Heaven & Home by Jeff Pettinga

Several months ago a long time friend of mine asked me if I would be willing to prepare a devotional about Heaven. I have been collecting my thoughts regarding the subject and the more I thought about it, the more I realized that there are many analogies between heaven, home, and baseball.

Heaven is home to the Christian! Notice they both begin with the letter “H”. The beginning of your life begins at home. Notice the shape of the home plate – it looks like a home. Extending from the bottom of the home plate upward is an upside down “V” which separates the fair from the foul in life. When you stand at home place in baseball as in life you want to direct everything in your life into fair territory and stay out of foul territory.

Your goal standing at home plate is to return to home plate (reach heaven). You want God to call you safe at home plate. Before doing that, you must begin at first base which in my thinking is represented by accepting salvation. This means knowing that Jesus Christ is your Savior and His life, death, and resurrection has personally saved you. You need to believe and trust in that!

It is hard to get to first base. In baseball, there are nine defensive players who are trying to prevent you from reaching first base. In your life, it may mean a variety of situations. Each person can relate to what those obstacles are in their life. It may be the friends you pick or it may be an addiction you have. It could be that you think you need all the answers before you can believe. However, you have to accept his salvation gift to have an opportunity to reach home.

After first base comes second base, and if you think about it, it is the base that is farthest away from home; 127 feet and 3 3/8 inches to be exact. Because it is so far away, and because it is a base where there is no coach directly able to help you, you need a community of support. It may be a Bible study that you are a part of. It may be a body of other believers who have experienced salvation. You need their involvement in your life to prepare you to continue around the bases and reach home plate. You need them because there are many different pickoffs that can happen at second base. At first and third, the pick usually involves only the pitcher and the first or third baseman. At second base, it could the pitcher and the shortstop, or the pitcher and the second baseman, or even the pitcher and the center fielder. The distance that you lead off is greater, but you do that because you have involved your self with others who are there to help you in your life.

After second base comes third base and now you a short distance to home and you should be ready to score. After reaching third base, it is time to make use of your salvation and your community of support by being ready to help others who may be on the other bases or better yet want to get on a base. Think about who is better prepared than you to let others know what you have experienced by running to first base (receiving salvation) or second base (finding a community support). You have been prepared through a multitude of ways to speak to the world and let others know what you have! On the surface you may be saying “I don’t want to go home yet. I have so many things I want to do with my life”. But, where else do you want to finish? I know in my life, I want the umpire to say “Safe!” at home in heaven rather than out in Hell. I want to touch that five sided piece of rubber and be engulfed by those who have already scored.

In conclusion, you need to make sure that you have tagged all the bases. It is not a matter of who you are, but whose you are. Someday everyone of us will approach home plate and each of us should be prepared to answer by what right we have to score. Your answer should be that you have tagged all the bases and have given your life to Christ. Have you done that? If so, you are home in heaven.

Holy Week – April Spiritual Care Blog Post

John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have Eternal life.”

We are beginning the time of Holy Week for most Christians starting April 2; the time from Palm Sunday through Easter. It is the time we re-live the events of Jesus going into Jerusalem with people celebrating his arrival, and then his arrest and trial, his death, and ultimately his resurrection. It is a week in which Jesus, through his words and actions, reminds us of God’s great love for us and all creation. That God wants to be connected with us, in relationship with us now and always. That God saves not only our souls but our daily life as well.

Recently I spent some time with followers of Jesus who begin every worship with: “O God, come to my assistance; O Lord make haste to save me!” And yesterday a friend and I read Psalm 18 that is all about times of struggle and fighting, war and violence. Then in verses 16 through 19, that all changes as God brings his beloved out of all that chaos. My friend’s version was the Message.

So, this week, as we head into Easter, I invite you to do the following. Simply read, several times each day, these words from Psalm 18. Listen to how God is speaking to you about you, your relationship with God, and how God desires to be present in our life.

Psalm 18: 16-19; The Message “But me he (God) caught—reached all the way from sky to sea; he pulled me out of that ocean of hate, that enemy chaos, the void in which I was drowning. They hit me when I was down, but God stuck by me. He stood me up on a wide-open field I stood there saved – surprised to be loved!”

May you experience God’s love for you this month in new and restoring ways.

Chaplain Karen

2023 Wing-A-Thon Fundraiser


WHAT: Two-person teams will compete to eat the most wings in one hour in order to raise funds for their community!

WHERE: This is event is virtual and will be livestreamed on YouTube and Facebook.

WHAT: Friday, April 14, from 2PM to 3PM


  • Donate! Each of our teams is raising money for a specific project at their community. If you’d like to sponsor a team or make a donation, visit our Event Page.
  • Participate! Any Baruch employee or resident is invited to compete in this competition! If you’d like to form your own 2-person team to compete, fill out the Wing-A-Thon Registration and Information and email it to brian.nitz@baruchsls.org by March 24.
  • Sponsor a Community! Are you a business owner/professional? Would your business like to sponsor a local community for this event? Check out our Sponsorship Proposal!

Good Grief – March Spiritual Care Blog Post

The phrase, “Good Grief”, reminds me of the comic strip Charlie Brown. It also reminds me that all of us experience grief. With understanding and kindness, we can learn to grieve in a way that is good for us. It can be good grief.

We are in the Lenten season of the church year. Lent is a time to focus on various time-tested disciplines of the Christian faith. Some of these disciplines are silence, fasting, frugality, study, worship, celebration, prayer, fellowship, confession, and service. These learned habits can help us to grieve as we deal with losses.

Consider the life of Job in the Old Testament. He practiced Godly habits that guided him in his time of major losses.

Study: In Job 1:21 he quotes a truth he learned many years ago. “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there.”

Worship: Job worships God in the same verse. “The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD”.

Fellowship: Job’s friends hear of the losses in his life and come to fellowship with him. The friends came to “sympathize and comfort him.”

Silence: Job’s friends “sat down on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights with no one speaking a word.” Job 2:13. We can learn a lot when we take time to listen. They saw that Job’s “pain was very great”.

Confession: In most of the book, Job and his friends talk with one another trying to make sense of Job’s grief. Confession teaches us the value of talking about our faith with God and others.

Celebration: Job’s grief guides him to affirm a truth that he wants to share with everyone. In Job 19:23-25 he proclaims: “Oh that my words were written! Oh, that they were inscribed in a book!” What are the words he is excited about? “I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will take His stand on the earth.”

We all will face many griefs in our journey here on earth. Our faith offers us the skills to experience good grief. This Lenten season take some time to practice some of the classic disciplines of the Christian faith. These practices are very handy as we deal with the losses associated with aging.

Chaplain Jeff

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