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Attempting to obey God and follow Jesus Christ our Lord

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Compassion Leads to Action

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. – (John 11:33)

Jesus wept. – (John 11:35)

When He had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” – (John 11:43)

 

These three verses are pivotal points in the story of Lazarus. Though Jesus knew that He would raise Lazarus from the dead prior to His arrival, His compassion for people was made evident through how He came alongside those who were mourning and wept as they wept. However, Christ continues beyond compassion. Jesus, after demonstrating His love for both Lazarus and those who loved him, chose to do more. He opted to make His mighty power known, as He had the gang of grieving lead Him to the tomb where Lazarus had laid for four days. Jesus stepped up, and in a strong voice, spoke the words that were more than His friends could have hoped for. Their lost loved one was being brought back to life!

 

As we are moved by compassion to act, it is necessary that we too, listen for His still small voice. Though we may not be raising people from four days dead, our acts of obedience can create hope where there has only been despair. We never know the impact our actions might have, unless we opt to actually step out in faith. He is faithful to use us as His vessels, if only we are willing to make ourselves available. May we go forth, allowing His compassion to propel our hearts to action.

 

Compassion compels,Care Over Comfort

our hearts to reach out;

to act in His love,

to fill those without.

Just as His kindness,

came near in our need;

so we’re called likewise,

to give and to feed.

Out of our plenty,

and even our lack;

He calls us to love,

He’s loving us back.

May those who don’t know,

come to know His grace;

for once it is known,

there’s no greater place.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son to show us what love in action should look like. Jesus, thank You for loving us without limits and for equipping us to love as You love us. Thank You for placing people in our lives to be Your hands and heart made tangible. Thank You that we too, can be the same for others, if only we are available to listen to Your leading. Forgive us for neglecting to act on that which You are asking, and help us to be willing to go and do whatever You ask of us. Give us Your eyes to see, and Your heart of compassion for all whom we encounter. May the compassion You grant us, compel us to action. Lead us in the way You want us to go, and may many come to know You as their Savior and King as a result. Be glorified as we act with compassion today. Amen.

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

God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me. – Genesis 21:6

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Week Seven of the CPE Journey: The Significance of Crying

Writing this post will probably be among the hardest for me to write. The reason for that is because it requires some vulnerability and being vulnerable is a matter that I have learned to shun on certain levels and embrace on others. You see, this culture does not necessarily embrace tears as strength particularly when those tears flow from men. This is because men are not supposed to cry; we are to ‘walk it off’ as though there were truly no hurt and no pain. Yet I have found that this mentality does little to strengthen or grow mankind.

All too often I think about that divorce I had to endure. It was a divorce that I did not want and a divorce that I felt was undeserved. The memories of the day my wife packed what she wanted out the house in Chesapeake, Virginia while taking not only my kids with her but also everything that I had in the world. There was no greater devastation to me than coming home to find the kids beds gone, my wife’s possessions gone and nothing left but a deafening silence. All I could do was sit on the steps in the house and cry. I cried so much that I think I filled buckets with the tears. However that would not be the last time I was to cry.

I use that backdrop as a prelude to the discussion of the tears I have seen here at the hospital. I am reminded of a recent encounter I had with a precious lady having a number of physical problems. As she began to pour her heart to me concerning family issues the tears welled in her eyes. Those were tears of hurt, pain and disappointment. Her adopted daughter was presented as acting in a rather cantankerous manner. The son of the daughter appears to be following in the mother’s footsteps. While nothing had been done to this dear lady she had the impression that her life had been a failure. She felt that she had done nothing right all because of her wayward daughter.

In encouraging this lady I began to draw a picture of all the people she touched in her life. I suggested that she imagine all those people lined up in the hallways all waiting to write a paragraph or two describing the way she touched their lives. As I talked the expression on her face began to change from hurt and pain to one of inquisition. The inquisitive look gave way to an understanding that she was significant and perhaps she had accomplished more than she realized. The tears, the crying changed from pain to acceptance of the fact that she had done well in her life. So, this lady in a short period of time cried because of hurt and also because of the relief in that she had done well and was not a failure.

I also began to consider my small group. There have been emotive moments wherein tears and crying could not be held back. And there were many reasons for those tears. Some of the tears were because of past hurt. Others cried because a fresh realization came that it is OK to cry and that crying is not a sign of weakness rather it holds within it much strength. Even I have cried for a couple reasons. Among those reasons is because the hurts of the past surfaced and there was no way to release the hurt except by tears. Additionally there was crying because the weight of the world was finally lifted from narrow shoulders. This crying served to cleanse, to heal and to relieve. What a wonderful gift God has given us by allowing us to cry.

My point in this is simple and to the point- it is OK to cry. In fact I would venture to say that someone needs to cry even as this is being read. So, go ahead a cry. Go and get your healing through tears. Go and get the much needed relief. Go rejoice in the fact that you don’t have to carry what you have not been designed to carry. And, don’t worry about what others may say. There is significance in crying and that crying is nothing more than an emotional release of things stored inside us. So go ahead and cry!

Be Silent Before Him

But the Lord is in His holy temple; let all the earth be silent before Him. – (Habakkuk 2:20)

 

As I was reading in Habakkuk this morning, I came to verse twenty of chapter two, and could not help but linger. How often do I stop and really recognize just how holy He is? Am I intentional to be silent before Him? His holy temple is the heart of each of us who believe, and that alone, ought to cause us to be silent before Him. It is far too easy to get so occupied with the list of things to do, that communication with Christ becomes a series of sincere requests, and the silence before Him, comes to a halt. He has much to speak to our hearts. How can we possibly hear Him if we do not still ourselves long enough to truly listen? May our day be filled with moments of silence before Him, who alone is holy.

 

The Lord is holy,Be Silent Before Him

where does He choose dwell?

In the very hearts,

with trust in Him swell.

In reverent awe,

may the earth be still;

for He is the Lord,

hope and peace fulfilled.

May we be silent,

before You today;

please speak to our hearts,

and help us obey.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are holy and worthy of all reverence and awe. Thank You that You no longer dwell in buildings made of mortar and stone, but rather You come and dwell in the hearts of all who believe. Forgive us for not being silent before You, or for not giving You reverence due. Teach us how to be still before You, so that we may be more aware of Your presence and Your peace. Lead us to love others as You love us, and may many come to know Your goodness and holiness, personally. Be glorified in our going and in our silent stillness before You. Amen.

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

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. – Galatians 5:22-23

Thought For the Day

 For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. Otherwise Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. – Hebrews 9:24-28 http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Hebrews9:24-28&version=NIV

Intentional Retreat

Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make Him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by Himself. – (John 6:15)

 

Jesus only did that which His Father called Him to do. He knew His charge was not to become a king on the earth, so He did not even entertain the idea of praise nor power from the people in that way. Instead, once He heard what they intended, He withdrew; left the location so that the option was not available. Jesus passed up temporary pleasure and power, and took on tremendous pain. His only concern was doing the will of His Father. May we each go forth and do likewise, recognizing that His Holy Spirit equips us to flee from that which is not meant for us, and empowers us to embrace that which is His good and perfect will for our lives.

 

Let not power,Intentional Retreat

nor pleasure or praise;

be a road block,

to walking Christ’s way.

Do what He says,

invest in His word;

seek only truth,

let His voice be heard.

When all the noise,

around is too much;

retreat alone,

seek His tender touch.

He is faithful,

He’ll answer our cry;

and grant us strength,

to trust and rely.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Jesus modeled a life of perfect obedience before You. Though He was tempted in every way, He was without sin. Thank You that the very same power that kept Christ from sin, is available to us today. Forgive us for not seeking You in spaces of temptation and giving in, and teach us to trust You more, so that we might fully rely on You as each temptation comes our way. Grant us wisdom to know when to stay and when to retreat. May we operate in all things in Your love as You lead us, and may many come to know You, personally, as their Savior and King. Be glorified, O God, as we seek to obey You in all that we say and do. Amen.

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

May God be gracious to us and bless us and make His face shine upon us. – Psalm 67:1

Hidden No More

Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in Him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” – (John 4:39)

 

This verse from the often told story of the woman at the well, struck me anew this morning. Not only was she powerfully impacted by her encounter personally, but she found a new boldness where she had previously remained hidden, and that boldness in stepping out to speak of what she had experienced compelled many from her town to go and see Jesus for themselves. She was so dramatically different, that those who had shunned her, gave ear to her words. What a powerful testimony indeed! God used her transformation to tell others of Christ’s goodness and grace. Imagine the interactions at the well after the town’s two days with Jesus!

 

In isolation,Hidden No More

alone and afraid;

there is a Savior,

Who will come your way.

He’ll always draw near,

no matter your past;

He’ll wash you anew,

grant peace that will last.

The Granter of hope,

the Giver of grace;

Restorer of life,

He’s present always.

All that is hidden,

is already known;

He’ll use it for good,

story of your own.

The glorious thing,

as you choose to share;

others will seek Him,

trade hope for despair.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we seek You and allow You to move in our lives, You do a deep transformational work that others can see. Thank You that even the ugliest part of our past can become the most triumphant part of our testimony, by You grace. Thank You that when others see change in us, they want to know why. Forgive us for not being quick to answer, or for not always modeling the internal transformation that has taken place. Teach us to trust You in the transformation, and grant us strength to stand strong in all things and at all times so that Your will be done. Help us to love as You love us, and may many come to seek You as a result. Let the lost be found, and testimonies of transformations abound. Be glorified as we go forth boldly as You have made us to do. Amen.

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

The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. – Psalm 145:8

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.

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

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