Wednesday, November 30, 2016

TEARS FOR CHRISTMAS



As many spent countless hours and dollars prepping for the holidays with great excitement and joy, there are also many who dread the reality of another Christmas almost here. For many, the seasons is a time to max out their credit cards, give their kids everything they want, and do what it takes to have a wonderful day. To others, well, Christmas is a simple and loving day to spend with family and friends through dinner, maybe going to church, or staying home in pajamas with some hot chocolate and some good old fashion movies. Just as so many celebrate with spending, drinking, dancing or just hugs and kisses, there are also many folks who experience great loneliness and sadness as their thoughts and their memories give way to depressive moments where they even end of hating the holidays and wishing for death.

I can remember times in my life where we didn't have much of anything, nothing for gifts and even a meal seemed a miracle away. Many people don't want to deal with their past hurts or present pain. Families have just gone through the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, or a difficult situation. I know what it's like to be without work during the holidays. I know what it's like to feel helpless when I've allowed myself to focus on my problems and not on God's promises for me. Regardless if it is Christmas, Easter, or Halloween, God's Word is alive and effective to reach down into your pain, when you feel alone and even angry, and God can and will do a great work in your life if you run to the Lord in the midst of your anguish.




Tears. We all cry. Joy or sadness makes way for tears to flow. I hope your tears represent joy. But, if they don't, I pray that your tears will bring you to a place where you can surrender every part of your life to the One who is the main character in the Christmas story. I pray that your heart will open up to receive the love that was poured out from heaven and still today, even now, is poured out like soft snow, and refreshing rain into your hurts and broken life. I pray that you will find the path that leads your tears into the Presence of the Lord, the One who wipes all tears and heals you.

Maybe you just don't care much about Christmas this year. I can share that last year I didn't even have a living room space to sit in and have Christmas dinner. My finances were at a thinning point and well, so much was going wrong. But, I placed it all in God's hands and never stop placing my tears at the feet of Jesus. 


This weekend, my kids decorated our Christmas tree. We're decorating our small farm house. To many it's not a big deal, but to me, our new home is a blessing. It's been super difficult with the traveling, getting sick a lot and so many issues that have come our way since we moved. But, I also count this Christmas a new beginning in our home. God has blessed us with being closer to my family, especially my parents. My children have a living space we didn't have before. And, the Lord has restored us by giving us a home church where we've been able to be transparent and share our broken lives, our hurts and our imperfections. We've been embraced and taken in as if we have always belonged. 



Problems may never end and you and I will experience let down and heartaches. There will be times to hold back tears and other times to let them flow. And, if they are present during Christmas or any time in your life, I pray in Jesus' name that you will abandon your heart to God's care and allow Him to show you that everyday is worth living and worth trusting in His love and in His care. God is for you, not against you. He has a wonderful plan for your life, so please don't give up. Hold on to Him. This too shall pass. I am a living witness that the storms don't stay forever. God still speaks to the storms and commands them to stop. I pray for God's peace to visit your heart today and embrace you in a special way the very same way I pray each day that Holy Spirit cares for my family and watches over my children, my parents and my family. God is good. He is able to do great things in our lives.




Tears for Christmas? I pray they turn into tears of joy. God wants to fill your life with gladness. Put on some music and dance away. Worship the Lord and bless Him. You will see how He will turn your sadness into dancing and your tears will wiped away.

Written by Angeline M Duran Santiago

DANCE FOR THE LORD!



  



I find myself at a loss for words. Searching online to see where Praise and Worship Dance is going has left me sad and frustrated. There are hundreds upon hundreds of videos and instructional/performance visuals as well as sites that want to teach or express what Praise Dance is all about. I am left wanting, empty and wishing for a platform where I could share words that would challenge many of the things I've witnessed these past few days.

I've seen it all, from lyrical dances with young girls flipping and showing their unmentionables, to exotic dancers on the altar. I've seen groups performing to a song that is talking about the Lord with not even one movement created to direct the person watching the dance to the Lord. Sitting here I've stopped watching them as the first seconds started. Over and over, disappointment filled me as I looked for those who have taken what so many of us, years ago, pushed through in order to get it accepted and allowed in the church.

What then is Praise and Worship Dance? What is acceptable and what isn't? Can all music be used as well as any style of dance? What labels me any authority on the subject and what qualifies me to have any say on what is right or wrong? 


Where the Spirit of The Lord is, there is freedom.:

In my experience, Praise and Worship Dance is one more tool in your ministry bag that can be used to reach the multitudes for the Lord. Just as a pastor, an evangelist,a minister and mouthpiece of God's Word carefully prays and seeks the Spirit of God to guide the message, the words to be shared and even the scripture to be used to minister, so the dancer- a vessel of the Lord, using not their voice but their entire being to bring forth a Word for the soul that needs restoration, healing and to experience God's joy! The dancer for the Lord prays and seeks to represent God and His will, not their own talent (although there is truly a great diverse of gifted and anointed dancers out there). The one who moves to music under God's anointing is mindful that they can be used to minister to those who are watching.  The dance is a moment of intercession, fighting on behalf of a group, or a declaration of faith, a moment of rejoicing and jubilation. All is done remembering that "In Him we live and move and have our being."

I strongly believe that although I've seen great dances to many kinds of music, I personally would not use any kind of music that is so worldly that my focus is not the Lord and that the persons watching me would be lost in interpretation of what I am doing or who I am doing it for. Music should be carefully chosen as well as the lyrics. Our message as dancers are to lead others to know that Christ is risen in us and we have a reason to use our bodies for something heavenly and pure. Many young people have taken the whole dance concept of dancing in church and put together performances that are, in my opinion, confusing. 

 ❥ Let me be a reflection of You, Lord:

There is so much of what the world teaches us to feel in dance, that the message is no longer the cross or God's love. The eyes are taken to the exotic movements, the body moves in an inappropriate manner, and we are lost trying to imitate the world. Of course, when we're learning, we will make mistakes, but we need to be careful with everything we do. How we dress can be a big distraction as well. So, see the music, the lyrics and each movement dancers are putting together as their sermon. What is the message you want to bring out? What do you want people to receive when they see you? Do they see you or do they see God in you and through you? Do they want to join you when you're dancing and celebrating?

Am I an expert? Nope. There is nothing in me, except God's mercy to use an old street dancer, an old wanna be dancer, who loved to dance and found her joy through expressing herself in the movement and in the music. I am the biggest pretender because my training comes from just sitting with music and letting the words give me the expression, the movement and the message. I am the least among so many trained and authorized to teach. But, I also know what it is like to be inspired by the Lord to create. I know what it's like to feel God's presence when I pray and move to music that is bringing forth healing and a message of deliverance. I may not have a degree in dance, but I have experienced deliverance, God's peace and God's love in my life when I've been broken, hurting, and needed Him.

 Dios usame!:

I know what it's like to share a desire to use
 the arts in church and be told you're in sin. I know what it's like to begin to follow your heart for the Lord and have doors close because you're told that you're in the flesh, working for the devil and a bad example to the youth. I know what it's like to sense the Lord telling me, "Dance!" and not be able to just get up and worship Him. I know what it's like to pray and see the Lord move in the lives of people as I've danced and visa versa. 

This is why I am broken when I see churches allow whatever goes and flows on their altars. Where is the prayer and the lives seeking the Lord of the dance? Where is the focus on God's Kingdom and not on us? Where is the protection for these young girls who are dancing and no one tells them to dress properly? The church is full of people who need Jesus. Why would we think we don't need to cover and protect our dancers? Is everyone holy and sanctified in the pews? Then, let us pray even for holy garments regardless is you wear professional or handmade garments, or jeans and a hoodie to dance, let all we do and wear represent the Lord and his glory in our lives.

As I sit here, I am most aware that in a few days I am responsible for sharing God's message through the dance. It is a message I must prepare, a word of hope for someone that will come hungry for the Lord or maybe someone who just needs to be filled with the Lord's love. I pray that as many dancer get ready to minister for the holidays in their congregations that they remember, we are bringing forth a message straight from God's heart to the world. Let us pray and pray until we are sure we have the right song. Seek the Lord over what you should or should not wear. It makes a difference. Pray for the Lord to guide you in all you do. We don't need to imitate anyone. If you can take dance lessons or be part of a class, that's awesome! I also know and have experienced the Lord give me what I need.

I pray you will take my advice to heart and surrender your heart, your body and your talents to the Lord. Let Holy Spirit flow in you and through you.

Lord, guide your dancers, your ministers of music and dance this holiday season. Let the altars be filled with anointed movement and lives that are surrendered to you. Lord, I pray for your presence to fill those groups that will dance for you. I pray that you will open their eyes to see what being a minister of dance is all about. I pray that people would not be carried away with flags, streamers and all the pretty stuff, but that they would wisely use items for pageantry. I pray that you would raise dancers that would boldly move, fearlessly taking back what you created in us, and showing that dance is part of your design as well. Let us dance as David danced. Give us victory and bless every dancer, in Jesus name. Amen.

Written By Angeline M Duran Santiago
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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

A PLACE CALLED, "STRENGTH"






Written by Angeline M Duran Santiago

There's a place along the road side where many stop to rest. Too many often focus on their tiredness, the weariness of their soul, and the condition of their lungs gasping for a moment of air. They get there after running a great distance and physically being forced to stop by the way side for a break. Others, well, they get there through their life's journey. The hard times just seem to carry them away and before long, they too come to this place where it all stops and now they wait.

It's in this place that I stop to tell you that it is not a place for giving up or slowing down. Allowing your feet to bring you to this stop in the road doesn't mean you've failed or have lost faith. I like to imagine that this place where so many of us come for a break is a place called, "Strength". It is a place where we have no choice but to surrender completely and trust God through our situations. It's when no one but God, or only a chosen few know our pain, our struggles, our battles and our secrets. This place called Strength is a place where many of us come to but we don't know how to embrace the arms that wait to hold us while we cry.



God is our strength, our refuge and our help, a help in this present moment, no matter what you and I are going through. We listen to preaching after preaching, read the Word and even pray, but it is when we completely stop running, going our own way and stop going through the motions of what it looks like to be a true Christian or child of God, that we can be quiet enough- in our tired state- to listen, to breathe His presence deep into ours, and find what we need.

I recognize that I need the Lord. I need Him every moment. Even when I think that because I've made a decision to live for Christ that I'm ok in my current state, I need to come closer to God, and closer, and draw nearer to Him. I can't live life without the Lord! I can't be a mother to my kids and I can't even comfort my children without God's love, true love deep inside my heart. I can't be a good friend or a good administrator if I don't recognize that I need to find ways to allow life's journey to lead me to the Lord. 

God is leading us to a place called Strength. He is present to fill us if we will acknowledge our need for Him. If we allow all the other voices to lose their volume and concentrate on Holy Spirit to pour into our lives then we will hear Him say, "I am with you. I will strengthen you. I will bless you. I am present to heal you and restore you."



Lord. Lead my feet to your presence. In You alone I find my peace, my refuge, and my hope. You give me courage to hold on and push forward when my body wants to give up. You give me strength to walk a little farther when my muscles cry out for pause. You dare me to believe and stand upon your promises when my mind challenges me to focus on what is going wrong around me and not keep my eyes on Your Glory.

A place called Strength. I pray you get there and sit with the Lord for a while. You will never be the same. It is where I get encouraged, renewed and so many ideas for things to come. It is where I receive life giving water and the ability to walk in His Love.

Be blessed in Jesus Name. Today and always. Love you all.


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