Thursday Morning Sunshine

As I mentioned last week three of us in nursing home ministry have been producing a weekly devotional which we call The Sunshine Newsletter. Our writers are Pastor Janice Burnett, who is a chaplain and oversees the outreach into several nursing homes in Western New York as well as my friend Rob Keller who is a professional graphic designer as well as a writer of devotionals. Our free publication goes into about 9 different long term care facilities in Florida and New York. Each Thursday I will be posting a revised version of the Newsletter for my readers. We purposely are not copyrighting the material so as to make it freely available to as many people as possible. If you know anyone in the long term care community including, staff members, family, residents or volunteers, please feel free to either contact me for future issues of you may copy and share our weekly issues. Though our writing is tailored to those whose world is regulated by long term care, you may be surprised how the content touches you. After all, the unexpected invades each of our lives more often than we like and lets us know that we are far less in control of our world than we may believe!

Through a Father’s Eyes by Rob Keller

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6 ESV

As a father and as an artist, I was thrilled when my son said, “I want to learn how to draw.” Immediately, I took him to an art supply store where I bought him a sketch pad, drawing pencils, an eraser, and a book that teaches basic drawing skills. After completing the first exercise, he was very disappointed with the results and never picked up a drawing pencil again. When we talked about it, he told me how much he still wanted to learn how to draw, but didn’t. Digging a little deeper, I discovered that anything less than a masterpiece was unacceptable to him. I tried to help him understand that it would take time and a lot of practice to develop his skills. Despite all my efforts to encourage him, that sketchbook just sat on the shelf gathering dust. It still makes me sad to think about my son’s short-lived art career. It’s not his lack of drawing skill that upsets me, it’s the fact that he was so hard on himself. He wouldn’t give himself room to let loose, have fun, experiment, and grow. Because I was His Dad, when I looked at those first few sketches, they were beautiful to me. I just wish he could have seen them that way!

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Have you ever earnestly committed yourselves to grow in some area of your walk with God? If you are like me, you were frustrated and disappointed by your inability to consistently get it right. Our heavenly Father sees our struggles. He is pleased with our desire to be more like Jesus, but he wants us to remember that it is a lifelong process. He is graciously working in our lives, and delighted to watch our slow steady transformation. We may only notice our failures, but He is sitting right by our side, gently guiding us to become the men and women he destined us to be. Don’t give up! because God has never given up on you. Some days you just need to see things through our Father’s eyes.

Jesus Cares About You! By Pastor Janice Burnett

A wedding took place at Cana in Galilee…This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed…He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him. John 2:1,11 NIV

Photo by Min An on Pexels.com

What is your favorite thing about a wedding? Is it the bride walking down the aisle or the cute flower girl or maybe even the little boy who is the ring bearer? Maybe you are a Hallmark channel fan and just love the romantic story of the couple, or a lover of parties and simply enjoy the reception with delicious food and drink with everyone. What isn’t there to love about wedding? Jesus did and He even went to one with His disciples and His mom. It seemed that Jesus hadn’t planned to reveal that He was the Son of God or performing a miracle – but when the wine ran out His mother came and asked for help. Who doesn’t want to do a favor for their mom? But Jesus did this not only because of His mother but because He cared about all the people at the wedding. If you read the whole chapter, you would see that to show His care, He turned water into wine! He cared about the bride, the groom, the parents of the bridal couple – the hosts of the wedding – the servants serving the wine and every one of the guests! He loved them so much that He blessed them with delicious wine to drink at this wedding when it ran out – He cared enough to fix their problem and what He gave was the best wine of all!

When Jesus is in your life, He cares about you to give you the very best. Here is my story…I knew it was time to sell my house and move closer to where I now live. I listed my house and it sold in one day (and this was long before the current housing boom) – and I hadn’t even started looking for a new place. Long story short, God had saved the PERFECT place in the PERFECT location for me – it had been empty and for sale for three months! Jesus cares about what we care about. What are some things that are important to you? Bring them to Jesus – He cares about people and He cares about you!

Heaven’s Beauty Salon

Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Hebrews 10:22 ESV

When my grandfather came from Italy, he became a barber and all six children had to pitch in and help. Though my dad learned the ins and outs of barbering while he was growing up, after coming home from the war, he decided that styling lady’s hair paid better so he got his license as a hairdresser. By the time I was a teen-ager Dad had his own beauty salon and when he closed on Mondays to clean the store, He and I had some of our best talks while sweeping the floor together and cleaning the hair dryers. Dad loved telling funny stories about the shop and one of his favorites was that the ladies always made sure to wash their hair before coming in, then paid Him to wash it again. They just could not bear the thought of my dad finding that their hair wasn’t already squeaky clean! Now you might think that silly, but don’t we sometimes do the same thing with God? He invites us to come to Heaven’s beauty shop (the church) – dirty hair and all. But instead, we decide that we need to get washed up at home, or if we do show up, we just worship halfheartedly because we feel unworthy to really participate. But the craziest part of all is that, unlike dad’s clientele, we do not even have to pay the bill. Instead, God has chosen to pay in advance at Calvary, for everything we have ever done. He is not angry that we show up with needs and problems, instead He asks to take away our burden of sin and in exchange give us His yoke of grace. Then He gently lifts away the condemnation of guilt and leaves us a new life style. Then He proudly shows anyone who wants to know that our hair as well as our soul is squeaky clean and ready for Heaven!

The Face of My Father

What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Romans 8:31-32 KJV

“Go sit on your bed until your father get’s home!” were the most terrifying ten words of my childhood. Those long minutes or hours as I waited for the return of my stepfather from work only magnified the fears that I had of the inevitable punishment that awaited me. The last person’s face I wanted to see was his. After I became a Christian it took me quite a few years to be able to pray to the Father. Sure I said the words in corporate worship but when I was alone I would pray only to Jesus. I would say things like, “I’m only coming to you Jesus. Will you forgive me and help me?” Sometimes it felt like I was still sitting on my bed, waiting for punishment. The last person I wanted to see was my Heavenly Father. How little did I know of the tender love of a father who sent His own Son to die in my place. How much He must have wanted me to run to Him and how patient He was for me to slowly unwrap the mystery of the great -great love of His heart. He was not looking forward to coming home so He could pull out His celestial belt to punish me. Instead He had sent Jesus to die in my place so that He could wrap me in His arms. God was not listening to the long litany of my sins, becoming angrier by the second. Instead, He was preparing to freely give me anything I needed because of Jesus Christ. What a love is this? Now I look forward to His return! In fact the very first face I l want to see is the face of my true and eternal father in Heaven. All this time He has been by my side sitting next to me and loving me as His child!

This was Dad at Our Wedding (I look nervous!)