Monday, April 26, 2010

Ministry or Mayhem?

Many who host dance conferences, lead movement ministries, or teach often talk about unity, being on one accord, and being many members of one Body. The stark reality of many groups and ministries is that this unity usually hinges on the requirement that you must join their group, cause or organization for this to occur. This is not "Kingdom" by any means.

I recently posted the following personal quote on Facebook: "Greatness is not intimidated by greatness, but rather submits in order to surpass. If those more experienced, skilled, or wise cause us to feel inferior, then we are operating in mediocrity and not excellence. Iron sharpens iron!" The general point of this is that jealously and envy cannot survive where humility is the order of the day. When we are led by the Spirit, we will have the wisdom to learn from those around us. These people do not necessarily have to be "dance ministry celebrities" or famous preachers. God can use anyone to impact our lives if our ears and eyes are open!

My friend Dr. Franca Fauntleroy chimed in and noted, "I sometimes wonder if we really operate in ministry or mayhem because Christians can be so cruel." I had to agree with this observation, and lament for many of the wounded movement ministers who have been maimed by overly-ambitious, money-hungry, fame-seeking, territory claiming, myopic wolves in sheep's clothing!

This injury is made manifest by excommunication, isolation, expulsion, blacklisting, ridicule, and malicious intent. The weapons of choice are verbal (spoken/written), social (ignoring others/intentional avoidance/animosity), technological (email/website articles/blogging/social networking), and spiritual (twisting the Word to gain an advantage/abusing the pulpit to preach our own agendas/hoping for destruction to befall the ministries of others).

Many of us have different areas of passion or concentration, but we really should have one common goal: Proclaim the Gospel and make disciples. Because many of our leaders have erroneously pushed our own agendas, we have drawn swords against one another. This is not ministry, this is mayhem!

The office, duties, or functions of a minister

The body of ministers of religion: clergy

A person or thing through which something is accomplished :agency, instrumentality

Willful and permanent deprivation of a bodily member resulting in the impairment of a person's fighting ability

Willful and permanent crippling, mutilation, or disfigurement of any part of the body

Needless or willful damage or violence

Now that we have defined the difference, let us make an assessment:

When any of us inflicts damage on a fellow co-laborer, it's not ministry:

It's mayhem!

If we secretly desire the downfall of another and facilitate this by innuendo and threats for followers to disassociate with the offender:

It's mayhem!

When we encourage people to follow us instead of God:

It's mayhem!

When we operate out of impure motives and deception:

It's mayhem!

Each of us needs to examine ourselves today and repent for any actions that were provoked by the flesh and our own personal feelings. Deception has crept in and influenced even the elect among our ranks. We can pray, prophesy, and preach with the best of them, but unless we live the Word, we are facilitating mayhem and not ministry.

New King James Bible Version

Proverbs 10:12
Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all sins.

Acts 7:26-27
And the next day he appeared to two of them as they were fighting, and tried to reconcile them, saying, ‘Men, you are brethren; why do you wrong one another?’ But he who did his neighbor wrong pushed him away, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge over us?

Acts 8:23
For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity.

Romans 3:13
“Their throat is an open tomb; With their tongues they have practiced deceit”; “The poison of asps is under their lips”

2 Timothy 2:14
[Approved and Disapproved Workers] Remind them of these things, charging them before the Lord not to strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Produce Section

Each of our ministries should be fruitful. Many dance ministries have experienced seasons where there seemed to be more being subtracted than is added. While some may consider this a "pruning" season, there are other times that disease and decay is the reason for the absence of fruit in the ministry. There is a difference between the two, and we must know how to discern it so the ministry is not destroyed.

Some of the things that will help your dance ministry bear fruit is determined by several factors:

Is It The Right Season?

Many churches want dance ministries just because it is popular to have one. These same facilities may have no room for dancers to go forth because of extremely limited spacing, immobile (or sacred) church furniture, low ceilings, insufficient sound systems, narrow aisles, and more. In these instances, it may be difficult for even the solo dance minister to move with ease. When we are planting, the ground must be able to accommodate the size of the tree that will produce the fruit. If not, the ground will be damaged or the fruit will be unable to grow. If we are not using wisdom and moving in the timing of the Lord, our harvest will be compromised.

Are We Cultivating an Atmosphere that is Ripe for Growth?
I cannot tell you how many dance ministries balk at the idea of frequent Bible study! My heart is heavy every time people reject the Word and choose "work" over "worship." I can gladly say that these same ministries often sing a different tune after the revelation of the Scriptures helps them to stay rooted in Christ. Each and every dancer should be able to pray, understand the Word as it relates to dance, and understand his or her function in the ministry of movement in addition to what the church or group is assigned to do in their area.

What Are We Planting and What Fruit Do We Expect?

A lack of understanding breeds destruction and infects the fruit of the ministry. If dancers come just to participate in an activity, the seed has no root. When the leaders do not recognize "weedy" behavior, it will attempt to choke the life out of the ministry. When there are arguments, lack of humility, envy, superiority, faithlessness, immaturity, and sabotage, there is evidence of disease. This can be treated with prayer, care, and Scripture-based confrontation and resolution. If we reason together, we can agree so that we can continue to minister as one.

Is the Fruit Lingering Too Long?

We must be able to move when God moves. Fruit that sits around for too long eventually stinks. People should be fed with the Word that we bring forth from our ministries. If we hoard the produce within the four walls of our churches, we can become rotten. Many churches even forbid their dance ministries from extending beyond the local church. At other times, we are happy for the current harvest and fail to realize that old fruit will become unhealthy for our bodies after a period of time. Who wants to feed off of spoiled fruit? Many of us have been doing dances out of season, holding on to relationships out of season, and failing to fortify ourselves to endure for several seasons. We must continually stay in a place where the fruit is growing, being shared, and continually being reproduced.

Where Do I Find Fruit?

The Bible is our instructional manual! When people want fresh fruit, they often visit the produce section of a local store to make the selection. If we are looking to the wrong sources (approval of others, celebrity status, wrong motives) we will not find what we are looking for. Each of us needs a personal relationship with God. If we dance in a group, leaders should be anointed for the work and reproduce Christ in others (not make clones of themselves). Clean hands will allow us to handle fruit in a healthy fashion. If anyone is is a place where growth does not seem to be happening, be encouraged. The Holy Spirit will leads us to a productive land. We should be known to bear good fruit that remains.

New King James Bible Version

Psalm 1:3
He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.

Matthew 7:20
Therefore by their fruits you will know them.

John 15:5

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.

John 15:16
You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.

Colossians 1:10

That you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God

Friday, April 23, 2010

A Running Start

Gaining ground ahead of time will help us to remain stable in the long run. There are some dancers who wrestle with getting everything "perfect" before they make a move forward. Humans are imperfect, but the Lord is perfect. When we allow Him to lead and guide us, His will can manifest in our lives. Stepping out on faith means that we may only have one Word from the Lord, but that one word should be enough to get us moving.

Preparation in advance will sustain us over the journey. Waiting to read the Word of God until we are in a bind or failing to give ourselves sufficient time to dedicate to prayer and worship will become evident as we minister. On the natural side of things, training, reading, research, and linking with experienced people will allow the dance ministry to operate realistically and wisely. We do not have to wait to begin a work until we have all of the elements in place, but counting the cost beforehand will let us know what it takes to complete the work.

As a personal testimony, the Lord told me to start a dance company in Las Vegas several years ago. He instructed me to prepare in advance before making a call for dancers. I got on my face and prayed for 4 years, asking Him to send the dancers for the company. I wrote down the vision and wrote class descriptions. Then I waited for His signal to go forth. You could say that I was in position at the starting line. In the meanwhile, He opened doors for me to minister solo throughout Las Vegas, meeting many dancers and connecting with the community and pastors. He then let me know that it was time to start the company. I stepped out on faith and secured a dance studio, spread the word, and the dancers showed up! One year later, Reign Dance Company is over 25 strong and growing. GOD IS FAITHFUL!

Preparation starts long before we show up for the race. We can get a running start by: Reading the Word of God (not for dance specifically, but to be able to know His voice. Knowing the Word will also greatly aid in Divine choreography), writing the vision God gives, praying faithfully, taking dance classes, researching other dance ministries, reading dance ministry books, attending conferences and workshops, obtaining proper garment resources, and staying open to the Lord's instruction- just to name a few. Though we may not have all of these elements in place at the same time, when we prepare to obey in advance, we will gain ground that will allow us to endure even in difficult seasons. How we run this race matters. Let's make sure to have what we need to obtain the prize.

New King James Bible Version

2 Samuel 22:30
For by thee I have run through a troop: by my God have I leaped over a wall.

Psalm 119:32
I will run the way of thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart.

Habakkuk 2:2
And the LORD answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it.

1 Corinthians 9:24
Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.

Philippians 2:16
Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

My Sole Has Been Anchored

The ministry of movement seems to be under constant assault. Church politics, ministry infighting, lack of understanding, impure motives, vainglory, competition, pride, and more seem to plague dancers non-stop. All we have to do is remember David. When he danced, he was criticized by his own wife (Michal). When the women sang and danced about David's victories, King Saul became jealous of him from that day on to the point that he sought David's life. Criticism and envy come with the territory. We must know how to respond so that we are not shaken when the attacks surface.

If our feet are not stable, we are likely to fall. The impact can result in little injury or even cause breakage. Remaining firmly planted in the Word of God will allow us to "keep our feet" when the shifting comes. Dance ministries who are not applying the Word of God on a regular basis will find themselves on a slippery slope. Ministers of movement who seek the positions of others or look for approval from people will discover that the same people who kiss them on the cheek may later betray them.

None of these things will move us when we are aware of our God-given assignments and keep His promises to us in front of our faces. We should not be surprised at the opposition we face, and neither should we take these things personally. When we decide to follow Christ, we should also be aware that suffering comes with this walk.

The key to standing firm is prayer, study, and clear direction from the Lord. Even when we are facing what seem to be impossible circumstances, we must proclaim that we will continue to stand even after having done all. When we have securely placed ourselves on the True Foundation, we have found an anchor for our soles that cannot be severed.

New King James Bible Version

Jeremiah 17:8
For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, Which spreads out its roots by the river, And will not fear when heat comes; But its leaf will be green, And will not be anxious in the year of drought, Nor will cease from yielding fruit.

Luke 6:48
He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock.

Acts 20:24
But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Working Relationship

Busy schedules... A myriad of activities... Managing calendars/dancers/events.... Organizing... Projecting... Planning... A few minutes here, a few hours there, then days... weeks... months! Before we know it, we may find out that we only have a "working relationship" with God. Some of us are so busy doing what we call "kingdom business" that we end up re-enacting the Mary and Martha scenario in Luke Chapter 10. Many of us have become so immersed in doing the work that we neglect to worship the One Who makes it all possible.

When Jesus visited Mary and Martha, it is noted that Martha was distracted through much serving. How many times do we neglect to spend time in prayer because we have lengthy dance rehearsals? Are we so exhausted after dancing all weekend that we cannot seem to find the time to read the Bible frequently? Do we only worship when we are before people and neglect to offer the Lord the fruit of our lips privately? If so, we merely have a "professional relationship" with the Lord that does not extend beyond the workplace (the church building or event location).

It is wonderful to do things for the sake of the Kingdom. When we find ourselves making our assignments a priority over true fellowship with our Father, we will begin to be unable to hear from Him clearly, feel exhausted, become negligent, and fall into disobedience. It is time to repent from being ministry "workaholics" and return to our proper posture before God: WORSHIP!

New King James Version

Luke 10:38-41
Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.” And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”

Galatians 2:16
Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.

Titus 3:5
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Let God Do It!

Many times, we are so anxious to serve that we may fall into the trap of inviting ourselves to take a place not designated for us. The timing of the Lord is perfect! When we strive for name placement, platforms, and invitations, we are, in effect, trying to make room for our gift instead of letting our gift make room for us. When the Lord opens a door, no man can shut it!

This is not to say that we do not put forth effort to be excellent. There is nothing wrong with being prepared when a door opens. Websites, business cards, social networking pages, and up-to-date contact information are helpful when people want to contact us for an invite. Studying the Word and taking classes will pay off at the appointed time. While the networking world may urge us to hook up with as many "friends" as possible and promote our ministries like a marketing firm, many of these practices do not line up with Scripture. We must allow ourselves to be led of the Lord.

I can only testify to what the Lord has done for me. It is somewhat disturbing to receive dance ministry resumes, unsolicited requests to teach or minister, or see message boards and social networking sites flooded with "BOOK ME" "INVITE ME" "CONTACT ME" messages from ministries. Let me encourage someone by saying that I am amazed at the doors God has opened for me and His way of promotion. I have chosen not to pay for a platform to "minister" at conventions or special events. The Lord has not instructed me to search for every potential connection in cyberspace to let them know that I am available for ministry. I do not maintain connections with people on the basis of what they can do for me. I am constantly examining my own motives to make sure that I am not looking at new dance ministry contacts as potential conference invitations. So far, the Lord is doing a fantastic job!

This is not in reference to missions work or evangelism. I am addressing the platform mentality that so many seek: Comfortable accommodations, luxury travel, pictures on brochures and advertisements, name recognition, large honorariums, reserved seating, keynote distinctions... shall I continue? When the Lord allows us to be requested and celebrated by His doing, we are more likely to honor Him. If we feel as though our labor entitles us to reap these benefits, we honor and glorify ourselves.

I am writing this to encourage those who labor for the Kingdom that we do not have to force our way into any door. When we are faithful to His work, He will amaze us with His perfect plan. I have said it before, but it bears repeating: "The door that you open, you will have to keep open through your own efforts. The doors that the Lord opens requires no added assistance on our part." Let God do it!

New King James Version

Psalm 118:23
"This is the LORD's doing; it is marvellous in our eyes."

Matthew 20:16
"So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen."

Romans 10:2-3
"For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God."

Philippians 2:3
"Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself."