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.

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





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.





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.







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.









·       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.






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   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! 









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.





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




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.




Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Where Has the Summer Gone? - A Time for Every Purpose Under Heaven

Dear Members and Friends of St. John, 


My heart is full because of many joys and challenges in life.  But, a seemingly unimportant question nags me: “Where has the summer gone?”  Every summer I have so much anticipation of opportunities with grandchildren out of school, of fishing opportunities, of time spent getting my hands and knees dirty planting a garden and some flowers.  Kathy and I looked forward to a visit from family this summer, and considered travel opportunities.  I have accomplished some of my plans and goals, but the summer is almost over and it seems there is so much more yet to be done.


But, in addition to these personal hopes and goals there have been other activities and jobs that have come along.  In June we held the annual Colony Days Picnic and I attended the District Convention of our church in Portland.  In July six of us conducted Vacation Bible School in Eek, we held VBS at St. John, and I attended a District Board of Directors’ meeting in Lincoln City, OR.  August looks busy too.


I could resent the tasks that took me away from the activities I had planned and hoped for.  But, the truth is that these opportunities to serve the Lord and His Church are important too.  I love working on tasks that help our Lord’s church share the grace of God.  I am happy to find a balance between work and ministry opportunities on the one hand, and the other opportunities to enjoy the blessings of life on the other hand.


Today I watch many struggle with busy lives.  Perhaps after 65 years I understand that struggle more now than I used to understand it.  Part of that understanding comes from the Lord.  God speaks to us in Scripture about time and life.  We are told in the book of Ecclesiastes “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:”  (Ecclesiastes 3:1, KJV). (See also Psalm 90:10-12, Ecclesiastes 3:1-11, 2 Corinthians 6:1-2)  In other words, God intentionally gives us time for work and for family, for ministry and for recreation.


But, perhaps the words of Isaiah speak most clearly to me.  In chapter 40 we read, “A voice says, ‘Cry out.’ And I said, ‘What shall I cry?’ ‘All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field. 7 The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the LORD blows on them. Surely the people are grass. 8 The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.’”  (Isaiah 40:6-8)


Time passes quickly.  There never seems to be enough time for all the opportunities life has to offer.  Yes, “All men are like grass.”  But, there is something that continues forever – the word of our God.  The Lord’s Word points us beyond ourselves to God and His Creative Power, to His purpose for our lives, to His love in this troubled world, and to the eternal life in heaven to which He calls people through faith in the life and death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus. 


I have learned that when focusing on what I miss, or what I don’t have, I can be stressed and frustrated.  I can feel like I don’t have enough time.  But, when I focus on what is eternal, on the Lord and on His Word, I am thankful for what I do have.  I am thankful for the presence of the Lord in opportunities with family and fishing.  I am thankful for the loving presence of the Lord in church and ministry. I am thankful for God and His grace in every moment of life.  (By the way, the book of John tells us that not only are Scriptures the Word of God, but Jesus is “The Word.” (e.g. John 1:1-3)   “ . . . the word of our God stands forever.”


I did spend time with the grandchildren, and time fishing, and time in the garden this summer.  I also spent time serving the Lord in His Church.  Our lives may be like grass that blows away.  But, Isaiah says, “the word of our God stands forever.’”  I have learned that God’s grace is present in all the times of our lives. 


Thank you Lord for today, and for your presence and your love in each moment of life!


A Child of God, Thankful for God’s Presence in Every Moment of our Lives,

Pastor Jonathan          


P.S.  Here are some more baptism pictures.

·         Wren Adelaide Robertson baptized Wednesday, August 1, 2018.  https://photos.app.goo.gl/GgEE1odDg8n4hqGJ6


·         Ada Psenak, baptized Sunday, August 5, 2018 https://photos.app.goo.gl/eovZjwmfVHZj6ePt8


P.P.S.  Here are some pictures from the concert by Dave Anderson and Roger Walck Sunday, August 5, at 6:00 p.m.celebrating the 25th anniversary of God’s rescue from the Bering Sea.  https://photos.app.goo.gl/kSri1etJQCdsZp6cA


P.P.S.  Here are some pictures from some fishing trips

·         Ethan caught his first salmon on Friday, August 3.  https://photos.app.goo.gl/DexAcUC426rhCjtd7


·         Sara Guhl, daughter Ellen, and grand children Gaelen and Alana, went fishing with Pastor Rockey on Monday, August 6.  https://photos.app.goo.gl/sPoEa3dey8xUDSBs7





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.




Thursday, August 2, 2018

Rejoicing in the Power and Love of God to Rescue Us

Dear Members and Friends of St. John, 


Does God really exist?  If so, does God actually hear and answer prayer?  Have you seen the hand of God in your life so that you can tell others of His power and His love?  These big questions are often asked by those who dismiss that God exists.  But, sometimes even believers ask these questions.  After all, our world is so full of pain and suffering and evil, it is not surprising that people ask, “Where is God?”


The Scriptures are full of God’s promises of deliverance and rescue.  In one of my favorite Psalms, Psalm 30, David praises God for his deliverance from death and the grave.  I will exalt you, O LORD, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me. 2 O LORD my God, I called to you for help and you healed me. 3 O LORD, you brought me up from the grave; you spared me from going down into the pit.” (Psalm 30:1-3)


When He was tempted in the wilderness, Jesus rebuked Satan with verses from Scripture, including Psalm 91.  The chaplain corps of US Armed Services have especially chosen Psalm 91 because of its promise of God’s protection in time of danger.  (Kathy made a stole for a chaplain friend of mine with all of Psalm 91 embroidered on the stole.)  Listen to God’s promise of rescue for those who acknowledge him.  13 You will tread upon the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent. 14 "Because he loves me," says the LORD, "I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. 15 He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him." (Psalm 91:13-15)


Or, if you search Scripture, you will find God’s rescue promised in Isaiah, in Jeremiah, in Daniel, in Ezekiel, and in many other places. (See Isaiah 46:3-4, Jeremiah 1:8, 19, Ezekiel 34:10, 12, 27, Daniel 3:17, Daniel 6:16,20, Zephaniah 3:17-19) For example, in Daniel we read the famous stories of God rescuing Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego from the firey furnace, and of God rescuing Daniel from the lions’ den.  Paul and Peter also write of God’s rescue.  (2 Timothy 4:18, 2 Peter 2:7-9)


So, God promises in Scripture to love, to protect, and to save His people.  But, is this promise just something from the past, or is God really still active today?  Are these just stories from people of faith, or is the power and love of God also present for our lives today?


This Sunday St. John will host a concert commemorating the 25th anniversary of a powerful rescue in our very midst.  In the early 1990’s Russia was opening up to Christian efforts.  St. John sent a team to Provideniya, across from Nome, in late July and early August 1993.  The Koss family and our son, Joshua, returned from this exploratory trip on Thursday, August 12.  Among the others reaching out with the love of God to this region were Lutheran singers Dave and Barb Anderson and a team 5 others, including our friend, Don Wharton.  On Sunday, August 8, Don sang in worship at St. John.  On Friday, August 13, on the way home from Far East Russia, the plane carrying the team with Dave and Barb and friends ran out of gas and crashed into the Bering Sea.  People rarely survive over 20 minutes in these frigid waters.  But, God showed His power again and, against conventional wisdom, all seven were rescued from the Bering Sea, and continued their lives of serving the Lord.  The air traffic control center in Anchorage helped direct a rescue effort from Nome and all seven were plucked from the icy waters by helicopters.  Our friends could not have saved themselves, but they all were saved by the efforts of others, through the grace of God.


The greatest rescue, however, is not one from any earthly danger.  As Paul begins writing his letter to the Christians in Galatia, God moves him to write. 3 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father,”  (Galatians 1:3-4)  All people in this world face trials and suffering.  All those living face death.  These troubles plague us because of our weakness, our rebellion, because of our sin against the Creator and Ruler of all.  But, though we have brought these trials on ourselves, we are powerless to save ourselves.  So, as Paul writes, “Christ gave himself for our sins to rescue us.”


Sometimes we think our main need is help and rescue in this life.  But, our greatest need is rescue from death and from condemnation for eternal life in heaven.  The great value of examples of God’s loving power to rescue us in this world, like the rescue from the Bering Sea in 1993, is that this earthly rescue points to God’s greater rescue of all of us for heaven, through Jesus.


This Sunday night we will have an opportunity to hear an answer to the questions, “Does God exist?  Does He really help and save?”  I invite you to come and celebrate God’s saving goodness in this life, and to find your hope and your strength in God’s eternal rescue in Jesus.


A Child of God, Rejoicing in God’s Power and Love to Rescue Us,

Pastor Jonathan          


P.S.  Dave Anderson and Roger Walck will present a concert at St. John this Sunday, August 5, beginning at 6:00 p.m.  This concert is part of the 25th anniversary celebration of God’s rescue from the Bering Sea.


P.P.S.  Here are some pictures from a leisurely fishing trip with my dogs on Monday, July 30.  https://photos.app.goo.gl/WbUhjMsB98hVo3Av5





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.