New Year...New Direction!

With all your heart you must trust the LORD and not your own judgement. Always let him lead you,and  He will clear the road for you to follow.
 ~ Proverbs 3: 5-6 (CEV)

       New Year's Eve/Old Year's Night and a New Year is quickly approaching...with new opportunities to learn about ourselves, our God and following His will. We can make the choice to continue in the direction we are going if it's a good, one, or make changes that will benefit us all.  What have you learned this year? What mistakes have you made, and what would you change, if you could? Who is it that you need to forgive, release, or reconnect with? Many times we sing and dance about moving forward, but are hindered because of small things that get in our way...think for a minute and some faces and situations will come to mind. When they do, ask God for wisdom in how to handle each one, wait for His answer, and be open and willing to do whatever He directs you to do.

     This doesn't mean that we are not supposed to think for ourselves, but whenever we ask God for guidance, we have to allow Him to lead us when we don't know what to do. Don't be afraid to ask!

If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you.
He will not rebuke you for asking.
But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone.
~James 1: 5-6 (NLT)

     Are you being led to start/join a new ministry, or take your ministry in another direction? Have you felt God leading you to become more creative in your presentations? He has already provided you with the means and the way to get it done. He is waiting...

     I would like to thank everyone who has been following my blog for the past two years. We are now up to 25 subscribers! I hope that you have read something that has been helpful and encouraging to you. All the best for the New Year, and keep worshiping Christ!

I Will Wait...TRM Sacred Dance Team:


The Heart of a Dancer

Come show me your mercy,
as you do for all who love Your Name.
Guide my steps by your word,
so I will not be overcome with evil.
Ransom me from the oppression of evil people;
then I can obey your commandments.~ Psalm 119:132-134 (NLT)

     There are many in-depth discussions everywhere about how dancers should dress, how they should move, how many classes and conferences they should attend, whether or not technique is important, and what kind of music they should dance to. All these things matter, but has anyone considered the most important element of sacred dance, which is...the heart?  How many beautiful dancers have we seen with impeccable garments and flawless skills, only to later overhear their conversations, seen their actions, experienced their un-Christlike attitudes or read some of their social networking posts that reveal their true heart towards others? Although we are in no position to judge the condition of anyone's relationship with God, the Word does tell us that we will know people by the their fruit, which is what we see and hear (and then pray for them):

A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions. ~ Matt. 7: 17-20 (NLT)

     So, the question is, what does the heart of a sacred dancer look like, and if a dancer doesn't yet have the the heart of Christ, how do they receive it? Here are some things to seek after...

The Heart of a Sacred Dancer is:*

Diligent ~ Proverbs 4:23-27

God- Fearing ~ Psalm 128:1; Hebrews 12: 1-12

Forgiving ~ Matthew 18: 21-35; Luke 6: 35-37

Filled with the Fruit of the Spirit ~ Galatians 5: 22-26

Humble ~ Phillipians 2

Living by Faith ~ 1 Timothy 6: 11-16

Loving ~ John: 13-34

 Passionate for Souls ~ 2 Timothy 1: 7-14; Hebrews 13:16; Romans 10: 13-15

Submitted to Authority ~ Hebrews 13:17

Teachable ~ Romans 15:14

Thankful ~ Psalm 117: 28-29; Psalm 136: 1-3

Unselfish ~ Psalm 119: 36

     All of these qualities make up the heart of a sacred dancer...we can study these and make sure that before we put on our beautiful garments and present that polished routine, that our hearts are completely dressed in God's character. Time-out for outward beauty without an inward witness from the Holy Spirit! When we have the true heart of a dancer, people will see Christ in us, and join us in real worship.

Blessings...and keep dancing for Christ!

*The Heart of a Dancer - Written and compiled by Sekettia Brantley for Dancers Array "N" Christian Evangelism Dance Company Ministries

Thanks to Jeneen Harris, Director of Great Jubilee Dance Company and Ministries in San Antonio TX for providing us with this beautiful photograph that radiates the heart of a sacred dancer.


Be Thankful!

...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 recently attended a stage production for a Christian theatre company. All of the presentations were unique and fun to watch, but there were a couple of dancers in the company who had every one's attention, not because of their skill alone, but because of their ability to engage the audience in what they were doing onstage, better known as stage presence. Somehow in the sacred arts community, stage presence is something that is frequently overlooked, or even seen as being prideful. But...the truth is, without it, no one will pay attention to what you have to offer, no matter how anointed or it may be, how much time you put into your presentation, or how beautiful your garments are.

     Stage presence is the ability to command an audience with an impressive style or manner. It has very little to do with skill or knowledge, and everything to do with how you feel about yourself and what you are doing. It's not about trying to impress or entertain, but is about presenting the message that you have with confidence, believing that what God has given you to say through your ministry is good enough to offer.

     How many times have your heard someone say any of these things before they sing, speak, dance or read in front of an audience:
  • "Please pray for me as I attempt to sing this song"
  • "I'm really not prepared...so pray my strength"
  • "I'm really nervous"
  • "I didn't know I was going to be called on so I don't know how this will go"
...And the list goes on. Sometimes people make these statements because they don't want to appear prideful, but in reality there is either a false humility that is behind what they are saying, or they may actually be unprepared. BUT---in either case it's never appropriate to say anything that will cause people to not want to hear or see what you are doing before you even get started. If your song or dance is so bad, why are you doing it? When you say these things, you are giving people permission to walk out on your performance/ministry because it's not worth their time.  And what about dancers who have absolutely no facial expression at all when they dance? There is an erroneous teaching going around the dance ministry community stating that you should never smile when you dance unless you are in the spirit, but we could take that a step further and say, that since ministry starts long before you step in front of a group. If you are prepared to minister, you will have a full emotional range that will show on your face. Jocelyn Richard, Director and Owner of Visual Praise Dance Studio in Augusta, GA, says this about facial expressions in dance ministry:

"When you dance, your face must say the same thing as your movement and music. Your face should express the glory of God. It is important that the face reflect what the choreography is saying. God’s presence should be shown on your face. Facial expressions can show reverence for God and adoration inviting others to join in worshiping and praising the King of Kings." *

     Sometimes dancers lack expression because of self-consciousness, shyness, insecurity or stage fright. There are many ways to solve this, such as relaxing, practicing facial expressions in the mirror, feeling comfortable enough with the dance or drama to enjoy doing it as if no one is watching, and just be a worshiper! In theatre, it's always taught that the way to overcome nervousness on stage is to focus on the task at hand and not the action of doing the task, becoming so at-one with the character that all people see is the character. We can turn this around and say: Become so Christ-focused that you are so completely absorbed in Him that His glory radiates from your face! When you focus on Christ, there is no room for nervousness, insecurity, or excuses. You have a message to deliver to someone who needs it, and it needs to be clear.

     Other tips for powerful stage presence include:
  • Commanding your space in the room, entering and exiting with confidence
  • Project your performance beyond the room that you are in. Make your presentation mentally extend past the four walls of the building. Don't just "sell it to the front row".
  • Practice "over the top", in other words, practice your dance/drama to the fullest, even to the extreme. When you get in front of a group, it will be exactly where it needs to be because performances always lose a small amount of drive when they get onstage.
  • Keep your eyes up, focus on a spot just above the heads of the people. It will look like you are looking straight ahead. People will look where you are looking and if you look down, they will, too.
  • Be aware of habits like lip-folding or fidgeting while you are waiting for the music to start. Relax...inhale through your nose and out through your mouth. Don't withdraw! You have something to offer.
     Find time to invest in dance or acting classes to work on these areas. If God has called you to present His Word through dance or drama, then it's worth investing in your ministry to present the best that you can offer at your highest level of excellence. He gave His Best for us, shouldn't we do the same for Him?

     Enjoy this video by Jocelyn Richard:


Surrender to God..Resist the Devil...and he will run!

    Surrender to God! Resist the devil, and he will run from you.
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:


Don't Get Hurt! Injury Prevention for Worship Dancers

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
     If you would like more information about stretching and body conditioning for worship dance, Pastor Lynn Hayden of  Dancing for Him ministries has many wonderful teaching videos for dancers of all levels. Go to:

Enjoy this preview of one of Pastor Lynn's video classes:


Looks Matter!

Make sacred garments for Aaron that are glorious and beautiful...
Ex. 28:2 (NLT)
     "It doesn't matter what you wear, as long as you are giving God the glory"..."David danced out of his clothes."  How many times have you heard someone say this, or even seen these comments written under video footage posted on the Internet? Somewhere along the way, people have gotten the idea that dancers can present themselves to the Lord and the congregation in the sanctuary wearing just anything, even taking scriptures out of context to justify their tackiness.

     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


Become the Music!

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)*
    This may be a new concept for some, but it will make the difference between simply dancing to the music, and becoming the music. It takes a lot of time and effort to bring a real message in movement, and not just a dance. Let's Become the Music!

End notes:
~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:



Spiritual Safety!

...In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams. In those days I will pour out my Spirit
even on my servants --men and women alike --and they will prophesy.
(Acts 2: 17-18) NLT

     It's no secret...we are in the Last Days! It's summertime, and there are always a lot of public service announcements about water and heat safety because of the many tragedies that happen during this season. But what about our spiritual safety? If you haven't noticed, there are things happening all around us, good and bad-- that have been foretold thousands of years ago in God's Word. One thing that has become very active is the amount of prophecy that is being spoken. The Word clearly states that God has called some to be prophets, to reveal the mind and will of God to great numbers of people, or many have the gift of prophecy, to exhort, build up, and encourage others. But there are also some who misuse these gifts, either out of ignorance, or out of some other motivation that is not of God.

A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other.  To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice; to another the same Spirit gives a message of special knowledge.The same Spirit gives great faith to another, and to someone else the one Spirit gives the gift of healing. He gives one person the power to perform miracles, and another the ability to prophesy. He gives someone else the ability to discern whether a message is from the Spirit of God or from another spirit. Still another person is given the ability to speak in unknown languages, while another is given the ability to interpret what is being said.  It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have.
(1 Cor 12: 14-17) NLT

     According to the Word, spiritual gifts are given by God to help people. They are not to be used as a means to control, manipulate, or dominate them. No one can decide what gift they will have, because God is the One who distributes spiritual gifts. Spiritual gifts are part of the true worship of God, because during worship, God reveals Himself to people and sends the blessings that are needed at that time according to His will. When God speaks a word into your situation or circumstance that no one could know but Him, that word will always agree with the Word of God that has already been written, and the spirit of the word will always agree with the Holy Spirit. Even if it's a word of correction or a word that seems "hard", it will always agree with God's Word and God's Spirit, and carries peace. And, a  true word from God will never tear you down, belittle, or embarrass you.

...Worship only God. For the essence of prophecy is to give a clear witness for Jesus.
(Rev 19:10) NLT

     Worshippers, if you are ever in the presence of someone who wants to "read" you, if you see someone fixating on you as if they are trying to "see" into you, if you feel some type of "energy" trying to pull on your spirit, causing you to feel agitated, disturbed, distracted, fearful, confused, weakened or any other feeling that is not of God, LEAVE immediately! If it's the Holy Spirit, the only things that He brings are power, love, and a sound mind. There are a lot of people who mix God's Word with their own doctrines and imaginations, and even practice what is called Charismatic Witchcraft*. That being said, you have to spend enough time with God to be able to know what is true. When bankers are being trained to know counterfeit bills from authentic ones, they spend hours learning how real money feels and looks, so that when they see a suspicious one, they recognize it right away.  Be careful of those who come into prayer gatherings announcing themselves as "Minister so-and-so" or "Prophet or Prophetess so-and-so" as soon as you meet them. A person who has a true prophetic gift does not need to do those things to call attention to themselves, because their gift will announce them!  Be aware of your spiritual environment. Be prayerful and watch what is going on around you. Don't be quick to run to every revival, prayer meeting, church service or conference looking for a "word". Allow God to lead you, and take your Bible with you to make sure that what is being said is the same thing that God says.  This is not to cause fear, but just as you would protect yourself on the streets, you must protect yourself in the religious community. Remember...we are in the Last Days. God has given us everything that we need to defend ourselves against spiritual attacks from inside as well as outside of the church, but we have to use the information that we have been given:

 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant:
1 Cor. 12:1 (NKJV)

Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves.
Matt. 7:15 (NLT)

Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world.
I John 4:1 (NLT)

Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.
John 10:5 (NKJV)

     God loves us and does not want any of us to be deceived. He has people strategically placed to minister as He chooses. But just as God uses His people, the enemy has people that he uses to try to confuse us, or cause us to stumble, either because of lack of knowledge, or pure wickedness. Think of it in this way: the 5-year old who brings a gun to school, plays with it and causes it to go off, injuring another classmate, and the adult who deliberately shoots and injures someone has still done the same damage, even though the intentions were different. Don't become a spiritual casualty! Know when God is speaking to you, listen carefully to what is being spoken to you by people, test it against God's Word, and follow what He says about what you have heard. It's the only way to be spiritually safe in the last days.

*Charismatic Witchcraft -Charismatic witchcraft is exercising control over other Christians by leaders or anyone within the church. Charismatic witches use personal prophecy to control others.



     To every thing there is a season,  a time to every purpose under the the heavens.
(Ecclesiastes 3:1 NKJV)

     There are some seasons of our lives that are very difficult to walk through, but it is during those times we learn more about ourselves and who the God we worship really is. we also learn who our true friends are, and who are not. Sometimes that can be very heartbreaking, but God knows all things, and we have to remember that He truly holds our world in His hands. When we can't handle it, He can. When so-called friends walk away, He won't.

      Let's really work on trying to live the Christ-life and still think of others even when we are hurting. This world is slowly passing away, times are becoming stressful, many people are struggling with the simplest of things, but there is still something that each of us can do. It's not too much to let someone know you care, or to share what little we have with someone who has even less than we do. The 60's hit song He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother  is still very timely today. It doesn't really take that much...if you really care.  Remember, it's not always what you do, or what you say, it's the spirit that is motivating your actions.

Be Blessed...


Eagle...or Crow?

     Have you ever considered the differences between an eagle and a crow? Not just the obvious differences, but the ones that most people don't think about. Eagles and crows are very different types of birds beyond what we see. For example, the eagle is a bird of prey with a wingspan ranging from 72 to 90 inches, and can fly to an altitude of 10,000 feet. During level flight, they can achieve speeds of about 30 to 35 miles per hour. Bald eagles weigh from 10 to 14 pounds; they are lightweight, because their bones are hollow. They have 7,000 feathers, and may live as long as 30 years. The eagle's lifting power is about 4 pounds. They sit at the top of the food chain, and their diet consists mainly of fish. They are strong swimmers, have excellent eyesight, and their hunting area is from 1,700 to 10,000 acres. Eagles build their nests in large trees near rivers or coasts, where there is an abundant supply of fresh food, and mate for life.  (1)

     Now, let's take a look at the crow:  Crows can be found almost anywhere, in treetops, fields, and roadsides, and in habitats ranging from open woods and empty beaches to town centers and garbage dumps. They usually feed on the ground and eat almost anything – typically earthworms, insects and other small animals, seeds, and fruit but also garbage, carrion, and chicks they rob from nests. Their flight style is unique, a patient, methodical flapping that is rarely broken up with glides. They are often seen raiding garbage cans and picking over discarded food containers. Crows are very aggressive and often chase away larger birds including hawks, owls and herons. In folklore, a flock of crows is referred to as a murder. (2)

     Many times we feel bad because of not fitting in or being "uninvited" to events where everyone seems to be doing what pleases the crowd, and we wonder :"Why"? When we see the same people involved in activities that don't match the ministry they claim to have, or their lives are very different in private to what they portray in public, we wonder what we are doing wrong, or sometimes feel that God has forgotten about us. Well, He hasn't! He says:

Why would you ever complain, O Jacob,
or, whine, Israel, saying,
"God has lost track of me.
He doesn't care what happens to me"?
Don't you know anything? Haven't you been listening?
God doesn't come and go. God lasts.
He's Creator of all you can see or imagine.
He doesn't get tired out, doesn't pause to catch his breath.
And he knows everything, inside and out.
He energizes those who get tired,
gives fresh strength to dropouts.
For even young people tire and drop out,
young folk in their prime stumble and fall.
But those who wait upon God get fresh strength.
They spread their wings and soar like eagles,
They run and don't get tired,
they walk and don't lag behind.
(Isaiah 40:30-31- The Message)

     You don't fit in, because you are an eagle! Eagles are not like crows at all. Eagles know who they are; they don't fight with other birds, they are particular about where they live, and what they eat. You won't find an eagle living around a garbage dump, picking through the trash. But, unlike the eagle and the crow who have no choice in what they are, we have the power to choose how we will live. God sees, and knows all. We can fly like eagles, or we can pick with the crows. The choice is ours. So, which one will you be?

an Eagle...

or a Crow?


2. http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/American_Crow/id


Competitive Praise...Really?

     Within the dance ministry there has been a growing trend to hold Praise Dance Competitions. While it is not my place to judge the spiritual condition of those who host or participate in these events, I do question the basis for their existence in the worship community. By definition, praise or liturgical dance is: (1) A dance divinely inspired by God for public or private worship; (2)  Dance done as a praise and worship tool to honor the holiness and supremacy of God as a vehicle of prayer, intercession, and witnessing.  As part of our personal relationship with God, praise dance is done to uplift and encourage others in their worship. There is no scripture in the Bible that even suggests that praise and worship is competitive; in the book of Psalms, the musicians, singers, and dancers were inspired by God to minister together in their praise to Him.

     In the secular arena, there are dance competitions in which participants vie for monetary prizes, scholarships, further performance opporuntities and exposure. They are judged on the basis of technical strength, showmanship, originality, and costuming. These competitions are exciting and fun to watch, but there are always winners, and those who don't place. There are many in the dance ministry who are extremely talented, but God doesn't esteem their worship any higher than of those who worship by only lifting their hands.

     There is a big difference between dance as an artform, and the artform of dance as worship. Both have their places in the world and although at times they may look similar, they are not. Competitiveness is what caused disruption in the heavenlies when Lucifer said:  "I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High" (Isaiah 14:14). Isn't that just like the enemy to have God's people competing against one another? Once this happens, there is no more praise, just confusion. According to Ps.22:3 God inhabits the praises of His people... if His people are no longer praising, I will be headed for the nearest exit door!

     We can't be like anyone else, or observe what they are doing to become better than they are. It's impossible to compete with others without comparing ourselves to them. When we do this, we will either feel that we are superior to them, or that they are superior to us because after all, there can only be one winner, right? So, the next time you receive that flyer, e-mail or inbox invitation to compete with your praise, ask yourself these questions:

  • Who are the judges?
  • What qualifies someone to be a judge of praise?
  • What is the criteria for winning?
  • What makes one person's praise better than another's?
  • What is the prize for having the "best" praise?
  • How does one become a "loser"?
  • How does this promote true worship?                                                                                             
But the time is coming and is already here, when by the power of God's Spirit people will worship the Father as he really is, offering him the true worship that he wants. (John 4:23-GNT)

Enjoy this presentation by the Tribe of Judah:

 (1) Dancer's Array, Liturgical Dance Conference
 (2) National Liturgical Dance Network


Let's Let Christ Back Into the Dance...

"Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom..."
 (Song of Solomon 2:15) NIV
     A professional dancer recently commented to me that when dance was being reintroduced to the church, people were very careful about what they did, and were much more attuned to the worship of God than many of them are now. Now that dance has become more popular, much of it is becoming more about the spectacle than the worship. There are many reasons for this, but the question to ask now is, how did that happen, and even more importantly, how can we stop the trend?

     I remember my first time ever seeing dance to gospel music, when a group of middle school girls danced to Perfect Peace by Andre Crouch. It wasn't  in a church, but I saw and felt the message of the song expressed in movement, and can still recall it today. We were told in church at the time that contemporary dance was of the devil, and notes were sent home with parents letting them know that "...although we understand that many children have dance training for poise and confidence, there will be no type of dancing allowed in the talent show". When dance was finally allowed at my church, there was a group of young ladies who danced to What Shall I Do? by Tremaine Hawkins. They had small bells on their wrists and ankles and really didn't move that much, but the message was still clearly received. Of course, there were people who whispered about it, but the group continued to dance on occasion.

     Over time, dance has gained wider acceptance, and brought a lot of joy to people as they see the Good News of Christ communicated through worship in movement. Dancers have become more skilled and knowledgeable about their craft. But along with this, the element of competition and rivalry has crept in. Gospel promoters are cashing in on hosting Praise Dance Showcases and competitions under the guise of encouraging fellowship. Dance leaders have become territorial and have a sense of entitlement to top billing on programs, only want to associate with "recognized" ministries, exclude those from their groups who are not of the right body type or lack technical expertise and even worse, take the place of God in determining who can or cannot worship God in dance. In all of this, the element of worship has been lost for many people, and the dance has been reduced to entertainment, which has no place in the church.  In response, some dancers have taken a hiatus or sadly, left the ministry altogether.

      How can we stop this trend? By keeping Christ at the forefront of all we do, we will always be in worship mode. That leaves no room for competition, egoism, pride, abuse, territorial- ism, or any of the other sins that hinder God's work. I remember the days when we were happy to worship God freely in the dance and really make an impact, and I am thankful for those dance ministries who still do. Let's let Christ back into the dance...please?

     Please enjoy this video by The Georgia NLDN...



     There are times in this fast-paced world when many of us have felt that the more we do, the more we will be accepted by God. If we aren't careful, we will feel the pressure to compete with others or compare our progress with that of someone else, because whatever we are doing at the moment never seems to be enough...  "Enough" is a spiritual thing, it doesn't mean that we don't need to live with purpose or we don't need friends, that we don't need a companion, that we don't need money or any of the things that are part of living. But when God becomes our "enough" we won't spend our time obsessing about what we don't have or can't get done. We can be at peace within ourselves, so that we don't spend our lives constantly trying to please others to the point where we lose our own way. The way that God becomes our "enough" is through our communications with Him, praying to Him, not just because we need something from Him, but because He is God. Read His Word. you cannot separate God from His Word because He is the living Word (John 1:1). The more you learn of God, the more you will want to know of Him. You can see Him in nature, in his creation, in all the things that He does. God is great! and He is enough.

Be blessed...


A Heart That Lets Go

     December 31, 2009 was the International Day of Forgiveness. I had never heard of this before, but a friend sent an e-mail about it and it really piqued my interest. I posted it as an event in Facebook, because I wanted everyone I knew to participate. It did not require a special meeting place or preparation, only a heart to truly forgive everyone and anyone who had ever done anything to harm us, whether they deserved it or not. Many people responded, some did not, but it didn't matter to me, I knew that I had to take part in this event for myself. I had recently gone through a very difficult season of life and it seemed that most of the people who claimed to be my friends had abandoned me. A few of them actually turned out to be enemies, and one of them even tried to turn my family members against me. I had to make a choice to either return the evil, or completely let it go, so that Day couldn't come quickly enough for me.

    On New Year's Eve, I drove out to Dockweiler Beach, and sat down on a rock with a sheet of paper and a pen. I wrote down the name of every person that I could think of that I needed to truly forgive, and prayed for each one of them. When I finished, I took the list out to the shore, and send it away into the tide. It was so freeing to watch it go out, under the waves. I began to feel sorry for some of the people, because I began to see them as they were; that they really were unable to do any better than what they did. I thanked God for life, health and strength, and asked Him to help me to never do any of those things to anyone else. I found a seashell with holes in it, and put it on my bulletin board to help me remember the day.

     There is a line in the song entitled A Heart That Forgives by Kevin Levar says: " A heart that lets go is a heart that will know so much freedom". I thank the Lord for freedom today, so I can go on with my life. Forgiveness does not change what people have done to us, but it helps us to live our lives to the fullest.

     Be blessed...and forgive.

Thanks to Jeneen Harris for the top photograph...


A Time to Reflect

     The season of Lent is a time for many to contemplate our lives and think about what is going right, what has gone wrong, and what we need to do differently in the future. Many of us abstain or "give up" certain activities or foods, and "give in" to things of a higher nature. There is much going on in the world and this is a time like no other in history. Working with children every day has caused me to reflect on my own childhood and how I can make life better for the ones I come in contact with, even if it's just for a day. When I was in school, I was bullied a lot. I'm not sure exactly why, but I think it had a lot to do with being different. My family was from Barbados and had a very different way of thinking and doing things. When I started school I had an accent and didn't know a lot of the games or ways of speaking that the other children had. My grandmother was a seamstress and made all of my clothing, so I dressed differently. I was already reading when I went to kindergarten, so most of the time I was bored with most of the books that were being read and always finished the stories early. In short, I didn't fit in!

      I know that by now you are probably reading this article and wondering: "What does this have to do with worship?" The answer is: Everything. Worship is the way we relate to God every day, not just when we go into a sanctuary. The truth is, children haven't changed much over time, and I see a lot of  the same behaviors that they do being repeated in adults. How do we treat people that we see as "different"? Do we talk to them and make them feel welcome in our circles of faith? Do we put on the smiles when they are around but talk about them as soon as they leave our presence? Do we go out of our way to greet a new person who comes to visit our church, or just ignore them? What happens when someone new joins wants to be a part of our group?  Do we welcome them in, or see them as a threat and try to run them away from the church?  These are all things that people have either experienced at one time or another or been a part of and I can guarantee that some of it is going on right now, somewhere. But, look at what God's word has to say to us:

I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger, and you took me into your home. I needed clothes, and you gave me something to wear. I was sick, and you took care of me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’“Then the people who have God’s approval will reply to him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you or see you thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you as a stranger and take you into our homes or see you in need of clothes and give you something to wear? When did we see you sick or in prison and visit you? “The king will answer them, ‘I can guarantee this truth: Whatever you did for one of my brothers or sisters, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you did for me.’
 Matt. 25: 35-40 (GWT)

     Christ came into the world to save people. He didn't pick and choose whom to love, or which persons would be invited into His kingdom. He came to save anyone who would believe (John 3:16).  As worshipers and followers of Christ, He expects us to treat all people with kindness, even if we don't understand them,  because that is His way. During this season and beyond, this is the time to reflect on our own ways. It's time for many of us to "grow up" in Christ and really learn how to relate to others who are different from us. The harvest is coming... are we ready to receive the ones that come in?

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, thought like a child, and reasoned like a child. When I became an adult, I no longer used childish ways. ( I Cor. 13:11)

     Be blessed...


Something to Think About...

      I heard a message one Sunday morning entitled: “When It All Falls Apart, What Will You Do?” In light of  recent events, what is really important? The things that happen in one part of our world could happen anywhere, at any time, to anyone. The devastation in Japan is one of many that have literally rocked the foundations of unsuspecting people, and no one has the right to say “This is God’s judgment on them because…(fill in the blank)”. In fact, the Word says the opposite:

Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”
 (Luke 13:1-5 NIV)

     No one understands why these things happen but when they do, they affect us all. We are all connected to others in some way, whether it is by blood, friendship, aquaintance or just because we all share the earth as our temporary home to carry out our God-given purpose. This is not the time to make comparisons of how one group of people respond to tragedy vs. another, or to start making doomsday prophecies. It is time to stop, think about the direction that we are going in, and make sure that we are found doing God's will. Let the pettiness go...if you have something that you need to settle with a friend, enemy or family member, do it today! Because when it all falls apart...what will really matter?
     Please enjoy this thought-provoking video of "Homeless" by Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Sarah McClachlan...


Be Open!

     Have you ever watched dance or mime ministry videos, or attended a dance ministry concert and seen the same songs done over and over again? It seems that the most popular songs are the ones that are chosen to minister, most of the time.  One potential problem with doing this is that the congregation or audience will not even see the message of the dance, but will respond to the familiar song because they know it so well.  As humans, we want to "fit in" and do what is popular or acceptable to the public, but what is God really leading us to do?  There are songs by some of the same artists that are not as well known, that would be very effective as a visual message.  Even older songs, songs that are of a completely different style that what we are familiar with, or traditional hymns in a contemporary version are other choices.  How about even dancing to scripture, poetry, or spoken word?

     Don't get stuck in a box!  Take the time to listen to different styles of worship music in different genres and broaden your horizons.  Ministries that are most effective are the ones who do their homework It's always easy to do what is common, but do you really want to be like everyone else?  God has given everyone a unique assignment, and it doesn't look like anyone else's.   Read what Jocelyn Richard of Visual Praise Ministries in Augusta, GA says about musical choices:

"...The point is, as far as music is concerned, be open. Of itself, music is not good or bad. God created music before the world changed it in directions contrary to His intentions. Therefore, in listening to music, be attentive to be sure the lyrics point to Jesus.  The music can be, Christian contemporary, worship and praise, traditional hymns or jazz"*
     When we change the way we think about music, it will change the way we minister in movement.  If you don't know where to start your search for new music, www.Pandora.com is an internet radio station that allows listeners to create their own radio stations based on their musical tastes.  You can use the service for 40 hours a month free of charge, or have unlimited use for a reasonable price.  Let's make it our goal in 2011 to enlarge our territories and our musical inventories!

       Enjoy this video of SMBC's God's Anointed Vessels Dancing to Be Open by Richard Smallwood...

 *The Praise Dance Life: http://www.thepraisedancelife.com/2010/12/-choosing-music-for-worship-dance-choreography.html


The Greatest of These is Love...Pt. 2


     In our last blog, we were learning about what love is, what it is not, and to make sure that whatever we do comes from the heart of Christ, and not from a selfish motivation. In I Cor. 13: 5-7, what is known as the "Love Chapter", we read about love:

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud  or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.  It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.  Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

     Easier said than done, yes? But God would never require for us to do something that was impossible or unfair. We can make a checklist of the things we know about love from our reading:

  • suffers long 
  • is kind
  • does not envy
  • does not parade itself
  • is not puffed up
  • does not behave rudely
  • does not seek its own
  •  is not provoked
  • thinks no evil
  • does not rejoice in iniquity
  •  rejoices in the truth
  • bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things
  • never fails
      We can all identify with some of the things on this list! Every day we need to ask God to help us be more Christlike in our actions, in our speaking, and our relating to others. Before we get up in front of a congregation, we need to check ourselves to be sure that God is pleased with the way we have treated others according to His Word, and not the way we feel that they deserve to be treated. If we have hurt or offended anyone, we are to go to them and make amends before we offer our gifts (Matt 5: 23-24). God is looking at our hearts...what does He see?  Love God...Love People!


The Greatest of These is Love! Pt. 1

*This is a repost from February 2011...Enjoy!
    You can't give it
    Til you live it
    You can't live it
    Til you give it away -- Israel Houghton*

     Imagine for a moment that one day, you opened your Bible and it read something like this:

Though I worship in the aisle and in the balcony, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of singing and understand all musical styles and all technical skill, and though I have choreography  that moves the congregation, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I produce books and DVD's, and though I wear beautiful praise garments, but have not love, it profits me nothing.
     I'm definitely not trying to tamper with God's Word, so please don't be offended. The point is that God is Love, but many times we have forgotten this in the midst of our outward activities. We have excitement and zeal, diligence and excellence, but no Love! Now, if God is Love, yet there is no Love in what we do, that means that God is absent from it. Selah...

Dear friends, let’s love each other, because love is from God, and everyone who loves is born from God and knows God.  The person who doesn’t love does not know God, because God is love. 
I John 4:7-8 (CEB)

     God is very concerned with the way we treat others, so much that He even says that if we don't show love and kindness to towards other people, we can't even identify with Him. He is more interested in love, than He is in how much we do, how we perform our duties, how much we give, or how spiritual we seem to be. We can do nice things for people on the surface, but God knows our intent. Sometimes what appears to be a loving actions towards others is actually an attempt to control them. If you are fortunate enough to have large sums of money at your disposal, what is your true motivation for giving? Do we give just because we want to share, or do we really want to manipulate them into doing our bidding, giving us a position, platform or favor in return? Let's look at I Cor. 1:1-3 again:

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. 
 I Cor. 13:1-3 (NKJV)

     This passage of scripture lists many things that we can do, that amount to nothing if we lack the love of Christ. Israel Houghton's song: Love God, Love People  says that "We can't give it, til we live it, we can't live it, til we give it away". Let's be sure that in all of our serving, that we are truly doing it from heart of God's love.

Stay tuned for Part II...

*Love God, Love People-Israel Houghton


Mime, Anyone?

     What is mime? We know it's a popular artform in ministry, but what is it, exactly? There are a lot of people doing it, and many don't understand it, are afraid of it, or see it as evil.
  • Where did mime come from?
  • Why do people wear "mime" make-up?
  • What is the difference between pantomime and mime? Aren't they the same thing?   
     Pantomime is a very old art form that dates back to the Grecian Theatre, when the first recorded pantomime actor Telestes stepped out of the chorus of Seven Against Thebes in 467 B.C. to interpret through movement and gestures, the actions that the chorus sang.  This also shaped the beginnings of Western Theatre. (1)   

     There is a difference between pantomime and mime. Paul Curtis, Founder/Director of The American Mime Theatre, uses the following definitions: Pantomime is the art of creating the illusion of reality by dealing with imaginary objects or situations. Its art rests on the ability to imply weight, texture, line, rhythm and force to the air around them. Mime, on the other hand, is the art of acting silently through various kinds of theatrical movement.

     American mime is a unique combination of playwriting, acting, and moving that is quite different from the familiar French school of mime exemplified by  Marcel Marceau. "He is a pantomimist," Curtis explains, "and pantomime and mime are not the same thing. Pantomime is the handling of imaginary objects or situations. Mime encompasses any form of silent performance. It's a broader term. When a pantomimist is performing, you don't have to believe it or empathize the way you do with speaking theatre. You just see it and are entertained by it. But American mime is more like a play, in that if you don't believe the characters up there, then it's nothing. In American mime, everything has to be motivated; it has to be me. And of course we don't wear white face." American mime actors perform symbolic acdons and express the feelings of their characters honestly through motivated movement they call "form." (2)

     As you can see, there is much more to mime than a lot of people know. One of the main objections to mime ministry is the fact that during the times of the Roman persecution of Christians, mime was used to mock Christianity. It is true that the Roman theatre was the most efficient tool used against Christians (3). But remember that if you don't want mime in the church, there should also be no drama or dance ministries, because according to history, the mimes were part of origins of the theatre, which also eventually included dance as we know it today!  Also, in those days, mimes did not wear "white face", which started in France during the 19th century with the Pierrot pantomimes as pantomime blanche with Gaspard Deburau.

    The mime ministry can be very effective in communicating the Good News of Christ. So, if you are called to minister in this way, learn all that you can about it, don't just put on mime face and a robe, and step out in front of an audience. Know why you do what you are doing, and be able to answer the questions that you may be asked!

     Please enjoy this mime/dance presentation by Dancing For His Glory of Kileen, Texas. Watch their expressions, with and without mime make-up. They are powerful!

(1)Lust, Annette: The Origins and Development of the Art of Mime, www.mime.info/history-lust.html 
(2)Curtis, Paul, The American Mime Theatre, http://www.americanmime.org/ 
(3)Bruch, Debra, Ph.D.: The Prejudice Against Theatre, www.rtjournal.org/vol_3/no_1/bruch.html