Daddy Pick Me Up

So I will bless you as long as I live;
    in your name I will lift up my hands.
Psalm 64:4 ESV

While the Bible tells us to lift up our hands, we rarely stop to think of why. Of course, we all would agree that we lift up our hands in praise, but here are a few others to consider. The first, is what we do what our teachers do while taking attendance. They call our name and like Isaiah when he saw the Lord, we cry out, “Lord here I am!”

Another is what we used to witness regularly when we lived in the inner city. This lifting of the hands happened when blue and red lights accompanied by sirens told us that someone was getting arrested on our block. After a shout of “Show me your hands!” another arrest gave assurance that someone had surrendered. Of course, Jesus doesn’t put a gun to our heads. Instead, our surrender is a result of His love breaking through hard hearts. We are glad to be taken into custody because we know that God has way better things in mind for us than we could imagine.

But one reason you might not have considered, is the one I discovered years ago when our children were small. After working a day that began before anyone in the house was even awake, I would wearily climb the stairs to our apartment, put the keys in the lock. Then, I would hear the pounding of little feet as our little two boys came running. As soon as the door opened, they would stretch up their hands shouting, “Daddy pick me up! Daddy pick me up!” How we need to remember this lifting of our hands to God. If we are worn out from carrying a heavy load, remember that Jesus is at our door right now. Or if we have failed miserably and are feeling ashamed, remember we are still in His house and we can always run to Him. He is with us to strengthen, forgive, comfort and light our way. So let’s lift up our hands to Him and cry, “Dady pick me up! Daddy pick me up!”

Good News!

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who proclaims peace, who brings glad tidings of good things, who proclaims salvation. Who says to Zion, “Your God reigns!” Isaiah 52:7 NKJV

This Tuesday, I stopped to see my friend Don and his wife Lorna, who recently been admitted to a nursing home in our area. This facility was new to me, and I have never held any services there, so I brought along copies of our weekly newsletter. Since Lorna was sleeping, Don and I had a nice quiet visit in the hallway and after praying and leaving with him a newsletter, I said good-bye. Once I got back outside, I nodded a friendly greeting to a man whom I had seen on my way in and headed towards the car. I was already thinking of what I would do when I got home, when the Holy Spirit prompted me to turn back and talk with that man.

So, I turned and retraced my steps, and as I reached the man I asked, “Hey I am visiting a friend here and I brought him one of these newsletters. Would you like one?” He looked a little confused as to my motivations, so I assured him I wasn’t a Jehovah’s Witness, and was just from a local church. Well, this man was so willing to talk, that I was amazed.

“I’m Don.” he said. “I’ve been here about a year. After I had a stroke, my wife felt she couldn’t take care of me anymore, so she brought me here and went back with her family to live in Ohio.”

Just at that point my friend, who I had come to visit, came out the door. I looked up and smiled, “Don, I want you to meet Don.” They smiled and shook hands. Then, as my new friend continued to pour out his heart, the man who I had come to visit, laid his hand on his shoulder and said, “Don’t give up. You have to just trust the Lord and He will be with you.”

I could have said those same words – but coming from another resident, they were much more powerful. Though their circumstances were a little different, they had a lot in common. When I did head home that afternoon, I was struck with two things: First, God had made an appointment for the three of us and I was so glad that I had listened and turned around. Secondly, I was so happy to have the newsletter to give him. It not only gave me an opportunity to break the ice, but it was something that he could keep with Him to remind Him that God had not forgotten him.

Sunshine Newsletter, is a free weekly publication, produced by a small but growing team of us who care about nursing home ministry. There are so many people in our society today who are abandoned, forgotten and written off, but wherever they are, God has good news of salvation for them to hear. Our little newsletter is simply one way we can reach out and become the feet of those who bring the message of hope to people in the long-term care community. If you would like to receive your free copy, (we don’t ask for donations) you can contact me at revpete51@gmail.com

Have a blessed day all!

Need For More Volunteers

Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body. Hebrews 13:3 ESV

If you have followed this blog, you know that I am involved in nursing home, not prison ministry. But the similarities between our two outreaches are many. Both our people live in a facility and have lost the ability to do a great many things. I am not sure what happened in the correctional system during Covid, but our nursing homes were in lockdown and with this latest wave those just when we thought things were getting back to normal, lockdowns have reappeared (surprise!) Some residents have been kept in their rooms, so as not to spread the virus, the rest have lost out on any kinds of group activities, including eating in the dining room. But one thing has not changed and that is the commandment of God to remember them. Now of course, remembering may simply mean, praying for them, sending cards or making phone calls. If you are already doing these things – BRAVO!

Years ago, we used to sing the Bill Gaither song, “I’m so Glad I’m a Part of the Family of God!” We all love the idea behind that song, because we all need to feel that we belong and that there are others around us who care about us. One dear sister who recently became a resident, showed what feeling loved meant. She beamed as she held up a small grocery bag, half filled with a few personal items. “Look what my friend picked up at the store for me!” she proudly stated. What was inside the bag was important, but more important was having one friend who she could trust to do some shopping. There is a desperate need for more people to be that friend to our brothers and sisters in long term care. You may say, “Well I would love to do nursing home ministry, but I am too busy with my family, job or my own health issues to do that right now.” In answer let me encourage you: I do visit several facilities each month and bring some music and I pray for people, but I am stretched thin. I can’t do all the shopping and the visiting, make the phone calls or send the cards. But people just like you can! Did you know that according to one study, more than 60% of those in nursing homes do not receive a single visit from a friend a family member or even a pastor over the period of an entire year?

So, for those who are wondering where to start? Today I am posting the first of a two-part series on answering that question. While I recorded this five years ago, the principles still apply today. Stay tuned tomorrow for part two!

Included in God’s Community

 Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 1 Peter 2:10 ESV

Today’s verse talks about us being God’s people and members in a community. It reminds me of a small town near where we used to live that had a sign as you entered that said, “Welcome to Nicholson: Home of 1500 friendly people and a few cranks!” We always laughed when we saw it, and even though we lived far out in the surrounding countryside, it gave us a sense of belonging – even if some of our neighbors were cranks! As Americans, we rightly prize our personal freedoms, but sometimes our emphasis on individualism leaves us failing to see ourselves as a part of a community. We become like the lyrics from the old Simon and Garfunkel song, “I am a rock, I am an Island.” For those in long-term care, this often leads to a disconnection that means no one calls us on our birthday, sends a Mother’s Day card or comes to visit at Thanksgiving. Sure, there are other residents, but the people who once formed our community are now absent. Sons and daughters, live in other states, grandchildren have no idea how to communicate if you’re not on Tik-Tok and even pastors are usually too busy to stop in and visit. How can we make a difference?

But instead of offering you a practical list of things to do, let me relate a personal story, that may help you to see how you can be a part of connecting people to community.

When I was still a landscaper, we worked for an older couple, named Al and Eleanor Castelli. Though the Castelli’s were a nice enough customers, they also were quite demanding. But as Al’s health began to decline, and dementia set in, Eleanor sometimes asked me to sit with Al while she went shopping. While she went to the store, I would listen to Al’s stories of growing up in the Bronx, working as a salesman at a radio station and how his mom made the best Italian food on the planet! For the next four years, we became friends. During that time period I was gradually retiring from my business, but I continued to do odd jobs for Eleanor, sit with Al and when he entered a nursing facility, it was only natural to come and visit. The highlight of those visits was an afternoon I came in to sing Christmas carols, and we ended up with an audience of a dozen people who were singing along! You see, it isn’t the “big” things we do, the formal ministries or the charities that we donate to that make the most difference. God’s community is bonded together by a series of our choices as the love of Jesus Christ flows out through our everyday lives and leads people to Him. That love always begins with Him, but God is asking us to help Him make the connection!