I LOVE it. I mean it's sad that we have a way of categorizing religions (that's probably a reason I changed to Non-Denominational in April 2009), but the worship was totally different than what I imagined. Angela (my friend) and I went to dinner before going and we discussed what we think Christianity is: relationship, not religion. I told her I grew up Baptist but started attending a Non-Denominational church in college because I felt my fit. Everyone could worship how they wanted. The next part was the shocker. I asked her what kind of service it is, and she let out a laugh and said, "Assemblies of God."
What was my first response? "Oh my gosh, do yall speak in tongues and do that weird healing thing and knock people to the floor?"
After looking puzzled and laughing again, she said they speak in tongues but do not do the others listed because that would be the Pentecostals. See what I mean? Religion is categorized!
Anywho so we went to the service after leaving Logan's (FYI- best rolls EVER and good food...it was my first time going). Once we go to the church, we had well over an hour before the service. Angela's a happy greeter lady whose love language is acts of service (picked that one out in 5 seconds). She was the nicest greeter to anyone who came in. I met all of her buddies, but to be totally honest, I was worried about service. I was part of Chi Alpha last year, which is an Assemblies of God organization, but no one ever did that weird stuff. It was very laid back and very powerful worship. I loved it. No one spoke in tongues loudly- if so, it was to themselves and everyone was free in their worship. And this may be weird, but I get so much more out of a worship service at a Non-Denom or Assemblies of God church rather than at a Baptist. Strange, I know but why? Everyone I saw last night was so genuine. One girl danced her heart out. Another guy walked around praying rather loud, but he was sincere. A girl fell on hands and knees and people laid hands on her, but they were praying for her- I'd seen that done in Baptist churches, so I wasn't freaked out.
The main thing that freaked me out was the super long altar call. It had to be 45 minutes long, which is 15 more than my longest. In high school we had groups come in for Spiritual Emphasis Week (I went to a private Non-Denom high school), and my freshman year had a 30 minute long altar call. I left that week changed and a new person. My mom noticed an increase in my behavior and knew sending me there was the best thing.
The pastor went through 1 Peter 1, Psalms and Jonah. It was refreshing. He explained that if we are making excuses for not being intimate with God, we are sinking to the floor like Jonah. Even though we hit rock bottom, He is there. We sang Desert Song by Hillsong (just bought that good song this morning), and he told us that when we're in the dry phase of our walk, He is there. I won't lie, I felt like my toes had been stepped on and I had just tried to walk over hot coals when I left there. I had made excuses for so many things this past year and haven't been as strong as I was last year or even in high school. I'd pray to God as I fell asleep every night, but couldn't take 10 minutes to crack open my Bible.
It was like I was using God as Santa Claus or hoping that He would just guide me through the next day. I know that He has answered several prayers for so many reasons I cannot fathom. What really became evident for me was everytime before and during a date, I always pray that God guards my heart, allowing what needs to happen to happen. For that reason, the farthest I've ever gone with a guy is holding hands. I've never had the temptation to kiss someone 1. I don't know how and 2. I'm scared I'll mess it up (know what I mean?). Turns out Angela is a fellow virgin lipper. In her words, "My first kiss is going to be magical, and bang sha bang bang!"
It was like another prayer had been answered. I wasn't the only girl in her 20s that had never been kissed. A burden was lifted. I went through a phase where I was saving that kiss for my wedding day, but now I'm just holding off until there is a guy that deserves that part of me. As I was cleaning last night, I became aware that whatever you give your firsts to, your future spouse will never be apart of. I dated a guy in 2008 who held my hand for the first time and took me on multiple dates a week. I had never had that experience before. I broke things off because I went to a camp and felt God telling me there was someone else out there, someone who will blow me away. I was talking to a guy friend and when we went out a few weeks ago, he invited me to stay the night since it was getting late. I declined. I had prayed God would guard my heart that whole night, and before I could even process the though, my mouth blurted out, "No, I'll just stay with my friends. Besides, we still have some other stuff to do tonight."
By stuff I mean driving around.
People ask why I've never had the temptation to give in and kiss a guy. Well, when I'm one-on-one with a guy, I never want to do anything to tempt him. He leads the way physically. I'm not going to initiate anything. He wants to hold my hand, he'll do it. I mean a guy was popping mints and chewing gum the entire time, but he never leaned in or anything. I took it as a sign that the time wasn't right or he wasn't the one. A big thing for me is spiritual maturity, and honestly those guys fell short. I'm not calling myself high and holy, by no means am I, but I need a guy to read scriptures and pray with me. I couldn't trust them with that role.
But anyways, back to the service...it was amazing. A basic summary would be that we must be intimate with God in order to know God.
It was highly refreshing and just what I needed.