Monday, February 13, 2012
Over the years, I've heard quoted many times sayings such as, "No pain, no gain"; "to whom much is given, much is required"; and "when the going gets tough, the tough get going". Most frequently, these things are said in the light of a challenge, a hardship, a difficult task, or a particulary fierce battle. Usually, the person saying these things is NOT the person going through the trial.
To be classified as an overcomer means that an individual has arrived at t place where he or she realizes that it is only the supernatural grace and mercy of God that has kept them alive, and saved them from losing their mind! When grace and mercy are in operation in one's life, they give strength to the weak, hope to the hopeless, and resilience to the fallen. Countless numbers of us have survived through disappointment, loss of a friend, death of a family member, bankruptcy, physical spousal abuse, rape, incest, loss of a job, divorce, miscarriage, mental illness, character assasination, disease, and infirmities--We survived!
But how did we do it? We cried out to the Lord, just as the blind man in our scripture text today did, saying "Jesus! Son of David, have mercy on me!" As the story goes, this blind man just happened to be on the roadside begging when he heard all the commotion of the multitude passing by.
Someone told him the excitement was because Jesus of Nazareth was in town. The blind man could not contain himself. Apparently, he knew enough of Jesus' reputation for ministry and healing to recognize this day to be his window of divine opportunity. Even when the people tried to quiet him down, the Bible says he cried out even more saying, "Have mercy on me! Have mercy on me! This man became an Overcomer. Not because he did, in fact receive his sight through the healing power of Jesus, but because he pressed on by FAITH--believing that only Jesus could do what no one else had been able to do for him. We don't know how this man became blind--whether it was by birth, as a result of a physical accident, or a developing sickness.
Just like we may not know exactly how many of us arrived in the desperate situations we have been in; but we do know that God hears our cries! We know that in many cases, we really did not deserve to be heard because of our ungodly actions, choices, attitudes, and lifestyles.
But that's the wonderful thing about God's mercy. It is His compassionate response that moves Him to help us when we are helpless and in great need!
If we truly want to gain the joy of an Overcomer, we must refuse to give up--even when the obstacles, trials, and disappointments of life rise up right in our faces. If you're crossing over into "overcomer status" you are in good company: You, me, the blind man, and Jesus--all Overcomers! No matter what, be confident in this: No one can stop us from crying out to God for help--He alone has the power to address and minister to your deepest hurts and need for healing. Let your voice be heard!
Friday, August 26, 2011
Looking for 100+ liturgical dancers and flag technicians (male and female; young adults to adults) to participate in a major, public outdoor event on the morning of SATURDAY, OCTOBER 15TH in Los Angeles. HIGH-ENERGY, INTERMEDIATE+ LEVEL, GREAT ATTITUDE A MUST. Fantastic opportunity! Praise, Network, and Outreach to thousands in the Community!
DANCERS: PARTICIPATION SPACE IS LIMITED! Must be able to attend rehearsals in Torrance and Compton beginning Saturday, August 27th at 6PM and thereafter until day of event.
FOR MORE DETAILS, inquire within by CALLING 562-293-1700 or respond via email at email@example.com.
Clearly state NAME, TELEPHONE #, MINISTRY/CHURCH AFFILIATION, and NUMBER OF PERSONS IN GROUP.
Get Up & Dance!
Rev. Stephanie Butler Adams
Founder - Spirit of Praise Sacred Artistry International
In collaboration with Hype Studios www.hypestudios.com, Alleyne Connect, & Greater Zion Church Dance Ministry
Monday, August 22, 2011
You are the only one who can make YOU happy. Happiness is your original stage of being. It is what you were before you began to identify with your body image, race, denomination, a family role, school grades, a boyfriend/girlfriend, your age, social security number, your credit rating, your marital status, and any other label you may try to hang on to. True happiness is being FAITHFUL to your real self; the better you know yourself, the happier you will be. Many of us in the body of Christ who claim to be blessed and highly favored, the head and not the tale, and created in the image of God—secretly don’t know WHO we are. [Not our name, our title, our position, or our gross income], but I’m talking about WHO we are as it relates to our SELF-WORTH. Self-Worth is not achieved overnight. It is a continuous process which can take years to establish, but can be ruined in an instant with just one negative word.
Sometimes we FORGET who we are in the daily grind of life’s circumstances—When this happens, something strange occurs—we begin to search and SEEK OUT happiness in people, places, and things where it just cannot be found. And repeated, failed attempts to FIND happiness can leave us broken, unfulfilled, discouraged, and confused.
Realize this: Happiness is your Spiritual DNA. It is what we experience when we ACCEPT who we are, and stop trying so hard to be someone we are not. For your consideration:
Character Traits of Happy People:
1. Happy People are Friendly:
Happy people are usually friendly people and are able to serve as a friend. Make a commitment to becoming the most loving person you can possibly be! It always amazes me that people are looking for love, yet they themselves are so unlovable! LOVE is at the essence of the Happiness—We are not here on Earth only to discover happiness, but we must also extend happiness to others. Practice the art of being genuinely friendly with no strings attached.
2. Happy People Appreciate Life:
We don’t have to chase happiness, just choose it and it becomes yours. Never underestimate the Power of Choice! Having more material wealth, physical attractiveness, or spiritual aptitude will mean absolutely nothing to an individual who has already decided to be closed-minded, closed off, mean, and inwardly miserable. If you are to be FILLED with joy through the Power of the Holy Ghost, you must MAKE ROOM FOR HIM. Our inability to be FILLED means that we are ALREADY FULL. But the Question is: What are you full of? If we continue to allow our Body Temples to be packed with lust, greed, hostility, jealousy, envy, drunkenness, sexual immorality, idolatry, and all manner of sin, how can happiness co-habitate with so much filth? It can’t because there will be no room! So, what must we do? We must place a demand on the anointing. We must put the Holy Ghost TO WORK on our behalf—again, this is the Power of Choice! In other words, I’ve got to INTEND to be happy. When asked on a daily basis, “How are you doing?” I will not settle for “good”, “okay”, or “alright”—I CHOOSE TO BE HAPPY! When I make room for the Holy Spirit to be alive and active in my life, I learn how to appreciate everything around me. And appreciation bears the FRUIT that I should be FILLED with: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.(Gal. 5:22)
3. Happy People are Grateful:
Gratitude causes a shift in the balance of power! The devil plays mind games with us in that he challenges us to give up and curse God when we are going through hell. But in the midst of it all, the power of the Holy Ghost HUMBLES us even more—bringing things to our remembrance; compelling us to be grateful. Gospel recording artist Tramaine Hawkins sang in her classic hit “Be Grateful” about the fact that God did not promise sunshine always; and that when the rain does come, it comes so that we can be grateful for the good times as we are going through! When you experience pure gratitude, a shift happens in your PERCEPTION OF THINGS, PEOPLE, and CIRCUMSTANCES. God wants to teach us how to appreciate LIFE AS IT HAPPENS—not in delayed response mode. Gratitude changes your brain! And when my brain changes, I can change the world! (See Romans 12:2!) The more we practice the act of gratitude, the more we will find to be grateful for! You can never be “too grateful” or “too thankful” in the eyes of GOD—go WILD with your attitude of gratitude, and watch it completely elevate you! Grateful people GO UP!
4. Happy People are Free:
Happiness is real easy until you get your 1st major wound. Whether it comes through the death of a family member, disappointment, rejection, betrayal, divorce, sickness or heartbreak—your happiness will be challenged. But one thing I’ve observed---Happy people are quick to forgive. They forgive others, and they forgive themselves. It’s impossible to hold onto a grievance and bitterness while being TRULY happy. Why? Because holding the unforgiveness and the hard-heartedness is a reminder that we were victimized and offended. But the God of Hope who desires to FILL us with joy, would not call us VICTIMS; but rather, He Calls us OVERCOMERS! A happy person holding a grudge is a sign of mistaken identity. And, it is an active CHOICE to keep re-living the suffering! Resentment, pride, bitterness, mourning, and unforgiveness weighs me down; it keeps me tied to negative memories of past hurts. In one of her recent interviews, author Terry McMillan was asked how she was able to move on after such a public, devastating, embarrassing divorce, and write her new book titled, "Getting to Happy". She said, “I became so angry that I couldn’t see straight. I began making bad decisions based on revenge. Anger was destroying my spirit.” FORGIVENESS sets us free to move onward and upward! Forgiveness is letting go! It is the open door to divine healing and Happiness in God! LET IT GO!
5. Happy People have The Holy Spirit:
There is a difference in ‘spending time’ with God, versus ‘having communion’ with God; There is a difference between ‘believing in God’ versus ‘knowing God’. My relationship with God must be 3-Dimensional; I must know [i.e. become intimately acquainted with] God the Father, God the Son [who is seated at the Right hand of the Father daily making intercession for on my behalf]; and God the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who has the power to lead us into all truth, teach us all things, and guide us in the way we should go during our time here on Earth. Knowing the Path I should take makes it easier for me to follow the real Leader. Romans 14:17 reminds us that The Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but rather a life of happiness, peace, and joy IN THE Holy Ghost! Don’t you want to be a part of the Kingdom?
6. Happy People Have FUN!
Like it or not, you are here today, present on this Earth. Learn to enjoy the MIRACLE of being alive! Don’t take it for granted. Stop with all the controlling behavior; Stop with all the seriousness 24/7; Stop with all the super-spirituality (which is mostly pre-meditated anyway); Stop with the over-analyzing and criticism of all things great and small! Take a moment, put your ego on the shelf, don’t back-slide, but for God’s Sake, have some fun!
"Lord today, let us empty out the filth that has contaminated our spiritual DNA; help us to allow the Holy Spirit to guide us into a lifestyle of happiness. We pray the spirit of Joy to the World!"
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
The Lord is vitally concerned about our bodies. It is His will that we maintain divine health in our bodies. However, this divine health cannot have its full measure of abundance in our lives without first having the wisdom, knowledge, and understanding that we need to change the way we THINK. Personally, there have been countless times and seasons in my life that I've had to do an "extreme make-over" in my thought life, attitude, and physical appearance in order to line-up with the Path and direction God was leading me. Once I knew the Lord, and felt compelled to learn from His teachings, it became my life's goal to live out the scripture which implores Believers to "present our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God which is our reasonable service; and be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind..." (Rom. 12:1-2)
Once we have a renewed mind concerning the prosperity of our physical and spiritual bodies, we will be able to win the war against poor health habits, harm, and dysfunction to our bodies. Due to the nature of ministry (preaching/teaching/music/outreach), the minister is always positioned before the people of God. This is particularly true of the liturgical dancer. What a tremendous responsibility to uphold! For many of us, Dance is ministry...but it is also PRESENTATION. Without delving deep into the world's stereotypical profile of a dancer--i.e. petite, slim, small-breasted females; or well-toned, muscular males; I will say that I truly believe that sacred dancers who are both anointed and skilled can be highly effective in all shapes, sizes, colors, and cultures. Yet, I also believe that we must make strong efforts to uphold a standard of good health, fitness, overall emotional stability and welness.
In Genesis 1:26, God said: "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground. So, God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them and said, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth, and subdue it..."
When God says "them" He is speaking all-inclusively of the male & female 'spirit-being'. This 'spirit-being' which God named "Adam" did not truly take form and manifest until God gave him a BODY. This body, or outer garment is our Earth Suit--it is what gives us the authority to subdue, rule, and have rightful dominion in the Earth. Therefore, we must strive to be victorious in the battle to keep our bodies, souls, and spirits healthy and holy unto God. When the body and soul are not experiencing their full capacity of prosperity in the way they were created to, we are at risk to becoming unproductive, uncreative, unnecessary, and irrelevant. When an individual intentionally ceases to contribute to their God-given purpose here on Earth, they are unwittingly relinquishing their RIGHT to have dominion. And where there is no dominion, death is nearby.
Sacred Dancers: Our bodies are both our instruments and our weapons--they SPEAK and DEFEND multitudes--seen and unseen! Question: Is it time that you allow your Body Temple to speak a New Word about you and the Ministry you bring forth to God's people?
Gently stated, sacred dance is at first a visual art; yet when experienced through the holiness of God, has the power to encompass all our senses! We must stop forfeiting our dominion, credibility, and HEALTH by the active participation and over indulgence in ungodly practices of over-eating, under-eating, chemical dependencies, drug and alcohol abuse, lack of exercise and personal hygiene, sexual perversion, and negligence in the Word. Our Bodies are Speaking!
How will the Ministry go to the Nations if we are too hung-over to preach? How can the Dance be delivered with power and authority if we are too out of breathe to complete the first verse? How will our gift make room for us in the presence of Kings, Queens, Presidents, and Prime Ministers when our attire remains offensive/distracting/inappropriate upon arrival? What glory does the Lord get from that?
Remember: Our physical, emotional, and spiritual deliverance will be based upon the wise decisions we make in our obedience to God, our attitude of praise, and just plain common sense. The opportunity to serve in ministry is a call, a privilege, a JOY, and an honor---We make the choice to be in front of hundreds or thousands of people regularly, thus opening ourselves up to all manner of critique. Leaders, Our Bodies are Speaking! Do you or your ministry need to declare a new health regimine during a 21 Day Fast or Re-Dedication? Will you be willing to take an honest look at self and the needs of your people as it relates to unhealthy practices, or will you remain silent?
"Holy Father, show us your universal language of love as we advance your Kingdom agenda. Let our divine Body Language be a refreshing breeze to all who encounter us today and always."
Monday, July 25, 2011
There are seasons of consecration, but holiness is a lifestyle occuring in the true worshipper 24/7. The seed of sacred holiness is planted upon the entrance, acknowledgement, and activation of the Holy Spirit in our heart and soul. I cannot turn holiness on and off like a light switch, nor can I "prepare" myself to become holy. I must simply BE holy in daily living and loving, as God IS holy. Consecration requires a steadfast decision to stand apart from engaging in sin, evil, and wickedness.
Give your season of personal consecration a divine assignment and purpose--one which is not frivilous, materialistic, or a last ditch effort to get what you want, lest your time of communion with God be in vain. Each season should go deeper in enlightenment, prayer, and revelation of the many facets of God in order for your assignment to come forth with clarity, power, and anointing. The more we know God, the more we will know ourselves. Remember: A consecrated life is the purest, most effective form of spiritual warfare.
Enough with all the outward signs of screaming, rebuking, dancing, shouting, and speaking in tongues if you have not yet truly "possessed" (i.e. seize, gain control of) your own vessel AND acknowledging the very strong possibility that there is some "slithery-ness" that we inwardly must be delivered from.
I am learning that my ability to maintain a Consecrated Life requires:
- Periodic Silence
- Weighing my Words
- Preservation of Movement
- Holy Imagination
- Desire to Live Righteously
- Willingness to Love Passionately
- Consistency in the Scriptures
- Communion with the Holy Spirit
- Personal Wellness & Health for my Body Temple
- Cultivation of Wisdom
- Ability to Honor All things Sacred
- Balance of Service to Others vs. Self-Care
- Discernment of Time/Timing
- Understanding One's Worth to God and Humanity
Amen and Selah.
Monday, June 27, 2011
After a very busy, fruitful, and fulfiling past few months of ministry, special events/outreach to the community, and travel, I am feeling a holy tug in my consciousness to simply be still, assess, and reflect. As I ponder all that my eyes have seen, all that my mind has absorbed, and all that my ears have heard, my heart now speaks to me on behalf of the Father: Are you remaining obedient to that which I have assigned and called YOU to do? Are the dreams and visions you have spoken over and prophesied to My people those which come from Me, or those which come from your fleshly intuition? Are you still passionate about My Word, or arrogantly passive concerning its power? Has your anointing been compromised by the self-manipulation of the gift that I gave you? With Whom are you dancing, and for Whom are you dancing when you "minister" to My people? Has the applause and accolades of man stifled your ability to hear My instruction?
These and many other thoughts have come to be valuable and necessary check points that I believe must be evaluated from time to time by anyone and everyone who serves in a ministry capacity. From Apostles to Bishops; Elders to Pastors; Clergy to Laity; Missionaries to Worship Leaders; Musicians to Psalmists...our approach to Kingdom ministry shouldn't become so externally driven that we develop a "keeping up with the kardashians" mentality. Nor should it be so internally centered on the greatness that lays within us, so that the achievements and successes of others cease to phase us even a little bit. My concern for myself, and largely for the Body of Christ, is that the "wonderment" of God is being replaced by "been there, done that", thus our egos have hindered us from encountering the miracles, signs, and glorious wonders that lay right at our feet! However, I must concede that whatever shift or shake-up that may need to occur, I can only be a catalyst for the revolution that begins inside of me.
For those of us in the ministry of the Word, as well as the Sacred Arts, we must admit that often times we have attempted (and succeeded) in manipulating the atmosphere of worship to be steered in the direction that our carnal minds and bodies desire it to go in--not always that which the Holy Spirit has prompted. From the preacher who begins to "whoop", not out of style, cultural tradition, nor the anointing--but rather, lack of material, preparation, and need of an emotional response from his/her audience; Manipulation...Or the musician/organist/keyboard player who decides that the sermon has gone on long enough--time to strike that "rap it up preacher" chord so that he/she may make it to Sunday Brunch before 2pm; Manipulation...and lastly of course, the Liturgical Dance Minister who even after 15 years in ministry still can't seem to make it through an entire piece without the claim that "the Holy Ghost just took over" and proceed to weep, wail, and gnash their teeth...Really? Still? How about your responsibility to completely deliver the prophetic movement message in its entirety to a people who needed a Word (through dance) from the Lord?
Healthy self-esteem is wonderful; let us who are servants of God not go over board! The key to an honest, accurate, assessment of who we are is knowing the basis of our self-worth: that is, our identity as a child of the Most High God. Apart from Him, if we allow ourselves to be judged by worldly standards we may have a measure of earthly success; the danger comes when we begin to think of our worth in the eyes of others, thus missing our true value in God. You and I are more than our gift, our talent, and our skill! Besides, none of that will matter when we are standing before Him on Judgement Day after living a life void of integrity and eternally bankrupt.
Open our eyes, oh God. Amen and Selah.
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Who are you really? When you're alone and nobody is there to observe, criticize, analyze, admire, or serve you? How do you really worship God? You know, when you are not at church, in the choir, in the pulpit, or ministering in dance on someones platform. When the spotlight is not on you, and you are simply at home with you--who are you really?
Our lifestyles represent our values, morals, and beliefs. For the professed Believer, these things should line up with how we govern ourselves, and the Word of God. But, beloved--how can we strive to live "above reproach" with God and humanity when we are caught in the web of living a double life? Ministers and ministry leaders: do you not know maintaining a double lifestyle will eventually cut, diminish, and destroy the flow of blessings and the anointing in your life? Try to deny it and justify it if you'd like--deep in our souls, we know when the glory has departed!
Double lifestyles are plaguing the Church Universal. With the advent of Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, Youtube, texting, "sexting", IPhones, IMs, and more, we are able to create on-line personalities which sometimes, are completely contrary to the real us. Blatant disrespect, promiscuity, adultery, immorality, bullying, and mean-spiritedness is practiced openly--in and out of the church. Pastors, Elders, and ministry Leaders attempt to preach righteousness on Sunday morning while secretly engaging in physical, sexual, and emotional abuse behind close doors. Conferences and meetings have been used as private rendevous opportunities for brothers on the down-low, and sisters wanting to be seen AND heard...at last. But, is this a secret?
The 5-fold ministry gifts are being perverted, watered-down, and hi-jacked by men and women seeking elevation through self-imposed titles; who travel the world producing charismatic worship productions, disguised as revelation knowledge and authentic ministry. Even some professed Christian organizations publicly endorse unity in the Body, while continuing to perpetuate subtle discrimination, supremacy, and racism.
When one's ministry appears to be thriving worldwide while their marriage is falling apart, it may be time to take a look at why I do what I do. If my call to minister to the nations REGULARLY supercedes my covenant to minister to my family (which God also gave me), I may just be out of balance. Today, God has placed the ministry of the Gospel, and the ministry of dance in the global arena--the World is watching; i.e. the secular world and the nations of the world. Success, prosperity, advancement, and position are all great--but only when it comes from living a life of integrity, peace of mind, joy, and transparency.
If we continue to present the facade of holiness and purity in public, while our true lifestyles are an abomination to God, there will be no true levitical remnant with clean hands and a pure heart left to carry the glorious legacy of Sacred Artistry and ministry into the next generation. As you begin to line-up your will with the Father's will, supernatural grace and courage will be upon you.
Let this be our Year of Exposure. Look deeply and shamelessly into your spiritual mirror, remembering that people with nothing to hide, hide nothing.
Amen and Selah.