sacrifice

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

“You are not far from the kingdom of God.”    Mark 12:14

Standing on the Seat (© John Gresham)

What puts us close to the kingdom of God?  A scribe listened carefully before putting his question to Jesus.  His question was sincere with no ulterior motives.  He asked for the true source and not trivial matters.  And when he heard truth as the answer, he confirmed it from what he knew.

What puts us close to the kingdom of God?  When we stop assigning Jesus to a particular human line and accept him as the Savior.  If the anointed King of Israel is subject to one greater than himself, we must not limit the Christ to any border or boundary.

What puts us close to the kingdom of God?  When we who lead refuse to do so for the sake of honors and power positions.  We are called to reject gain from the powerless.  No amount of prayer can hide such exploitation.  Such self-serving hypocrisy decisively separates us from the presence of God.

What puts us close to the kingdom of God?  When we give all we have out of poverty.  To give out of luxury is no great feat.  To sacrifice when poor shows great faith.

Lent is coming to a close.  Easter and Pascha are approaching.  But, the kingdom of God is near.  Let us always draw near to it.

Yours in Christ,

Brother Cyprian Bluemood

Order of Saint-Simon of Cyrene

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 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 Friday)

… “What were you arguing about on the road?”   Mark 9:33

Isn’t it funny when children are proven to be more mature than adults?  Please consider the text.  When Jesus teaches them about his coming Passion, the grown men are too scared to ask about what they don’t understand.  They are fearful to make a sincere inquiry of the one whose mercy and power exceeded that of anything they have ever experienced.  Instead, these who are ignorant and fearful debate among themselves.  This only maintains the state of ignorance and fear.  Service cannot be born in such  a condition.

Children know that they don’t know.  They also know that grown-ups seem to know everything.  Thus, they ask questions.  Sometimes it seems they ask too many questions or do so out of playfulness.  But, almost always, they do so realizing their significantly lower position.  The loving adult answers the child appropriately and trust grows.   Where there is trust, there is faithful service.

Baptism (© John Gresham)

Perhaps this is why we use boastful words and deadly weapons on each other in the name of religion.  We are to scared to humbly ask the God we profess to believe in the things we don’t understand.  Out of fear, we would rather try to make our case above others when none of us have a leg to stand on.  We do a disservice to God as we are unwilling to serve each other.  Small wonder we have atheism in the world.

Let’s stop being grown-ups and revert to spiritual childhood.  Never stop asking questions of God and our elder, knowledgeable saints.  Even in light-hearted moments, they who love us will reveal truth.  Truth makes us free to serve God and one another.

Yours in Christ,

Brother Cyprian Bluemood

Order of Saint-Simon of Cyrene

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 (Fourth Tuesday)

“Anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake, and the sake of the gospel, will save it.”    Mark 8:35

Self preservation is something that every human is embedded with.  It is a natural instinct.  We all seek the basics for our survival even when we don’t chase luxuries.

Instinct does not make us any more than animals.  A bear or fox caught in a leg trap will chew off a portion of the limb to escape.  So it is with us.  We are too willing to do or say anything to save our own skin.  Politicians rely on instinct to get funding to win and stay in office.  Elites create barriers to maintain their status quo.  We will tell any little or big lie to get what we want in this world.  As creatures formed in the likeness of God, this is perhaps the worst insult to the one who created us.  That we would seek to live below our potential.

Awash (© John Gresham)

The ultimate potential and destiny for mankind is to become children of God.  To reach this goal, our instinct must be rendered unimportant if not despised.  If all we want is material gain, social acceptability, and fulfilled desires; if we are willing to say and do whatever it takes to have these things, we don’t deserve them.  More over, we don’t deserve the greater prize of eternal joy.  Only if we value love for God and mankind above our comforts and very existence, our lives will truly be fulfilled and everlasting life is granted to us.

Shall we be as dogs and rats living on instinct?  Or shall we men and women created in the image of God living in the spirit of goodness he has given us?

 Yours in Christ

Brother Cyprian Bluemood

Order of Saint-Simon of Cyrene

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

“Get behind me, Satan!  You are thinking not as God thinks, but as human beings do.”  Mark 8:33

At this point, we Jesus not afraid of death.  He speaks about what he will go through openly with his disciples (perhaps not just the twelve).  In mentioning his death, he also makes it clear he will be revived.  So, even though his ordeal will be dreadful, he will rise victorious.

View of a Cliff (© John Gresham)

The same disciple who proclaimed him the Christ now seem bent on subverting his mission.  Consider that Peter doesn’t speak openly with Jesus, but pulls him aside to attempt to rebuke him.  It is hard to imagine one so great and holy to have to suffer rejection and execution.  Peter thought it nonsense that the Son of God should have to go through such trauma before triumph.

The hard rebuke Jesus gave to Peter was public for a purpose.  No one should assume to know better than God what his will is or should be.  Following Christ means a willingness to suffer.  It is a call to listen to the complete story that victory is the end for those who faithfully go through tragedy.

“And you say, brother preacher, that you want great power to move among men’s heart-strings.  You cannot have that without great sorrow.”

Gardner C. Taylor

Continue through your struggle in faith.  Where there is a cross, there is a crown.

Your Brother in Christ,

Cyprian Bluemood

Order of Saint-Simon of Cyrene