At this busy time of year, I hope everyone enjoyed wonderful presentations of worship around the Christmas theme whether it was through Musicals, Drama, Poetry, Cantatas, Dance, Caroling, or Non-traditional Tradition, and that those who were observing were blessed. I had the most amazing opportunity to direct a children's play that was a lot of fun for the kids as they learned how to present the Good News of Christ in a creative way. They also learned that excellence as an expectation does not mean to never make a mistake, but to put enough time and effort into what we do, so that no matter what happens, we know what to do when mistakes happens (so that no one else notices) :-)
Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, and we will be back in 2016 with more insights about worshiping Christ through the arts!
This is a re-post from 11/24/11. Blessings!
...Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.
~ Col. 3: 12-15 NLT
We have so much to be thankful for every day. In spite of the many historical controversies surrounding Thanksgiving Day, thankfulness should be a part of every day if we have life. Even if everything around us is going completely wrong, we can still give thanks and praise to God:
Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! The sovereign Lord is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights.
~Habakkuk 3:17-19 (NLT)
Being thankful doesn't mean that we are in denial about our situation, it is really about humbling ourselves and trusting God to work things out for us in His way. We give thanks in the midst of the situation, (not for it) and believe by faith that He will give us wisdom, guidance, and peace until we get through it, knowing that He always has our best intrests at heart.
Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
~1 Thess. 5:18 (NLT)
There are many who will say that they have absolutely nothing to be grateful for, and are angry at God for the way their lives are going. The Word says that people would be increasingly ungrateful in the last days..
...in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred.
~1 Tim 3:1-3
Don't be counted among the ungrateful ones! Give thanks and praise to God at all times. He's done so much for us that we can never thank Him enough. Have a Happy Thanksgiving today, and every day.
I thank my God for all the memories I have of you. ~ Phil. 1:13 (GWT)
It's been awhile since I put up a new blog post, lots has been going on and my promise is still to only post when I have something real to say. Recently, a dear friend and fellow worshiping artist departed this life, and I had the opportunity to share some words at her repast after the service. She was a true gift from God and a friend in every definition. When we realize the power of friendship, we will hopefully learn to be more supportive of one another, more Christlike in our behavior, and more understanding of our differences. When that happens, there will be no room for competition...I believe that we wouldn't even want to compete with one another if we really realized the power of friendship. No, everyone will not be our friend, and we can't be friends with everyone. But, we can be kinder and treat others as Christ would treat them.
Cynthia Manker was a prolific writer, actor, communicator, motivator, public relations and media specialist, and most of all, a true worshiper of Christ. She lived in the revelation of Ephesians 6:13 "...After having done all...Stand". Even when she could no longer physically stand, her spirit stood tall. She was a wonderful friend to me, and we worked together in the same drama ministry for six years. These are the words I had the opportunity to speak about her today:
August 6, 1998 was not only my birthday, it was the day that God blessed me with one of the greatest gifts I would ever have, a friend named Cynthia. On stage and off, we were complete opposites in almost everything, in height, in taste, in animals: I loved cats, she thought they were sneaky, she watched TV, I got rid of mine. She was the extrovert, I was the introvert, when I would stress out, she would see the bright side. If there were a theme song for our friendship, it would be: "Count on Me" but I won’t sing. I called to cry on her shoulder many a night and she would listen and never once judge me, but wouldn’t hesitate to call me out if I was in the wrong. Once, she talked me into being part of her clown act “Quacky & Company” at a church picnic, (she was Quacky, I was Company) and I went along, being the willing drama student that I was. It was my first and last time EVER being a clown but that’s another story. But for 17 years, we were in each other’s corner, at our best, and at our worst. We both loved the Lord, and watching The Hoarders because we were afraid of becoming pack rats. Our running joke was “Cynthia, find my show”. She was my friend, and I will miss her.
Cynthia was a reader of my blog, and I'm glad we shared many ministry times together, as well as a great friendship. Today's blog is dedicated to her, to remind everyone to honor those who you work with in ministry, whether you sing together, dance together, mime, act, do music or visual art. You never know when you won't have those times again. So, love them, uplift them, and support them!
So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.
~1 Corinthians 15:58 (NLT)
I remember hearing a long time ago, that if you want to know if your ministry project is effective, turn off the music and watch the piece in silence. If it just looks like random movement with no direction or expression, you probably need to go back and rework it, because what you are seeing is the same thing that the people you are going to be in front of will see. I have watched far too many videos where the dancers have blank facial expressions, or have their lips folded in. The latter is especially true with teenagers who are at that self-conscious age, and although it is extremely challenging to get them to "come out of their shell", part of your rehearsal time should definitely include time in the mirror to work on the face, connecting with the message of the song, learning how to relate scripture to the song, and being comfortable in front of others, starting with self. Also, when working with teens, they as well as their parents/guardians need to be reminded that dance ministry is just that. It's not cheer, drill, competition or any of the things they see on reality TV, it's God's work. So, while they should always be welcomed to come into the group, they do need to understand the difference between each one, and if they are not ready, should not be forced to participate.
One of the worse things you could ever do is offer any kind of ministry that is not effective, meaning that it only provides a platform for your group, but does nothing to help other people. In fact, that's not ministry at all, it's not even good performance. In the professional arena, a good performance always leaves something with the audience. Have you ever heard the saying "Always leave your audience wanting more?" That means that what you gave was so fulfilling, they wanted to see or hear more of what you had to offer. In ministry, what you have to offer is the Good News of Christ, not your skill or your talents; although God will use that, it's secondary. What God is interested in is your heart, and once He has it, He can lead you in whatever ways that will benefit the people you are sharing with.
Another trend that has become more frequent is a lot of dancers who dance to songs that they like, but lack the ability to effectively minister because they cannot carry the weight of the music. Remember, in dance, you are to become the music, not simply dance to it. There are some songs that lend themselves easily to soloists, other songs are more appropriate for two or more dancers, or large groups. Listen to the musical arrangement and orchestration. Do you hear a choir singing or multiple layers of music? It's one thing to turn the music on and dance to your heart's content at home, and quite another do to the same thing in a public worship setting. People may say "Amen" and praise you to your face, but once you dance out the back door...need I say more? Just because you respond emotionally to a song, does not necessarily mean that it is a song for you to minister at this time, or ever. Before going out to do something that will be remembered in cyberspace as a hot mess for years, please consider attending local dance ministry workshops where classes are offered on choreography, Biblical foundations of dance, musical selections, garments, and dance ministry etiquette. You can click on any of the ministry links or do a search on dance ministry conferences and workshops on your favorite search engine or social media website. Do you really wanna?
Please be blessed by the ministry of Zion's Daughters...dancing from the heart!
O Lord, you have examined my heart
and know everything about me.
You know when I sit down or stand up.
You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
You see me when I travel
and when I rest at home.
You know everything I do.
~Psalm 139: 1-3 (NLT)
This month's blog will be a little different in that it's about two topics we sometimes avoid: Depression and discouragement. Many Christians feel that if someone admits to these things, it is because of sin in their life, not praying enough, lack of faith, or not being a true worshiper because the Word does say in Nehemiah 8:10 that "...The joy of The Lord is our strength", and it is. But, what about those times when we can't seem to find the joy because of where we happen to be in life, or when life becomes overwhelming? Where do we go when there seems to be no one to talk to, or no one understands?
God is our refuge and strength,
always ready to help in times of trouble.
~Psalm 46:1 (NLT)
Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to go to God when we are feeling our worst, but He is the One who can help us. Even if we call a friend or a trusted leader or professional, their ability to help us comes from Him. If all we can do is sit by ourselves alone, God hasn't left us. He's always available even when He seems distant. In the book of Psalms, David wrote about feeling that God had forgotten about him, being discouraged, alone, and feeling sad, and he was a great worshiper. We are no different.
If you know someone who is feeling discouraged or depressed, the best thing you can do is to be a good listener. Don't try to change what they say, tell them how they should or should not feel, or preach at them.Never judge them. Let God lead you as to how to speak after you hear them out. Offer to pray with them, cook them a meal, do whatever you are able to do to assist. If your friend is talking about harming themselves, get them to a safe place and call 9-1-1 if needed. Take everything they say seriously. Remember, it's not your role to try to fix them, but as a friend to get them some help.
The Sovereign Lord has given me his words of wisdom,
so that I know how to comfort the weary.
Morning by morning he wakens me
and opens my understanding to his will.
~ Isaiah 50:4 (NLT)
Lastly, if you are reading this blog and are feeling discouraged for any reason, there is help available. If you can't find anyone to talk to and just need to hear another voice on the phone, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in the USA at:
Crisis Text Line: Text "LISTEN" to 741-741
You don't have to be suicidal to call, The Lifeline is a listening ear for anyone who calls, 24 hours a day. Please don't be ashamed. Discouragement and depression are not signs of weakness, they are signs that help is needed. Don't give up...Choose Life!
Lord, you know and see the person who is reading this blog post right now. Please give them grace and strength to walk through whatever season or circumstance they find themselves in. We ask that you would move every hindrance and stumbling block that is in their way and let them see the light that is in You. Restore the joy in their heart and be their rock and shelter. This is our prayer, in Jesus name. Amen.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 (NIV)
As we prepare for Sunday service, whether it is a Passion Play, Stations of the Cross, dance, singing, spoken word, or any other art form, please remember to not get so caught up and consumed by the act of performing service that it becomes more important than the worship of Christ, or the people you are ministering to. Too many times we get excited by lights, staging, cameras, crowds, and sound systems that we forget how to speak to others and how to treat them. If someone forgets where to stand, or misses a cue, do we belittle them, or do we exercise the fruit of patience? Do we become so concerned with garments and costumes, that we disregard the person who is wearing them? This is not a show we are doing, it's the communication of the Good News for an audience of people who may have never heard or seen it. It's not for us to display our talents and skills, although that will happen. God is the director and producer of all that we do!
Last of all. this is a busy time. People have a lot going on around them...if something does not go as planned, please remember that what you have to say is never more important than the person you are saying it to.
Be Blessed...and wise.
Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. Galatians 5:1 (NKJV)
On the day that is remembered as Good Friday, let's remember why it has that name...the day that Christ died on the cross in our place, receiving the punishment that we should have received so that we could be free. That's Good News! Whatever you do today, consider Christ and his life, not just on today, but everyday.
Please enjoy this classic worship song by Morris Chapman, "We Are Free":
Don’t love the world or anything that belongs to the world. If you love the world, you cannot love the Father. Our foolish pride comes from this world, and so do our selfish desires and our desire to have everything we see. None of this comes from the Father.The world and the desires it causes are disappearing. But if we obey God, we will live forever.
~ 1 John 2:15-17 (CEV)
If this seems to be a play on words using a popular song title...it is! The lines are blurry because lately it's becoming increasingly difficult to tell the difference between some Christian ministries and other groups that have nothing to do with God by the ways in which He is being represented, and by the ways that ministries are presenting themselves to the world. In other words, the lines between what is godly and what is ungodly can be hard to discern unless you can see them spiritually. Just look around . . . and it will become very obvious what is being allowed to get our attention. Money, pride, competition, confusion, compromising behavior and personal drama that calls itself Reality TV is causing people to exalt fame above Christ.
For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh [craving for sensual gratification] and the lust of the eyes [greedy longings of the mind] and the pride of life [assurance in one’s own resources or in the stability of earthly things]—these do not come from the Father but are from the world [itself].
~ 1 John 2:16 (AMP)
It has been said that most ministries start out with the right intentions of putting God first in all they do, but as they progress, what they do can become more important than God Himself. In other words, they leave their first love. Other things begin to replace prayer time, study time, rest and refreshing time and they move away from a place of devotion to a place of constant motion, and the enemy can then entice them away from God's way into the way of man, which is the way of the flesh. Next come offers of more exposure, more money and of course the weakening of the message of the Good News to become more "seeker friendly" to draw a broader audience with the prospect of mass appeal, eventually moving them even further away from Christ. At the extreme end of this continuum is the complete removal of God Almighty from their ministry, and the addition of other doctrines and teachings that are a complete opposite of the Bible. This is where some lose their faith, become "enlightened" and no longer even believe that Christ is the only way of salvation, and the enemy has effectively destroyed another ministry.
But this is what I have against you: you do not love me now as you did at first. ~Rev. 2:4 (GWT)
There has to be a distinction between the way Christian ministries live, behave, believe, and appear in contrast to others. People should be able to recognize when your group goes up to present an ministry offering anywhere they go by the presence of God that is with you. The anointing is more than a feeling, it is the approval of God on what you do! The anointing of God brings a change, brings spiritual sight, physical, emotional and mental healing, deliverance and a reverence for holy things. If the lines are blurry, people will have nothing of God to take with them and all they were was entertained.
And it shall come to pass in that day that his burden shall be taken away from off thy shoulder and his yoke from off thy neck, and the yoke shall be consumed in the presence of the anointing.
~ Isaiah 10:27 (JUB)
Please enjoy this video of "Who's on the Lord's Side" by the late Rev. Timothy Wright:
In the past there were false prophets among God’s people. It is the same now. You will have some false teachers in your group. They will teach things that are wrong—ideas that will cause people to be lost. And they will teach in a way that will be hard for you to see that they are wrong. They will even refuse to follow the Master who bought their freedom. And so they will quickly destroy themselves.
~2 Peter 2:1-2 (ERV)
The one place that we should always be able to get accurate information is when we go to church to hear God's Word. Even though pastors and ministers are not perfect, what they say should always be found in the Bible and not made up. Nothing is supposed to be added to their message from outside beliefs, and definitely nothing should ever be taken away. The church is supposed to be a safe place where we can worship Christ in a pure environment, pure -- meaning that no one makes mistakes or doesn't sin, but the purity that comes from worship in spirit and truth according to John 4:24:
For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.
~John 4:24 (NLT)
We need to worship God in a place where we will not be lied to, manipulated or have mind games played on us. The only way to know if a preacher or church is telling the truth is to know what the Word says for ourselves. We need to listen to everything they say with an open mind (thinking), an open heart (reflecting), and an open spirit (discerning). I once heard that when bank tellers are being trained to recognize counterfeit bills, they learn what real currency looks and feels like, so when the fake bills are passed they will immediately reject them. It shouldn't be any different when it comes to any type of ministry. We should be so familiar with what the Bible says that when someone speaks something that is foreign, we don't listen to it. It doesn't require a degree in theology to know a lie when we hear it. It's not necessary to have a title or be a church leader to discern when something is wrong with what a person is saying or to be able to see that his or her actions don't agree with what they are promoting from the pulpit.
Pattern yourselves after me [follow my example], as I imitate and follow Christ (the Messiah).
1 Cor 11:1 (AMP)
1 Cor 11:1 (AMP)
God is not calling us to be judgmental, but He does require us to discern when something or someone is leading us in the wrong direction and not to follow them. A wise pastor once said: "If there ever comes a time when you no longer see the fruits of righteousness in my life, please leave this church!" Anytime you see a minister mixing other beliefs with God's Word in the pulpit, or promoting activities on TV that should only go on in private, saying one thing and doing another, paying off millions of dollars to keep themselves out of court or promoting selfishness, worldliness and greed, it's time to take a long hard look and determine if what they are doing is bringing you closer to Christ or closer to Them....because as men and women of God there should be no contradiction between what they say to you, and what they do.
Do not let anyone fool you. For the Lord will not come again until many people turn away from God. Then the leader of those who break the law will come. He is the man of sin. He works against and puts himself above every kind of god that is worshiped. He will take his seat in the house of God and say that he himself is God. ~2 Thess. 2:3-4 (NLV)
Please enjoy this video from the P4CM Dancers reminding us to "Stand Out"!
If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn't love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.
~1 Cor. 13:1-3 (NLT)
That picture might offend some people...but in reality Christ spoke often about how we as Christians are to treat others, and although He wants us to know His word, He really wants us to do what we read and quote. A lot of us are very good at speaking, confessing, decreeing and declaring, but when it comes to relating to other people, a lot of that word we are saying gets lost somewhere in between the pages of the book and our hearts. I'm sure we have all experienced bad treatment at the hands of people who profess to be saved, and we have probably given out some of that same bad treatment either in response to what we received from them, or just because we forgot what mirror we had been looking at ourselves in:
But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like.
~ James 1:22-24 (NLT)
Regardless of who we are, what our gifts and talents may be, how many people are in our ministry or what we have been called to do, the most important thing is to love others and treat people the way we want to be treated. Sometimes it's the simple things that we neglect to do, that hold doors closed for us and open the door for the enemy to come in and do whatever he wants to do. From the front door to the pulpit, we all need to be loving and kind towards those we come in contact with if we want to please God. We are in the last days, and God is going to judge what we do, without regards for title, age, job description, resume, degree, or income. We will all be judged individually by the same word!
“You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect." ~ Matt. 5:43-48 (NLT)
My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others? For example, suppose someone comes into your meeting dressed in fancy clothes and expensive jewelry, and another comes in who is poor and dressed in dirty clothes. If you give special attention and a good seat to the rich person, but you say to the poor one, “You can stand over there, or else sit on the floor”—well, doesn’t this discrimination show that your judgments are guided by evil motives? Listen to me, dear brothers and sisters. Hasn’t God chosen the poor in this world to be rich in faith? Aren’t they the ones who will inherit the Kingdom he promised to those who love him? But you dishonor the poor! Isn’t it the rich who oppress you and drag you into court? Aren’t they the ones who slander Jesus Christ, whose noble name you bear? Yes indeed, it is good when you obey the royal law as found in the Scriptures: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you favor some people over others, you are committing a sin. You are guilty of breaking the law. ~ James 2:1-9 (NLT)
So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.~ John 13:34 (NLT)
Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.
1 Cor. 13:13 (NLT)
I believe that all of us can find ourselves somewhere in this message, whether we have been on the giving or receiving end of less than loving treatment. But...if you are reading this blog, you have been given the chance to do better and make amends, because it's never too late to get a new start in our walk with Christ!
Brothers and sisters, I know that I still have a long way to go. But there is one thing I do: I forget what is in the past and try as hard as I can to reach to goal before me. I keep running hard toward the finish line to get the prize that is mine because God has called me through Christ Jesus to life up there in heaven.
~Phil. 3:13-14 (ERV)
Happy New Year to everyone, and especially to all of my 41 followers who have taken time to join my blog over time. Lately, due to time constraints I haven't been adding to the blog as often, and because I realize that you have many reading choices online, I've always promised to only write when I actually have something to say. So...if you don't see a new post, it's for that reason and I feel that I owe you something fresh every time. As I mentioned in a previous blog, there are a hundreds of prolific writers addressing different perspectives of the same topic, so if you can't find it here, it's out there somewhere. I also wanted to expand my blogging beyond dance and dance ministry to focus on worship as a whole, which will continue to include dance/drama/poetry/music/art as I'm led. The wind has shifted my sails again and although I'm still blogging, I'm taking my time to carefully write my next post. Please look for it soon, and again...thanks for reading. Keep worshiping Christ!
Please enjoy this video by the Get Lifted Ensemble: