Archive for the ‘Devotional’ Category

Why Suffering?

February 13, 2017

2132017sufferingAs nurses, we regularly encounter suffering. We also suffer. Suffering is a part of life, and we all ask, Why?

I’ve asked a lot of why questions. Why could I never get pregnant? Why did my brother die at an early age? Why did Hurricane Matthew kill so many and wipe out more of Haiti’s infrastructure? Why did a friend get cancer? Why can’t we alleviate a patient’s severe pain?

There are no answers to these questions. And no answer will change fact that suffering happens, and it is awful.

It seems the more valid question is: How do we cope with suffering? The Bible teaches principles that help me deal with suffering:

  • God is faithful through suffering and accomplishes bigger, even better, things than we can imagine. The most poignant example of this is Jesus who suffered to bring about the redemption of the world.
  • We can learn through suffering. Suffering focuses our attention on God like nothing else; it molds our faith and character in profound ways. Suffering can accomplish God’s purposes in our lives as we cry out to him and learn to trust and follow him.
  • Pain and suffering will end when God accomplishes the final redemption of the world. We will see for ourselves that “death has been swallowed up in victory” (1 Cor 15:54).

Even if I never understand what God is doing in suffering, I’ve learned he is worthy of my trust.

As you face hard things, bring your pain and questions to God. Dig deeper into his Word and prayer. Trust God and learn to hold on to his strength and unfailing love.

I encourage you to improve your nursing practice and learn how to respond to suffering by reading our feature article, “Entering into Suffering: Becoming a Transformed and Transforming Healer,” in Journal of Christian Nursing, Jan/Mar 2017 (1.5 CE credits offered). This article hits home for nurses.

A suffering world awaits us.

Kathy Schoonover-Shoffner, PhD, RN
NCF National Director
Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Christian Nursing

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Read Kathy’s full editorial in Journal of Christian Nursing, Jan/Mar 2017, p. 6. Become a member of NCF and receive Journal of Christian Nursing as a member benefit throughout the year.

What’s Your Life Story?

December 20, 2016

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The coming of Jesus changed everything for Mary and Joseph. When the angel Gabriel told Mary, “You will be with child” (Luke 2:31), it took courage for her to say, “May it be done to me according to your word” (v. 38). Everything was at stake. Pregnancy could ruin Mary’s life and had huge implications for Joseph. Yet when God spoke to Joseph he did what the angel of the Lord commanded (Matthew 1:24). Jesus’ coming completely changed Mary’s and Joseph’s life story.

When Jesus changes our story, do we give him the same response as Mary and Joseph? If Jesus simply asks, “Stop, listen, and take a moment to focus on this patient,” what is our response? When he asks more difficult, even impossible, things such as apply for that job, or serve at the homeless shelter, (or be the National Director of NCF), what is our response? It takes courage to say yes to Jesus.

The reality is, Jesus will change your story in small, big, and overwhelming ways. But like Mary and Joseph—like all the life stories we read in the Bible—Jesus makes our story better. Mary and Joseph raised the Son of God! As nurses, our life story changes the lives of others.

As you celebrate the coming of Jesus, ask God what he wants to do in your life. I pray you will hear his voice and be empowered by the Holy Spirit to have the courage, like Mary and Joseph, to say yes.

Kathy Schoonover-Shoffner, PhD, RN
NCF National Director
Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Christian Nursing

 

Trusting an Unchanging God

August 4, 2016

842016tressie“How exciting and comforting to know that the Jesus Christ who led in establishing Nurses Christian Fellowship in 1948 hasn’t changed one bit. Nor will He change in the years to come, regardless of how many more years he allows NCF to carry on. . . I pray that every Christian nurse will be keenly alert to the voice of Christ Jesus, and respond totally to Him who is ‘the same yesterday, today, and forever’ (Hebrews 13:8).”

–Tressie Myers, NCF Director 1951-1968, excerpt from “The Nurses Lamp” September 1973. Read the full “Dear Girls” letter.

Jesus as Our Role Model

August 1, 2016

812016womanatwellAs Christian nurses, we have Jesus as our source of strength and role model. I love how Jesus sees all of us from the perspective of God’s Kingdom. This perspective teaches us how to see and think about people and thus how to care for patients and their families and collaborate with our co-workers.

We read about Jesus who met the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4:1-26. Jesus sees the woman and knows who she is; still he decides to spend time with her. As we read the text, we can sense the gentleness and the intensity of their conversation, and how Jesus touches her deeply in her spirit. She becomes convinced that she has met the long-awaited Messiah. This makes her a witness for Christ.

In Luke 19:1-10 we read about Zacchaeus up in a tree. Again, Jesus acts beyond the rules and norms and sees to the heart and longing of this man. He greets Zacchaeus in the tree and invites himself to dinner with him. This transforms Zacchaeus. Jesus acknowledges this sinner to be a saved son of Abraham, and Zacchaeus’ transformed heart shows itself in action.

One of the stories I like the best from the gospels is about the blind beggar outside of Jericho (Luke 18:35-43). Try to imagine the crowd of people and all the noise. In the middle of this, Jesus recognizes the one who needs him. He stops and asks this wonderful question: “What do you want me to do for you?”

Have you noticed that Jesus often asks questions when he teaches and meets with people? He is interested in understanding people—who they are and how they think. Having Jesus as our role model challenges us to consider these questions: Am I interested in understanding people? Do I take the time to stop and listen to people in my path who may need me?

Will you join me in following Jesus’ example and practice this question: “What do you want me to do for you?” I’m interested in hearing about your experiences from using this question. Please share your comments below.

Tove Giske
President, Nurses Christian Fellowship International (NCFI)

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Photo credit by Angelica Kauffman – Upload 1: repro from art bookUpload 2: Own Work, photo taken by Cybershot800i., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8988425

Childlike Prayers

May 16, 2016

5162016lewisprayerChildren can be so refreshing, open and honest! In Children’s Letters to God, a collection of children’s prayers reveals their beliefs, desires, questions, and doubts. And despite the misspelled words and grammatical mistakes, they all express hope and trust. In just a few words, one boy let God know about his feelings and what he wanted…

Dear God, I wrote you before do you remeber? Well I did what I promised. But you did not send me the horse yet. What about it?  Lewis

Lewis prayed in faith, believing and trusting that God heard his prayer. Matthew 21:22 tells us, “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” We are to pray in faith, even though God’s answer may not be exactly what we asked for!

And like Lewis’ prayer, our prayers do not need correct spelling and grammar. In fact, we do not even have to express our prayers with clarity. Sometimes we can’t even find the words to express our heartfelt needs to the Lord. But we can trust that God knows what we need, what is best for us, and he just wants us to come to him.

And when we come, we can know that the Holy Spirit speaks to God for us, constantly interceding for us. And if that were not enough, we have an intercessor in heaven—Jesus!

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.” Romans 8:26-27

Because God knows our hearts, he knows what is best for us. But he also wants us to come to him with a pure heart. When we first acknowledge that we need Jesus’ saving grace, and we trust in his death and resurrection as payment for our sin, Christ declares that we are righteous and eternally saved.

However, in our humanness, we STILL SIN, and this sin interferes with our fellowship with Christ. We need to be honest with ourselves about our shortcomings, confess them to God and perhaps to others, if we want to enjoy intimacy with Christ.

Personal holiness is a condition of prayer throughout the Bible. James tells us that “the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:16b). The apostle John wrote that we receive from God anything we ask because “we keep his commands and do what pleases him” (1 John 3:22). And, thankfully, the psalmist reminds us that “the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their cry” (Psalm 34:15).

God will hear and respond to our prayers of praise and petition when we ASK in Christ’s name, ASK in abiding faith, ASK in the Spirit, and ASK from a pure heart!

–by Jane Hall, NCF National Director

What’s in a Name?

April 11, 2016

472016janeMany parents give names to their children that are unique, or “old-fashioned,” or quite common, like my name (Jane) that appeared along with Dick and Spot in my first reading book!  But behind every name is a person who is significant.

For centuries people throughout the world have revered the person and name of Jesus, even nonbelievers.  For Christians, there is more to Jesus’ name than any other name because there is power in his name! He has the immeasurable power to love and act on our behalf and to carry out his purposes.

When Jesus celebrated the Last Supper with his disciples, he told them that he would be leaving them—really leaving them. How distressed and frightened they must have felt!  But our dear Lord went on to tell them that they need not worry because they could ask him for anything in prayer. But Jesus included a specific condition for their prayers in John 14:13, “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”

In the Bible, the name of God is more than a name; it embodies all that God is—his character and all of his attributes. God revealed the fullness of his name to Moses at the burning bush when Moses asked for his name. God responded, “I AM WHO I AM” (Exodus 3:14).

When we pray in Jesus name, we are praying for God’s shalom to bring everything together in harmony. We may not know what God’s will is, but we do know that he is listening and working all of the time to bring about his perfect purposes in the world.

We can follow Jesus’ example in the Garden of Gethsemane, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39 NIV). We must surrender our desires to God’s will.

But before we even begin to pray, we must first consider why we are praying and what we are asking so that our hearts and minds will be aligned with the Father’s intentions.  Our purposes and petitions should reflect our desire to fulfill God’s will and bring him honor and glory. Asking in Jesus’ name helps us pray in ways that are consistent with the person and work of Jesus, and we are less likely to pray for self-focused or unnecessary things.

We can trust in the name of Jesus. There is no other name in the universe that holds so much love and hope for us all.

–by Jane Hall, NCF National Director

R is for Rejoice

April 1, 2016

412016sunriseThe Bible tells us, “Rejoice in the Lord, always. I say it again, rejoice” (Philippians 4:4). The definition for rejoice is to be glad, joyful, or to celebrate. Do we celebrate the works of God in nursing?

When was the last time you enjoyed the perfectly timed answer to prayer, such as that much-needed staff person or piece of equipment? When have you been delighted by the basic pleasures of life, such as an enjoyable meal with a colleague or a simple gift from a student or patient? What are some joyful rewards of patient care, such as listening to an older adult share a childhood memory, laughing with a five year old’s cute story, or celebrating with a toddler who masters a new toy or activity?

These are enjoyable moments in nursing.

The Scriptural idea of rejoicing in prayer is to remind us to recognize all the blessed moments of our work. At the same time, we want to celebrate with our Heavenly Father who provided them.

We are also reminded that celebratory prayers don’t just occur with worship and during designated times of prayer. We can have a heart of gladness that permeates our life and spills over into multiple moments of the day.

 Let us remember the words of the psalmist, “Serve the LORD with gladness!” (Psalm 100:2) and rejoice!

NCFI CARES

Carrie Dameron, MSN, RNBC, who is a regular contributor for Nurses Christian Fellowship International and Journal of Christian Nursing. She provides resources for Christian nursing on her blog http://blog.carriedameron.com/.

Peter’s Wisdom

March 21, 2016

3212016roosterDuring the Last Supper, Jesus warned Peter that he would be sifted by Satan and deny him three times (Luke 22:31-34). As the evening continues, Peter repeatedly denies Christ. His denial is not quiet, but vocal and wholehearted. After the third denial, Peter hears the rooster crow—and his heart breaks.

Our hearts break with Peter, for his personal sin becomes part of our redemption story.

After reading Peter’s experience, we are not surprised when he uses the metaphor “devour” to describe Satan’s tactic for Christians. I am sure Peter felt sifted, distraught and close to being devoured. Thankfully, in the same passage, Peter reaches out to all of us with wisdom:

“Be sober and alert. Your enemy the devil, like a roaring lion, is on the prowl looking for someone to devour. Resist him, strong in your faith, because you know that your brothers and sisters throughout the world are enduring the same kinds of suffering” (1 Peter 5:8-9).

Peter encourages us to stay “sober and alert” which means we can’t get complacent about Satan and assume he’s on vacation. We need to “resist him” by being strong in our faith, not a faith filled with words and strength, but a faith dependent upon Christ (1 John 5:5). The true victor in the war with Satan is Jesus, thus our prayers are to him.

Peter depended upon the prayers of Jesus who told him, “I have prayed for you, Simon (Peter), that your faith may not fail.” In the same way He tells us, “I have prayed for you, _[insert name]  , that your faith may not fail” (Luke 22:32).

I thank God for Peter’s wise words to us.

NCFI CARES

Carrie Dameron, MSN, RNBC, who is a regular contributor for Nurses Christian Fellowship International and Journal of Christian Nursing. She provides resources for Christian nursing on her blog http://blog.carriedameron.com/.

How to Pray, part 1

March 15, 2016

3152016prayAs a beginning nursing student, I wanted to know exactly how to perform nursing skills and exactly what to say to patients and to other members of the healthcare team. I was surprised to learn that, in most cases, it was far better for me to first learn why I needed to do or say certain things. First, I needed to know the primary principles to employ to give excellent nursing care.

The same is true for how we learn to live out our faith in Christ. First, we need to know God, the author of true Christian faith, and the guidelines and principles to follow as his obedient children.

Thankfully, God has given us much direction about how we should communicate with him, how we should pray. The Bible is full of examples of people praying in all different ways and at different times with hands raised up, praying out loud, and praying at all times of the day and night.

Paul explains in Ephesians 6:18 that we are to “pray always with all prayer and supplication,” meaning that we need to be flexible, eager, and ready to pray any time and in any way. As followers of Jesus, the most important aspect of our prayers is that they are all about God and our relationship with him.

In Matthew 6:5-13, Jesus gives us his model for true prayer that is not intended as a “prescription” for prayer, but as a way to humble ourselves before God. We are to ask God to meet our most basic needs for our daily health and well-being: bread, forgiveness, and guidance from evil.

The exact words that we say are not as important as the condition of our hearts and minds when we pray. We must always pray in the name of Jesus–believing that his life, death, and resurrection allows us to relate to God as our Heavenly Father, we must pray with faith that the Holy Spirit guides our prayers, and we must pray with a pure heart.

As Holy Week approaches, take some time to consider why Easter is vital to us as Christians and how we can pray and communicate more intimately with our loving Father.

May the Lord guide you into a richer, deeper conversation with Him!

–by Jane Hall, NCF National Director

Asked God for a hug lately?

February 11, 2016

2112016hugWhen my daughter was barely able to talk, she’d stretch her arms above her head, look up into our eyes, and say, “Hold you?” We knew she wanted to be held, and we usually complied. In fact, we tried to meet her every cry at that precious, helpless stage of life because we loved her deeply — and still do!

Just like a parent responds naturally to a child’s cry, the Bible assures us that God responds to our cries and petitions. Our prayers not only give God glory and align our hearts and minds with his sovereign plan, but they are also instrumental in bringing about his plan.

In 2 Kings 20, the prophet Isaiah told King Hezekiah that he would die from his illness. The king responded to this news by pleading with God to spare his life, and God gave him fifteen more years.

Did God change his overall purposes for King Hezekiah, the people of Judah or all of his creation when he answered his prayer? No! We can learn from Hezekiah’s example that God can respond to our prayers and control all circumstances and events without changing his sovereign purpose. God not only commands us to pray, he also promises to answer our prayers as part of his holy plan. Our prayers are the means that he has designed to fulfill his ordained ends.

God is calling you and me to offer him our petitions now so that we can share in his great plan!

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:7-10 NIV)

These Scripture verses are an invitation to confidently approach our heavenly Father who always holds us close to his loving heart. As we grow into his character, we prayerfully seek ways to become more involved in his kingdom-building work in our world.

Jane Hall, NCF National Director