Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Blessed Beyond Measure by a Wife Who 'Fears the Lord!'

Dear Members and Friends of St. John,


In June I was struck by a text message sent to me by my wife, Kathy.  I saved the text for this week’s devotion.  On Monday, June 24, I was driving to Sterling, making many stops, taking care of errands along the way, as I traveled south to work on our cabin.  While in Anchorage I looked at my phone and Kathy had texted me from work.  The text log says this message was sent to me at 7:51 a.m., Monday, June 24.  Here are the words of Kathy’s text.  “I hope you have some time to relax. Please don’t use your phone while you’re driving. It’s your day OFF. Be careful. Electricity and gas. I want you to come back in one piece. I Love you!”


Maybe you can hear or sense the years of experience and knowledge from our marriage through this text message.  I have always taken my calling as a pastor seriously, but have probably worked too hard at times.  Do you hear Kathy taking care of me and wanting me to rest?  While I don’t text while driving, I do use my Bluetooth and talk while on the road.  Our administrative assistant at St. John, Judy Stahancyk, calls it my “Spock – Rock.”  Kathy has a different idea of being careful with a phone while driving.  Do you hear her concern about my safety?  Finally, my reputation as a handyman is legendary, in that I have made many laughable mistakes over the years in my attempts to fix things around the house.  Kathy will tell you that my handyman skills are getting better.  However, I was on the way to the Kenai to get propane and electric connected to the cabin.  (I did call professionals in to do that work for me.)  Do you hear Kathy’s concern, and her warning about dealing with dangerous power sources?


But, when I saw this text message what struck me at that moment was just how much my wife of over 40 cares for me.  Kathy knows my strengths.  But, she also knows very well my many areas of weakness.  Yet, Kathy accepts me for who I am and continues to love me.  In fact, Tuesday, August 20, is our 42nd wedding anniversary.  This text message from Kathy was a loud message from her that our love continues and has grown even stronger, much stronger, over the years.


Hollywood and the other media of today have a different idea of the love between a man and a woman.  In Hollywood, love is always exciting, between extremely attractive people.  In Hollywood, love almost always includes sex outside of marriage, often without commitment, and without God.  But, as we watch marriages of Hollywood celebrities make the headlines, both in the coming together and the explosive splitting apart, the Hollywood dream shows itself to be shallow and short-lived.


A person might understandably expect that after 42 years of marriage a husband and wife might have become accustomed to one another, and that love may have cooled.  But, as a pastor who performs marriages, and who also visits those in their last days and months of life, I can attest to you that love grows deeper over the years.  I’m convinced that God’s intent is for a husband and wife to support each other in faith and in love through the joys and challenges of life, and then, if grace allows, to share their last years together remembering their lives and love together.  I am thankful that in our marriage, I see that plan of God at work.


Proverbs 31 contains God’s wisdom spoken by King Lemuel.  In Proverbs 31:10-31 Lemuel writes about the blessing of a good wife.  This section begins in verse 10 with the following assertion, “A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.”  Lemuel’s God-given wisdom is then summarized in verse 30.  “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” 


Lemuel’s wisdom is different from the ideas of Hollywood.  The Lord works through Lemuel to instruct God’s children to look for a spouse of “noble character,” who “fears the Lord.”  I am a deeply, and undeservedly blessed man!  Significantly, Scripture also compares God’s love for His church through Jesus to the love intended in marriage.  St. Paul writes in Epheians 5, “This is a profound mystery-- but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”  (Ephesians 5:32-33)  If the love of a husband and wife grows deeper, how much greater is the love of God for His people.  Well, the Father did send His only Son to save us!  Such sacrifice also reflects God’s plan for husbands and wives.


Some of you know that I retire as full time pastor of St. John at the end of this month, and that I am struggling deeply with this decision.  Perhaps my one guiding light in this new direction is that my wife of 42 years loves me deeply, in a way I do not deserve.  Kathy wants to spend time with her husband.  What a blessing that after 42 years of marriage my wife wants to spend time with me!  I can surely say of Kathy, what Lemuel wrote in Proverbs 31.  “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” 


A Child of God, Blessed Beyond Measure by a Wife who ‘Fears the Lord’,

Pastor Jonathan


P.S.  Here are some pictures from our wedding, August 20, 1977 in Memphis, TN.  Remember, Elvis died in Memphis on the Tuesday before we were married.  We have stories! https://photos.app.goo.gl/6Xoo2KrYXr641Nup8



P.P.S.  Stephen Ministry at St. John is going well.  Here is a picture of most of our Stephen Ministers from a supervision meeting on Thursday, August 15.  Becky Lutz and Miki Entwistle of Lamb of God are the only two missing from this picture.  https://photos.app.goo.gl/LeNZs1gCjuBPrxy46


P.P.S.  We have been blessed with many baptisms this summer at St. John.  Here are pictures from the baptism of Sophie Bower, and of Isaac and Kenneth Walton on August 18.

·       Sophie Bower - https://photos.app.goo.gl/Ain3nv7FPyEBHgNe7


·       Isaac and Kenneth Walton - https://photos.app.goo.gl/Y3E71x4XfJvQs5bp8





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.





IMPORTANT – (If you have not done so . . . PLEASE RESPOND WITH A ‘YES’ OR A ‘NO.’   DEVOTIONS IN THE FUTURE - When I retire I will continue to write these devotions, but I will no longer send these e-mails as a St. John newsletter, since I won’t be pastor at St. John.  I will post these devotions on my Facebook page, but not on the St. John Facebook page, for now at least. I believe the devotional articles will also continue in our local newspaper, The Frontiersman, each Sunday. 

Please respond to let me know if you want to continue receiving them.  If you respond with a “Yes” then I will include you on the new distribution list.  You can respond to me at jonrock53@mtaonline.net to let me know.





RETIREMENT CELEBRATION, August 25 – While I have not been in on the planning, and don’t know many of the details, I do know that St. John is planning a “retirement celebration” on Sunday afternoon, August 25.  There will be a worship service at 5:00 p.m., followed by a reception.

            I would ask you to come and celebrate God’s goodness as we have served Him together.

If you have not done so, please call the St. John office at 907-745-3338 to RSVP your attendance.


Some have asked about the plans after retirement which Kathy and I have.  Here is our FLEXIBLE and CHANGEABLE plan

1.     August 31-September 5 – Josh and Jonathan hunt Caribou

2.     September 8-11 – Butcher Caribou

3.     September 13-14, use Christmas gift of train ticket to Seward

4.     September 16-30 Fish on the Kenai

5.     Preaching and encouraging support of workers

a.      September 15 – Our Redeemer, Chugiak

b.     September 22 – Faith, Juneau

c.      September 29 – Sterling Lutheran

d.     October 6 – Star of the North, Kenai

6.     October 7 – Fly to Florida, fish, golf, relax

7.     October 25-26 – 40 year reunion at Seminary in St. Louis

8.     Baseball Hall of fame????

9.     November 18 – return to AK

10.  November 26-December 10 –Germany trip

11.  December - Preach other churches?

12.  Christmas with family in AK

13.  January 7 – fly to FL

14.  End of March  - Quilting trip / fishing in Arkansas

15.  April 6? – Return to AK

16.  Then what????








Maintaining the Church property grounds is a task which the Trustees need your help with. Our goal is to mow once a week. This results in a work task larger then the Trustees can handle by themselves. It takes approximately 4+ hours to mow these lawns. We do have a John Deere riding lawnmower for the task and your enjoyment. If you can volunteer to help out with this job, a sign up sheet is posted in Narthex. If you do sign up, please contact either Cliff Proetz (907-715-6780) or Peter J. Probasco (907-351-0085) for instructions. Thank you!!


SERMONS IN AUGUSTDuring August my sermons, based the assigned Bible Readings, will focus on “Luther’s Sola’s” (Latin word for “alone”), the principles that have helped me live as a Christian and helped me serve as a pastor.

·       By Faith Alone – August 11

·       By Scripture Alone – August 18

·       By Grace Alone – August 25.

Sunday, August 25 will be my last sermon at St. John for a while.



·       There are Adult Sunday School Classes. 

o   Jim Summers is teaching a class on the book of Luke,

·       Classes for the Youth are also being held in the portable building on Sunday mornings!


WEDNESDAY WORSHIP is offered at St. John each week at 6:30 p.m.   Wednesday worship is a both a replacement opportunity for worship for those who cannot attend worship on Sundays, and also an additional opportunity for worship for those who would like extra time for worshiping our Lord.  Wednesday worship uses the Bible Readings for the following Sunday, but has a different sermon than Sunday’s sermon.  Communion is also offered the Wednesday before The Lord’s Supper is served on Sundays,  Communion is served the Wednesdays before the 1st and 3rd Sundays.

            Come and join us for worship on Wednesday evenings at 6:30 p.m.!  On August 7 we have 2 baptisms!


PRAYER MINISTRY OPPORTUNITY!! – There are Elders in Pastor Allen’s former office between worship who are available for prayer each Sunday between services.  Prayer is one of the greatest gifts God gives His people.  Come bring your prayer requests.  Come join in praying for God’s work, and for others.


PRAYER CHAIN – St. John has an e-mail prayer chain administered by St. John member, Jacki Rose.  Jacki lives in Anchorage and cannot always get to Palmer on Sundays.  However, she serves God at St. John in this way.  If you want to share and receive prayer requests you can ask Jacki to be part of her distribution list.  E-mail your request to jrose@bluecrestenergy.com.


STEWARDSHIP NEWS – MISSION OFFERINGS - As part of our regular budget St. John plans to reach out with the good news of Jesus to the world around us.  Some of that is done through our regular budget.  Last year we sent

·       $6011 to Alaska Mission for Christ.

·       $6011 to the Northwest District, and

·       $3000 to local missions.  Most of that went to Family Promise.  Some went to the St. John Mission trip to Eek.


HOWEVER, we also plan to have various special offerings to give members of the St. John

Family an opportunity to support God’s work in other places.  This year’s schedule is like last years.  However, here is our schedule of MISSION offerings for 2019

·       January – April-          Heartreach Crisis Pregnancy Center baby bottles.  (Those are on

the counter in the narthex.

·       May                            Alaska Mission for Christ – Eek AMC VBS (May 19 and 26!)

·       June                             St. John Youth National Gathering and Mission Trip

(cannisters are on the sound booth.)

·       July                             Military Bible Sticks

·       August                        Family Promise

·       October                       LWML

·       November                   Canned goods for Thanksgiving Blessing / Christmas shoeboxes

·       December                   Special offering for community ministry at the Community Advent


            The Stewardship Board wants to inform you ahead of time about these opportunities to spread the love of God in Jesus.  Our hope and plan is that through the regular budgeted offerings, and through the designated special offerings we can be faithful stewards and share the love of Jesus.


THANK YOU - St. John contributed $1468.00 to provide Bible Sticks for military personnel.  THANK YOU!




THANKS!  We have 4 possible people to watch our dog, Mat, while we are outside.








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!!




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 14, 2019

Thankful for Others who have Sacriced for Me - Hoping to Respond with Similar Service

Dear Members and Friends of St. John,


This summer I gained a renewed respect for public servants who go to work every day putting their lives on the line for others.  Specifically I am now thinking of firefighters.  On June 5 my daughter, Mary, and I were driving down to the Kenai, and saw the smoke that marked the beginning of the Swan Lake fire.  But, on June 24-26 I drove down to Sterling and back myself.  On the way down to Sterling there was some smoke and minor delays.  But, the trip back to Palmer was memorable.


First, traffic stopped a number of times just east of Sterling as we travelers waited in smoky conditions for a possible trip through the affected area between Sterling and Cooper Landing.  It is interesting to get out of your car and hear the conversation and the conjecture.  One person talked about the road being closed, so some people turned their cars around and drove back toward Sterling and Soldotna.  Another person talked about a previous wait of 9 hours to get through the fire.  Others just visited and waited, not sure if we would get through, or when that might be.


Finally, after about 2 hours of waiting, traffic began to move.  However, there was so much smoke I personally had trouble seeing the cars in front of me.  In addition, there were billowing plumes of smoke from active fires, seemingly only 50 or 100 yards off the highway behind some other trees.  I glimpsed a burned path close to the road where a back fire had been set by the firefighters.  At one point, just north of the highway I looked and saw a spruce tree with a large crown of branches which was erupting in flame, seemingly not more than 50 yards off the road I was traveling.  The limited visibility and heavy smell of smoke continued throughout my journey back through Cooper Landing, through Turnagain Pass, even around Turnagain Arm. 


Throughout the wait and the trip I saw vehicles with fire fighters driving back and forth, and even into the woods for the fire.  No wonder there were signs on businesses and schools saying, “Thank you Firefighters.”  One church had a sign saying, “Praying for the firefighters.”  These men and women put their lives on the line to keep the fire in check, but also to protect the life and the property of people who live on the Kenai Penisula.  And this fire is not even the biggest fire on the Kenai in the last 5 years.  The Funny River fire in 2014 was bigger.  It’s just that everyone driving from Anchorage to Soldotna did not have to travel that route as they did for this Swan Lake fire.


However, those who fight fires are not the only ones who willingly risk their lives to protect and serve others.  Policemen leave their house everyday, not sure if they will return home, especially in today’s times of division.  Those in the military know when they enlist that they face the possibility of armed conflict.  Living in Alaska we know that many of those who serve on JBER have given of their time fighting for our country, and some have indeed given their very lives.  And others face danger on their jobs as well.  For example, it is often when the temperatures drop and the winds are blowing that linemen climb poles and work with dangerous high voltage electricity.  I personally wouldn’t want that job.  Doctors and nurses, and other health workers, expose themselves to communicable diseases every day.  We are truly blessed by the willing, sacrificial service of many in our community!


However, it often seems that we in the public who receive this service don’t know of the sacrifice these public servants make for us.  Or, perhaps we ignore what these people do to serve us.  Worse yet, we may take their sacrifice for granted.  But, our lives are safer because these dedicated people go to work every day.


Jesus calls this sacrificial service for others “love.”  12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.  (John 13:14-15)  The reason that Jesus can tell us to “Love each other as HE has loved us, is that He is the one who really loved us, the one who really laid down His life for us.  Jesus came to this world knowing He would face opposition, and suffering, and even a cruel, unjust, painful death.  Yet, Jesus tells us in that He laid down His life for us willingly.  11 "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. . . 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life-- only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father."  (John 10:11, 17-18)


How do you respond to those who have served you sacrificially?  Jesus calls us to believe in Him as our Savior, and to follow Him with our lives.  But, in this verse, Jesus also recognizes others who lay down their lives for us.  Their sacrifice is love. 


This year I am especially thankful for our firefighters!  How about you?


A Child of God, Thankful that Others have Sacrificed for Me – Hoping to Respond with Similar Service,

Pastor Jonathan


P.S.  Here are some pictures from my trip back from the Kenai on June 26.  I ended up missing Wednesday worship that night because of the delay and had to get Randy Luffberry to fill in for me.  Thanks, Randy!  https://photos.app.goo.gl/nTeDGT3a6TFDHDa66


P.P.S. Last Week’s e-mail met delivery problems with the spam blocker from MTA.  I wrote the devotion and sent the e-mail.  I understand some of you did get the e-mail devotion.  Most of us did not receive last week’s e-mail.  I’m am still working on the problem with MTA.  However, my devotions are available on the church Facebook page, and on my personal Facebook page.  If we are not FB “friends” you can friend me and then you’ll have access there.


P.P.P.S.  I did get to go fishing a couple of times last week.

·       Here are some pictures of Mary and I fishing on the Kenai for Red salmon on Thursday, August 9.  https://photos.app.goo.gl/gtV3hpr2hirbiwc56


·       I took the Walton family fishing on Monday, August 12, on the Little Susitna River.  They had won a trip with me at the youth auction.  The summer has been hot and dry.  The water was low.  After 6 or 7 hours Theresa and the kids went home.  Tim and I kept fishing and caught 1 silver.  https://photos.app.goo.gl/DTf9BA2yeCgtibZq8


P.P.P.P.S.  As part of my community involvement I have been part of the Palmer Kiwanis Club while pastor in Palmer.  My four children and I all played in the Kiwanis golf tournament on Friday evening, August 9.   Here are a couple of pictures.  https://photos.app.goo.gl/CwEfWcT1ahFGq7xC7







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 7, 2019

Living in Awe, in Comfort, and Hope, Because of My Creator and Savior

Dear Members and Friends of St. John,


In the past year my wife and I became “proud” owners of a small dry cabin on the Kenai Peninsula, near a boat launch on the Kenai River.  Now, Alaskans know that the Kenai River is the prime fishing river in Alaska which can be easily accessed by the Alaska road system.  In addition, people who know me, know that I like to fish.  When people greet me I’m often asked two questions.  The first question I’m asked is, “How are you doing?” But the second question people ask is, “Have you been fishing lately?”


As any landowner knows, owning property comes with responsibilities for maintenance and upkeep, and then all those little projects one may want to do.  I have learned that a maintenance task which looks easy isn’t necessarily as easy as I thought.  I am now at a point in my “fix-it experience” where I estimate the time I think it will take to do a job, and then multiply that time by 3!  In fact, often, such as with this cabin, the jobs takes much longer, and are more expensive than I expected.


We did not build this cabin we now own.  Another man built the cabin and had it for sale about a mile from the small piece of property Kathy and I bought.  Part of the purchase price included moving the cabin, but then it was our responsibility to paint the cabin, get it set up for our use, and hook it up to electricity and propane.  On its previous site the cabin had been on natural gas. 


For me, it was the propane conversion that took the majority of my effort.  I thought, or I assumed, it would be simple to hook up a propane tank to the natural gas line, which was already part of the cabin.  I understood that I would need to convert the space heater and the stove from natural gas use to propane use.  But, the more I investigated, the more complicated this process seemed to be.  Actually, while I am not a natural handyman, I have learned that I can pretty much do anything as long as I make enough mistakes to learn.  But . . . there are some areas where that first mistake might be disastrous, like with natural gas, or propane.  So, I called a professional to install the conversion kit for the heater, and to help with the hookup of the propane tank.  That was expensive, but it was a smart move.


Nevertheless, when I went to look for parts, I started at Spenard Builders in Palmer.  They sold me two parts, but said I really needed to talk with a plumbing contractor in Wasilla.  When I called this contractor, they sent me to Suburban Propane in Anchorage, who then sent me to Central Plumbing and heating.  Central Plumbing sold me a regulator, but they also directed me to Alaska Rubber to make the hose to hook up the tank to the gas line.  I still had to get the conversion kit from a business in Anchorage, who wouldn’t sell it to me because I wasn’t a licensed contractor.  However, when I put them on the phone with the Kenai business which was installing the part the next day, they reluctantly sent it with me, as long as I gave it to the contractor.  After about 10 stops, the technician from the company that sells the heaters came, and the propane was connected, the heater working.


That still left the stove.  I have an owner’s manual for this appliance.  But, after reading the explanation about how to convert from gas to propane I still had some questions.  Harvey Kolberg was on the peninsula and he stopped by and worked with me.  But, the manual was confusing.  For example, when the manual indicated that we should turn the adjustment valves counter-clockwise, were we to look at the valve from the front, or the back?  Were we tightening, or loosening?  Harvey called the company and they admitted the manual could be confusing.  He got some of the conversion done, but didn’t have all the tools he needed.  On my 3rd trip to work on this issue, I too called the company, and finally, with all the tools in hand, finished the job.  I’m sure someone who does this work professionally, could have done these jobs simply, quickly, and without the questions we ran into.  Finally, on July 19, with Kathy and I in the cabin, we had the electric and the propane, and all the appliances working. . . I think!


As I said, “I can pretty much do anything as long as I make enough mistakes to learn.  But . . . there are some areas where that first mistake might be disastrous.”  With the complexity of seemingly simple tasks in mind, do your heart and soul ever fill with awe when you look at the Creation around you?  I know the questions I had with the simple tasks of hooking up electric that was already wired.  I know the mistakes and the trouble I experienced with the simple hooking up of propane to a building which was already plumbed.  Yet, we are told about the creation around us, “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning-- the sixth day.”  (Genesis 1:31)  God didn’t make mistakes.  The Lord created our world, and still cares for it.  The days and seasons and years continue, and God provides land and water, sun and rain, warmth and cold.  Even with all the lack of wisdom which humans show in stewardship of God’s gift, we are still blessed by the world around us, by the beauty we experience, by the food we eat and the places we live.  God is good!


The Psalmist wrote, “3 When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, 4 what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?”  (Psalm 8:3-4)  We look at the creation around us, at the complexity, at the order, at the beauty, and the world teaches us about God.  Creation teaches us about the power, and the wisdom, and the creative nature of our Lord.  The world around us also teaches us about His love for us.  The One who created us also, according to Psalm 8, cares for us.  He cares so much He sent His own son to die for us.


The cabin we bought has taught me humility . . . again.  I am thankful for friends and professionals who helped me.  But, the complexity of these simple tasks has reminded me to be in awe of the beauty and the order found in creation around us.  And, to know that the powerful Lord who created the world, and continues to keep it working, is the one who has reached out to care for me and to save me, gives me comfort and hope.


A Child of God, Living in Awe, and Comfort, and Hope, Because of my Creator and My Savior,

Pastor Jonathan


P.S.  Here are a few pictures of our cabin on the Kenai.  https://photos.app.goo.gl/dJeMKms99WagKcDC8


P.P.S.  Thank you to all who helped feed the District Board of Directors when they visited St. John on August 3.  Here are some pictures.  https://photos.app.goo.gl/CUcoTzj2rBnFynPT6


P.P.P.S.  I took Mike Livingston fishing on Monday, August 5.  Mike’s wife, Nancy, is on the District Board of Directors, and he is a fish and game biologist for the state of Washington in the Yakima area.  Mike caught his limit of silvers in 15 minutes on Monday.  https://photos.app.goo.gl/sn85bkErYgiSN8zN8





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.





IMPORTANT - When I retire I will continue to write these devotions, but I will no longer send these e-mails as a St. John newsletter.  I will post these devotions on my Facebook page, but not on the St. John Facebook page, for now at least. I believe the articles will also continue in The Frontiersman.  However, if you want to continue to receive these devotions by e-mail please send me an e-mail TO ME at jonrock53@mtaonline.net to let me know to send them to you.





FROM PRESIDENT PAUL LINNEMANN - President Paul Linnemann preached at St. John on Sunday, August 4.  During his sermon he quoted the old Cat Stevens song, “Cat’s in the Cradle.”  He also wrote 2 new verses, and a new refain.  A number of people asked for his new verses.  Here they are:


1.     My child arrived just the other day; Came into the world in the usual way

There were hugs to give and lots to say; love overflowed almost every day.

            He asked questions. I told stories and as he grew he said

I’m gonna be like you, Dad. You know I’m gonna be like you.



And the Word’s on the table and it’s really read,

There’s laughter and there’s loving and there’s prayers before bed.

            What’s happening tomorrow, Dad, what’s in store?

            There’s more, son, there’s so much more.


3.     The years have worn on and my son is on his own; It’s hard to believe just how much he’s grown

When I hear him speak and watch him live, he shares his love and he loves to give.

You see he knows his real father and his heart he shares

I wanna be like You, Dad. You know I wanna be like You.




And the Word’s on the table and it’s really read,

There’s laughter and there’s loving and there’s prayers before bed.

            What’s happening tomorrow, Dad, what’s in store?

There’s more, son, there’s so much more.


Thank you, President Linnemann!



Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Thankful for My Earthly Dad and My Heavenly Father

Dear Members and Friends of St. John,


This week I have been thinking about my dad.  This past Monday, July 29, was one year from the last time any of us Alaskan Rockey’s saw him, except my time beside his bed at the end of his life when he was in a coma.  But on Sunday, July 29, 2018, my daughter, Mary, was visiting family in Florida.  Mary had lunch with my dad and I have a picture of the two of them on that day after lunch outside the place where Dad lived.  My dad was taller than I am in adult life.  But, in this picture he is somewhat stooped, and his head is not quite as tall as Mary’s ear.  He has a half grin on his face.  My dad had a sense of humor.


While Mary and Dad were visiting, he told her something she has often repeated to her Alaska family.  Dad informed Mary, “Martha (my sister) is in charge.  But, when Martha’s not here, you’re in charge.”  Mary has reminded us of my dad’s words many times.  And, since Martha lives in FL, and Mary lives in Alaska . . . Well, you get the idea!


My dad was a little over 90 years and 10 months when this picture was taken.  He would have been 91 on September 22, 2018.  But, he contracted a urinary tract infection, which led to other complications, and he passed away around 5:25 a.m. on August 25.  I was by his bedside.


As Monday July 29th approached, I was thinking about my dad because I knew the date of that picture of Mary and Dad.  I used to phone him on Monday’s.  Obviously, I don’t call Dad anymore. Now I call my sister, Martha.  Since we live in Alaska and he lived in FL we did not get to spend the holidays together.  But, this was the first year I didn’t send my dad a Father’s Day card and gift for the occasion.  Obviously, since he died almost a year ago, he was no longer home to receive the card and gift for this year’s Fathers’ Day.


Perhaps another reason I was thinking about my dad is the St. John Alaska Mission for Christ Vacation Bible School in Eek, Alaska, last week.  It was a very good trip again this year.  We had about 75 children who attended 4 days of VBS.  Eight members of St. John flew to Eek, including Rod and Temple Christiansen, and their son, Aaron, Sara Guhl, and her grandson, Gaelen Swigart, Marilee Nufer, Margaret Runser, and myself.  This year, we also added basketball camp at night, led by Rod Christiansen.  That camp was a BIG hit.  I also offered an adult Bible Study at the same time, based on the lessons we had taught the children that day in VBS.  I did not get the attendance Rod got in basketball camp, but I had at least 5 folks a night.


One other phenomenon we experienced again was the regular visit of children to the place we were staying.  Some children especially came to visit every day.  They seemed to crave our attention.  Interestingly, some of these children always seemed to show up around meal time.  One day our village contact and friend, George Alexie, was present during one of these visits.  He said, “I’m glad these children are coming to visit you.”  George explained that, at least for a couple of these children, home life was not all that good, and the children were often hungry.


Do you realize what a blessing it is that many of us have had loving fathers who worked to provide for us, and care for us, and laugh with us, as best they can?  In Matthew 7 Jesus talks about the care of fathers. 9 "Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? In God’s plan for the world fathers take care of their children, even if that does not always happen in our world.  Thinking back to my dad, He did provide, and he did love, and he did teach.  He especially taught us about our Lord, which is the main responsibility Scripture gives parents.  ( See Deuteronomy 6:6-7, Proverbs 22:6, and Ephesians 6:4).  Thank you, Dad!


But, dads are human as all of us are, and all parents struggle at times in raising our children well.  So, I am thankful for the rest of that Matthew verse which indicates we also have a Heavenly Father, whose love and provision even surpass the love of our earthly Fathers.  Jesus tells His disciples at the end of that section of Matthew, “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11)


And, if our Heavenly Father loves His children and cares for them, consider the meaning of the best known verse in Scripture, John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. (NAS)  Our Heavenly Father obviously loves His “only begotten Son.”  So, if our Heavenly Father “gave” His Son that we might believe and have eternal life, how much does our Heavenly Father love us??!  Actually, this truth further explains the words of Psalm 103:13, “As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him.” God gives us fathers to love and care for us.  But, the love of our Heavenly Father surpasses the love even the best earthly dad can give.


Like my father, I am the dad of 4 children, and now I am also grandfather to 6 grandchildren.  I have tried to love, and to provide, and to teach.  But, I know at times I have struggled.  In the end, I am thankful.  I am thankful for a dad who did love me, provide for me, and teach me about Jesus.  I am thankful for the privilege of loving and caring for my own children and grandchildren.  And, I am especially thankful for my Heavenly Father whose love even surpasses the love of my earthly dad.


Do you have good memories of your father?  If so, be thankful, not everyone has that blessing.  But, everyone does have a Heavenly Father who loves us so much He sent Jesus.  Thank You, Dad!


A Child of God, Thankful for My Earthly Dad and for My Heavenly Father,

Pastor Jonathan


P.S.  Here is the picture of Mary and my dad.  https://photos.app.goo.gl/keRqtPgVQM11twZm9


P.P.S.  Here are some pictures of the Basketball Camp that Rod Christiansen conducted during our time in the village of Eek.  While Rod was running a basketball camp for youth, I was teaching an evening Bible Class for adults.  (He had a bigger attendance than I did.  J ) https://photos.app.goo.gl/75Ux3FHsgSC7cV1C8


P.P.P.S.  Our Church Publishing House, Concordia Publishing House (CPH), donated 50 children’s bibles for the St. John team to hand out in Eek.  Here are some pictures of children with the Bibles, discussion about the Bibles in worship, and pictures of adults taking the Bibles.  https://photos.app.goo.gl/P5PG24HH8LcorDux5


P.P.P.P.S.  Gaelen Swigart and I did get to go fishing with George Alexie, Eek resident and head elder at Eek Moravian Church.  Here are some pictures from that fishing trip.  https://photos.app.goo.gl/MKyKnG3yBDfcf7qDA


P.P.P.P.P.S.  Here are all the pictures from our trip to Eek, to provide VBS for the children of the village.  https://photos.app.goo.gl/md5NmyN1J45XDPfd7








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.





IMPORTANT - When I retire I will continue to write these devotions, but I will no longer send these e-mails as a St. John newsletter.  I will post these devotions on my Facebook page, but not on the St. John Facebook page, for now at least. I believe the articles will also continue in The Frontiersman.  However, if you want to continue to receive these devotions by e-mail please send me an e-mail TO ME at jonrock53@mtaonline.net to let me know to send them to you.