sin

What Clothes Are You Wearing?

… “Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?”  For many are called, but few are chosen. Matthew 22:12, 14

The garments of our lives are stained by the sins we are guilty of.  Our thoughts, words, and deeds that are not of God’s will taint us from holiness and purity.  Thus, none of us are worthy to attend the eternal celebration of the Lamb and his bride.  Yet, through grace and mercy, the blood of Jesus is there for us to wash our life garments making us worthy to be counted among the number of saints.  The blood makes us pure through repentance to live in holiness today and forever in the world beyond.

Garments of Joy (© John Gresham)

Like the unfortunate guest in the text, we try to enter into the great feast wearing something else.  We try to wear substitutes for being genuine and repentant.  At our fanciest, we may parade our abilities or wealth to hide the double lives we lead.  We practice ritual and good deeds without living the personal good that make these things complete.  We even walk in our filthy clothing as if they are clean because no one challenges us to live better and we take no heed when someone does.  None of these are substitutes for spiritual living.  The Kingdom of God calls all to come in.  But, God (not man) does judge us and has every right and power not to let us in.

Let us be careful to live in repentance and spirit.  Casting aside all sins that hinder us from reaching the place of glory.  Making no provisions for the lust of our flesh.  Diligently seeking his will for our lives.  A great celebration awaits all who are properly clothed in his righteousness.

Your Brother in Christ,

Cyprian Bluemood

Order of Saint-Simon of Cyrene

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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

The Importance Of Self Examination

God, examine me and know my heart, test me and know my concerns.  Make sue that I am not on my way to ruin, and guide me on the road to eternity.  Psalm 139:23,24 (New Jerusalem Bible)

Western Christians are already into the first week.  Orthodox brothers and sisters will begin Wednesday.  The Lenten season is our time of fasting, reflection, and self-examination.  Too often, modern society acts as if such soul-searching isn’t that important or only needs to be done when we hit a time of crisis.  When the spouse or parent has abused to a point of causing injury or the addict has hit “rock bottom.”  We know from an old saying, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”  I offer to you this morning that if we make self-examination a part of who we are, much of our self-inflicted sorrows can be better managed if not avoided all together.

Rays on the Voyage

David calls upon the Lord to search his heart and thoughts.  He understands that the Holy One made his very inward parts in the most inward places so that nothing about him is unknown to him.  There is no place the king of Israel can go, from the heights of heaven and the mountains to the depths of hell and the sea, that God is not there.   Recognition of the Almighty and All-knowing puts our lives in proper perspective.  Even if we can fool and hide from our fellows, we cannot do such things with him.  Thus we are called to be careful of our thoughts and actions.

David is also expressive of his hate of the wicked.  He prays for divine wrath against them and counts himself on the side of God.  But, he concludes the Psalm asking that he would be searched by the Holy One to insure that he is walking on the Holy Path.  It would be shameful to pray an end to evil doers and he would find himself among them.  By this seeking of self-examination, it is said of David that he was a man after God’s own heart and did what was right before God and followed all of his commandments, except in the matter of Uriah the Hittite.  No, the king was not perfect.  But, his imperfection was greatly limited.

If you are of a faith that does not observe Lent (as we Baptist do not have it in our doctrine), I recommend you consider the practice.  Designate time during the day to focus on the Lord searching your heart and thoughts.  Practice self-discipline to deny yourself access to something that you normally indulge in.  After Lent is over, make self-examination a part of who you are so that the Lord can guide you to his kingdom.

Your Brother In Christ,

Cyprian Bluemood

Order of Saint-Simon of Cyrene

 

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

“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is close at hand.  Repent, and believe in the gospel.”   –  Mark 1:15

What is the Gospel that Jesus is referring to in this portion of his ministry?  Surely he is not going about Galilee proclaiming he has died and risen from the tomb.  He hasn’t even told this to the first four disciples yet as he has just called them to be fishers of men.  So, was Jesus foretelling what would happen to him to masses of people even before he would tell his closest followers who wouldn’t understand him?

Praise for Good News

I revert back to the previous 14 verses of this chapter.  The word of prophecy has been fulfilled.  The voice that cried out in the wilderness, John the Baptist,  has fulfilled his purpose.   Jesus was baptized by this man of great faith and simple life.  Baptism was for repentance and forgiveness of sin though he had no sin.  Jesus was confirmed as the coming Lord by the Father and the Holy Spirit.   The Lord had withstood testing and tempting by Satan and came through the desert without sin.  John’s imprisonment now opens the door for the ministry that he said would be greater than his.  Therefore, the Good News is that one can receive spiritual renewal and victory over evil by believing that Jesus is the prophesied Lord from Heaven because he has become one with us and triumphed over Satan.  Repent and believe.

John’s baptism flew in the face of the Pharisees call for strict, legal obedience as it didn’t follow the Mosaic ritual.  It was an antithesis to the earthy rule of Herod and Rome as he spoke of something greater.  Jesus declared not the restoration of David’s Israel nor the majesty of Cesar.  “The Kingdom of God is close at hand.”   Entrance into this divine realm only two things are required.  Repent and believe.

May you see beyond burdensome legalism and supremacist arrogance.  Good News is simple and available to all.  Repent and believe.

Yours In Christ,

Brother Cyprian Bluemood

Order of Saint-Simon of Cyrene

A Lenten Journal: A Pursuit of the Doctirne of Christ (Ash Wednesday)

I have baptised you with water, but he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit – Mark 1:8

John the Baptist was a holy man full of truth and grace.  He proclaimed baptism of repentance and forgiveness of sin, wore simple clothes, ate simple food, and taught there was someone greater than himself.  There were some Jewish Zealots who sought armed struggle against the Roman oppressors.  Others conspired with the occupiers for personal gain.  Most simply resigned themselves to their lot.  John leads the way above these three states of mind.

Lynnhaven Dawn

Repentance and forgiveness of sin is a far greater calling than militancy.  The latter relies on violent human to defeat a human enemy.  The former relies on God’s mercy to defeat the spiritual enemy.  The later seeks earthly territory.  The former desires a place in the heavenly kingdom.  One struggles for dominance and the other invites vulnerability.  Even in victory, the militant is only temporary.  The soul that repents and is forgiven becomes immortal.  There is no doubt as to which is greater.

Simple living is greater than feasting founded on corruption.  The simple relies on the God who provides to bless the work of his hands.  In times of feast or famine, they are sustained for they have God as their resource.  Of those who require bribes, theft, and usury; what hope do they have when trouble comes their way?  To constantly sell their souls to the highest bidder, or any bidder, for the best meal they can find.  As the bidders are mere mortals, their feast is tainted and doomed.  Even the morsels of the righteous are more blessed than their banquets.

Awards, honors, and trophies of all sorts may be well deserved.  But, they mean little to the Greater One who is coming.  The true purpose in life is not to gain human glory.  We are called to live in expectation of the one who brings heavenly glory.  To indulge in one’s own light is a betrayal to the True Light that gives life to people.  John understood his purpose as a voice that proceeds the Coming Sound of the Greater Trumpet.

Let us understand our purpose.  Live to bring about healing of ourselves and others, reliant on God and our efforts, constantly seeking his mercy, and expecting him to come into our lives in fullness.

Bro. Cyprian Bluemood

Order of Saint-Simon of Cyrene

Justified By Humility

“The tax collector stood some distance away, not daring even to raise his eyes to heaven; but he beat his breast and said, God, be merciful to me, a sinner.'”  Luke 18:13

Too often, we define a right relationship with God as being based on morality and following ritual.  We don’t drink, smoke, cuss, or have sex outside of marriage.  We attend church, mass, fast during lent, or read the Bible.  There is no doubt that morality and ritual are helpful in society and a spiritual lifestyle.  Without condemning these, Jesus teaches that they are not the things that give us justification with the Father.

There is a higher view than ours

Please note, the tax collector practices the ritual of going to the temple just like the Pharisee.  But, being a tax collector puts him in a perpetual state of sin according to the devout Jews of the time.  He makes no mention of any specific sin that many of his colleagues were engaged in such as cheating people out of money or sexually exploiting women who were unable to pay.  For all we know, he may have fasted and tithed as much as the Pharisee.  Yet, because of who he is in society, the tax collector regards himself as a sinner greatly in need of God’s mercy.  It is the humble acknowledgement and expressiveness of his prayer that God looks favorably upon and blesses.

No matter who we are (or who we think we are), humans are constantly in a state of sin.  Even those of us who are moral and practice ritual are surrounded by temptations and fall to them more often than we would like to admit.  We hate even though we don’t murder, lust even though we don’t rape and have removed pens and post-it pads from our workplaces rather than rob banks.  The preacher of Ecclesiastes was right to say “There is not a man on earth that does what is right and does not sin.”

To make a relationship right with God, one must do as this tax collector.  Have faith enough to come into God’s presence, express true remorse, and plead to the Father for mercy.  Such a humble prayer is a spiritual reset for us and leads to repentance.  A lack of humility makes repentance an empty promise where the soul worsens due to arrogance.  But, an expression of faith like this tax collector justifies us as righteous in the eyes of the Lord.

May the Grace of God though Jesus Christ shine on you,

Brother Cyprian Bluemood

Order of Saint-Simon of Cyrene

Don’t Settle For Egypt

“‘I am about to die; but God will visit you, and bring you up out of this land to the land which he swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.  … and you shall carry up my bones from here.”  Genesis 50:24,25

Egypt is a mighty empire.  One of the world’s great rivers provides water for its fields.  Great monuments of the pharaohs stand the test of time.  Men from other nations continue to learn from the scientist and scholars.  Priceless treasures of antiquity abound there.  Joseph had achieved much in Egypt rising from a slave to being the governor who sustained the people through the great drought.  And yet, he didn’t want to remain there after his death.  He knew the Lord had a place of promise for him and his people.

Dawn at Windmill Point

The Israelites place in Egypt was temporal.  Another pharaoh had no knowledge of the Hebrew governor  and enslaved his people.  No, Canaan was the place the Lord had promised to the descendants of Abraham.  This semi arid land lacked the great resources and wealth of the mighty empire that enslaved them.  But those who would inhabit the land needed only to be obedient to their great God to be provided for and protected.  The Israelites could neither fight the Egyptian army nor cross the Red Sea by their own strength to reach the promise.  Only the Lord their God could make the pathway for them to cross and overcome their enemies.

Like Joseph, we must be wise enough not to settle for earthly wealth and authority.  Our eternal place of promise may seem far and we may lack worldly leisure and luxuries in our Canaans.  But, have faith and be obedient and we will have all that we need and more.  Have faith in the One whose light cannot be overcome by the darkness of our temptations and has parted the partition of sin that separates us from the Kingdom with his blood shed on the cross.  No, don’t settle for Egypt.  God has promised us so much more than this.

Yours Brother in Christ

Cyprian Bluemood

Order of Saint-Simon of Cyrene

Invitation To Another Kingdom

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,  for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”  Matthew 5:3

 

There is no such thing as the perfect kingdom on earth.  There never was nor will there ever will be.  As in the days of our Lord on earth, they are all ruled by economic and military power.  Both forms are easily abusive and abused.  Empires and nations of all sizes rise, fall, and in time, all are relegated to the pages of history.  One who puts hope in such a kingdom hopes in something temporal that will be punished in the day of judgement.

Light Beyond The Clouds

In the beginning of his Sermon On the Mount, Jesus invites the multitude to the kingdom of heaven.  The sun, moon, clouds, and skies cannot be persuaded by wealth nor weapons.  The heavens are governed by the hand of God and God alone.  He gives us the option to come into this greater citizenship.

Citizenship in the kingdom of heaven requires one to accept unworthiness to become such a citizen.  A poor man cannot enter a rich man’s banquet hall unless the rich man accepts him.  The poor one knows that is only by the grace of his benefactor that he can dine on the finest things offered.  So it is with us.  Due to our sin, we have no place in heaven in the presence of the Father.  It is only by his grace and mercy given to us through his Son that we can be accepted into the kingdom not made by human hands.  We must be ever mindful of our spiritual poverty in order for us to enjoy the fullness of salvation.  Jesus paid the cost for us to come into a banquet hall that we humans can never earn a  place.  Those who are aware of such poverty are truly privileged.

Your Brother In Christ,

Cyprian Bluemood

Order of Saint Simon

Third Sunday Of Advent: Patience Toward Destiny

“…Yet the chief butler did not remember Joseph, but forgot him.  After two whole years, Pharaoh dreamed …”  (Genesis 40:23, 41:1)

Few things hurt worse than waiting for better days to come around.  This is especially true when the suffering you go through has been brought on by the conspiracies, lies, and forgetfulness of others.  This is where we find Joseph.  Indeed, he opened his mouth one too many times about his dreams.  But his jealous brothers took matters way to far to sell him into slavery.  His master had him thrown in prison based on a lying wife.  And the Pharaoh’s butler, whom he revealed a word of hopeful revelation to, did not pass on a word that would save him from the dungeon for another two years.  From the time of his initial bondage until his release and rise to power, Joseph had gone through, at least, three or four years of struggle and waiting.

Beyond Fog

Too often, we expect fulfillment and success to arrive quickly and painlessly in our lives.  Indeed, some ministers of the Gospel will market such promises to gain members and money.  The text teaches the real probability of something different.  Only God can reveal your destiny to you.  Only God can make that dream come true on his time.  And in that meantime, you may suffer for years.

But, be patient.  The Lord was with Joseph giving him authority even in his misery as a prisoner and slave.  The Lord gave him wisdom to interpret the deepest thoughts of others while dwelling in places of deep despair.  The gifts of authority and wisdom were being hardened and sharpened in bondage just as a sword is under fire, hammer, and stone.  He gave a wise interpretation of the Pharoah’s dream, administrated the surplus harvest and distribution of the grain in famine.  He even reunited with the family who wronged him.

Whatever you suffer, for how long you suffer, be patient to your destiny.  Fully practice the gifts of authority and wisdom the Lord has granted you during your time of sorrow.  In his time, he will bring you out of your dungeon and on to your throne.

Your Brother In Christ,

Cyprian Bluemood

Order of Saint Simon of Cyrene

Second Sunday of Advent: The Place To Be

“… The boy, Samuel, served the Lord in the presence of Eli the Priest. …  The boy, Samuel, grew in the presence of the Lord. ”  It is easy to dismiss the need for church attendance due to the number of well publicised clergy scandals.  It is also simple for those who attend to assume their presence in church as the only requirement for spiritual growth.  A careful reflection on the early years of Samuel opposes such mistaken points of view.

Bethel Alone

Eli, the Priest, and his sons were guilty of the most vile forms of greed, immorality, and lack of discipline.  Yet, this was the place where the Lord revealed himself to a promised child, prepared him as he grew to a young adult, protected him from the devastation around him, and allowed him to live a very unique life.  Samuel was also in a place in mind as he answered, “speak Lord for your servant is listening.”  To receive a full revelation, he had to stop seeking a word from a man, but seek the word of God.

It is my prayer this morning that you will look beyond the corruption that is in the church and see that God is there and wants you there in his presence.  It is my prayer that once inside of the church, that you will open yourself to listen to what he has to say and then speak it.  This is the way of life that offers protection, preparation, and the promise of an abundant life on earth and an eternal life in heaven.

Your Brother in Christ,

Cyprian Bluemood

Order of Saint-Simon of Cyrene