was confirmed at St. John, Ronald Hemmenway.  A time of remembrance is being held on Sunday, September 11, at Wasilla High School at 2:30 p.m., with special remembrance of Mr. Hemmenway  If you would like to ask God’s prayers for our country, this would be a good opportunity.  (St. John has lost two other members in that conflict, Shane Woods and Justin Gallegos.)

INSTALLATION OF NEW PASTOR AT ANCHORAGE LUTHERAN  Sunday, September 11 at 4:00 p.m., Pastor Andrew Ritchie will be installed as pastor or Anchorage Lutheran Church, 1420 N Street.  Come and join our brothers and sisters as they begin a new day of serving the Lord in Anchorage.  A meal will be served after the installation.

THE BLESSINGS OF WEDNESDAY WORSHIP –Wednesday worship continues each week at 6:30 p.m.  The goal for Wednesday worship is to provide an alternate opportunity for those who can’t make Sunday worship, and to provide extra opportunities for time with the Lord and His people for people who nevertheless can attend on Sundays.  The services and sermons on Wednesday are different from the Sunday service and sermon.  These Wednesday services are continuing during the school year.


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: 
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 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!!