Mission Statement

Cyber Sabbath's goal is to begin to mend the division between Christ and the world (society) that Church has created through reflections, sermons and devotionals

Cyber Sabbath is a place for the stifled Christian voice to be heard. Media gives way to much time to the extremist - over looking the theologically educated and/or the moderates in favor of what sells their view point. Here, politics aside, a pastor reflects on God's voice in every day life.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Leap into Trust

The first ride of the season begins with a joyful spring in my steps as I search my clothes bin for my cycling pants and my clip-less shoes.  I feel so professional and ready to conquer the bike ride a head of me.  Yet, although I look the part, I am far from a professional cyclist.  Every year, I must re-learn to trust.  As I approach my first down-fill my heart begins to pound and by the time I can see the bottom, my heart is pounding harder then on uphills.  I fight the tension in my arms to pull on the breaks and I begin a descent that is always faster then I remembered.  The first few down hills is a battle of the will - between my desire to go slower and the bikes will for speed.  It doesn't help that I ride a very nice road bike courtesy of my husband.  It doesn't help that I am a worry wart...I've seen what a bad spill can do for someone.  I've been on-call at the hospital for several nasty bike accidents and as I travel down hill at speeds beyond my control I think about myself getting hurt or worse.  Eventually I talk myself down from my near-anxiety and I begin to enjoy myself.  I feel the breeze and realize that the risk I take is worth it for accomplishing the bike and of course the exercise.

As I was heading down the fourth hill, at this point convinced that I should give in to the bike and trust - trust it, trust myself, trust the concept of bike riding - and enjoy the ride.  I realized that my relationship with hills every year is the same relationship that many have with Christianity. 

I've fallen a few times on my bike and I have scars from it, every time I hit the hills I remember those wipe outs and combined with the fear from other's horror stories I clutch to the breaks and go down slowly and with great fear.  I also carry scars from churches and church people, enough to give me a good reason to stay away.  I also have heard and felt the horror stories of other's experience church.

For this reason, today, most people - even those who have entered church before - enter the church with tense emotion clutching on the escape plan.  For those of us who are a part of the church, many enter conversations about God, clutching the breaks and hopeful that this downhill will be the only one.  In either case - they just don't want to go there.

Yet, for those of us who proclaim ourselves Christian - no one, not even Christ said it would be easy.  It is instead a relationship on trust - a trust that comes from outside ourselves and is released during all the points of our journey.  It is easy to trust when the road is smooth.  But when the hills get large or the ground is covered with gravel - it is harder to fully trust in Christ instead of allowing your will to control.  It is hard to believe and trust in an outcome which you are not sure of.

Yet we are called to do this!  We are called to not only trust God but we are called as Christians to proclaim that.  Surprisingly all those who are fearful of talking about their faith are probably the ones who have the power to heal the wounds that have afflicted so many!  What a powerful thought.  Yet instead of trusting God, we grip the breaks on the conversation until our bodies are full of tension and our minds can no longer feel the Spirit working.

I challenge everyone to trust and take a leap of trust.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

God asked Abraham to do what?!

***You can read the passage at the bottom of article***Abraham was a very faithful man.  He had a unique relationship with God.  He was able to walk with God, he was able to challenge God - think Sodom and Lot.  Abraham was in return told that he would have ancestors greater then the number of stars in the sky.  Wow, what an interesting interaction and relationship that Abraham had, such a personal one.  This isn't like the God that interacted with Adam and Eve, or the God that sent the floods or even perhaps the God of Jonah.

But seemingly out of no where, God in a "test" for Abraham decides to ask Abraham for a true sacrifice - is "only" son. (I put "only" in quotes here because there was the son from his slave Hagar).  Now human sacrifice wasn't new and neither was child sacrifice, archeological records can prove that.  Even so it seems like a stretch for the God who has inform Abraham that he will have many descendents that he needs to sacrifice his son who will give him those descendents.

Is this just test of Abraham's faithfulness as the passage suggests??  If it is then could this passage provide us hope that when we are feeling tested by life that although it may seem grim or hopeless that indeed, God has a plan and knows the end of the story.  God is in control and should we trust with all our hearts as Abraham did here, we may experience and find more then we hoped...you see there is a second part to this.  In the Hebrew here the God who does the asking of Abraham is the "Elohim" God.  This is the God that kick Adam and Eve out, this is the God who sent a flood and this is the God who asks Abraham to sacrifice Isaac.

Yet it is the angel of YHWH that stops Abraham ... this YHWH is the God of the people, the God that Abraham walks with.  Through Abraham's true faith in God his relationship takes on a new shape and is transformed to one more personal.  What a powerful parallel to Christ.  For through Christ a new relationship with Jesus is born.  One in which our God is a God not just more personable but with more love - forgiveness and grace.  Amazing and Powerful!

When we are going through tests and trails, if we remain faithful, if we turn to God to give us strength then we may be surprised in how our relationship with our Creator can change and how we can be amazed with the new relationship.

Isaac didn't have to die on the table to be sacrifice, just the act of putting him on the table was in itself a sacrifice.  Abraham and giving Isaac and thus all his offspring to be the Lord's or the chosen people.  A sacrifice which was completed with Christ, who made all those who believe and have faith worthy of God's kingdom.  Powerful stuff.
 
Those who follow God and proclaim our life to be a sacrifice to God and keep a strong relationship should find hope even in our trails that our God has a plan for us. 

This is harder done then said.  It is easy to proclaim faith and easy to follow God when things are going well.  Yet when life has gotten us to a point in which we feel that we have to give up everything, perhaps even all of ourselves.  We often get angry with God and look away from the faithfulness that once paved our life.  Yet God is asking us to have complete faith; knowing, believing and trusting that better will come.  That one day, in the future, our faith will prove and led to a relationship with God that is stronger. 



***Genesis 22:1-14
1After these things God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 2He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains that I shall show you.” 3So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac; he cut the wood for the burnt offering, and set out and went to the place in the distance that God had shown him. 4On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place far away. 5Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; the boy and I will go over there; we will worship, and then we will come back to you.” 6Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. So the two of them walked on together. 7Isaac said to his father Abraham, “Father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “The fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” 8Abraham said, “God himself will provide the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So the two of them walked on together.
9When they came to the place that God had shown him, Abraham built an altar there and laid the wood in order. He bound his son Isaac, and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to kill his son. 11But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven, and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 12He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” 13And Abraham looked up and saw a ram, caught in a thicket by its horns. Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14So Abraham called that place “The LORD will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the LORD it shall be provided.”

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Endings

From the finding of an empty tomb to the ascension of Christ into the Kingdom there are 20 verses in Matthew and Mark and 53 verses in Luke and John.  Considering if you added up all the verses in the other 27 chapters of Matthew alone, you would easily overcome that number.  I've been dealing with this for a long time.  As endings are one of the most difficult things in churches and account for many and much of the hurt that surround our churches today, it is only fitting to have a frank conversation about endings.

We as Pastors are suppose to give our churches "good endings" and yet I ask what is that?  And more importantly how is that accomplished.

My oldest child has always been determined.  And those who know her and us know that we often struggle with her and her bold personality.  Some parents would use harsh words here to describe her behavior, but I choose to use positive terms.  She is an amazing child and I am blessed to be her mother, no matter how much she pushes us and challenges our parenting skills.  She does not like endings.  In fact, often endings end with a melt down.  Even with constant reminders that something will end - a count down for example - will end with a beg for just a little more time.  We have left shoes at people's houses because she was screaming too badly we missed that she didn't have shoes on.  We have endured hour long drives to our house in which she voiced her opinion of descent the entire time. Endings have always been difficult.  We try to prepare her for them, often reminding her of the good things that will come once we left - like ice cream or a yummy.  But in the end it is the transitions that get her.  As we make strides forward and find ways to transition with less meltdowns we are reminded when we let our guard down that this may be something we always deal with.

My daughter however is not the only person who cannot deal with transition well.  In fact, many people don't.  This is in fact why most of our "good-byes" end up with much more pain then needed.

I am reminded of the television show: Modern Family.  Jay has a long time friend who has decided to move to Costa Rica, instead of celebrating with him, Jay turns his feelings into a fight.  It was looking like it was going to be a truly messy ending.

In our Bible, they leave a LOT of the ending out.  We are only given a snip-it, even John says that lots more happened that just wasn't written down.  And yet, most of our "church" relays on this last half.  If Jesus had not risen, we would not be here.  If the followers of Christ had not witnessed the risen Lord, then they would have after several weeks remaining in the locked room, gone home and lived the rest of their lives feeling foolish.  But that isn't the end of the story.  They were disappointed when they thought Jesus had left them, after death on the cross.  They were lost when they met by Christ in the locked room and give the Holy Spirit.  The were touched when they were given a commission and left to spread the ministry.  And yet, we know all of this, with just a few words.

What is important about Christ's resurrection is that by it, our eyes were truly opened to his divinity.  But if he stayed too long or the writers wrote too much about this divine Lord, then the point would have been lost.  Jesus did most of his ministry and teachings while alive - while humbly living in humanity.   Would his message have been diminished or lost if they focused more on what he did as a resurrected Christ?  Perhaps, for one of the appealing things about our Christian faith is that we can stride to live our life like Christ, believing that we can do this.  This may have been compromised by too much Risen Christ.


Yet when the endings happen to us, often our emotions and ill will or perhaps our lost of hope in humanity, fill us up and cloud us.  Jesus' died graciously on the cross, only to descend to hell and raise again to heaven.  An emotional roller coaster for sure!  When endings happen to us, we are easily lost to our descent into hell.  When divorce, job lost, death of a loved one, move (even if initially for a good reason) we are often hurt so hard by the world that we forget that we are of the world.  When we have happy endings like graduation, promotions, birth of children, retirement we are often lost in the transitional excitement that when the dust settles we are left with our own good friday moment, for what we lose in these is our own identity and we must reform it.

Whatever maybe your "ending" as Spring is the seasons for endings.  Trust in God.  Try to act not as your raw emotions would like you too - as a four year old who goes into change with her feet firmly planted into the soil, but instead be open to the change that is to come.

The beauty of Jesus' story is that we know the end.  Although we sit on good friday in pain, we know that there is hope and resurrection, in Easter morning.  The glory of the good news is that when we sit on our good fridays, although only God knows the ending.  We know that: For I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.(Jeremiah 29:11) There is always more to the story - always hope in our darkest of days.  

Monday, June 16, 2014

Understanding trinity

God - a three in one trinity of parent, son and holy spirit is probably one of the hardest things as Christians to not only explain to others but to try to connect with ourselves.  It can make us look foolish and perhaps put doubt in our own belief when we can't readily explain what is at the center of our faith.  So today, I'm going to give you a picture to think about - perhaps not 100% theologically correct or translatable but a jump start to understanding the greater that is the Triune God. 

Let us envision God as a beautiful art piece, perhaps say a nice summer field of flowers.  The greater painting is God, the creator of the world.  Since God has three parts - parent (often referred to by the single gender of Father, which to this blogger does not represent the whole), son (Jesus Christ) and Holy Spirit.  There are three primary colors - Red, Yellow and Blue.  These colors put together make up all the rest of the colors and also this beautiful art piece.  Let's thus call each of God's parts one of the primary colors. 

First let us say, what beautiful things can come when all the primary colors are put together - creation is truly a marvelous thing.  But we cannot so easily say it is just by putting the colors together that we get this piece of art.  First we have to remember the rule of primary colors - if you mix all three primary colors together you get a gross mucky color of mud.  That is what we do when we confuse and down play the importance of the trinity.  That is what happens when we go to explain something so much bigger then ourselves and our words fail us - we get muck!  And we create muck!  We shouldn't be in the business of creating muck.  Instead we should be in the business as Christians as helping to point others in the direction of God.  Helping others understand the difficulties of our faith and to grow in relationship with Christ.  It is hard to trust God if you are blindly following from far away but with a close relationship we can trust without prejudice.

Ok, back to out painting - God.  Within this painting might seem like every color but the reality is that each only made up of the three colors.  Even white itself is all colors from the color spectrum.  What is important to color theory (which most artist us to give more depth to their paintings) is that to encourage more of a 3D look, you often layer, using all the colors but not mixing them together making muck but instead allowing the colors to enhance and deepen the way in which you see the third.  For example if you want to make the blue sky look like it is deep within the painting you would first paint the background orange, sending the blue on top then further back. 

What an amazing thought to translate into our relationship with God.  God the creator is a vast being who is often hard for us to connect to.  The three aspects of God - parent, son and Holy Spirit in different ways show us a deeper relationship with God and the boarder picture of God.  Without them we would have an even harder time understanding.  God would be just a blank white Canvas, so vast and out of reach.  Yet because of God's love and desire for a relationship with us, instead of  a blank canvas we have a beautiful creation.  In each aspect of God's creation we are drawn to a deeper understanding of what God is offering us and where God is in the world.

We each new day we are brought to a deeper and more full understanding of the trinity when we allow each aspect to intertwine and reveal more not just about its self but about the rest.  Just like in color theory when we are exploring say the Holy Spirit, we can certainly benefit from exploring how Jesus interacted and how the father sent the Holy Spirit, thus deepening our understanding and our relationship with the spirit.   

I hope that through this blog, you may come to understand God on a deeper level and seek out a relationship with our creator beyond just the mucky relationship of doubt and uncertainty.  Spend some time getting to know the Parent, Son and Holy Spirit, separately and yet understanding how they work not only together but in the greater whole of Creation bringing us closer and closer to a trusting and powerful relationship with God.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

We are the care takers

I am amazed at how much my son loves animals.  Although my daughter treats them well, she doesn't seem to have that innate ability to care for them that my son has.  He seeks them out, they seek him out.  He looks for ways to be helpful to him, they find ways to help him.  This mutual back and forth can on some days be quite annoying - for example he will try to feed them at the dinner table and our dog will in return later let him stand on her so he climb on something high! 

We used to have a bunny who would hide when children came into our house and not come out until the last child's voice had been missing for some time.  She had lived with children before and carried a few scares with her. 

In today's culture it is not surprising to see a number of animals in people's homes as pets.  We keep them for various reasons, but ultimately we took a oath - spoken or unspoken to care for them.  To bring them in.

In Psalm 8 we here these words: You have given them dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all the things under their feet. 

Powerful stuff.  We are the top of the totem pole of the earth dwellers.  But as Aunt May says to Spider Man - with great power comes great responsibility.  And gosh do we have a lot of responsibility to the Earth - that God created. 

Just as God created our bodies and as holy temples to God we should treat ourselves with such respect; our Earth was created by God's hands and we are called to respect that and all the living creatures. 

As we try to teach our children about recycling and composting, my daughter asks me "why?" and I explain that we are trying to keep Earth beautiful.  She looks around (our country home) and says things like "oh it is fabulous!"  And it is fabulous.  But in having dominion over it we don't have the right to disrespect it.

We would all be angry with someone who beat an animal.  This winter a frightened indoor cat was dropped off and left at our barn, yup!  And I am still angry with the person who did that, partly because they then made it my problem and of course I couldn't let it die.  Yet we do not get that same angry feeling when people cut down the last trees in a forest or poor pollution in our rivers or throw McDonalds garbage outside the car while driving down the road. 

We are the care takers.  Even though my daughter doesn't have the same love for the animals that is apparent in my son, we have still taught her to be nice to them and to treat them well.  She may grow up to never be an animal owner, but she won't grow up abusing them.  We can all learn how to take care of this great earth, even if we don't care as much as some about the environment, we can learn to respect its future.  If not for ourselves then for the generations who will have to inherit our mess. 

Monday, June 9, 2014

Fill Yourself Up with Good

Yesterday the church celebrated Pentecost, tonight at our alternative to Sunday worship, we too will be celebrating Pentecost.  The Birthday of the Church - the celebration of when the Spirit descend to earth and all those baptized in Christ received this amazing and powerful gift.

I was recently thinking of balloons and filling them up with Helium and bringing them to church - for the Church's birthday - because everyone seems to do that on Pentecost, but then I started to really think about this. And I had a revelation for me, but perhaps this isn't new to others.

What happens when we put different thing into balloons and how does that then relate to our relationship with God?  Well when we exhale, we exhale Carbon Dioxide, this is a substance that is the waste of our breathing process.  And what happens when a balloon is filled by our own hot air?  It sinks.  Relate this to God: when we let addiction, sin, food, negative thoughts or general negativity, and the list could go on; then our relationship with God is like that of the balloon filled with Carbon Dioxide it just sinks.

When you fill a balloon of nitrogen, which is what makes up most of the air around us, the balloon, just floats and moves across the air.  It doesn't sink, it doesn't go up it sort of just is.  It is easy to push it around.  Relate this to God: when we just live our lives each day, moving around in the secular world without thought or regard to God.  When we let the busy life of our world let us just float through life without purpose then we are like the nitrogen balloon.  In this analogy, you have the ability to float down a bit or perhaps even float up a bit but that requires the movement by an outside force.

But when we fill a balloon with helium, it raises and keeps on raising.  In fact, when filled with Helium it takes nothing more then the balloon and the Helium to raise, it comes from the essence of what that balloon is.  Relate this to God: when we allow the Holy Spirit to truly work within us - by developing a relationship and trusting it, then we are able to raise above.

A balloon is just a piece of rubber, it has no other purpose until it is filled and becomes an actual balloon.  Our lives can be purpose driven lifting us up by our own faith and relationship to new understandings or our lives can be filled with blah.  Let us dedicate ourselves to following God's purpose and let the Holy Spirit fill us up.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Christ Has Risen

Every year in church we celebrate the Risen Lord for 8 weeks, Easter through Pentecost.  Longer then we celebrate both Advent and Lent - and yet the time in which Jesus roamed the earth after resurrection was but a small portion of his ministry.  In fact, in the Gospels we have only but a few chapters worth of passages about what happen after Jesus rose. 

One reason I believe this is the case is because it is important for Jesus' humanity to not be lost by Jesus divinity. By this I mean that Jesus' humanity is so important here, because he is commanding his disciples to go and make more - go out and to continue his ministry.  If he were not human but only divine, think about the great task his disciples might have felt that commission was, perhaps too great for any one person to accomplish.   Jesus message was one of "do like me" and if his divinity overshadowed the fact that he was also human we may feel like we cannot actually "do like me"

We already see this defeatist attitude today when it comes to some of our larger societies problems.  Churches sit back and don't take stands.  People fail to stand up believing they are only one.  Imagine the true excuses the disciples could have given in order to live into their fear and NOT actually follow Christ.  If they didn't believe that they actually had it in them...and thus our all knowing God, sent the Holy Spirit. 

The Holy Spirit descends on Pentecost and thus the birth of our church is here.  What a powerful message here from God. That God has faith in us humans - so much so that not only did we get Jesus to offer redemption but we got the Holy Spirit!  Wow and now we are called to continue to spread this message.  Not a message for only the one divinity but a message for all!