forgiveness

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

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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 (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

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

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

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

… “It is not the healthy who need the doctor, but the sick.  I came to call not the upright, but sinners.”  Mark 2:17

By his very name, Levi was supposed to be counted among the very righteous.  The Levites were the tribe where the priest were called and chosen from.  Even if he weren’t from that tribe, his parents were hopeful that their son would live to the highest standards of their faith and culture.

Alas, Levi was a tax collector.  In a cultural/political sense, he was a traitor to his people because he collected revenue enforced by the occupying Roman Empire.  By association, he was a wicked man because the temptation to exploit others for personal gain was always at hand.  Pious Jews had nothing to do with tax collectors.  These outcast could only attract others like them as friends.

Self Searching Among Many © John Gresham

One pious man walked past Levi’s office and invited him into his company.  The great favor was met with a meal at Levi’s home and among his kind.  To the Pharisees, doing something as communal and fraternal as sharing a meal with sinners and tax collectors was an insult to their sense of nationalism and righteous behavior.

The reply Jesus gave should serve as a pattern and warning for us.  He came for the sick and sinners.  We must never consider ourselves to be so perfectly well and righteous that we can look down on and reject the humanity of others.  When we get to a point of self-righteousness, we say in our hearts that we don’t need Jesus.  When we admit that we have not lived up to perfect moral standards, are constantly surrounded by temptations, live among those who are in the same boat we are in; when we admit we are sick, Jesus will come by our door and call us to follow him.  We then must invite him into our lives, share him with others like us, and go where he leads us.

Yours in Christ

Brother Cyprian Bluemood

Order of Saint-Simon of Cyrene

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

“Which is easier to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, “Rise, take up your pallet and walk’?” Mark 2:9

There is perhaps no greater need that we have than to receive the power of forgiveness.  Clothing, food, and shelter are important enough.  But, they meet the needs of the body.   A cold, naked, and hungry soul cannot be satisfied with human sustenance.  Even having full physical health means little without the recovery and restoration of the soul.  Earning the wages for basic needs takes labor.  To heal the body may take something as simple as a band-aid or a complex medical procedure.  To this paralyzed man Jesus freely gives what he is in most need of, forgiveness.  There is no evidence of any particular sin he is guilty of, great or small.  Yet, Jesus rewards those who diligently seek him as this man and his friends did.  The physical healing was the Lord’s response to the critics to show that he does have the ability to forgive sins.  The original blessing was forgiveness.

New Morning

All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  As people who are spiritually paralyzed, we must diligently seek forgiveness.  Certainly, if we are in need of employment, finances, good health, and the like; we should make our petitions to the one who is able to give what we stand in need of.  But, these things are outward, secondary blessings.  Without the inward original blessing, all other things will come to nothing.  With the original blessings, there is the real possibility for others to follow if we have a diligent faith.  Seek forgiveness from Jesus Christ.

Yours in the Lord,

Brother Cyprian Bluemood

Order of Saint-Simon of Cyrene