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.


·       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.


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.





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. -

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:

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!!




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