Pass Me Not

 And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Mark 10:47 ESV

Fanny Crosby is one of America’s most popular hymn writers, and though she is best known for Blessed Assurance, Pass Me Not, is special, because just like the man, who cried out to Jesus, Fanny Crosby was blind. In her life, Fanny composed thousands of hymns, advocated in Washington D.C. for education for the blind, worked in New York’s inner-city missions and gave away most of the little money which she received for her writing. Pass Me Not O Gentle Savior was written in 1868 after a visit to a prison. As she was passing through the corridors, she heard one of the inmates crying out, “Don’t pass me by!” and they became the central image of this hymn.

But whether you are sitting as a blind beggar on the side of the street or sitting in the finest hotel in New York, Jesus is passing by. Compared to the Son of God, we are all blind beggars and in desperate need of His healing touch. He is ready to come to us at any moment, yet He waits for us to see our need, listen for His footsteps and call out to Him. When we cry out, He will stop; He will turn; and He will call us to come. Will you run to him today?

Today’s hymn was recorded last week on my return to Sunshine Memory Care after a three-week pause due to my own battle with Covid. What a wonderful time we had in that short visit. Imagine what it will be like when we gather around Jesus in Heaven. We will all certainly look different, and we will sing with all our hearts because there our eyes will be opened, and we will see Jesus as He truly is!

Under the Quilt

I have been reading Patty’s blog for more than a year and this post in particular is so touching in both its honesty and encouragement as she and her husband care for their special needs son Aaron. Walking With Lambs is all about long term care and I am delighted to be able to share Patty’s post that just goes to show that long-term care is not just in facilities called nursing homes. I pray that you will be blessed as much as I was with her story!

He Said What?!

I heard Aaron’s first seizure at 12:38 this morning. The second was at 2:37. As I often say, Aaron would appreciate that I am using the precise time.

Not long after 4:00 I heard him rustling. It wasn’t a seizure. I listened and knew that he was out of bed. He went to the bathroom and then back to his room. I heard his door close.

I got up and went to his room, fairly sure of what I would find. He had changed his pajamas and was getting ready to climb back into bed.

His sheets were wet. Bed wetting seizures are common to Aaron.

I had him sit in his desk chair as I changed his sheets. He watched my every move, as he is not only bent on using precision with his time keeping but is also particular about his bedding being just right.

I was thankful…

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Back to Basics in Nursing Home Ministry

 Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly – 1 Peter 5:2 ESV

After a three week pause due to both my wife and I contracting this last form of Covid, I was delighted to get back visiting a couple of the facilities this week. The memory care wing of one home was open for business as usual, but the dining room where we normally meet at another was still closed due to their own outbreak. Thankfully with the aid of an n-95 mask and the kind guidance of one of the nurses I was shepherded to various individual rooms to visit. The experience was exhausting but rewarding and it brought me back to those first few years, when I either visited very small facilities or in private rooms of people in larger homes. It reminded me why nursing home ministry is important what really matters. Whether you are just getting started or are considering beginning again in nursing home ministry, the Apostle Peter gives us all some great guidance for how we ought to serve.

Shepherding – The people God sends us to, whether they are in a church congregation, a prison or a nursing home are first of all His flock. They are God’s sheep so how we value folks and the way we treat them begins with remembering who they belong to. Whether God is sending us to only a few or even just one makes no difference in the way we care for, pray for, and minister to God’s people.

Willingly – The key difference between under compulsion and willingly is what are the rewards and benefits. Showing up for work and punching the clock at the factory, the office or the store on Monday morning isn’t because we don’t have anywhere else to go. A day at the beach, fishing or out on the golf course would be a lot more fun, but we have these tiny things called bills to pay at the end of the month. So out the door we trudge, day after day and that is a good thing. But it isn’t what God has in mind when it comes to ministering to His people. There are some positions that should and do pay a decent salary in God’s kingdom work, but even for those in full time ministry, the paycheck cannot be the proper incentive for serving God’s flock. Whatever our position, we will give our best for God’s service when we do it out of the love God has put in our hearts for His children.

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Eagerly – is the difference between – we can’t wait to get finished, and we can’t wait to get started in God’s service. Now, I love football and am so excited that the college football season is beginning this week. Watching the players run out onto the field at the beginning of each game is usually quite a show. The players run out onto the field with great fanfare and celebration. They are jumping and giving high fives and smiling to the crowd. They just can’t wait for the game to start! Is that the way we are heading towards the pulpit, the chapel service or the hospital visit? Of course, the needs we are called to meet are not always happy high-five ones, but the intensity and love of serving God’s people should be as equally motivating. We cannot wait to begin to encourage, pray for, sing to or even simply listen to people whom God has entrusted to our care. Now that’s back to basics and it is a blessing to be reminded that no matter our area of service, the crown of life God has promised us remains the same.

To learn more about how you can get involved in nursing home ministry you might consider checking out our new book on walking with God’s lambs.

What’s the Message?

When I pick up my phone in the morning, the first thing I check is if there are any messages. Sadly about 90% of what comes in is spam. Those not only get deleted, but I also block that person from sending any more. Those messages are “spam” because of one major detail: I have no relationship to that person. Wherever, our calling is, whether at church, at the prison or at nursing home, it is important to remember that our most important message is not delivered by the words we say (or sing). What matters to the people we are called to serve is the relationship that we have built with them. How much of ourselves have we personally invested in the individuals in the places where we go? This was made crystal clear to me when I was able to return to nursing home ministry after three weeks recovering from Covid. When I stepped into the room at memory care yesterday morning, the most precious thing was to see the faces of my friends again. Of course, I sang their favorite songs and shared a few short encouraging words, but what mattered most was that we were together again singing for Jesus. We were connected, not only to Him but to each other. When Jesus was getting ready to finish His earthly ministry, His disciples were understandably confused, sad and curious all at the same time. They wanted to know where He was going, what He expected them to do and where they should go next. Jesus answered with a deceivingly simple sentence –

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. John 14:6 NKJV

His entire message about God’s kingdom, eternal life, forgiveness of sins and the love of God was summed up in the relationship He had built with His disciples. That is why at the table He had given them the cup saying, “This is the New Covenant in my blood.” A new covenant is a new relationship. At the time the disciples had been so busy arguing about which of them was the most important, that they missed the message. Jesus was about to give His life for them, and He called them friends. Our Christianity, our calling and God’s expectations for us are all focused on one thing and one thing only: our relationship to Jesus Christ. Wherever God calls us, the people we serve receive the most important message from us when we call them friends, because of Jesus. He is what connects us to each other and the only way we can ever be truly connected to God. That is why, saying or singing everything perfectly isn’t what matters most. What counts is if we are doing it for friends. Where are we called to serve? Why are we there? If the first reason that we give is our friendship with Jesus, then building a genuine loving friendship with those we serve will be the most natural thing on earth.

There's not a friend like the lowly Jesus
No not one
No not one
None else could heal all our soul's diseases
No not one - No not one!