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Attempting to obey God and follow Jesus Christ our Lord

Archive for July, 2014

Week Six of the CPE Journey: Destination Ministry

For one to suggest that the CPE journey is not about the minister would be a major fallacy. The journey has much to do with introspection and adjustment. This adjustment, though, is not all about the chaplain. The adjustment certainly betters the chaplain but the adjustment is not solely for the chaplain but also for those to whom he ministers. And this is the point of chaplaincy; it is not to use the positional platform as a box from which to promote academic and ecclesiastical wares rather it is an opportunity to “extend the healing ministry of Christ” which is the mission of Huguley Hospital.

As I began to reflect on this past week as well as my experience at large in this program I realized that I was not just walking toward my destiny of ministry but that I am already engulfed with that thing I thought I was walking toward. Take for instance the case of a lady I had opportunity to minster to. Here was a wonderful person in the emergency room. This lady was steeped in domestic problems. Her boyfriend had all but told her to kill herself. Her self-esteem was already much lower than it needed to be. This is not to mention the fact that she was busy caring for others, including her adult children, but that there was no reciprocal action as to her care. As such she felt alone that nobody cared so that she was in the hospital as a cry for help. Her way out, at least in her mind, was suicide. Yet she knew that suicide was not the answer. So, here she came to a place seeking healing not for any physical ailment rather for a deeply wounded spirit.

And so as this patient “regurgitated” her heart onto me I sat, listened and engaged in what turned out to be an excellent visit. My gentle probing coupled with word of encouragement caused this patient to realize just how good she is. Now, I cannot say that my visit with this young lady eradicated thoughts and intentions of suicide yet I can say that at least for a short time she knew that somebody loved and cared for her. She also knew that I was not there to get something from her but rather to give something to her and that there was absolutely no need for reciprocation. So then it dawns on me that I no longer walking toward my destination. Instead I am already involved in that destiny of ministry.

Not all the ministry that is done has to do with those that find themselves in tough spiritual and emotional difficulties. I recall when I was on call a few weeks back and I was asked to visit a patient desiring to see a chaplain. After responding to the room the discouraged gentleman simply wanted to be read Scripture. I promptly went back to the office, collected my Bible and responded back to that kind gentleman. We talked for a while and then I began to read the Scripture. After reading the gentleman and I began to talk about what I just read. This form of ministry was similar to the lady mentioned above; he just wanted somebody to talk to and wanted to know that somebody genuinely cares.

In this I can say of a surety that I am no longer walking to my destiny rather destination ministry has already been accomplished. It is in this that I seek to encourage all. Sometimes we think that we are walking toward a certain thing but when we look we have already met the destination. Take for instance those of us that drive on highways – all too often when driving our minds go to other things. Sometimes we are involved in conversation or perhaps listening to the radio. As we engage in those things we pull closer to the destiny. And then we look up just to see that we are no long headed for our destinations; we are there.

I suspect this is part of the “pressing toward the mark” Paul discussed in Philippians 3:14. Paul worked earnestly to please God in that which he was called. And while he was pressing toward that mark it is interesting that Paul was already doing that which God wanted him to do. His destination of ministry had already been met yet he pressed even harder even while in the fullness of ministry.

So then those that do not see themselves as having met their destinies might do well to look and see where they are. It stands to reason that the pressing is so intent that the full realization of destination ministry may not be realized even while there may be an encamping of work around those seeking to do ministry. Now, as you press to further your destiny and it seems out of reach look up and you may not be close to your destiny but already in the midst of certain destination.

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A New Name

Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter). – (John 1:40-42)

 

There are several remarkable occurrences in this short passage of scripture. First, Andrew, after only hearing what John the Baptist had said, and then meeting Jesus, he immediately believed and felt compelled to act on his belief. He wanted to not only follow Christ, but he wanted to be sure to share the good news with his brother as well. Second, Simon trusted his brother enough to listen to what he had to say, and chose to follow him to where Jesus was staying. When Simon met Jesus face-to-face, Jesus saw Simon not only for who he was, but for who he would become. The name Peter, in Greek, means “a rock“.

 

When we encounter Jesus, He sees us the same way. Christ knows who we are today, but He also knows what we will become. Each one of us has a new name from the moment we are saved. He calls us confident, joyful, overcoming ones, faithful, friends of God, and ones who seek His face. He counts us as His children, and we are adopted into His holy family forever.

 

No matter our name,A New Name

or state when we come;

Lord Jesus, He hears,

and all are welcome.

He loves us right now,

wherever we are;

and knows what’s ahead,

our bright Morning Star.

He takes what’s been crushed,

and grants us His strength;

joy for our sorrow,

He’ll go to great lengths.

He calls us His friends,

despite what we’ve done;

He forgives, makes new,

the battles, He’s won.

Let go of the things,

that will hold us back;

surrender it all,

and nothing we’ll lack.

For in Him, all things,

we have all we need;

an eternal hope,

from our past, we’re freed.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You love and accept us as we are, yet You see where we are going and all that we can become. Thank You that You give us a new name in You. Thank You that You bring beauty from our ashes, and hope from our despair. Thank You that You utilize the things that we once thought were the most ugly or broken, to help others for Your glory. Forgive us for allowing the old names to have a voice, and help us to silence the lies and allow Your voice to be heard. May our hearts hold fast to what You call us – confident, overcoming ones – Your children. Let us live and love as such, and may many be led unto You as a result. Be glorified as we walk boldly in the new names that You call us. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present.

As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. – James 5:11

To watch a lovely visual to an old favorite, I Will Change Your Name, click the highlighted song title in blue.


Go Forth in Joy

You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. – (Isaiah 55:12)

 

As we grow in our relationship with our Redeemer, we cannot help but praise Him for who He is. He fills our hearts with joy, and covers our countenance with peace, even in the midst of life’s storms. All of creation has been made to praise Him; nothing is excluded. In fact, Jesus spoke these words in Luke 19:40, “I tell you,” He replied, “if they (the people who were wanting to praise Him) keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” Let everything that has breath, praise Him!

 

As we go forth,There is Freedom

our hearts filled with joy;

may songs of praise,

be what we employ.

Let His peace lead,

as we choose invest;

our time, our heart,

into His sweet rest.

All around us,

creation shall sing;

of Christ’s great love,

the freedom He brings.

If we speak not,

truth will still be known;

the trees will clap,

cries will come from stone.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that there is evidence of Your majesty, everywhere. Thank You that we have the privilege of partnering with You in sharing of the great things that You have done, and letting others know Who You are in our lives. Thank You that You are forever faithful and worthy of all of our praise. Thank You that You grant us joy and peace, even in times of trouble, and that You lead us in the ways in which we are meant to go. Forgive us for staying silent when we were meant to speak, and grant us the courage to be bold on Your behalf. Make us brave for Your glory. Let our love for You be evident in all that we say and do, and may many be led unto You through our active faith. Be glorified, Lord Jesus, as we seek to praise You on the path You have placed before us. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present.

Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. – James 5:13


Strength in Suffering

And the God of all grace, Who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. – (1 Peter 5:10, NIV)

 

Yes, you will suffer for a short time. But after that, God will make everything right. He will make you strong. He will support you and keep you from falling. He is the God who gives all grace. He chose you to share in His glory in Christ. That glory will continue forever. – (1 Peter 5:10, ERV)

 

Struggling and suffering are inevitable parts of dwelling in a broken world. Hurting people hurt people, and often bad things do happen to good people. This does not mean that we have somehow fallen from Christ’s favor, nor does it mean that we are receiving our punishment due; there are times when a struggle is allowed for a season so that we may grow to truly understand His strength and His grace in our lives. Every single time that I have gone through a trial of sorts, Christ has been present. His grace gave me the strength to keep moving forward, even when I wanted to retreat, and His love summoned me to cling to Him – He who is firm and steadfast, always. As I relied less on me and more on Jesus, my footing became more firm, and my resolve, ready and steadfast in He who does not change. His strength and hope restored what I’d feared might be lost, and His grace abounded all the more. He who has promised is faithful to fulfill His every word.

 

Though life becomes hard,Strength in Suffering

there’s suffering, pain;

we have hope in Christ,

His presence remains.

He will restore us,

make us strong, steadfast;

firm, as He’s faithful,

eternally lasts.

We have been chosen,

to share Christ’s glory;

let us stand in strength,

and tell His story.

Receive His great grace,

to us it abounds;

all who were once lost,

but now have been found.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are the God of all grace. Thank You that even in our suffering, You remain present. Thank You that You are our strength and our firm foundation, and we may remain steadfast in the hope not only for today, but of our eternal glory that awaits in Christ. Forgive us for our lack of awareness of Your presence in the struggle, or for doubting Your faithfulness when suffering seems long. Teach us to trust You in all things and at all times, knowing that our struggles and suffering are only a short time, when compared to all of eternity in Your Holy presence. Let us live with an eternal perspective. May we live and love as if each day could be our last, and may our every word and deed point people straight to You. Let those who are looking be found in You. Be glorified as we trust You in both the blessings and the suffering. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present.

He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy. – Job 8:21


Week Five of the CPE Journey: The Matter of Uncertainty

As I have been journeying through CPE I have learned that there is much to be learned not only in the academics of Clinical Pastoral Education but also the practical application thereof. Yes, I have learned much and there is much to be learned. Even there are times when questions are posed to me that the answer is not immediately obvious. It is for this reason that I struggled with writing for week five of the journey. I was simply uncertain about what to write about. The week entailed so much that expressing this part of the journey in about eight hundred words simply did not seem reasonable or even possible.

Let me explain. Part of my growth edge came from the discussion of pastoral resources as presented by Charles W. Taylor in The Skilled Pastor: Counseling as the Practice of Theology. Among the resources discussed with and by my peers was the matter of rites and or/rituals such as marriage, baptism, funerals and the like. While each of these is celebrated differently depending upon worldviews it is not incumbent upon me to know the specific practices each worldview. And this is the point I would like to stress; certain uncertainties are not only OK but that some ignorance is welcome depending on the circumstances.

Without going in detail last week I was asked a question by my CPE supervisor while we were behind closed doors with my peers. After less than a moment of contemplation my response was that I did not know. My supervisor politely responded that my lack of knowledge was not only honest but very welcoming. You see sometimes, especially those of us that minister professionally, think that we need to know everything. We often think that we not only need to know all answers but also have the ability to fix all problems. The reality is that neither of these can be accomplished. Further because neither of these can be accomplished we can trust in the Lord all the more.

The words “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding” found in Proverbs 3:5 make it clear that our own understandings will often fail us. This is why the author broadly encourages his audience not to trust in their own understanding but rather that reliance and dependence on the Lord will bring about ultimate success. Perhaps this is why the matter of uncertainty becomes irrelevant to those trusting in the Lord. It is also a principle upon which Abram lived. You see he was completely uncertain about not only where he was to live but also his future. This, however, was not a hindrance rather a benefit.

Having said that of any reading this finds himself in a state of uncertainty concerning a certain matter perhaps it would be wise to lay aside the purported wisdom of man in lieu of leaning on and trusting the absolute wisdom of our Lord.


Doing Good Mutes Malicious Talk

For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. – (1 Peter 2:15, NIV)

 

When you do good, you stop ignorant people from saying foolish things about you. This is what God wants. – (1 Peter 2:15, ERV)

 

So often, actions speak louder than words. Many people are only ready and willing to hear what we have to say, after they have witnessed consistently faithful behavior over time. As God is made evident through our ongoing outpouring of self, it is then that people become curious and want to know why. Questions are asked and answers are discovered. Opportunities are created where they had never been before. Additionally, when we are consistent in our faithful walk with the Lord, and our actions are an ongoing reflection of such, people know that if a slanderous statement is made – they see it for what it is – a lie. His truth reigns and we are beyond reproach when we commit our lives to serving Him.

 

Choose to do God’s will,Doing Good Mutes Malicious Talk

our actions be true;

abiding in Christ,

as He makes us new.

Doing what is good,

hushes foolish men;

as the Lord desires,

truth shines forth again.

We pour out our hearts,

generously give;

He lets His light shine,

so more loved ones live.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for loving us and protecting us and our reputation. Thank You that as we do Your will, You allow our actions to speak on our behalf, silencing those who might speak untruth against us. Thank You too, that You utilize our obedience to open opportunities to share with those who do not yet know You. Forgive us for our inactivity when You have called us to action, and help us to step out faithfully – trusting You to be our strength every step of the way. May we make the most of every opportunity You present us with to share of Your goodness and faithfulness, and may many come to know You as their Savior and King. Be glorified as we do all things in Your love. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present.

Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. – 2 Corinthians 3:5

 


Confession and Community

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. – (James 5:16)

 

Christ’s death on the cross took away the barrier that required us to go to a priest to confess. However, there are times when we need audible reassurance that we have indeed been forgiven, or perhaps a person present to keep us accountable so that we do not repeat the offense. Still other times, we must make amends with one whom we have offended with our actions. “In Christ’s kingdom, every believer is a priest to other believers.” (NIV footnotes, James 5:16) May we go forth keeping short accounts before God and everyone, so that hearts may be healed and our prayers become powerful and effective.

 

We must confess,

all of our sin;Who Do You See

before the Lord,

know peace within.

At times we need,

help of others;

to grasp the grace,

voiced by brothers.

Our healing comes,

when we’ve come clean;

point of release,

as sin is seen.

Those forgiven,

are called righteous;

their prayers are heard,

power, priceless.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You made the way for us to come to You directly when we sin. Thank You that we can approach Your throne of grace, no matter what we have done, and know that You love us and will receive us. Thank You too, that You call us to be in community together, and that when we struggle, You provide safe sisters and brothers in You, in whom we can confide to confess and go to for prayer. Thank You that when we are right before You, our prayers by Your Spirit within us, are powerful and effective. Forgive us for bearing burdens that we are not meant to carry, or for not reaching out to those who can help keep us accountable where we may struggle. Help us to invest in relationships that point our hearts heavenward. May we love, encourage and pray for others as You call us to do, and may many come to know the freedom that is only found in You. Be glorified, Lord God. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present.

He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. – Proverbs 11:25