“Fireflies and God’s Love” – July Spiritual Care Blog

Fireflies make their appearance in the evening on a warm summer day. Some people call the firefly a lightning bug. Interestingly, it isn’t a really a bug. The firefly is a beetle. These little beetles are found throughout the United States—except Hawaii.

Seeing a yard full of fireflies brings a smile to most people’s faces. Watching the light of a firefly flash on and off is magical. Little children are filled with a sense of wonder. They run through the yard and chase the flashing light. As we get older, we pull up a lawn chair just to watch the evening light show in our yard.

During one firefly light show, I got to thinking how the little lights of the firefly flashing here and there in the darkness were a lot like people shining God’s love.

The Good Book tells us in Leviticus 19:18 we are to love our neighbor as ourselves. Jesus recites this verse in Matthew 19:19. In Matthew 5:14 we are told that we are the light of the world. We are to let our light shine before men.

Sometimes we get discouraged and our day seems a bit dark. Then we see little acts of kindness here. We see expressions of God’s love there. Little flashes of love appear and reappear throughout the day. They remind us that we are loved and that we can love our neighbors as we love ourselves. Seeing these little flashes of God’s light brings a smile to our faces.

The next time you see fireflies putting on their evening light show, take a moment and think of all the ways God’s love is shining in your life.

Chaplain Jeff

God’s Never-Ending Love For You – June Spiritual Care Blog

He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command.”  (Matthew 22:37-38.)

When my boys were little and they were punished for doing something wrong, they would occasionally say, “You don’t love me”. This was not true, and I would explain to them the importance of being obedient and that my love for them had not changed.

As adults, there are times in our lives when we might feel like God does not love us. But this is not true. Henry Blackaby writes in his book, Experiencing God “People who struggle to spend time with God, don’t have a scheduling problem, they have a love problem” (p.59).

In whatever relationship we have with others, when we spend time with them, we not only get to know them more, but we also desire to be with them more and we develop a deep love for them. In our relationship with God, the more time we spend with him, the more we will experience his vast, deep love and the more we will love him.

But love is not just a one-way street. God is pursuing a loving relationship with us. God takes the initiative. He chooses us, loves us, and reveals his eternal purposes for our lives.  A love relationship with God is personal and practical. God is a Person pouring His life into yours. Christianity is a personal, progressive, practical relationship with God. Ask God to bring you into the kind of relationship he desires for you (Blackaby p. 61).

God’s presence is always with you.  He will never leave you nor forsake you (Deuteronomy 31:8). God’s love is deep and wide (Ephesians 3:18-19) and it never runs out!  Like the shepherd who goes out to find the one lost sheep, Jesus will pursue you with his love until you find him.

You are not alone in this life. You are LOVED by a God whose love has no boundaries. Keep pursuing him because he continues to pursue you and when you meet, His love will overwhelm you and your life will be changed!

Praising God from whom all blessings flow!

Chaplain Val

Above All…Love – May Spiritual Care Blog

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.  Colossians 3:12-14

John and Lori, my brother and sister-in-law, were exhausted from a long road trip from the east coast to Arizona.  They experienced long hours, heavy traffic, and lots of irritated drivers.  Then they saw the trailer below.  Who would have thought they’d see something like that?

The truck belongs to Nussbaum Transportation.  Like Baruch Senior Ministries, they are a company committed to sharing the love of God.

A few years ago, they felt led to the theme “Love, above all.” An employee named Saige wondered, “what if we put (that) on a chalkboard and invite employees to be vulnerable with their struggles? And not only be vulnerable but commit to putting love above that struggle. The result was a semi-trailer with the picture of the board.  The words on the truck all were written by Nussbaum employees.

We all have barriers that affect how we receive and give love.  God loves us fully, having removed all barriers between God and us. But what barriers may we have that prevent us from loving others?  If you were invited to put a word on that board, what would your word be?  Ask God to remove that barrier.  And as “God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved,” let us put Love above all.

Chaplain Karen

God’s Love for Us – April Spiritual Care Blog

I remember days gone by when our kids would have swimming lessons at the pool.  The kids would swim and the parents would wait in the bleachers on the sides.  Most of the time the kids were too involved with splashing and jumping and paddling to notice the loving audience of parents watching over them.  But now and then, each child would intentionally turn and look for that one face that mattered.

When I would see one of ours look over, I would hold up my hand in the way that forms the “I Love You” in sign language.  They would instantly smile, knowing what I was saying, even without spoken words, and then go back swimming but with a much more dedicated effort knowing that I was watching them.

God too is a loving parent, watching over us and waiting for the chance to show us His love for us.  However, just like my children had to look to me to get that message, we too need to turn and look for His face or we will miss those messages.  In an age of constant distractions, and the splashings of life that are happening all around us, we can forget to seek out the face of God, forget to see the sign of His love for us in Jesus Christ, and miss out on feeling His love for us.  We need to examine our lives and find those tiny moments where He has showered us with signs of His great love for us and then do our best to remain in that love in all we do.

“The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”           Zeph. 3:17

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved.” Ephesians 2:4-5

Chaplain David Price

Smile! God Loves You! – March Spiritual Care Blog

Each year during Lent and Easter I try to focus on something that will make me a better person. This year I decided to remember to smile. 

Mother Theresa says: “Let us always meet each other with a smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.” I think she has a point. 

A smile shared often puts a smile on another person’s face. Smiling is a simple act that communicates God’s love to another person. 

We have just lived through the darkest days of the year. We can all use a little sunshine. A smile is like sunshine to the spirit. 

We often close our worship services with a blessing from Numbers 6:24. “May the Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you.” The blessing describes the Lord’s face as shining when he looks at us. I picture the Lord looking at us with a smile on His face. His shining face tells us He loves us. 

Sometimes we are unaware of our facial expressions. Our heart may be happy and full of God’s love, but we forget to notify our face of the happiness in our heart. Taking some time to consciously remember to smile is a good way to notify our face that God loves us. 

Perhaps we could try a little experiment this month. Begin with a couple of days just observing the facial expressions of those around you. Is anyone smiling? Next, consciously choose to smile throughout the day. Do this every day for a week. We might be surprised by the impact of a simple smile. 

As a young man, I heard Leo Buscaglia share: “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” 

Chaplain Jeff Meyers 

Wing-A-Thon Fundraiser – Mark Your Calendars!

Mark Your Calendars for the Wing-A-Thon Fundraiser!

You don’t want to miss this opportunity to support your local Baruch community as they compete to eat the most chicken wings in one hour and raise the most funds for their community! This event will be live-streamed on YouTube from 2 pm to 3:15 pm on April 12th, 2024. Who will take home the trophy and be declared the Wing Champions? You’ll have to watch to find out!

Last year, 32 teams from nine different Baruch communities participated in this event. A combined total of 2,469 wings were consumed in one hour and over $15,000 was raised! The Community Support Award went to Georgetown & Cambridge Manor who raised over $8,700 for their Patio Project. The Team Support Award and the Wing Champions Award went to the Wing Warriors from Georgetown & Cambridge after they raised over $3,000 and ate 241 chicken wings.

This event is a great way to get involved in your local Baruch community! Mark your calendars and tune in on April 12.

Want to support your local Baruch community by participating? Create your team, fill out this form and email it to allyson.hoekzema@baruchsls.org. All wing-eaters will receive a Wing-A-Thon shirt!Do you own a business or know a business that would like to sponsor this event? Fill out this form and email it to allyson.hoekzema@baruchsls.org.Want to donate? Click here!

God is LOVE – February Spiritual Care Blog

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” – 1 John 4:7-12

Looking at our passage, we see the word love bolded thirteen times! God does the initiating of his love by sending his one and only Son, Jesus, into the the world (vs.9) to die on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins (vs.10). God did not have to send Jesus. He could have left us in our sin. Yet, God’s love is so deep and so wide (Ephesians 3:18-19) he rescued us from our sin. He initiated our redemption through the blood of Jesus. In verses 8,11 and 12, we see God’s love is not passive, rather it changes and transforms us. We cannot love if we do not know God, because God is love. We are his creation, made in his image, and an extension of his love. God’s love drives us to care for a person in need, to offer empathy to a grieving friend, to rejoice with one who comes to know Christ.

Today, I offer you a challenge – how will you initiate God’s love to another person encountering a mental health crisis, a friend with differing political views, apologizing to your brother or sister, asking forgiveness for your mistakes or listening well to someone else’s feelings and concerns.

You and I do not love because we want to. We love because God first loved us. His love creates a desire within us to be obedient to him in giving his love to those around us. We love because God’s love changes and transforms us.

The month of February is about LOVE. As Valentine’s Day approaches, take the initiative to love others as God loves you and watch it change and transform you and the person you shared it with.

Chaplain Val