It’s a Three-Day Story

April 15, 2014

from silence to HopeWe acknowledge the suffering and death of Jesus on the cross on Good Friday. Then we celebrate with joy his resurrected life on Easter Sunday. But what do we do on Saturday?

“Nobody saw Sunday coming,” Ortberg said in a keynote message at InterVarsity’s National Staff Conference. His words brought hope to those currently experiencing disappointment, hurt or hardship.

“What is your Saturday?” Ortberg asks. “Life is hard. Jesus never said, ‘Follow me and the way will be easy.’ He is there, wherever you are, even on Saturday.”

If life is tough and God seems silent, you’re not alone. And remember, Sunday is coming!

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Rev. John OrtbergThis talk is an NCF staff favorite and we hope you will be encouraged by John Ortberg’s stirring message.Download MP3 audio or watch the video from NCF/InterVarsity’s National Staff Conference on 1/9/2014.

 

Are You Okay?

April 4, 2014

April-June 2014 JCNHow do we bring God into the anxieties of our lives? “Nurses are always caring for others, sometimes to the exclusion of caring for ourselves,” writes Kathy Schoonover-Shoffner in her new JCN editorial, “How Are You Doing?”

Recently Kathy discovered a great resource for dealing with her anxiety, a spiritual discipline called The Daily Examen. It’s a time to invite God into all aspects of the day, asking him to point out what he has done for me, what he is doing, what he wants to do, where I can walk differently with him,” Kathy learned. “It is stopping and reflecting on the fact that God is here with me, in every moment.”

Kathy’s personal interest in learning how to deal with anxiety arose from publishing the feature article, “Anxiety: Etiology, Treatment, and Christian Perspectives,” in the Journal of Christian Nursing, April-June 2014.

Anxiety is a normal response to stress and danger but it can become excessive and uncontrollable for some people. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting 18% or more adults. As nurses, it is important to learn more about pathophysiology and treatment of anxiety, including nursing and Christian perspectives that can help.

“As Christians, how might we better identify and manage anxiety?” Kathy asks. See her JCN editorial about how to become aware of God’s calming presence in the midst of anxious moments.

Read the full JCN article which includes 2.5 available contact hours. (NCF members will receive 30% off the regular price of JCN CE!)

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You can receive every issue of the peer-reviewed Journal of Christian Nursing by becoming a member of NCF, along with other member benefits. Or, subscribe to JCN.

Learning to Trust God

March 14, 2014

NormanStudent leader Norman Bisda loves his NCF chapter at the University of Central Florida. “As a group, we learn how important it is to have a relationship with God on a daily basis. We strengthen and train each other, and we want to spread the Word of God to everyone,” Norman said.

Nursing was not Norman’s first choice of a major. But he ambitiously fought his way into the nursing program after many closed doors and rejections. God opened his heart and opened the doors to a highly competitive nursing program. Norman writes about the numerous obstacles he encountered in the article, “Fighting for a Spot in Nursing School.”

“Ever since I started college, I learned how to trust God more. I faced many challenges and I knew God was my immediate help and peace,” Norman said.

Read more of Norman’s joys and challenges of NCF ministry at UCF in the article, “Learning to Trust God.”

God is Transcendent

March 13, 2014

Space NeedleOn most postcards of Seattle you’ll see the Space Needle, built for the 1962 World’s Fair. I’ve been up high in the Space Needle several times, and people on the ground below look quite small and far away! On days when the fog and mist are dense around the observation deck, you can feel like you’re in the clouds — far, far above life below.

Whether we’re high up in the Space Needle or flying through clouds in a plane, are we closer to God?  Isn’t God “way up there?” According to A.W. Tozer, God is transcendent, which means “to rise above.”  And it is a challenge for us to understand how God can be here with us, in us, pervading all things, but at the same time he can be “above” all things. Tozer writes,

God is always nearer than you may imagine Him to be.  God is so near that your thoughts are not as near as God; your breath is not as near as God; your very soul is not as near to you as God is. And yet because He is God, His uncreated Being is so far above us that no thought can conceive it nor words express it” (p. 34).

When we describe God’s transcendence as “farness above,” we are not thinking about astronomical distance; rather, we are using words we understand to help us think about something beyond our comprehension, something irrational.

As nurses, we need to have a basic understanding of transcendence because people have a spiritual need to believe in something transcendent — a being, a force, or something that helps them understand who they are and the world they live in. As Christian nurses, we need to be able to respond to people’s questions when they seek our help to understand this spiritual need. But what do we say?

The truth is that God is far above what is rational as He is above the physical. Tozer writes,

 “God is of an essence and substance the like of which nothing else exists in the universe. He is above it all — and yet we can know a little portion of God’s ways” (p. 40).

Tozer suggests that we should respond to God’s transcendence with a sense of “creature consciousness” that includes realizing our ignorance of him, our human weaknesses, our sin, and our great need for him to save us and bring us in relationship with him.

Thankfully, when we understand that God has come in the person of Jesus to pay our sin debt through his death and physical resurrection, God in all his glory and greatness comes personally close to us.  As Tozer describes,

“. . . He is far away, in one sense, but in another He is as near as your heartbeat, for the cross has bridged the gulf. Let the blood of Jesus cleanse us from all sin. He who is God the Transcendent One says, ‘Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls’ (Matthew 11:28-29).”

Come, Lord Jesus, come.

–by Jane Hall, NCF National Director

All quotes from: A.W. Tozer, The Attributes of God, Volume 2

This is the twelth post in a series by NCF Director Jane Hall on God’s attributes. She is inspired by the writings of A.W. Tozer in The Attributes of God, Volume 2

Seeds of Hope

March 6, 2014

SproutsInviting nursing students to talk about the spiritual needs of patients – and themselves – is a challenge. Recently I gave a presentation on spiritual care to all of the senior nursing students at the University of Illinois. One student responded boldly, “I would rather ask my patients about their bowel movements than about their spiritual needs.”

I was thankful for his honesty. As part of the workshop I led on “Caring for the Spiritual Needs of Our Patients,” students asked each other what gave them strength and what they believed in. One student responded, “I believe in myself. I rely on myself and I also believe in science.”

This student is probably not the only one who puts his hope in himself and in his own ability to get through any situation. I was reminded of the need for these students to have a personal experience with God and to see Jesus’ character reflected in the lives of Christian friends.

We discussed how spiritual needs are foundational in life: the need for love, for hope, for forgiveness, and for meaning and purpose. I asked students to describe a patient they had cared for who had a spiritual need. One student shared that she had taken care of a pastor over the summer who was waiting for an organ transplant. He was very hopeful at the beginning of the summer but, as the months wore on, she could tell that he was losing hope. Thankfully, he was able to have the surgery before it was too late. He later shared with this student how he had really been close to losing all hope. He had a strong belief in God and God’s faithfulness, and yet it was difficult for him to hold on to hope when his circumstances were dire.

One of the nursing interventions that can be used to meet the spiritual need for hope is “Hope Inspiration.” This involves:

  • assisting patient and family to identify areas of hope in life
  • expand the patient’s repertoire of coping mechanisms
  • involve the patient actively in own care
  • create an environment that facilitates patient practicing religion, as appropriate
  • demonstrate hope by recognizing the patient’s intrinsic worth and viewing the patient’s illness as only one facet of the individual.

She saw first-hand how hope and faith played a part in the pastor’s strength, even though at times his situation made hoping much harder.

As I left the classroom at the end of the seminar, I felt like the farmer who scattered seed on different types of soil. I don’t know what each student heard and retained throughout the class, but I shared what I thought would help and challenge them to grow in their own spiritual lives.

I am praying that God will reveal himself to these students in tangible ways and they will realize that “believing in myself” will not last. They need the strength and hope that comes only through journeying each day with Jesus.

–by Renee Lick, Director of NCF Student Ministries

Discovering Real Mission

February 27, 2014

WSU NCF

Nursing students who go on short-term mission trips are often personally transformed by serving in another culture, but how does their experience influence their mission on campus when they return?

The students at Wichita State University (KS) discovered an inspiring connection when they prepared posters and shared mission trip experiences with their Nurses Christian Fellowship chapter. At the meeting, an NCF faculty advisor gave a brief devotional on journeying with God. She then served as a roving reporter to each display, asking students questions about their mission trips.

After exploring the basic questions of who, what, when and where, students were asked, “How did this experience change your life and commitment to Christ?”

One student felt too ordinary to accomplish much for God, but the challenges of the trip showed her God really does do extraordinary things through ordinary people like her. She went to Central Asia to build relationships with local college students as an outreach with local churches. Several college students she met that month came to understand and believe in Jesus!

Another student said she was terrified to share her faith. She was surprised how easy it was to share her faith in East Asia and be bold for Christ by using some simple tools. She learned to ask people questions, sit with others at meals, or start conversations by wearing a multicolored “gospel bracelet.”

Each student said the key to helping people in these other cultures was to build genuine relationships with them. All of the students were humbled by experiencing God’s powerful presence on their trips.

Taking it Home

Students then were asked, “How did your trip help you see your campus or clinical areas as a mission field?”

Initially everyone was stumped by this question. Then all at once several students in the group called out the answer: “Build relationships!” It was an electrifying moment as everyone realized their mission on campus was to do the same thing right here – to pray for God to bring people into their lives that need relationships and to be responsive to the Holy Spirit to make connections.

Students also learned great lessons about best practices in short-term missions. Each student was part of a mission group that had long-term ties with local churches and healthcare providers. They discovered how their short-term efforts have long-term impact as they came alongside the people who lived and worked in the country. The students learned humility and grace as they played with children, or helped college students practice English, or handed out healthy snacks and talked about nutrition. They developed great respect for local churches and health workers who have few resources but accomplish amazing things.

One student said he realized every small task, even though it seems like nothing, is significant when done for Jesus. When people see you are willing to serve in whatever way is needed, they want to know more about who you are and why you do what you do.

Students were provided with resources from NCF Missions and the Journal of Christian Nursing on best practices in short-term healthcare mission.

God spoke powerfully to the group as he translated the students’ short-term mission experiences into the realization of living missionally in school, in the hospital – and wherever they are today.

by Kathy Schoonover-Shoffner, PhD, RN
Editor, Journal of Christian Nursing
Staff, Nurses Christian Fellowship USA

Heart Health

February 20, 2014

Heart Health“Give me your hand,” the surgeon said to student nurse Peggy Heppner during cardiovascular surgery. As she anxiously held the patient’s heart in her palm, she felt the unforgettable power of that one beating muscle in a person’s life.

Peggy reflects on how her own heart was dead from sin but restarted by the power of Jesus’s resurrection. “Like undergoing heart surgery, Jesus healed my heart with his restorative love.”

Read more of her article, Heart Health, from the Student TXT Topical Collection in the Journal of Christian Nursing, January – March, 2014.

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If you’re a nursing student or educator, find out how you can use more Student TXT articles for discussions in your classroom or campus group.

 Nursing students who join NCF receive the Journal of Christian Nursing as a member benefit at the greatly reduced membership rate of $35.

God is Self-Existent

February 17, 2014

NewbornI grew up with puppies, ponies, ducklings, chicks, kitties, and bunnies in our large backyard. I saw new babies of every kind.  Five years ago I got to see my second grandson just after he was born, and I couldn’t keep the tears from flowing. Birth of any kind is an amazing gift from God. But it’s ironic that God wasn’t born or created — he is self-existent!

A.W. Tozer quotes the church father, Novation, who said, “God has no origin.” According to Tozer, everything in our world has origin, and origin is a “creature” word, “but when you come back to God, you come back to the One who has no origin. He is the Cause of all things, the uncaused Cause.”

In Exodus 3:11-15 God speaks to Moses through a burning bush, and he says, “I AM the I AM.” Tozer explains that the verb “to be,” as in “I AM,” is the Latin root of the word “essence,” and he describes God as the “original, uncreated essence.”   God did not come from any other creature, nothing preceded him into existence. All things originated with God.

How does this attribute of God affect our relationship with him? Certainly it calls us to be humble before God and respect his right to love us and want us to depend on him for ALL things. He is the great “I AM”, and we are the “I am’s,” created in his image. We are the only creature given the gift of speech so that we can enjoy the Word, the Son of God. God’s unique self-existence demands that we acknowledge our position as his creations. Tozer says that the definition of sin is “fallen selfhood.” This means that when we think we are the “I AM”, we have disobeyed God and become a little god in our own right.  But God made us for something different. We have the opportunity to revolve around him as the planets revolve around the sun. We can experience his warmth, his blessing, his healing, and his light when we recognize that he is the only “I AM!”

I hope that you will take time to ponder Tozer’s prayer and reflect on your personal response to God’s self-existence.

Our Father in Heaven, Thou are God and Thy name is I AM THAT I AM forever. In Thy lovingkindness Thou hast created me, but I have sinned. “All we like sheep have gone astray” -- that’s the essence of sin.  We have all turned to our own way, and our own way will end in hell.  And our Lord said, “If a man follows Me, let him deny himself.” Father, I recognize Thy right to run my business, to run my home, Thy right to guide my life, Thy right to be all in all to me. “Not I, but Christ be honored, loved, exalted. Not I, but Christ be seen, be heard, be known.” Not I, but Christ.

A.W. Tozer, The Attributes of God, Volume 2, p.32

–by Jane Hall, NCF National Director

This is the eleventh post in a series by NCF Director Jane Hall on God’s attributes. She is inspired by the writings of A.W. Tozer in The Attributes of God, Volume 2

Nursing Students See Answered Prayer

February 10, 2014

When Meghan and her friends started a new Bible study last fall at Grand Valley State University (MI), they prayed that God would bring more students. God answered their prayers beyond what they imagined!

NCF at GVSU

A few months later their group expanded to two Bible studies — one for nursing students and one for pre-nursing students — with a total of 22 students involved. Students saw God’s Spirit at work among them and one student re-committed her life to Christ!

Last Saturday I led a special day of training with GVSU students, along with Curt Kuiper, the InterVarsity area director.  We studied the story of Jesus and Zaccheaus  (Luke 19:1-10). Jesus was just passing through Jericho when he looked up and saw a man who was eager to see Him. Jesus changed his plans and told Zacchaeus, “I must stay at your house today.” Jesus reveals his guiding purpose: “to seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10).

Curt asked us some very challenging questions to actively respond to this Scripture lesson:

  • If Jesus passed through your school of nursing, would he see anything that prompts him to stay?
  • In your life, who do you consider “outside of God’s family,” like Zaccheaus? (Zaccheaus was considered a traitor to his own people because he was a chief tax collector.)
  • How is Jesus inviting you to seek out marginalized people because He wants to spend time with them today?

After hearing the Word, Meghan and the other students discussed how they could take new risks to reach out to others and follow Jesus in their school of nursing.

In my work as NCF staff, I love equipping students like Meghan to lead NCF ministry on campus. We talk about their leadership of the group and discuss where they have seen God at work. We pray together for God’s guidance and thank God for what he has already done!

I also help the leaders plan for the future of the ministry and make sure their vision and purpose is clear. God gives me a glimpse of how he is transforming students’ lives during these conversations and I am so grateful to be part of his mission!

–by Renee Lick, NCF Director of Student Ministries

Speak Up for Justice

January 27, 2014

Journal of Christian NursingWe live in a perilous world where people are sick and depressed, the elderly are abused, and the mentally ill are ignored.  Yet God’s people are called to “Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy” (Proverbs 31:9).

How do we have the compassion, much less the energy, to do the exhausting work of speaking out for those who cannot speak for themselves? This question is addressed by Kathy Schoonover-Shoffner’s free editorial in the Journal of Christian Nursing, January-March 2014. Other featured articles in JCN explore how nurses are in a prime position to identify, assess, manage and prevent abuse of the elderly, mentally ill or vulnerable patients.

“Some of these articles hit a personal nerve,” Kathy says. “As Christians, we are told to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves, but it’s not easy.” Kathy recently took a fresh look at the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) where Jesus teaches on God’s standards for living and offers profound insight into how we can live rightly and bring justice to others.

“As we put God first, study the Bible, and obey his directives, we are empowered through God’s Spirit to do his work in the world,” Kathy writes. Read Kathy’s full editorial, “Justice: Speak Out for Others.”

Become a member of NCF and receive every issue of the award-winning Journal of Christian Nursing, along with other member benefits. Or, subscribe to JCN.


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