Press On – February Spiritual Care Blog Post

Paul writes in Philippians 3:12-14: “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect,
but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers and
sisters, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies
behind and straining toward what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the
upward call of God in Christ Jesus”.

There is a Precious Moments cross stitch picture of a young boy running, his hair blowing back
and a smile on his face. Alongside him is his dog, running, with his ears back and tail straight up.
In front of them are the words “Press On.” When my boys where young, I hung this up in their
room, reminding them to keep pressing on toward Jesus no matter what happens in life.

I remember events in my life that needed pressing on: Math was a difficult subject in school
until I was in college, and I aced a math test!

One winter, my family was constantly ill, until my doctor suggested using paper cups. We kept
pressing on and became well. I still use them today. Relationships in my life have needed
pressing on as they evolve and change.

Our life is like that of a runner. In order to run a steady race, one needs properly fitted shoes for
a firm foundation that supports the body while running. Clothing that is well fitted and
lightweight and a steady pace, bringing the runner to their goal and the prize. We can liken the
shoes to the firm foundation we have in Jesus Christ, the clothing to God’s Word that helps us
breath and the steady pace which culminates in reaching the goal for the prize of our arrival
home with Jesus.

As you run this race of life, keep your eyes on Jesus. Don’t look back as it will slow you down.
Let go of all that is weighing you down and stay steady as you ‘press on toward the goal for the
prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus’.

Chaplain Val

The Baruch Devotional: 52 Weekly Devotionals

Click here for the full downloadable PDF:The Baruch Devotional – 52 Weekly Devotionals

 

Thank you for celebrating Baruch Senior Ministries’ 25th Anniversary with us. As a faith-based organization founded on Biblical principles, Baruch is grateful for the opportunity to care for seniors throughout the state of Michigan. As we look ahead, we are challenged to remain true to Baruch’s founding principles and mission to honor God by serving people as they age. With this in mind, we reflect on the biblical origins of the name ‘Baruch’.

In the Bible, Baruch came from a princely family, the son of Neriah. His name meant “blessed’ by the Lord. Later, he became the closest companion and loyal secretary to the prophet Jeremiah.

As Jeremiah’s secretary, Baruch held the deed to land Jeremiah purchased and placed it in trust. He transcribed Jeremiah’s words as the prophet dictated them. He accompanied Jeremiah on the long road of exile to Egypt and, as his companion, learned to resist the temptation of ambition and be content with his lot. It is quite likely Baruch was responsible for the compilation of the Book of Jeremiah.

Jeremiah purchased land to ensure his people long term security. He placed the deed in Baruch’s hands to display God’s commitment and faithfulness to His people. Thereby, Baruch served as an instrument for assuring God’s people that they would never be abandoned. Baruch felt deeply for the suffering of the people of his day. He was a man of prayer who was often found fasting and praying. He brought hope to his people, those who were forced to leave their homeland and live in exile, lost in despair. He pointed them to a God who knew their needs, cared for them, promised them a final reward, and resting place.

Just as Baruch selflessly and faithfully carried out his charge, Baruch Senior Ministries promises to uphold its commitment to provide seniors and people living with disabilities with housing and a continuum of care that promotes the value and dignity of every person. Additionally, just as Baruch faithfully proclaimed the message from the Lord to the people, we are committed to bringing the message of God to people and to fully integrating faith and work. At our core is prayer for the needs of those we serve. We give them hope by understanding their needs and providing them with personal and spiritual care that brings them comfort in this life and prepares them for the life to come.

Our prayer is that you will be blessed and inspired by this devotional. A special thank you to the members of the Baruch team that contributed to this publication.

Pressing On

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one
thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press
on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in
Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-14)

Many years ago, I went on a backpacking trip through the Boundary Waters. Seven days
of traveling through rivers, lakes, and woods. It was very beautiful. And very hard. We
would canoe a river or lake, and walk the trails between the waterways, carrying our
packs and canoes over our shoulders. Carry our packs to the next destination, walk
back, and repeat with our food pack and canoes. Sometimes it was just 20 feet or so.
Other times, more than a mile. On the final trail, which by the way was about two miles
mostly uphill, I was exhausted. I wanted to give up many times in those 6 miles of back
and forth. I prayed, and repeated to myself…” step, one step in front of the other, one
step, just one more step” until we were at the final lake. I remember saying to myself, “if
I can make it through this, I can get through anything in life.” And the trip was amazing!

In Philippians, the people are being encouraged to focus on how to live well as
Christians for the long haul. Taking on ways of goodness and leaving behind ways that
no longer are needed. Pressing on in life; pressing on through struggles, pressing on
through joys. Pressing on to the goal of living life alongside Jesus.

We’ve just come through the Christmas season. The birth of Jesus. Reliving that God’s
love and light was and IS shining in the world. As we begin a new year, our devotions
will be exploring the theme of PRESSING ON to offer us strength as we travel every day.
Blessed New Year!

Chaplain Karen

Life Is Full of Surprises

The Christmas story is full of surprises.  A virgin realizing, she was pregnant.  Her skeptical fiancé surprises her by deciding to faithfully walk with her on the journey.   

 

The couple is unprepared for the birth of their child.  They don’t even have a place prepared for the birth.  They are surprised when a simple shelter is provided for their son to be born.  It is big enough to host surprise guests from the working class and the wealthy. 

  

The shepherds were performing their working-class job when they were surprised by an angelic choir singing “Glory to God in the highest and on earth, Peace.”   

 

Mary and Joseph were probably worried about finances.  God surprised them when the wise men gave valuable gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  The value of these gifts supported them for two years.  Including their unexpected journey to Egypt. 

 

Just as Mary and Joseph discovered life is full of surprises, even so, I’ve heard many stories of residents at a senior living home tell me of the surprises in their lives.  The one constant is that God is faithful to provide care in each of those surprises.  It would be interesting to share with others some of the surprises we have experienced in life and how God provided care.   

 

Christmas reminds us that life is full of surprises.  Christmas also reminds us that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son and whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.   

 

Chaplain Jeff

Thriving Through Perseverance

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give
up”
Galatians 6:9.

Persevering in doing good can make us weary. The dictionary defines good as a quality required
for a certain job, possessing a moral virtue, and giving pleasure. We grow weary of doing good
in our work; we grow weary of doing good raising a family; we grow weary of doing good in
being a caregiver; we grow weary of doing good as a Christian. As Christians, the influence of
politics, society and the economy challenge our perseverance in doing what is good and right.
1 Corinthians 15:58 encourages us these words: “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast,
immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not
in vain”.

In the Bible, we are given numerous examples of God’s people growing weary of doing good yet
reaping the rewards because of persevering in that good:

The book of Job is a good place to begin. Job, a wealthy man, lost his animals, his crops
and his family to disease and famine. The only thing he did not lose, was his life, because God
told Satan he could not take Job’s life. In all of this, Job persevered in his relationship with God.

The prophet Jeremiah, in chapters 37 and 38, persevered in preaching and teaching the
Gospel to a rebellious nation in spite of threats, imprisonment and being exiled into Egypt.

In 2 Corinthians 11:23-33 we read how the apostle Paul was beaten, flogged,
shipwrecked, imprisoned, and threatened wherever he went. Despite physical pain, Paul
persevered in his faith.

Luke 18:1- 8 tells us the story of the persistent widow, who pursued the Judge to right
the wrong done against her until he gave in and brought justice. Like the widow, we need to be
continually persevering in bringing acts of injustice to the Lord.

People of God, keep on thriving in doing good for the Lord. When you are weary and tired, pray
for perseverance. Remember you will reap a reward!

God’s blessings as you persevere in doing good!
Chaplain Val

Focus on Love

John 13:34-35 (NIV) “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so
you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love
one another.”

Several times a month, I cross the Mackinac Bridge. Miles before reaching the bridge, the
suspension towers shine white against the blue sky. During the almost 5 miles driving over the
bridge, the views are even more amazing. Looking out over the railings, I see ferries traveling to
Mackinac Island with white foam trailing behind, sailboats, and amazing shorelines. There are
so many things on which to focus. However, I am driving across a bridge high above the water!
This means focusing on the highest priority; the road and the traffic around me. In life, and in
faith, focusing on the highest priority is very important.

In John 13, Jesus shares with the disciples his principles for a life of faith. We are to focus on
love; especially loving each other the way Jesus shows love to us.

What does this look like? In Galatians and 1 Corinthians, loving behavior is described as kind,
patient, not irritable or envious, displaying goodness and self-control and gentleness. Behavior
that does not “bite and devour each other.”

How are you doing in these areas? When we see room for improvement, Jesus invites us to live
more deeply in the Way of Love. Love for God. Love for self. Love for one another. We do
this by spending time with God. As we do so, the very character of God rubs off on us, changing
us and filling us. We can then share this love with others in how we speak and act. As Jesus
stated, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples….”

 

Karen Henderlong

Observing the Lilies

The tiger lilies are in bloom along the roadside in July and August. Seeing the tiger lilies makes me
wonder if there used to be a farm house in that location. The farm house is gone, but the tiger lilies are
still growing. Those lilies are survivors.

Jesus invites us to “Observe how the lilies of the field grow.” (Matthew 6:28). He is pointing out that we
keep on learning by diligently studying, researching, and observing the world around us. There is
something in how a lily grows that Jesus wants us to observe.

The tiger lilies were not only surviving, they were thriving. The plants I saw had vibrant green leaves
with beautiful orange and black blossoms. That’s what I saw on the surface. It would have been easy to
overlook the underground realities which influenced the plants thriving. Underground there was the
composition of the soil, the workings of the root system, the available moisture, and the important role
that worms play. All of these unseen factors are necessary for the tiger lily to thrive.

There are unseen factors in our life that are necessary for us to thrive?

To thrive we need nutritious food, clean water, proper medical care, and comfortable shelter. These are
what we see. We also need a proper root system. These roots are the relationships that we have with
family and friends. Being strongly rooted builds vitality in our life. It would be interesting to diagram all
of the relationships in your life. The diagram will probably look like a root system.

We need to give and receive love, joy, patience, kindness, gentleness, and goodness. These are
essential emotions for a healthy person. A thriving community, like good soil, is composed of these
upbeat, Godly emotions.

How are you like the lily? What do you need to thrive today?

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.” Matthew
6:33