Please C.Y.A. ...Part II!

     I received so much response from this article that I was inspired to continue with a Part II of Please Cover Your Assets! There is so much to say about this topic that it's impossible to tell  it all, but if all of us who have voices will speak out, I believe that those who have ears to hear will listen, and act accordingly. There are many who want to please God, but don't have anyone to give them positive guidance, and still others who have already decided that they will do as they like, regardless of what is said or shown to them. We already know that there is a trend, not just in the dance ministry but in the world, to show as much of ourselves as we possibly can and that same trend comes to church services every week-- not only among dancers but in the Praise Team, the choir, and the congregation.

     God tells us that there should be a difference between the way we look, and the way that others look. Did you know that some countries in the Middle East call the United States "The Great Satan" because of the way women are dressed? I was saved in an Apostolic church that did not believe that women should wear pants, jewelry, make-up, seamed stockings, open-toed shoes or sleeveless dresses. Now that is an extreme, but there is truth in the doctrine that we are to be separate from the world. We can be beautiful and fashionable, and still dress appropriately.

   Many past and present arguments state:
  •    Women should dress modestly so that men won't stumble
  •    Women are their brother's keeper
  •    Women have to dress in a certain way to show that they are "good" girls
    I don't agree with any of those statements, and this is why:
  •    If a man has an issue, he will have one until he gives it to God,  although we should not be part of it
  •    We should be concerned about others, but their problems are theirs until they release them
  •    Just because a woman dresses in a certain way does not always mean that her heart is right
    The reason for wearing appropriate garments is that we are perceived in whatever way we present ourselves. If we appear naked, then that is the way people will see us. We dress in a certain way because of the One that we represent. A while back, I danced at a traditional Baptist church where there were some older "church mothers". I didn't have a lot of garments or money to buy an overlay, so I bought a piece of chiffon fabric and wrapped it around the bodice of the dress. One of them came to me after I danced and said: "I saw the worship in your dance. That was very classy". Thank God for that! So, for those of us who continue to make excuses for dancing without appropriate garments, what do you think these same elders are saying when you dance?

     So, before you go out to minister, or even go outside, here are some things to think about:
  • What do I want people to see when they look at me?
  • Do my garments enhance the message I am bringing, or do they take away from the essence of it?
  • What does God think of what I am wearing?
     Lastly, on a teleconference, I heard a well-known dance garment maker say: "If you are not ready to buy appropriate garments, maybe you are not ready to minister in dance". That may sound harsh, but there is truth in what she is saying. Once again, if you don't know what to do, find out first, count the cost, pray for guidance, and...Please Cover Your Assets!


Please C.Y.A. (Cover Your Assets)!

     There is a growing trend in the dance ministry to dance without coverings underneath skirts and dresses. Even with the large number of conferences and workshops where classes are taught about proper dance ministry attire, it is still going on and bringing a lot of undue attention where it is not needed. The body is not dirty or shameful, because everything that God has created is good (Gen.1:31) however, because we live in a fallen world, we have to be careful of what we are showing when we dance in a worship community. What is appropriate for the dance studio or the stage is not for the sanctuary, which is sacred space where all of the focus is to be on the glory and beauty of God, and not on us. Many people have written about this topic in blogs and articles throughout the internet, but it can never be stressed enough...Cover Your Assets!

     In the book of Exodus, God gave instructions to Moses that Aaron and his sons were to wear certain types of priestly garments in the tabernacle for glory and beauty (Ex.28:2). In verses 42-43, He told him to make garments to cover their nakedness:

Make linen underwear to cover their nakedness from waist to thigh. Aaron and his sons must wear it whenever they enter the Tent of Meeting or approach the Altar to minister in the Holy Place so that they won't incur guilt and die. This is a permanent rule for Aaron and all his priest-descendants.
(The Message)
     There are other elements of the garments that God required, and although we are no longer under the law of Moses there are still certain standards that we have to maintain to keep the reverence and respect of worship in the sanctuary. This is not being legalistic or to put anyone in bondage. Once again, the focus of worship dance is always on God and not on the person, although they are the channel God uses to bring the message in movement. Imagine someone doing an anointed dance, and when they jump, all you see is...you get it. There are so many beautiful inexpensive palazzo (wide legged) pants being made to go under skirts and dresses in all colors and patterns,  there is no excuse for anyone to be going without them. A lot of pastors do not allow dance in their churches because of dancers wearing garments that reveal too much, are too tight, or specifically, the dancers are not covered properly underneath. So many men (and women) come into the church struggling with all kinds of visual addictions, and the last thing they need to see is someone's crotch in the sanctuary...just keeping it real! 

     We must always remember who and what we represent when we dance. Contrary to what anyone says or what you see anyone else doing, it does matter what we do in the sanctuary. Don't be a hindrance to anyone; if you are not sure about what is appropriate, do some research, ask questions, invest in workshops, learn about dance garments, and look around to see what is correct. Listen if someone makes a suggestion about how to be well covered, and don't get an attitude!

We put no stumbling block in anyone's path, so that our ministry will not be discredited.
2 Cor 6:3 (NIV)

      Someone is always watching what we do. With the advent of YouTube, Facebook, MySpace and other social networking venues, our work can go around the world in less than 2 minutes. Just because someone says they are in awe of us publicly does not mean that in private, other things are not being said. We can't control people's thoughts or conversations, but we can control what they see. Let's be sure to keep our assets properly covered!

    Please enjoy this video and watch how freely dancers can move for Christ with the proper attire:


PURIFY Worship Conference Highlights

       The PURIFY Worship Conference was held at The Greater Allen Cathedral of New York from July 28-August 1. Worshipers traveled nationally and internationally to participate in the purification process according to Numbers 8: 6-7a & 11 that began with five months of online preparation classes on the various aspects of Biblical purification led by Rev. Eyesha Marable, founder of the National Liturgical Dance Network. Those who planned to attend were also invited to join in 50 days of prayer and fasting prior to the conference. Registrants chose classes in Dance, Step, Pageantry, and Sign Language with special sections for teens and children.

     Highlights of the conference included sessions and workshops on The Purification Process, Why Purification is Needed, and Results of Purification and were led by a dynamic team of facilitators from all over the country. There was time during the day for quiet reflection in the chapel, where attendees were welcomed by prayerful attendants who kept an atmosphere of worship for all to enjoy. Delicious food was served by a great hospitality team, and the busy days culminated in powerful evening worship services where conference delegates were invited to participate in the service by dancing in the aisles along with the Allen Liturgical Dance Ministry. Evening speakers were: Pastor Marvin Winans, Bishop Paul Morton, and Pastor Jackie McCullough. On Sunday morning, Pastor Donnie McClurkin delivered the message at the 8:30 and 11:15 services.  During Friday Morning's Morning Glory Service, NLDN members danced to Donnie McClurkin's We All Are One, a ministry piece that was learned long-distance via YouTube by many, but came together on that day as a unified praise!

     There were challenging technical classes in Modern, Jazz, African, Lyrical, and Ballet taught by anointed professional dancers/ministers such as Freddie Moore, Dr. Amanda Standard, Yvonne Peters,and many others. It was difficult to choose which class to take!  On Saturday, which was also National Dance Day, dances learned in the various workshops were presented as part of the outreach at St. Alban’s Park. The children and youth were not left out of the purification process and also had their opportunity to participate in Friday outreach activities at Camp Kingdom. Friday workshops for adults offered classes in Purify my Marriage, Purify my Heart, Soul and Mind, Purify my Finances, Purify my Heart, (CPR) and many others. The marketplace ministry featured friendly vendors with quality garments, worship instruments, books, clothing and personal items for every budget and taste. Each participant was encouraged to bring a gift for someone else, and was able to receive one also.

     At the close of the afternoon's activities at St. Alban’s Park, conference delegates had the opportunity to spend their evening in the New York area for fun and fellowship with old and new friends. On Sunday morning, conference participants also danced in a processional to Wave of Glory by Bishop Neil Ellis that was choreographed according to scripture and was a wonderful opportunity for spiritual as well as technical growth.

     The PURIFY Conference was an awesome time of worship, learning, reflecting, and meeting new people from everywhere! For more information about upcoming events or the National Liturgical Dance Network, please e-mail: Natldancenet@aol.com.


When God Calls...

       It always amazes me to see Christian artists soliciting ministry opportunities on social networking sites. In other words, when someone posts an event that they are sponsoring or participating in, such as a concert, conference, or workshop, there will always be one or more people who will ask for a spot on the program. Whatever happened to practice (to become skillful), preparation (to become effective), and prayer (for God to open doors)? This does not mean that we are to be passive (lazy) or to stop reaching out to connect with like-minded people, but what are our real motives for doing so? Do we have a hidden agenda? Unless there is an open call for dance, drama, mime or an open mic for spoken word, it is never appropriate to call and ask to be put "on program".  Trust me on this, it isn't.

     In the secular arena, casting directors call agents or managers for the talent they want for their productions. Performers do not call casting directly, but if casting is interested, they will call the agent. That's where the saying "Don't call us...we'll call you" came from. In God's kingdom, the Holy Spirit is the casting agent for ministries that have God's backing. If we have practiced, prepared ourselves and have prayed for God to open doors for us, He knows where we are, and will make sure that our name gets on the "A" (Approved) list for the places where He wants us to be. We never have to fight or compete for an opportunity to teach, minister or do anything else when we are depending on God to provide for us. In fact, when we become competitive, it shows that we really are not ready to do the work that we are seeking to do. Think about this: What are you imparting to others if you have to fight and argue to teach that class or present that dance?

      Recently, an event was announced, and I really wanted to minister there. I prayed and asked God to open the door for me, I even had the appropriate song to minister. The people hosting the event knew me well. But...God didn't open the door, and when I attended the event, guess what song was ministered on the program? I was even asked by one person in leadership at the event why I didn't minister. We can want something, but if God does not want it for us, we have to accept His will, instead of always trying to fight and make ways for ourselves. In my heart I was disappointed, because I believe that I would have done an excellent job, but God saw past all of that and apparently, that was not the assignment for me  for any number of reasons.

     There is more than enough room for everyone to minister in the unique places where God is calling us. Let's allow the ultimate casting agent to send us to where He wants us to be! (Rev. 3:7-8).


A Word in Season...

     Last Saturday, July 31 was National Dance Day. Also on this day, a great man of God and minister of dance passed from this realm to the heavenlies. Michael McCray is no longer with us, but we will always remember him as one who truly loved to worship God with everything he had. I never met him in person, but via Facebook, he recently sent a message to my inbox and simply said "Please send me your address, I want to send you something". I had no idea that I was going to receive something that I could keep for the rest of my life. It was a DVD of his ministry. As soon as I started watching, I could feel the power and presence of God in my livingroom. It was intense! I have no idea as to why he sent me the video, or how many he sent out. But I am so glad that I have it. I found an article that he wrote on MySpace and wanted to share it with everyone, I don't think Michael would mind:

To Leaders, Especially Dance Leaders:

Grace and Peace be unto all of you, saints and friends! Truly, today is a great day, and I thank and praise God for it!

Today, I want to encourage all of the LEADERS IN MINISTRY. One thing that I’ve discovered in dealing with people is that everyone is not going to be supportive of you. There are some who are envious, or jealous, of the call that God has placed on your life. There are those who really don’t like you, and will not celebrate the anointing that God has on you. There are even those that seek your demise, and not just a great fall, but people may want you dead! But the Word of the Lord came to me through Daniel 6:3..

"Then this Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king thought to set him over the whole realm."
If you read the entire 6 Chapter of Daniel, you will see that King Darius appointed Daniel to be over other leaders in the kingdom. It’s quite obvious that Daniel had some "haters" to deal with because they (the Leaders) plotted to destroy him. They wanted Daniel dead! But what they failed to realize is that Daniel had two things going for him...One, Daniel was a PRAYING MAN! Prayer is so essential. Even when faced with tough odds, Daniel continued to pray three times a day! Daniel was not shakened nor moved by his haters, but he was moved to pray without ceasing! Two, Daniel has an EXCELLENT SPIRIT! That blew me away! What I got from this is that even as a Leader, in order to be effective, I must possess a spirit of excellence! This is why King Darius chose Daniel over all the other leaders, even those leaders that had a longer tenure with him. Daniel’s spirit was also RIGHT! He had no hidden agendas, no motives...he just did what was right.

So Leaders, Christians and Friends: Let your haters continue to hate on you! Don’t get discouraged! Continue to PRAY, even for them, and make sure that your spirit is one of excellence! Make sure that your heart is right and your motives are pure! And when you do this, watch "The King" move you into heights unknown! The Word declares that your gifts will make room for you, and place you before great men! (Proverbs 18:16) So don’t ever feel that you have to push your way into a position...what God has for YOU, it’s for YOU!

PRAYER: Lord, I thank You for teaching me how to move forward inspite of my enemies. I thank You for allowing me to possess the gifts and talents that I do, knowing that every good and perfect gift is from above. I pray that in all that I do, it will be done to Your glory and honor, and that it will edify my brothers and sisters in the household of faith. This is my prayer, in Jesus’ name...Amen!

Extracted from: http://blogs.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendId=18553179&blogId=367786559

To everyone: Life is a vapor...we can be here today and gone in the next minute so don't take anyone for granted. All life is valuable even if you think the person who holds the life is not. So, take time to say things to people around you that need to be said TODAY, thank them today, appreciate them today, while they can hear you today and please, don't wait until they are gone to show that you care. And remember that any of us can be gone at anytime for any reason. It’s a vapor…