Saturday, October 31, 2015

A Cloud of Witnesses

Dear Fellow Children of God,


This past week our family celebrated my daughter Mary’s birthday.  We ate together as a family, gave gifts, and celebrated Mary’s life.  Our gathering focused on the good.  The next day Mary told all her friends on Facebook about our celebration, “Seriously felt the love yesterday!”  We had a good time.


But, just because we can use birthdays to celebrate the good, doesn’t mean there are no struggles.  I still remember our first year in Palmer when I brought Mary home from the hospital.  She was 3 ½ years old and had contracted pneumonia.  Mary is healthy and productive today, but I often wonder about her illness then.  The day Mary left the hospital she was not even strong enough to walk on her own.  She had been really sick.  I confess that I was truly scared at that time.  But, today I am truly thankful that we made it through the struggle of that time to a day of celebration and joy.


This Sunday St. John Lutheran celebrates our 80th anniversary as a congregation doing the work of God in Palmer, a birthday celebration of sorts.  We have a joyful celebration planned for worship this coming Sunday morning with a special preacher and special music. 


But, just because we plan a joyful celebration for Sunday does not mean there haven’t been times of struggle.  Of the original families in the Matanuska Colony, only a minority continued in Alaska. Times were tough.  And I have heard stories of challenge and struggle from the first pastors and members at St. John.  So, today the existence of St. John is a testimony to the faithfulness of St. John members and pastors through the struggles of past decades.  Faithfulness through the struggles of the past is a really good reason to celebrate.


We actually see a similar celebration pattern in Hebrews 11 and 12. God there reminds His New Testament people of examples of faith in the people of the Old Testament.  We hear in chapter 11 about the faith of Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, and many others.  These men showed faithfulness through times of personal struggles in faith and life.  In light of these examples of faith in Hebrews 11, the first 3 verses of Hebrews 12 then call for a celebrative life of sorts.  Listen to the first 3 verses of Hebrews 12.


“1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”  (Hebrews 12:1-3)


According to these verses, the faith of past believers is a cause for celebration in the way we live.  In response to these past examples of faithfulness through the struggles, Christians are called to “throw off  . . . sin”, Christians are called to “persevere”, and Christians are called to “fix our eyes on Jesus.”


And, when we fix our eyes on Jesus, we can rejoice.  We can rejoice in the love and forgiveness and salvation God gives freely through His Son.  But, these gifts of grace did not come without struggle.   We are told of Jesus, “who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame.”  Jesus “endured such opposition from sinful men,” dying and rising so we can share in Jesus’ victory over sin and death.  This is God’s pattern for celebration, faithfulness through the struggles to receive the joy of His love.


So, as we celebrate the 80th anniversary of St. John it is important to face the challenges of today.  All Christian churches do face struggles.  St. John faces challenges.  Sharing the good news that Jesus is God’s loving and forgiving Savior for the whole world is not always met with joy in a culture that is so focused on self.  Christians can be criticized as closed minded for sharing God’s loving guidance in His law.  Christians can be considered unloving for sharing that Jesus is God’s way to eternal life.  But, fixing our eyes on Jesus we don’t grow weary through the struggles.  We see Jesus’ own suffering and death, and then we personally experience His love and forgiveness and salvation.   So, we persevere in faith through the struggle.


As St. John celebrates its birthday or anniversary it is a great time to look back at the gift we have from the believers of the past.  They struggled so that we can have the gift of Jesus’ love today.  This is true for all Christians; we stand on the shoulders of those who came before us.  So we can struggle through the present to share faith in Jesus with those who come behind us. The words of Hebrews 12 are a good guide for our celebration.  2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”


A Child of God, Fixing My Eyes on Jesus,

Pastor Jonathan




P.S.  Here is a link to an article in our local newpaper, the Frontiersman, about our anniversary celebration.


P.S.  I was recently visiting someone in the ICU of our local hospital who receives this newsletter,  From her hospital bed she asked why I haven’t posted fish pictures recently.  Well, here is my most recent catch, from a local lake on October 19.



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.




Friday, October 23, 2015

Delighting in Weakness

Dear Fellow Children of God,


One of the tasks a pastor does that I truly enjoy is visiting people.  I visit for many reasons, but often to bring the comfort of God’s word and prayer to those going through some kind of illness or injury.


Last spring and summer I was often visiting Megan Nystrom who was receiving treatment for cancer.  One day as I visited I read a Bible verse and then Megan and I talked.  She told me how the trials of cancer had helped her to see even more clearly the blessings and love of God.  She said I could share this.  Imagine seeing blessings from the trials of cancer!  That is truly faith in action.  But, that really is how God works.  We often see His love in our trials.


I saw God at work again this week.  I visited Paul Scott who had returned home from the hospital.  Paul had a major accident on his motorcycle on Whidby Island, WA, this past August and suffered many broken bones and other injuries.  Then, to make matters worse, or so it seemed at the time, when the doctors were x-raying Paul for injuries they found something on his kidney.  Paul’s family has a history of kidney cancer, and that is what this “something” turned out to be.  Paul had experienced no symptoms, so neither he nor his doctor knew the cancer was there.  But, on October 12 Paul had the cancerous kidney removed.  The surgeons confirmed the tumor had been cancer, but found that it was totally contained in the kidney.  According to his doctor, Paul is now cancer free.  I commented to Paul what a blessing the accident had been, that the doctors had found the cancer.  Paul replied, “I’m looking at it that way.  The doctor said that by the time I experienced symptoms it would have been too late to stop the cancer.”  It is amazing to me each time I see God use some trial or tragedy to bring His love and blessings!


Thursday night in our Elders’ meeting we began the meeting by looking at a number of Bible verses that talk about the strength of God for our lives.  One of the sections of Scripture we considered was 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.  7 To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 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.10 That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”


We don’t often choose to “delight in weakness.”  It can be hard to rejoice at times because of suffering we experience.  But, sometimes we work so diligently to take care of ourselves that we think the blessings in life come from our own hard work.  By the way, let me tell you this idea is incorrect.  The blessings of God for our lives are gifts of grace, freely given.


So, then when we cannot work because of illness or trial, yet we are still blessed, we are better able to see the hand of God.  God’s blessings have always been there, only now we see them for what they are.  That truly is reason for “delighting in weakness,” to be able to see more clearly the love of God in our lives.


Actually, God is always present in our lives working for our good.  Sometimes we do take God’s grace for granted.  Sometimes we have to be reminded.  In Romans 8:28, Paul tells us, 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.”  Really?  God works for good in ALL things? 


Please consider with me.  Is there anything worse that could happen for the created universe than for our Creator God to die?  But, Jesus, the Son of God and God Himself, died to pay for the sins of the people He created and loves.  God forgives us because of Jesus’ death.  And, because He died for sin and then rose, Jesus defeated sin and death and Satan, enemies over which we have no power.  God offers us this victory as we trust in Jesus as our Savior from sin.  You see, God used the worst possible loss, to accomplish the greatest possible victory.  Yes, God really does work for good in ALL things!


So, what trial, or loss, or injury, or illness, are you facing right now?  Have you seen God’s grace in your struggle?  Can you with Paul, “delight in your weakness.”  God is working to bring you His grace, especially through Jesus.  I pray you get to see and rejoice in the loving grace of God in your life.  Thank you Megan!  Thank you Paul, for your faith which pointed to God’s grace.


A Child of God, Delighting in Weakness,

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.




Saturday, October 17, 2015

How Are You Growing As a Child of God?

Dear Fellow Children of God,


How are you growing as a child of God? 


I ask this question, in part, because I attended a church workers conference on discipling this week.  Jesus, after all, did not say, “Go make members of all nations.”  He said go make disciples.  A disciple is a student who follows Jesus, who grows in their Christian faith and life, and who ultimately also shares the love of Jesus with others.  A person can be a church member by simply having their name on a roster.  It implies no personal growth.  But a disciple is someone who grows.  “How are you growing as a child of God?” 


I say this in part also because this week is stewardship Sunday at St. John.  People can think stewardship might be about money.  We wonder, “Have I grown from 2% to 3%, or from 10% to 11% in my giving?”  Actually, a Christian steward is a manager of all the gifts that God has given.  And God’s gifts are so much more than material resources.  God gives life and breath in this world.  God gives talents and abilities.  God gives family and friends, and Christian family in the church.  And, God gives forgiveness, and peace, and joy, and eternal life in Jesus Christ.  How do we manage the gifts of God?  That is not a money question , but a heart question.  But the question still remains.  “How are you growing as a child of God?”  Are we growing in our faith and love for God, or are we drifting away?


Scripture is full of the call of God to people, not just to receive His love, but to live and grow in His love.  In the parable of the sower, or planter, Jesus talks about the seed of God’s word that is planted.  On some soil God’s word grows and bears fruit, but on other soil, growth does not happen.  (Matthew 13).   “How are you growing as a child of God?”


Jesus also tells us that He is the vine, that His Father is the gardener, and that we are the branches.  Jesus  expects us to grow and bear fruit.  (John 15)  God calls for the fruit of the Spirit in His people which includes love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  (Galatians 5:22-23)  God also looks for fruit that grows as His people share His love and grace “to the ends of the earth.”  (Acts 1:8).  “How are you growing as a child of God?”


After writing two letters to churches that Peter was pastoring, he ends his letters with the following verse.  “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.” (2 Peter 3:18)  So the question remains, “How are you growing as a child of God?”


When we meet our Lord on Judgment Day, we are not saved by what we have done, but by the saving death and victorious rising of Jesus.  But, God will want to know what we did with the gift of His love.  Did we bear fruit in His kingdom?


Gardening and planting can seem boring.  You plant the seed, water and fertilize it, pull the weeds, and harvest the produce.  If the weather is good and the moose are far away, a person can have food to eat for a winter.  Likewise, there are certain, maybe even boring, things we can do to grow and produce fruit in God’s kingdom in our lives, and in our congregations.


We plant the seed of God’s Word.  Regular worship is vital.  Daily time in God’s word is strengthening.  This may seem like an old fashioned way of living, but the word cannot grow if it has not been planted.


We water and fertilize the seed.  The gifts of God’s sacraments are food and strength to a person of faith.  Time with the Lord in prayer is vital to growth.  When we face the trials of life with a prayer on our lips, and then see the answers of God, we grow.


We pull the weeds and harvest.  This is done when we spend time with God’s people in God’s church.  In worship we “teach and admonish.”  We encourage one another through hard times and correct one another in love in times of drifting.  And, as the family of God, we welcome new members into God’s family, praying they too will grow as disciples.


So, how do you answer the question, “How are you growing as a child of God?”  I pray the love of God is taking root in your heart and bearing fruit in your life as a child and disciple of God.


A Child of God, Seeking to Grow in His Love,

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.





Friday, October 9, 2015

Hunting for . . . Truth

Dear Fellow Children of God,


Like many other Alaskans I spent time in the woods hunting this fall.  Gerry Zellar and I hunted for a bull moose we could harvest to feed our families.  I was in camp for 8 days.  Gerry set up camp at the beginning of September, so he was there longer.  We looked, we called, and we hunted.  But, while we saw a lot of other hunters we did not find a bull moose to harvest. 


People spend time and effort hunting and searching for more than just moose.  People want happiness, or adventure, or security, so they expend their lives and resources seeking these goals.  Others work hard to achieve health.  But one of the basic things for which people seek is truth.  What is true, so that truth can guide my life?  When we find truth we can also find direction, meaning, and purpose.  Over the ages many have written on the great search for truth.


I would categorize this past Wednesday as an “adventure” in the search of God’s people for truth.  I had two formal sessions scheduled with adults on that day.  First we had “Lifelight” Bible Class at noon.  We had a lively discussion about the search for truth as we considered the questions, “Why does Jesus say that we need to listen?” and “What does listening look like?”  (Let me invite any of you to our Wednesday noon sharing of leftovers and the study of Luke.)


I also spent time with adults on Wednesday evening in worship.  We looked at Hebrews 2:1-13 and considered some difficult questions.  Specifically we talked about family, especially God’s family.  Using God’s Word we were led to ask the difficult questions, “Are you ever not part of the family, especially God’s family?”  The answer we found to that question in Hebrews 2 is that God goes to extremes to keep you in His family.  God went to the extreme of sending His Son to “seek and to save the lost”, even to the point of suffering and dying for God’s “drifting” people.


But, the real questions on that day came when I was with young people and children.  Wednesday Confirmation classes began this week at St. John.  As we were working through our first 2 lessons in our text books a student raised their hand and asked, “Why do we HAVE TO believe?”  Wow!  Talk about the search for truth!!  I told this student that we don’t have to believe, but that what is true, is true.  What we believe does not change reality.  So, whether we choose to believe in God, or don’t choose to believe in God, God is real and God is true.  So, I asked this student if they wanted to live as if the reality of God doesn’t actually exist, or if they wanted their life to reflect and deal with reality.  Talk about deep discussion!  It sort of put the discussion with the adults in the rear view mirror.  By the way, this student later thanked me for considering their question and for my answer.  This young person shared that they heard the answer they needed to hear.  Thank you, Lord!


But, the toughest question of the day came from, of all people, a 4 year old!  I read Bible stories to the preschool each month.  So, at the beginning of their school year I read a story to one class entitled, “How God Made the World” from a children’s picture Bible.  One young man was floored.  “Wow!  You mean God made the world?”  “Yes”, I told this student, “and He made you and He made me too.”  However, another 4 year old was sitting in the reading circle listening to this conversation and He asked the question of the day.  “So, if God made the world, who made God?”  Out of the mouths of babes and 4 year olds!  I gave this young man a simple answer.  “The Bible says God did not have a beginning.  He is eternal.  He always has been.”  The young man was satisfied.


Some of these questions are questions we can seek to answer our whole lives.  That is why people hunt and seek for the truth.  If you want your life to reflect reality, if you want to live in such a way that you are finding real direction and meaning for your life and your efforts, I encourage you to seek for the truth.  It is an adventure!


By the way, Jesus, the Son of God Himself, gives us clues on where to find truth.  When speaking to the disciples near the end of His life Jesus responds to a question from Thomas with these words, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”  The truth of God is found in the sacrificial saving love of God in Jesus, THE ultimate truth of the universe. 


And, where can we find that truth today?  In His prayer for the church on the night of His betrayal, Jesus prays to His Father for His followers, Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.”  We find the truth of Jesus in the Word of God.  So, we continue to hunt and search.


Hunting moose is an adventure I truly enjoy.  However, an even bigger adventure is discovering the truth of God in Jesus, and trying to live my life based on God’s truth.  How about you?


A Child of God, Seeking to Learn and Share His Truth,

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.




Friday, October 2, 2015

"Oregon Shootings - Strengthened During Weariness by the Foolishness of the Cross"

Dear Fellow Children of God,


Do you ever become weary of the evil and the sin that constantly assaults us in this life?  I’m not talking now about personal temptation, though such temptations are a real part of life’s struggle.  I am talking about the shooting at Umpqua Community College on Thursday in Oregon.  We may be tempted to call it “another shooting spree” among so many others in the last 2 decades.  But, the nine people killed were individual sons and daughters, fathers and mothers.  This is not just another shooting, but a real assault on the efforts of people to build their lives and to work for the good of themselves and their families.  I’m shocked . . . again!  And, I am weary of the constant attack on the attempts of people to build our world with justice, with faith, and with love.


This reminds me of another “weary” man in Scripture, named Elijah.  In my devotions this week I have been reading about Elijah in the book of 1 Kings.  Elijah was called as a prophet in the northern kingdom of Israel to share that The Lord is the only true God.  The King of Israel at that time, Ahab, and his wife, Jezebel, led the people of Israel in forsaking the Lord, the Lord who had led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, and who had saved the nation so many times.  So, Elijah had a showdown, of sorts, on Mt Carmel with the prophets of Jezebel’s god, Baal. (1 Kings 18)  When the Lord had powerfully shown himself to truly be the only God, Jezebel sought to kill Elijah.  So Elijah ran away to the south.  When he got to the land of Judah Elijah prayed, I have had enough, LORD, take my life . . .” (1 Kings 19:4)  Elijah was weary.


However, God strengthened Elijah, so Elijah continued his journey south to Mount Horeb (Sinai?).  There God appeared to Elijah and spoke to him in one of the most intriguing and revealing sections of Scripture, 11 The LORD said, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by." Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.”  (1 Kings 19:11-12)  The NIV Bible translates, “a gentle whisper.”  Many, myself included, remember the King James and RSV translation, “a still small voice.”  In other words, God spoke, but not at this point with a 2 x 4 over Elijah’s head.  God spoke in a way that required Elijah to listen.  God spoke in a way that shows that His every word is important.  God told Elijah he was not alone, and to go back to work.


What does all this have to do with the shootings in Oregon?  God still speaks, often in a still small voice.  While 1 Kings has been the Old Testament book of my devotions this week, 1 Corinthians was the Epistle reading in those devotions.  People in Paul’s time were clamoring for God to speak in an unmistakable way.  Paul says God still speaks in a way that some consider a whisper.  22 Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength.”  (1 Corinthians 1:22-25)  People in Paul’s times clamored for God to reveal himself in power.  God revealed Himself in a humble sacrifice of saving love in the life and death of His Son, Jesus.


Our world is in a battle with the forces of evil which are stronger than we are (John 16:11).  So, it is no surprise that we are weary.  But, acting in humble love rather than violent power, God has defeated our enemy.  God tells us we are not alone and to go about His work.  We can do this because the true God of this world who gave His Son is with us to save us from our own sin and struggle, and He has conquered death and the forces of evil.  Nothing in this world can take away God’s victory in Jesus.


I am still weary of the senseless evil acts of violence which seem to occur so regularly.  But, God who strengthened Elijah strengthens us in His Son. Jesus received all the violence this world can give when He died.  But, Jesus victoriously rose from the dead.  Jesus offers that victory of forgiveness and eternal life to all as they trust in Him as God’s promised Savior.  So, trusting the cross of Jesus, trusting the love of God, I go on sharing Jesus and His victory with others.  God calls all His children to do the same.


A Child of God, Strengthened in Weariness by the Foolishness of the Cross,

Pastor Jonathan


P.S.  One of my friends, Dr. Dale Meyer, President of Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, writes a daily devotion, The Meyer Minute.  At the end of today’s e-mail I am including Dale’s message on the Oregon shootings.





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.




Teddy Roosevelt on Church Attendance

Dear Fellow Children of God,


This week, while I am hunting moose, I am sharing something someone else shared with me.  Actually, my wife Kathy was attending the Hebrews Sunday School Class taught by Jim Summers and he shared some thoughts by, or all people, President Teddy Roosevelt. 


It seems that in 1917 Teddy Roosevelt wrote an article for the Ladies’ Home Journal entitled “Ten Reasons For Going To Church.”  Jim and Kathy thought this was worthwhile.  After I read this I agree.


Kathy, however, found the Roosevelt article on the internet in a blog by a Pastor Larry Pray from Minneapolis, MN. I will share part of his blog as an introduction to Roosevelt’s article.


“I know how to become a very rich man.  All I have to do is to ask for a nickel, every time someone says, “I just don’t find God in church.  I find “God” out there, so I’ll go hunting” If everyone paid up, I’d be a millionaire in about two seconds flat.

With those exact sentiments, Theodore Roosevelt might well agree.  He came of age on the stunning western plains of North Dakota.  Theodore Roosevelt National Monument has long been one of my most favorite national parks . . . I love the place.  So did TR.

At my church of well over 100 members, only between 20 and 30 bothered to attend church this summer.  The others had reasons.  Good reasons.  For all of us, TR has a word the Ladies Home Journal recorded in 1917.” 


Ten Reasons For Going To Church, by Theodore Roosevelt

1.      In this actual world a church-less community, a community where we have abandoned and scoffed or ignored their religious needs, is a community on the rapid downgrade.

2.      Church work and church attendance mean the cultivation of the habit of feeling some responsibility for others and the sense of braced moral strength which prevents a relaxation of one’s own moral fiber.

3.      There are enough holidays for most of us which can quite properly be devoted to pure holiday making…Sunday’s differ from other holidays—among other ways—in the fact that there are fifty-two of them every year…On Sunday, go to church.

4.      Yes, I know all the excuses. I know that one can worship the Creator and dedicate oneself to good living in a grove of trees, or by a running brook, or in one’s own house, just as well as in church. But I also know as a matter of cold fact the average person does not thus worship or thus dedicate him or herself. If we stay away from church we do not spend our time in good works or in lofty meditation. We look over colored supplement of the newspaper.

5.      We may not hear a good sermon at church. But unless we are very unfortunate we will hear a sermon by a good person engaged all the week in a long series of wearing and humdrum and important tasks for making hard lives a little easier.

6.      We will listen to and take part in reading some beautiful passages from the Bible. And if we are not familiar with the Bible, we have suffered a loss…

7.      We will probably take part in singing some good hymns.

8.      We will meet and nod to, or speak to, good, quiet neighbors…We will come away feeling a little more charitably toward all the world, even toward those excessively foolish young people who regard church going as rather a soft performance.

9.      I advocate that we join in church works for the sake of showing our faith by our works.

10.  The person who does not in some way, active or not, connect him or herself with some active, working church misses many opportunities for helping our neighbors, and therefore, incidentally, for helping ourselves.


“Across the country, pastors are invariably asked how many members they have, and how many attend church.  The difference is daunting.  Who would have thought Teddy Roosevelt might have something to say about that?”


Teddy Roosevelt was a very important and influential man.  God, however, far outranks President Roosevelt.  God also has some words on this subject of worship attendance.


            Exodus 20:8 -  "Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.


Colossians 3:16 “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.”


Hebrews 10:25 – “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another-- and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”


I hope to see you in worship, and I pray our worship is a BLESSING to your faith and life in Jesus!


A Child of God, Blessed by Worship,

Pastor Jonathan


P.S.  I was hunting myself last Sunday.  Yes, we spend time in daily devotions in camp.  God is good!





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.