Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Going Through the Motions

Even though I have experienced people "borrowing" God-breathed dances many times, I am still not over the fact that praise dancers feel as though it is acceptable to blatantly copy one another. God is THE Creator. We are made in His image and likeness, which means that we each have creative ability within us. When we do not allow the likeness of God to operate in us, we have a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof.

Simply doing what others have done does not make us effective. Jesus said that we would do greater works than He did. There are pre-qualifiers for proficiency in certain areas of ministry. For example, Simon the Sorcerer became a believer, but thought that he could offer money to operate in the power of the Holy Spirit as witnessed through the apostles. Purchasing prophetic flags, props, an ark of the covenant, streamers, billows, tambourines, and garments does not endow us with the power of the Holy Ghost.

Desiring to get the results of others through dances that we have seen and embrace as our own can also be dangerous, especially when doing it under false pretenses. The Sons of Sceva saw the power with which Paul operated and decided that if Paul could do it, so could they. "Going through the motions" without seeking the Lord can be detrimental to our lives and ministries. The Scripture notes that unusual miracles were worked by God at the hands of Paul. How many dancers see unusual manifestations of the Spirit and then decide to mimic what they saw in an attempt to reproduce the effect? Lord, have mercy! Let us not operate outside of the assignment that the Lord has given us.

Many would argue that the dance is not ours. Several will say that as long as God is glorifed, it should not matter if we copy dances from YouTube, Facebook, or those we see in person. The same people will argue that movement is a ministry. If dance is not merely an activity, but a viable way to minister the Word of God, then the same principles of ministry apply to us as well. We cannot make up special rules and exceptions to justify those who are not willing to consult with the Lord. Though we cannot judge the intents of the hearts of men, the truth is that good intentions can never replace God's intention.

(New King James Version)

Acts 8:18-23
And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, “Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” But Peter said to him, “Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money! You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity.”

Acts 19:11-17
Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them. Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists took it upon themselves to call the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “We exorcise you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches.” Also there were seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, who did so. And the evil spirit answered and said, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?” Then the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, overpowered them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. This became known both to all Jews and Greeks dwelling in Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Unfollow the Leader

We have to be careful when we make decisions based on what looks popular. A current social networking site encourages us to "follow" and have "followers." What are the underlying implications of this in life and ministry?

In the ministry of movement, many of our woes are a result of people following what they see, instead of asking the Lord what to do. Garment controversy is largely related to the "follower" mindset ("Every one else is wearing it..."). Predictable movements are birthed out of a "watch and repeat" mentality (many similar movements seen among praise dancers for "heart," "love," "Jesus," "time," etc...). Countless people join organizations, ministries and churches based on where the crowd may be gathering. We cannot be led by outward appearances.

We must be especially careful when we join ourselves to certain leaders. The decision to connect or walk in covenant agreement with someone else can result in a blessing or utter destruction. Deciding to submit to a leader based on peer pressure ("I'm doing it, and so should you!"), perceived benefits ("Get your ministry license/ordination..." "Special doors will be unlocked for you..."), or popularity ("My leader is a published author..." "Our conferences are the largest...," "My mentor is on television...") can result in disaster if we are not following the Holy Spirit.

Sometimes, we decide to hook up with leadership without realizing that our choice is based on personal gain. Many dance ministers may feel as though aligning with a particular leader may give them more credibility, provide bigger platforms, and give access to a larger network of dancers to build associates. While this can actually be a byproduct of great relationships, entering into fellowship with people based on selfish motives reveals the true condition of our hearts.

Let us decide to follow God. Relationships that God joins together produce fruit and bring glory to His name. Praying and seeking the Lord for discernment will allow us to see who to join and who to avoid. It is indeed better to obey God rather than men.

(New King James Bible Version)

2 Chronicles 20:35-37
After this Jehoshaphat king of Judah allied himself with Ahaziah king of Israel, who acted very wickedly. And he allied himself with him to make ships to go to Tarshish, and they made the ships in Ezion Geber. But Eliezer the son of Dodavah of Mareshah prophesied against Jehoshaphat, saying, “Because you have allied yourself with Ahaziah, the LORD has destroyed your works.” Then the ships were wrecked, so that they were not able to go to Tarshish.

Acts 5:36-39
For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody. A number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was slain, and all who obeyed him were scattered and came to nothing. After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census, and drew away many people after him. He also perished, and all who obeyed him were dispersed. And now I say to you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing; but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it—lest you even be found to fight against God.

2 Peter 2:1-3

But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Who's Buying? Who's Flying?

Jesus paid the ultimate price for us to move freely in Him. In the ministry of movement, dancers who plan conferences, special events, retreats, concerts, etc., may need to fly someone in as a guest. On the other hand, going to conferences and events out of our local areas may mean that we need to make travel arrangements ourselves in order to get there. As I was preparing for an upcoming event, I realized the benefit of receiving the price paid on behalf of another.

Searching for airline tickets can be a challenge for many reasons. The following tips will help us make the process easier:

If you are purchasing a ticket for a guest, it is a good idea to consider the travel schedule. We may cause the traveler unnecessary stress by booking tickets with layovers that last several hours, do not provide enough time to transfer to a connecting flight, or involves multiple stops before reaching the final destination. If you've ever been in these situations, you may be able to identify with the need for extra prayer along the way.

Also, some travelers may need to arrive after a certain time or fly out early to honor previous commitments to work, ministry, or family. We should ask for these requests in advance and be able to collect this information in writing. When we purchase tickets early, not only will they most likely be cheaper, the best schedule will also be more practical to book.

If it is possible, we should not make our decisions simply based on what benefits our pockets the most. In the best of circumstances, direct flights are preferred. Unless the financial difference is major, blessing our guests with the least stressful journey will be appreciated and remembered.

Some airline carriers charge baggage fees, others do not. While many guests may not require us to pay for baggage fees, it's nice to not spend the price of a plane ticket getting the bags to and from the destination. When we are flying, we may decide to "travel light" based on baggage fees. I personally remember one trip where I has to pay over $100.00 in baggage fees alone because I was also vending at a conference! Unless the profit margin is phenomenal, this may not be good for business...

Praise God for rewards! Because someone else paid a price for a ticket, I have been able to reap the benefits. For example:

Free Flights: Many airlines reward frequent fliers with round-trip airfare after meeting so many miles or flight segments. In most cases, the person who earned the flight can give his or her reward to someone else! I have been able to fly for free or at a very minimal fee because someone decided to bless me with their miles or free trip ticket. I have saved LOTS of dollars not only for myself, but for ministry guests using this benefit. (Please Note: This is not the same as a "Buddy Pass" which often means that there is no guaranteed seating or schedule consideration. Let's not make things worse if we can avoid them.) Using the rewards system means a guaranteed seat and schedule.

Paid in Full
It is a blessing when someone is able to pay for a ticket to fly us to a ministry event! Even though the passenger benefits, the passenger does not necessarily have to be the one to pay for the journey. The "buyer" and the "flyer" do not have to be one and the same. The bonus is that the "buyer" does not get to claim the miles toward travel rewards, but the "flyer" does! How wonderful it is to experience the grace of God! Even though the flyer may not have had to provide the finances for the journey, it is still acceptable to earn credit for the flight.

Many times, the "price" paid for those invited to minister is a spiritual one. At the same time, we must not take advantage of the good will of others by then demanding first class seating, luxury vehicle transportation, and 5-Star accommodations. Some may have encountered less than ideal circumstances along the way that make this entitlement seem like a requirement. We must search our hearts and motives. There are people in the world who are suffering, sleep in huts, and walk by foot to every destination. We must be thankful for those who are able to provide for the laborers wages, but we must also be obedient to the assignment given to us, even if it means we must be responsible for the journey ourselves. Take flight!

(New King James Bible Version)

John 4:37
For in this the saying is true: ‘One sows and another reaps.’

1 Corinthians 9:11-12
If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things? If others are partakers of this right over you, are we not even more? Nevertheless we have not used this right, but endure all things lest we hinder the gospel of

2 Corinthians 8:18-21
And we have sent with him the brother whose praise is in the gospel throughout all the churches, and not only that, but who was also chosen by the churches to travel with us with this gift, which is administered by us to the glory of the Lord Himself and to show your ready mind, avoiding this: that anyone should blame us in this lavish gift which is administered by us— providing honorable things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

From the Floor, Up!

Too many leaders have it backwards. Instead of desiring to serve those whom the Lord sends us, many esteem the privilege of leadership to mean that we are to be served. True dance ministry leaders often work long hours planning activities, researching, reading, preparing garments, organizing props, listening to music, counseling and encouraging dancers, maintaining families, serving the congregation, and so on. This is where many of us start... but is this where we stay?

As the Lord has elevated some dance ministry leaders, the temptation to "pass the buck" and feel as though we should be honored for our labor may creep in. While delegation is a sign of good leadership, assigning tasks based on the notion that paying our dues means that we no longer have to work can lead to major problems and division within the ministry. Expecting to be honored financially or lavished with gifts can become problematic when we reward people based on what they can give us personally.

What type of blueprint did Jesus provide? He washed the feet of His disciples in the ultimate expression of what it is to lead by example. Washing the feet of others goes beyond the natural posture of humbling ourselves and must be an integral part of our character and personality as leaders. Making a regular practice of serving and spending time with those we lead will help us remain attached as a unified Body.

As we prayerfully consider those we lead, we must never fail to begin with humility. The view from the floor allows us to find something to look up to in those who follow us. It also reminds us to consider that the feet we train to move deserve to be cared for as well. We must be willing to take off our "titles" and be clothed with humility so that we may serve the people of God in an even greater capacity. If we are not willing to decrease, we do not allow the Lord to increase in our lives and ministries.

New King James Bible Version

2 Samuel 22:28
You will save the humble people; But Your eyes are on the haughty, that You may bring them down.

2 Chronicles 12:6
So the leaders of Israel and the king humbled themselves; and they said, “The LORD is righteous.”

Proverbs 29:23
A man’s pride will bring him low, but the humble in spirit will retain honor.

John 13:8

Peter said to Him, “You shall never wash my feet!” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.”

Romans 12:16

Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.