These are the ones who are coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb…for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd. He will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. (Revelation 7:14, 17 - EHV)
Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?
Allow me to talk about the Huskers—no, not the football team, but the fans. Two fans in particular: Jack and Andy Hoffman. In 2011, Jack, a young Husker fan, was diagnosed with pediatric brain cancer. After a number of surgeries and countless seizures, the Hoffmans weren’t sure if Jack would survive so they were connected with the Husker football team who embraced the sick child. The Hoffmans had started a foundation to raise money for pediatric brain cancer research, the Team Jack Foundation. Then, on April 6, 2013, at Nebraska football’s annual spring game, Jack, then seven years old, was given the ball when he ran into the end zone to a loud ovation by all in attendance. Jack made national news, won some awards, and met a number of famous people who were touched by his story. Not only was it a touching moment, but it also gave a “face” to the work of the foundation, raising millions of dollars. Jack may have been the face of the foundation, but his Father, Andy, was the spokesman and the driving force behind everything.
Fast forward about seven years to 2020. Although still having a brain tumor, Jack was doing much better and was even able to play football for his high school. Things were really looking up for the Hoffmans. Until one day his Father, Andy, collapsed. After numerous tests it was determined that Andy had brain cancer of his own. Yesterday, Andy died. To be transparent, although he isn’t WELS, Andy, a year older than my oldest brother, went to Nebraska Lutheran for a year and a half or so. He is also the cousin of Pastor Raasch down in Menasha. Andy was one of the most sincere and nicest people I have ever met. He did so much good through the foundation, and Jack and his entire family had had to endure so much, one has to ask: why does God allow bad things to good people?
You’ve probably asked yourself that question numerous times throughout your life. And we wish that God would give us clear cut answers, but he doesn’t give us direct answers for each and every question in our lives. But he does give us plenty of comfort and encouragement whenever we go through troubles and difficulties. Here are just a few things to consider.
Perhaps it’s good, first, to remember Christ’s passion and consider Isaiah 53. Christ who had done no wrong, was led like a sheep to its slaughter. He was beaten, mocked, spit-upon, flogged, crucified, and so on even though he was completely innocent. When we suffer, when we go through bad things, it’s not as if it’s a punishment from God, nor is it an indication that God doesn’t love us. See also, Luke 13:1-5.
In Romans 8:28 the Lord comforts us with the truth that all things work out for the good of those who love him. We may not always see the good, at least not right away—perhaps we won’t see the good until years down the road, or maybe not until heaven; but somehow in some way, God will make all things work out for good.
We may not understand things in this world, we may not understand why people have to suffer in this way. But as God says in Isaiah 55, Certainly my plans are not your plans, and your ways are not my ways, declares the LORD. Just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways, and my plans are higher than your plans. The Lord remains the Lord, and we remain part of his creation. God’s is so perfect and all-knowing, his ways and the reason behind his ways are beyond our own understanding. We trust that the Lord knows what he is doing. Just as the pot has no right to question the potter, so we have no right to question the Almighty Creator (Isaiah 45:9).
Look at the words above from Revelation 7. As painful as it is when bad things happen to good people, it is better by far to be in heaven! And we certainly thank the Lord for the faith of Andy Hoffman, and other loved-ones who have died in the Lord. When we suffer, when we go through hard and difficult times, it can serve as a reminder that we are but strangers in this world and that heaven is our home (Philippians 3:20). Suffering can take our eyes away from the earthly and temporal to Christ, his empty cross, and the sure and certain hope of an eternal glory in heaven, where there is no sin and no affects of sin including death.
We may never understand exactly why God allows bad things to happen to good people. But God does and that is enough for us. So we allow God to be God and the one who cares and provides for us. And when we suffer we find comfort in his love, his perfect life and death, and this glorious resurrection by which we are promised a perfect life to come.
Pastor Andrew Frey
Easter For Kids:
Due to the uncertainty of how many would attend, we are not going to hold an in-person Easter for Kids this year. Instead we will be offering Easter for Kids to-go kits, similar to what we did for Christmas for Kids. These packages will include an interactive opportunities for your children to learn about Jesus’ death and resurrection. Please sign up by March 21st on the sheet in the entryway or online so that we know how many to prepare. A pick-up date will be announced shortly.
Midweek Lent Services:
Wednesday February 17 is Ash Wednesday where we will begin our midweek Lent Services. There will be services each Wednesday at 10:30 am and 6:30 pm. The theme for this year will be "The Hands of the Passion". There will be a meal served each Wednesday from 5:30-6:15pm. Please signup each week in the back of Church if you plan on attending the meal, so those who are preparing the meal for us can plan ahead.
NOTE: The Confirmation class times will be changing for Lent. We will meet from 5:00 - 6:00pm each week. We encourage the Confirmation Students and their families to stay for the meals and to attend these special services.
Hymnals and Bibles:
Soon we will be looking to return the Hymnals and Bibles to the pews to be used by those who desire. We will still be printing everything in the bulletin, but we know that there are still some people who would like to use the Hymnal and the Bible. NOTE: We will not be cleaning the Hymnals and Bibles after each service. You may use them at your own discretion.
As of right now, we are no longer requiring a sign-up to attend in-person worship. We may be bringing back the signup for our Easter Services because of the anticipated higher number of people attending those services. Thank you to those who have taken the time to signup each week.
A few years ago St. John set up a fund to support our members who are attending Martin Luther College (MLC). This coming school year, we will have one of our members attending MLC to study to be a teacher in our WELS Schools . If you would like to contribute to this fund, please mark your special offering to the "MLC Fund" by May 1st.
New Bible Classes:
Pastor Frey will be starting a new Bible Study on Sunday March 7th at 9:15 am on the New Testament book of Colossians. Join us as we look at this important letter which highlights the person of Christ and his work of salvation.
Pastor Gartner will be starting a new Bible Study on Mondays and Tuesdays starting Monday March 8th at 8:00 am and Tuesday night March 9th at 5:30 pm. The title of this Bible Class will be, "Luther’s Small Catechism – A Study of The Apostles’ Creed, Baptism and Holy Communion." Martin Luther wrote the Small Catechism to help assist Christians in their learning the basic truths of God’s Word. Please join us in this Bible Class as we seek to strengthen our faith as we use Luther’s Small Catechism to refresh our knowledge about The Apostles’ Creed, Baptism and Holy Communion.
If you would like to receive a recording of these Bible Classes, please contact one of the Pastors and we will send you the link for these recordings.
Bible Information Class (BIC):
Pastor Frey has started a new BIC class on both Tuesday mornings at 10:00 am and Thursday evenings at 6:00 pm. If you are interested in joining St. John or if you are already members of St. John but would like to grow in your knowledge of God's Word, please contact Pastor Frey to join in this class.
Do you find yourself waiting on Sundays for the video of our worship service to upload after it is live-streamed? It does take a long time—sometimes half a day for our video to upload in HD, after which you’ll be able to find it on our Youtube page. However, you can always find the link on our Facebook page, which is public. Otherwise, we can email you the link to the service Sunday morning and you’ll be able to watch the video before it is able to be found on our Youtube page. If this interests you, please contact us and we can put you on the email list.
If you are not comfortable sending your child to in person Sunday School, we have weekly recorded videos of each weeks Bible Lesson and the Lesson sheets that we can send to you so that your child can still learn the valuable truths of God's Word. Please contact us if you would be interested in these materials.
Worship During Covid-19:
Worship Sign-up and Cleaning After Each Service
In order to encourage and practice social distancing, we are trying to limit each Worship service to around 75 people and because of the Governor's mandate we are strongly encouraging everyone to wear a mask (but we are not making it a requirement to attend). We are offering 8:00 and 10:30 services on Sunday as well as 6:30 pm on Monday. Please note, that we are in need of volunteers to help sanitize the sanctuary between services. It only takes about 10 minutes, so we pray that you will!
To find a more detailed look at our Worship procedures during this Covid virus, you may click on this link which takes you to the information that is found on our Website's front page.
We rejoice that we have been able to return to the Lord’s house to worship together, but at the same time we want to do so in a safe manner. The 8:00 am service is the most attended service, which perhaps will make some of you feel uncomfortable. First off, if you feel uncomfortable in this more attended service. we encourage you to attend either the 10:30 am or the Monday evening service which offer plenty of room in order for you to socially distance.
In addition, our Council has decided to remove the ropes for the first few pews of the lectern side of the sanctuary. If you have already had Covid or you are not wanting to wear a mask, we would ask that you consider sitting in these front pews in order to free up space for others. People deciding to sit in these “unrestricted” pews should use their own good judgment on social distancing. We hope that, with enough worshipers sitting in this section, it will leave enough space in the rest of the sanctuary for everyone else to socially distance. If you have any questions, please speak to one of the Pastors or a Council members.
As we go forward, we will continue to live-stream our services and posting our worship folders online. We will be recording our Sunday 8:00 am service which means you can watch anytime after 8:00 am on Sunday morning. If you need any help accessing these resources, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
You can find our worship services at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCsQs-LDzlHE1NTjOaVaQ2A.
You can find a bulletin for each Worship Service so you can follow along here: https://stjohncenter-my.sharepoint.com/:f:/g/personal/pastor_frey_stjohn-appleton_org/EqetvOMWflhLsfsLRcDkxSgBL2cnYkpiuk8Klh7d-r_XQg?e=07dSma.