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, September 25, 2016

still trying to slove the religious problems


I posted a blog in my first year that is very similar to this one.  It was on trying to solve religious problems.  As we have experienced as a nation since that blog a true lost in mainline voice, I feel it is more needed now.  In the last few years my church the PC (USA) has only made the news for our big announcements on homosexuality and not nearly on the thousands of churches that are workings as God in the world.  Yes this announcements were important and I am proud of those moments but I am also proud of all the people who do God's work every day! 
My Spirit burns with passion over the problems with religion - established, institutionalized.

I am moved so deeply by the number of people I know personally who although believe in God and I would say are Spiritual (in tuned with God and the everyday interactions within their life) don't go to church or belong to a church family.  For many reasons people have moved beyond the church.  I claim, a lot, that it has to do with the fact that mainline church has lost its voice to the major conservatives.  But I think it is more then that, I believe that it is not just that our voice has become lost to the public but that we don't have voices.  Many mainline churches don't have voices because in believing that beliefs are personal matters - they don't take sides.  In being warm and welcoming excepting all - beliefs don't get discussed.  We have become clubs not places for spiritual renewal.  When fresh people come through our doors, we are signing them up to be one of us - part of this family of people without a sense of who we are - and yet we expect them to feel as if they belong.  How can a new person feel as if they belong to a place when they don't have history? When they don't know or understand what you believe? How can we prove to them that we are a different church, that we aren't stereotypical or we aren't hypocrites if we can't tell what we do believe?

When a seeker enters a church, they are looking for something. When they find nothing - no voice, no authenticity, no Spirit moving - they aren't going to stay.  This isn't to say that there is nothing for I assure you that at the core of every congregation there is something.  And even at the most club-like church there is a true Spirit of God moving. For those who believe especially they know and feel God.  The problem isn't that the Spirit has left or isn't there but that we have never learned how to give that Spirit voice.  In trying to be politically correct, in trying to be a place where all are welcome we have failed at one thing and that is defining our image of God beyond the European Male that wasn't Christ.  

The question isn't just how we make a more meaningful worship experience - that isn't how we get people to come to our church.  What is our voice and how do we let our voice be heard.  How do we go out into the community, teaching about Christ and encouraging people to worship with us.

We can't just sit around in our churches services not making any noise and allowing for the mainline churches to disappear.  We can't allow the more conservative voice speak only for God or allow the secular world to define churches by their requests for money and gossiping ladies. We must do ourselves better than that! We must do our God better than that!
 
As our election season goes into its finally months, as our country continues to struggle with racism, as our world continues to battle terrorism, as people go hungry and children witness evil we must ask ourselves is this really what God wants from us? To sit in our pews on Sundays and live in the secular world without a voice?  Or does our God want us to represent, to be an ambassador for Christ?  Does God's will include a voice for my theology?  My faith, your faith?!  It certainty does.  And wouldn't the world be a better place for it?  A debate of Christianity that actually includes all sides of it? 
 
Please take on your voice!  Speak about and use God's name not in vain but with the power to transform those around you.  Pray to God that our world comes to see that the true and amazing love of the God who offers us grace, no matter who we are!  We are neither Jew nor Gentile, slave or free, we are God's children!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

God is There

I have had an interesting week this week.  There has been mourning and celebrations.  There has been tough choices and laughter.  There has been time with my kids and time with the dying.  There has been cleaning and there has been mess.  There has been heart ache and there has been joy.  But most importantly there has been God.  God has worked through this week in ways that surprised me. 

I could not help but be reminded this week, as it started off with the unforgettable 9/11 to ending with a celebration of a WWII refugee, of the passage in which Jacob wrestles with God on the river bank (Genesis 32).  In this passage we have Jacob who is returning home after fleeing when he stole Esau, his brothers, birthright in a hoax with his mother.  He has sent message to Esau that he comes in peace and in hopes that he will find favor but his messenger returns to him saying Esau is coming to greet you with 400 men!  Jacob is afraid, worried that his brother in anger will kill him.  Unable to sleep he goes to the river bank and there he meets God.  He wrestles with God and Jacob wouldn't give up.  As daybreak comes, God says "let me go" and Jacob says "not without a blessing."  Jacob didn't give up wrestling God.  Even when he got injured he remained in the wrestle.  He was not only injured that day but his wound would follow him the rest of his life.  He would forever limp.  When his brother found him that morning, he embraced Jacob with open arms.  Not what Jacob expected.  God blessed Jacob with a new name "Israel" because he had struggled with both God and humans and won. 

Much of our life can seem like a struggle.  I was listening to NPR today and they had two guests who were sharing their life stories.  Both shared about the pains and joys of their life.  The host asked both if they thought they went through something "no one else" had.  I was surprised by this line of questioning.  We all go through hard times.  And we each have our own challenges.  High school, yearly 20's all the up through our life we face challenges and obstacles to overcome.  We struggle with God and where God is in not only our life but the world. 

In our times of struggle we have two choices - to give up and walk away or to stay and see God face to face.  We have the choice to walk away from God or to stick around coming to understand ourselves and God even more.  After the fight, Jacob walked away with a permeate reminder of his experience, he forever limped but also with a sense of peace as he walked into the unknown of the day.  He wasn't frighten of what his brother was going to do to him. 

We are all affected by the circumstances of our life.  And yet if we allow ourselves to see the God that is there we can come to a sense of peace.  We can come to find relief in God.  Perhaps we can realize that we don't need to self-medicate on the addictions of this world but instead we can proudly wear our scars as we walk in faith the chapters of our life.

Sitting with a women this week who wanted to put her lip stick on, she said to me as she looked into the mirror "look at how I have deteriorated." As my heart ached I wished she would see what I see and so I shared with her how I see her.  Her hair was beautiful and her wrinkles were few for her age.  She is still a beauty.  Sure she is older but she is that much wiser.  Sure she has some wrinkles but she raised several boys, who wouldn't?  Sure she isn't as young as she once was but her face tells her story.  Her story which includes faith. 

We are all affected by life's circumstances.  We all wrestle with God a time or two about the happenings in our own life.  But that's the point - God is there to wrestle with.  We all have scars both visible and invisible to others that prove our strength and our faith. 

In the moment of choice Jacob continued to wrestle, in his moments of fear (fear Esau was coming to kill him), pain (from his hip wound) and confusion (was this a dream?) Jacob did not back down from God.  He kept his faith.  We are all asked to keep our faith and to find God.  We are to seek God and know that God is there - in every moment. 

God proved to me the Holy's amazing presence was working in and through me this week as too many things just aligned.  I know that in all my moments - highs and lows - God was there.  Have confidence my friends and believe.  Don't worry about the wounds, they heal.  Just choose to stick it out with God for it is in choosing to stay that the reward is greatest!  It is in wrestling with the Divine that we come face to face with God and know the power of the Almighty in our lives.  It is in remaining in the faith that we are welcomed joyfully in God's loving arms as a beloved child.

God is here, God is there, From here to there, God is every where!  

Sunday, September 11, 2016

In God's Hands

Today I am going to talk about Jeremiah 18 and the passage about the Potter's wheel.  This is such a beautiful and powerful passages for us today.  It is both an amazing example of God working in our lives and a powerful message of hope. 

First, the most important part of this passage is that the clay never leaves the potter's hands.  In our lives there are moments that we feel lost from God.  There are moments when we let anger or frustration get in the way of our relationship with God; but this passage reminds us that that is our problem.  God doesn't leave us even when we are broken.  God doesn't leave us when our lives are messed up but instead we are always in God's hands.  When using clay on a wheel too much control will cause problems but giving into what the clay wants doesn't usually come out pretty either.  It is when the clay and the potter work together that the beautiful vessel takes shape.  We must always allow God to work in our lives, we must always remember that God is not the one who leaves our relationship.  God's presence is always available to the Holy's creations.  WOW such a comforting imagine.

Second, we don't hear about what kind of vessel is being made - just that one is.  When the vessel gets ugly, the potter doesn't give up on it but instead continues to work with it to form it into another pot.  This means the original design may have been changed or even the original use of the vessel may now be different.  Things don't always turn out like we plan and yet when we give God control our lives are transformed.  Not always into what we thought, but always into something fitting!  As clay get worked there comes a point when the quality of clay isn't as good as it used to be and yet this potter doesn't discard the clay, the potter works with it.   It doesn't matter how many times we need to be reshaped, God will continue to work with us.  In fact the vessel in this passage never gets fired or finished.  We are always a work in progress but when we work with God our messy lives can be transformed into something new - something wonderfully made by our Creator. 

Third, even though we don't know much about this vessel we can be assured it will be useful.  Being a part of God's creation ensures that we are useful.  And yet, not every vessel that a potter creates is used in the same way.  Some creations are used every day, like cups and bowls, but other creations are used only a few times a year; some creations are even considered art, never to be "used" by people's hands.  And yet!  That doesn't make any of them less "useful"  The goal of the potter isn't about creating the same vessel every time - a dozen of the same bowls.  The goal of the potter is to show their love, their spirit, through their creations.  The goal then of the vessel is to proclaim God's love to the world - to show all God's grace and mercy.  The goal is to reflect the potter who made it.  The "usefulness" isn't as important as sometimes a piece of art is more powerful then a bowl.  What matters is that each piece speaks about the Creator. 

No matter where we are in our lives, no matter how messy or how useless we seem know that we are in the hands of our God.  Should we choose to connect to our Redeemer, we shall be brought into new life and new purpose.  In doing so we are shinning examples of our Creator no matter what our design we are worthy to call ourselves Disciples. 

 

 

Jeremiah 18

1 This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD:

2 “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.”

3 So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel.

4 But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.

5 Then the word of the LORD came to me.

6 He said, “Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?” declares the LORD. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel.

7 If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed,

8 and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned.

9 And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted,

10 and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it.

11 “Now therefore say to the people of Judah and those living in Jerusalem, ‘This is what the LORD says: Look! I am preparing a disaster for you and devising a plan against you. So turn from your evil ways, each one of you, and reform your ways and your actions.’

12 But they will reply, ‘It’s no use. We will continue with our own plans; we will all follow the stubbornness of our evil hearts.’ ”

13 Therefore this is what the LORD says: “Inquire among the nations: Who has ever heard anything like this? A most horrible thing has been done by Virgin Israel.

14 Does the snow of Lebanon ever vanish from its rocky slopes? Do its cool waters from distant sources ever stop flowing?a

15 Yet my people have forgotten me; they burn incense to worthless idols, which made them stumble in their ways, in the ancient paths. They made them walk in byways, on roads not built up.

16 Their land will be an object of horror and of lasting scorn; all who pass by will be appalled and will shake their heads.

17 Like a wind from the east, I will scatter them before their enemies; I will show them my back and not my face in the day of their disaster.”

18 They said, “Come, let’s make plans against Jeremiah; for the teaching of the law by the priest will not cease, nor will counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophets. So come, let’s attack him with our tongues and pay no attention to anything he says.”
                                                         

Sunday, September 4, 2016

The Bible


The Bible is written by humans to express one of the most difficult topics to explain – our relationship with God. Therefore I do not believe it to be literal or without flaws but instead believe it to be an expression of human, fallible and sinful, understanding of God who by the very definition is so much more than anything we know.  The writers of the Bible had a very difficult task before them putting a frame around God so that all others might come to know the amazing things and feelings that come with this powerful relationship.  In doing so, it would only be natural that they were only able to give you one side of the God story – theirs, humans.
That being stated, the Bible is still the truth and the truth of God is found within.  It is still profound and it remains relevant for it allows us to understand not only our own relationship with the Divine but the real relationship that the Creator has with the whole of the world. The truths expressed throughout the Bible might not be specifically truthful in nature but do reveal truths of the relationship that Humans and God had and continue to have.  There is history there, there is truth and most importantly God can be found within and through this Holy Book.
Starting with the first word of the Bible we are invited to join a journey.  We are in for more than just a quick read but instead we are invited to journey where God and humans come to understand more.  The very first word is the Hebrew word which although translated to “in the beginning” really in a sense means “that which happened before the time we know.”  The word translates also as “first fruit;” which is a concept word for which there is not a good translation.  But with it we are told that this is not meant to be an historical account but instead shared consciousness of experiences passed down.  The seeds of truth, the relationship we humans have with God are found here, just as the first fruits nothing existed before God’s and God’s relationship.   Human encounters and experiences with God shared so that the lesson are learned; and so that the relationships forged would be preserved for all.  In hopes that all might come to know the God who meant so much to those who loved, followed, worshiped and were led.  More importantly though so that others might come to love, follow, worship and answer the Creator. 

Know that all are worthy to begin a relationship.  But also know that relationship, all good ones anyway, are not one sided and take work.  We are held accountable in our own walk with the Divine.  It is more then just praying and receiving a miracle, as the entire Bible reminds us a relationship with the Holy is complex but so very rewarding!