Archive for the ‘Spiritual Formation’ Category

Climate Change in Nursing School

November 8, 2016

1182016kumed“What’s the spiritual climate of your nursing school?” I asked three nursing students over lunch. Mackenzie, Sean, and Ben responded that there was no place in the nursing school where they could talk about their faith. So together we agreed—let’s start an NCF chapter at KU Med!

These are my favorite conversations: fanning into flames the dreams that God has already given to nursing students and faculty. I love hearing how God has given them a vision to bring Christ into their nursing school and change its spiritual climate.

In my new role as NCF Student Ministries Director, our staff team is developing additional resources and training opportunities to equip and encourage our student leaders to intentionally follow Jesus on their campus and invite others into their NCF community.

One exciting innovation this fall is that we are offering webinars for all student leaders and faculty advisors. I am partnering with Bonnie Hann, NCF Campus Liaison, for virtual training on Leading Effective Bible Studies (11/14/16) and on Spiritual Care (12/5/16) to understand and assess spiritual needs and appropriate interventions. Bonnie and I love the face-to-face interaction with these eager student leaders.

logo220x220We’re also excited about offering student leaders the Discipleship Cycle Framework, a simple tool to help NCF chapters consistently apply God’s Word in their lives.

The Discipleship Cycle is incorporated into a new series of NCF Bible studies, Trusting God in Nursing School. Specific Scripture passages will help students deal with the stress and anxiety that come with a rigorous academic program and clinical demands. They will grow in Christ and have opportunities to share what they’re learning with others in their nursing school.

The end of the semester is approaching but we are rejoicing in how God is actively seeking and saving students in nursing programs across the country.

Timothy Lin, NCF Student Ministries Director

Talking about Spirituality in Nursing School

April 25, 2016

4252016marylI am a nursing student at a Catholic-Jesuit university, so spirituality is integrated throughout our nursing curriculum. However, we do not have a space to reflect on how to have spiritual conversations with patients or how to process our clinical experiences from a spiritual perspective.

This semester, I felt called to initiate a spiritual reflection group for nursing students. Olivia, my InterVarsity staff mentor, helped me prepare and plan. Then I threw the idea out there with an email to my nursing class.

I was anxious to see how God would move people to respond. Two students showed up at the first meeting in February and we connected immediately over great conversations. One of my roommates listened in and I was so glad to share some of my faith with her.

At our second meeting I was amazed to see eight students and two grad students show up, plus I received many emails and questions the following morning about how our meeting went. We had such an amazing time of conversation and community. We talked about spiritual conversations with patients in our clinical assignments. We also discussed the importance of meeting our own spiritual needs, in addition to being there for patients.

Planting Seeds

I was so moved by how I felt the presence of God at the meeting. I was excited to have such open and meaningful conversation with my peers whom I had only known in the classroom setting before the meeting. This is only the beginning of seeds being planted in the lives of nursing students on my campus.

My vision for starting an NCF group began in December at the Urbana Missions Conference. I was unsure of what God had in store for me, but I left challenged and inspired to start something new for God in my school of nursing.

At Urbana, I heard from so many powerful speakers and seminar leaders who really challenged me to courageously share my faith with others and step out of my comfort zone.

I was also excited to learn about Nurses Christian Fellowship for the first time. At Urbana I met amazing NCF leaders who encouraged me with their personal stories. I heard testimonies from other students who had experienced similar feelings and went on to lead nursing students on their campuses.

I reflected on the way I had been living my life and wanted to make a change by reaching out to students who were my friends, but they didn’t know the most important thing about me. I didn’t have the courage to share my faith with them. After attending Urbana, I strongly felt God calling me to start an NCF group on Boston College’s campus.

I am grateful to God for our group of 5-10 nursing students who have started NCF ministry this semester, and I am excited to see what God has in store for us in the Connell School of Nursing at Boston College!

–Mary Ladesic, nursing student

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

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

Why We Should Pray: part 2

October 8, 2015

David's PrayerAs Christians, we all know that prayer is important. Sometimes we pray; sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we pray fervently; sometimes we pray half-heartedly. We all need help.

This series on prayer begins with a core question, Why Should We Pray?

Short answer: God expects us to pray, to offer him praises and to let him know our needs. The Bible includes countless examples of God’s people offering prayers of all kinds.

One of my favorite examples is King David’s prayer of praise when the people of Israel brought all the supplies needed to build the temple in Jerusalem. David had a long history of talking to God, and he knew that God expected him to offer praise, confession, and to ask for what he needed.

God’s word commands us to pray. And if we don’t pray we are neglecting God’s expectation and his command. A prominent Bible teacher and author wrote that when we do not pray, we sin. Ouch! That seems like a rather harsh judgment to make about a failure on our part to do what God asks.

But isn’t that what sin is: missing the mark and falling short of what God expects of us?

Knowing that not praying is hurting our relationship with God can even make it harder for us to pray. Thankfully, the Lord knows what we are thinking and feeling about our reluctance or failure to pray consistently for all things!

When we start piling up the reasons why we do not pray and how we have disappointed God, we can do a quick review of God’s attributes to remind ourselves of who God is. Remember, he is omniscient, all-loving, and all-forgiving. When we place our faith in Christ for forgiveness of our sins, he forgives us of all our sin and gives us the gift of eternity with him.

God is just waiting for us to start a conversation with him. Why not start now?

Jane Hall, NCF National Director

Why should we pray?

September 11, 2015

PrayIf God is sovereign, immeasurably powerful and controls everything, why should we pray?

If you’ve struggled with this, you’re not alone. Many godly Christians wrestle with prayer and question prayer’s effectiveness in their lives. Where do we turn when we need help?

Scripture tells us that nothing is too hard for God (Jeremiah 32:27). He sees everything (Matthew 10:29) and he is working all the time to make all things work for his good, according to his plans (Romans 8:28). As the apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the Ephesians, it is God’s sovereignty itself that gives us the boldness to pray because we have “access with confidence through faith in him” (3:12).

Christian literature is full of information about prayer: why pray, how to pray, the benefits or prayer, etc. But actually making prayer one of our regular spiritual practices takes more than information; it takes motivation, effort, and discipline!

Perhaps the first thing we should consider about why we should pray is that God has commanded us to pray. Prayer is not optional for those who want to walk with him throughout their lives.

It is not a mere suggestion that we pray; it is spelled out very clearly in God’s Word. “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and “pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” (Ephesians 6:18).

God clearly tells us to pray even though we cannot fathom why and how our prayers fit into his plans, his eternal rule and his Kingdom-building work.

Take a moment to reflect on your prayer life. Is prayer like an after-thought, or do you engage in prayer regularly or often? Do you really enjoy praying or is it a tiresome ritual? What is the focus of your prayers: praise and gratitude, your needs, the needs of others, or something else?

Let us embrace the truth that not only do we want to enjoy God’s company through our prayers, but he has told us to pray for all things at all times because he cares for us!

Jane Hall, NCF National Director

Spiritual Nutrition

April 20, 2015

Spiritual NutritionWhen I reflect on the building blocks of nutrition for physical health, I am reminded of the importance of the building blocks for spiritual health.

For example, protein found in fish, chicken and beans builds muscle for physical strength. When patients lack healthy protein sources, signs of malnutrition appear. Without Jesus, the living Messiah, we can lack basic nutrients of life. In 2 Timothy 2:1, Paul writes that “the promise of life” is in Christ Jesus.

Starches found in bread and rice give us daily energy, whereas Scripture is our spiritual bread. We need to nourish our faith daily through reading and studying God’s Word. Jesus responded to Satan by quoting from Scripture, “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).

Vegetables supply the nutrients for each cell in our body, yet many of our diets lack an adequate intake. Thus, I couldn’t help but think of prayer in comparison to vegetables. Although prayer is vital for our faith, we often fall short on the amount of time we spend in prayer. Being busy isn’t an excuse. “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” (Luke 5:16).

The building block of our faith is also found in praise and worship. I think of this as fruit. When we lift our voices in song exalting the goodness and excellence of our gracious Heavenly Father, we experience the sweetness of his presence. It is rich in nutrients, yet leaves us hungry for more and more! “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name” (Hebrews 13:15).

Eat from the bounty of the Lord’s Table, feasting on all the sustenance he provides–both physically and spiritually. From Psalm 23:5, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.”

A toast to health!

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/.

God is Eternal

May 9, 2014

EternalI was in the health & beauty section of a store recently, staring at all the shelves filled with anti-aging creams and high-energy products. We are obsessed with slowing down the aging effects of time on our bodies or speeding up our productivity. Everything we do is connected to time: past, present, or future.

A.W. Tozer writes that, unlike people, God is “above” time. He has no past or future; he dwells “in an everlasting now.” This reality comforts me as I grow older in this fast-paced culture.

Tozer explains that “God didn’t begin to be — God was. God didn’t start from somewhere — God just is.” Time is a creature word because all creatures began to be. “But there was never a time when God was not! No one said, ‘Let God be’! Otherwise, the one who said ‘Let God be’ would have to be God.” Time cannot apply to God. He can’t have yesterdays and tomorrows because they are both time and he has already lived tomorrow. According to Tozer, the fact that God dwells in eternity can explain why the prophets who were anointed with the Spirit of God could foretell the future with extreme precision.

God is immortal but we, as God’s creations, are mortal beings. We grow old and wrinkle and die, but he has placed eternity in our hearts. “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end” (Ecclesiastes 3:11 NIV). And because of this need for immortality, we cannot ever find satisfaction on this earth knowing that our lives are limited.

But thankfully, we can be satisfied in God through Jesus who can fill the longing for eternity in our hearts. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26 NIV). Tozer emphatically writes that “immortality and eternity you’ll only find in God — and you’ll only find God through Jesus Christ the Lord.”

So, as time marches on, how should we approach each day or look to the future? Should we rely on chemicals to stop the aging process, or move at break-neck speed through every day?

We need to live fully, peacefully, in each moment, knowing that God has already lived our today and our tomorrow and believing that faith in Jesus secures us a place in eternity with him. As nurses, we know that life is fragile, suffering can seem unending, and death is a sure thing. But as nurses who know Jesus, we can extend God’s peace to others and share with them that God desires for all to live eternally with him. He has made a way for all of us to join him in eternity if we will only acknowledge our deep need for him and for the forgiveness that only faith in Jesus can bring.

The Psalmist wrote, “Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God” (Psalm 90:2 NIV). Eternity is for real! Hallelujah!

–by Jane Hall, NCF National Director

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

This is the thirteenth 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

Starting Fresh . . .

December 31, 2013

2014 ResolutionsJanuary brings a fresh resolve to finally do those things we’ve been putting off, leading us to make all kinds of New Year’s resolutions.

Good changes are easy to identify. They come from soul-searching, from hearing hard truths, or seeing our shortcomings. It’s not easy to turn bad habits into good ones.  So we repent, ask for God’s grace to help us live as we ought to, try again—and repeat that process as many times as we need to, for as long as we live.

With all the emphasis we place on change, especially around this time of year, it’d be easy to think that change is always a good thing. But the truth is that—though it’s rarely mentioned on January 1— not all change is good.

Excerpted from the blog of InterVarsity: The Resolution to Not Change – Holding on to the things that matter.

Nurses Christian Fellowship is a ministry of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.

God’s Perfection

November 15, 2013

newbornAfter my first year of college I worked as a nursing assistant on a postpartum unit. I had a two-week orientation and then off I went to help the new mothers. I’m not sure how much help I was at first because I had much to learn.

Back then, mothers and babies received much different care than they do today. Mothers were usually sedated during delivery, and at birth their babies were whisked away to the newborn nursery. When the mother woke up and the nurse brought her the baby, I often watched as the mother carefully inspected her child. She unfolded the soft pink or blue blanket and took a long look at her baby’s face, hands, fingers, feet, and toes, carefully checking to be sure that her baby was “perfect.” But sadly that wasn’t always the case, and parents grieved when the unexpected happened and their precious child had visible flaws.

According to A.W. Tozer, perfection means to be “complete in your nature”.  He says, “That which is perfect lacks nothing it should have, and has nothing it should not have”.  We really can’t think of God as being perfect because he is completely different and separate from all other beings. Tozer says that “when we apply perfection to God, we mean that he has unqualified fullness and completeness of whatever he has. He has unqualified plenitude of power. He also has unqualified fullness of wisdom. He has unqualified knowledge. He has unqualified holiness”. In Isaiah 40:25, God asks, “To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?” God is incomparable.

However, in Scripture God is often referred to as perfect, and in Matthew 5:48 we are told to be perfect, even as our Father in heaven is perfect.  Tozer says that God uses the same word for perfect in the Bible when referring to himself and when referring to people because there is not another word to use that we will understand!  We refer to people as being perfect when they are the best they can be, but God is complete in all of his attributes; he is uncreated excellence and perfection.

So when you think of people and things as being perfect, just remember that you are comparing them to a standard of excellence that you hold for others like them.  But as you consider God, remember that he, and he only, is truly perfect and worthy of our worship.

by Jane Hall, NCF 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 1 with Study Guide: A Journey Into the Father’s Heart.”