Thursday Morning Sunshine

Thursday Morning Sunshine is a revised version of The Sunshine Newsletter which three of us who are involved in Nursing Home outreach publish weekly. Our writers are Pastor Janice Burnett, who is a Nursing Home chaplain in Western New York as well as my friend Rob Keller who is both a graphic designer as well as the writer of some of the devotionals. Our free publication goes into about 9 different long term care facilities in Florida and New York. Each 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 or copy and share our weekly issues with people you know.

God Loves You! By Peter Caligiuri

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” John 3:16 ESV

Marie* wants to see you in the cafeteria after the message” they told me. As I went in to sit with Marie, she began to cry and took hold of my hands saying, “God hates me!”  Marie suffers from Parkinson’s and that afternoon she was so depressed that she hadn’t come in for our song and prayer time at her nursing home.

She felt isolated from the world outside because no old friends ever came to visit, no family came for her birthday or Christmas. But there was still good news to share with her that afternoon – “God loves you Marie! Because the Bible says, ‘For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son…” I told her as I struggled to communicate the love of Jesus in a way that would touch her at that very moment.

As we head towards the holidays this year, remember that just as God has not forgotten Marie, He has also not forgotten you. He has not left you alone. You may not be the richest person in the world, but if you know Jesus as your Savior then you have the best hope in the universe because you have received God’s gift of love and His promise of heaven. Now we need to remember that there are people named Marie or Betty or Bob or Joe all around us. They need the hope that only God’s love can give and in the same way that He has helped you to hope, why not pass that hope of Jesus along to them?

The most thrilling thing about heaven is that Jesus Christ will be there. I will see Him face to face. Jesus Christ will meet us at the end of life’s journey – Billy Graham

Every Christian who keeps looking up, stretches their heart’s capacity for Heaven – Joni Eareckson Tada

Thanks-Living  by Pastor Janice Burnett

Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing.In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 KJV

Many years ago a friend and I travelled to New York City for a wedding. One night on a whim we decided to treat ourselves to dessert in a restaurant in one of the World Trade Center buildings. The driving directions to get there were fabulous; we arrived with no problem. We enjoyed our dessert and cup of tea – that is all we could afford! Then it was time to drive back to our hotel. Little did we know that the way out was different from the way in. We didn’t have a map, and this was in the days before electronic GPS directions. Yes, you guessed it – we got very lost. Late on a Saturday night we ended up in parts of town that were – well, let’s just say we didn’t belong there.

This would be one of those circumstances where living and breathing with a thankful attitude doesn’t sound normal, does it? Can you think of other situations where you wouldn’t naturally feel very thankful? Go ahead and name them. God and our friends are not put off by our honesty. When the Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Thessalonica, he told them, “In everything give thanks!” in other words – LIVE THANKFULLY!

Wow, notice the absolute words related to an action on our part – Evermore – Without ceasing – Everything. I guess that we cannot shy away from God being definite about this point! Not sometimes – when we feel like it or when things are going great. It is true that we need to remember to be thankful when good things happen and throughout our average daily life. I know I do, and this is a reminder not to take anything for granted.

Also, to be thankful in the sad, scary or painful times goes against what we feel like doing. Yet, not only is this God’s will, but it is healthier for us to live grateful lives. Remember our trip leaving NYC? Yes, we made it out safely, obviously. This was with help from a couple of helpful people and God’s provision of safety. Not to mention that or one-hour drive going in took three hours for us to get out! We may have forgotten in the thick of the moment to be outwardly thankful, but you can be sure we thanked God each time we met helpful people and especially when we had reached our hotel! Let us set a goal to think and live more gratefully in the midst of our circumstances! And, let us get practical and make a commitment to thank God OUT LOUD for three specific things every day!

Sunshine News – It may be hard to believe but we are only six weeks from Christmas! I am excited to say that this year our small prayer group has helped with the purchase of over 50 large-print Christmas Devotional books to give to residents at the three communities which I visit. I would love it if someone could come when we give these out and are also in need of people to help sing Christmas carols. If you can help let me know.  We have song books and will sing easy traditional songs. I would also ask if you could to pray that God would provide one or two other volunteers to help throughout the year. If you are interested we need help with serving communion, singing, visiting, writing for the newsletter and filling in when I am away. Have a blessed week all! 

For more ideas on Nursing Home Ministry, you might find this 2021 edition of New Frontiers in Nursing Home Ministry a helpful resource. This is available on Amazon in both a print and eBook format.

Friends of Jesus

This morning I am introducing a new Thursday feature to the Praise2worship blog called the Sunshine Newsletter. As some of my followers know I have had the privilege to be involved in nursing home ministry for about thirty years. About three years ago I began printing out a devotional newsletter for the residents to give them something to read between weekly visits. When Covid-19 shut down all the communities I visited, I began to include a bit more in the newsletter and was able to get it to the residents by sending it to the activities directors of the various facilities. Fast forwarding a year – two wonderful friends, Pastor Janice Burnett and Rob Keller came on board and helped with the writing and editing of Sunshine Newsletter replete with new formatting and images. Sadly I have not yet found a way to directly upload our format to WordPress but you will be seeing the content of our publication along with the best photos I can find each Thursday. What you may find surprising in a Nursing Home Devotional newsletter is that, while now and then there is some news or a brief mention of nursing homes, its focus is rather to encourage the residents. They face many of the same issues we all do, so after receiving permission to use their material I present to you today a recent installment. Have a blessed day all!

I Call You Friends by Pastor Janice Burnett

I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. John 15:15 NIV

Did you ever have a job where you didn’t know much about the business? Perhaps it was your very first job as a gas station attendant or a waitress. If you were pumping gas, you might have known just enough about which gas to put into the car or the truck, then take the money and make sure it got into the cash register. It might have been the same if you were working in a restaurant – you waited on the customer, served them the food, took their money and handed it over to the cashier. Maybe over time you stayed working there long enough to know more about how the business was run. In fact, you might have ended up managing or even owning it! But, that didn’t happen overnight did it?

One of my first jobs was behind the counter at a snack bar at a W.T. Grants Department Store – remember them? I knew just enough to do my job, but I didn’t know my manager’s responsibilities, and I certainly didn’t know anything about running the entire store! Jesus knew something about this and talked about it and our relationship to Him in John Chapter 15 when he called us “Friends” – Wow! When you think about a relationship with Jesus, do YOU usually think of HIM as a friend? Many times in our lives, we have been rightly taught to respect and obey Him. I want to do that, don’t you? But Jesus is telling His disciples – and us – that He calls us friends. We are not just servants who get ordered around and from whom He keeps secrets. As a parent how many times did you reassure your child or grandchild of your love even though you told them what to do? Did you only say it once? No! You repeated it time after time just like Jesus! He tells us to remain in His love and so love each other, and then He calls us friends! He is so loving, patient and kind! Just as the song says, “Oh – What A Friend we Have in Jesus” Have you made friends with Jesus by opening your heart to Him? It is never too late to begin that friendship. He is waiting to hear from you today!

Photo by Helena Lopes on
Circle of His Friends 
by Peter Caligiuri

No need to knock on Jesus’ door
It’s open all the time
But He will always knock on ours
When He is passing by

He looks in through our windowpane
To see the empty spot
That at our kitchen table sits
With our dinner fresh and hot

Won’t you ask for Him to enter in
And forgive your sins and more?
 We join the circle of His friends
Once He’s come in our door!

When Joseph Scriven wrote the words of his now famous hymn, they were actually a poem he sent to comfort his mother who was very sick and missing him terribly back in Ireland. Several years previously, Scriven had lost the love of his life just week’s before they were to be married and in his time of grief he dedicated his life to God and there found great joy and peace. Hearing word of his mother’s ill health he sent these words of the hope he had found. Today they are still sung on job sites by brick layers and in corn fields by farmers. People lying in hospital rooms as well as standing in the largest cathedrals have been encouraged to know that no matter how important others think we are or how much money we have in the bank, there is nothing we could ever have that compare to the riches and power of a life lived as one of the friends of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

What a friend we have in Jesus
All our sins and griefs to bear
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!    
Joseph Scriven 1855

Prayer is nothing else than being on terms of friendship with God – Teresa of Avila