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.

Friday, March 31, 2017

31st

 Matthew 9: 27-31 blind men see
27 As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, calling out, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!”28 When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?”“Yes, Lord,” they replied.29 Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith let it be done to you”; 30 and their sight was restored. Jesus warned them sternly, “See that no one knows about this.” 31 But they went out and spread the news about him all over that region.

So why doesn’t Jesus who just rose a girl from the dead and stories are being spread fast not want the two men who were blind but now can see to say anything?  Whenever Jesus, mostly in Mark but a few times in the other Gospels, says “don’t tell” I am brought back to why?  Is it that in this passage he wanted to just heal people in crowds and when he healed individuals he didn’t want everyone to know that he was available 24/7?  It is that by telling them not to tell he knew word would spread?  Is this just good boundaries or reverse psychology? 

Either way there is a lesson for us.  Jesus tells them not to say anything and yet the great news was too much for them not to share!  They shared anyway and thankfully they did.  We wouldn’t be Christians; heck we wouldn’t even know Christ if others hadn’t spread the news.  If his disciples hadn’t gone out after his death and if all those who believed had not share the story of how Jesus truly was their Redeemer.  It was through personal testimony that the early church thrived.  Let us focus on personal testimony today: what is one or two things in your life that you know happened or changed because of God? 

Thursday, March 30, 2017

30th

 Matthew 9: 18-19, 23-26 girl is raised from the dead
18 While he was saying this, a synagogue leader came and knelt before him and said, “My daughter has just died. But come and put your hand on her, and she will live.” 19 Jesus got up and went with him, and so did his disciples. 23 When Jesus entered the synagogue leader’s house and saw the noisy crowd and people playing pipes, 24 he said, “Go away. The girl is not dead but asleep.” But they laughed at him. 25 After the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took the girl by the hand, and she got up. 26 News of this spread through all that region.


Jesus raised a girl from the dead!  This was to be a miracle of all miracles when Jesus brought  back life!  How could he do that?  Truly a real miracle.  As well as a foreshadowing of what Christ offers for all of us in the Kingdom of Heaven; a resurrection like his.  For those who Jesus raised during his ministry on Earth, back to life was the only option; for those after Jesus’ ascension, being raised has a new meaning in the Kingdom of Heaven.  Jesus uses the word “sleep” here and we see that as he is telling the crowds that she was but napping but in the Hebrews belief system upon death you sleep until the day of the Messiah.  For Jesus to say she was but sleeping and then bringing her back truly sets everyone up for the truth of his identity – Christ.   He could have healed her except for the fact that on his way he was interrupted, just enough that she passed away and the new life that Christ will offer us is revealed through more than a healing but a raising.  

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

29th

   Matthew 17: 14-20 Jesus heals boy
14 When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before him. 15 “Lord, have mercy on my son,” he said. “He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. 16 I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him.”17 “You unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.” 18 Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed at that moment.19 Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”20 He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

Time and time again Jesus proclaims that someone has little faith or great faith.  Yet in this passage he calls them out on little faith and then says but all you need is faith the size of a mustard seed – so what kind of faith is “little” a speck of sand?  
There is a difference between so little faith and having little faith – the difference is in doubt.  If you have little faith but great doubt then things won’t work out; but if you have little assured faith you can move a mountain.  The bottom line in Jesus’ lessons is don’t put ANYTHING between you and your relationship with God, whatever it may be.  Here it is doubt.  With assurance all things are possible, the impossible becomes possible!  Reflect on yourself are you someone with little faith and big doubt or are you someone with little assured faith? 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

28th

Matthew 15:29-31 cures many people
Jesus left there and went along the Sea of Galilee. Then he went up on a mountainside and sat down. 30 Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at his feet; and he healed them. 31 The people were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled made well, the lame walking and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel.


By this point Jesus is well into his ministry and yet people are still amazed at what they saw.  He did most of his ministry in Galilee so he isn’t really in a “new” place and the crowds followed him and yet they are still amazed!  When you are with greatness, awe doesn’t stop, it just confirms.  A research study was done on prayer and healing and they found that patients that were prayed for healed and were cured at a higher rate than those who were not prayed for.  Even though we give a lot of credit today to modern medicine, we cannot deny the Godly aspect to healing.  But unlike Biblical times we don’t stand in the greatness of God instead we are overwhelmed by hospital technology.  Although the advancement of medicine is good and we should always follow our doctor’s advices, we shouldn’t take out the power of faith to heal.  Jesus spoke these words “you faith has made you well” to people who were healed; let us not take faith out healing.   This also means let us ask our faith for courage and encouragement when it looks like healing won’t happen.

Monday, March 27, 2017

27th

     Matthew 14: 22-33 Jesus walks on water
22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”29 “Come,” he said.Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”


A favorite Sunday school passage this is one we all know well.  Not only does Jesus walk on water but for a few minutes Peter does too; until he lets fear take over and almost drown.  It was at first his faith that sent him out on the water and second his mind which brought him down.  Sometimes in life, God asks us to do something we think is impossible – or we said we would never do.   Finding ourselves in those positions means we must hold on to our faith and not let the worries or the fears surround us.  But fear is a strong emotion.  List some of your fears right now and think about how they hold you back. 

Sunday, March 26, 2017

26th

22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”29 “Come,” he said.Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”


A favorite Sunday school passage this is one we all know well.  Not only does Jesus walk on water but for a few minutes Peter does too; until he lets fear take over and almost drown.  It was at first his faith that sent him out on the water and second his mind which brought him down.  Sometimes in life, God asks us to do something we think is impossible – or we said we would never do.   Finding ourselves in those positions means we must hold on to our faith and not let the worries or the fears surround us.  But fear is a strong emotion.  List some of your fears right now and think about how they hold you back. 

Saturday, March 25, 2017

25th

  Mathew 18: 6-7 stumbling blocks
“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come!


Woe to the one who puts stumbling blocks in front of others.  We are called as Disciples to pave the way for Christ.  We are not called to make other people’s lives harder.  This however is often a practice.  How often do you give someone a task, perhaps not that necessary just to “see” if they are competent?  With our relationships how often do we play games that put walls up between us and others?   In this passage we are reminded that we shouldn’t be doing that.  As disciples we should be making a path smooth stone not a rocky path that trips people up.   Or perhaps you are on the other end of this?  Perhaps you feel that rocky stones are put before you, find a smoother path!  A true disciple would not be setting a rocky path.     

Friday, March 24, 2017

24th


1.       Matthew 16: 24-28 Kingdom of God

24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life[a] will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.“Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

 

Lent is a wonderful time for us to reflect on what it means that our Lord is Risen.  Advent we prepare for the birth of Christ and what it means for us to truly be ready to have Jesus in our life.  Lent however Jesus is here, we rejoice in that fact!  We also look toward the end of the story – the resurrection, Easter morning.  How wonderful it is to know that through our Risen Christ not only are our sins forgiving but that he opened the way to the Kingdom of Heaven!  That is something we must rejoice in; but also reflect on.  What does that mean for us?  What does that promise truly mean in our lives?  Is the promise something we look forward to or fear? 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

23rd


1.       Matthew 15:21-28 Canaanite women who wanted daughter healed

21 Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22 A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.”23 Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”25 The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.26 He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”27 “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”28 Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.

 

Here is what we would like to say is an unusual passage and yet for Jesus unusual is predictable.  We have a passage in which the disciples would have witnessed something new: the healing of a gentile women’s daughter; but not any gentile a pagan one.  Jesus asks if it is right for children’s bread to be toss to dogs.  The children being Israelites and the dogs being the gentiles and the women understanding what Jesus means responds with “Yes!”  and her faith in Jesus heals her daughter.  Her faith in Jesus heals her daughter!  Her faith!  Not the faith of the disciples not the whim of Jesus but it is her faith that stands alone in this passage. 

Once again Jesus heals some one that would not have been considered “worthy.”  Once again a disciple of Christ comes forward who is not simply a Jewish Hebrew following a new Priest but is someone outside the faith institution believing and in return receiving a miracle.  How amazing.   To think that we don’t have to fit a mold for Christ to see us.  To think that we don’t have to be anyone important but that we can be so unimportant that the Bible doesn’t name us.  To think that we all have the right to believe, trust and inherit the Kingdom of God simply for our faith in Jesus.   A powerful reminded today that we are all worthy! 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

22nd


       Matthew 5:13-16 Light and Salt

13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

 

If you are anything like me, you add salt to your food.  Potatoes, corn on the cob and French fries just wouldn’t be the same without salt.  In fact, they have even made fake salt for people on low sodium diets, that is how much we like salt.  Yet as this passage states what good would salt do if it lost its flavor?  It would simple be hard “sprinkle like” pieces on our food and would make the texture of our food unenjoyable.  Likewise, why would we light a candle and hide its light?  We lite the candle to light up the darkness.  Why would we stop something from its potential? 

Why would we hide our faith?  In doing so, we hide our full potential; by embracing our faith and living into our relationship with God great good comes.  We are called to glorify God we are called to live into our relationship with God every day.  We are called to invite others to a relationship with God; we do so by letting the light shine and the salt taste.  Today think about why you keep your light under a bowl or why you let it shine. 

 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

21st


       Matthew 20: 1-16 Labor in vineyard

20 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay them a denarius[a] for the day and sent them into his vineyard.“About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went. “He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’“‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered. “He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’“When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’“The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. 10 So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. 11 When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. 12 ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’13 “But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? 14 Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. 15 Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’16 “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

 

Although this lesson seems pretty hard to take in and does not necessarily equal great business practice it is so reassuring to us.  No matter when – what point in our life – we come to God we will be welcomed and equal.  It serves as a reminder to us that those who become Christians later should not be looked down upon but rejoiced in.  The lesson of acceptance not only of God in our life but of others here is loud.  Today let us rejoice for a God that doesn’t care when or how we come to trust but values more that we come to trust.  Let us lift up all those faithful followers, new and old, and be thankful that God does not rank us.

 

Monday, March 20, 2017

20th


     Matthew 10:1-4 the names of the disciples

Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

 

Interesting about the naming of the disciples is that the gospels do not actually agree.  If you were to put them side by side the names of the 12 disciples are slightly different.  This may bother some people; others explain that many people were known by different names (Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek were all languages of the day) so they are not really different people.  I find it to be comforting that there are differences.  It allows us to better connect and bring ourselves into the story.  As followers of Christ we are called to do all that the disciples do; from learning from Christ to following Jesus to the cross, from going out to spread the Good News to standing in awe of the Risen Lord.  We are called to not just sit on the side lines of the Bible but to engage the Bible in a conversation, a conversation that includes us.  We are disciples.  You and me, me and you!  Identify the most important lesson you have learn from Jesus – be it to be more confident, to find strength, to trust in the Lord, to forgive and let go, or perhaps to love.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Sunday the 19th

    Matthew 4: 18-22 Jesus calls disciples

18 As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 19 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 20 At once they left their nets and followed him.21 Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, 22 and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.

 

Jesus calls his first disciples to come and follow him and without hesitation they do so!  This is truly amazing.  That Peter and Andrew left their nets to follow Jesus.  We know this is the short version of a longer story, but still what faith.  Later as Jesus continues to call his disciples we see that not only does Jesus approach the disciples differently in his call to them but that they too all respond differently.  For some of us we were baptized as infants, grew up in the church and haven’t looked back or doubted once.  For others, the story is different.  Some may not have been baptized until later; others may have another story to tell.  In Christianity there is not just one journey to Christ but many!  Today, share with someone your own story; be proud of your relationship with Jesus and reflect on your own discipleship. 

Saturday, March 18, 2017

week 3 Saturday


Matthew 18:10-14 the Lost sheep

10 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven. [11] 12 “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? 13 And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. 14 In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.

 

You know this passage: God would not let even one sheep wander off.  This must have been news to the disciples; a shepherd alone watching 100 sheep wouldn’t have left those safe 99 sheep to look for the one wandering away – imagine what could happen to the 99!  Yet that isn’t the way God shepherds and we wouldn’t want it any other way.  God cares about us all so much and equally that God feels even one wandering away is worth saving.  We are all worth saving!  We are all worth rejoicing over as well.  And does God rejoice.  As disciples, God knows we aren’t perfect and that we might slip up but that is the best part – God will still be with us when we do!  In fact not only will God be with us but when we mess up God will be searching for waiting for us to be found.  Reflect on times when you felt lost from your relationship with God and what tools helped you be found.  Was it simply praying?  Or more like attending Church? What helps people in their relationship with God?  

 

Friday, March 17, 2017

week 3 - Friday

  Matthew 11: 28-30 come to be with heavy burdens

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

 

What it means to be a disciple of God is kind of a hard thing to express; sure it simply means to follow Christ’s teachings, but it is really so much more.  We are called at disciples into a true relationship; one in which we live beyond ourselves.  We are called to offer our burdens and our life with God – to share not simply to do it all.  As we age this passage continues to touch us in our moments as it assures us that our souls will find rest.  That those who are weary from long life and burdened with illness will find rest in the Kingdom to come; a rest that is pleasant.   Living with this knowledge and assurance is truly a comfort and a blessing.  Let us rejoice in our discipleship today and engage God in a relationship which grants us much reward.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

the strom - Wednesday and Thursday

So I tried to set this up so that everything was "scheduled" and then I lost internet...  Sorry for the missed days

wedneday    Matthew 9:9-13 Jesus calls Matthew the tax collector

As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12 On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

 

How dare Jesus, to eat with a sinner and worse to ask him to be a disciple!  The Pharisees once again have something to say about this.  And once again Jesus has a pretty good come back: I didn’t come to cure the healthy but to heal the sick.  Jesus isn’t talking about true illness here but the Spirit.  At this moment in history the Priest of the day were keeping the everyday people pretty far from a relationship with God, making it pretty hard for average people to “fulfill” all that one needed to be pure.   Jesus time and time again makes it OK for those “unpure” to find a relationship with God.  Through Christ God is accessible to all.   As disciples this means a great deal for us and for Matthew who was called by Jesus to follow him and represent all those thought to be “undesirable” by God.   Today reflect on your own “undesirable” natures and lift up to God your sins trusting in the forgiveness of Christ.

 

 

thursday       Matthew 9:20-22 Jesus heals the bleeding women

20 Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. 21 She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed." 22 Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed at that moment.

 

This is a wonderful message to all of us disciples:  child of God, because of your faith you belong, are loved and healed.  This woman was an outcast and in the moment of her healing she could resume a normal life.  She got everything back, including her identity, in this one act of faith.  And Jesus wasn’t angry with her, he didn’t rebuke her but instead he embraced her.  His words – daughter, child of God – were words of inclusion to a life of an outcast.  Such a beautiful moment in our Bible when we are reminded what a true gift it is to feel the love of being a child of God.  A reminder to us to that even when all hope seems lost, God has not forgotten our suffering.  Powerful!  Today reflect on what it means to be a child of God.

 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Lent week 3 Tuesday

  Matthew 4:8-11 Jesus beats the devil for now
And the Devil left him: interesting that even though Jesus did not fall to the Devil’s offering that we are still left with a cliffhanger.  Our passage doesn’t say the Devil went away for good and in fact would leave us to believe that the Devil will be back.  In any good comic book you know the bad guy is never gone; they will always return (even when you think they are dead).  We get the same sense here, the Devil will be back.
When is this important?  Because just as God gives us second chances to follow in the Divine’s way so does the Devil give us second chances to follow in evil’s way.  You see throughout our life we are given opportunities to respond to God or to allow the Devil to creep in. 

We use Lent as a time to think about this.  Usually we as Christians don’t like to talk about the Devil or we allow that to be “outside” the norm.  In many ways we do this as a way to defeat the Devil – not allow ourselves to acknowledge the personification of the evil in the world.  Yet the Bible gives us many examples of a Devil being.  The opening moments of Lent remind us of this strong and real threat to the good in the world as the Devil challenges Jesus.  Yet we are equally reminded of the amazing strength of Jesus who did not allow the Devil in; who did something that is considered humanly impossible: he did not sin.  This moment of Divinity within Christ gives us hope that our Messiah has arrived.  This moment of Divinity reminds us of the second chances that God gives us in life to make the choice to follow the good.  This moment of Divinity reminds us that evil can be strong in this world and offers us more hope in grace!

Monday, March 13, 2017

lent week 3 Monday

  Matthew 17: 24-27 Jesus pays taxes
Jesus pays taxes – yup!  Every year during Lent we also endure tax season in the US.  Each of us filling out the forms, praying to God we don’t owe too much and sending them back to the government before the deadline.  People remind each other that we can’t avoid taxes like we can’t avoid death.  Two truths that even existed for Jesus.
But why included paying taxes during the week we discuss making good decisions?  Even though Jesus was a rebel and called into question many practices; even though Jesus reformed things and challenged authority; he did not just  disagree.    He was not a rebel that didn’t have a cause and so just disagreed with everything.  He wasn’t someone just breaking all the rules around him because he could.  His rebellion was formulated.  His teachings were wise.  His breaking or bending the rules was done not out of distaste for it all but out of the hope to change. 
There is a difference between breaking the rules simply because you want to and breaking the rules to stand up for change.  Jesus was a rebel for breaking and bending the rules; but he showed us several times where he respected the laws.  This is one of those times; he pays his taxes. 

Sometimes it feels like a fine line between breaking the rules out of disdain for the church and breaking the rules out of hope to change the church.  Yet Jesus taught us to question status-quo.  We are not expected to think that reform in the church ends with Jesus or that the prophetic age ended with the greats of the Old Testament.  We are expected to continue in Jesus footsteps; pushing for some rules to change and yet remembering to honor others.  

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Lenten week 2 - Sunday

Matthew 4: 2-7 Jesus is tempted by the devil a few times
                The Devil tempts Jesus and encourages Jesus to prove he is the Son of God; if you really are Divine...prove it!  And yet Jesus instead proves his divinity not by taking on the temptation that the Devil is offering.  We are asked to make decisions and choices throughout our life.  Some with easily calculated outcomes and others with more vague consequences; it is at this time that we need to hold ourselves accountable to our decisions.  Jesus could have easily said “sure I’ll prove it!” but then he would have been giving in to the temptations of the Devil, which were only for Jesus benefit.  Instead by remaining sinless at this junction, we are reminded of the true Divine that is Christ. 

                In our own lives it is easy to make decisions that feel good at the moment; or momentarily benefit us.  Yet we are called as Christians to do more and be more.  We are asked to go beyond our individual desires but to live for God’s purpose.  To do God’s will in the world.  This week, let us think about the decisions we make both large and small.  The food we put in our bodies not only affects the way we feel but no matter where that food came from it affects workers across our world.  The big decisions we make - like taking on a career, moving, retiring or even living in a nursing home also have consequences.   

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Lenten week 2 Saturday

 Matthew 12: 33-37 either you do good in the world or bad
Such harsh words from Jesus – calling the religious leaders “Brood of vipers!”  Reminding them of what kind of people there are in the world.  And this is true: if we are good we bear good fruit, if we are evil we bear bad fruit.  For when we are angry, hurt, greedy, negative we are spreading that to those around us.  This is an important warning.
Remember when you were children and your parents would say “you are what you eat” or “actions speak louder than words.”   Both are true.  We get from the world what we put into it.  Jesus reminds us that we have a choice about what kind of fruit we bear in this world.  But also reminds us that we will be judged for who we are and are actions; are fruit will be judged. 

Every year farmers go to fairs across the US and show off their prize crops; they are not he ugliest of the them, but the closest to perfect.  There are always flaws as each creation is unique and yet the blue ribbon best is displayed for all to see.  God knows that not every piece of your crop will be perfect and certainly there will be seasons in which your fruit might spoil quickly but Jesus here calls us to produce good fruit.  To not be like this brood of vipers only sending out bad into the world but to strive every day for good.   

Friday, March 10, 2017

Lenten week 2 - Friday

Matthew 12: 9-14 withered hand on Sabbath
Again Jesus breaks the rules and works on the Sabbath – this time it is not simply gleaning some fields for wheat to eat but heals a man’s hand!  Sabbath, the 7th day of the week is the day of rest.  This is when God took a rest during creation and it is very important to the Hebrew faith.  One does nothing, no work, on the Sabbath.  The religious leaders are pointing this out to Jesus and again Jesus breaks the rule.
This time however, Jesus throws back at them an interesting thought: if a farmer had an animal which fell into a pit would they not get them?  And further rebukes that a human’s life is worth more.  Jesus does not seem himself as breaking a rule. 
Jesus is elevating us to think different and for the religious leaders to think different.  They clearly do not like this new way of thinking and at the end of this passage we are left knowing that the plot to kill Jesus has begun. 

Sometimes on our faith journey we are met with new things and new ideas.  Many of these seem counter to what we have been taught or believe and so we act like the religious leaders here – plotting to get rid of the new.  Yet God came not as a meek or mild-manner person but instead as Jesus.  God has used people over and over throughout the Bible to show us that the rebels are often the ones following the Divine.  Think about when you have judge someone’s decisions, especially if it was quick or rash.  

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Lenten week 2 Thursday

  Matthew 7:13-14 the gate is narrow
This is a reminder to us that the easy way is not always the best choice.  Some of the best decisions we make in life are the hardest to make or require the most sacrifice. Think about a time in your life that you made a choice which was hard and the path seemed pretty narrow and yet it turned out to be the best decision you made.
We are told that the easy and wide path is full of destruction while the narrow path leads to life; however the narrow path is not easy.  How interesting it is that the narrow path to the Kingdom of Heaven is more difficult and yet how often in society do we allow this to be true? 
When life gets hard, we turn from the narrow path and yet we are told it won’t be easy.  When things do not go our way we ask “why God” and often stumble off the path.
When life gets real; we often take the easy choice.  Sure the narrow path might be difficult but God will be with us!  The easy path leads to destruction and promises no reward. 

Think about your choices today – what will it (or what did it) take for you to choose the narrow path?

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Lenten week 2 Wednesday

1.       Matthew 12: 1-8 Jesus “works” on the Sabbath
              Here we are reminded of those wolfs that are waiting to pounce on the sheep.  Jesus and his disciples were traveling on Sabbath.  They are hungry and while in a field gleaned some of the wheat for food.  The faith leaders take on Jesus and his disciples for breaking a rule and working on Sabbath. Jesus using the same logic and wisdom of the Rabbi’s begin to counter them on when it is OK to break the Sabbath. The details of this passage is pretty interesting, you may want to look them up.

Jesus broke a rule and he did not hide the fact.  He broke a rule!  To think that the foundation of our church was built by a man who broke rules can open our minds.  There were plenty of rules that Jesus kept and that he taught – Jesus said don’t just love your neighbors love your enemies too!  But some rules; Jesus broke.  Our decisions in life will all lead to consequences, not all consequence is bad.   As we think about the decisions we have made or the decisions we need to make we should not be held back by rules, especially rules imposed on us.  We should instead allow our relationship with the Divine lead us to decision making.  Now might be the time to break the rules and follow God; now might be the time that no rules need to be broken.   

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Lenten week 2 Tuesday

  Matthew 10:16-17 Jesus offers warning
              16 “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. 17 Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues.
              Jesus offers a warning here to his disciples.  They are going out to spread the message and yet they know they are not going to be met with open arms all the time.   This is a strong warning to us: we are like sheep among the wolves.  We must be on guard and yet remain good.  We must stay true to the teachings and yet remain shrewd in the world.  This is a difficult balance.  Thankfully there is grace!  Jesus isn’t expecting here that all of his disciples will be perfect; but that doesn’t leave us without a tough job to do. 
              No one ever said that being a Christian was easy - certainly Jesus never stated it.  We are Christian because each day and each moment we make choices informed by our faith.  We live into our faith through our action and works in the world.  When does it feel for you that you are a sheep among the wolves?  When is it hard to stay Christian?  When do you simple choose not to tell someone what your faith is?  Think on these questions today.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Lenten Devotional 4


     Matthew 7: 7-12 Power of prayers

7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. 9 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! 12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

Studies have proven prayers work.  People recover from cancer at a higher rate who are praying and being prayed for.  People who pray have less pain and recover faster from surgery.  Prayer works.  When was the last time you prayed?  Not just asked God for all you want but really prayed; sat with God and offered up yourself.  Instead of reading some thoughts from me today; take this time to pray.  Sit silently and lift up to God all that is in your heart; yes this might be some desires but it is probably some blessings and confessions too.  I like to begin prayers with this thought: Gracious God descend upon me and engulf me in your… (love, grace, hope, ect…).  I lift up all the blessings… (name some blessings) you have brought into my life and offer you thanks and praise.  I also lift up to you… (confessions) and ask that you grant me (desires)....Amen.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Free Day

During Lent Sundays are usually considered "free" days.  Days that one does not have to follow your own Lenten Fast.  However, I would challenge you that instead of making them days "free" from the bounds of Lent instead make them truly days of Sabbath, rest.  Allow these days to be days in which you seek God around you by slowing everything down.  Challenge yourself to go back through the weeks devotionals that spoke to you or to go to church and truly feel the God that dwells among us. 

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Lenten Devotional 3


  Matthew 6: 25-34 Don’t worry

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? 28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

 

Such wise words, do not worry; and yet how much of our life do we spend worrying?  How much of our day do we think about money, car troubles, family situations, phone problems, children’s schedules, getting everything done, eating right, exercising, the list continues.  This passage speaks about being in the moment.  Living into the moment’s problems instead of worrying about the future’s problem.  Being mindful of the moment we are in can be a difficult challenge and yet it can change our life.  Living in the moment can free us from the prison that many of our worries have placed around us. 

Now I am not suggesting that we begin to live such a carefree lifestyle that we do not take responsibility or that we make poor choices; and either is our passage from Matthew.  Matthew is reminding us here that the Earthly is not as important as the Heavenly.  We are not called to live on Earth forever; however we are called to the eternal Kingdom.  To honor that call we should not be so immobilized by the worries of today that we cannot and do not live into our life; especially the life that God is calling us to.  God has a purpose for us hear.  God has offered us more to life through the gifts of the Spirit.  God is not calling us to live each day so worried about the details that we fail to see how God works.  Let God take over the details and live into the moment.  Set yourself free and see what it feels like.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Lenten Devotional 2


  Matthew 14:13a Jesus withdrew

When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns.

 

Time and time again I find when I am over my head in a project I need to take a step back, do something different and when I go back I tackle the task with new insights and creativity.  The same thing happens in our life; sometimes we need to step back from it so we can reset that which might have become mundane or worse destructive to our lives.  Jesus knew this, this is not the only time that Jesus took a moment to withdraw or a moment to take a breath. 

 

Lent is a great excuse for us to take a break within our life.  To put our relationship with God first and to take a moment each day to break away from life and spend some quiet moments with the Divine.  Take some time this Lent to look at your whole life; what aspect needs some attention or perhaps the opposite? What aspect could use a new look or different approach?  How could you use this Lent to look at the whole picture of your light in a new lens - the lens of God.   

 

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Lenten Devotional 1


Matthew 3:13-4:1 Jesus’ baptism and leaving for wilderness

13Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. 14 But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15 Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented. 16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” 4:1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.

 

This is an amazing powerful moment in Jesus life; all that he knew has been affirmed.  He was uplifted and in this moment in which the trinity is revealed in the Bible we see the true power of God.  The power is further revealed when Jesus goes into the wilderness for 40 days to be tempted by the Devil.  Jesus’ identity as the real Divinity is shown to us in these passages.  What the way to begin a Lenten journey in which you seek a closer relationship to the Divine. 

Lent is about a journey, a spiritual journey to come to know and understand your relationship with God better.  Even if you have been here before; even if you are here every single; we are called to come back each year to expand our relationship with God.  We are not the same person we were the last time we arrived at this point; we are older, we are different and yet we come to explore our relationship with Divine.  Enjoy this journey.  Trust the power of the Divine. 

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

An Ash Wednesday Reflection and call for Lenten Journey

It was Ash Wednesday over 10 years back.  It was cold and the fresh white snow filled the parking lot to the point that I prayed I'd find a spot.  Thankfully I found one, perhaps farther then I would have liked on this cold day, but better then the road.  I had arrived to offer Ashes for Ash Wednesday.  I wasn't conducting a service, my usual experience, but was called in to fill in for a chaplain at the local nursing home who couldn't offer Ashes this day.  So I found myself, wondering a building a barely new offering Ashes on heads of people whom I just learned their names.  It was interesting.  It was challenging.  It was moving.

Ash Wednesday is a *hard* day for Protestants.  Many Protestants didn't celebrate this Holy Day coming out of the Reformation for some time, some Protestants still don't celebrate it or even see a need for it.  Some believe it to be "too Catholic."  But there I was out of my element, being asked over and over again by people "What is this Ash Wednesday Business?"  As I tried to explain that it was a fast day or that it marked the beginning of Lent and that we used Ashes to mark ourselves with the sign of the cross to remind ourselves that we were created out of dust and to dust we shall return - we are all sinners and we must repent (is the gest).  I explain it was an outward sign of our inward covenant with God to take Lent seriously.  It is a time for us to remember that death does not end but instead resurrection is possible. 

The Catholics didn't need an explanation and ready their forehead for the grey dust to sit.  And yet, very few Protestants accepted.  That is until I arrived at one door.  This door I knew, inside this door was a wonderfully petit woman who did not remember knowing me, but I knew her.  I knew her through the eyes of her husband.  He was a retired Presbyterian Pastor, he was a mentor of mine and perhaps one of the most inspiring Pastor's I'd met.  She was filled with the same glorious and gracious spirit as him.  The Spirit just beamed out of her.  She gladly shook my hand and accepted the ashes with pride.  As I finished placing the ashes on her forehead she broke out into song, singing "Old Rugged Cross" - a gift her dementia had not yet taken from her.  She did not miss a line or a verse and together in our off-key and perhaps even off melody voices we sung.  In that moment the Ashes of Lent meant something.  In that moment we were transformed from a going through the motions of the rite into knowing the joy of the rite. 

Yes Ash Wednesday is about accepting and acknowledging that we are all sinners.  Yes it is an outward symbol of the Lenten journey we are about to embark on.  But YES it is a reminder that the story does not end in the wilderness of temptation but instead with the glory of the Kingdom.  It marks a time for us to truly contemplate our lives and our journey; to reflect on the sins that keep us ground from our relationship with Christ and to truly be reminded as to what it means not only for us a the Church but for us as individuals that Christ lived, died and rose.

As I continued offering Ashes that day, I couldn't help but be reminded that God works in amazing ways.  Perhaps all those people needed ashes that day but God allow for my presence there because I needed to sit with this forgetful woman of God and be reminded why Ash Wednesday is truly a day to celebrate and to contemplate.  Yes it is not the cheerful and joyous celebration we see on Easter but it is filled with joy: knowing, trusting and believing that the glory of God awaits in the Kingdom.

I encourage you this Lent to take a journey with God and find your own resurrection!