Lent

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

… “Pay Caesar what belongs to Caesar-and God what belongs to God.”  … Mark 12:17

… “Surely the reason why you are wrong is that you understand neither the scriptures nor the power of God.”  Mark 12:24

Two forces tend to assault our walk with the Lord as much as any sin.  Those who wish to dominate faith by conspiring with a political establishment and those who hold to a an earthly standard of the heavenly existence.  The trap the Pharisees and Herodians set for Jesus was especially odious.  But, it shows the weakness of religious legalism.  It can and will attach its self to whatever earthly authority to gain an advantage.  Just as Jesus did not bow down to Satan for the glory of any kingdom in this world, so we are not to live by a faith of earthly legalism.  We are to live spiritually and seek entrance in the kingdom of God.  We must stand on the true objective of the Spirit and not fall into the traps to the left and right of us.  The Sadducees were no better.  They believed that God’s kingdom was built on human tradition and contracts.  No, says Jesus.  The word of God is life.  No genealogy can give such a gift.  Only faith in the Son whom the scriptures and the Spirit speaks of gives life abundant and eternal.

Cleat and Beyond (© John Gresham)

Avoid the earthly interpretations of human arrangements in the walk with Christ.  Political, religious, and social authority do not enhance our souls.  Instead, they enslave them to ideologies and stereotypes.  Such souls are no better, and perhaps worse, than crack-heads and junkies.

Your Brother in Christ,

Cyprian Bluemood

Order of Saint-Simo of Cyrene

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

“He will come and make an end of the tenants and give the vineyard to others.”  Mark 12:9

Shame on those who are righteous in their own eyes!  God has done so much for his people.  Giving us his compassion, mercy, spirit and vision.  Our only requirement is to produce the fruit that he has planted inside of us for his glory.  We are to share in his glory.  But, we cruelly reject those who God sends calling us to show the good fruit we have produced.  And to add final insult, we even kill his own son for the sake of our glory.

Mad River (© John Gresham)

Have you ignored, trashed, or even killed a prophet?  Someone who has told you time and time again to do what is right, to love loyalty and to walk humbly with your God?*  Still worse, are you among the crowd shouting, “Crucify him,” toward the one who came not to be served, but to serve?”**  God wants from us what is rightfully his.  To deny him our lives committed to love, truth, and spirit and to reject those who remind us to do so makes us no different from the accusers, mockers, and the ones who nailed him to the cross.  We should not be surprised on the day of judgement that as we suffer outside of the gates that those whom we mock and despise will dwell eternally in the presence of the one we claim to serve.

Let us welcome the prophets.  Let us welcome Christ.  Let us show God the fruit of Holy Spirit filled lives.

Your Brother in Christ

Cyprian Bluemood

Order of Saint-Simon of Cyrene

*Micah 6:8

**Mark 10:45

 

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

“And when you stand in prayer, forgive what you have against anybody, so that your Father in heaven may forgive your failures too.”    Mark 11:25

The second and third entrances in Jerusalem had no parades nor fanfare.  We instead see a somewhat cruel use of power (the cursing of the fig tree), defiant rabble-rousing (the expulsion of the traders from the temple), and a logical defeat of the opposition (the authority of Jesus questioned).  Coupled with the concept of having a personal relationship with Jesus, some Christians act as if we are thus granted to act as he had during the Jerusalem ministry.  No doubt that we must speak of holy displeasure and speak truth to power.  But, Jesus gives us a caveat to our no doubt in his hear, but believing that what he says will happen, and believe you have it already and it will be yours. 

Rev. Sylvester Bullock (© John Gresham)

The fig tree was a sign that the Jews should have had fruit of the Spirit ready for the Messiah at his very presence.  Cursed to all who are beholden to such law and tradition.  The point was made further as the worship was corrupted by money-changers in the temple and a clerical leadership that failed to acknowledge the Spirit of God among them.  These are the mountains that we must pray, in faith, will be cast into the sea.  But, we must also pray in forgiveness.  If we make such prayers with this element of mercy, mercy will be shown to us who also stand in need of it.  For we all fail to bear the fruit of the Spirit as we should in the presence of Christ.  We are all corrupted by the things of this world.  We all become complacent in faith and are dull to the movement of God even when we are faced with him.  If we command the mountain to throw its self without these considerations, it can and will fall on us!

There is great and divine power in prayer.  The heart of forgiveness prevents us from using the power foolishly.

Yours in Christ

Brother Cyprian Bluemood

Order of Saint-Simon of Cyrene

 

He Was Only Borrowing the Colt

Today is Palm Sunday.  The first Sunday in April is also my anniversary as Pastor of Trinity Baptist Church.  If I had to write a list of people who helped me along the way, I must include Louise Kersey.  As a boy, I knew her as “Aunt Oppielee.”  She was known for her beauty and kind heart.  Her wisdom and devotion to the word of God was also well-known.  She attended many Christian Education seminars and was one of the most well-respected Sunday School teachers in King William and neighboring counties.  Under the leadership of our young pastor from Louisiana, Rev. Darrell K. White, Oppielee was ordained as the first female deacon in the county in 1986.  She never served for the sake of making statements or breaking barriers.  She only served because she loved the Lord and her neighbor.  Praise God that she still does.

Deacon Louise Kersey with Sister Ernestine Kersey (© John Gresham)

HE WAS ONLY BORROWING THE COLT

Mark 11:2,3

1.  Introduction

Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a valuable animal,  a young donkey that had years of service ahead of it.

Rather than keep the colt, Jesus returns it to the owner.  There are practical reasons as to why he did so (Christ was going to be crucified,The Lord keeps his promises, The owner needed to make a living, Jesus couldn’t keep the donkey with him).

2.  Propositional Statement

WE MUST NOT LEAVE THE HEART OF OUR FAITH ON THE VALUABLE THINGS OF THIS WORLD

3.  relevent Question

What are the colts we leave Jesus on?

4.  Points:

a) Human Praise (v. 9,10)

– The crowd of disciples cheering him on

Sunday abandoned him on Friday

– Jesus kept moving to do the work of God

– Praise is good (Psalm 147:1), Don’t let

the rocks do your job (Luke 19:40).

– Praise is a valuable colt. But

don’t let your faith stay on praise.

There is something greater.

b) Human Lineage (v.10)

– His family members, also of the house

of David thought he lost his mind

(Mark 3:21)

– His real family consist of all who do

the will of God (Mark 3:35)

– A good family is a valuable colt.  But,

don’t let your faith stay on relatives or

friends.  There is something greater.

c) Human Nations (v.10)

– Jesus did not restore Davidic/Solomonic

Israel as many had hoped

– He has rejected ruling over any nation in

this world (Matt 4:8-10, Luke 4:5-8).  To

do so would be selling his mission to the

devil.

– Yes, love your country and support

whomever you feel is best.  We have

valuable colts.  But, don’t let your

faith stay on your country nor candidate.

there is something greater.

5.  Conclusion

Sit on a colt for a while.  But, you still have

to walk up Calvary and hang on a cross in order

to sit on a throne forever.

A Lenten Journal: A Pursuit of the Doctrine of Christ (Sixth Saturday)

“If anyone says to you, ‘What are you doing?’ say, ‘The Master needs it and will send it back here at once.'”  Mark 11:3

Jesus was only borrowing the donkey.  He would return it before nightfall.  All of those who followed Jesus to Jerusalem praised him loudly.  “Blessed in the coming kingdom of David our father!”  But, there would be no restoration of Davidic-Solomonic Israel.  Jesus was going to Jerusalem to die.  The crowds declared a human parentage and earthly nation.  How sadly shortsighted.  The purpose of the savior was not to maintain such earthly standards.  He would soon return that borrowed donkey.

Flowing on Rocks (© John Gresham)

The Gospel of salvation means more than “family values” or “God Bless America.”  We can shout these things all we wish.  But we are overlooking one main point.  Christ did not come to save anyone because of heritage nor nationality.  He died to rise again to save whomever would deny himself, take up his cross and follow him.  Jesus returned the donkey.  Had he kept it, he would be a thief.  If we keep Jesus on these donkeys, we are making him into a criminal.  He took care of the animal.  But, gave it back.  Let us act in ways to nurture our households and communities.  We should obey just laws and be good citizens.  But Christ has a greater purpose than riding on borrowed donkeys.

Your Brother in Christ,

Cyprian Bluemood

Order of Saint-Simon of Cyrene

A Lenten Journal: A Pursuit of the Doctrine of Christ (Sixth Friday)

“Call him here.”  Mark 10:49

Out of that great crowd, Bartimaeus received his sight.  A couple of things strike me about this text.  Firstly, is the mercy Jesus has for the man.  Others scold Bartimaeus for crying out to him.  “How would he know Jesus since he has never heard his voice and certainly hadn’t seen him before?”  “Bartimaeus is blind, but at least he gets a few coins begging on side of the road.”  “He should be quiet and accept his lot in life.”  Jesus listened past the critics and heard the faith of a man who wants restoration.  The will of God cannot be dictated by nay-sayers who wish to keep the status quo.  The mercy of our Lord looks past such callousness with great compassion.

New River State Park (© John Gresham/Virginia State Parks)

Also, Bartimaeus calls out in hope when hope makes no sense.  How would Jesus hear his voice over the crowd?  Why should such an important man pay him any attention?  People gave money to beggars on the side of the road.  So, why should he want to change his lot?  Bartimaeus had a real need that could only be solved by real faith.  A faith that goes beyond obstacles and opposition.  A faith that only ask for the root need.  He didn’t ask for wealth nor a wife.  Bartimaeus only asked for pity and his sight.

Let us have faith in a God who is able to restore us.  To bring us to a condition to live abundantly.  We have obstacles that would prevent us from this gift.  We have opponents that say we ought to be content with where we are.  But, let us have the faith that overcomes these.  If we do, some in the crowd will speak to us in a different tone.  “Courage.  Get up; he is calling you.”  Indeed, the compassion of Christ knows no boundaries and hears past those who try to set them.

Yours in Christ,

Brother Cyprian Bluemood

Order of Saint-Simon of Cyrene

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

“For the son of man himself came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.   Mark 10:45

Poor James and John.  They had followed Jesus so closely and were among the first disciples called and they still didn’t get the point.  They had a “Kodak moment” of Jesus as he was transfigured with Moses and Elijah and still didn’t get the picture.  Jesus once again spoke of the passion and they had the shameless nerve to ask for positions of power.

Feeding at the Splash (© John Gresham)

There can be no true authority without humble, sacrificial service.  Again, our Lord talks of the brutal ordeal he must go through.  He is not going to Jerusalem to be coronated or inaugurated.  He is going there to give his life as a ransom for many.  As a result of this sacrifice, after three days he will rise again.  Positions of authority is not something we are not things we are to pursue in this world nor the world to come.  God will decide who fills seats according to his will.  Our responsibility is to be servants to one another.  If we fail to make ourselves slaves to others, our seats will not save us and we make a mockery of the Savior whom we proclaim.

And the fact that he calls himself the “Son of man” should give us a clue as to how we should see ourselves.  We who are pastors or other church leaders ought be examples of humility and service to our communities.  We ought to feel a bit embarrassed when people call us “father” or “reverend.”

Yours in Christ,

Brother Cyprian Bluemood

Order of Saint-Simon of Cyrene

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

“Many who are first will be last, and the last, first.”  Mark 10:31

I often believe that too many of my fellow preachers have slipped into stupid.  We have developed a culture of opulence seekers who constantly chase after the best seats, finest attire, most luxurious surroundings and we excuse this sad and pathetic pursuit as “seeking God’s favor.”  I can’t help but to wonder if we have paid any attention to the lives of the disciples and, more so, the one who taught them.

These men were not blessed by gaining anything of earthly material value.  Not Matthew, who may have been the wealthiest among them as a tax collector.  Not even the lowliest of the fishermen.  When Jesus said, “Follow Me,”  the pursuit of wealth and status for these men was thrown completely out of the window.  They all crashed in friends and relatives homes, ate whatever they could afford and made it stretch for thousands of unexpected guest, and had to borrow a donkey to go to Jerusalem.  Their lifestyle has little or nothing to do with Steve Harvey suits, chauffeur driven Bentleys, nor a fine hotel room at the conference (complete with cable TV to watch porno movies).  We have no right to criticize a secular world bent on greed when we who proclaim to be spiritual seek to wallow in status and wealth.

Dawn on the Pier (© John Gresham)

We are truly blessed and highly favored when we leave the things of this world behind.  If you mark your blessings and favor according to the stuff you get in this world, what does that say about what you will gain in the world to come?  Indeed, what does that say about your discipleship?  The disciples are to gain as much as a hundred times over for the earthly gain they had left behind.  The rich young man gained nothing as he was too attached to what he had to give it all up to become a disciple.

Every minister need not take a vow of poverty and live in a monastery.   But, we must reject the pursuit of opulence and be content with living simply.  Let us only take what is necessary for the journey.  For the reward God has for us in the eternal is greater than any “blessing” or “favor” we may receive in the temporal.

Your Brother in Christ

Cyprian Bluemood

Order of Saint-Simon of Cyrene

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

Jesus looked steadily at him and he was filled with love for him and he said, “You need to do one thing more.  Go and sell what you own and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come follow me.”    Mark 10:21

Here is evidence of how the lack of human ego can bring us closer to God and each other.  No doubt, our Lord gives a command to this rich young man to sell all he has in exchange for heavenly treasure as the prerequisite for discipleship.  But please take note, Jesus does not give the command out of spite with a wrath-filled warning if he is disobedient.  Jesus looked steadily at him and he was filled with love for him.

Eagle with Fish (© John Gresham)

Why is there no economic justice in the world?  Ego.  Those who demand more from the rich too often do so out of malice instead of mercy.  The rich and those who identify with them feel this malice and resist the wishes of the poor and their advocates.  Of course, the man is too full of his great wealth to obey and follow the far greater Christ.  But, Jesus is able to make the request because the spirit he makes it with.

Seekers of economic justice should do so out of love for the rich as well as the poor, especially since entry into the kingdom of God is far more difficult for the wealthy.  And if they fail to listen to the Lord, let us not be distracted by our lack of this world’s fine possessions.  If we are generous, our little can become more than enough as we build up our wealth in the world to come.

“I feed the poor, I am called a saint.  I ask why the poor have no food, I am called a communist.”  Archbishop Dom Helder Camara  http://www.xaviermissionaries.org/M_Life/NL_Archives/99-N_Lett/BR_Helder_Camara.htm

Your Brother in Christ

Cyprian Bluemood

Order of Saint-Simon of Cyrene

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

“But, from the beginning of creation ‘he made male and female.'”    Mark 10:6

We have drifted from the original purpose.  Relationships between male and female have become a disturbed pursuit of pleasure rather than a loving expression of commitment.  In the time of Moses, divorce was as simple as a written piece of paper ending the marriage.  Today, we have a culture that doesn’t bother with the institution.  We just agree to “hook up” for a night or two for mutual enjoyment.

The source for this malady is a hardness of heart.  It is the spiritual heart that only beats for its self and seeks its own pleasure.  This heart readily rejects what no longer pleases it.  Such a heart cannot fully commit to the God-given relationship where intimacy is to be freely expressed.  If it cannot be faithful to this tangible gift, it cannot be faithful to the God that gave it.

Celebrate Love (© John Gresham)

Let us pray for tender hearts that allow us to be intimate with our spouses.  Not simply sexual.  Who has not seen dogs having intercourse?  Intimacy is where the two bodies and souls yield completely to one another so that they become one.  One who can yield to a spouse can yield to the will of God.

Your Brother in Christ

Cyprian Bluemood

Order of Saint-Simon of Cyrene