These Things...Ought Not to Be!

...Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. ~ James 3:10 (NKJV)

     Liturgical arts have come a long way in the past few years. Ministries and groups are becoming more well-versed in technique and becoming more innovative, even edgy with their presentations. Multi-media platforms and creative risk-taking are all commonplace in church services, conferences, and concert settings. But...some of us are forgetting that our focus is still communicating The Good News of Christ, which is that Christ was born, was crucified, died, was buried, and is now alive so that we can be free, if we turn away from our sins, believe with all of our hearts, and personally confess that this is true, and start living for God and not ourselves. This means that whatever we do has to: (1) Be inspired of God; (2) Be based on His Word, the Bible, and (3) Reveal God to people. It is not to entertain, amuse, or placate the audience, and although there is a performance aspect involved, in the context of worship, that is not our purpose. We are simply there in front of the audience to offer out of our relationship with God, a visual representation of His Word, ways, and nature, possibly in a way that hasn't been revealed to them before.

There were some Greeks in town who had come up to worship at the Feast. They approached Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee: "Sir, we want to see Jesus. Can you help us?"
~ John 12:21 (MSG)

     Having studied Theatre and Dance for many years, I am always interested in seeing different types of presentations in church, but this latest video should concern most of us. In a church service, Thriller, yes that one...was danced to after a message about Ezekiel 37, the story of The Valley of Dry Bones in which God asked the prophet: "Son of Man, can these bones live?" Please let me say that as an artist, I have no problem with the artform of Thriller as a music video, and I have enjoyed Michael Jackson's music as much as anyone else, BUT, Thriller is a song and video about Halloween, zombies, and fear. The dancers in the original video were second to none, and the dancers in this new video did a good job with their modified version of Michael Jackson's and Michael Peters' choreography. However, they should have found different music and let God inspire them to do completely different choreography for their ministry, simply because people will automatically hear that song, see the dance and will either compare it with the original, miss the entire point completely because they are totally caught up what they have already seen and heard before , or simply be entertained by an exciting performance. In other words, it's inappropriate for a house of worship! Why? because, what aspect of God's Word are they presenting with a music track that was composed for a song about the powers of darkness? And, other than the fact that their performance was well done, what aspect of God was revealed to the people, some of whom may never hear The Good News again? There are many others, but these are the first ones that come to mind.

But truly I am full of power by the Spirit of the Lord,
And of justice and might,
To declare to Jacob his transgression
And to Israel his sin.
~ Micah 3:8 (NKJV)

...And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God,
That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your young men shall see visions,
Your old men shall dream dreams.

And on My menservants and on My maidservants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days;
And they shall prophesy.

~ Acts 2: 16-18 (NKJV)

    I rarely post about ministry presentations that are controversial, and certainly am not writing about this for the sake of controversy; but we need to have intelligent, non-judgemental dialogue about what is going on around us, as well being sure that we keep the worship arts focused on Christ, and not become a second-rate copy of what the secular arena has already done. Truly there is a problem here, and the solutions are not in condemning those who are promoting these activities, but in directing them towards God's Word.  All of the creativity and style that we need, come from Him, the original Creator.  Most importantly, we must have a real, born-again relationship with God, and not just blindly follow the latest trend that comes around. There are so many up-and-coming artists in the church with phenomenal talent, but they must always remain true to their own voice, and not simply become a copy of someone else's past glory. Watch...and be prayerful.



If you wanted to build a building, you would first sit down and decide how much it would cost. You must see if you have enough money to finish the job. If you don’t do that, you might begin the work, but you would not be able to finish. And if you could not finish it, everyone would laugh at you. They would say, ‘This man began to build, but he was not able to finish'. ~ Luke 14:28-30 (ERV)

     It's July...and we're now at a checkpoint in the year. So, it's time to ask ourselves some questions about the things we are doing, what we have done well, and what we can improve upon. So, get a pen and a piece of paper, and divide it into three sections; then take some time to think about how your worship ministry has changed in the past year:
  • what is different, and why?
  • what are your personal ministry goals for the next 6 months?
  • how will you make this happen?
     Write those things down, and pray over them. Ask God for guidance on how to carry out those goals to fulfill His plan for your life and service to Him. It may mean letting go of some projects, moving in another direction, taking on new responsibilities or even saying no to others. But, whatever answer you receive, it will always point to what is best!

      Carry on...


House on Fire...

I know what you have done, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were cold or hot. But since you are lukewarm and not hot or cold, I’m going to spit you out of my mouth.  You say, ‘I’m rich. I’m wealthy. I don’t need anything.’ Yet, you do not realize that you are miserable, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked.  I advise you: Buy gold purified in fire from me so that you may be rich. Buy white clothes from me. Wear them so that you may keep your shameful, naked body from showing. Buy ointment to put on your eyes so that you may see.  I correct and discipline everyone I love. Take this seriously, and change the way you think and act.  Look, I’m standing at the door and knocking. If anyone listens to my voice and opens the door, I’ll come in and we’ll eat together. ~ Rev. 3:15-20 (GW)

 a house is on fire
and its foundation is burning to the ground
its frame engulfed by flames...
like Ichabod the glory has departed from its inner chambers
and its honor is long gone
respect has been destroyed

its faith has fallen out of context with reality
souls are dying inside of well -dressed bodies on display
with camera ready smiles on cue
but who is watching TV when the TV is really watching you?
people are tired of the games, the show and fakery
money changing hands like dozens at the bakery
going through the routine with nothing ever changing
except for the scenery
God is judging his people
from the pulpit to the walls
His spirit is grieved for us
because we fail to recognize and follow His way
we make mockery of His words and use them for unjust gain
mega ministers backslidden and living in sin behind closed doors
trying to decide which side of the fence to play on
being blindly followed by those who only shout and say "Amen"
with no real respect for holy things or love for others
titles have taken the place for real power
the hungry are expected to feed themselves
and blamed for their own demise
spirituality is just a game we play to get by
while the children are lost and forgotten
you have been commanded to care for the sheep
and devour them instead
a house is on fire
it’s just a social institution
a meeting place
a breakfast with no prayer at a table with no meal
a gathering with no oil
no real word
and a place to wander in and out of freely with no purpose
but remember that time is running out and this world will pass away
eternity waits at the end…
and where will you be then?



In The Vineyard...

The Sovereign Lord has taught me what to say, so that I can strengthen the weary. Every morning He makes me eager to hear what He is going to teach me. - Isaiah 50:4 (GNT)

      In the past few years, many churches have become increasingly "seeker sensitive" instead of Holy Spirit sensitive, and there is no real word from God. So, the seekers are going elsewhere to get their life questions answered. Some churches have become more interested in attracting large crowds and getting large offerings than speaking to people's concerns, and hurting people are coming into the church, hopeless, oppressed, discouraged, depressed, confused, and going out the same way. Why? Because the God is not allowed to be in charge of His own house. The Lord knows everyone by name, He knows exactly where they are in life, what they need, and how to speak to them. He has called us to be avaiable to communicate His Good News to them, speak life to them, show them love, and show them a better way to live through His Word.

“The Lord’s Spirit has come to me, because he has chosen me to tell the Good News to the poor. The Lord has sent me to announce freedom for prisoners, to give sight to the blind, to free everyone who suffers, and to say: 'This is the year the Lord has chosen'" ~ Luke 4:18-19 (CEV)


It shall come to pass in that day
That his burden will be taken away from your shoulder,
And his yoke from your neck,
And the yoke will be destroyed because of the anointing oil.~ Isaiah 10:27 (NKJV)

     What does that mean for us as worship leaders? That means that we have to take the time to find out what song or music God wants to speak through, and not just choose the song that will move the crowd because it's popular, or because it's our favorite. If we have a choice of music, then we must take time to ask God what the appropriate song will be to meet the needs of those who are present. That may mean that we may have to listen to several songs and do some research before making a decision, but true ministry is always about serving others, not ourselves. People come into churches with all kinds of spiritual, mental, and physical conditions that they can't share with anyone. God may reveal some things, but it is impossible for us to know what is going on with each individual. If we allow God to lead us, He will give us a message that will speak to the audience at large, in many different ways. That may mean that we won't be able to do our favorite choreography, jump, grand jete or freestyle move, if He wants to speak through a simple gesture that will destroy a yoke of bondage from somebody's life that will enable them to receive God's word in a way that they had never seen it before!

"[...art often bypasses the intellect and speaks to the heart rather then the head, leaving the viewer to discover their own meanings and interpretations." ~ Brian Giberson, Visual Artist*

     We have to be more concerned for what God wants than with our need to be seen, heard, recognized or applauded. Remember... we are not here for ourselves, we are here because God thought enough of us to invite us to work with Him, and He is in charge of His vineyard.


Notes: *Art Philosophy, Brian Giberson: http://www.indigolights.com/art/artist-biography.html