NCFI CARES: Submit to God at Work

Be subject for the Lord’s sake…For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God

(1 Peter 2:13, 15-16)

Throughout my time as a nurse, I have dialogued with many nurses who were looking at changing jobs. Prior to the high stress and demands of caring for patients with the coronavirus infection, Christian nurses’ complaints focused on unkind coworkers and/or harsh work environments as a result of their faith. Nurses shared how they couldn’t talk about their personal faith at work. One nurse said, “Forget inviting colleagues to church. I was afraid to even share how involved my family was in church. A few nurses on my unit began badgering me about being ‘one of those people.’ ”

Another nurse shared when he was doing his devotion and praying in the break room. He was firmly told by the charge nurse, “Don’t bring your Jesus here!” It was made more confusing because the unit was working on implementing caring into the unit. The manager had encouraged a group time of “meditation” and “centering.”

These nurses and others were praying about transferring units or leaving the hospital.  As I listened to their concern and assisted them with navigating these complex issues of faith and work, I was reminded of how we are the hands and heart of God.  Wherever we work, we bring the love and grace of God to everyone. This isn’t just a spiritual truth; it is reality of what Christ has called for His followers. In my experience, the Lord will purposefully place a believer in a hostile, unwelcoming work environment. Not for the nurse’s convenience or comfort. Instead, God needs someone to bring Himself to the people.  If we don’t go, who will show God’s grace to our colleagues? Who will demonstrate God’s love if we aren’t there to pray for their loved ones? How can our colleagues find the peace of Christ if we don’t show them?

I challenge everyone wanting to leave their workplace, to spend time in prayer seeking the Holy Spirit. You may not need to leave. Instead, you may need a fresh passion and strength to be the light God wants to use in your workplace. In addition, you may need prayer and support from Christian nursing colleagues. No matter what decision you make, find strength in the Word and in fellowship.

My prayer for you: “Now may the Lord direct your hearts toward the love of God and the endurance of Christ.” (2 Thessalonians 3:5)

NCFI Cares: Great is His Faithfulness

Whether the hymn Great is Thy Faithfulness is one of your favorite worship songs or one that is new to your playlist, take a moment to intently listen to each verse and the repeating chorus.

“Great is Thy faithfulness,” O God my Father,

There is no shadow of turning with Thee;

Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not

As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.

“Great is Thy faithfulness!” “Great is Thy faithfulness!”

Morning by morning new mercies I see;

All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—

“Great is Thy faithfulness,” Lord, unto me!

Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,

Sun, moon and stars in their courses above,

Join with all nature in manifold witness

To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,

Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;

Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,

Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

This wonderful hymn is so simple, yet communicates such sweet promises hidden in the faithfulness of our Lord. Here are few a found in the verses:

  • There is no shadow of turning – God doesn’t change, nor was He surprised by COVID. (James 1:17)
  • His compassions never fail – God will never stop loving us, no matter what we do. (Psalm 100:5)
  • He is always the same — yesterday, today, and tomorrow (Hebrews 13:8)
  • His faithfulness is seen in the changing seasons and celestial movements (Psalm 104:19-20)
  • His faithfulness has secured our salvation and brought us peace (Titus 2:11; John 14:2)
  • His presence is here to cheer and to guide us (John 16:1 & John 10:3)
  • He brings us strength for today and a bright hope for tomorrow. (Isiah 40:29-31

Did you notice how the hymn depicts God’s faithfulness through His character, His creation, and then makes it personal with “Blessings all mine”?

The repetitive, simple chorus reminds us that every morning God provides new mercies for you and me to see. We don’t need to wait; we don’t have to wonder if we will see them. Each morning with the rising of the sun God’s trustworthiness reveals new mercies shining bright and warm (Lamentations 3:22-23).  Feeling secured in God’s daily promise we can proclaim, “The Lord has provided all that I have needed.” This is poignant reminder that nothing I have needed today, nor anything I will need tomorrow is beyond the faithful providence of God. Thus, I can rejoice in God’s faithfulness “unto me!”

Take time this week to share the faithfulness of God with a patient, colleague, or family member

NCFI Cares: Our Great Intercessor

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”

Luke 22:31-32

In one evening, Peter experienced the full circle of faith, weariness, fear, and despair. He was in the Upper Room when Jesus washed his feet to indicate service and love (John 13:1-9). When Jesus tells the group that someone will betray him, Peter joined the other disciples in proclaiming, “Surely not I, Lord.” (Matthew 26:21-22). As Jesus prepared the disciples for what was about to transpire, Peter, once again boldly proclaimed, “Even though all may fall away because of You, I will never fall away.” (Matthew 26:33). Jesus went further and warned Peter of Satan’s testing. The courageous, bold fisherman will be broken and his faith will be challenged.

The evening continued and Peter was with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane trying to keep his eyes open. Once again, Jesus warned Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour? Keep watching and praying that you may not come into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Mark 14:37-38).

Judas, accompanied by Roman guards and religious leaders, identified Jesus with a kiss and the betrayal was set. In fear and confusion, Peter reacted with earthly strength and cut off an ear. Jesus immediately healed the centurion and reminded Peter of the Father’s will (John 18:11-12).

Suddenly, the world has changed. Disciples fled fleeing while Jesus was arrested. In a matter of a few hours, Peter had experienced a whirlwind of events and emotions. He was dazed, confused and left to wonder at the validity of the Jesus’ claim as the Son of God. He was vulnerable and couldn’t imagine how his world could get worse, but it did.  Three denials later, Peter is in despair. In shock and anguish Peter came to the realization that he has spurned his best friend, master, and teacher. The worst part was Jesus knew it would happen!

And Peter remembered the word which Jesus had said, “Before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly. (Matthew 26:75)

Jesus knew Peter needed to be tested. He needed to experience the betrayal and the subsequent bitter grief. Peter needed to leave fishing behind and come out on the other side as a strong leader. James 1:3-4 says, “for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

What we see today that Peter probably didn’t understand until later, is it could have been worse. Peter could have fallen away and left the new church without a leader. Thankfully, Jesus prayed specifically for Peter’s faith. Yes, Peter would deny Christ. Yes, the experience would leave Peter in despair and sorrow. Yet, Jesus was not done with Peter. He reaffirmed and restored Peter/s faith and their relationship. In Acts 2, Peter is boldly proclaiming the gospel to all in Jerusalem.

We have the same assurance that as Jesus interceded for Peter during one of his most difficult tests, Jesus will intercede for us. We will be tested. Not that God tests us (John 1:3). Instead, God uses difficult times to mature our faith, to increase our trust in Him, and to complete His perfect will (Romans 12:2). Our spiritually wise brother, Peter, poignantly teaches us:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:3-7)

And like Peter we will come out on the other side of the testing perfect, complete and with a steadfast faith.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4)

Whatever you are going through you are not alone. Find assurance and strength in knowing Jesus is praying for you!

NCFI CARES: Huddle with God

In the morning, O Lord, You will hear my voice;

In the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch.

Psalm 5:3

One of the biggest challenges new believers and possibly seasoned Christians face is daily setting aside time to spend with the Lord. Even though believers recognize the importance of a daily prayer, most struggle with being consistent.

Recently, I was reminded of a common practice in health care—Huddles! Just in case you are unfamiliar with the practice, here is a description:

A huddle is a short, stand-up meeting — 10 minutes or less — that is typically used once at the start of each workday in a clinical setting. The huddle gives teams a way to actively manage quality and safety, including a review of important standard work such as checklists. Often, standard work will be the output of previous quality improvement projects, and huddles provide a venue to ensure process improvements stick. Huddles enable teams to look back to review performance and to look ahead to flag concerns proactively.

Huddles were put in to place for patient safety. Research showed improved patient outcomes and better unit communication when health care members met daily to discuss the priorities and strategies of the day.

Maybe the struggle with setting time aside for prayer and devotion is in our perspective. How about if we thought of our quiet time as a “Daily Huddle” with God? Instead of drudgery or boring prayer and Bible study, refocus the time as a “check-in” with God. When we meet with Him to discuss His plan for the day. Here are some suggestions:

  • Share important activities or stresses that you will be facing. This may include difficult conversations or challenging projects.
  • Share your concern for others – this is a great time to intercede for your colleagues and bring their concerns to the Lord. 
  • Include a personal focus  – are you actively seeking to grow spiritually or implement a suggestion from a sermon topic? Take time during the huddle to be intentional about how you want to mature as a believer or grow closer to Christ.
  • Take a moment to listen – this can be the most challenging! Yet, even 1 minute of quiet opens our heart to listen to our Great Physician’s plan.

A huddle brings a health care team together for better communication and collaboration, and the same is true for our huddle time with God. We can connect with God and prepare for the day, while benefiting from checking in with Him.

NCFI CARES: Respond to Stress by Praising the Lord

Shout out praises to the Lord, all the earth. Break out in a joyful shout and sing!

Psalm 98:4

Have you ever had one of those days, when you are running around, and your stress is escalating?   Recently, while teaching an all-day class, my phone vibrated continuously with urgent voicemails needing my attention, my phone buzzed steadily with multiple texts exclaiming endless problems, and my email in-box filled up with crucial questions that only I could answer. I won’t even get into the family crisis that raged throughout the day. UGGH!!

At the end of the day when I got into my car to drive home, a worship song playing reminded me of when I worked in the hospital. As a cardiac nurse, my colleagues and I had many crazy hectic days. We even had horrible, chaotic days when the entire unit couldn’t keep up with the emergencies and the multiple crises. We would run from one cardiac resuscitation, intubation, stat surgery, to the next stroke alert, anaphylactic reaction, and family emergency. Forget lunch. There were days I didn’t go to the bathroom, nor get a drink of water.

In the midst of this chaos, a colleague of mine would start singing: “Praise be to God, alleluia.” To say he would sing, is not really correct; he would proclaim loudly! “PRAISE BE TO GOD, ALLELUIA!” We knew our everyday chaos had hit a certain peek for him, when his praise would echo across the nurses’ station and down the halls: “PRAISE BE TO GOD, ALLELUIA.” Keep in mind, I worked at a non-Christian hospital. A few other colleagues and I were the only Christian believers on our unit.

This memory brought a giggle to the end of my stressful day. I thought, “Hmm, maybe I should try proclaiming a praise song amidst my next crazy day!”

NCFI Cares: A Friend with You in the Fire

I am sure many of you are familiar with the popular modern worship song by Hillsong United entitled “Another in the Fire” (2019).  The opening lyrics are:

There’s a grace when the heart is under fire

Another way when the walls are closing in

And when I look at the space between

Where I used to be and this reckoning

I know I will never be alone

There was another in the fire

Standing next to me

Hillsong United

The title and major phrase refers to the account of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the furnace. They had been placed in the furnace for refusing to bow down and worship the idol of Nebuchadnezzar. (Daniel 3). Our favorite passage is Nebuchadnezzar proclaiming, “But I see four men, untied and walking around in the midst of the fire! No harm has come to them! And the appearance of the fourth is like that of a god!” How we rejoice with the miracle and stand firm on the promise that we will never be alone.

I love celebrating the miracle, but I also am thankful for the love and support of friends. There are three friends who were willing to die for the Lord together. I am sure there was much prayer and praising going on PRIOR to their big push into the furnace. Especially when the guards were immediately incinerated when the door was opened (Daniel 3:22).  What scripture doesn’t tell us, is what was Daniel doing? Since prayer was an integral part of his relationship with God, we can be confident that Daniel was praying for his friends. I imagine his prayer was for his friends to maintain their faith, not give in to pressure, and have courage in the face of certain death.

We have the assurance of Jesus staying faithful, even when we are wavering in our faith. Some of the ways Jesus encourages us is through our faithful friends; and He uses us to encourage our friends when they are experiencing “times of fire”.   

The Psalms were a prayer book during Daniel’s time and is a prayer book for us today. Search the Psalms for a phrase, section, or entire Psalm that you can use to pray for a friend, colleague or patient “in the fire” of life.

Find the song by Hillsong United here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmNc0L7Ac5c

NCFI Cares: Three Gifts of Nurses

They entered the house and saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh

Matthew 2:11

This is a wonderful time of year. We celebrate the miracle of the birth of Christ more than two thousand years ago. We ponder the magnificent events with shepherds, angels, and wisemen. The incredible wisemen followed the Christmas star that led them to Jesus, the future King of the Jews.  Upon their arrival they bowed in worship honoring this glorious infant. 

The treasures they carried on their journey were valuable and perfect for the Son of God. The gold, a gift for kings, recognized Jesus as King of Kings. The gift of frankincense, a substance burned as incense during worship, acknowledged Christ’ divinity as God. Myrrh used to prepare bodies for burial, indicated Jesus’ humanity and preparation for His future suffering. The gifts were significant for worshipping the Christ, as well as expensive and practical.

As Christian nurses we honor the King of Kings, Holy Son of God and Savior through previous gifts:

  • The vastness of our knowledge, skills, and experience, as well as our economic gains represents our gift of gold. We generous bring this regal gift to the King of King, who rules our nursing practice.
  • Our daily nursing care, inspired and sanctified by the Holy Spirt, is given as a fragrant offering and represents our gift of frankincense.
  • Our work among the suffering, the marginalized, the underrepresented, and poor represent our gift of myrrh. As Christ surrendered to the suffering, we surrender to care for humanity.

This Christmas season, take a few moments to reflect on these precious gifts given in truth and faith to our Lord. Our gifts in nursing are no less precious, practical, and priceless. The most mundane or disliked treatment is a fragrant offering to the Holy One. Our caring hands comfort the hurt and suffering of whom The Savior is kindred to; and, all our work points to the future reign of the King of Kings.

We Three Kings (with lyrics)

NCFI Cares: The Power of Intercessory Prayer

Amazement seized them all, and they glorified God

Luke 4:26

In Luke 5:17-20, we read about the determination of a man’s friends to bring him to Jesus. The man is paralyzed, and his friends are trying to bring him to Jesus for healing. Jesus is in a house, but there are too many people. Everyone is crowded around the doors and windows and the friends are unable to bring the man to Jesus. They do not give up. Instead, they climb on the roof, cut out a large hole, and lower the paralyzed man into the house to Jesus. Jesus heals the man of his sins and his paralysis.

            What has struck me as amazing is the determination of the man’s friends. I wonder how far they carried him? Was it down the road? across town? or through the countryside. Just, so that their friend could possibly be healed?  Also, when they were confronted with obstacles to seeing Jesus, they climbed to the roof (carrying the man), cut a large hole in the roof (large enough for the man to fit through), and then lowered the man into where Jesus was sitting. These are strong, determined friends.

            Yet, the friends’ determination wasn’t just physical strength needed for the journey, nor creating an access to Jesus. Their determination is also in their faith. They believed that Jesus would heal their friend! They didn’t doubt, nor sway in their determination. Their belief was so assured that they overcame all obstacles.

            Jesus took notice, Jesus seeing their (friends) faith, he healed their friend. Notice, it was not the man’s faith, nor his determination. Instead, Jesus saw the friends’ faith. This is the power of intercessory prayer—belief. Belief that God can do anything for our friends, our families, and for our patients. The person we pray for doesn’t need to believe. We believe for them and are determined to show them Jesus.

            When we are determined in prayer and belief, we witness the hand of God touch lives.  Amazingly, the man was forgiven and healed, and the crowd was amazed and glorified God. So much was accomplished. All because of the determination and faith of a few friends.

            Here is a challenge—commit to pray for one person every day for 30 days and see all that God does through your faith and determination.

NCFI Cares: Doing Good to Our Faith Family

While we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.

Galatians 6:10

As nurses and midwives, we have been doing a tremendous amount of good during the pandemic: long hours and multiple shifts, too many patients who are very ill, increased time away from family, and others.  In Galatians 6:10, Paul instructs us to continue to do good to all people, especially those of the family of faith!  I love this reminder. Our priority in doing good is towards our fellow Christians, brothers and sisters of the faith. 

Some of suggested ways of “doing good” to one another are found in the previous verses:

-gently restore someone discovered in sin (verse 1)

-carry one another’s burdens (verse 2)

-don’t compare one’s work with someone else’s (verse 4)

-share personal instruction from the word with others (verse 6)

I would add to Paul’s teachings and say the “doing good” we can all do for our Christian family is prayer. We are living with a prayer crisis for our brothers and sisters of faith in Afghanistan. The world is praying for the Afghan and non-Afghan people who are innocently caught up in a power struggle and political war. But, how many people of the world added to their prayers, specific concerns for the Christian Church? Only fellow believers. Our hearts and spirits ache for our brothers and sisters, who are threatened and persecuted for their faith. Simple things we take for granted: attending worship, fellowshipping with other believers, and owning a Bible.

Yes, we are hurt and devastated by the atrocities to our family members of the faith. However, we can pray longer, harder, and more purposefully. Let’s follow the 1st Century believers who fervently prayed for Peter in prison, knowing the prayer of righteous person has great effectiveness. (Acts 12:5; James 5:16).

NCFI Cares: Blessings & Arrows—How to pray on the run.

Blessed is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms in Christ. (Ephesians 1:3)

In an article published in the USA NCF journal, Journal of Christian Nursing, author Marsha Fowler shares 2 simple prayer styles.  “In the crazy-busy days of nursing care, forms of prayer that are crisp and concise can sustain, nourish, and center us.”

The first one is based upon a Jewish tradition of 100 blessings. At first it sounds overwhelming to think of praying or thinking of a 100 of anything, let alone something specific like 100 blessings.  Instead, the idea is to point out various blessings to the Lord related to our pleasurable experiences. The prayer begins with the words, “Blessed are you, O Lord, who _____________ (fill in the blank). Amen.”

A few examples may be:

“Blessed are you, O Lord, who cares for my family. Amen.”

“Blessed are you, O Lord, who gave me a physical body to work. Amen.”

I would encourage you to start with simple and obvious blessings, like the examples. The idea is once you get started your heart and spirit will open up to bless the Lord for all he has provided.

The second simple prayer discussed by Fowler is arrow prayers. These prayers are “very short, a phrase or a sentence only, usually taken from Scripture, often from the Psalms.” A few examples, might be:

 “Lord gives me strength and protects me; You are my deliverer.” (Psalms 118:14)

“Oh, God of hope, fill me with all joy and peace.” (Romans 15:13).

Inserted in each of these arrow prayers is the personal pronoun, me/my to remind and emphasize how the Lord is an intimate provider of all we need.  Next time you are too exhausted or stressed to pray, start sending blessings to God; or repeat an arrow prayer focused on bringing the truth of Scripture with the reality of God to your spirit.

In addition, we can teach these simple prayer techniques to our patients, who may be too ill or anxious to pray, or are unfamiliar with praying. 

“Arrow prayers remind us that God is near, that help is at hand, that we are cared for no matter the trials and demands for the day.”

Fowler, M.D. Prayer from the Cauldron, JCN/January-March, 2021 p. 13-14