fear

A Lenten Journal: A Pursuit of the Doctrine of Christ (Fifth Thursday)

… “I have faith.  Help my lack of faith!”   Mark 9:24

The boy’s father is so much like most of us today.  Our distress seems incurable.  Our ailments are traumatic and have lasted for years.  The best representatives of God fail us.  Thus, when we are in his presence, we don’t expect much.  We believe in Christ.  But, we have been accustomed not to expect much.  Marriages fail, addicts relapse, friendships remain broken, goals are unfulfilled, and hope is dashed to pieces because we have been accustomed not to expect much.

Cleat on the Creek (© John Gresham)

Jesus gives rebuke and retort with restoration in this case.  He bemoans faithlessness.  Not just the father, disciples, and scribes.  The entire generation is criticized for lack of faith.  A blind man believed with no doubt.  So did a lame man who may or may not have been seeking a physical healing.  Yes, Jesus was merciful and healed the son.  But, mercy should not be taken for granted.  We must come to the presence of God believing in him for who he is and that he is able.

Along with faith, let us also be dedicated to the power granted to us through prayer and fasting.  A disciple must be disciplined to grow in communion with God and be disattached from the things of this world.  Faith alone may be enough for some peace in mind.  But, without strong communion with God and disattatchment from the world, adverse spirits will confound us.

Yours in Christ,

Brother Cyprian Bluemood

Order of Saint-Simon of Cyrene

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A Lenten Journal: A Pursuit of the Doctrine of Christ (Fifth Wednesday)

Elijah appeared to them with Moses and they were talking to Jesus.    Mark 9:4

Law and prophecy are important elements of any established religion.  One to set guidelines for moral behavior.  The other to give us the current and active voice of God.  The Jewish religion was firmly founded on these separate concepts.

Glory in Growth (© John Gresham)

After a few days from Peter’s correct definition and failed attempt of rebuking his mission, Jesus reveals the glorious supremacy of his divinity.  The Christ is the embodiment of law and prophecy.  He is the standard of righteousness and the current voice of holiness.  True faith must never separate the two.  A standard uninformed by a God who speaks at the present is stagnant and dying.  A constantly moving voice without a standard is easily misled to death.  Jesus is the foundation of Moses and the voice of Elijah.  He is complete.  The transfiguration confirms that he is purity, spirit, and the Son of God.  His very being is too great for us to bear.  His compassion allows us to draw near and follow him.  So much for Peter’s attempted subversion.  Alas for anyone who is ashamed of him.

If one’s walk with Jesus can be co-opted by human ideas or cast aside by worldly fear, the walk is false.  No, true faith sees the fullness of the mysterious power of God.  With reverent fear we are to embrace and follow Jesus as he is so much more than we can imagine.  His synthesis of law and prophecy is the reason we carry the cross.  His love and compassion gives us the strength to do so.

Your Brother in Christ,

Cyprian Bluemood

Order of Saint-Simon of Cyrene

 

A Lenten Journal: A Pursuit of the Doctrine of Christ (Third Monday)

… “Courage!  It’s me!  Don’t be afraid.”  Then he got in the boat with them and the wind dropped.  …  Mark 6:50, 51

How patient in Jesus with us?  How much compassion did he have for our fearfulness and hard hearts?  How much mercy did he have for those who seek him?  He wanted quiet reflection time with his disciples when the crowd followed him.  He put his and the needs of his disciples aside for a while to feed souls and mouths.

After feeding the thousands who gathered around him, he sends them away so that he can have time alone to pray.  Late at night, he intended to walk on the sea, not seeking the attention of his disciples.  Yet, they saw him walking across the water and became fearful.  Jesus had scolded them once before about their lack of faith during the storm.  Surely they would be punished for not learning from their previous encounter, especially when exhaustion confronting a headwind seems to be their only difficulty.

Dawn on the Stumps (© John Gresham)

Declarative words of comfort and a hand of mercy is what Jesus gives to the exhausted and fearful followers.  “Don’t be scared!  Recognize who I am.”  And not only does he speak, the Teacher gets in their boat and causes the wind to cease.  Instead of just punishment, we see patience.  His word is stern.  But, he doesn’t do to them as they deserve.  Indeed, he acts in undeserved kindness.

Let’s not be to ready in judgement and justice.  Some fail out of simple exhaustion.   We are weak when we are tired.  Let’s be firm in reassurance and act in grace toward each other in such times.  There is more good to be done in this day before the night falls on all of us.

Yours in Christ

Brother Cyprian Bluemood

Order of Saint-Simon of Cyrene

Our Failure In Storms

… “Why are you afraid?  Have you no faith?” Mark 4:40

I want to thank Dr. James Harris of the Samuel D. Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University for reminding me of the need for discipline in crafting sermons.  It is way too easy for bi-vocational pastors like me to get slack about preparing the message.  I also want to thank God that I had sense enough to create A Lenten Journal:  A Pursuit of the Doctrine of Christ.  The consistency is providing me with a body of work I can refer to for my sermons, lessons, and personal worship.  In his Preaching With Transformation in Mind class at the school’s Church Leadership Conference yesterday, we used Luke 8:21-25 as a practice text as he taught and refreshed us on sermon construction.  This text is a parallel to Mark 4:35-41 from which I used for my Second Monday post.  With this said, here is an outline of what I will preach today.

Dr. James Harris (© John Gresham)

Mark 4:40

OUR FAILURE IN STORMS

(Introduction)  Jesus does not fail to overcome the storms in our lives

(Antithesis)  The power of Jesus should have never been questioned in the first place

(Thesis)  The real problem is that we fail to have faith in him in the midst of our storms as we follow him

(Relevant Question)  What should we remember about Jesus so that we can maintain faith and courage in our difficult situations?

(Points)     1.  Jesus sends and goes with us as we do his will (v.35)

2.  Jesus does not send us alone nor in unfamiliar territory (v.36)

3.  Jesus sleeps during storms that we are equipped to handle (v.37)

(Conclusion)  Keep the faith because Jesus will bring us to greater challenges and victories

Clergy and laity are more than welcome to chime in on this.  May you be blessed today and every day.

Your Brother In Christ,

Cyprian Bluemood

Order of Saint-Simon of Cyrene

A Lenten Journal: A Pursuit of the Doctrine of Christ (Third Wednesday)

… and he gave them strict orders not to let anyone know about it, …   Mark 5:43

So many had an opportunity to be healed.  Others had the chance to witness a miracle.  Only those who were bold and faithful were blessed.  For the president of the synagogue to humble himself and believe a Nazareth street preacher had the power and compassion to heal his daughter was no small feat.  Nor was it insignificant that a woman who was unclean for much of her life to think she could be healed by touching his clothes.  How many in the crowd had some illness among their kin but didn’t hold the office that Jarius did?  How many others touched Jesus with far less lengthy of illnesses?  All of the others in these stories were in the crowd, made incidental touches, had lost hope, and finally ridiculed the one who was able to bring redemption.  Only a few of his disciples and the true believers could bear to witness his resurrecting power.  The crowds and mourners didn’t have faith and courage.  So, why should they be blessed to know what their weak spirits would not allow them to see and experience?

Growth on the Summit (© John Gresham)

Faith and courage are what separates those who walk in spirit from those who walk in flesh.  Those who walk in flesh only follow the crowd and think according to the hopelessness around them.  The spiritual know there is something beyond their limitations and the doomsayers around them.  It takes spirit to be humble, ever seeking, and believing beyond the odds.  May we develop these two qualities so that we may be blessed with what the crowds are denied.

Yours in Christ,

Cyprian Bluemood

Order of Saint-Simon of Cyrene

A Lenten Journal: A Pursuit of the Doctrine of Christ (Second Tuesday)

They came to Jesus and saw the demoniac sitting there-the man who had the legion in him-properly dressed and in his full senses, and they were afraid.  Mark 5:15

Jesus is with the one whom he restored.  A community could not restrain him, much less get him to think correctly.  He lived among the dead torturing his body and voice.  His many demons kept him from the fullness of life and company of others.  But, as long as he was isolated in the graveyard, no one was very concerned.  It is only after Jesus sent the legion of demons out of the man and into the pigs causing them to drown themselves did the people become fearful.  Only when they saw the same man who was once an isolated menace now in a state to rejoin society did the people become fearful.  The order they were used to and the sustenance they were accustomed to were radically changed.  Can it be said that the Gadarenes prefered the order of a suffering man than the confusion of his freedom?

Driftwood (© John Gresham)

And do we not see the same fear in our societies throughout the pages of human history and today’s newspapers?  As long as our pigs are feeding in the field, we could care less about those who suffer in isolation that we couldn’t help.  But, if we they are cured beyond our ability and our convenience taken in the process, we are afraid rather than faithful.  A faithful people would have rejoiced in the miracle and had faith that the one who made it possible would give them a greater substitute for their pigs.  The faithless Gadarenes had a unhealty fear of the Holy and attachment to their possessions.

Sometimes when Jesus delivers someone, we have to lose something.  We must decide if the Holy making people whole is more important than our hogs.

Yours in Christ,

Cyprian Bluemood

Order of Saint-Simon of Cyrene