Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Thou Shalt Not Murder and Manslaughter

In my last post I mentioned the commandment  “thou shalt not kill“.  I explained that one of the 10 Commandments Exodus 20:13 is often misinterpreted. There is a definite difference between murdering a person in cold blood and accidental death.  This is an odd subject since I only wish to discuss self defense and not murder. But I feel led to post this as well. There are times when God gives life and takes it away (Job 1:21 read in context).  This is expected since all life comes from him.  But we see a definite pattern in the Bible where governments are given power to take life to restrain lawlessness, and it is not marked as a sin (Noah in Genesis 9:5; Romans 13:1-7 )  ( Luke “Fear not him that can kill the body)  Even in certain circumstances a person secure in their home can defend and kill an intruder (See Exodus 22:2)

Later Moses explained murder and manslaughter in Numbers 35:16-24
Jesus explained in Matthew 19:18 with “Thou shalt do no murder”  (also see Proverbs 1:10-19)  The time and place for any pugilistic action against another is limited, but in our sinful and sometimes chaotic world a necessity.

I spent quite a bit of time looking at web and blog sites to gather more information, to include what I have at my disposal. I do realize that a person set in their own opinions is not easily swayed, but isn’t the right to be secure and free from harm by protecting ones self a basic right and desire?

Secondly, if force is not matched with force, isn’t a person who commits a vile act more likely to do it again?

What do you think?  Let me know.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Thou Shalt not kill

There was once a Sunday school teacher that was teaching a Bible lesson to her class.  Upon finishing she asked if there was a bible verse that taught how family members should treat each other.  One child raised his hand and answered “thou shalt not kill”.

At face value this seems to be a very easy answer on killing, but quite another on how we should talk to and treat our brothers and sisters.  The fact of the matter is that many people truly do not know the proper meanings of scriptures.  No, I do not claim to have some “exclusive apostolic prophetic” meanings.  I only mean that if we compare scripture with scripture in it’s context and dispensation we will see various scriptures that agree with a certain direction.  That is basically how the central doctrines of the Bible came to be!

My point today to tell you a story about a family member . . . For the purposes of this blog we will refer to them as “Fred”.  Consider these points:

  • Is it wrong to fight back?

  • How hard do you hit?

Is it wrong to fight back?

Fred is in an abusive relationship and is uncomfortable with fighting back, for fear of the consequences that would follow.  He is able to fight, but has no desire.  By the way this is a verbal confrontation not a physical one. 
 It seemed to me that this is a conundrum that is faced by Christian and martial artist alike.  The famous general Sun Tzu said that to win a fight without fighting was a greater victory.  Another old adage in Karate is “There is no first strike (initiative) in Karate”
The problem with fighting is knowing when to fight and when not.  In Fred’s case he is too nice and the time has come, in my opinion, to fight.
Normally I do not get involved in such things, but I had to speak my peace, because it strung a deep chord within myself about how people can be manipulative and controlling over another person.  It usually starts with minor control, then escalates.  This is the case with Fred.  As I understand it, he has been controlled for quite some time.  My (listened to but perhaps not wanted) advice was, if you want peace, you must strike back with one good hit to the “chops” and the other person will back off.  A bully is a bully because someone facilitates him/her.

How hard do you hit?

When we look at scripture we see two verses in Proverbs that agree with this:

  • Ecclesiastes 3:1
  • Proverbs 26:4-5

There is a time and place for everything, even to rebuke a fool!
A definite stopping action to a bully will usually cause the bully to back off.  Just because were grown ups doesn’t mean that people cannot be bullies!

It also means that even adults need to be ready to respond back to stop it as well.

What do you think?

Friday, August 24, 2012

Thoughts on Humility

I have always considered myself as a white belt at heart, or : a white belt with a resume.

In the martial arts, we train for confidence and competence.  We should also train to instill virtues such as self confidence, respect and humility.  Humility is one of those oft misunderstood words. The vision that most people think of is a person who is used as a doormat. The true person really has a quiet confidence which is unassuming and unpretentious.

Charles Spurgeon once said “Light houses do not sound cannons and ring bells to announce their presence; they only shine.”
 My Daughter Hannah helped me with this picture

So, what does the idea of a white belt with a resume mean?
In short, we are all learning. Some days you can learn more from white belts than anyone else!  The day we stop learning should be the day that they throw dirt in our faces . . .  And put us 6 feet under! Until that time, we should be learning.  If we are not learning, or not willing to learn, the problem may be one of two things:

  •     We forget how to learn

  •     We let our pride interfere


We forget how to learn

A term that is used in many genres of training is “they hit a plateau”
It ‘s sort of like that with learning.  I was once told that in the old days of karate there were two belts: white and black.  A person’s belt became dirty with training.  Traditionally, the belt was never washed and the more training one did, the dirtier the belt became until the day came that they were a master (black belt).  The belt has many layers and eventually the  outer black layer became tattered and wore away revealing another flesh white layer. Therefore; learning continues.

Somewhere in the mix people think they have “arrived”. A great accomplishment or some goal may give that appearance, and we are tempted to rest on our laurels. Another danger of success is forgetting what got us there.  I deal with adult students every day that have not warmed a desk seat in years, and the must re-learn how to learn.  It takes a great deal of maturity to swallow your pride, admit that you don’t know something and memorize, adapt and practice a new skill.  I truly love seeing adults get that look on their face when they learn something and it enlightens them.  It’s like seeing school boys with bright happy eyes (only sometimes with a lost more vulgarity- hey I work in adult education… I never said they were the salt of the earth!)

Sometimes we must think in pictures, or pretend and rehearse a fact or task. Other times we must put the new material into a term or illustration that is familiar to us. I often use the chocolate chip cookie recipe to explain metallurgy,

We let our pride interfere

In my work out bag, I keep a white belt cased in a food saver bag.  I did this because of a story Kyoshi Wilcox shared with me:

“When I was in the Navy I trained in a lot of schools…. I carried two belts with me white and black…… I may be a black belt in my home school but in his school I am a white belt.”

There is a great lesson in humility here.
Look at the parable Jesus shared in Luke 14:8-11?

The point of the parable was not to put oneself in an elevated position and later be humbled, but to give place to others, and later be exalted.
The journey of self discovery means constantly working on ones self, whether it  be in church or the dojo.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Humility and the Martial way

One thing I noticed when I studied Tae Kwon Do was the black belts.  I admired they’d “made it”.  When I asked, they would almost say the exact opposite: “No, I haven’t made it, I’m just beginning to learn”

Is this some type of Zen stuff!?  you are a Black Belt!!

Today let me share three things I have found:

  • We are on a journey
  • It’s not a sin to be ignorant, but should be one to remain
  • We are life-long learners

Christianity is not a destination it is a journey!

Lo and behold, years later I FINALLY understood what they meant!  Earning a black belt is no easy task.  Then you realize that black belt is not a destination, it is only one stop on a JOURNEY!
After my first stop, I understand that we never stop learning; even more so when you go to 1st Dan or higher!
Shouldn’t it be this way in every part of life?  As a Christian I realize that it takes only a moment to become a Christian with the prayer of salvation (Accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior)  but it takes an entire life to become a saint!

I had the opportunity to attend a karate seminar with my teacher Kyoshi Wilcox. The attendees were good old Okinawan Kenpo people.  I met instructors I had heard about and participated in the weapons seminar.

This is when I had to practice what I preach.

It's not a sin to be ignorant (but should be one to remain)

I love the way of the empty hand, but it is necessary to also know the traditional weapons.  This is an area that I know that I am deficient with.  Just as I said earlier in Opportunities, this is a chance to learn and behave as I have been taught.  There I was with lower ranking belts, (sometimes we can learn more from beginners than intermediate levels.  Think: basics are that important!) 
I am a black belt, I should know Kobudo. It was time to get serious as this is a requirement for advancement.  This is also an excellent opportunity because my Sensei is the best Kobudo man in the Mid-West!

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We are life long learners

So, here I am, with a bunch of lower ranking belts, and a few looking at me (for direction?) I flatly said I don’t know weapons, then went on not to let the awkward moment result in pride or humiliation welling up.  I know that if I can get the sequence of a kata, I will hone the points down to where they go and learn bunkai as well.  If I passed belt tests, and can teach and speak to 8 classes a week, I can surely do this!

With God’s grace and emptying out pride I learned humbly along with two blue belts and a yellow belt.  Pride has no place in Karate… nor in the church.

Just look at three scriptures:

  1. James 4:1-10, but specifically verse 10
  2. I Corinthians 10:12 (in context with 9:27-10:13)
  3. Proverbs 16:18

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Making it count

One of the most beautiful and fascinating things about Karate is the kata.  It is a series of kicks, punches and moves that appear to simulate fighting against multiple unarmed attackers.  Although there are branches of the martial arts concerned with sport Karate, many still have the kata.  Take for your consideration two points:

There is a real fight

There is a real race to win

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One day while studying for a sermon I gave, two scriptures came to me in prayer:

  1. I Corinthians 9:20-27
  2. Ecclesiastes 9:10

There is a real fight

Upon comparing it to kata, since St Paul made an allusion to the Olympic games (or perhaps the Isthmian games) I realized that both the Christian and Karateka are fighting, but in Karate the beautiful paradox is that we train for a fight (kata) we never intend to have!
At times Kata does look like were beating against the air!

Most people who are not “religious” don’t realize that people had problems in Bible times just as worse as anything you hear on television or read in print. There was violence such as murder, rape and war.

People become damaged so easily (Psalm 119:83)

A Karateka is trained to have the heightened awareness and confidence to behave properly in a dangerous situation, although it may never become physical.

No punches delivered… does it count?

The Christian has an enemy, which is not a person or philosophy of man.  We do not war against flesh and blood, although anecdotal stories may paint It the wrong way (Ephesians 6:12)

Man can maim and kill the body, but we are the only ones that may allow our minds to be destroyed (Only by the grace of God).

There is a real race to win

I like watching some tournament fights, and presently I have a friend who is preparing for a rated fight.  He is training and dieting to get ready, and we do bad drills in the morning.  He is totally committed!  I love that.  Just like Paul wrote (II Timothy 2:5) he is striving lawfully for a prize.  Every point in his fight will have to land on his opponent to count!

The Isthmian games Paul referred to had about three main events, and at the end the Olympian victors received a wreath . . . Which eventually wilted.  Even a gold medal will show tarnish.

But the areas that we both strive for are to make our hits count in every facet of our lives:

  • Our careers
  • Our character and actions
  • Christian service

We both fight, lets make our training and lives count!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Adversaries to Allies

Have you ever had a person who you perceived was an adversary in some thing?  Not that he was an evil person, but you thought by the way he talked and carried himself “What a jerk”.  Perhaps he even thought the same thing of you.

This happens often during rush hour traffic.

The point is that we only have one chance to make a first impression; sometimes that first impression is lost.  The person we now deal with becomes an adversary.  Perhaps the two personalities of you and the other person are not compatible and that was the source of the friction.  Nonetheless, it can turn into an ugly situation if we allow the carnal nature of “the flesh” to have it’s way.  This is something that has no doubt happened to all of us at one time or another. A missed chance, or a bad perception of both parties leads to an adversarial relationship.  Using simple Christian principles and tenets of the martial arts a situation can be treated with three concepts:

  •         Grace
  •         Character
  •         Opportunity


Grace is Something we all need but don’t deserve. It is something God extends to the entire human race as a way to accept the remedy for sin and our propensity to failure.  But if God extends that grace to us, is it not possible to extend that grace to another person?
There is a story conveyed about the Paradigm Shift, a story in which there is a drastic change of perception from what we would consider the norm.  This was first applied to scientific thinking to break from classical reasoning,  ie the paradigm.

Perhaps the person is doing something that we have done a thousand times before and we’ve done the same thing!
Let’s go back to getting cut off in traffic. It could have been an honest mistake.  Now, have you ever cut someone off in traffic because you almost missed a turn? Maybe it was an honest mistake?


An old adage says “Character is what you are when no one is looking”. This word can be seen in Hebrews 1:3 describing Jesus as the “express image of God” [KJV] The word has the connotation of the die that is used to stamp out a coin; nothing is closer to the original!
The Karate creed at my school states: to Use common sense before self defense and never be abusive or offensive.  Since martial arts are about self control and self improvement, these naturally go together!
Only character will keep us from saying or doing an action we may regret later!


Kairos, Roman copy in relief Opportunity is a strange thing. Something we all look for, but seldom recognize. The opportunity to turn an adversary into an ally can be  elusive and momentary when we realize the person had another problem that affected your first meeting.

I had an adult student that did not like my personality, and put me on the spot in front of the class.  It ended up with my director talking to me and the student later venting to me.  I let him talk, and at the end of the term, we departed with a handshake. During the term I took advantage of small opportunities to give him more time or elaborate on some of the concepts of the class.

There are plenty of times in this life when we will be faced with real problems and use stronger measures, but the paradox of reading for a conflict I never intend to have is often averted by my experiences in the church and in the dojo.

Attribution: Kairos, Opportunity  view this link for the story of opportunity

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Introduction Part 2

Many times, we in post-modern America we take a look at Christianity, America and Religion through our eyes and our history that starts around the year we were born (usually in the early years what we can remember and what we are later told or read about) then it goes up to present. Everything we learn is usually kept in the context of modern America.  It seems that people seldom give a thought for anything else.
Is it more likely to believe that this minister of yester year did the same thing, where as the humble natives did something out of ignorance? Were not both out of ignorance?
I will leave that for you to decide
Today we have many Christian brothers and sisters that have been taught one way, one thing, one doctrine and sometimes the teachings are bad. We are not speaking of the bedrock doctrines of Christianity, but many healthy wholesome ideas in Christianity have become nothing more than pedestrian, dull and dry! They come across quite strong, assertive and authoritative but they are no longer well thought out much beyond the lens of the Western mind. The problem with the Pacific Island converts and the colonial minister both lie in the same thing.
Only going so deep into our perceptions and never stepping outside of them. This is what you see happen so much in modern Christianity. We have turned the church into a dull, dry religion. Just like every other “world religion.” What happens when anyone fights against the status quo? They are usually crushed. Many well meaning brothers and sisters, and would be converts are crushed by the status quo. I don't know how many times I was told that karate and the martial arts were “sinful” or unprofitable without any real teaching behind it.  Someone please explain Alvin York or the countless soldiers before him that took up arms for a cause and still served Christ!
What is the way of the warrior? I believe truly that if we could take a good hard look at some of the things in Eastern culture and perhaps even in their religion (No! we don’t abandon the meaning or message of Jesus Christ) I think we would walk away much wiser and have a greater insight into the East and how it applies to the precious scriptures that my brothers and sisters have read so many times. After talking with Rev Mark Hollis, an Assembly of God missionary to Sri Lanka, it appears that the contemporary Asian people have more in common with people in Bible times than what we do!
What is the way of the warrior?
I consider myself a warrior.
Service: Eight years, One month and 26 days United States Army. Cold War times.
Education: I graduated from an extremely conservative Pentecostal Bible college
Martial Arts: second Degree Black Belt Ryu Ken Do Kenpo karate
My journey has felt long, and honestly very difficult at times. I got married, we  had two children and lost Hannah's twin sister. We left an abusive church and had some other important lessons along the way. I am not complaining. I come not to you with a sword, unless you mean the open and empty hand
 The kanji is an Ideogram which represents a hand and three fingers. It means “hand” pronounced Te
But I come to you with a pen which is much like a sword, but mightier. Just like the old English adage The Pen is mightier than the sword
I wish to address my Christian brothers and sisters with the truth that they may have forgotten, or haven’t seen lately. Also, to my friends, colleagues and adversaries, even enemies that may oppose my words: I come to show you I am armed only with truth and my insight that I ask be blessed by God. My hopes are to reconcile and win both parties.
What is the way of the warrior?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Introduction Part 1

In the book of first Samuel (I Samuel 27) when David was continually fleeing  from King Saul, a Philistine king accepted him as a retainer. We later read that he plundered another city without a reason given. The king asked him upon his return “Whither have ye made a road today?”
This question can still be asked of any Christian warrior along the way.
Wither have ye made a road today? Either for something good or for something bad. It is important that we understand any time we look at scriptures from the mind set of an American (a Westerner)  that we go back to the beginning. We shouldn't look for  a modern pop interpretation, or what we think it means. How many times have you heard a person in a Bible study, ask the question What do you think this scripture means? We look at scriptures through the lens of a contemporary American, and not understanding that the people who penned these things were more akin to Asians, and the Orient than they were the Occident. The East rather than the West. So we tend to apply very shallow meanings that suit ourselves, rather than understanding their precise meaning.
What is their precise meaning?
Their precise meaning is contextual. For example: Over 200 years ago when America was still colonies and “wilderness” a Farmer found a  dinosaur bone in his field. Later,  it was presented to a prominent minister of that day. Upon examining it he said “surely this proof that giants existed in the land just as the book of Genesis says.” (refer to Genesis 6)Under the context of his understanding of the world and his culture, in view of what the Bible says, he came up with what would have been a reasonable assumption. Now let us compare this to a story of a missionary couple laboring on a remote island far, far in the heart of the Pacific ocean. They were only visited by a supply ship once a year. They often told the inhabitants how they looked forward to mail, and how much it meant to them; how precious it was. The problem in this story stems from the fact that the natives had neither a written language or any form of written communication. Based on the knowledge of what “mail” was, subject to the lens of their culture. When the missionaries were away laboring on a neighboring island, the supply ship came a few days earlier than expected. The captain, uncertain of what to do left the supplies and mail with the natives. When the islanders examined the mail, they didn't know what it really was. They had heard glowing stories from the missionaries but they couldn’t understand what was so special about these pieces of paper with strange images printed on them. They determined that since it didn’t seem to mean anything, it wasn't a tool and there were no real drawings on them… then maybe it was good to eat.
When they missionaries returned they found a large pot of soup made from their mail.
Despite their shock, we really don’t know their reactions after that. It is hoped they showed a Christ like spirit and took their disappointment in stride. We can only guess the physical feelings of bewilderment, anger, disgust or shock. Couple this with the fact they had to hide their feelings and continue their mission. At the very least, they were disappointed. Where do these two stories come together and become the same?
It is all a matter of Perspective.
MountaincaIt it wasn't for the road and telephone post this would be a good place to film a movie about ancient Israel.
What are youre thoughts on perspective?