Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Thankful for Family Gatherings, Looking Forward to our Heavenly Reunion

 

Dear Fellow Children of God,

 

On Easter Sunday my Florida family gathered for lunch.  We were not able to get together last year because of COVID.  But, I have a picture of the 25 people who shared the meal this year.  All my siblings, my 3 brothers and my sister, were present, along with many of their children.  But not everyone was there.  My brother David’s 3 daughters were all present.  But, not all of my sister, Martha’s, children came to the meal.  And while both Stephen and James have daughters who were able to join the family, not all of their daughters were present either.  And, of course, my children and grandchildren were all in Alaska.  It is difficult to travel from Alaska to Florida for a one meal because of time and finances.  Nevertheless, I cherish this family photo.

 

I also have another group family picture from earlier this year.  On January 24 all our children and grandchildren graced our Alaska home to celebrate the birthdays of Joshua and his wife, Erin, and also the birthday of our son Andrew.  We have pictures of the 13 of us standing around our living room couch.  Kathy and I treasure these times and are thankful for the love we share. 

 

I have other such pictures of our family gathered for a meal, and gathered to share the faith and love we have.  I believe that my mom’s favorite times were when all her children and grandchildren would all get together.  My mom died January 17, 2011.  The last picture we have of a large family gathering before my mom’s death was from July of 2010 as we celebrated her birthday.  I also have pictures from the celebration of my dad’s last birthday, his 90th, on September 23, 2017.  All his children and many of his grandchildren, including 2 of my children, were able to be present.  Kathy and I can only dream that our parents would have met their grandchildren, and that her parents and my parents would have joined a family gathering.  These memories, and these pictures, are precious. 

 

But, my question is WHEN will we be together at the same time?  When will my Alaska family and my Florida family all be in the same place at the same time?  When will all my siblings children and my children, my grandchildren and my nephews and nieces, all spend time together?  When will we all be able to share and joke with each other?  When will we share food and stories?  And, what about my New England family, and Kathy’s Memphis family, and Spokane family? 

 

Last Sunday our family meal was a part of our celebration of Jesus’ Easter resurrection.  The son of Mary, and Son of God, lived a perfect life and therefore He did not need to die for any sins he had personally committed.  But, Jesus willingly died the death of a criminal on the cross, and then He rose from the dead three days later.  Jesus’ Easter victory offers eternal life to the whole world, through faith.  But, as I think about all my family pictures, Jesus’ rising from the grave offers something more.

 

Kathy and I are both faithfully reading Scripture in daily devotions.  As Kathy has been reading in Numbers and Deuteronomy she noticed God’s description of death, which He shares with Moses.  God tells Moses, “There on the mountain that you have climbed you will die and be gathered to your people, just as your brother Aaron died on Mount Hor and was gathered to his people.”  (Deuteronomy 32:50)  For children of God, our Lord Himself describes death as a “gathering to our people.”  That sounds like a BIG reunion! 

 

What is even better is that we have another member of our family, or better stated, we are part of HIS family.  When we receive the gift of eternal life, when we are in heaven, we are . . . with Jesus!  Jesus teaches His disciples in John 14, “2 In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14:2-3) In heaven we are . . . with Jesus!  The reunion includes our Lord!

 

Also, on the night Jesus was betrayed He prayed for His followers, and He prayed for us, "Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.”  (John 17:24)  Jesus prays that we may be WITH Him, and see His divine glory.  When we are in heaven, when we are “gathered to our people,” we are with Jesus.

 

Finally, in Revelation 21, as John learns about our eternal dwelling, He writes what he saw and heard.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.”  (Revelation 21:3)  When we are in heaven, when we are “gathered to our people,” God is with us, and we are with Him.

 

I am thankful for the gatherings which bless our earthly family.  I do hope for possibly even larger reunions, where all our family can be in the same place at the same time. But, God’s description of heaven teaches of a bigger reunion, where “we are gathered to our people,” and where God is part of that gathering.  What a GREAT party that will be!

 

A Child of God, Thankful for Family Gatherings, Looking Forward to our Heavenly Reunion,

Pastor Jonathan


P.S.  Here are some family group pictures from 2021.

·       Our Florida Easter family celebration.  https://photos.app.goo.gl/B4tp4QWXA9nUpfi76

 

·       Our Alaska January birthday celebration.  https://photos.app.goo.gl/WbqoVwHZNLmwX1D7A

 

P.P.S.  Here are some family pictures from previous gatherings.

·       My Dad’s 90th birthday party, September 23, 2017, https://photos.app.goo.gl/hJ81NqEHMoyfELYt8

 

·       The last time my mom and dad were together with all the kids, July 2010.  https://photos.app.goo.gl/pxugZZhUHZwkQY6i8

 

P.P.P.S.  Kathy and I did some yard work last week.  We removed bushes from the front of our condo.  Here are a couple of pictures.  https://photos.app.goo.gl/UYZW1FGKqNkivYBY9

 

 

P.P.P.P.S.  I did do a little fishing again this week.  Surprise!

·       On Thursday, April 1, I went fishing with brother-in-law, Mark Reaves.  Kathy had told me “no more fish” unless we have a fish fry.  Well, on April 25, with Jake and Emma visiting, we are having a family fish fry.  Here are fish from April 1.  https://photos.app.goo.gl/q2AMxjVrDjgpwYfRA

 

·       I went fishing with brother, Stephen, on Friday, April 1.  We started at 7:00 a.m. with the temperature at 44, and the wind blowing strong.  We battled the wind ALL DAY, and returned to white caps!  2 bites – NO fish!

 

·       On Tuesday, April 6, Kathy accompanied me as I went fishing.  I caught 3 bass, and 2 mud fish (which I threw back), but it took a while (8 hours).  We did cause a gator to move, and we saw a manatee.    https://photos.app.goo.gl/e8uxME2BMbuF8iDv6

 

 

*****



ABOUT THIS DEVOTION - I retired at the end of August 2019 from serving as senior pastor of St. John Lutheran Church in Palmer, AK.  I was writing a weekly devotion previously entitled, "Thoughts from the Pastor."  When I retired many asked me to continue writing these devotions.  So I have continued writing.  However, with life's changes I now call this weekly devotion "Journeys Through Life as a Child of God." 

Since I am no longer senior pastor at St. John, I felt it right to only send this message to those who asked to receive it.  (Though I am now serving again part-time at St. John as assistant to the pastor.)  Perhaps you also know that I “killed” my computer on November 7, 2020.  In so doing I lost, for a time at least, all my e-mail contacts.  So, I was really goofed up.  Many who were receiving this devotion each week were no longer receiving it.  I tried to rebuild my distribution list, but I am not sure how accurate I have been. 

            So, if you stopped receiving these devotions and wondered why, now you understand.  And, if you are now receiving these devotions and do not wish to receive them, please let me know, and I’ll gladly remove your name from my distribution list.  My e-mail address is jonrock53@mtaonline.net.

            My prayer is that these devotions help each of you in your daily walk with our Lord, Jesus.

 

 

                                                                        *******

 

Jonathan Rockey

Child of God

Husband, Father, Son, Grandfather

Pastor Emeritus, St. John Lutheran Church

E-Mail: jonrock53@mtaonline.net

 


Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Celebrating Jesus' Easter Victory for A Lost Sinner Like Me

 

Dear Fellow Children of God,

 

It has been quite a year! Just over 12 months ago life the way we know it changed, perhaps for a long time.  The coronavirus brought illness and death around the world.  In response businesses were closed.  School were closed.  Places of worship were closed.  All this was done to prevent the spread of this disease about which we knew so little, but which seemed so dangerous.  Because of all these closures few if any Christians celebrated Easter in worship services held in person in churches in 2020.  Easter this year will be the first opportunity for many children of God to celebrate this most important day with an “in person” worship service with other Christians.  By the way, Scripture tells us that when God created the world it was “very good.”  (Genesis 1:31)  Disease is a consequence of people sinning and turning away from the Lord.

 

In the middle of the response to the COVID pandemic, George Floyd was killed while being detained by police officers in Minneapolis.  Protests, riots, destruction of property, and even the loss of lives erupted around the United States.  Our orderly country devolved into chaos.  These race riots turned America upside down.  Racism is sin.  Violence is sin.  There have been on-going consequences in our country since these events last year.

 

America also experienced a divisive election cycle during the last 12 months.  Both sides of the political spectrum believed the other side was acting for their own interest, not for the good of the country.  Leaders acted in ways that many deemed unethical.  Many citizens lost faith in government.  Yet, God has established authorities and governments to provide civil order.  God’s intent is that good government punishes evil and rewards good behavior. (Romans 13:1-7)  God calls us to pray for authorities so we can live “quiet and peaceful lives in all godliness and holiness.” (1 Timothy 2:1-2)  You can see the sin which is involved as governments and countries move away from God’s intent for these institutions.

 

The truth is that, though these seem like unique times, they are not.  The world has faced pandemics, riots, political unrest, and bad leadership before.  So looking to the past for help can be depressing.  In many ways, it seems that history repeats itself.  The results of sin are overwhelming.  The whole world is in captivity to our sinful behavior.

 

God moved St. Paul to write about our battle with sin.  In Romans 7 we read, 21 So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God's law; 23 but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?”  (Romans 7:21-24)  On our own we are lost!

 

Our sinful behavior may enslave us, but . . . God has won the victory over our sin and our failure.  He has freed us from our captivity in His Son, Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world.  Yes, we are sinners, but Jesus lived a perfect and sinless life. (Hebrews 4:15)  Yes, we deserve God’s judgment and wrath for our rebellion, but Jesus, the sinless son of God, died to pay for the sin of the world, our sin included!  Death is the result of sin in our world.  So, no one escapes death.  But, when Jesus rose after dying on the cross, he overcame death.  Jesus has won eternal life in heaven for all who trust His saving life and death. 

 

You and I were helplessly lost in sin and death, BUT in Jesus’ Easter resurrection God has given us forgiveness, hope, and life.  God shares the depth of this victory with us through St. Paul in 1 Corinthians.  54 . . . the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory." 55 "Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  (I Corinthians 15:54-57)  Therefore, because of Jesus’ Easter victory we can face COVID, knowing God gives eternal life.  We can face civil unrest and governmental concern with faith and love, because God forgives sin and gives us victory over sin and death in Jesus’ death and resurrection.

 

All of that is why I urge you to CELEBRATE!  On our own, we are lost, wretched sinners, but in Jesus we have victory to live in this life and eternally.  Come worship and praise our God and Savior this Easter.  In spite of the sin, the trials, and disappointments in our lives, we can say with St. Paul,  thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

 

A Child of God, Celebrating Jesus’ Easter Victory for a Lost Sinner Like Me,

Pastor Jonathan


P.S.  Last week Kathy and I went to Orlando, FL, and visited Rick and Kristi Armstrong, the couple who introduced us in 1976.  I attended Concordia Lutheran College in Austin, Texas, with Rick and Kristi in 1971-1973.  Kathy started school at Lutheran School of Nursing in 1974, and one of her classmates was Kristi.  They introduced us and, as they say, the rest is history.  Here are some pictures of our visit, plus a photo of when it all started. 
https://photos.app.goo.gl/FV6X5F57DVtKaMRPA

 

 

P.P.S.  I did a little fishing again this week.

·       I went fishing with long-time friend, Pastor Rick Armstrong, and his daughter, Megan, and son-in-law, Matt, on March 27.  Here are some pictures.  https://photos.app.goo.gl/xvAuR6JtxqYgNqoYA

 

·       Then, on Sunday, March 28, after worship I went fishing with Florida neighbor, Matthew Phillips.  It was a good day.  We both caught a limit of bass, and I caught the biggest bass I ever caught.  Here are some pictures.  https://photos.app.goo.gl/RtYoPGXgMgRgeQ2c9

 

 

 

 

 

 

*****



ABOUT THIS DEVOTION - I retired at the end of August 2019 from serving as senior pastor of St. John Lutheran Church in Palmer, AK.  I was writing a weekly devotion previously entitled, "Thoughts from the Pastor."  When I retired many asked me to continue writing these devotions.  So I have continued writing.  However, with life's changes I now call this weekly devotion "Journeys Through Life as a Child of God." 

Since I am no longer senior pastor at St. John, I felt it right to only send this message to those who asked to receive it.  (Though I am now serving again part-time at St. John as assistant to the pastor.)  Perhaps you also know that I “killed” my computer on November 7, 2020.  In so doing I lost, for a time at least, all my e-mail contacts.  So, I was really goofed up.  Many who were receiving this devotion each week were no longer receiving it.  I tried to rebuild my distribution list, but I am not sure how accurate I have been. 

            So, if you stopped receiving these devotions and wondered why, now you understand.  And, if you are now receiving these devotions and do not wish to receive them, please let me know, and I’ll gladly remove your name from my distribution list.  My e-mail address is jonrock53@mtaonline.net.

            My prayer is that these devotions help each of you in your daily walk with our Lord, Jesus.

 

 

                                                                        *******

 

 

 

Jonathan Rockey

Child of God

Husband, Father, Son, Grandfather

Pastor Emeritus, St. John Lutheran Church

E-Mail: jonrock53@mtaonline.net


Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Since Jesus Willingly Died for Me, Will I Willingly Live for Him?

 

Dear Fellow Children of God,

 

This Sunday begins the observance of Holy Week 2021.  Following Palm Sunday worship many Christians will observe Jesus’ last supper on Maundy Thursday, and remember His death on Good Friday, preparing to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection on Easter Sunday.  But, I’m convinced that many followers of Jesus have heard the story of our Lord’s suffering and death so often that we have become numb to the depth of the love of God.

 

Perhaps I can illustrate this point in the following way.  Last Saturday I attended a funeral for Pastor Alan Struckmeyer.  Pastor Struckmeyer was an especially effective pastor at Abiding Savior Lutheran Church in Gainesville, FL.  Last February I attended a pastors meeting with him, as I had at other times when visiting our family and friends in Florida.  His congregation is only 2 miles from our place in Gainesville.  When I returned to Alaska last May, another pastor contacted me informing me that Pastor Struckmeyer had a brain tumor.  Pastor Alan, as he was called by his people, was only 62 years old and deeply loved by his congregation.  But he died from cancer on March 18, 2021.  There were many who wondered the same question asked in the sermon.  “Why was a young, effective, faithful pastor struck down in the prime of his life and ministry”  We only trust that God is wiser than we are.  We are thankful Pastor Struckmeyer is with our Lord in heaven.

 

But, Pastor Struckmeyer did not choose to die. Cancer killed him.  He would willingly have kept living and kept serving if he could have done so.  Jesus is just the opposite.  God’s Son willingly came to earth expecting to lay down His life for you and me.  We often miss the enormity of this great, sacrificial, gift of love, because we have heard it so often. We miss the depth of God’s love because we know Jesus, the Son of God Himself, came to this earth to die for us.

 

Listen to what Jesus Himself says in the Good Shepherd chapter, John 10.  11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. . . 14 I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me--15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father-- and I lay down my 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, 14-15, 17-18)  Did you hear what Jesus says about His life and death?  He suffered injustice, cruelty, violence, and murder.  But, knowing that we needed saving, Jesus taught the people then and teaches us today, “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.”

 

The depth of Jesus’ love struck St. Paul personally and he shared the surprise of that willing sacrifice with the Christians in Rome.  God inspired Paul to write to those believers, “6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  (Romans 5:6-8)  Jesus did not die because we deserved God’s love, but because we were lost unless Jesus paid the price for our sins.  Jesus died for us, “while we were still sinners.”(See also John 3:16-17)

 

Such a great gift and willing sacrifice also speaks to Christians about how we are to live.  In His letter to the Christians of the dispersion, Peter wrote, 17 It is better, if it is God's will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. 18 For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit”  (1 Peter 3:17-18)  The Christian life includes suffering, as do the lives of all who live in this sinful world.  But, because we know the ugly fact of sin in our lives and in the world, and because we know the willing, saving, sacrificial love of Jesus, we can face the trials of life in faith and in love.  We know Jesus has forgiven our sins in His death, and He saved us for eternal life by His rising.  Therefore, following Jesus, we pick up our crosses and follow Him, (Mark 8:34)

 

This Sunday we celebrate Palm Sunday, the beginning of Jesus’ last week before His brutal crucifixion.  As we watch Jesus’ fateful journey to the cross and realize that He knew His suffering and death was coming, and when see Jesus suffer and observe His the loving actions toward His disciples and toward others around Him, then Holy Week worship can feed our souls and strengthen our faith.  Imagine, God loved ME so much that Jesus willingly laid down His life for me!

 

The application to our lives is simple: If Jesus willingly died for me, will I willingly live for Him?

 

A Child of God, Amazed That We Take Such Great Love for Granted,

Pastor Jonathan


P.S.  During my childhood I attended 2 congregations.  When our family lived in Massachusetts,

I attended Trinity Lutheran Church in Easthampton, MA, until I was 12 and we moved to Florida.  As a youth in Florida, and until I graduated from seminary, I attended and was a member of First Lutheran Church in Gainesville, FL.  I had the privilege of preaching at First Lutheran on March 21, while Pastor John Glover was visiting his dad in NJ.  Here is a video of the worship service, including the sermon.  03.21.2021 Fifth Sunday in Lent Worship on Vimeo

 

 

P.P.S.  I only did a little fishing this week.

·       On March 18 I fished in a local lake.  The limit was 5.  I caught 6 bass and threw one back.  But, I only returned home with 4 fish!!  (I’m not sure where the other fish went!)  Here is a picture.  https://photos.app.goo.gl/5swZiZZgjLVz99RP6

 

·       On Tuesday, March 23, I took my wife on the Santa Fe River.  It was an evening ride, and we were delayed in arriving by a traffic accident.  I didn’t catch any fish, and we don’t have any pictures.  L

 

 

 

*****



ABOUT THIS DEVOTION - I retired at the end of August 2019 from serving as senior pastor of St. John Lutheran Church in Palmer, AK.  I was writing a weekly devotion previously entitled, "Thoughts from the Pastor."  When I retired many asked me to continue writing these devotions.  So I have continued writing.  However, with life's changes I now call this weekly devotion "Journeys Through Life as a Child of God." 

Since I am no longer senior pastor at St. John, I felt it right to only send this message to those who asked to receive it.  (Though I am now serving again part-time at St. John as assistant to the pastor.)  Perhaps you also know that I “killed” my computer on November 7, 2020.  In so doing I lost, for a time at least, all my e-mail contacts.  So, I was really goofed up.  Many who were receiving this devotion each week were no longer receiving it.  I tried to rebuild my distribution list, but I am not sure how accurate I have been. 

            So, if you stopped receiving these devotions and wondered why, now you understand.  And, if you are now receiving these devotions and do not wish to receive them, please let me know, and I’ll gladly remove your name from my distribution list.  My e-mail address is jonrock53@mtaonline.net.

            My prayer is that these devotions help each of you in your daily walk with our Lord, Jesus.

 

 

                                                                        *******

 

 

 

Jonathan Rockey

Child of God

Husband, Father, Son, Grandfather

Pastor Emeritus, St. John Lutheran Church

E-Mail: jonrock53@mtaonline.net

cell phone - 907-841-4066

Home phone - 907-746-5131

 

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Frustrated by the Mysteries of Technology, BUT Amazed by the Saving Hand of God

Dear Fellow Children of God,

 

Do the mysteries of life ever astound you? Shock you?  Frustrate you? Recently my wife and I have had some (ahem) interactions with the intricacies and mysteries of technology.  Frustration probably begins to describe our reactions.

 

In December, I bought Kathy a television for her sewing room for Christmas.  This was a small, new, TV which was supposed to “stream” so that she could watch shows while sewing and quilting.  I mounted the TV on the wall without any trouble.  But, when we tried to connect the television to our Wifi we had no luck.  I called our internet provider and their technician suggested I press the re-start button on our wifi-extender, but then, the extender could not be found on the Wifi search.  The next suggestion of the man on the phone was that our relatively new router might have some issues.  The technical support person suggested a few tests there, along with also pushing the re-set button on the router.  Then we lost all wifi, and the downstairs television didn’t work either.  So the technical assistant checked our modem, asking for the password.  Somehow, after trying the password, we no longer had any internet service to the house at all.  We went from troubles with one device, to no wifi signal while still having an internet signal, to having no internet at all!  Frustration well describes our reaction.  After a day or so of back and forth phone calls, and some new equipment, we got things up and running and the new TV even worked.  But, I can share that there were some mumbles under my breath.  And, I realized just how little I know about my internet, and how big a mystery computer technology is to me!

 

Also, Kathy and I recently took a road trip.  We visited a favorite spot, Unicoi State Park in North Georgia, along with family, where we celebrated Kathy’s 65th birthday.  That was a truly enjoyable time of family togetherness.  From there we visited old friends in Hickory, NC, Dave and Kathy Ludwig.  What a great opportunity to catch up with long-time friends.  Finally, on the way home we stopped to see a friend we have had in Chattanoogo for 45 years.  After all this visiting, we drove toward our Florida home. 

 

Now here comes the frustration.  Have you driven through Atlanta recently?  We hit a traffic jam north of Atlanta that our google maps said was 12 minutes long.  I think we lost an hour to an hour and a half of time in that one delay.  So, since our map “ap” said there was a delay of over an hour going through Atlanta, we drove the outer belt to miss that trouble.  When we hit what was supposed to be another “8 minute” delay, but were in stop and go traffic, we took the detour suggested by Google Maps.  This detour took us down two lane roads, which at times turned into dirt roads.  However, others were doing the same thing.  At one point, stopped on a two lane dirt road, we could count 19 cars and semi-trucks in front of us, and 10 cars behind us.  The maps ap was correct concerning the fact that there were traffic delays.  But, the time estimates and the suggested detours left something to be desired.  We finally made it back to our Gainesville home about 2 ½ hours later than the original projection.  Again, frustration begins to describe our interaction with technology.  But there is also the humbling realization of how little I personally know.

 

However, as I grow in years, I have at times come to actually appreciate that I do not know everything.  I’m glad that my knowledge is not all there is to know about the world, our universe, and our Lord. I don’t want my lack of knowledge and wisdom to be all there is.  I’m glad that God is in charge!

 

On February 28 I had different kind of experience with mystery and awe.   I was fishing late on a warm Florida spring evening.  Because of the late hour I had to turn on the lights for my boat to return to the dock.  I drove my boat onto the trailer in the dark.  But, as I stood beside the quiet lake, my eyes looked up and I was amazed by a sky full of stars.  Away from the light pollution of the city, the Milky Way stood out.  This beautiful view caused me to wonder again, this time about the wise and powerful hand which created the universe.  God created all that wonder and beauty. . . yet He knows and cares for me!  What an amazing, wonderful, mystery!

 

In his letter to the church in Rome, Paul is led by God to consider the wonders of salvation.  Do you remember Paul’s God-inspired words?

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?"  (Romans 11:33-34)

God and His ways are beyond our understanding!

 

And, as Peter writes about the mysteries of God’s saving love in Jesus, he shares with us these words about the prophets of old, and the angels of heaven.  “10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, 11 trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. 12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.” (1 Peter 1:10-12)  I am not the only one amazed by the loving, creative, and saving hand of God.  Even the angels in heaven are amazed!

 

How about you?  What depths of mystery frustrate you?  Or amaze you?  Have you stopped to thank the Lord that He is in charge of saving the world, through the unexpected suffering and resurrection of His very Son? Are you led, in awe, to thank and praise God for His power and love?

 

A Child of God, Frustrated by the Mysteries of Technology, BUT, Amazed by the Saving Hand of God,

Pastor Jonathan


P.S.  Here are some pictures from various trips we took recently,

·       To Unicoi State Park with my sister and brother and their spouses to celebrate Kathy’s birthday.  https://photos.app.goo.gl/uZDWwWkS13zMn3s97

 

·       To Hickory, North Carolina, to visit friends, Dave and Kathy Ludwig. https://photos.app.goo.gl/CoZHi1Zt5YYF299LA

 

·       We wish we had gotten a picture of our friend, Jo Parham in Chattanooga.  L

 

·       To Lakeland, Florida, for a baseball game with St. John members JD and Dena Jeffers. https://photos.app.goo.gl/khWy5wCuzhcjAmP26

 

P.P.S.  I also did a little fishing recently.

·       On March 10 at Unicoi State Park trout fishing in Smith Creek.  https://photos.app.goo.gl/WvgrZBFhsHSTNmQ77

 

·       On Sunday, March 14, in the Suwannee River.  https://photos.app.goo.gl/o8t3NBQQthGCAPfq8

 

 

 

*****



ABOUT THIS DEVOTION - I retired at the end of August 2019 from serving as senior pastor of St. John Lutheran Church in Palmer, AK.  I was writing a weekly devotion previously entitled, "Thoughts from the Pastor."  When I retired many asked me to continue writing these devotions.  So I have continued writing.  However, with life's changes I now call this weekly devotion "Journeys Through Life as a Child of God." 

Since I am no longer senior pastor at St. John, I felt it right to only send this message to those who asked to receive it.  (Though I am now serving again part-time at St. John as assistant to the pastor.)  Perhaps you also know that I “killed” my computer on November 7, 2020.  In so doing I lost, for a time at least, all my e-mail contacts.  So, I was really goofed up.  Many who were receiving this devotion each week were no longer receiving it.  I tried to rebuild my distribution list, but I am not sure how accurate I have been. 

            So, if you stopped receiving these devotions and wondered why, now you understand.  And, if you are now receiving these devotions and do not wish to receive them, please let me know, and I’ll gladly remove your name from my distribution list.  My e-mail address is jonrock53@mtaonline.net.

            My prayer is that these devotions help each of you in your daily walk with our Lord, Jesus.

 

 

                                                                        *******

 

 

 

Jonathan Rockey

Child of God

Husband, Father, Son, Grandfather

Pastor Emeritus, St. John Lutheran Church

E-Mail: jonrock53@mtaonline.net


Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Surprised by What Comes Out of the Mouths of My Grandchildren!

 

 

Dear Fellow Children of God,

 

Did you enjoy confirmation classes when you were young?  If you were a Lutheran Christian as a young adolescent you attended confirmation, or catechism classes.  Other traditions have other kinds of training for young people.  In my younger days, back in the mid-1960’s, these classes were held for 2 hours on Saturday morning.  Classes usually included the memorization of 10 pages a week for 20 weeks from the catechism.  It took work to memorize, and there was a little fear if we had not prepared well enough.  I remember satisfaction if I felt I had done a good job in class. But I did not invite any of my friends to attend with me, and I don’t remember laughing much.

 

Confirmation classes were different for young people attending at St. John.  Students in grades 6, 7, and 8 would come to church after school on Wednesdays.  Confirmation was more learning of Bible stories and growing in Christian knowledge than memory, and most memory was Bible verses.  But confirmation also included opening prayers, games, snacks (that were sometimes a whole meal), classes, and closing worship.  Children were somehow always bringing friends from school to our confirmation sessions, and some even joined the church.  The youth seemed to have a good time, maybe sometimes too good, because we needed behavior standards.

 

One of the regrets I had as I retired at the end of August 2019 was that, even though my grandchildren were coming to confirmation class age, I would not be teaching them these lessons about our Lord and Savior.  Josh’s oldest son, Jake, started attending classes in the 2019-2020 school year.  His daughter, Emma, and Andy’s son, Jackson, started confirmation classes this year.  Of course, COVID has thrown a wrench into all social gatherings.  Our grandkids are not attending school in person, the same for confirmation class.  Since I was asked last fall to return and serve part-time at St. John, I took on teaching “Saturday Confirmation.”  But COVID made it difficult for teacher and students to gather in person.  So we have held Zoom Confirmation Classes on Saturday mornings, and are working through 100 Bible Stories in 20 weeks.  In addition to my 3 grandchildren another young lady, Kambree, has also attended.

 

I have been surprised at how much fun they seem to have in these classes.  When the cuckoo clock goes off in my home, all four students on my computer screen raise their hands in the air and wave them back and forth.  During class on February 27, we learned about the prophecy and birth of John the Baptist.  We heard how John was named at his circumcision.  When one of my grandsons asked what circumcision is I brought his grandmother to the screen to explain.  The girls covered their faces with their books, and the look of anguish on the face of the boys . . . well you understand.

 

This week their joking around while they were learning had me laughing, and Kathy listening in the background had her shoulders bouncing as she laughed out loud.  The class was studying about the Magi, and the flight of Joseph and Mary and Jesus into Egypt.  Emma was reading the story.  But, Emma has a personality.  She can joke around while learning.  In fact, all 4 of the Zoom Confirmation students seem to joke during class.  She was reading how, after the wise men or magi had seen baby Jesus, God told them to return home a different way than they had arrived.  They were not to return through Jerusalem, and not to tell King Herod what they had seen. 

 

As Emma read the story she said, “In a dream God warned Margi not to return to Harold.”  (It was supposed to read, “In a dream God warned the Magi not to return to Herod.”)  I asked, “What?  Who?”  She repeated it again.  Everyone else started giggling.  Kathy was bouncing up and down with laughter as she heard this exchange across the room.  I asked again, “Harold?”  Yup, Emma repeated again, “In a dream God warned Margi not to return to Harold.”  Then, acting like a TV reporter, she put her pencil to her mouth.  It was Jackson’s turn to read.  But, Emma spoke into her pencil-microphone, “Back to you, Harold.”

 

I have shared before that I believe Scripture when it calls parents to teach their children about Him and His Word.  In Deuteronomy 6 God teaches His people, 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”  (Deuteronomy 6:6-7)

 

God moved Solomon to write in  Proverbs 22:6 “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”

 

And St Paul wrote to Timothy, “14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”  Timothy learned about God from infancy.  As you see, God wants parents to teach their children about Him.

 

I pray daily, by name, for many people.  But I always mention family and pray for them to know God and His saving love for them in Jesus.  I truly believe that it is important to teach God’s Word to my children and grandchildren, because, Scriptures . . . are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”  My grandchildren are learning that God loves them, that God showed that love for them in the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus on the cross to pay for our sins.  They are learning that Jesus rose to win eternal life for all who believe in Him. 

 

And, when you can laugh that “In a dream God warned Margi not to return to Harold,” maybe they are enjoying learning and they will “continue in what [they] have learned.”

 

A Child of God, Surprised By What Comes Out of the Mouths of my Grandchildren!

Pastor Jonathan


P.S.  Kathy and I are traveling this week with family.  We are in Helen, GA, with my sister and brother and their spouses.  Kathy’s birthday is on the 10th of March.  She tells me every year, “When I was a child in Memphis there were always daffodils for my birthday.”  This year we got her daffodils in Georgia. 
https://photos.app.goo.gl/MUrtj1ZFLsTZHEpJ8

 

 

P.P.S.  I did go fishing a couple of times.  Here are pictures from two trips at the Rodman Reservoir in Orange Springs, FL.

·       On Thursday, March 4, I went fishing with brother-in-law Mark Reaves.  Here are pictures.  https://photos.app.goo.gl/1K9bFieWofeZHmTBA

 

·       On Friday, March 5, I went fishing with friend, Dustin Kunkel.  Here are some more pictures.  https://photos.app.goo.gl/Hi9oootXMbL6UxdBA

 

·       On Tuesday, March 9, my brother Stephen and I fished at Unicoi State Park in Helen, Georgia.  https://photos.app.goo.gl/ukvoVxy9SkjEiHKQA

 

 

 

*****



ABOUT THIS DEVOTION - I retired at the end of August 2019 from serving as senior pastor of St. John Lutheran Church in Palmer, AK.  I was writing a weekly devotion previously entitled, "Thoughts from the Pastor."  When I retired many asked me to continue writing these devotions.  So I have continued writing.  However, with life's changes I now call this weekly devotion "Journeys Through Life as a Child of God." 

Since I am no longer senior pastor at St. John, I felt it right to only send this message to those who asked to receive it.  (Though I am now serving again part-time at St. John as assistant to the pastor.)  Perhaps you also know that I “killed” my computer on November 7, 2020.  In so doing I lost, for a time at least, all my e-mail contacts.  So, I was really goofed up.  Many who were receiving this devotion each week were no longer receiving it.  I tried to rebuild my distribution list, but I am not sure how accurate I have been. 

            So, if you stopped receiving these devotions and wondered why, now you understand.  And, if you are now receiving these devotions and do not wish to receive them, please let me know, and I’ll gladly remove your name from my distribution list.  My e-mail address is jonrock53@mtaonline.net.

            My prayer is that these devotions help each of you in your daily walk with our Lord, Jesus.

 

 

                                                                        *******

 

 

 

Jonathan Rockey

Child of God

Husband, Father, Son, Grandfather

Pastor Emeritus, St. John Lutheran Church

E-Mail: jonrock53@mtaonline.net

cell phone - 907-841-4066

Home phone - 907-746-5131