Dear Fellow Children of God,
I was at the gym on Tuesday of this past week and saw a flyer that I picked up. The flyer read, “All in for 2017, Make a Commitment!” The idea of commitment struck a cord with me. I want to grow in my relationship with my Lord and Savior. I want to grow in my service of Him. As a pastor I want to help others in such growth. My thought was that maybe this flyer had a point worth considering when it comes to commitment. I picked up the flyer expecting that such a message posted just a day or two after the first of the year was an encouragement and help for people to be committed to working out and committed to taking care of themselves. To my disappointment the flyer was instead an advertisement for exercise supplements.
My Friday devotion in my personal devotional readings was about Noah. (I’m reading through the Bible again, so my devotions are now in Genesis.) The devotional writer pointed out that Noah and his family had weathered the storm of the flood, but there was a much more sinister storm brewing with which they struggled. This was the storm of the evil desires of sin in their hearts, desires we too face. This struggle tends to lead us to focus on ourselves and our desires and to lead us away from God and His plan for our lives. Noah’s family not only needed help in weathering the storms around them, they also needed help facing the struggles inside themselves.
I share these various situations and vignettes with you because I expect that most of you who are reading this devotion are children of God who want to grow. As we are in the New Year we may have made commitments to ourselves and to God. But we need help. Where do we find that help to work this growth of faith and service in our lives?
When I picked up the flyer I was looking for some special insight. But I did not find an answer on the poster. It seems like the key to good health in the gym is still what it has always been; regular exercise and a healthy diet. We may look to God for some new clue to how to live as His children. Actually, God has given this help. Often, we even know the help God gives. But, we have heard God’s message so much that we look for something else.
Listen to 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24. 23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it. God is faithful and He will help us in our desire live holy lives and to grow in our relationship with Him.
If you want to grow in the coming year here is God’s consistent advice for growth and health.
First, worship regularly. God has given us a day of worship every week. In worship we hear of God’s love and His direction for our lives. In worship we are strengthened. God did not set aside a Sabbath each week because He needs our attention. God gave us the gift of a weekly day of rest and worship because we need His help. So plan to worship regularly, weekly.
Second, spend personal time in regular, daily devotions. Time and again God tells us that His word grows and strengthens faith. (See Romans 10:17, 2 Timothy 3:14-15, 1 Peter 1:23.) God promises to answer our prayers with His wisdom and love and power. God has given these gifts because we need assurance of His love and forgiveness. God has given these gifts because we need help as we struggle with the temptations of this world. Even if you planned daily devotions and missed every other day of devotional time, you would still spend 150 days a year with this special help from God. Plan to use the help He gives through His Word and prayer.
Thirdly, realize your struggle with sin and receive the help God gives on a regular basis in the Lord’s Supper. We stumble and we need encouragement and forgiveness. In the Lord’s Supper God gives Himself; We receive the body and the blood of Jesus in the bread and the wine! (Matthew 26:26-28, 1 Corinthians 11:27.) In the Lord’s Supper we don’t just have the assurance of forgiveness, but God promises to work forgiveness as we receive this gift from the Lord.
God gives us this wonderful gift so that we have His help in our efforts to grow in faith and in service. Come to the family meal and receive God’s help and strength and love.
Finally, spend time with the people of God. Christians are not perfect people. We are fellow sinners, but people who have also found God’s forgiveness and help. God has given us His Church because we need one another. Find ways to spend time with other believers, whether in Bible Study, or small groups, or just with Christian friends. The church, after all, is not the invention of people. The Church is the plan of God to help us in our walk with Him.
Maybe you made resolutions this year. Maybe you didn’t. Rather than one specific goal I am focusing on the process. I will spend time in worship, and in personal devotion and prayer time. I will receive the promised help that God gives in His sacraments and in His people. I know God has the strength and love to help me grow in my faith and in my service to Him.
A Child of God, Seeking God’s Help to be Committed,
P.S. Aaron Christiansen received his Eagle Scout award at St. John on Tuesday, January 3. Here are some pictures from the ceremony. https://goo.gl/photos/sUx52GeudkFD6yLN9
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 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.
OTHER NEWS FOR THE FIRST OF 2017
CHRISTIAN COUPLES / YOUNG FAMILIES – The St. John Christian Couples and the Young Families Group will be meeting at St. John on Saturday night, January 7 at 5:30 p.m., sharing encouragement and fellowship.
SUNDAY SCHOOL AND BIBLE CLASSES FOR begin again on Sunday, January 8. Plan to attend classes beginning on January 8, at 9:45 a.m. each Sunday! In addition to regular Sunday School the following Adult Classes will be taught.
· Proverbs taught by Jim Summers
· Chip Ingram, “Your Divine Design – How to Discover and Deploy Your Spiritual Gifts” - Dave Nufer
· No Women’s Class will be held at this time.
· Basic Teachings of Scripture taught by Pastor Jonathan
COMMISSIONING AND INSTALLATION OF OFFICERS AND BOARD MEMBERS will take place in worship on Sunday, January 8. Officers and Board Members are asked to please be in worship that day for this Installation and Commissioning. This gives leaders a chance to commit themselves to serving the Lord in the strength of His help. It also gives the congregation a chance to support its leaders in prayer as they serve.
THE JANUARY ALL-BOARD MEETING will be held on Sunday, January 8 after late worship.
Twice a year St. John holds an ‘All board Meeting’ in place of a regular council meeting. Instead of just the chair people of each board attending the council meeting, all officers AND all board members of each board attend this working meeting. There is time allotted so that each board gets to meet and discuss their job at St. John, and to discuss their plans for the coming year. This January meeting is usually a low-key time for new Board members to understand what we are doing to serve the Lord, and a time to begin making plans for the coming year. IF YOU ARE AN OFFICER OR SERVE ON A BOARD AT ST. JOHN, please plan now to attend this important meeting. This really helps us to start the new year right. We want to do a good job serving our Lord!
This meeting will be a pot-luck for those attending. Please bring food to share.
NEW MEMBER POTLUCK, JANUARY 29 – The Evangelism Board is sponsoring a potluck dinner after worship on Sunday, January 29. There is no meeting associated with this meal. We simply want to welcome our new member families from the past year.
Please being a main dish and a side dish and stay to meet our new St. John members!
REGULAR WEDNESDAY WORSHIP started up again this past Wednesday, December 28. Worship continues each Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday worship offers an additional opportunity for worship, or an alternative time if Sunday worship not possible.
OPPORTUNITIES TO SERVE GOD AND OTHERS
ALTAR GUILD – An altar Guild sign-up sheet is on the counter in the Narthex. If you would like to help prepare the altar for worship for a Sunday or a Wednesday, please sign up for the week you can serve. If you need help or training please see Cathy Glaser, Dorothy Jacobson, or Mary Lee Mulhern.
DO YOU HAVE A PLOW YOU CAN USE TO HELP PLOW AT CHURCH?
We need people who can plow the parking lot at church. At the current time we have one member who is plowing. If you can help please contact Peter Probasco, 351-0085, Judy in the church office 745-3338, or Pastor Rockey 841-4066 so we can grow our list of those who can plow as winter arrives.
NEEDED: - VOLUNTEERS TO OPERATE THE SCREEENS IN LATE SERVICE – We have many volunteers serving the Lord by helping with worship each week, and helping with projecting the worship service in late service. Thank you! We need a couple more volunteers to help with the screen, or maybe some folks who can serve multiple weeks each month.
OTHER ACTIVITIES AND OPPORTUNITIES
MUSIC OPPORTUNITY - Anchorage Lutheran Concert Series – For a number of years Anchorage Lutheran Church, 1420 N Street, Anchorage, has offered a free concert series (free will offerings accepted. Dr. Tamara McCoy, who performed at St. John in April, organizes this series at Anchorage Lutheran. Here is the line-up of concerts for this coming school year. If you have any questions you can call Anchorage Lutheran Church at 907-272-5323.
Sunday, February 12 - Glacier Brass
Sunday, February 26 - Gail Archer, organist
Sunday, March 26 - Wyatt Smith, organist
Sunday, April 30 - Bel Canto Alaska
Saturday, May 13th - Anchorage Lutheran Choir Concert
GOOD NEWS FROM FAMILY PROMISE – (A Ministry that houses homeless families in local churches, and helps with finding jobs and housing.) (St. John is hosting January 8-15.)
Warm greetings to you, as our 2016 draws to an end. We are writing on behalf of Family Promise Mat-Su, our Community Response for Families without Housing. Our family shelter program has served almost 34,000 shelter bed nights since our Valley volunteers and congregations have opened in 2005.
We wanted to share some sweet stories with you from this year. One single Mom and her 16-month old daughter came to us several months ago and their story is very inspiring and shows a common outcome for our shelter guests! Mom was a go-getter and was able to set up Daycare, gain employment, and move into her and her daughter’s own rental within 3 weeks! She had been a victim of family dissolution, previously dependent upon her husband for all support. Now, she often comes back to volunteer with Family Promise Mat-Su shelter guests, and her little toddler “helps” and is almost as cute as my daughters were at that age!
A Mom and Dad, daughter and Chihuahua (!! He stayed in our on-site pet shelter building!! J) came to us as homeless and physically disabled. Their daughter remained in her school of origin, the family stayed in our shelter program while re-gaining their medical benefits and employment. Our rental assistance program was able to cover their first month in their new place. Community members came forth as Valley folks do, with home-furnishings and help moving. We actually still visit with these folks often as they still receive mail here for now!
These are just two families of the average of 25 families we shelter every year. We also provide Homeless Prevention to over 100 Community members who are homeless or on the brink every year (this funding is provided by a grant from AHFC/HUD.
Our supportive volunteers (about #400!), donors and terrific office staff work so well together to complete our mission to the Mat-Su Valley, Alaska Community. Our mission is to mobilize community resources and local congregations to provide compassionate care through shelter, meals, and case management to families without housing. We hope you will consider taking this opportunity for the end of the year to give a tax deductible donation to join in supporting our guest families’ services. We are very thankful to those of you who have continuously blessed our work in the past. As we move away from government grants and towards more community support, we are learning how marvelously generous you all are.
Thank you for everything! Please make your online donation on our secure website at: http://www.familypromisematsu.org/Support_Family_Promise.html (Tax ID# 68-0510566)
Family Promise Mat-Su,
the Family Promise Mat-Su Board of Trustees,
Staff and our shelter guests
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 firstname.lastname@example.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!!