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.

Monday, February 29, 2016

The Myth of God Providing

I have always been not only practical but someone who sees the "big picture" in life.  And thus, I often huff at people (of course in my head) who proclaim God will provide.  This isn't because I don't believe them, but because I feel that it does require more then just sitting back.  As believers, followers, workers of God we are not entitled to a pay out.  Being a Christian is not a job and thus I should not expect a payment out of it.  Instead, I should be open to the blessings and the ways in which God provides. 

Lots of our Bible discusses imagery of God like that of water - for those who are thirsty, is an example.  As we long for water, so we long for God.  And there are just as many places as it speaks about longing for water as it does discussing God providing the water or being the water.

But as my husband reminded me yesterday - when you dig a well the first water that comes out isn't the clear stuff.  The first water is the gross dirt and it isn't until the water has been rushing a few minutes that the clear water comes flowing out.   Our journey with God is a lot like that.  God doesn't always provide in an instant what we need, but if we stick to our faith long enough, we will see the blessings.  We need to work at it.  We need to be more then a person doing nothing and sitting back waiting for what we perceive to be ours.

Work on your relationship with God this Lent.  Remember that God does provide but that first we must be a in a relationship.  Be ready for God to provide you with something different then you were looking for and remember that at first our answer might be mucky, but with God blessings abound!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

God is our shield

As we walk through lent, even if you are not following my devotional on my Lenten Devotional page, http://revmj.blogspot.com/p/lenten-devotional.html , I hope that you have added something to our Lenten Journey.

As we walk this journey I am reminded thanks to Lectionary of Genesis 15: 1-12 and 17-18.  I am reminded of God proclaim to Abraham "Do not be afraid, Abram I am your shield" All over our Bible, throughout our psalms and from Genesis to Revelation we hear and see words like this - adjectives used to describe God as our shield, a protector, a light in the darkness. 

And yet, we continue in our lives to give a greater importance or greater concern to the negative then we do to God.  We allow the bad to consume us over allowing the good to shine through us.  We are reminded in this passage, Abram meeting God in the darkness of the night that we find God even in the darkest places.  It is by allowing God to walk along side us when we are in the dark that brightens even the brightest of our days.

We are reminded in our devotional of just how many chances God gives us to transform our darkest moments into moments of life and light.  Jacob fought God during a dream at Bethel and he was transformed.  The Magi followed a star in the evening sky that brought them to the Savior of the world.  Jesus was resurrected alone in a dark cave only to bring new life to all.  And that's not all we had the bleeding woman, Mary and Martha, the daughter with demons, the tax collector, the blind men, the lepers and of course the disciples all who are transformed by Jesus.  All who living in the darkness are able to find hope and light for their faith in Jesus. 

Do yourself a favor this Lent.  Spend time with God.  Allow God to become for you your shield.  As we continue to live in the secular world, allow God to transform your own life so that you can be a beam of light to Christ.  So that others may come to walk along side God and to understand the importance of allowing God is our lives. 

Sunday, February 14, 2016

compassion to understand

Sitting in her chair, white hair recently permed by the hairstylist into a frozen dome shaping her face and small skull I find one of my regular patients.  She is in her 90's a full 60 years older then me and yet the age difference seems to flee away in conversation; so much so that often she forgets how young I am and asks me about my grandchildren.  Being the fact that she is in a nursing home, some might see this slip up as proof that she has dementia or that her mind is slipping but this woman's mind is far from slipping - her body yes is failing her but her mind is sharper then mind some days (especially days when I don't get a lot of sleep).

The age difference gets transform by her comfort and knowledge that I understand her woes.  She often comments to me about the fact that she feels I understand.  And even more importantly points out that my sermons on Sunday uplift her because she knows they come from a place of understanding.  Now I am not trying to raise myself up here, what I am trying to talk about today is the importance of understanding the other. 

At some point in childhood - usually before Kindergarten - our world transform and we begin to understand the other.  If you watch young children play they play side by side but often not right with each other; watching older children play you see how their imaginations work together and their play is enhanced by the other. 

It is important for us to come to understand and truly want to know the others.  But one human need that is real is being FELT understood.  For us as Christians this is one way in which we can truly spread God's love and Christ message.  You see Christ walked this Earth; God humbly walked amongst us so that through his life and death the Holy could say that he truly walked in our shoes.  Jesus walked amongst us and knows our pains.  Even when we feel alone and that no one could possibly know what we are going through, we must be reminded that EVEN God humbly walked as a human in order to KNOW.  

That is powerful stuff.  The need for others to understand and the desire to combat loneliness is a big part of our human story.  We all go into relationships because of this and we maintain those relationships for the same desire.  Yet, not everyone does understand.  How powerful could our Christian impact be if instead of condemning or judging we could try to understand the other? 

Sure we have not lived out every possible situations - some may never know true poverty, others may not grieve as young, some may never battle addiction or depression, others may never lose their sight or hearing, some may never be labeled for the color of their skin and others may never know the pains of war - but that does not stop us from being able to understand.  A gift of humanity is that we have the capacity for compassion and the ability to understand the other's needs. 

As Christians we are called to follow this.  God set an example - humbly walking amongst us!  It was not even beneath the GREAT DIVINE to experience the depth of humanity and human emotion.  It was not even beneath the HOLY ONE to come to the understanding of the other.  So let us not sit on our Great Than Thou horses.  Let us come to the understanding that we are called by our Creator to truly show love and understanding to all we meet. 

We are not meant to judge or put people down for their situations but instead we are called to lift up their lives and believe that through Christ anything is possible.  We are called to connect, not on the level of which we have experience but instead on the level of which we are called to understand.  I might not know what it is like to lose control of the body slowly or what it is like to need assistance to do daily skills.  But I do know how I would feel if I needed someone to help me in the bathroom, or how frustrated I can get when I am without a limb due to injury.  I can understand the isolation of the building and the mundane rhythm of each day being the same.  And yet in these states, we are called as Christians not accept them or to let them define us but instead rising above them find where the Holy is still calling us.  We are called not to judge those who suffer but instead through Christ and by being Christ's body in the world, bring life and light to those who suffer; bring meaning and love and most importantly bring to them a God who understands their pains, bore them and rose above them so that all might one day know the Kingdom.   

Today is Valentines day and the first Sunday in Lent.  Reflect on how both our individual and our relationship with God is effected by our understanding of the other and / or our willingness to put away our own selfishness.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

second chances

Our God is a God of second chances and third, and fourth and hundredth.  Yet, we have forgotten this.  We have allowed guilt, anger, judgment and basically day-to-day life itself keep us from accepting and giving second chances.  We allow for tear downs but don’t allow for build ups.  We leave the destruction instead of fixing things leaving us isolated.  Humans are now more connected than ever and yet in a world in which everything is “on” we have created space for isolation, loneliness and worse to thrive.  Let us begin to heal by allowing ourselves to have a real relationship with the Divine, one in which the Holy helps inform our choices, guiding us to an understanding of the true connectivity of the world in which the Holy dwells. 
There is no better time than during Lent to look and contemplate our lives and our relationship with God – For that is what Lent is all about.  Lent has a long history of being misunderstood or of people who simply “give up” something for Lent without any real change or meaning behind it.  We are called during Lent to not simply “give up” something but to engage the Lord in a relationship.  We do so by replacing something with prayer – often this translates to giving something up and when we have temptations we are reminded of God and how Jesus defeated his temptations.  Well that might sit well with some; but for me, that always made me question the true intent for the Lenten experience.  Shouldn’t we come out of this for the better?  Jesus came out of the wilderness ready to begin his ministry and to reveal to people the Divine within.  Lent should be about looking at ourselves inwardly so that we may come to a greater understanding of the Divine within us and thus ready to come out shining God’s light to the world – even brighter than the year before for we are never done growing!
In not giving into the temptations by the Devil, Jesus is giving us an example of how to live the very best of our lives.  It is ultimately the sacrifice of Christ that paves the way for our own sins to be forgiven and for each of us to receiving the blessing of a second chance.  The devil at the end of the temptations leaves Jesus with the statement “until a more opportune time” – even the devil is dealing out second chances to fail!  And yet, our Creator is offering us so much more, our Redeemer is offering us as many second chance as we need and a relationship like none other. 
This Lent, let us explore the concept of second chances as we search the Bible.  Let us ask ourselves:
What is God asking us to try again or to renew?
Who is God calling us to give a second chance to?  Someone else?  Ourselves?  Both?
What are we running from in our lives?
What should we be running to?

For the 40 days of Lent (Monday - Saturday) I will offer to you a devotional that explores second chances in the Bible. You can find this under my Lenten Devotional Page.  Let these 40 Bible passages or people inspire you on your walk with God.  Encourage you to find the Holy even in the ordinary of life and more importantly to find the courage to accept or give a second chance. 

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Power and our choices

The sun was shining that day and as it sparkled through the window it lite up the old piney desk that I was sitting at exposing in great detail all its blemishes.  I was feeling just as sunny as that sun, with a tune in my head I had entered that classroom with a lot of expectation, enthusiasms and as always optimism.  I was ready to start this next chapter of my life and the shinning light that morning was like a sign from God that indeed this was going to be a good day, a good start to college.  My first class was a sociology class and from that first bright day I was hooked.  I remember being so enthralled reading about Stanley Milgram and his multiple experiments, so much so that later in life I bought and read his biography.  The man was brilliant.   

One particular experiment of his has always stuck out and struck me: the question he was trying to answer: How did Hitler happen?  How did seemingly good people allow Hitler to take over and how were the Nazis born?  His experiment? Get people to electrocute others  because someone in authority is asking, even if they are visible hurting.

His results?: It worked. People actually did just that.  And it proved a good point...people are willing to blindly follow leaders / people of authority and that most people, despite what they think, go along with the status quo.  I have said in post past that most "good" people actually usually do nothing and continue along trying to "keep peace" or be politically correct.  It actually takes an extraordinary person to stand up and actually state the truths ... it takes a person to be bold.

Sometimes we choose our leaders, sometimes a leader just happens before anyone has realized and sometimes leaders start out as rebels.  Jesus was the leader that started out as a rebel.  Jesus called on the leaders of the day and asked the hard questions.  Jesus did not just sit back but instead watch the leaders.  Jesus was bold.  Jesus was not na├»ve and most importantly Jesus did not let his (God's) ideals get all mucked up but rhetoric.

During the election season I can't help but begin to rethink our political system when all we do is demonize the "other" - be it the whole party, individual people or groups of people outside the political arena.  And yet as Christian we are called to be bold and to call our leaders out on their bad ways.  We are called NOT to be the good people letting bad or even doing evil but instead called to STOP or change that ... yet most of the time we sit back and do nothing or worse get on the band-wagon and help evil. 

As we approach Lent and we are called to examine our relationship with God and we challenge ourselves Spirit.  I say we challenge ourselves not by giving up some type of food, but instead give up on othering.  - perhaps a new word I just created other + ing - Give up on making people "others" and instead begin to look at people, all people, with the love of God.  Instead of looking at someone and noticing what makes them different, reminder yourself that God loves them.  Realize the scary path we take when we begin to think of anyone as an "other" and instead be bold - be Jesus BOLD - and accept all who come your way with an open hand. 

The search for power can lead to power because of fear or power because of love.  I would rather live in a country of power because we are all proud and more importantly because we stand united in love then live in a country of power because of fear.  I would rather stand united in love than stand united against an other in fear.  We are more powerful when we stand in love.  We are more powerful when we unite because we truly want to be together. 

Our choices this political season should be made not out of fear but because we know that Christ would agree.  Not the Christ that is on TV.  Not the Christ that others have made him out to be; but the Christ that YOU know personal.  The Christ from the Bible.  Let us live into our Boldness and live free of fear.  Let us this Lent reflect on how each person we meet is a Child of God and remember that God is working in them just as God is working in us in this world.  Let us rebuke the fear and give love!