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: 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.

Week #12 “When you call, I will answer”

The Lord says, “When he calls to Me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. (Psalm 91:15)

I think we take for granted the most amazing miracle in the Bible. The Creator of the Universe listens to each individual prayer. And, if that is not mind boggling, that same Creator,  speaks directly to you, to me, and to everyone. He is not absent, nor does He require us to perform some great display of pleading.

One my favorite incidences in the Bible that reveals God’s awesome power and communication is found in the encounter between the prophet Elijah and the prophets of Baal.

Elijah confronts the Israelites with their disobedience and idolatry by saying, “How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” (1 Kings 18:21). The Israelites are quiet and do not respond. So Elijah invites all the people to witness a show-down between Yahweh and Baal.

“Then they [prophets of Baal] took the ox which was given them and they prepared it and called on the name of Baal from morning until noon saying, “O Baal, answer us.” But there was no voice and no one answered. And they leaped about the altar which they made. It came about at noon, that Elijah mocked them and said, ‘Call out with a loud voice, for he is a god; either he is occupied or gone aside, or is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and needs to be awakened.’ So they cried with a loud voice and cut themselves according to their custom with swords and lances until the blood gushed out on them. When midday was past, they raved until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice; but there was no voice, no one answered, and no one paid attention.” (1 Kings 18:26-29)

I have to admit, I think the antics the prophets of Baal perform to get Baal’s attention is quite entertaining. Until one realizes that there are still religions that require sacrifices, asceticism, and various displays to communicate with their god(s). Yahweh hears and speaks to all people. It is His Spirit that calls the unsaved and wicked inviting them into his love and grace. As a Christian we have the promise that the Lord will hear us, answer us, and draw us closer to Himself (John 15:7). Combine our open access to communication with our devotion and we confidently abide in the shadow of the Almighty as a devoted servant of the Most High.

Write out and memorize: Psalm 91:15

Reflect: Rewrite the passage Psalm 91:15 inserting your name. For example, When Carrie calls to Me…. Then, write out specific ways the Lord is rescuing and honoring you.

Prayer/Praise: Write out a specific prayer of praise, thanking the Lord for how he has rescued and honored you.

Week #9: Strengthened by Angels

For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up. lest you strike your foot against a stone. You will tread on the lion and the adder; the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.

(Psalm 91:11-13)

We have explored the many dangers we can experience and the Lord’s promise of protection and strength. One way the Lord miraculously can choose to intervene with us is through angels. The foremost witness of the work of the angels is seen in the life and ministry of Jesus. From conception, through childhood, emerging during his temptation and then reappearing during his suffering and resurrection, we see angels appearing in Jesus’ life to assist in the unfolding plan of God. The Lord also sent angels to assist Peter in prison in Acts 12:7-10, protect Paul during his shipwreck in Acts 27:23 and to guide Cornelius to salvation in Acts 10:7.

As believers, the Lord can send angels to protect, strengthen and guide us (Hebrews 1:14). Our faith rests securely in the Lord God Almighty who governs all created beings in heaven and earth. And intimately sends heavenly beings to encourage our journey.

At times we may be tempted to inquire about “Did angels do this?” or “Was that a miracle?” Our response to the Lord’s hand in our lives is to praise and thank him while leaving the details up to him (Revelation 22:7-8).

Write out and memorize: Psalm 91:11-13

Reflect: Read Acts 12:7-10 and reflect on how you would think and feel if you were Peter? How does the prospect of God sending angels for guidance and protection encourage your faith?

Prayer: Father God, know you can command an entire army of angels to guide and protect me, your child. Help me to always look to you for strength and security. Amen

Angels Watching Over Me by Amy Grant

Week #5 Night Time RX for Sleep

You need not fear the terrors of the night, the arrow that flies by day (Psalm 91:5)

In our previous devotions, we explored the security found in God of the Most High. How his refuge and shelter provide a strong secure dwelling place. Beginning in verse 5, the psalmist shares various scenarios, which builds our confidence in security of dwelling of the Almighty.

When I read the verse: You need not fear the terrors of the night, the arrow that flies by day, I thought of Satan and the different terrors he can inflict.

Imagine the following scenario:

Your day has been one of love and trust for God. No matter what concerns may have arisen; you have stayed faithful and strong. Let us take our current pandemic. Yes, you have worries—economic worries for your job as your hours have been cut; concern for your family’s health as your relative begins to cough and run a fever; emotional concerns as you notice an increase in anxiety and depression. Yet, through each one of the worries and throughout the day, your faith has not wavered. You have stayed connected with the Lord through prayer, worship and fellowship. The Lord’s shield protected you and you feel comforted under his wings. Until nighttime–You wake up in the middle-of-the night and your anxious mind has taken over. You begin thinking about all the worries you have and they are suddenly insurmountable. Your daytime calmness and resolve, has somehow changed to doubts and panic. Questions run through your mind: What if my wife has the virus, will I get the virus? My boss says my cut in hours in only temporary, but what if I lose my job? How will I feed my children? The security of the day is gone and your nighttime has become a terror. Satan has not only thrown arrows at your faith, he is also terrorizing your nighttime.

Thankfully, the psalmist reminds us that the Lord’s protection is 24/7. We can be reminded of this protection through prayer and scripture. Just like we combat the enemy during the day, we can combat him during the night (Ephesians 6:16). If you are disturbed by doubts, fears, insecurities, or your past haunts you during the night—pray against this. Your nighttime (RX) or prescription includes the following:

Every night at HS or ½ hour before bed do the following:

  • Read a passage of scripture
  • Listen to soothing worship song
  • Pray to the Lord to provide a protective covering over your mind while you sleep. 
  • Mediate on Psalm 91:1-2 or comforting verse as you doze off to sleep.

May the Lord’s peace and comfort bring you rest.

Write out and memorize: Psalm 91:5

Reflect: What worries/stresses can disturb your nighttime rest? Write them out and then use the RX for Sleep to invite the Lord’s peace into your night.

Prayer: O Lord, my protector at night, may I rest under your strong wings of protection secure against the terrors of night and the arrows of the evil one. Amen

NCFI Cares: The Simplest Prayer

Many of us our familiar with Peter, who after seeing Jesus walk across the Sea of Galilea, stepped out of the boat and walked on water with Jesus.  At some point in his miraculous steps, Peter became frightened and began sinking into the water and cries out to Jesus, “Lord, save me!” (Matthew 14:23-33). These 3 simple words form the basis of the most powerful, simplest prayer. A simple pray that can guide us in teaching our patients how to pray.

First, we guide our patients in calling out to the only one who can help them, “Lord.” We don’t pray to a cosmic force, an unknown god nor one of the many god’s worshiped in other religions. Instead, we call out to the Almighty God through our Savior.

Second, is the action verb “save”. This simple 4 letter word communicates so much of the human experience. An English dictionary gives the following definitions for “save”: rescue from danger or from pain and fear; spare the individual from suffering, anxiety, or the unknown; and stop the spread of illness, infection, or cancer. And of course, the verb “save” is also used to communicate the need for forgiveness and life void of a Savior (Luke 19:10; Romans 10:13).

The final word “me” is more than a personal pronoun. It is an intimate identification as a child of God. That the Lord of heaven, the Creator of the Universe knows each hair on our head, cells in our bodies, and days of our lives.Together, “Lord, save me” is a simple prayer that anyone can learn. It communicates the magnitude needs of humanity calling out to the only power able to change the situation. Next time your patients or clients are new Christians, experiencing pain or discomfort, or too distraught to pray, teach them to this simple prayer. Then you can rest in confidence knowing the Lord will answer their prayer.

NCFI Cares: How to be an NCFI Hero

How to be an NCFI Hero

Recently, in my Sunday School/Community Group our mission pastor taught how church members can provide support for the spiritual leaders of our church. The teaching was based on the believers’ support of Saul found in Acts 9:19-31. In this passage, there were many unnamed believers or Biblical Heroes who provided various types of support for Saul, an up-and-coming church leader. As I listened to the teaching, I knew this was something relevant and applicable to NCFI. So, I have taken the outline of the teaching and adapted it for NCFI ministry. For just as these unnamed believers are Heroes, so is everyone who supports NCFI.  In the next series of devotions, I will share specific ways you can be a NCFI Hero and provide much needed support for the leadership team

The first spiritual support NCFI Heroes can provide is prayer. As the chair of the Prayer and Care Committee, I want to emphasize the importance of prayer for NCFI and the leadership team.  A specific type of prayer, not normally thought of, is protection from the evil one. Jesus emphasized the importance of this type of prayer in John 17:15: “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.” As NCFI leaders strive to encourage and support Christian nurses around the world we are confronted by the schemes of the devil who seeks to thwart our work regionally and globally. The leadership team is also at risk of personal onslaught from Satan who attempts to destroy our personal faith and professional lives.

Of course, it goes without saying we also need general prayer. Our prayer letter The NCFI Prayer Guidehttps://ncfi.org/resources/prayer-guides/ is published every quarter on the NCFI website.  The guide is a day-to-day list of prayer needs and praise reports from our member countries and global contacts, in addition to organizational requests. It also lists out the International Board Members, leaders and NG contacts who seek your prayer support. 

As you pray for the work of NCFI, the leadership team, and the upcoming International Congress in Colorado, USA in July, 2020, https://ncfi.org/congress-2020-at-a-glance/ I encourage you to also include protection from the evil one. 2 Thessalonians 3:3-5 provides a wonderful prayer.

The Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one. And we are confident about you in the Lord that you are both doing—and will do—what we are commanding. Now may the Lord direct your hearts toward the love of God and the endurance of Christ.

NCFI Cares: God’s Name in Nursing–Yahweh Sabaoth–Eyes of Faith to See the LORD of Hosts.

Our look at Yahweh Sabaoth takes us to one of my favorite accounts in the Old Testament found in 2 Kings 6:15-17. Elisha and his servant are sleeping in Dothan. The servant arises early and sees the king’s army has encircled the city with their horses and chariots.

Can you imagine the servant’s fear and anxiety? I am sure he thought that he was going to die. He probably doubted himself, the Lord’s plans, and definitely Elisha’s wisdom. Panicked, the servant awakens Elisha and says, “What shall we do?”

Elisha reassures the servant: “Do not be afraid, for those with us are more than those who are with them.” Instead of scolding the man for his lack of faith, Elisha recognizes the servant’s need for faith in God, not in a prophet as the miracle worker. So, Elisha prays for the Lord to open the eyes of the servant, so he too can see through eyes of faith. Sure enough, the Lord opens the servant’s eyes and he personally witnesses the LORD’s army of chariots, horses and fire encircling them. The cross reference for the text says, “The chariots of God are twice ten thousand, thousands upon thousands; the LORD is among them:” (Psalm 68:17). Wow! That is too many to count. No wonder Elisha is so calm and dozing in the early morning hours seemingly without a care in the world. There are innumerable angels ready to protect Elisha from the king’s army.

The reason this passage is a favorite, is because it reminds me that we are unaware of what truly goes on in the spiritual world.  We don’t see the Holy Spirit working in our lives, nor as the LORD’s name Yahweh Shabaoth reminds us, we don’t see the LORD of Hosts commanding an army of angels to care for you, me, and all the saints today. “The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him and delivers them” (Psalm 34:7).

The passage is also a great reminder, to not beat ourselves up when we lack eyes of faith to see into the holy spiritual dimension. Instead it is a time to relax and trust in the God who commands his Holy Army to protect and provide for us—especially when we are anxious and fearful (Hebrews 1:14). And finally we are reminded to model faithfulness like Elisha and provide prayers and encouragement to others who are filled with doubt and worry.  

CARES: Reflections for Nurses–English Only

CARES English Cover Only

I think the best way to share the good news is tstart with an insightful story.

Recently, I was in Taiwan and gave the CARES: Reflections for Nurses to a Taiwanese nursing student. He received his gift with joy and thanks. The next day, he approached me and said, “I can’t read this book, it is in Spanish.” This is when I explained how the book is bilingual–English on one side with Spanish on the other side. With the simple explanation, he went away happy excited to enjoy his gift.  A few days later, he confirmed his enjoyment of the English reflections.

This incidence solidified a thought I had been contemplating, to publish an English only edition. So here it is with a bonus feature. Instead of just removing the Spanish translations, I went one step further to add a note page for each reflection. This provides space for meditations, insights, and/or prayers.

page view

The book is available through Amazon Book Store

Hopefully soon, it will be available on the NCFI webpage as a free pdf.