Growing in Expressiveness

April 14th, 2014

Have you hit a rut?  Do you feel limited in your ability to express yourself creatively in dance?  Here is a tip that can help kick start you…

Take a few rehearsals and just have fun.  I would bring my iPod, with its eclectic mix of music (children’s songs, Christmas tunes and praise/worship), and have everyone gather into our rehearsal space.  I would then have a volunteer (aka frightened dance team member) stand up on the stage and then announce to the group that we were going to pick a random song.  At that time, the ‘volunteer’ would act out movements to the song that came on.  Without warning, I would switch team members – even in mid song.  Or, I’d change it from something serious to something lighthearted.  This is so much fun once the jitters start to fade.  This is a great time to review how the fear of the faces of men is nothing more than pride…if we care more of what others think than what God thinks, our hearts are out of order.  How we look is not why we dance.

In 2 Samuel 6:16 we see Saul’s daughter, Michal, look on scornfully at David as he leaped and danced before the Lord as they brought back the Ark of the Covenant.  Was David embarrassed?  Look at his reply in verses 21 and 22…And David said unto Michal, It was before the Lord, which chose me before thy father, and before all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the Lord, over Israel: therefore will I play before the Lord.  And I will yet be more vile than thus, and will be base in mine own sight: and of the maidservants which thou hast spoken of, of them shall I be had in honour.

He did not regard her opinion, but rather set his sights on things above.  That should be our response.  God is more concerned with your heart than your art.  So, go ahead and play.  Go ahead…who cares if you look silly or fall down?  Just have fun in Him.  Once that joy has returned, your ability to express it will be even more anointed.

For Love of You I’m a Sky on Fire

August 29th, 2011

So, what’s up with this title?  For some reason, God has always put the imagery of fire into my heart as a means of passion unto Him.  Growing up in South Florida, there were the most incredible sunsets and sunrises imaginable.  When I would watch them, my heart would feel like it was alive and the beauty would take my breath away.  That is how I now feel when I dance for Jesus.  I feel like a sky on fire, blazing for God, shining His light and His beauty forth for all to see.  I feel alive.  I feel His majesty flow forth.  I feel like I am ablaze.  I am unashamed to reveal Him for all to see.

Several years ago, I received a Dancing Fire Barbie doll (I used to collect them).  When I took one look at her flowing dress that was made to resemble fire, I was drawn again to that feeling inside me that resonates with the fiery passion of God for His people.  I love to look at that doll.  In the Old Testament, fire was used to consume the sacrifices offered up to the Lord.  God called an offering made by fire – the burnt offering – “a sweet aroma”.  Fire was also used to show the presence of God.  In Exodus, the Angel of the Lord appeared to Moses in a flame of fire in the midst of a bush.  He led the Israelites by a pillar of fire at night.

Exodus 24:17 says, “The sight of the glory of the LORD was like a consuming fire on the top of the mountain in the eyes of the children of Israel.”

Leviticus 6:13 instructed, “A fire shall always be burning on the altar; it shall never go out.”  I look at this and know that I can keep a fire burning on the altar of my heart and my life by keeping His vision and purposes for my life at the center of my focus.  When I veer to the right or to the left, the fire always dwindles.  My desire is to live my life just like these song lyrics, “The zeal of God has consumed me, deep within my soul.  A burning fire, that keeps burning…a fire that cannot be quenched.”

Recently, God spoke to my heart that I was like a phoenix (again, fire imagery).   Yes, there are pagan ties to the phoenix legends, but there are also Christian allegories and truths that God wanted me to see.  A phoenix was a bird who laid its eggs in its nest only to set it all on fire thereby consuming itself, its nest and its eggs.  Why was God showing me this?  He wanted me to see myself as the phoenix.  I had laid eggs (reaped a harvest) of disappointment, plans gone awry, missed opportunities and dreams I’d let die.  He was showing me that it was time to light the fire on the past, on the things the enemy has been able to prosper against me, and arise a new creation once again in Him.  The phoenix arises in fire.  I am to arise in the fire of God, with His passion and His zeal.

When looking at the meanings one can draw from the phoenix, this is what God wanted me to see:

  • The phoenix has been used as an allegory of the resurrection and of life after death (in Christ) – it is an eternal being.  What God was showing me was that my past has not been patched up, it’s been buried completely in Jesus.  I am a new creation!
  • The Phoenix Bird lives in a nest of frankincense, which indicates Christ’s priestly intercession for mankind, according to the Defender’s Bible Commentary.  Therefore, to say that the Phoenix Bird lives in a nest containing frankincense portrays a Messiah type ministry for mankind, and one that involves spiritual “intercession”.  God has personally shown me that He has placed a heart for intercession in me.  He is reminding me again to seek Him on behalf of others in prayer and through dance.
  • The phoenix also has myrrh in its nest – in ancient times, it was used to clean wounds and sores.  Just like the love of God, we are to reach the lost and the hurting.  We are to reach those who don’t see their need for a Savior.  We are to be the balm of salvation, the salve of restored relationship to God.
  • The most well known phoenixs were Arabian and had brilliant scarlet and gold plumage and a melodious cry; it made it’s home near a cool well.  We are to make our home near the living water of God.  We are to be a well for others to come and draw from.  Out of our bellies are to flow rivers of living water.  Scarlet (red) is symbolic of the shed blood of Jesus and of warfare.  Gold is the color of God’s glory.
  • In Chinese mythology, the phoenix is the symbol of high virtue and grace, of power and prosperity, loyalty and honesty, power sent from the heavens to earth.  I couldn’t think of more appropriate things I would want to be associated with.  I place a very high value on loyalty, virtue and honesty.  I think the symbolism of a phoenix being acquainted with power sent down from heaven to earth is just so cool.
  • The Japanese phoenix was said to only appear at the birth of a virtuous ruler and was said to mark a new era where it would descend from heaven to do good deeds for people and then return to the heavens to await a new era.  It was said to represent the sun, justice, obedience and fidelity.  Others say the phoenix only appeared during times of peace and prosperity.  I think that God was trying to show me that He is transitioning me into a time of peace and prosperity.  We have just come through a very hard season in our life and this is especially comforting to me personally.

So, the fire imagery is very personal to me.  The phoenix is now a symbol in my life of what God has done for me, what He wants and expects from me in this new season and a reminder that I need to stick close to Him, delving into the zeal and passion He put in my heart so long ago.

Lastly, the lyrics to Audrey Assad’s song, “For Love of You” are the reason for this post and the revealing of my inner heart.  Here are the lyrics, and below you can listen to the actual song:

 

You live in a million places

Your fingerprints can be seen on a million faces

There is a trace of You

In every hallelujah

Every song that I sing

 

And For love of You

I’m a sky on fire

And because of You

I come alive

And it’s Your sacred heart within me beating

Your voice within me singing out

For love of You

Oh, for love of You

 

It’s all for you, yeah

 

You are the highway I travel

Cause I watched You carve streets of gold

From the sand and gravel

I gave You brokenness

You gave me innocence

And now this road leads to glory

 

And For love of You

I’m a sky on fire

And because of You

I come alive

And it’s Your sacred heart within me beating

Your voice within me singing out

For love of You

Yeah

 

You are my deepest longing

So I see You everywhere

It’s You I’m chasing after

Cause I am captivated by who You are

And how You move

I’ll follow You forever

 

For love of You

I’m a sky on fire

Because of You

I come alive

Yeah

 

And For love of You

I’m a sky on fire

And because of You

I come alive

And it’s Your sacred heart within me beating

Your voice within me singing out

For love of You

Oh, for love of You

It’s all for love of you, God

And everything that I do

Oh, it’s all for love of You

Listen to the song by clicking below: [audio:http://praisedancers.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/01-For-Love-of-You.mp3]

*For Love of You”, by Audrey Assad, used with permission.

More Training Scenarios

August 10th, 2011

Growing as a leader helps you train those you oversee with more compassion and authority.  You are better able to effectively impart the vision of the house and hear the voice of the Lord.  Sometimes circumstances come along and leave us stumped as to how to respond correctly.  Here are a few scenarios for you to consider:

When someone leaves the church with a wrong motive (or in the wrong manner), and they say to you, "Will I still be able to call you?"  or "will you be mad at me?"…how do you respond?

Here is one way to approach this…inquire as to why they would want to call you – have you been sympathetic to their sin in the past?  Are you someone who has a hard time confronting in love?  Are they looking for someone to agree with their sin in order to justify it?  Counsel without authority is useless – be suspicious and know their motive for seeking you out.  They should seek counsel where they are now attending church – unless God says otherwise.

One of the members of the church is thinking about leaving and they come up to you and say, "the church over there has more ministry opportunities".  How do you respond?

I would ask them this…"are you seeking a ministry or are you seeking God's position/place for you?  Do you understand that you need to seek God where He wants you?  Be careful you are not leaving the place where God is feeding you from – there is a corporate destiny that you are a part of.  God sets those in the Body as HE chooses.  Did God call you over there or are you trying to promote yourself where God has not called you?"

How would you respond to some of these negative thoughts that the enemy could give you as a leader?

I am so overworked!    Response:  Delegate!  Spend more time with God and get a game plan to organize/prioritize your time…poor time management is often the cause of feeling overworked.

No one knows how much I am really doing!   Response:  Who are you doing it for?  Check your heart.

So-and-so talks to the pastors more than I do!   Response:  This is jealousy, pure and simple.  Just repent already.

What if the pastors did something and the thought comes to you "I would never do it that way"?  Response:  This is a heart issue and an authority issue.  There is an element of rebellion and judgment in your spirit that needs addressing immediately.

Dear ones, do not be afraid when you are unsure of what to do.  There were many times I picked up the phone and called an elder or my pastor for wisdom.  I  still lean on that wisdom to this day.  I confess that I have made many mistakes along the way, but God is bigger than my mistakes and His grace is truly sufficient.  He has covered over my errors with His enabling power and has grown me in the process. 

He loves us too much to let us stay the same!  Praise God!  Let me know what you think about these scenarios.  If you have any of your own scenarios that you would like to share, or if you have any questions, feel free to email me via "Contact Us" or just place a post below.  God bless you!

Restoration of the Dance

July 3rd, 2011

The book of Ecclesiastes tells us in chapter 3, verse 4, that there is a time for everything under heaven – to weep, mourn, dance. Dance was lost from the early church during the Dark Ages. What brought the people out from the Dark Ages was the invention of the printing press by Gutenberg. The Bible was now in printed form. This period is known as the Restoration. This is the generation of the arts. This is also symbolic of our walk with God. We are in the dark spiritually until the Word (Christ) comes into our hearts and lives – then we're restored.  Dance and other movement-based arts have a strong purpose in the Body of Christ. Let us consider these:

Dance is a ministry.
We minister first and most importantly to the Lord. Then, that worship and extravagant outpouring of our hearts to Him ministers to others. As a priest unto the Lord, we are in the ministry of reconciliation.

2 Corinthians 5:18-20 "Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God"

Did you see that? It says that God Himself has committed to US the word of reconciliation! What a responsibility and an honor. Not only does this means of ministry go upward to the Lord, but God Himself also ministers unto us through it.

Jeremiah 31:13 "Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance, And the young men and the old, together; For I will turn their mourning to joy, Will comfort them, And make them rejoice rather than sorrow"

We need to have our hearts on giving, not receiving. Our focus should be always that which is on God's heart – the lost, the broken and hurting.

Dance is a command.
To dance is to be obedient to the instruction of the Word.
Psalm 149:1,3-4 "Praise the Lord!…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"

Notice it didn't say, "I suggest that maybe you could possibly offer up a small token of affirmation to the Lord". NO! It said, "PRAISE THE LORD!" There was no suggestion about it at all. It was a definite exhortation. The word "Praise" in verse one is the Hebrew word 'halal'. It means to shine, to boast, to make a show, to be clamorously foolish, to rave, to celebrate. So, we can understand more fully that it doesn't mean to sit quietly with our hands folded in our laps, it means to be extravagant in our show of our love toward Him.

The Word tells us that obedience is better than sacrifice. Be obedient to the instruction of the Lord and be clamorously foolish for Him. David did. He danced with all his might before the Lord. Some scorned him, but God was honored.

Dance is war.
Did you know that when you step out in obedience that God flows through you to route the enemy? God says we are the weapon.

Isaiah 30:31-32 "For through the voice of the Lord Assyria will be beaten down, As He strikes with the rod. And in every place where the staff of punishment passes, Which the Lord lays on him, It will be with tambourines and harps; And in battles of brandishing He will fight with it"

Jeremiah 51:20 "You are my battle-ax and weapons of war: For with you I will break the nation in pieces; With you I will destroy kingdoms"

Isaiah 41:15-16 "Behold, I will make you into a new threshing sledge with sharp teeth; You shall thresh the mountains and beat them small, And make the hills like chaff. You shall winnow them, the wind shall carry them away, And the whirlwind shall scatter them; You shall rejoice in the Lord, And glory in the Holy One of Israel"

God is our Lord Sabbaoth – the Lord of Hosts. This means He is the Lord of a mass of people organized for war (an army). Consider Psalm 47:5…"God has gone up (gets stirred up) with a shout, The Lord with the sound of a trumpet".  Our high praise stirs up God and when we are praising Him, He is right there in our midst. He inhabits our praises. Isaiah 42:13 goes on to say, "The Lord shall go forth like a mighty man; He shall stir up His zeal like a man of war. He shall cry out, yes, shout aloud; He shall prevail against His enemies."  Doesn't that get you excited? Our God is passionate. That is why He said he prefers that we be either hot or cold…lukewarm is not an option unless you want to be vomited out of God's mouth (Revelation 3:16).

Look at this simple verse: Hosea 10:11 "Judah shall plow".  Sounds like farming instructions, doesn't it? Well let's look at each piece of this 3 word verse.

Judah = praise
shall = is determined to; must; will
plow = to make ready for seed time; to scratch or engrave with tools or instruments to make a permanent imprint

So, what can we gather from those 3 little words? That our praise makes a permanent imprint in the spiritual realm and digs up the hard-heartedness (fallow ground) of those watching in order to prepare it to receive the seed of God's word. Quite a responsibility, isn't it? Brings the notion of doing all things decently and in order – with purity and holiness – to a whole new level, huh?

Dance is communication.
It is a conversation between the dancer and God. We're communicating a message of love to our Lord. His Holy Spirit intercedes through us to Him…that is why it is so important that we consider…

  • why are we doing a specific song…what is the relevancy? Is it culturally, spiritually or eternally relevant?
  • What story do the lyrics paint? Did we choose something that is pointing to Jesus or to ourselves?
  • What do our movements communicate? Are we being suggestive with our bodies or are we honoring God?
  • What is my part's message?
  • What does my heart want to communicate to the Lord? Am I keeping my eyes on Him, or am I distracted by the thoughts and cares of the day?
  • Why does the music move or inspire me? Would it be as effective if there were no lyrics?
  • Can you get behind the leader's vision and heart for this presentation?
  • Does it go with the vision of the house?

Be open and willing to receive correction, if needed. If a leader comes up to you and tells you to adjust something – even if it is not the dance leader – keep your heart right. It is not about YOU. I had just such an occasion happen to me. I was preparing for a night of worship where I knew I would be ministering before the congregation. I was dressed in many layers of clothing for modesty's sake. However, one of my elders came up to me and asked me to change my top. Now, I had on a bodysuit, proper undergarments and an overlay. Yet, I went straight to the costume closet and did as she asked. When the service started, God utilized me to bring about His purposes during a time of ministry. I was dancing with flags over the people as the word of the Lord came forth about releasing His healing. What do you think would have happened if I had chosen differently? What if I said in my heart, "What does she know? I am the dance leader and I am appropriately dressed?"  I am sure God would still have moved upon the people, but I would not have been blessed to be a part of it.

Later on, this same elder told me why she had me change…that even though I had on many layers, those layers were all white and – under the lights – they were somewhat transparent. I would have been embarrassed if I had not chosen to change. Keep you heart right! Your leaders and elders have nothing but the very best in their heart for you. Give them the benefit of the doubt.

Dance is intercession.
Did you know that you bring others before the throne of God in your heart, by the Spirit? Standing in the gap for others is powerful stuff. When you purpose in your heart to pray and intercede for others, you are bringing them before God. You can do this through dance and movement, too! Have you ever had someone come up to you after a presentation and say, "I felt God so strongly when you were dancing"…"I could feel the love of God coming forth from you"?  If you have had someone come up to you after a presentation, it wasn't YOU that ministered to them…it was God through you. What an honor to be a vessel for the Lord simply because you were willing and yielded. You may never know how many people you have touched for Him until you get to eternity.

One of the Hebrew words for dance is 'chuwl' or 'chiyl'. It is POWERFUL. Let's look at how Strong's Concordance translates it's meaning:

chuwl {khool}; bear, make to bring forth, make to calve, dance, drive away, fall grievously with pain…

Or chiyl {kheel}; a primitive root; properly, to twist or whirl (in a circular or spiral manner), i.e. (specifically) to dance, to writhe in pain (especially of parturition) or fear; figuratively, to wait, to pervert — bear, (make to) bring forth, (make to) calve, dance, drive away, fall grievously (with pain), fear, form, great, grieve, (be) grievous, hope, look, make, be in pain, be much (sore) pained, rest, shake, shapen, (be) sorrow(-ful), stay, tarry, travail (with pain), tremble, trust, wait carefully (patiently), be wounded.

I like that it says to 'pervert'. You may think I am nuts, be it means to pervert (turn away from the course) the plans of the enemy! You can see very plainly how dance can be an intercession, a bringing forth, a birthing if you will, of God's heart/intent/plan for yourself and others.

As we wrap up this teaching, let me leave you with some final thoughts. Our job, our privilege, is to be a servant in the house of the Lord. We are to serve God and serve people. We are to go out into the highways and byways and COMPEL them to come into…where? The church building? No, to come into the saving knowledge of Christ. The church building is just a safe place for them to grow and be discipled. Let's not get religious and think it's all about adding new members to our fellowship. We don't go to church, we ARE the church!

God admonishes us in Hebrews 13:3 "Remember the prisoners as if chained with them, those who are mistreated; since you yourselves are in the body also. Do we think of those who are still in bondage? We have been set free, but Jesus said the second greatest commandment was to love our neighbor as ourselves. If we do that, we will remember them as prisoners, chained to the bondages of sin and the plans of the enemy. We will remember that it is our duty and honor to give them Christ, who destroys every yoke of bondage. When we do that, how can we not be effected by God's equipping?

2 Corinthians 5:20 says "Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God".  Did you see that? God has set us in position as His ambassadors so that He can plead through us to the unsaved. Makes me want to humbly get on my face before the Lord…I am truly honored to be in His service and I don't plan on wasting my life. How about you?

Be admonished: Philippians 2:3-4 "Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others".
 

Bezalel and Aholiab

April 3rd, 2011

Exodus 31:1-6 “Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 2 “See, I [the Lord] have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. 3 And I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, 4 to design artistic works, to work in gold, in silver, in bronze, 5 in cutting jewels for setting, in carving wood, and to work in all manner of workmanship. 6 And I, indeed I, have appointed with him Aholiab the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan; and I have put wisdom in the hearts of all who are gifted artisans, that they may make all that I have commanded you:”

There are some wonderful principles to glean from this passage of Scripture! The first is that it is the Lord who calls you into ministry.

Exodus 35:30-35 “And Moses said to the children of Israel, “See, the Lord has called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah; 31 and He has filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom and understanding, in knowledge and all manner of workmanship, 32 to design artistic works, to work in gold and silver and bronze, 33 in cutting jewels for setting, in carving wood, and to work in all manner of artistic workmanship. 34 And He has put in his heart the ability to teach, in him and Aholiab the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan. 35 He has filled them with skill to do all manner of work…”

The second principle here is that it is God who promotes you – you don’t promote yourself. God will tell your leadership when, how, etc. Your leaders have received wisdom and ability from the Lord to teach you. They are in position because God chose to put them there. Notice, it was Moses who announced to the children of Israel the calling to ministry of Bezalel and Aholiab…they did not tell Moses, Moses heard from God and Moses then instituted the proper order according to the Lord’s plan…not Bezalel’s plan, not Aholiab’s plan.

Exodus 36:2 Then Moses called Bezalel and Aholiab, and every gifted artisan in whose heart the Lord had put wisdom, everyone whose heart was stirred, to come and do the work.

Lastly, God will join those with like vision. Aholiab and Bezalel together were skilled in all matter of giftings and abilities. But, they couldn’t do it alone. God added to them…bringing up others under them to train and impart to. There were those who (#1) had wisdom from the Lord and (#2) their hearts were stirred to be a part.

What was the outcome?

Exodus 39:42-43 “According to all that the Lord had commanded Moses, so the children of Israel did all the work. Then Moses looked over all the work, and indeed they had done it; as the Lord had commanded, just so they had done it. And Moses blessed them.”

Where there is unity, God commands the blessing! (see Psalm 133)

Divine order is truly divine.

RSS Feed

  • Digg
  • Delicious
  • Furl
  • Stumble
  • Technorati
  • Yahoo
  • Recent Posts

  • Sites I Love!

  • Archives