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.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Blessings or entitlement? We walk a fine line...

Recently one of my friends on Facebook, made a post about how she is happy with her life even though she isn't married, doesn't have kids, ect... all the things that she reminded people they constantly proclaim they are "blessed" for having.  She called everyone out who has ever made a post about one's blessing as if those who don't have those things are cursed...

This has brought me on an interesting journey of inner dialogue and outright arguments with my husband over blessings.  I feel very blessed.  I know that at times God has truly worked in my life to bless myself and my family.  I also feel grateful to have my children and to see and watch their wonderful personalities grow and blossom.  I hope for the very best for them.  Blessings are gifts from God, plain and simple.  Blessings are not entitlements and blessings are not the same for each person.  And it is here that we walk a fine line both as Christians and as "nones" out there.

First, just because my life does include getting married and having children doesn't mean that is God's plan for everyone and it doesn't mean that those who are childless or without a spouse do not get to live a full and blessed life from God.  It also means those who lose children, whose children suffer from illness or mental retardation or whose spouse dies are cursed by God.  It doesn't mean they did anything - look at Job who remained and stay righteous and faithful despite all that happened to him.   But second, we through the word blessing around WAY to much.  Sure it is right to Give God our thanks and praise and to be truly grateful.  But when we work hard or achieve something we think we have earned - that is not a blessing.  Blessings are gifts from God - perhaps God's gift to you was a determined heart so that you could push through whatever it was to earn what you did.  But to equate God's blessings with entitlement is going about this God thing the wrong way.

God is not here for our purpose!  If we are truly serving God we are following God's will for our lives then yes blessings will come; but not everyone following God's will will have a perfect story.  Not one person following God's will is entitled to whatever they want.  When we accept God's grace, we do so knowing that following God's path for our lives will NOT always be easy but it will make our lives fuller and blessings will come. 

And this is the fine line between blessings and entitlement.  I am not saying we shouldn't be thankful for all we have, but we can't let go of the fact that God is moving in our lives during all seasons the good and the bad.  If we continue to only think that God is giving us "what we deserve" then we fall into the trap of being let down by God when things don't go our way or we end up pushing people away in a "better then you" attitude. 

The best part about God's blessings is not that one has kept up with the Jones and has "everything" in the physical world, the best part of God's blessings is that it takes life and makes it extraordinary.  It takes the childless couple and gives them meaning and fulfillment so that they may come to live and love.  God walks with the baptized every moment allowing for each moment to be filled with new life and new meaning.  God walks with us so that we may find the blessings amongst the chaos and yet still proclaim oh How Great is Thou God.

And so as Christians we need to do better at uplifting our blessings.  Not making it seem like they are simple entitlements but expressing our true beliefs in a way that show everyone that God is a God to worship and proclaim.  Our God is good and blessings do come to those who proclaim and praise.   Let's not simple say you feel blessed for what you have physical but remind people of the character behind - the strength to try new things, the will to go on in the face of danger, ect...

Those of us with God in our lives look around and see more blessings - we are more thankful by nature.  We as Christians see all that God does in our life at every moment and we stand at awe.  Yes simply put it is often for our relationships, children, husband and our homes - but at the end of the day it is simply our happiness that we are most grateful for.  Please try to understand that with God in your life ordinary things can become extraordinary 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Loving Difference

Today is my daughter's birthday!  I wrote this blog when she was about 2 and now she is going to be 5!  She still beats to her own drum and I love her for her vibrate personality that I do hope never changes.  I encourage this read for through her I have been invited by God to really ask the church some hard questions about how we accept differences.  How can we be a church for all if we still don't accept the 'all'.  How can we truly show our Christian love if we still find it hard to accept and love the differences. 

As we enjoy the world around us.  My daughter often points out the people who are "different" - big rings in their ears, purple hair, ect... when she asks why they are like that I always respond "because they are expressing their personality to us. Isn't it nice that they show us who they are?"  She thinks about it and always answers "yes"  I hope that she can feel that it is OK to express herself however she wants to.

Repost:

On her left foot she proudly parades a pink fuzzy boat with a pretty flower attached to the side.  On her right foot she happily dons a plain black and purple boat.  From there up she is her "own" style.  Complete with a gypsy skirt that makes noise and a handmade head band keeping her long hair out of her eyes.  When you ask this lovely little girl who beats to her own drum how she is she exclaims with a point to her tummy "I'm me!"

And yet her mother knows that as soon as she starts school this wonderful free spirit is going to change - slowly just as it happened once before and happens all the time, children begin to conform.  No longer is it acceptable for them to wear different shoes or crazy tights.  No longer is it acceptable for them to have their own personality or persona, but instead they need to not only get along with the rest of society they need not stand out.

But why?  Why can't we stand out?  Why can't we accept ourselves for who we are and accept others for who they are?  Allowing and embracing the differences?  

It is this dissonance that keeps us from fully being open to the Spirit around us - to the Holy that wants a relationship.  If we can't accept ourselves, our own pain and sins and celebrate in our own joys then how can we expect ourselves to fully experience the divine in our lives? 

If we are living our lives to please others or to prove to others something, the how do we expect our relationship with the holy to truly be divine.  Or for the divine to dwell within and shine in our lives - how can we accept Jesus if we don't accept ourselves?

But the bigger question here is how can we as churches encourage and strive to lift up people and their personalities?  In our current system of church - we expect a lot from our worshipers: we expect that they can read, we expect that they can sing, we expect them to rejoice in old hymns and to connect with organ music.  We expect that people know the Lord's Prayer or the words to the gloria or the doxology.  We expect that people who come know that they and their children should be quiet (and especially if we are a white protestant church, we expect that people will be still keeping comments to a min.) We expect that people will enter and exit with respect and without disruption. We expect that people know how to take communion and how "we" pass the peace.

We expect so much from worshipers and so much conformity.  We don't allow for personality to come out in our worshiping of God and thus, even without trying, we discourage differences, we discourage creativity and most importantly free spirits.  And yet scripture proclaims that God knew us in our mothers wombs and that we are specially made.

If we are uniquely made and God knew us in our mothers wombs - then God knew and knows each of us and our true personality - God knows the beat to which our drum beats and God knows the loves of our hearts.  Let us remember that, and within our worship, within our lives and within our hearts let us accept ourselves and others not for our similarities cause that is easy but instead for our differences and let us worship God in light of that...knowing and trusting that God is offering GRACE to all of us not for our conformity but instead for our uniqueness.   

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Out of the Ordinary

Recently I was reading the classic children's book "The Ugly Duckling" to my kids and I couldn't help but come to the awe-inspired notion that it doesn't matter when or where we are born but that we are born of God.  For the Ugly Duck, it didn't matter that he was born into the duck family, for he was a beautiful Swan.  We can all raise above our start if only we trust in God.  And that got me thinking of a common theological trend in my book - that out of the ordinary extraordinary can happen when you add God to the mix!

I got asked lots by people searching "How do I pray" or "How do I know God hears"  and well I struggle with the answer to this because the simple answer is: you just know God hears and basically you can say anything to God as long as it is directed to our Lord.  But it is hard for us to do this.  More so it is hard in our "easy" button world to accept that perhaps God's timing is not right now.  And yet, God does hear and does know our needs and well just as it took as time to get ourselves into our mess, it will take God time to get us out. 

Yet out of the ordinary, with God, extraordinary can happen!  In fact, God puts the "extra" on the ordinary! 

Recently my daughter was singing about praying to God and she stated: We pray to God yes we do, we pray to God for things we need. We pray for strong, courage, brave, love, not to fight...We pray to God yes we do, we don't pray for horses, people buy horses.

When we got to that last part I couldn't control my laughter.  You see she wants a horse and has been praying for one.  When I tried to talked to her about "selfish prayers" vs. "true prayers" and the realities of the young King Solomon who prayed for wisdom, she took away that she couldn't pray for horses.  (Although perhaps God tried to answer that one, in that we were offered two mini-horses). 

My point is, my daughters song was right.  We can't relay on prayers to "fix" everything in our lives, or especially change our circumstances alone.  Pray doesn't do that, or we would all be winners of the lotto.  Instead prayer helps us to realize the needs we need, come to terms with our relationship with the divine and through that relationship pray allows us to accept ourselves and hopefully through God do a lot more then what was ever possible on our own.  But first we must trust. 

We must put our trust in that when we begin the praying, no matter how formal or informal that God hears us.  We must trust when God asks us to do something even if that seems a bit off of what we should be doing and we must accept that sometimes God isn't going to just hand us our needs.  The ugly duckling found a lot of places before he found where he belonged.  When we are ready to fully and truly accept our baptisms and our selves as "of God" instead of "of men" then we are ready to put the "extra" on the "ordinary"  So let's take our lives to the next level...to the level of extraordinary where each day we praise and thank God for all the good things that our Lord hath done!

Friday, August 7, 2015

following God's path

We enjoy hiking earlier this summer we went on a hike to Clark's reservation.  Although they give you a map when you enter, the map leaves a lot to desire.  We started out on this interesting hike through old glacier rocks which was quite challenging for us, the kids and the dog.  Some nice people told us to go on a different trail and well we were out hiking for 3 hours but we had a lot of fun.  We bribe the kids with ice cream at the end of the hike and the kids have been asking to go back there ever since.  It was a fun hike although very challenging.  Recently we went on another hike at Filmore Glen.  We had to take the rim trails as the gorge trail was closed, three hours later and 2 very tired children we emerged from a very difficult hike.  The kids were troopers.  We enjoy that hike too.  The baby hug out in his carry both times and thus had fun.  Of course we are always prepared, or perhaps over prepared for these hikes with water and snacks. 
On both hikes we didn't start off saying lets hike for 3 hours or over 4 miles or lets take the crazy trail with the lots of grades.  Instead we began both hikes blind as to what was in front of us except a small little map that assured us we were going in a circle that would bring us back to our car.  And isn't that what faith is all about?  Knowing that if you follow God's plan for you it might be a bit vague - you might not be 100% sure where it is going to lead you, but you can be assured that it will be safe and with God you will be amazed.  Sometimes it is better to just follow the path that God has in store for you.  Not carve your own but follow his.  At one point in the Filmore hike we were worried that the kids were not going to be able to make it back, there were several "off shoots" that were not on the map but seemed to go somewhere.  If we had taken one of those we may have come up with even longer trails or harder paths.  Instead we followed the main path knowing that we would get back. 
Jesus asks us to follow him.  Although it is someone blind faith - it isn't completely we have the Bible a map for us to follow.  We have prayer - communication with God.  And of course we have a church to be with us on our journey so we aren't alone.  So we have others we can ask "hows the path up ahead?" or give encouragement to those who worry "this too shall pass." 
At Clark's reservation our trail ended with a large staircase out and at Filmore Glen it ended with large staircase down. Life has its up and downs. God asks us to trust in all we do and to follow.  The best part about each of these hikes for us - and all the other hbyikes that we have done that didn't end up to be 3 hours - is that in the end we all feel proud that we accomplished these.  The kids are excited and can feel glad that they "made it!"  And we can have the same feelings when we follow God's path.  There may be up and downs; there will be moments when you think "I just can't do this" or "I feel lost" but staying on God's path will always end in reward.  More importantly it will end with sense of understanding of the world and ourselves.  We will come out knowing ourselves better and feeling proud of all that we can accomplish if we just trust and believe. 
So I challenge you this summer!  Think of the ways in which God is calling you to follow and the ways in which you are instead carving your own path.  Trust that even if it takes you longer then you had hoped that by following God's path you will be rewarded in the end.  So open your map - the Bible - and start praying that God reveals the path for your life.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

The sandwhich passage

Mark 5: 21-43 The Healing of the Women as well as the Raising of the Child.

Motto for day: Accept, Heal and Send

This passage is one of my favorites in the Bible.  It also lends it self to great use in both sermons, church school and of course alternative worship ideas.  Why not eat sandwiches or bring one to show how a sandwich just isn't as good without all the stuff in the middle.  This passage could be a pretty great and amazing example of Jesus' ability to rise someone from the dead and in itself a wonderful miracle passage.  But instead it isn't just about one miracle it is about two.  So why is that?

Here we have Jesus' healing a young girl of only 12 years and also a women who has suffered 12 years of bleeding.  Here we have Jesus going to the house of someone who is desperately trying to save his child and perhaps not as truly strong in their belief in Jesus along side a women with so much faith in Jesus that she need only touch his clothes.  Here we have a women so desperate to belong, to fit in and to be healed for her life and all she has is gone and a young girl who still has her life to live.  If Jesus had not stopped to help this women, the girls story may have ended differently - for perhaps there would not have been the miracle that it was.  Perhaps Jesus would have made it "on time" to heal her instead of needing to raise her.

Although we can go in many ways in this passage: one thing is for sure - Jesus power is great!  For the church a good discussion on this passage is HOW does the church with great faith need to stop in our own tracks and see the world around us?  How does the church need to heal before we can go out and truly be in peace?  How does the church seem like the little girl dying waiting for Jesus to heal?  Are we at a point when we indeed need to die before the church can once again flourish?

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Here comes the Hippo!

And he was a righteous man!

These words are found throughout the Bible and today bring about a picture of someone who is upright and an example for all of us.  Yet in our Bible those righteous men were not always such.  Many of them were far from what we would classify as "righteous" perhaps because they are all human.  The story of King David and Bethsheba is found in 2 Samuel 11:1-15 is no different.

I can't help but think of the example of my husband, yes a pastor, speaking to a women who wouldn't attend church anymore because "too many hypocrites" attended church. And although she was right - there were several horrible Christians in that church, my husband's response - not pastoral at all - hit the nail on the head: "well there is always room for one more!"

Church isn't a place for saints.  In fact one of my favorite church signs is "Sinners Anonymous, Sunday Mornings, We will save you a seat"  For we are all sinners.  No matter how hard we try to be better our lives are full of temptation and our days are full of things that are done in opposition to God's will for we are after all human.

Church isn't about a bunch of saints coming together and it certainly isn't the place that should be giving out judgment.  It also doesn't deserve the large amount of judgement from the community when something goes wrong.

David went out and basically raped a women, who was unclean because of her period, got her pregnant and then tried to trick the husband in coming home and having sex with his wife so that he would not be "found out."  When the husband did the right and righteous thing, David had him killed.  For sure not what any of us would consider righteous and in fact if this type of scandal occurred in a church today you better believe that the 24 hour news would be eating this type of sensation up and screaming all about this horrible thing the church did.

It is easy to look inside the church and see all the "wrong" that is done.  It is easy to be involved in a church and fall into the trap of "better then thou" But what takes courage and strength is to stand in the midst of the disorder and fix it. To try and spread God's message and to instead of continuing the cycle of judgment - for it doesn't matter who judges first, to instead spread the love of Christ we are asked to.

I encourage each of us to see the GOOD that the church is doing. That there are churches like the PCUSA which are changing their systems to be open and affirming to all people giving equal rights.  That there are small churches with members numbering under 100 who are serving their communities faithfully and offering people refuge, food and the love of God.  That there are large churches that despite the fighting that might seem to happen too much in the church parking lot gossip - God is working within and through them to do more good.  That although David may have messed up, he was still righteous.  That we too can be righteous in all we do.  And our churches can still be doing good.  Let us find the glimmer of love and justice in all our churches!