Sunday, August 29, 2010

Glenn Beck's Restoring Honor Rally

Well I watched the Glenn Beck Restoring Honor Rally on c-span yesterday... all 4+ hours... not that I am a Beck fan, but I had to see what all the hubbub was about. Mr. Beck was much different at the Restoring Honor Rally than his usual radio and television persona. He was more evangelist than the "blood-squirting-out-of-my-eyes" wild man that we all have come to know him as.

I can't fault much of what transpired during those four hours. I was pleased to here Mr. Beck urge us to seek God and his guidance in pursuit of "Faith, Hope, and Charity" in our daily lives, the apparent theme of the rally.

I do have a cautious attitude about the mix of religion and politics that Glenn Beck seems to be promoting. I am worried about a resurgence of the Theocratic Right. I believe that our political choices and our daily actions must be directed by our religious values, but I fear the move to create a Theocracy in America is on the rise again as a backlash to the Obama Presidency.

The last time we mixed religion and politics here in America it was 1692 in Salem, Massachusetts, and that didn't go well for one of my wife's ancestors and nineteen others who were convicted of witchcraft. I am sure no one at the rally would accept Sharia Law or the Taliban, but those are examples of what a Theocracy looks like.

"At a time when we see around the world the violent consequences of the assumption of religious authority by the government, Americans may count themselves fortunate... Those who would renegotiate the boundaries between church and state must therefore answer a difficult question: Why would we trade a system that has served us so well for one that has served others so poorly?"
~Sandra Day O'Conner, Supreme Court Justice

"Be afraid! Be very afraid!"
~Wednesday Addams, The Addams Family movie

Peace, Love, and Light!
Kevin (Cloud)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Simple Church, Simply Everywhere

When there is a gathering of at least two people who call on Jesus, there is a church. The church is not a building, or a place, or an event that happens at a special time. The church is not a thing, the church is people! When Jesus said that he would be present in a gathering as small as two believers it was a revolutionary concept. The Jewish tradition was that there had to be at least ten adult male Jews in a village before a synagogue could form. Jesus is giving us the permission to form fellowships any time and any place two or three of his followers gather.

The Greek word translated as "church" in the New Testament is ekklesia, meaning "called out from". Jesus is calling people who would follow him and become part of his ekklesia, his called out ones. It is interesting that this same word translated as "church" when talking about believers is also translated as "assembly" when referring to a crowd of people. The word "church" simply means a called-out group of believers gathered together in Jesus' name - no more, no less! Please read Church Is Not In The Bible for further study.

The early church didn't have any buildings for nearly three hundred years. In fact one of the major teachings in the first century church was that God didn't dwell in temples or buildings. Throughout the New Testament the early church met in homes, in the town square, and in the marketplace (John 4:21-24, Acts 7:48-50 & Acts 17:22-29).

Church happens when two friends have lunch together at school and talk about Jesus. Church is in a cafe as a few gather to read the Bible while sipping coffee. Church is at the bus stop when a person prays for someone with a heavy burden while they wait for the bus together. The church is wherever and whenever people gather in Jesus' name.

Not only did Jesus say that he would be present in our gatherings, Jesus also declared that he had "all authority in heaven and earth" and that he would be with us "always, even to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:18-20). This is a powerful truth, this same Jesus who healed the blind and raised the dead is alive today and with us even in our smallest of gatherings!

Jesus promised in Matthew 18:20 to be present in every gathering, large or small, giving us permission to be the Church everywhere believers go. We can tap into the existence of the ever present Christ and his Church at any time, in any place, on any day of the week. Jesus made Church so simple that anyone can do it, it is as simple as two Christians gathered together.

The First Century Church is an example of how simple Church can be and at the same time be powerful enough to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ around the known world. The First Century Church met every day in everyday places - living rooms, markets, work, town squares. The First Century Church was relational, they gathered together regularly, they ate together, they shared what they had with those in need. The First Century Church not only sent out "missionaries" to take the Gospel to the far ends of the earth, they spread the Gospel themselves as they were scattered abroad by persecution. The First Century Church was able to make such an impact that they were accused of turning the world up-side down in less than thirty years - all without cathedrals, professional preachers, seminaries, denominations, missions boards, worship bands, ushers, budget committees, non-profit corporations, etc., etc., etc.

The leaders of the First Century Church were "unschooled, ordinary men" whose only qualifications were that they "had been with Jesus" (Acts 4:13). The Church was filled with regular folk who were not "wise by human standards" or "influential", and few were of "noble birth" (1 Corinthians 1:26). But those who call on Jesus Christ are declared to be "a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation" (1 Peter 2:9). Each one is considered to be a member of God's priesthood, a minister with a personal ministry to fulfill, "As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God." (1 Peter. 4:10)

"For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them"
~Jesus (Matthew 18:20)

Peace, Love, and Light!

The painting at top is "Four People On A Bench" by Vincent Van Gogh, September 1882

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Most High Does Not Dwell In Temples

I support the First Amendment right of any and all faith groups to worship where and how they choose, given that they do not practice human or animal sacrifice, which are prohibited by US Supreme Court rulings.

Now, having said that, my personal belief is that building any place of worship, be it Christan, Bahia, Buddhist, Universalist, Jewish, Muslim, Wiccan, or what ever, is a total waste of money! Look at the price tag of any of these edifices and ask yourself "Could those funds have been used more wisely?"

Would not the cause of any religion be better served if the poor were fed and housed rather than a house of worship built? Would not the sick and the lame think more highly of one's god if there were a hospital to get well in rather than a church to pray in? How many more hearts and minds would be won if scriptures were printed in one's native language rather than a shinny new church with neatly arranged song books lined up in each pew?

"However, the Most High does not dwell in temples made with hands, as the prophet says: 'Heaven is My throne, And earth is My footstool. What house will you build for Me? says the LORD, Or what is the place of My rest? Has My hand not made all these things?'" ~Saint Stephen, Acts 7:48-50

"Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?" ~The Apostle Paul, 1 Corinthians 3:16

Peace, Love, and Light!
Kevin (Cloud)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The First Amendment

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The first ten amendments to the Constitution, known as the Bill of Rights, is the keystone document of our free society. Over the years they have been dragged through the courts in various attempts to interpret, expand, or limit the scope of their application. I am amazed at the current situation in our country where some are concerned that their Second Amendment right to "keep and bear arms" is in danger of being taken away, but at the same time advocating the suspension of the First Amendment right to "free exercise" of religion for Muslims.

My Quaker ancestors came to America in the 1600's to escape religious intolerance. The Bill of Rights was written to protect those freedoms my ancestors came here to find, the same freedoms my father and my grandfather thought they were fighting to protect in two world wars. Now the fear mongers want to selectively apply those freedoms.

The purpose of the Bill of Rights is to protect the citizens from the government, the job of the government is to protect its citizens! I say keep the First Amendment intact for all, regardless of the collective pain brought on by September 11th, and let Homeland Security, the FBI, and New York's finest do their job of protecting us from possible terrorists.

"You can only protect your liberties in this world by protecting the other man's freedom." ~Clarence Darrow

"Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets" ~Jesus, Matthew 7:12

Peace, Love, and Light!
Kevin (Cloud)

Sunday, August 08, 2010

War Is The Complete Opposite Of The Gospel!

"The Church of Christ is continually represented under the figure of an army; yet its Captain is the Prince of Peace; its object is the establishment of peace, and its soldiers are men of a peaceful disposition. The spirit of war is at the extremely opposite point to the spirit of the gospel"

~Charles H. Spurgeon from "The Vanguard and Rereward of the Church" December 26, 1858

Peace, Love, and Light!

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Peace Cannot Be Kept By Force

"Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding."
-Albert Einstein

Peace, Love, and Light!
Kevin (Cloud)

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Common Sense

I just finished reading "Glenn Beck's Common Sense - The Case Against An Out-Of-Control Government". In it Glenn Beck puts forward a compelling argument for fiscal responsibility and for taking political action against big government. Except for a minor comment about the effects of war on the economy Mr. Beck seems to ignore Thomas Paine, who he claims as the inspiration for his book, who said...

"War involves in its progress such a train of unforeseen and unsupposed circumstances that no human wisdom can calculate the end. It has but one thing certain, and that is to increase taxes." -Thomas Paine, Prospects on the Rubicon, 1787

For each dollar of federal income tax we paid in 2009, the government spent about:

33¢ Pentagon for current and past wars
26¢ Supporting the Economy ie: Bailouts
17¢ Health Care
11¢ Responding to Poverty
9¢ General Government
2¢ Energy, Science and Environment
1¢ Jobs
1¢ Diplomacy, Development and War Prevention

Source: FCNL (calculations based on estimated expenditures reported by the White House Office of Management and Budget. This analysis covers the $3,184,888 million “federal fund” budget, which is the spending supported by income taxes, estate taxes and other general revenues. Not included are trust funds, such as Social Security, medicare, which are supported by dedicated revenues.)

"For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" ~JESUS, Matthew 6:21

Peace, Love, and Light!
Kevin (Cloud)

Sunday, August 01, 2010

War - The Enemy Of Public Liberty

"Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few... No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare."

— James Madison, Political Observations, 1795

Peace, Love & Light

Kevin (Cloud)