sin

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 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

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

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

Eternal God and Temporal Man

You bring human beings to the dust by saying, ‘Return, children of Adam.’  A thousand years are to you like a yesterday wich has passed, like a watch of the night.     Psalm 90:3,4

The span of our life is seventy years, eighty for those who are strong, but their whole extent is anxiety and trouble, they are over in a moment and we are gone.     Psalm 90:10

Teach us to count up the days that are ours, and we shall come to the heart of wisdom.    Psalm 90:12

Colors, Cloud, and Field

We cannot even begin to compare our temporary existence to the eternality of God.  Yet, we are often foolish enough to try.  We try to label him as the God of a nation, or a race.  This psalm of Moses brings us to a people who had not yet claimed a territory and had just been delivered from being the lowest of the earth.  The writer cannot boast in national borders nor ethnic prowess.  He begins the poem with these words, Lord, you have been our refuge from age to age.  This was a people of great promise.  Other nations have heard of them and lost heart because of their triumphs.  And yet the writer gives all reverent reverence to God claiming nothing for the people.  That temporal humanity is completely reliant on God’s eternal presence.  What then is a nation?  A set of borders that will rise and fall in the sands of time.   What is a race?  A collection of people who can ruled and be ruled in the shifting winds.  Only one is eternal.  Not our great numbers of limited ages.  But, he who is ageless and precedes and succeeds our existence.  I am in debt to Dr. Angelo Chatmon, Dean of the Chapel at Virginia Union University, for making this point clear.

Your Brother in Christ,

Cyrpian 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

Direction, Diligence, and Salvation

Day of Lessons

Gospel of St. Matthew 7:13,14

A pilgrim was on a journey from Rome to Jerusalem.  He was imprisoned in Athens, suffered a brutal attack in Macedonia, and wasted time in Constantinople.  But, he gathered himself on these occasions and arrived in the Holy City.

We all seek salvation.  If we are to achieve it, we must go in the right direction.  Too often people either stay put in their walk of faith after baptism or confirmation, or they walk in a way contrary to holiness as if that moment of belief is enough to get them to the place God has for them.  No, there is a way that leads to eternal life.

Jesus Christ taught us that the way is narrow and hard.  Needless to say, we all suffer persecution from those outside of ourselves who misunderstand and dismiss us.  We also suffer in our struggle against the sins that plague our flesh.  It is easy to give into these forces.  No, we must repent and press on to receive the prize he has for us.

Salvation is not a moment of eternal bliss.  It is a direction of how we live on earth fortified with the diligence to stay on the right path.  May you journey well.

 

Greet The Day

Brother Cyprian Bluemood

Order of Saint Simon of Cyrene