Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Praying that My Life Might Witness to the Goodness, the Love, and the Grace of God

Dear Friends and Fellow Children of God,

Last Monday evening Kathy and I were driving to the home of my sister, Martha, and my brother in law, Mark.  The warning light went off on the dash of our car because we were low on gasoline.  I saw a gas station on the lonely road we were traveling and pulled into the station.  The sign board at this gas station read $2.49 a gallon.  But, when I started filling up the car, the gas pump read $2.55 a gallon!  It seems that $2.49 price was a ‘club price.’  But, the sign did not publicize that detail.  I would have stopped at this station anyway, because I did not want to run out of gas.  But, my reaction is that this station was dishonest in their advertising.  I felt taken.  The reputation of that gas station went down in my estimation.  I don’t plan to buy gas there again soon.

But, this is not the only time what seems like a mis-representation, or untruth, has happened to me.  In September, Kathy and I visited Seward, AK, on a trip that our daughter, Mary, gave us as a Christmas gift.  I had gone on the internet and reserved a room in the $160.00 range for our night in Seward.  But when I paid the bill the cost of the hotel room was close to $190.00.  I asked the front desk about the difference in price.  They told me the $160.00 price was for the room, but the rest was for taxes and “other charges.”  I understood, but I was not happy.

I also remember an incident from the 1980’s when Kathy and I lived in FL.  The state voted on whether or not to approve a lottery.  The publicity for this ballot promised that, if the state voted in the affirmative, the money from the lottery would go to statewide education costs.  The ballot measure passed.  When the money came in from the lottery, those funds did go to education.  However, the amount of money added by the lottery was then removed from educational spending to use on “other programs.”  The lottery did not increase educational spending.  Funding for educational costs remained the same.  This state gambling effort had just provided another source of income, and additional revenue for politicians.  Again, I felt taken.

How do you feel when someone lies to you?  I personally feel betrayed when this happens.  After all, the 8th commandment does say, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor,” (Exodus 20:16) and one of the meanings of that commandment is that lying is a sin.  Lying is a sin against other people.  But being untruthful is also a sin against God. 

God, on the other hand, always speaks truth.  In John 17:17 Jesus prays for His disciples, knowing he will die the next day.  Jesus prays, “Sanctify them in the truth.  Your Word IS TRUTH.  We can trust the Word of God.  It is always true.  In fact, we are told about Jesus himself, “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No man comes to the Father except through me.”  (John 14:6)  In contrast to a world that is full of lies, God is truthful.  He can be trusted!

Nevertheless, while being upset about the lies and dishonesty of others, I know that I have not always been truthful either.  I want to tell the truth.  I work to be truthful.  But, there are times that words come out of my mouth before I think.  It is easy to speak words that put me in a good light, even if they may not be totally true.  I do know that I too have been untruthful at times.  God forgive me!

The problem with outwardly sinful behavior, especially for a Christian, is that our lives, as children of God, speak to others about the Lord who lives in us.  When we sin that message and witness that we give is not positive.  That is why Jesus tells His disciples, “ . . . let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”  (Matthew 5:16 ESV)  When we live honest, righteous, loving lives, we give a good message about God.  But, when we act in unloving, untruthful, dishonest ways, the message we give about God is not positive.  In fact, many people have been turned off to God by the sinful, dishonest, and unloving actions of people following the Lord.

However, there is another witness Christians can give, a very important witness.  We can admit and confess our sin. God encourages us to confess, to repent of our sin and to turn to Him. “8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John. 1:8-9 ESV)  Confession of our failings is not only honest, but when we admit our sins, we point to a need everyone has, the need of a Savior to forgive us.  Thankfully, God sent His Son to pay the price for our sins.  Thankfully, our Savior speaks truth.  Jesus IS truth!

Therefore, knowing that God forgives us when we confess our sin and trust the suffering and death of Jesus, the Lord is helping us to live for Him.  He helps us to speak the truth.  If God loves and forgives those who have rebelled against Him, then we want to serve Him.  If God forgives us for Jesus’ sake, we can admit our sins, knowing the promised grace of God is true.  And, when we confess, then we are honest.  When we confess we give a good witness to others about God who forgives us, who saves us, and who lives in us.

I felt betrayed after the gas station publicized one price for gasoline, and then charged another amount.  People can also be disappointed in us if we talk about the love and the goodness of God, and then we live in a selfish, dishonest, or sinful way.  So, one of the best things we can do to witness to God is to admit our weaknesses, and point to the righteous God who is also merciful and forgiving.  We ALL need a Savior!

A Child of God, Praying that My Life Might Witness to the Goodness, the Love, and the Grace of God,

Pastor Jonathan

P.S.  Kathy and I attended the 40th reunion of my class at the seminary in St. Louis.  We could have taken more pictures.  Here are a few, however.

P.P.S.  Here are some fishing pictures.  I only went fishing twice.  The rest of the time we were traveling.

·       Here are pictures from Orange Lake on October 29.

·       Here are pictures from October 30.


ABOUT THIS DEVOTION – I am now retired as senior pastor of St. John Lutheran in Palmer, AK.  This devotion was previously titled, “Thoughts from the Pastor.”  However, with life’s changes I will now call it, “Journeys Through Life as a Child of God.”  I am only sending this message to those who have asked to receive it.  If you know someone else who desires to receive this message have them e-mail me at  You can also view this message on my Facebook page.


Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Thankful that God is in the Time, and in the Times, of My Life

Dear Friends and Fellow Children of God,

In recent months I have been led to consider the time, or even the timing, of life.  I guess retirement can cause a person to think about the span of life.  Interestingly, we are not the only ones with thoughts about our own lives.  For a number of years before my wife and I transitioned, a number of people asked us the question, “Aren’t you ready to retire?” The number of our years had increased.  And, in Alaska, those who worked for the state have had generous opportunities for early retirement.  With that background I answered the retirement question many times over the last 4 or 5 years.  But of course, once Kathy and I did make our decisions about new directions, and once retirement dates were set, many others had different opinions to share with us.  Quite a few folks told me. “You’re too young to retire.”  What is the right time, or the right timing, in life?

However, recent events have me thinking about these issues even more.  Last March, when visiting family in Florida, Kathy and I enjoyed supper with our niece, Sarah, and her mom, Jan Rockey.  Jan was excited because she was in her 42nd year of working for the University of Florida.  She had been to a Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University Class, and she had paid off her home.  Jan’s retirement date, as she would turn 62, was in October.  She was excited for some new opportunities and new direction in her life.  Of course, with 3 daughters and 5 grandchildren, Jan had all sorts of plans. 

But, in September we heard from my sister that Jan was not doing well.  When we arrived in Florida on October 7 the word was that Jan might have cancer.  Kathy made a friendly visit as a nurse / sister-in-law to Jan on Thursday, October 10.  Jan was very weak.  On Monday, October 14, Sarah called Kathy to come to Jan’s home because she was in worse condition.  An ambulance took Jan to the hospital.  On Wednesday, October 16, Jan was placed in a hospice facility.  And, on Friday evening, with family at her bedside, Jan passed away.

Such an unexpected death causes a person to think about the time, or the timing, of life.  Jan was only 62 years old!  In March she had been excited about the future.  And then, seven months later, in the month when she was to retire, Jan passed away.  No wonder Job prays, “Remember, O God, that my life is but a breath;” (Job 7: 7)

Of course, as I write this devotion, life has given me another reason to consider this topic of life’s time, or timing.  Kathy and I are driving to the reunion of the 40th year of my graduation from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis; 40 YEARS!  It seems like just yesterday that I was sitting in class at the seminary, or that I was learning lessons from my supervisor on my vicarage – my internship, in Detroit.  It seems so recent that we spent time in St. Louis working with the dear people of St. Paul Lutheran Church and School.  Those 8 years in Jacksonville, FL, when we served with God’s people of Our Redeemer Lutheran, when God worked in our midst to build a new church on a new site, and when we worked to start a mission congregation in Georgia, seem like yesterday.  And, 28 + years at St. John Lutheran Church in Palmer went by in a flash!  We raised 4 children.  God blessed us with 6 grandchildren.  We worked with the people of God at St. John to bring the Good News of Jesus to the Mat-Su community.  David’s words in Psalm 39 are like the words of Job.  4 "Show me, O LORD, my life's end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life. 5 You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man's life is but a breath. Selah 6 Man is a mere phantom as he goes to and fro: He bustles about, but only in vain; he heaps up wealth, not knowing who will get it. 7 "But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you. 8 Save me from all my transgressions;” (Psalm 39:4-7a) 

But, just because life goes by quickly, that doesn’t make the passing of time bad news.  This world is full of evil, and full of things that pass away, but since God’s love gives grace today and gives grace eternally, our hope IS in God!  Since life speeds by so quickly, every day is precious.  Every day is an opportunity to spend time with loved ones.  Every day we have the privilege of serving the Creator and Ruler of the Universe.  Every day we can live in the grace of God’s love in this world, and we can know even more how precious is the eternal life God offers in heaven through the life and death and resurrection of His Son, our Savior, Jesus.

So, the words of God in Psalm 90 strike a chord for me!  12 TEACH US to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12)  It takes wisdom from God to have the right attitude about life’s time, and about life’ timing.  People can waste the time of life with meaningless activities, or even in sinful pursuits.  (You can figure out what those activities might be on your own.)  Or, we can use the gift of time each day to love our families and friends, and to share the love of God.  We can use the gift of the time of our lives to make a difference in the world.

Jan died at the early age of 62.  But, my dad lived to almost 91 years.  Maybe I have another 25 or 30 years to love my family, to tell people about Jesus, and to cause my wife to shake her head, and then send me fishing.  J

Yes, Lord! 12 Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

A Child of God, Thankful that God has His Hand in the Time, and in the Timing, of My Life,

Pastor Jonathan

P.S.  Here is a picture of Jan and her daughters.

P.P.S.  I am learning better the art of fishing in Florida. 

·       On Friday, October 18, I had 5 or 6 bites, and caught a bass which fed us that night.  That was my first bass caught this Fall. 

·       Then on Monday, October 21, I went fishing with my sister’s husband, Mark.  That was the best fishing trip I have ever had in Florida.  I think we both caught between 10-20 fish.  We kept 4 nice bass. 

·       And, I learned a lesson . . . AGAIN!  (Put the plug in the boat before you put the boat in the water!)

·       Here are some pictures.


ABOUT THIS DEVOTION – I am now retired as senior pastor of St. John Lutheran in Palmer, AK.  This devotion was previously titled, “Thoughts from the Pastor.”  However, with life’s changes I will now call it, “Journeys Through Life as a Child of God.”  I am only sending this message to those who have asked to receive it.  If you know someone else who desires to receive this message have them e-mail me at  You can also view this message on my Facebook page.


Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Humbled in the Presence of God by the Deep Questions of Life

Dear Friends and Fellow Children of God,


Every once in a while, when reading the news on the internet, there are stories about our universe.  “NASA’s Planet Hunter has Found Star Shredding Black Hole.”  (September 25).  “Black Hole at Milky Way’s Center Behaving Strangely.”  (August 15) And, “First Ever Black Hole Image Revealed.”  (April 10, 2019)  Maybe it makes sense that these stories go over my head and simply cause me to wonder.  My education has been primarily in the area of theology, in literature, and in people issues like counseling and outreach.  So, I understand what people mean when they talk about ‘how small WE seem to be in the middle of the expansive universe around us.’  (Have you seen Louis Giglio’s video, “How Great is our God.”?)  I humbly confess my personal lack of understanding when confronted with the mysteries of the universe!


But, there are also events from our lives in this world which also cause me to wonder, often without answers.  The suffering faced by people in our world leaves me with questions.  I learned earlier this past week of the death of a high school classmate from pancreatic cancer.  This lady was bright and beautiful, and in high school she ‘shone like a star.’  How could this be?  But cancer and death do not discriminate.  Unfortunately, I also heard similar news about the illness of a close relative.  It is hard to make sense of the world around us.  This lack of understanding is especially true when we look at the suffering of people created by the God of love!


Perhaps it is understandable that my mind is considering these mysteries.  My daily readings in my devotional bible have now taken me into the book of Job.  Job was a man who, as far as humanly possible, sought to live a righteous and upright life.  He was blessed with a large family and with many possessions.  But, in a short series of events Job lost his family, he lost his worldly goods, he lost his health.  And, when Job’s friends saw his appearance, changed by his calamities, Job had then also lost his reputation.  Why would something like this happen, especially to a man of God like Job?  Actually, considering that question is the purpose of the book of Job.  This inspired book of Scripture examines the mystery: ‘Why is there evil and suffering in our world?’


As I read this book of Job again, I work through and consider the actions and the re-actions of Job’s friends.  Four friends come to Job with the intent of comforting him.  Throughout this book they try to explain the unexplainable, the suffering which Job faces.  Sometimes, and this humbles ME, their words have a grain of truth.  For example, Job’s friend Eliphaz, shares words encouraging Job to confess his sins.  7"Consider now: Who, being innocent, has ever perished? Where were the upright ever destroyed? 8 As I have observed, those who plow evil and those who sow trouble reap it. 9 At the breath of God they are destroyed; at the blast of his anger they perish.”  (Job 4:7-9)  Yet, these words of Eliphaz, and the words of all Job’s friends, are criticized by God Himself at the end of the book for seeking to share wisdom without any real knowledge.  (Job 42:7)  Sadly, I am sure there are times when my own words have sounded like those of Job’s friends.  The best thing Job’s friends did was when they first arrived to comfort him.  “Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.”  (Job 2:13)


The more experienced (older) I get, and the more knowledge I gain, the more I realize how much I do not know and how much I don’t understand, especially about the working of the Lord.  Paul was led to a similar response when faced with anguish over the lack of faith by His Jewish brothers.  He wrote in Romans, “33 Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!  34 "Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?"  35 "Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?" (Romans 11:33-35) Paul is actually quoting Isaiah 40 and Job 41 in these verses.  The Lord and God of the universe is higher and greater than we are.  His ways are a mystery, which we will not totally understand in this world.  Therefore, Paul concludes this section of his writing by praising God! “36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.  (Romans 11:36)


Therefore, I am led again, in humility, to confess my own lack of knowledge when it comes to God and His ways, even after all my education.  Yet, I have learned to trust Him.  I am thankful that God’s wisdom is found in Christ. (1 Corinthians 1:24)  Jesus is “The Word made flesh” (John 1:14), “The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29), “The Bread of Life” (John 6:35), “The Good Shepherd (John 10:11), “The Way the Truth and the Life” (John 14:6).  I am thankful that in Jesus God has acted to save, not to condemn, as we certainly all deserve.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:17) 


Brought to unanswered questions, and to humility in the face of God’s greater and greatest wisdom, I am led to pray with King David, 23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24 See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”  (Psalm 139:23-24)  How about you?  What do you do when faced with life’s great questions?


A Child of God, Humbled in the Presence of God by the Deep Questions of Life,

Pastor Jonathan


P.S.  I am learning about retirement.  I have spent time with family.  I have studied.  I have preached 4 times in 4 different congregation.  And, in Florida I have also fished and golfed.  However, my golf scores have not been good.  And, in three fishing trips I have only caught one bowfin (mudfish), which people here do not keep. 

Nevertheless, the relaxation in God’s creation is a real gift!  Here are a few fishing pictures.




ABOUT THIS DEVOTION – I am now retired as senior pastor of St. John Lutheran in Palmer, AK.  This devotion was previously titled, “Thoughts from the Pastor.”  However, with life’s changes I will now call it, “Journeys Through Life as a Child of God.”  I am only sending this message to those who have asked to receive it.  If you know someone else who desires to receive this message have them e-mail me at  You can also view this message on my Facebook page.






Wednesday, October 9, 2019

How Can I Help? PRAY!

Dear Friends and Fellow Children of God,


Last Sunday evening, as I was preparing to leave town, I dropped some books off at St. John Lutheran Church.  While there I ran into Dorothy Jacobson.  Dorothy is the sister of John Glaser.  Both Dorothy and John are friends from my days as pastor of St. John.  John was injured in a serious accident on Saturday night, suffering burns over large parts of his body.  When Dorothy and I spoke on Sunday, John was already at Harborview Hospital in Seattle in the burn unit.  I asked Dorothy about John.  Her update was about what I had previously heard, but then she replied, “I’d like to do more, but he’s in Seattle and we’re here in Alaska.”


I understand Dorothy’s expression of wanting to do something for John, and her frustration of not being able to help as she would like.  Actually, I share her feelings.  I was not only John’s pastor for about 25 years, but I consider him a good friend.  Yet, as former pastor, there is a way in which I want to be sensitive about my new role and not get in the way of current Intentional Interim Pastor, Craig Schultz. 


But, John is not the only person whose health concerns me.  There are friends at St. John struggling with cancer.  A young man whose family became friends with our family is recovering from kidney surgery he underwent in September.  One of the elderly members of St. John had a stroke last month.  And then, my brother David in Orlando has had serious health issues for about a year now.  And there are more . . . many more!


Dorothy was frustrated by the distance between Palmer and Seattle.  I am now in Gainesville, Florida.  So, for all of these people who concern me there is distance between us also, like the distance between Dorothy and John.  When I visited with folks who were ill or injured to pray with them, I trust that those visits brought God’s comfort.  I understand Dorothy’s frustration of not being able to help as she would like to help.  I would like to be doing more too.


However, in times of care and concern for others we are not powerless.  God tells us to come to Him.  “Call on me in the day of trouble.  I will deliver you and you will glorify me.”  (Psalm 50:15)  Jesus, the only-begotten Son of God, constantly encouraged God’s children to know that God is their Father, and to approach Him as their beloved Father, trusting Him for mercy.


7 "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. 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? 11 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 7:7-11)


But, have you ever heard someone who is faced with one of life’s challenges sigh and say with resignation, “Well, I guess all I can do is pray.”?  Prayer is not a last ditch hope.  We are created children of the Lord and the Maker of the universe.  As Jesus said in Matthew, that Lord is our loving Father.  I am convinced that God wants us to come to Him in prayer.  I am convinced that God always hears and always answers our prayers. 


There are times when I don’t understand God’s answer, but I always trust His love and mercy and wisdom.  That is because even more than I trust the prayer which I utter from my own lips, I trust the Lord of the universe who answers our prayers.  Maybe I can re-state that thought in another way.  I have often seen a slogan which declares, “Prayer changes things.”  I would change that slogan to read, “GOD answers prayer.”


As people who are God’s children, not only because He created us, but also because He redeemed us in the life and the death and the resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ, we have even more reason to trust God.  Jesus tells us to pray in HIS name and our Father will answer.  (John 16;23)  God inspired Paul to expound on that thought.  31 What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all-- how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?”  (Romans 8:31-32)  God gave His Son to save us from our sin.  He will be with us through the trials of this life as well.


I do understand Dorothy’s desire to help her brother, John, and her frustration at not being able to do more.  There are many I want to care for as well, including John, and Megan, and James, and Carol, and Judy, and David, and . . .  Guess what? These people are all on my prayer list which is in my devotional Bible.  As I write this devotion, I prayed for them this morning.  And, I trust that the Lord who sent His own Son to die for us will act with mercy and power in their lives, (In fact, if you want me to pray for you, let me know what to pray about, and I will write your name on my prayer list as well.  In fact, you might already be there!) 


But God’s promise is for all His children, not just me.  “11 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!”  How can you help those you love?  PRAY!


A Child of God, Trusting in the Lord of the Universe to Answer the Prayers of His Children,

Pastor Jonathan


P.S.  Pastor Schultz and I were talking recently specifically about the situation of my being former pastor.  I do not want to get in the way, but I do still care about my friends at St. John.  You should know that Pastor Schultz gave me permission to visit any “friends” I would like to visit.  I will take that opportunity.  I did talk with Cathy Glaser by phone on Monday.  However,  . . . I am now in Florida.


P.P.S.  If you see our son, Tim, on Wednesday, October 9, wish him a HAPPY BIRTHDAY!


P,P.P.S.  Here is my plan for Wednesday.  J





ABOUT THIS DEVOTION – I am now retired as senior pastor of St. John Lutheran in Palmer, AK.  This devotion was previously titled, “Thoughts from the Pastor.”  However, with life’s changes I will now call it, “Journeys Through Life as a Child of God.”  I am only sending this message to those who have asked to receive it.  If you know someone else who desires to receive this message have them e-mail me at  You can also view this message on my Facebook page.






Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Take Your Children to Church

Dear Friends and Fellow Children of God,


First, let me share with you my deep conviction that the most important job facing parents, including and especially fathers, is teaching their children about Jesus.  Our Lord inspired Paul to instruct the Christians in Ephesus, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”  (Ephesians 6:4)  I want to spend time in eternity WITH my children.  God gives eternal life in heaven by His grace, through faith in His Son, our Savior.  Sharing Jesus with our children is THE most important job a parent has.


However, I confess that my job as pastor, which called for me to shepherd others in their faith, often caused me to leave the task of teaching my children about Jesus to my wife, Kathy.  Many other families had mom AND dad to help get children to church and Sunday School.  While Kathy was getting them ready, I was already at church.  Many other parents had a mother AND a father to guide their children during worship.  But, on Sundays I was always otherwise occupied with leading the worship service.  So, Kathy got children ready for Sunday School and church alone.  Kathy tried to keep the children in line and attentive during worship . . . alone.  In many ways Kathy had to operate as a single parent on Sundays.  What a blessing to have a wife who shares my conviction that sharing Jesus with our children was our most important job!


So, I take Kathy’s opinion on raising children in the faith seriously.  And this week she sent me an August 6 devotion called “The Quiet Life” by Author: Megan Breeland Woodham of One Step Ministries.  With deference to Kathy, I share with you this devotion, which she shared with me.


Take your kids to church.  Make the effort. Wake them up early. Fool with the belts and the buckles and the fancy hair bows. Endure the sleepy, grumpy faces and the misplaced shoes. Run around like a mad woman gathering everybody’s everything and trying to get out the door on time. Hop to the car with a shoe in each hand. Give those babies a pop-tart and some milk and let ‘em eat it in the car. If its raining, get wet. If its cold, get a jacket. If you’re tired, go tired. But take those babies to church.


You know why? Because Jesus is there. He’s there. And He’ll meet them there. And you too, Mama.  He’ll be there in the sweet smile of their Sunday School teacher as she greets them into their room. He’ll be there in the goldfish and the apple juice and the filling of their little bellies and hearts. He’ll be there in the hug from a sweet friend and the encouraging smile that assures you that they “just barely made it” too. He’ll be there in the sacred words read from the Bible speaking truth to their little impressionable hearts. He’ll be there in the worship and the raised hands and the watery eyes and whispers of praise.


So take them. Carry all of their Bibles and drawings and toilet paper tube creations. Sit by them in worship. Open your Bible and open theirs. Show them how to find the scripture the pastor is preaching from. Show them how to worship. Explain to them why He’s worthy of worship. Let them see you laugh and cry and praise and study. Forgive their wiggles and paper rustles and know that they’re listening even when it seems like they aren’t. Ask them questions and answer the ones they ask you. Introduce them to Jesus. Tell them of His greatness - his power - his faithfulness. Tell them with your words and show them with your life. Tell them what he’s done for you and how you’ve been changed by His grace and forgiveness and goodness and love. Tell them how they can be too. Point them to Jesus. Over and over and over again.


Take your kids to church. They’ll love it there. It’s the only place where they can go and just be themselves. They don’t have to “be” good enough or smart enough or athletic enough. They don’t have to perform for approval or achievement. They just get to go and hear how much God loves them. Just because they’re them. Just because He created them, they’re valued. Wanted. Their worth isn’t based on the grades they make or their ability to throw a curveball. Its not dependent on their performance or skill level. And they need a little more of that, don’t you think? A little more grace and a little less pressure. A little more love and a few less demands.


Take them to church. Before you take them to the ballfield or the gym. Before you take them on vacation or to grandma’s or to the backyard to play. Take them to church. Let them know its a priority. Show them it has eternal value. Let them see you set aside schedules and extra curricular activities and work and busy-ness to be present with the Lord in His house. I promise you won’t regret it. I promise you it won’t return back void.
Take them to church.


Thank you, Kathy, for all you did to raise our children in faith, for working with me to teach them about Jesus.  Thank you for all you are now doing for our grandchildren.  It’s important to take grandchildren to church too!


A Child of God, Planning to Continue Sharing Jesus with My Children and Grandchildren,

Pastor Jonathan


P.S.  Last weekend Kathy and I traveled to Sterling.  I preached at Sterling Lutheran Church, and visited with the congregation.  On Sunday Sterling Lutheran celebrated the baptism of an adult, the neighbor of Pastor Bill and wife Roberta Hilgendorf.  Here is a picture of Elaine McGrath and the Hilgendorfs on Elaine’s baptism day!


P.P.S.  On Saturday, September 28, we had our first visit to our cabin by grandchildren.  Our son, Andrew, and grandchildren, Jackson and Kendall, came down to Sterling for a visit before worship on Sunday.  After supper we fished, we roasted marshmallows, we watched a movie and ate some popcorn.  Here is a picture around the fire.


P.P.P.S.  I went fishing 3 times since last week’s devotion.  However, I’m re-learning fishing on the Kenai in the Fall.  No fish caught.  L  Nevertheless, the fall scenery has been beautiful.  I took a couple of pictures this week.





ABOUT THIS DEVOTION – I am now retired as senior pastor of St. John Lutheran in Palmer, AK.  This devotion was previously titled, “Thoughts from the Pastor.”  However, with life’s changes I will now call it, “Journeys Through Life as a Child of God.”  I am only sending this message to those who have asked to receive it.  If you know someone else who desires to receive this message have them e-mail me at  You can also view this message on my Facebook page.