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Bloviating Zeppelin: Sunday Reflection: Church Or Heart?

Bloviating Zeppelin

(in-ep-toc'-ra-cy) - a system of government where the least capable to lead are elected by the least capable of producing, and where the members of society least likely to sustain themselves or succeed, are rewarded with goods and services paid for by the confiscated wealth of a diminishing number of producers.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Sunday Reflection: Church Or Heart?


I was listening to a radio program last week -- it really doesn't matter which one -- and one caller indicated that religion was a matter of heart. The host indicated the opposite: that it was necessary to hold, yes, your religion in your heart but it was additionally and equally, if not moreso, necessary to hold your religion in a church.


That made me think, for a moment, about my place and how I hold my own personal religious feelings.

I very rarely speak or write about my religion or my beliefs. I'm of the opinion that my relationship with God primarily involves myself and my Lord. Individually, I'm not a "joiner" per se; my life doesn't quite revolve around the approval of other humans and it never has. I tend to be a loner by nature and my friends -- I'm not quite sure that I really have even one very close external friend at this point in my life. I have many acquaintances; that is true. I'd have to say my wife is my best close friend, amongst other roles.

It's only within the past, say, five years or so that I've even taken time to consider my relationship with God. Predominantly, prior, He didn't even really "factor." Time and events will do that.

But perhaps my eyes were most recently opened when one of my friends at work, now retired, came back from a European vacation and presented me with an object he'd acquired at the Vatican. It was a cross, pictured above, blessed by Pope John Paul II in May of 2004. Since the moment he gave it to me, I've worn it every day. Not because I'm such a pious or sanctified or good man; but instead because it forces me, it reminds me, every morning when I look in the mirror, to remember my place in the grand scheme and to actually try to be a good man.

No, I don't belong to a church nor do I attend weekly. But neither did Jesus, per se. Wherever he went, he carried his Father.

Where do you carry your beliefs? Church or heart?

BZ

31 Comments:

Blogger dmurray said...

Jesus, we celebrate in this Christmas season, is God made man who entered our march through time and space. Here in space and time He established his church. I go to church. I participate in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Thank you for asking! (Insert flame war here)

Great image of the ad limina crucifix, too!

Merry Christmas, as you post only a week before the Epiphany, and Happy New Year!

Sat Jan 02, 09:21:00 PM PST  
Blogger Ron Russell said...

I could have easily written that piece it fits me perfectly. My true friends are few and my wife, well she's the best. The day is coming soon however when she will be gone as she is in the final stages of a terminal illness. At this point I seem to be drawing closer to God, a god I have always known but seldom spoken too. I rarely go to church, maybe once a year and don't feel the need to go more than that. I recall the Tennyson poem "Crossing the Bar" and I feel that one day I will see my "pilot face to face" when I have crost the bar.

Thanks for the link. My thoughts for this upcoming year are mixed, but I know that in the end things always work out for the best.

Sat Jan 02, 09:26:00 PM PST  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

DM: Yeah, gosh, wonder where I got that anyway? :^)

Ron: I am so sad to read of that. My most sincere condolences, sir. You know, I'm going to try to find that poem.

BZ

Sat Jan 02, 09:32:00 PM PST  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

CROSSING THE BAR
by Alfred Lord Tennyson:

Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;

For tho' from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crossed the bar.

(BZ)

Sat Jan 02, 09:36:00 PM PST  
Blogger dmurray said...

I meant to edit my post: Saturday is the vigil of the Epiphany, Epiphany is tomorrow, not next week. I mean it about the image, too. You do not often see the Trinity protrayed, but the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (represented by the dove) are on that one. God bless you!

Sat Jan 02, 09:40:00 PM PST  
Blogger Joseph said...

I define being a Christian as following Christ, not a church.

Sat Jan 02, 09:56:00 PM PST  
Blogger Ron Russell said...

Glad you found that poem. It along with Tennyson's "Charge of the Light Brigade" are among my favorites.

Sat Jan 02, 10:07:00 PM PST  
Blogger cj said...

My relationship with God is just that - mine. I renew my faith each and every day, some days more times than others. I turn to Him for guidance, strength, and wisdom and, more often than not, I am better off for it. What good is a relationship with God that isn't of the heart?

That said, I have no problem acknowledging that being with like-minded people only serves to strengthen and uplift you; hence the acknowledgement that church is also a necessary part of my faith. I don't go nearly as often as I'd like beause I work weekends and rotating shifts on top of it. But, there are times when I wish I could go every week for the fellowship.

The photo is beautiful.

cjh

Sun Jan 03, 01:48:00 AM PST  
Blogger LD Jackson said...

This is my first time visiting your blog, but you will never know how this post speaks to me. I find myself in much the same position. I believe in God, but have fallen away from attending church as regularly as I probably should. There is no one in my life that I feel I can call a close and personal friend, save for one.

If you were to receive an email from me, it would have the following signature.

LJ
My best friend is my wife!!

Sun Jan 03, 03:45:00 AM PST  
Blogger Bubbles said...

According to Jesus in John 14:6 He states, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." Being a Christian is not religion. Being a Christian is being a believer in the Word, the Word is the truth and the Word is the Lord.

When we study the Word, we get insight of what the Lord has for us and also what He expects from us. Being a Christian is not about being good, it's about modeling our Lord and Saviour. Of course we will never be as pure as Him, but the Lord does know our hearts.

As far as being a church goer, the Lord's desire for us is to be in fellowship with other believer's.

Ron, I will be lifting you and yours up in my daily prayer.

God Bless you BZ and your readers!

Sun Jan 03, 03:46:00 AM PST  
Blogger Always On Watch said...

I'm not big on churches. So many of them have fallen far away from their God-given task of preaching the Word.

I prefer doing my own devotions, with the guidance of booklets such as Our Daily Bread.

I say: heart first, then church if led to one.

Sun Jan 03, 06:02:00 AM PST  
Blogger Bubbles said...

Always on Watch - You are correct. Most churches today are "Feel Good Churches". Very commercial and theatrical. You have to be very careful when searching for a church. Understand their mission statement and watch their works. You can tell by their fruits. God will give us discernment if we ask. I have noticed that churches seem to be in competition with each other. One church has on their marque "A church for people who don't like church" I have visited that church awhile back and found it to be a "feel good church". Another church has put on their marque, several months later, "A church for people who like church." I have also visited this church several years ago. It is a real church, the preaching does step on your toes. It is better to learn and improve oneself than to just "feel good" about going to church. When we grow in the Lord from our pain then it becomes a good feeling. No pain, No gain. Right?

Sun Jan 03, 06:57:00 AM PST  
Blogger Debbie said...

I accepted Christ when I was 10 years old, but my parents thought I was too young to know what I was doing so they would not allow me to go forward at church or be baptized. Two years later I did go forward, was baptized. I have never questioned my original acceptance of Christ at age 10.

Through the years I have always attended churches, participated in classes, taught classes etc.

I went on to get my seminary associates degree in Religious Education.

My hubby also accepted Christ at a young age. We were very active in church, he became a deacon.

But through the years we saw some very ugly stuff going on in churches. People not acting very Christian. Many were more like country clubs, run by a small group or clique. We saw more than one preacher forced to leave because of petty bickering among these certain groups.

Finally my hubby said he had enough turmoil in his job and didn't need it at church. He refused to go back and has not.

I went for a while by myself but it wasn't the same.

I have not attended church for several years.

We do still live our lives as we thing God would want us to. We still pray, read our Bibles, depend on God's guidance in our lives.

It is important to be around others who profess your same faith, you can give each other support and comfort. But I think more and more people are making the decision not to participate in the organized church. I'm not saying that's right, it just is.

Thanks for adding me to your Usual Suspects!

Not sure if you are familiar with my hubby, a/k/a The Grouch at Right Truth, but here he is:

http://grouchatrighttruth.blogspot.com/

Debbie
Right Truth
http://www.righttruth.typepad.com

Sun Jan 03, 08:20:00 AM PST  
Blogger Debbie said...

p.s.: AOW, years ago I was published in Our Daily Bread. I was paid $5.00. I worked for an attorney in Memphis at the time. He told me once you get paid, that makes you a "professional". ha, now that's funny.

Debbie
Right Triuth
http://www.righttruth.typepad.com

Sun Jan 03, 08:21:00 AM PST  
Blogger Tim said...

"I'm not big on churches. So many of them have fallen far away from their God-given task of preaching the Word."

My wife and I used to attend the United Methodist Church weekly, Took the membership classes, I and my children were baptised there. The following week the pastor was kicked out for having an adulterous relationship with one of the flock. We continued going for a year or two. First, a new pastor ( a very good man) replaced the first pastor, but soon was at odds with the elder lay people over this or that, and left. He was replaced by a weak woman pastor, and the congregation devolved into clickish backbiting. We moved away and decided to forgo transfering our membership to the UMC in our new town. I've gone to their church once since we moved here 14 years ago. Sometimes I miss the fellowship and all, and the bible study, but I don't miss the petty politics. That betrayal of trust and its aftermath changed me from a "true believer" to a questioning seeker. My seeking is now done one-on-one with the Bible and without benefit of clergy.
Evangelicals are polluting Christianity with their intolerance and wrecking this country by interfering in politics.

Sun Jan 03, 09:37:00 AM PST  
Blogger shoprat said...

I'm not to good at getting to church myself, but I am part of the Church (Capital C).

Sun Jan 03, 09:44:00 AM PST  
Blogger Bubbles said...

Tim-I was asked to leave a church before because they assumed I had done something that I did not do. Once again, that came from people in the church gossiping and throwing dirt my way. We do have to remember that there is no perfect church. People are of the flesh trying to do their best. Some are further along in their walk with the Lord than others. There are others who are just in church for the reasons Debbie described in her comment. I know people who go to church because they are on the Board of Directors on some hospital and they need to look good. I go for one reason only and that is to worship my Lord with others, whether they believe or not or how they conduct their lives is between the Lord and them. The Lord knows my heart. I just don't hang out with those that I know are not in it for the real thing. I know that my pastor is REAL. He is also human and will make mistakes and has made mistakes, just as I have. Being a fellow Christian is great because we are there to lift each other up when we fall short of the glory of our Lord. Even if people are in the church for the wrong reason, their lives could be changed because they see how others who are in it for the real reason conducting their lives and the blessings that they receive in return.

Sun Jan 03, 10:50:00 AM PST  
Blogger Greybeard said...

Is it a Church, or is it a business?
I too see many religious establishments beginning to compete with one another, and as a previous commenter indicated, when you start down that road it's easy to begin to try to please congregants, rather than trying to please the Lord.

Like BZ, I'm a strong personality. One of my problems with going to Church right now is that I look around and see so much hypocrisy. Yes I know... I too am a sinner and a hypocrite. But I'm trying desperately to improve, and I see so many who are not. Example:
I enjoy a beer now and then, and know from many scientific studies that one or two alcoholic beverages per day is actually good for me health-wise. We were attending a Baptist Church, and because of beliefs there I found myself trying to hide the fact I was having a now-and-then toddy. The hypocrisy? Deacons in this Church take an oath that they believe the Bible LITERALLY, yet tried to tell me "wine" in the New Testament actually means "grape juice".
Horse plop.
My strong personality said "Get thee away from me, Satan!"

Like most others here, I still read my Bible and chat with the Lord several times daily.
I don't miss the hypocritical Church, but I'd be delighted to find a study group of like-minded souls I could join. (And can we ACTUALLY READ AND DISCUSS "Songs of Solomon"?!!!

I'm open to suggestions.

(Ron... I'm praying for you during what has to be a tremendously stressful time in your life. You know that GOD IS WITH YOU!)

Sun Jan 03, 12:04:00 PM PST  
Blogger Old NFO said...

In the heart. I go to church on occasion, and am a lifelong Baptist.

Sun Jan 03, 12:07:00 PM PST  
Blogger David Wyatt said...

BZ,

One of the things I appreciate about you most, sir, is your honesty. I could write quite a long post here, but I won't drag out a lot of the past at this point. i will say that I am thankful that I know my sins are forgiven & that I'm right with God, not at all because I'm any paragon of virtue, not at all, but because My Savior is, & He has taken my place at God's judgment bar (1 Pet.2:24;3:18) (Isa.53:5-6) I can only hope to be anything at all not in order to appease God, but because my Savior has made me right with God, & for love of Him I strive to please Him. Also, because He has shown amazing love to me, I want to gather with like-minded brothers & sisters & worship Him. So, to answer your question, heart first, & then in obedience to Him & to express my faith, church. Sorry for the ramblings!

Sun Jan 03, 05:11:00 PM PST  
Blogger Law and Order Teacher said...

BZ,
This is a touchy subject with some people. I learned long ago that I don't feel comfortable judging other people. I don't like gossip and refuse to participate in it.

I am a life-long Catholic and I go to church on Sundays and Holy Days. Having said that, it's a personal preference. Whether someone feels comfortable in fellowship is their business.

I love the feeling of being in church and feeling the presence of God, hearing the Mass and the music and sharing Communion. Again, it's personal.

I remember when I was in the military our dogtags had our name, SS#, blood type and religion. It gave me comfort to take my religion and God with me into some bad situations.

When I became a cop my parents gave me a two holy cards and my wife gave me a medal. One of the holy cards was a prayer to St. Joseph for protection. The other holy card was a prayer to St. Michael, the Patron Saint of Police. The medal was of St. Michael. I wear it now and I named my son in St. Michael's honor.

I kept them with me every day I worked as a cop for all 26 years. When my dad died I put the St. Joseph card in his jacket pocket so he would have protection for eternity. He gave it to me, I gave it back. He needs it more than me now. You're right religion is a very personal thing. That's my thing.

Sun Jan 03, 05:18:00 PM PST  
Blogger Freak said...

Jesus left us His Bride, the Universal Church, because it is where we receive & are nourished by the Eucharist.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qbg_dhI4XCs

It is not enough to always ask the Lord to dwell w/us on our own terms. We are also asked to visit Him @ His house.

Sun Jan 03, 05:44:00 PM PST  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

This is wonderful; thank you all for weighing in and expressing your beliefs here. God bless you all, thank you for reading.

BZ

Sun Jan 03, 06:20:00 PM PST  
Blogger Freak said...

Forgive me ,to post again.
If any doubt the that the bread & wine become the actual & real Body & Blood of Jesus, this video will put these doubts to rest. These are scientists & the proof of what they found cannot be disputed.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qbg_dhI4XCs

& this:
Sign of the crucified Christ above Russia
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mI7_RKgq9tU

Sun Jan 03, 06:36:00 PM PST  
Blogger Carlisleboy said...

Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto. Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.

God is not found bound in the wall of any Church, Temple or mosque. Those are all human institutions and as such fall short of his perfection.

I always find him in those quiet spaces, between moments, that are otherwise mundane. The Picture on the masthead of my blog was taken at such a time. Not Retouched, not photoshopped, nothing. Just Reality that was "Special" for that moment of time.

Happy New Year BZ. Lets hope this one is better than last!!

Sun Jan 03, 09:00:00 PM PST  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

Thanks, CB.

To all: good night.

BZ

Sun Jan 03, 11:13:00 PM PST  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

And finally:

Dave, that was a gift beyond measure.

BZ

Sun Jan 03, 11:16:00 PM PST  
Blogger Snigglefrits said...

Like many others have said here, I've felt burned by "organized" religion.

Several years back, we joined a church as a family. My children wanted to be Baptized, but the preacher at the church we were attending wouldn't do so because they were "young". I guess he missed the part about coming to God with a "child-like" faith.

Anyway, we joined this church, then the husband got a job that required our attentions on Sundays. The preacher came by after we were absent *one* Sunday and gnawed on us. He told me we couldn't celebrate Christianity without being in the church building. We were able to attend the next weekend and they spent literally 2 hours arguing in conference over whether money donated in a dead fellow's honor should go to the "fund" the dead guy would have wanted or the "fund" the guy writing the check wanted it to.

And that was when I made up my mind I would never go back.

Jesus, The Lord, The Spirit reside within me & I within him. They can keep their funds & buildings, I'll keep my faith.

Tue Jan 05, 01:16:00 PM PST  
Blogger Rivka said...

I think we have to deal with the heart before church even plays a part. =)

It is all about a holy God who can't stand in the presence of sin-(read the history of the Jews as to God's standards in regard to sin and being able to stand before him.).

The question of church doesn't matter until one can answer this question: "Who is Jesus"? Is Jesus God and also God's son as he claimed he was, or was he merely a great teacher or prophet.

Thu Jan 07, 06:43:00 AM PST  
Blogger Dolley Madison said...

I look at church in many regards as a "filling station". I go, praise, pray, worship, get a great message, and prepare my heart for the week ahead. I find I am entirely too rotten if left to my own devises for long and appreciate it when I get a twinge in my soul that keeps me from becoming too inwardly or worldly focused.

Fri Jan 08, 05:20:00 PM PST  
Blogger Jan said...

BZ..I know this is an old post, but was just reading through some of your archived posts, and this caught my eye...for reasons we both understand.

I understand what you are saying. Organized religion, per se, has turned many off, and no wonder.

I think our personal relationship with God is just that...personal. I believe that He meets us where we are, which to me speaks of His awesomeness.

I don't believe that we need to be in a 'church,' in order to be 'in contact' with Him. As I've said many times, to me it is not about religion, but about relationship.

My husband is my best friend, too...but I had to kiss a few frogs before finding my prince. :)

God bless and keep you, and your wife, in His perfect care, always.
Jan

Mon Mar 14, 07:23:00 AM PDT  

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