Listen to He Wants it All by Forever Jones:
James 4:7 (CEV)
Worshipers, God is so good to us... He always gives us a way of escape from our troubles if we are willing to do two things, which are: (1) Surrender to Him, (2) Resist the devil, and he will run away from us quickly. People like to quote the second part of that verse and wonder why the devil stays around, but the enemy's nature is rebellion. He works in and through it, he thrives on it. Rebellion is just like witchcraft and he loves that, too. Rebellion, pride, and wanting our own way comes from hurt, pain, woundedness, rejection, bitterness, hatred, anger, rage, unforgiveness and all of those things that keep us in bondage. Those spirits hate the Word of God because they know that Jesus is the Word of God, and they cannot stay in the same place where He is in charge. So, they will do everything they can to keep us from getting the faith that comes from hearing God's Word and will try to change the Word, water it down, pervert it, and do all kinds of things to make us think that we are OK the way we are or even excuse our situations ...so they can stay around complete their assignment, which is to steal (our peace), kill (our purpose) and destroy (our soul). It grieves the heart of God when this happens, but they are doing it with our permission, because evil spirits are aware of spiritual laws and work when we are outside of them.
The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.
John 10:10 (NKJV)
But they don't have to...all we have to do is: Surrender to God, and Resist the devil. He cannot stand up to the Word of God when it's in our hearts. But we have to get tired of being tired...tired of being miserable, tired of being out of God's will, and tired of playing games and lying to ourselves because God knows what is in our hearts. We have to ask ourselves this question: Are we ready to obey God and have abundant life, peace, joy and all that God wants for us, or do we just want the turmoil to stop so we can continue doing what we want to do? Guess what...God will allow us to remain in that state of turmoil until we decide to surrender all to Him. Why should He deliver us and then allow us to turn around and partner with the enemy to self-destruct with His blessings? Surrender to God...resist the devil, and he will run away from you quickly...it's in our hands.
Remember, that there is nothing that we can plan for ourselves that is better than what God has planned for us!
Listen to He Wants it All by Forever Jones:
You surely know that your body is a temple where the Holy Spirit lives. The Spirit is in you and is a gift from God. You are no longer your own.
(I Cor. 6:19) CEV
How many times have you heard someone say: "If I'm dancing in the spirit, the Lord won't allow me to get hurt"? Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. As much as dance has continued to grow in the church, there are still many dancers who don't have a basic understanding of how the body works and what is necessary to minimize their chances of injury.
The human body is supported by muscle, bone, ligaments, tendons and cartilage, and each part needs the others to function properly whether we are standing still or moving through space. Our body will do almost anything we need it to do, but we have to keep it in alignment, conditioned on a regular basis and give it what it needs: Proper nutrition, adequate water, rest, and quick attention to illnesses, if they occur.
One of the biggest mistakes that worship dancers make is neglecting to stretch their bodies before ministering in dance. If you are unable to attend a dance class on a regular basis, you can still stretch at home, at least three times a week. If you dance spontaneously, use wisdom! Even if God does lead you to dance a spontaneous dance, you are still in control of your vessel. Don't put yourself at risk of a painful injury if you haven't been dancing for awhile. That brings up another point: Improper stretching. Every worship dancer should learn how to stretch and move properly, not only for appearance, but for safety. A few pointers:
- start at the top of the body and work downwards
- pay attention to every part of the body
- if you are in a cold climate, layer your clothing and stretch for a longer period of time
- move slowly, stretch for at least 15 minutes
Enjoy this preview of one of Pastor Lynn's video classes:
Make sacred garments for Aaron that are glorious and beautiful...
Ex. 28:2 (NLT)
We have already talked about appropriate dress in earlier articles (Cover Your Assets, Pt. 1 & 2 ; In-Vest!, and The Hem of My Garment), as well as many others who have written about garments in their blogs. But it can never be said enough that looks are everything! The way dancers are dressed can determine whether the dance ministry is even allowed in a church, or can cause it to be shut down by the leadership. For the amount of information available today, there is still way too much cleavage showing, too many visible bra straps, panty lines and silhouettes in the sanctuary. Other unacceptable attire for dance ministry includes:
- large earrings
- long, curved nails
- dirty or wrinkled garments
- ballet slippers with strings tied in a bow (they are to be tucked in, the strings are not a decoration)
- loose, flying hair
- loud color nail polish (on hands and feet)
- jewelry (other than wedding rings)
- wearing tube socks or houseshoes that look like ballet shoes instead of appropriate dance shoes ( please go and invest in a real pair of dance shoes)
- gloves that don't fit
- wearing gloves while dancing barefoot (doesn't make sense)
- garments that are too tight
- wearing a leotard without an overlay, overdress, vest, or drape
- wearing a dress or skirt with no tights and palazzos or culottes underneath
- not wearing proper supporting undergarments so body parts are jiggling
- dirty dance shoes
I'm sure there are a lot of items that could be added to this list...but you get the message. Have you ever seen a professional dancer wearing any of the above? In an article by Rebecca Breau, Prize-Winning Looks: Why Costumes Count*, the author quotes judges from professional dance competitions who say:
- "Too much skin happens a lot. There is a way to show the body in dance and not be too revealing" ~ Jackie Del Preete, (Dance Olympus/DANCEAMERICA)
- "If the costume doesn't match the piece's mood, it ends up being distracting" ~ Holly Humphreys,(Hollywood Vibe)
- "...Look at the dancers that you've got in your ensemble and make choices that work for everyone" ~ (Randy Allaire, L.A. Danceforce)
If the world sets standards that are acceptable for dancers, how much more should the sacred dance community observe what they are wearing in the sanctuary? Again...one of the main reasons the dance ministry is not accepted and respected is because of the way that the dancers are dressed. When you are dressed inappropriately, not only do you bring shame to the Lord's Name, you make it more difficult for those who take their ministry seriously! Most of these garment issues can be taken care of inexpensively: For less than $5.00, a small amount of fabric can be draped over one shoulder and pinned under the opposite arm to make a nice drape over a leotard... it's not fancy, but it really works until you can get something made. A pair of ballet or jazz shoes can be found for less than $25.00 online... If you insist on getting that airbrush pedicure on Saturday, please wear your shoes on Sunday... Study the origins of modern dance and see why dancing barefoot with gloves is incongruent. The list goes on, and bears repeating: Looks Matter!
Please enjoy God's Providence Dance Assembly, and look at their simple, beautiful attire:
End notes: Photo: Kathleen Brown, Foot of the Cross Ministries
*Articles: Why Costumes Count by Rebecca Breau, Dance Magazine-Competitions, Winning Ways
The Hem of My Garment - blog 3/10
Cover Your Assets - blog 8/10
In-Vest! - blog 10/10
Let them praise His name with the dance; Let them sing praises to Him with the timbrel and harp. For the LORD takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the humble with salvation. (Psalm 149:3-4 NKJV)
By now, everyone who is part of the dance ministry or has ever seen dance ministry is familiar with that passage of scripture...but what does it really mean? We know that we are to be prayerful, choose appropriate music for worship, that we are to understand the meaning of the song, and that we are to dance God's Word to let others see a visual message of the Good News of Christ. So, there are a lot of people dancing to the music, but how many have become the music?
Many times, dancers have beautiful choreography to a beautiful song, and people see the dance, hear the music and miss the entire message that is being given but there is a "disconnect" between the dance and the music, because the dancers are dancing to a song that they really haven't owned, don't know, or may not even like; in other words, they didn't become the music. This could be due to: Time constraints, not being fully committed to the message of the song, focusing more on the technical aspects of the dance than the message of the dance, or many other reasons. In the National Liturgical Dance Network's Online Leadership Class, NLDN Founder Rev. Eyesha Marable stressed this point:
"...Bring the message that is not being dictated by the lyrics. The artist is not to tell the message for you, you have been sent by God to bring a clear message, using their music to complement you. You don’t complement the music, you are the embodiment of the Word, and you are the messenger. People are not to respond to the great song, but they are to capture the message you are trying to
impart". - NLDN 2008-09 Online Leadership Class
To fully communicate the message through the dance, you have to know what God wants to say through the music you are dancing to. Even if you have been given choreography, it is still up to you to understand who your audience is, and what the lyrics of the song are actually saying. If you don't have a copy of the song in your music library, you can usually download a track online on any of the music websites (iTunes, Amazon.com, etc.) for 99 cents. Put the music on your computer, iPod, make a CD and play it continually, until you know the song backwards, forwards, and inside out. Listen to all of the instrumentation and every nuance of the music, every word, and every beat. Play it until you can hear the music in your head even when it's not playing. Do you know how advertisers get people to buy their products? They use repetition. Even if the "jingle" they use is annoying, obnoxious, or just plain silly, you never forget that commercial and won't forget the product when you go into the store. It's the same way with the music that you use when you minister in dance. The music was never intended to entirely speak for you, the dance is to speak through the music, and the music is the canvas on which you paint your picture for the audience to see. When the music gets into your heart, you know the message of the song and what it means to you personally, you know the scriptural basis of the message and can identify with it, and then you can become the music.
There is nothing worse than seeing a dance where the audience responds only to the music, and does not ever receive the message of the dance because of a spiritual "disconnect". Here are some other ways to learn the message of the song:
- What does the song make you think about?
- How does the song make you feel?
- What type of song is it? (Worship, Travail, Deliverance, Warfare, etc.)
- Without using any of the words/phrases in the song, describe the song's message.
- What type of person/crowd would this song minister to or touch? (who would be helped by this song)*
~Thanks to Cathy Maduro, NLDN San Antonio (TX) chapter for sharing her beautiful photograph!
* From http://www.n-him.org/ Song Analysis Worksheet
Please enjoy this video by the P4CM Dance Team, dancing to All That I Have to Give by Mali Music: