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Attempting to obey God and follow Jesus Christ our Lord

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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

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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

Steadfast in Trust

You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in You. – (Isaiah 26:3)

 

Though strife and struggle are inevitable in this life, the perfect peace of Christ, is not. When we are devoted to Him in all of our ways, we remain steady, even in the raging storms. That does not mean that we are not aware of the wind and waves surrounding us, but rather in spite of the storm, we know our Source of safety, and we find peace in the midst of storms, as we fix our eyes on He alone who is far greater than anything that comes against us. May we keep our mind steadfast on Christ, and ever trust in the mighty power and unchanging love of our great God.

 

There is perfect peace,Steadfast in Trust

in the midst of storms;

when we cling to Christ,

our outlook transforms.

We need not look at,

the wind and the waves;

but rather at Him,

Who makes our heart brave.

Not by our own strength,

but in His alone;

peace covers our hearts,

as truth is made known.

His mighty power,

and unchanging love;

can silence our storms,

grant peace from above.

So trust in the Lord,

be steadfast in mind;

no matter what comes,

His peace we will find.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You grant us Your perfect peace, even in the midst of raging storms, when we fix our minds and hearts on You in trust. Thank You that Your Spirit in us grants us the strength that we need to hold onto what is true. Forgive us for our fearfulness at all that is seen, and help us to truly trust You with all that You are doing in the unseen. Thank You that You are always moving on our behalf, even when we are unaware. Help us to be steadfast in our faith, and love others as You so lavishly love us. May many come to know Your mighty power and unchanging love personally, and enter into a lasting relationship with You. Be exalted, O God, as we seek to stay steadfast in trust. Amen.

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

They will celebrate Your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of Your righteousness. – Psalm 145:7

 

 

Week Four of the CPE Journey: About Goals

In week two of the CPE journey I brought about some discussion about introspection. Introspect serves a number of purposes and among the chief purposes is that the one looking inward looks honestly with the potential as well as probability of making positive changes for the future. However changes cannot be made unless goals are set in the life of the one looking inward.

The fact as that all need to have goals in their lives. Without goals there is a lack of motivation to effect positive change. For instance, in my own life I had an educational goal of completing college. My goal was originally to complete a degree in business. Once that goal was met my goal was challenged as I began to seek out other things to do with my life. However to complete long-term goals my academic career had to be furthered. Introspection caused me to not only work toward my distant goals but also to work on more immediate goals. It is because of the accomplishments of certain educational goals coupled with considerable introspection that I am now walking closer to my destiny both professionally and personally.

In conjunction with my academic goals I also have ministry goals. Among those goals is to plant a church. While I will not go into the specifics in this essay I will say that the large goal of planting a church comes with multiple other goals that will have the ultimate end of the local body. Yet once that work is done there are many other things that are goal related that will require considerable introspection and subsequent work in order to accomplish what is ahead. The fact is that the academic goals have placed me in position to fulfill not only my professional goals but also my ministry goals. Further it cannot be said loud enough that the goals that I have met and strive for as these words are being keyed come with much work. Even so the result of the work of meeting goals is rewarding within itself.

While God’s call to Habakkuk to “write the vision” (Habakkuk 2:2) is often attributed to churches and para-church ministries the fact is that the principles of writing visions (goals) can and should apply to individuals as well. Goals are the impetus of life’s victories without which nothing can be accomplished. Even more it becomes quite evident that God has goals for His people. Consider for a moment Jeremiah 29:11 wherein God succinctly states that He knows “the thoughts that I think toward you…thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”

The text in Jeremiah clearly shows that God has plans and goals for His people. Even more of God’s goals are seen throughout biblical text. With that said if God has plans and goals for His people then the Christian ought to follow suit and have plans and goals. It is certain that goals cause one to relieve himself from his “holy righteousness” in order to get done what God has in store. With that dare I say to one and to all to take time out to look within and set goals that serve only to get you moving?

Faith Assured

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. – (Hebrews 11:1, NIV)

 

Faith is what makes real the things we hope for. It is proof of what we cannot see. – (Hebrews 11:1, ERV)

 

The sure and certain hope recorded here are foundational in our faith. They are both the beginning and the end of what we believe. First, to be sure of what we hope for requires that we believe in God’s character – that we trust He is who He says He is. Our certainty comes as we discover His promises, and realize that He will do what He says He will do. God is faithful, and will fulfill and follow through, even when we do not see evidence that is tangible in the here and now. May we allow hope to fill our hearts and minds, as we grant Christ access to further grow our faith.

 

In the dark of night,Faith Assured

we see no evidence;

of new morning’s light,

with faith, reassurance.

So it is with Christ,

though our hearts may not see;

He has paid the price,

for all hearts to be free.

A promise of hope,

His presence for today;

our answer to cope,

the only faithful way.

Allow faith to grow,

may it rise up in you;

as you come to know,

all He’s promised to do.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that faith is not something that we are expected to somehow muster on our own, but rather when we seek You, we find You, and You grow faith within us. Thank You that as we invest our hearts in You, we come to know both Your character and Your promises, which assure us of our hope for both today and forever with You. Forgive us for thinking that we could somehow grow our faith on our own, and help us to trust You to increase our understanding and deepen our dependence on You as we seek You. May we shine Your light and extend Your love to all those whom we encounter, and may many come to know You, personally, as a result. Be glorified, O God. Amen.

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

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him. – Psalm 34:8

Thought For the Day

 “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.” – Mark 9:37 http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Mark9:37&version=NIV

Breaking Free from Barriers

For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; He entered Heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. – (Hebrews 9:24, NIV)

 

Christ went into the Most Holy Place. But it was not the man-made one, which is only a copy of the real one. He went into Heaven, and He is there now before God to help us. – (Hebrews 9:24, ERV)

 

Before Christ came and sacrificed Himself on the cross, the high priest was only allowed to enter the Most Holy Place once a year to make atonement for the sins of the people with a blood offering. When Jesus came and suffered on our behalf, He broke down the barriers that limited our access to the presence of our great High Priest. When Christ sacrificed Himself, the price was paid – once and for all. No longer do we have need for an earthly mediator to communicate with God. Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father, continually contending for us. We are seen through the veil of His righteousness, and received as coheirs with Christ. Let us boldly approach the throne of mercy and grace, as we seek to serve Him all of our days.

 

No barrier,Breaking Free from Barriers

exists between;

a longing heart,

and Christ unseen.

Each honest cry,

by Heaven’s heard;

our great High Priest,

values each word.

Look to the Lord,

in suffering;

let gratitude,

from our lips, sing.

Direct access,

to His mercy;

let love and grace,

set our hearts free.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your one and only Son to make the way for us to have direct access to You. Thank You Jesus, for enduring our sin and shame on the cross. Thank You for conquering the grave and returning to the right hand of the Father, so that You can advocate for us. Forgive us for our foolishness that thinks that we have to do or be enough to somehow earn what You freely give. Teach us to embrace Your mercy and grace, and to go forth in gratitude to serve. May we extend Your love and light to all those whom we encounter, and may many come to know You, personally, as a result. Be magnified as we move past every barrier that might hinder us. Amen.

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

Your righteousness reaches to the skies, O God, You who have done great things. Who, O God, is like You? – Psalm 71:19

 

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