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Thursday, March 5, 2009

Get on your dancin' shoes and praise the Lord!

I don't often write in my blog, but I put on my favorite Yes song: Onward (the lyrics are on the left side bar of my blog.) This song is my prayer. The words are simple. When we were living up in the snow, I kept praying to God to lead us to a church where people really praised God--not just halfheartedly sang along with corny cowboy praise songs. No offense, everyone has a different style and taste in music. But Maranatha Christian Center believes wholeheartedly that when the Bible says so shout to the Lord, clap your hands in joy, sing your heart out to God with a song in your heart, dance and play your instruments, they mean it! You get on your feet annd clap and cry and sing out to God with all your heart. No one tells you when to do it, or that you should sit down. I always feel like I'm in school, when people up at a podium say "Now you can sit, now let's all stand."

I picture King David dancing and leaping around dressed only in his undergarments, all because he couldn't stop loving on God. His wife, Michal, watched on in embarrassment, ashamed for him. All she could see was that he was making a fool of himself in front of the people he ruled. The Bible says her response to his behavior caused her to "despise him in her heart (2 Samuel 6:16). But David chastised her, saying he danced to the Lord and would not relent.

I can just picture his face, his incredulity. No one--not even his wife--was going to take away his joy. He knew the joy of the Lord was his strength. The first time we went to Maranatha, I though: Never in my life had I ever been in a room with so many people so joyful over what God was doing for them. These are not people who are well-off, sitting back on their laurels, and enjoying the prosperity gospel so popular today. These are people who've seen the bottom and the hard knocks of Satan's onslaughts. They know who gets them out of bed each day and helps them face life without fear and bondage. And they praise God for each day they make it through in faith without stumbling. I'd never been so loved up and hugged in such a short span of time. It took my breath away. I left that first afternoon with tears in my eyes. I felt like God had given me a vision of Paradise--that I had been allowed into the courtyard of his worshippers and I felt so unworthy. It was a very humbling experience--to know I had been missing this kind of gratitude and opportunity to shout my praise to God.

God answered our prayers. We had a list of churches we'd planned to visit. This was only number two on the list. When we left church after that first service, we looked at each other. I hemmed a bit, since we'd agreed to go church shopping, but I just had to hint. "Hon, I really like this church. I mean really." Lee smiled and I knew just what he was thinking too.

God made it so clear. We have never felt at home at any church. Sure, we'd attending some nice places with some friendly people and with pastors that gave some good sermons. But we never fit in or felt right. But more than that, God's presence is so palpable in that place. The church invites Him in, and He shows up with a passion for His people. I just praise God for moving us hundreds of miles and leading us to this place that feels like home. I feel like I've come home after years of wandering and my soul is nourished. God knew what we needed, knew we needed a place where we could find Him and face Him straight on, no roundabout meandering paths. Just the Highway of Holiness stretched out clear and unhindered.

Thank you, Father, for taking our hands and leading us through that door. Surely your spirit is in that place. If you ever wanted to know what the angels sound like in heaven when they sing and praise God, just come visit Maranatha Christian Center in San Jose, CA. Or better yet, join on in.

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