Second Life

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

Don’t Blame the Serpent

Why do we sin?  Why is Paul right in saying that when I want to do good, wickedness is always present?  We used to say, “the devil made me do it.”  Truth is that the real blame lies more in who we are as humans.  We are images, flawed imitations of the original.  Fortunately,  the Original has blessed us with a means to make up for our deficiencies and to seek a more complete way of life.

Pier Beyond (© John Gresham)

 

STOP BLAMING SNAKES

Genesis 3:6

1.  Introduction:  Don’t blame the snake

The snake is only subtle, not forceful (3:1)

It could only spit game, not force anyone to play

We may have bad influences, but it is our choice to act

2.  Propositional Statement:  Because we are created only in the image of

God, we are subject to make wrong choices.

3.  Relevant Question:  What is it about human nature that leads us into

making wrong choices?

4.  Points:

A)  Want of sustenance

– she wasn’t hungry, she just wanted

– control what you want like Jesus did

B)  Sensual delight

– she relied on a sense without sense

– good sense gives protection

C)  Ambition for betterment

– desire without divine direction

– always seek divine destination

5.  Conclusion:

Human nature is a life that leads to death.

– flawed communion with each other

– broken relationship with God

Spiritual nature is a life that leads to eternal life

– Jesus was human enough to live among us

– Jesus was divine enough to live beyond us

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

And he gave them strict orders not to tell anyone about him.     Mark 8:30

There is a time for revelation and a time of silence.  Revelation too soon is a disaster to any movement.  Movements need time to properly develop and be at the right place to be effective.  The blind man at Bethsaida was given sight.  But, his vision was Bethsaida, not Jerusalem.  Peter rightly identified his Master on the road to Caesarea Philippi.  That was a circuit visit, not the final destination.  There is always the temptation to side track from the ultimate point of a mission.  Jesus refused to allow the ones he healed and his followers to do this to him.

Glass Island Dawn

Know what the will of God is in your life and resolve not to let anyone or anything side track you.  Not just bad habits, enemies, misleading influences, and misdeeds.  But, the sinister distractions of praises and victories can divert and destroy any good cause just as swiftly as the worst wicked opposition.  Stay the course with a sense of discipline and demand it especially from those who wish you well.

Your Brother In Christ,

Cyprian Bluemood

Order of Saint Simon of Cyrene

A Lenten Journal: A Pursuit of the Doctrine of Christ

… “Do you still not realise?”   Mark 8:21

What else did Jesus have to do to prove his divinity and power?  The Pharisees wanted a sign.  The Lord has already shown great acts of compassion and mercy that they could not match.  Multitudes of people have seen and experienced these things.  The word about this goodness has been spread even when he wanted it to be silenced.  The Pharisees request was inexcusable.  The religious establishment could not fathom the idea that selfless love was a greater sign of divine power than an act of nature done on their human request.

Grilled Mushrooms & Cheese (© John Gresham)

As bad as it was that the Lord’s opponents didn’t realise this, his companions also failed to see the power of divine love.  They were too busy thinking about earthly sustenance even though divine love has proven more powerful than that.  The math of the previous bread miracles should have been evident enough to the disciples.  It was also inexcusable for them to have so quickly forgotten the lessons they saw first hand.

Are we more concerned with our positions and piety that we forget to be compassionate and merciful?  Are we so worried about practical matters that we are forgetful of the spirit that makes the practical possible with abundant providence?  There is much bad yeast among us.  May it not grow inside of us.

Yours in Christ

Brother Cyprian Bluemood

Order of Saint-Simon of Cyrene

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

And Jesus ordered them to tell no one about it, …  Now there had been about four thousand people.  He sent them away and at once, getting into the boat with his disciples, …  Mark 7:36, 8:9, 10

Dr. Alix B. James used to teach seminarians at Virginia Union University to wear simple colored suits and ties when preaching.  The only jewelry we should have on us include a class ring, wedding band for the married, and cuff links if needed.  His point was that we should not draw attention to ourselves, but put the attention on God.

Rev. Evans C. White (@ John Gresham)

Jesus does not seek the praises and attention of the crowds nor the people he heals.  He could have easily made a disciple out of the former deaf-mute and created a small army of the thousands he fed with what could feed only two or three men.  By his very power though compassion he was going to draw crowds anyway.  Speaking truth through love gained him audiences.  But his only role was to do the will of the Father who sent him.  He moves with those who believe in and diligently follow him.

We who preach the Gospel are sometimes tempted to become spectacles rather than servants.  Popularity among people means as much, if not more, than fulfilling the unique calling God has given us.  Let Jesus be our standard.  When our lessons, miracles, sacrifices, and victories surpass his; we should present ourselves as we wish.  Until that time, we must rely on the Holy Spirit to guide us to draw attention to the one who deserves all of it.

Yours in Christ,

Brother Cyprian Bluemood

Order of Saint-Simon of Cyrene

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

… “For saying this you may go home happy; the devil has gone out of your daughter.”  Mark 7:29

She was not of the lost sheep of Israel.  The ministry of Jesus had been focused more on the Jewish communities of the Galilee region, though there were most likely Gentiles of all sorts among the crowds.  This woman in particular had a persistence despite her outcast status.  Furthermore, it was her daughter that needed to be healed.  Females were not considered equal to men in the ancient Jewish society.  Gentile women were considered even lower.  But she loved her daughter too much to let herself be hindered by social status.  She believed, based on what she heard about him, that Jesus had enough compassion to heal the girl.  And despite his cutting remark and the disdain of his disciples, she was willing to take even the least bit of power the healer would offer.  By this faith, Jesus dismissed her with good news.

Crab On My Claw (© John Gresham)

Do we have persistence in our pursuit of Christ?  Where is our love for someone else that we don’t give up seeking him? Do we let our outcast status define how close we can get to the Lord?  Are we fearful of the comments of the religious?  Do we maintain hope when even Jesus seems to distance himself from us?  Are we willing to receive the most insignificant of blessings?  Depending on how we answer these questions, we can have total contentment and inward joy or perpetual frustration and disappointment.

Your Brother in Christ,

Cyprian Bluemood

Order of Saint-Simon of Cyrene

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

“Nothing that goes into someone from outside can make that person unclean; it is the things that come out of someone that makes that person unclean.  Anyone who has ears for listening should listen!” Mark 7:15, 16

There is a great concern among many about the outward appearance of religion.  That the rituals we perform in public are of an utmost importance.  Lent is a traditional time of fasting.  Those of us who observe it certainly don’t want to be seen with a barbecue sandwich in our hands or something else we are restricted from eating.  Strict observance of such dietary rules do not make us  any more worthy of salvation than those who don’t.  The discipline of fasting is a tradition we are free to accept and reject.  We walk by faith and not sight.  We all see food in front of us.

Higher Ground above fog (© John Gresham)

Vigilance against the things within us is not optional.  We all have capacity to think and act out evil.  Fasting from our unclean ambitions and urges is far more critical to our walk in the spirit than eating red meat after Mardi Gras.  If I were to eat a hamburger today, it will leave my system soon enough.  If I don’t indulge in such eating and exercise, there are no consequences to either my physical or spiritual health.  Lust is different.  It is not excreted from the bowels.  It leaves an imprint on our personhood that affects the way we respond to others.  By its very nature, lust demands more of who we are.  Relationships are broken, responsibility is cast aside, growth as a creature of spirit is stunted.  If left unchecked, it is acted upon in the worst ways.

Take upon whatever tradition you wish and do so in faith.  But, don’t let such things become more important that what we all must fast from.

Your Brother in Christ,

Cyprian Bluemood

Order of Saint-Simon of Cyrene

 

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

“In truth I tell you, all human sins will be forgiven, and all the blasphemies ever uttered; but anyone who blasphemies against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven, but is guilty of an eternal sin.” Mark 3:28,29

Ours is a path of spirit, not of flesh.  Our struggle is one of spirit, not of flesh.  This is not to say that our sins of flesh are minor and not to be rejected.  Indeed, as we strive to walk in the spirit, we are obligated to put our natural desires under submission with the power of God that dwells inside of us.  The gift of forgiveness should never be a crutch or excuse for intentional bad behavior nor living with no direction.  Jesus offers this gift to encourage us to follow him and worship the Father in spirit and truth.  For those who sincerely repent, God forgives the sins of the flesh and wicked words of our mouths.

Hampton University Chapel Tower (© John Gresham)

To believe and proclaim that the Spirit of God is evil is a different and far more deadly sin.  This blasphemy rejects the Lord’s divinity and his ability to heal and restore the souls that come to him.  It denounces those who seek him and denies the clear evidence of his power.  For the adulterer, thief, or other sinner of flesh; there is hope with sincere repentance.  The Holy Spirit can dwell can correct such a person.  The Spirit cannot dwell in one who refuses to open the door of his heart.  The Jerusalem law copiers condemned themselves for not having faith in, or at least being open to, the original giver of life.  Be aware of self-righteousness and merciless morality.

Your Brother in Christ,

Cyprian Bluemood

Order of Saint-Simon of Cyrene