Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Trusting in God, NOT in Man

Dear Members and Friends of St. John,


Last week, among other tasks, I worked on church bulletins.  Not all denominations or congregations use bulletins in worship.  But, the bulletins we use provide an outline for those in our worship services.  Our bulletins give our office and our musicians information to plan for our coming worship of our Lord.  With a couple of fits and starts I finished planning worship and wrote bulletins through March 13.


In planning worship it is important to read the assigned Scriptures.  One verse that hit home with me as I read it is the assigned Old Testament Lesson for the Sixth Sunday after Epiphany, February 17, Jeremiah 17:5–8.  This verse warns not to trust the wisdom or strength of people, but encourages God’s children to trust in the Lord.  Listen to Jeremiah.    

“5 This is what the LORD says: "Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the LORD. 6 He will be like a bush in the wastelands; he will not see prosperity when it comes. He will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives.

7 "But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. 8 He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit."


How often does our world try to solve our issues and leave God out of the solution?  How often do even we Christians do the same thing?  No wonder we are so often frustrated!


With this word of God on my mind I then received a devotion on Tuesday, from Dr. Dale Meyer, President of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, and a personal friend.  Do you hear the words of Jeremiah 17 echoing in Dr. Meyer’s devotion?


[Monday, January 28] . . . five police officers were shot in Houston. When terrible shootings happen, and sadly they’ve become all too common, people in places high and low encourage us to pray, and we do, praying for those devastated by the violence and praying for peace. After deadly shootings in San Bernardino several years ago, the headline in the New York Daily News blared, “God isn’t fixing this.”

Of course, God isn’t fixing this! God is saying, See how your life goes, America, if you don’t live in true fear of Me. Read what Paul said about the worldly wise people of his day: “Although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks for him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools…. Since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind…” and then follows a catalog of sins that plague our lives still today (Romans 1:21, 22, 28-32).

Do you think gun control is the solution? Or the opposite, every citizen armed? Both solutions are superficial because they presume humanity is OK, that we can fix this, ignoring that these horrific crimes are symptoms of a problem between us and God. God has a fix, but as long as we imagine we can fix evil on our own, God will keep giving us over to our self-willed ways. Everything will stay imprisoned under sin (Galatians 3:22) until more and more Americans shudder in fear before the Creator and Judge. That’s the start of repentance, not just sorrow but sorrow spoken to God. Then God speaks His fix, and we are changed for life.

“If people desert God, God must desert people. The only way He could avoid this ‘divine necessity’ (if we dare call it that) was to place our sins on His own dear Son and desert Him in our place” (Francis Rossow, “Preaching the Creative Gospel Creatively,” 31). There’s God’s fix, and you and I need to be in it.

“Stir up Your power, O Lord, and come, that by Your protection we may be rescued from the threatening perils of our sins.”


I shake my head a lot these days and worry about the direction of our country.  How often are we trying to fix our problems and leaving God out of the solution?  But, then I look around me and see the same thing happening, even at times in my own life.  We would like to think that we are smart enough and strong enough to overcome the evils and the problems we face.  But, as Dr. Meyer says, that “presumes humanity is OK”, and that ignores our own sin.    No wonder we continue to struggle with evil over and over again!


Thankfully, God has overcome our sin when He took our sin on Himself.  Jesus, the Son of God, died on the cross to defeat our sin, to offer us forgiveness through faith in Him.  Jesus, the Son of God rose from the dead and offers eternal life to all, not by trusting ourselves, but through trusting His saving love. 


So, when I face a problem, I have learned, it is wise to wonder what I am doing that is helping to cause this problem.  After all, if I am part of the problem but I refuse to admit my guilt, I will not be able to find a solution to the trouble if I can’t admit its cause.  That attitude of confession and that question about my part in the issue may seem simplistic.  But admitting my sin and my weakness to God ultimately causes me to look to the cross of Jesus.


Then, after considering my part in the problem, I consider how the forgiveness and the salvation of God helps me to face whatever life brings in the love and the strength of the Almighty and Merciful Lord of all.  When my past is forgiven, and my future is guaranteed, I am free to face whatever horror this life brings in the love and the strength of God.


We would like to THINK we are OK.  But the rebellion and desires of sin attack our hearts constantly.  However, in love God has sent Jesus who overcomes our sins on the cross and gives hope in His rising from the dead.  When I trust, not in myself, but when I trust in Jesus, I can bring the wisdom, the love, the righteousness of God even into this troubled and painful world.


A Child of God, Trusting in God, not In Man,

Pastor Jonathan   


P.S.  The St. John Fellowship Board organized a trip to the play, “Newsies” for last Saturday, January 26.  A total of 18 people attended.  Here are a few pictures taken by Kym Miller.


P.P.S.  After worship on January 27 I took grandchildren Henry and Anna fishing.  Here are a couple of pictures.


P.P.P.S. On Monday, January 28, I went fishing with St. John member, Kym Miller.  Here are some pictures.







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, January 23, 2019

God Works Good, Even from Evil

Dear Members and Friends of St. John,


In my daily devotions, as I read again through the “Today’s Light Devotional Bible,” because the month is January I am reading in Genesis.  My readings for the last couple of days have been about Joseph.  If I had not read this before I could become depressed about Joseph’s fate.  Joseph told his brothers his dreams, though perhaps in an unloving attitude of superiority, and his brothers hated him.  Joseph ran an errand for his father and went to find his brothers and they almost killed him.  They did instead sell him into slavery in Egypt.  Joseph worked very faithfully as a slave for an important Egyptian official, but after the official’s wife’s efforts to seduce Joseph failed, she lied about him, and now Joseph was thrown in prison – an Egyptian prison!  Finally, while in prison Joseph was recognized as a man of honor and given responsibility.  As he cared for his fellow prisoners Joseph helped two of Pharaoh’s officials, trusting God to help him to interpret their dreams.  But, when those officials were released from prison, they forgot Joseph, the one who had helped them. To say the least, Joseph faced setback, disappointment, and injustice – time after time. 


Scripture does not say that Joseph became discouraged, or depressed, or doubting.  I am sure I would have had questions and moments of feeling abandoned if I had been in Joseph’s shoes.  I could have also nursed anger against my family who had sold me into slavery.


Thankfully we know, as Paul Harvey used to say, “the rest of the story.”  Tomorrow I will read about how Joseph will be called to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams.  Because Pharoah recognized God working through Joseph, he will be elevated in those readings into a position of high authority and honor.  Joseph will then use that position to even save his father and his brothers from famine.  Joseph’s suffering and trials turned into times of God’s favor and blessings.


The story of Joseph is a good read.  But, more than the account of one man’s reversal of fortune for the good, the account of Joseph shows the hand of God in the life of God’s people.  God changed Joseph from a privileged young boy to a responsible, wise, and forgiving man.  God worked to continue His promise to Abraham through Joseph, even through his trials, and even because of his trials.


The verse that sticks out in my mind, which perhaps best shows the hand of God, is found in chapter 50 of Genesis.  When Joseph’s father, Jacob, dies, Joseph’s brothers are afraid he will now take revenge on them for their hateful treatment of him, for selling him into slavery.  It might have been understandable if Joseph served them with just retribution.  But, instead listen to the words of faith and wisdom from Joseph.


19 But Joseph said to them, ‘Don't be afraid. Am I in the place of God? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. 21 So then, don't be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.’ And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.”  (Genesis 50:19-21) So, in spite of his horrible betrayals, injustice, and imprisonment Joseph experienced, he see the hand of God working for good.


When we are in the midst of the trials of life it is difficult to see good.  When we are ill, when friends lie about us or betray us, when our finances tank, or we lose a job, we can instead wonder where God is and why this is happening.  God wants the words of Joseph can be an anchor to hold onto in the storms of life.  20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good”


If there was ever a situation where evil seems to have defeated the cause of love and faithfulness and good, it is in the crucifixion of Jesus.  For the religious leaders of Jesus’ day to plot against Him, to illegally execute Him, and to execute Him in such a shameful way, is the height of evil and injustice. For people of God who trust Him as our Lord and Creator, to say that the Son of God, God Himself died (what a mystery!) has to be the worst news we have ever heard!  But, Jesus rose from the dead, victorious over his enemy and ours, Satan.  Jesus defeated sin and death, and we are given eternal life by God’s grace, through faith in Jesus our Savior.  God used the worst that could ever happen, the death of Jesus, to accomplish the best blessing our lives have ever received, the eternal love of God in this life and eternally!


Many know the companion verse in the New Testament to this surprising good news from the Old Testament story of Joseph.  In Romans 8:28, Paul assures those in Rome who are struggling to live lives of faith, And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  In all things God works good!  The good that God especially wants for His children is eternal life in heaven.


So, God’s message to us is that, in the worst of times, He is still with us.  Even when we are attacked by evil and injustice, God is working for our good.  Have you been betrayed?  Are you facing a personal struggle?  Has illness challenged your hope in life?  Does life seem hopeless?  God promises that he is working in your life to accomplish good.  God worked faith, wisdom, and compassion in Joseph through His trials.  Can you find hope in God’s promise to you?  Can you think of what good God might be working in your time of suffering?


In your times of trial I pray for you the persevering strength of Joseph and the faith of Paul because, of the truth in Joseph’s words, “20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good.”


A Child of God, Hoping in God’s Power and Love Through the Trials of Life,

Pastor Jonathan   


P.S.  I truly enjoy the Alaskan winter.  On Sunday we saw the wonders of God’s creation with a display of the hoarfrost after a cold, ice-foggy week, and with the full eclipse of the moon.  While I did not get a good picture of the eclipse, my wife took some beautiful pictures of the hoarfrost.


P.P.S.  Because this past Monday was Martin Luther King Day, and a holiday, our family planned a “family day.”  We had planned to go ice fishing, but with sick grandkids we decided to stay home and put together a jigsaw puzzle and play games.  I had trouble copying this video, but if you can use this link, this is one of 3 games we played.  This is “elephant knock over the water bottle.”  We also played “carry the marshmallow on the spoon” and “advance the potato” (actually, there is a worse name for this game.)  Here is a Facebook link.






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, January 16, 2019

Walking in the Light of Jesus - The Morning Star

Dear Members and Friends of St. John,


So, do you fellow Alaskans roll out of bed as easily in January as you do in June?  Maybe I’m getting older.  Maybe I’m getting lazier. (I hope not!)  But, I think that this year especially I have found it a little easier to open my eyes in the morning, and to see the dark, and to then stay in bed “just for a few more minutes.”  That is not my normal reaction to morning.  I have often fled sleeping so that I would not miss some opportunity to work or play.  My mother used to say that I “fought sleep.”  My wife, Kathy, says that I get along on much less sleep than she does, and she sometimes worries that I don’t get enough sleep to be healthy.  But, this year I’ve just found it a little easier to “hibernate.”


I am convinced that light plays a big difference in our energy level and activity level.  Alaskans know that light also affects our mood.  In the summer, when the sunlight hits my closed eyelids very early in the morning, I often get up before any alarm.  But, in the winter, when it’s time to get up, but there are still stars in the dark sky, it always seems easier to sleep. This year just more so. 


Actually, the effect of light and darkness has been one of the reasons I like to get outdoors in the winter.  If you can rise and go to work in the dark, and if you can then leave work and come home in the dark, those hours of light can be a precious, energy-giving time.  So, on my days off I make sure I go fishing, or skiing, or simply get outside.  Light gives energy and life, perhaps even more so when the world around us is dark.


Do you know that one of the names given to Jesus is “Morning Star?”  The light of that star which shines in darkness has perhaps more meaning to Alaskans who understand times of physical darkness.


In Peter's second epistle, as Peter is sharing his experience at the Transfiguration and re-affirming that Jesus is indeed the long-awaited Messiah, promised in the Old Testament, he writes to his congregation, And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.” (2 Peter 1:19) Jesus is The Morning Star.


In the last chapter of the Bible, as Jesus appears to John in a Revelation, promising that He is indeed coming again, Jesus assures John, "I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star."  Jesus calls himself, “The Morning Star.”


But, it is not just a lack of sunlight that brings darkness to our world.  The sinful nature which lurks within each of us brings disappointment, sorrow, pain and death.  The inability of our elected officials to be able to act in a way that is good for all people brings darkness.  The scourge of substance abuse that ruins lives and families, and which often causes death, brings darkness.  The forces within that tear apart families and households, bring darkness.  The emptiness and grief of missing a loved one who has died, bring darkness.


But, in the dark sky of a sinful world we have the “Morning Star.”  We have the promise of God’s love and favor, even when our world is full of hatred and fighting.  We have the assurance of God’s forgiveness, even when we have failed to live in obedience and love.  We have the sure hope of eternal life for all who believe in Jesus, because the Morning Star died and rose.  Jesus is that Morning Star whose light even shines through the darkness of deepest night.


There are many hymns which offer prayers, and praise God, because Jesus brings the light of the righteousness and love of God into our dark world.  Perhaps you know the traditional hymn “O Morning Star, How Fair and Bright,” (Lutheran Service Book 395)  or the Epiphany hymn, “Brightest and Best of the Stars of the Morning” (Lutheran Service Book 400)  But, I believe that a new hymn best speaks a prayer that is on my heart.  Perhaps your heart echos the words of the hymn, “I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light.” (Lutheran Service Book 411)


I want to walk as a child of the light, I want to follow Jesus.

God set the stars to give light to the world. The star of my life is Jesus.



In Him there is no darkness at all. The night and the day are both alike.
The Lamb is the Light of the city of God. I want to follow Jesus.


Yes, in our dark world of sin, this hymn speaks well the prayer of my heart. “I want to walk as a child of the light, I want to follow Jesus.” 


A Child of God, Desiring to Walk in the Light of Jesus, the Morning Star,

Pastor Jonathan   


P.S. I went ice fishing for the first time in 2019 this past Monday.  I went to a favorite, non-stocked lake, but did not even have a bite.  Yet, the sun was out.  Temperatures were in the high 20’s.  There was no wind.  It was peaceful to sit on the ice and consider the love of God in my life.  Here is a photo of my companions.


P.P.S.  My wife is a GREAT cook.  After a meal of salmon on  Friday evening, Kathy made quiche for Monday evening with the leftover salmon.  Take a look!






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, January 9, 2019

Blessed by the Faith of Children

Dear Members and Friends of St. John,


This past Advent God warmed my heart through some children at St. John.


For a number of years now our Advent and Lenten sermons in our mid-week worship services have been a short meditation surrounded by skits.  If you have attended these services you know that the beginning skit raises a problem that God’s people face.  The pastor shares a meditation on this problem based on that night’s Scripture reading.  Then the concluding skit shows God’s help and grace to help us with the temptations and struggles of life.  The people of St. John seem to appreciate and enjoy these short sermons.


Also, for a number of years Carl Jacobson, Scott Manke, and Ann Marie Svedin have acted out these skits.  They receive the skits ahead of time by e-mail, and then arrive early and practice their parts so that they are ready for worship.  However, this Advent, Ann Marie suggested that others might also want to participate.  It was somewhat late to make many changes for Advent 2018, but after mid-week Advent worship on December 12 I announced that if anyone else was interested in helping they should let me, or one of our actors know.  Maybe they could help with Lenten skits in 2019.


However, after worship on that evening, third grade student, Avery Martin came up to me and asked me with a smile on her face, “Can I help with the sermon next week?”  To say I was surprised is putting it mildly.  However, I talked with Ann Marie, and with Avery’s parents.  Ann said she would help Avery.  Avery’s parents would get her to church to practice.  So, I wrote Avery into the skits for the meditation on December 19.  As she helped with the skit for the sermon, Avery spoke up, she read well, and she did a good job of acting her part.  I believe that the congregation and Avery were blessed by her participation.


Then after worship on that December 19 evening, fourth grade student, Gaelen Swigart, and fifth grade student, Adeline Martin (Avery’s sister), also came to me and asked if they could help with future skits.  Well, that was already the end of our mid-week Advent worship for 2018.  But, Lent is on the horizon. 


This is not the first time that children or youth of St. John have helped lead worship.  In 2014 the 8th grade confirmation class acted out the skits as we considered Ephesians 6 and “The Armor of God.”  Some youth who have been through Lay Ministry training have led worship and even preached, at St. John and at other locations that needed help.  And, each Advent we have children help with the reading and prayer as we light the Advent wreath. But, I do not ever remember children this young being this excited about serving our Lord by helping with worship!


As we begin a new year many have made resolutions hoping for a better 2019.  Resolutions to change our lives for the better can be a challenge.  However, resolutions where God’s people seek to make the world a better place can be a bigger challenge.  In Promise Keepers’ men’s Bible Study on Tuesday, January 8, one of the areas of need that we identified as needing help was that of children in our community.  We saw the need of help for families, and we prayed for God’s help in that area.


I can think of few areas that deserve the effort and attention more than that of raising children to know their Lord, to know their their Creator, and to know their their Savior.   God calls families, and His family - the Church, to train children in the knowledge of the Lord.  Consider the words of Proverbs 22:6.  Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.  One of the most important jobs of God’s people is to provide life training to children.  Or, consider God’s words through Paul in Ephesians 6: 4. “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.Parents are to instruct about the Lord, and about His plan for our lives!


The ultimate goal of teaching children about the Lord is that they grow in trusting Jesus as their Savior, and that they live in His grace now and eternally.  As you know, often the teacher learns more by teaching, than the student learns in class.  It is a blessing to see children who want so much to learn and who are growing in their faith. 


It is not often that the preacher is blessed by His sermon in the same way that the congregation is blessed.  On December 19, I was not only blessed by the words of Avery, but by the attitude of faith and a desire to learn that I saw in Avery, and in Gaelen, and in Adeline. 


May God bless the efforts of all God’s churches so that the words of Jesus come true, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”  (Mark 13:15)  What a great goal for the beginning of 2019, and for years to come!


A Child of God, Blessed by the Faith of Children,

Pastor Jonathan   


P.S.  PERSONAL DEVOTIONS FOR 2019-2020?  You may know that I am using the “Today’s Light Devotional Bible” from Concordia Publishing House for my personal devotions in 2019 and 2020.  I have encouraged others to join me.  After the Palmer Kiwanis meeting on Tuesday, January 8, Paul Scott came up to me and talked about his use of this devotional bible, saying that he enjoys the short focus and devotional sections as well.  I encourage you to read through God’s Word with us as you are able.


P.P.S.  Here are some pictures of a beautiful day of skiing at Alyeska on January 3 with my daughter, Mary.  (No fishing this week.)  This was a great Father – Daughter time.  J




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, January 2, 2019

Planning to Let the Lord be my Strength and My Song in 2019

Dear Members and Friends of St. John,


The calendar has turned from 2018 to 2019.  Many of us attended parties on New Year’s Eve to celebrate the passing of one year into the promise of another.  You know the stated reasons for these celebrations.  People hope to say good-bye to the problems and disappointments of the past and hope to welcome new opportunities and blessings of the future.  But think about this. Will there be parties next year on New Year’s Eve?  Why do we expect more New Year’s Eve celebrations next year on December 31?  Doesn’t that expectation just say that we are also expecting more struggles and problems in the coming year of 2019?


So, how do you face the expected trials of the future?  Do you have an inner strength that gets you through life’s difficulties?  Are you young, or just naturally full of energy and optimism, so that problems roll off your back?  Or, do you get weary and weighed down?  Do you wonder how you will take one more step in a positive direction?


Personally, after over 65 years of life, I know many, if not all, of my weaknesses and struggles.  I know that I can and do grow weary.  I can feel downcast when the disappointments and trials of life come.  I don’t always make the best choices or act in the healthiest ways.  In other words, I am a sinful person whose sin affects my life.  Ultimately, I know that I need help to live with the joy and peace and strength that God intends for His children.


Others in Scripture faced moments of truth and self-realization where they too admitted their need for help, specifically help from the Almighty and Merciful Lord of all.  When the children of Israel had escaped Pharoah and Egypt and had been saved by their miraculous passing through the Red Sea, as they stood safely on the other shore they sang praise and truth.  The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father's God, and I will exalt him. (Exodus 15: 2)  The Israelites recognized the Lord as their strength.  God is the one who had miraculously saved them. God is the One who gave them joy and the reason to sing.


In the Psalms, as David ponders the question and the scourge of evil in the world, he admits his own weakness, and looks to our Creator for strength.  My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”  (Psalm 73: 26)


In the gospels of the New Testament Jesus invites those who are wearied by life to come to Him for rest and renewal.  "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”  (Matthew 11:28)  We may find weariness in life’s problems, so Jesus call us to rest in HIM.


And, in 2 Corinthians 12, Paul admits that one of his weaknesses may be pride.  But, Paul has learned of his on-going weakness and has also learned his need for the strength and power of Christ.  7 To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.  (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)


It is delightful to consider the new opportunities and blessings of a coming year.  But, we know that trials, failures, disappointments, and losses will also tax our strength and our ability to continue.  Therefore, my practice has been to daily tap into the strength and the grace that God gives.  Each day my goal is to begin by letting God speak to me in His word, and then sharing with Him the concerns and the joys, the praise and the confessions of my heart through prayer.


If you know that you need strength each day, I again suggest that you let the Lord come to you with His love in Jesus. In the midst of your weakness, the Creator of the world is almighty.  In your times of failure, God is faithful to forgive because of Jesus’ death on the cross.  In your doubt and your times of depression, God’s love in Christ is a rock which cannot be taken away.  When you face loss, or illness, or death, God offers you eternal life through Jesus who is the Resurrection and the Life. 


Since I know I will need help each day, I go to the Lord who is my constant strength.  Since this world can steal my joy, I go to the Lord who is my delight.  I let the Lord share His plan, His direction, His love, and His life for me in His Word.  I pour out my heart in prayer. 


For me, regular worship with God’s people is also a vital part of a healthy life.  Personal devotional time is private.  Worship allows me to receive and share God’s love through other children of God as we listen and meditate, as we pray and praise.


Do you need God’s strength and joy in 2019?  Would regular time in God’s Word and worship with His people be a blessing to you?  Will you join me in regular use of God’s word and time in prayer in the coming year?


A Child of God, Planning to Let the Lord be My Strength and My Song,

Pastor Jonathan   


P.S.  PERSONAL DEVOTIONS FOR 2019-2020? I plan to use the “Today’s Light Devotional Bible” from Concordia Publishing House in 2019 and 2020.  .  If you want to buy one of these Bibles and study with me starting in January here are links for the Bible.

o   From CPH (Our Church’s publishing house) for $26.39 + $7.00 shipping -

You could also use for your devotions,

·       Portals of Prayer – Daily devotionals printed quarterly by our denomination.  They are available in the entry ways to the church.

·       “Jesus Calling” – This is a devotional given to me by Donita Odland.  I used it when I finished my two year Bible and found the devotional thoughts helpful.

·       Other Devotional books found in Christian book stores.


P.P.S.  Here are some pictures from another busy week

·       Here are pictures from last Sunday’s baptism for Keeper Austin Manelick -

·       Ethan’s Commissioning and Installation on Sunday night, December 31.

·       Here are pictures from the College Student Luncheon on January 2 -


P.P.P.S.  Ice Fishing trips

·       Here are pictures from a fishing trip with Nufer / Helberg clan, visiting Alaska for the wedding of Taylor Nufer and Ellen Carlson-


·       Here are pictures from a fishing trip on Monday, December 31, 2018, with some folks you’ll recognize.




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.