Sunday, September 30, 2012

Another Look at Humility Part 5

Were Not a Door mat! 

 

Humility is the use of ones faculties in their proper place and control to accomplish a desired effect.  Jesus could have crushed anyone he wanted in the Garden of Gethsemane but was sure of his goal.  A skilled fighter coach made a statement at the  fight meeting I attended in September.  He stated that the fighters were not to do certain maneuvers because it was a sport event and not mortal combat. In Karate, there are various philosophies, but one that I have come to understand is the difference between application of power in punches and kicks.  Punching and kicking into the air is completely different than hitting a focus pad, or heavy bag. The air gives really, really easy; heavy 6 foot bags don’t.  Focus pads give a bit, but if you punch out of alignment with your arm it hurts your wrist!  So what happens if you begin to learn how the technique really works, and the difference between sport karate and real life protection arts, or as the late master Taika Oyata stated once in an interview “Shin-jutsu”.  (follow my link at the 3:50 mark where he explains it) The differences are not really obvious until you have a few years under your…. Pardon the pun….. Belt. there are times to hit full blast, there are times to hit partial and then there are times to know when to pull the punches and do no harm! If a martial artist was startled and had became angry because you saw a punch that looked like it was coming directly towards your face come to an abrupt halt, put yourself in his or her shoes.  One can feel a great deal of torque to stop a certain action just shy of hitting someone. It really does take a great deal of control… and for that matter self control to pull a punch.  The same thing applies in the spiritual realm not to have your feathers ruffled!
Let us look now at the Christian.  The real battle field is in between the ears, not out there in the world at large.  St Paul penned it best In Ephesians 6:12 when he said:

“We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and wickedness in high places”

The battle of ideologies in the mind and spirit seem to be much more violent than a physical altercation, mainly due to the fact that these physical altercations come from our members warring within us (James 4:1)
The battle field of the mind is a much more dangerous place, because no one can see the enemy but the person himself! It can be faulty thinking or a true spiritual battle between what we should do and what we (our physical nature) wants to do.
For example, have you ever met someone who annoyed the pants off of you? 

We all have!

Paul also stated in 2 Corinthians 10: 3-5 that we are  “. . . bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” No where does it say this is impossible, although it does not say it is easy either.  Just like the athlete and martial artist it requires WORK!

A look at Humility Part 4

In my last post I wanted to answer a question from showmeRicky concerning Godly humility and the righteous use of power.


 Roman Sarcophagus with Battle Scene Antonine Period 2nd century CE Marble (13)  Photographed at the Dallas Museum of Art in Dallas, Texas.
In the spiritual realm it is a bit different. Let me relate this story to you:
I can honestly say that I only have one person who is probably my mortal enemy.  He was a sociopathic minister I worked for during the span of about 3 years.  He was not very intelligent but tried to portray an image of a loving and smart person.  Something didn’t sit right about the man that many outsiders could instantly tell.  He tended to be cold and aloof at times and his actions seemed to be calculated acts to make a person feel obligated to listen to him or return a favor. During fellowship with other ministers, if he could not control the conversation, he would become “super spiritual” with behavior such as praying in the middle of the conversation, just loud enough for people to hear.  He would also make statements from books he read, attempting to connect statements together which we often thought were some sort of joke.  I will never forget he asked “Brother, what is the universal symbol of life in every place humans are found?“  the reply from a person in the group was “Water.  Humans cannot live without it.“  His face fell and he became upset “No, it’s bread!“  Try dealing with that for 3 to 4 years!  He worked hard and went through  the motions of a well studied Dale Carnegie student (how to make friends and influence people), but he always came across as being slightly insincere and “plastic” with most actions he performed.  I suffered many, many…. Many injustices from him.  So did two other ministers.  He was jealous and intentionally alienated everyone in the church from him.  Since he was assigned to the church by a general board at the denomination‘s headquarters, he could not be voted out. He constantly sought to belittle or destroy anyone in the church that was smarter than or posed an imagined threat to him.  Needless to say we left one by one.  Why do I bring this up?  Simply because he gives us the best example of a person who held all of the proverbial “cards” but could not use them correctly.
The speaker and minister John Bevere once stated that spiritual “muscles” are like physical muscles.  If a person uses them they become stronger and that person is able to sustain more stress or damage in the event of repeated use or abuse. (see page 145)
A bully is psychologically weak so endeavors to make up for it. A person who knows their weaknesses and strengths and has a healthy opinion of themselves is usually not intimidated easily or worried about imagined harm around them.  People in the natural and spiritual can be self serving and hurt many simply because of un warranted feelings of insufficiency and insecurity. In other words weak spiritual muscles!

Where is the line of Godly restraint?


We are told in Scriptures that “love covers a multitude of sins” which this example points out.  In the end after complaining to headquarters, and a few more incidents, we all left.  Even at that time, we could have intellectually bested this man, and I’m sure I could have physically hurt him but this is where restraint and Christian compassion realizes he is a vessel created in the image of God . . . He was just really far from it! Godly restraint kept him from further physical and spiritual harm because to this day (approximately 8 years later) we have never retaliated.  It is my estimation, that even in the spiritual realm, by the grace of God we can turn the other cheek and suffer spiritual and verbal injustices.  We cannot be humiliated unless we allow someone to get inside our heads and react to it outwardly.  Real humiliation comes only when we allow it.

This example also serves as a warning of the occasional rank hypocrisy we find in some churches.  It also shows how some churches will allow this behavior to go unchecked!  Suspicion, ill temper and an inferiority complex were his undoing. I saw many would-be church members ran off for trivial reasons!  I wish I could apologize to them for the damage done.  I have many well meaning friends who would say “He was following the will of God”,  at times this may be true, but if a doctor has patients and every patient he treats ends up dying then is the problem the patient or the doctor practicing medicine?  God is not the author of destruction or confusion.  Christians may have battles but they are not destroyed (See II Corinthians 4:9 for a beautiful image of the true Christian soldier’s battles:  “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair.”)  This was the antithesis of the use of force.  Godly restraint was letting our superiors know, and when it wasn't resolved leaving a spiritually harmful situation was the only way.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Another Look at Humility 3

Use of power

It is easy to see how modern language and media has painted such a twisted picture of something that is a virtue!  Think of temperance.  Some may paint a black and white picture in their minds of old matrons from the 1920’s holding up anti-drinking signs and petitioning for the prohibition of alcohol.  While this definition and image are correct, temperance has a much deeper meaning.   The original idea of temperance was that of self-restraint.  Once again, just because we are capable of doing something does not mean that we should.
There are times when such behavior could hurt the Christian testimony or hurt a fellow believer in the faith. Here are a few examples:

the word of God is sharper than any two edged sword


Athletes do not become strong, vital or win their respective competitions without  sacrifices. The great athletes have a heavy training regimen.  How often do we see the ads for pills, machines and other shape-up and weight loss programs that promise a body like the cover models of the fitness magazines possess, but with no work on our behalf?  The only reason I’m 45 and still in good shape is because of a four-letter word: W-O-R-K! (and yes, God has been good to me over the years as well)

Let us consider the power issue.  Just because I am able to kick or punch someone doesn’t mean I should.  And just because a person is correct, or more intelligent than another doesn’t mean we should call to their attention the person’s faulty thinking. 
One of my respondents to the last post made a very good observation and question on temperance:

 “Where would a martial artist, or regular Christian, draw the line between Godly restraint and humility and righteous use of power? Is there a line at all?”

In the case of walking down the street to the store or in a parking lot at the mall, if an assailant attacks, he does not know if I am a Christian, Buddhist, or Atheist.  That person does not care.  Most state laws reflect the idea that the victim has a duty to retreat before they can attack, and then only use a reasonable amount of force to stop the attack.  In a home an intruder still does not know your religious and political beliefs, but the law changes slightly.  Missouri and other states have a law dubbed “The castle doctrine” which roughly states that if the owner has a reasonable belief that his/her life was in danger they may use deadly force to stop the attacker.  I do not relish the idea of hurting or taking a human life, but we must acknowledge the wisdom of Ecclesiastes chapter 3 that there is “every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven”  In the street, if attacked, I have been taught to inflict the blows that are necessary to get the person off of me or down (on the ground), but not to go over what is necessary. A continued beating can be construed as assault, therefore getting me on the wrong side of the law! The ability to have restraint in techniques is something that the martial artist should strive for, but isn’t that the same with a Christian as well? Even the Chinese general Sun Tzu stated that to win a fight without fighting was the greater achievement. When dealing with a difficult spiritual problem that may become an argument we can draw some parallels, but I will do this in the next post.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Another look at Humility Part 2

What is Humility?

We may look at humility as a three part definition composed of:
  • Humiliation
  • Temperance
  • Use of power

The word humility comes from the word Humus which means from the earth, also lowly and of low rank.  In the Ancient church humility was considered to be part of the virtue of temperance and carried the connotation of making ones self of a lesser value in the eyes of others. In the tradition of Catholic penance after confession of sins before a priest, the penitent person would have to perform an act of  penance which involved prayer and some form of a humiliating act that would be considered painful.  We still see this in the Philippines today from the Flagellantes

All we really are is just the dust of the Earth

Humiliation

So literally the word “humiliation” was intended to partly be part of the virtue of temperance due to the fact that keeping ones self low to the “dust from which thou shalt return…” was considered keeping oneself temperate in behavior and attitude.
However, just as with everything in life, there is a proper balance to how a person should react.  The thought pattern was that to take a lesser seat at a party or in a meeting was better suited because if a person was moved up to a place of honor it was type of promotion, but to be lowered by another was a type of punishment. This could literally be considered "humiliation".  A humble person therefore was temperate and in control of his or her actions and did not need correction by another (Paul:  if we judge ourselves we need not be judged). 
Then at other times, it was necessary for a person to humiliate them selves for varied purposes.  I always liked the story that Chuck Norris related in one of his books.  He stated while working on Walker, Texas Ranger he went to a bar and waited for his stunt team which would join him shortly.  There was a rough looking guy that wanted to pick a fight with him  because Chuck was sitting in the other man’s favorite booth.  Chuck moved and replied something like “OK”.  It wasn’t until later that the man realized he was “Chuck Norris” and abruptly apologized to him.  I have heard of many martial artists that have turned the other cheek or backed down from a fight simply because they either had nothing to prove or were not emotionally attached to the situation by pride, arrogance or presumption.  Here we see the temperance of a martial artist.

Temperance

Humiliation is only half of the subject because the very act of being humble has often led to the negative stereotypes of the Christian being a doormat and unable to do anything other than being walked on.  This image is lampooned in the media by way of cartoons, movies, sitcoms and even on record albums. Let us look at the real meaning by way of greatest example of all, the Lord Jesus Christ.  In the garden of Gethsemane as recorded in the Gospel of Luke  we read that Jesus prayed in distress, And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood  Luke 22:44
  Even his close disciples noticed and recorded how different this was.  One commentator of old made the statement that Jesus had to bear all the sins of man kind from past, present and future.  Jesus was fully man and fully God, and fully sinless.  To take on this unimaginable amount of the worlds sin as a perfect sacrifice is beyond imagination!  This is something only he was capable of and after his prayer with God the Father he took up his yoke to bear humankind’s iniquities.   If we look at the accounts in John after his prayers, the mob from the religious elders went to arrest him.  Jesus asked “whom seek ye?” (who are you looking for?) When he replied  with the words “I AM” the mob fell down twice from his very power as the Son of God!  See John 18:4-10)  If we look at it, carefully he could have run the mob away with his very power of speaking in his divine power “I AM”.  I could go into some more information that we see God speaking the words “I AM” to Moses when he commissioned him to go into Egypt, but we shall leave it here that the very power of his words and presence was enough to stop the mob, but he chose not to.  Even in the commotion, he found time to heal a man’s (Malchus the High priest’s servant) ear from the attack of the apostle Peter who cut it off.  Jesus even stated he could easily have summoned 12 legions of angels, yet allowed himself to be arrested like a hunted criminal.  He allowed himself to be arrested, at night, for a kangaroo court trial! (Matthew 26:52-58)  This broke several Jewish laws.  This is above and beyond what anyone at the time could imagine!  Think about how many times we as Americans have had our rights infringed upon, and complain! A person who will allow themselves to be “humiliated” yet still be so much in control of the situation that it is almost ridiculous for the assailants to continue.  How blind they were, and in control Jesus was! To the outside observer with all the facts (Such as us when viewing all bible accounts today) we have a much clearer view of what the humiliation view in humility really is.  This is only up to his arrest, consider the rest of his account up to the cross! If you think on this it becomes much more a virtue to be humble in this way!  This was for the greater good of all humanity, so it seems very small if we should but hold our tongues and passions during our time of distress.  Jesus was all powerful, yet allowed this to take place.
Part of humility is humiliation and the other part is the virtue of temperate behavior. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Another look at Humility 1

When I wrote my articles on humility I had a greater plan in mind.  That was something that I have been doing in Sunday school with the word “Humility” as well as with the word “Judgment”.  My simple idea is to really dig out the meanings and entomology of these words.
Too often we as Americans and Christians engage in battles of words; be they friendly or hostile,  that amount to nothing. These words become:


The reasons why are two fold:

  • A person convinced against his will… remains an unbeliever still
  • A person must be Humble

If a person wants to believe something and is not willing to look at it from another perspective, they will not change.  We can look no farther than this years presidential election.  Have you ever tried to convince a Republican to vote Democrat or a Democrat to vote Republican??  Learning, although not a political subject requires a person to become humble and willing to change their attitude or behavior.  This is something I deal with all the time in adult education: unwillingness to change. 
As adults we are skeptics.  We have life experiences that have formed us and to a degree, we have become jaded or at least set in our ways.  Learning only takes place by giving an adult small digestible chunks that they can prove for themselves and then, they may be willing to sample more of this learning as trust is built up.  In this I have also discovered that breaking down the wall of distrust and skepticism is the first part of getting to the beginnings of learning.






In most arguments, I have noticed that if the people are intellectually honest on both sides, the subject can be boiled down to one thing:  Semantics





How the dictionary defines a word, it’s origins and how a person thinks it is used can be several completely different things!  As is the nature of language, the written word changes slowly but the spoken word is prone to constant revisions . . .  If you get my drift!


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Heart

I had the opportunity to attend an amateur MMA fight venue in Clinton, Missouri.  Although I have been back in the martial arts since 2003, because of my commitments and job I have not had the opportunity to do much more than train and socialize with my classmates at the Dojo.  I have found out that being a black belt does entail meeting others and becoming more involved in your art. I guess this is one of the more benign meanings of "networking".

Anyway, with that out of the way I got to help out at my friend Brandon Holmes' fight.  Basically, all I did was drive Sensei and Brandon down to Clinton.  Sensei had eye surgery and didn't need to drive (which pleased and relieved his wife).  Brandon was going to be a bit too overdosed on his own adrenalin, so therefore was a disqualified driving candidate as well.
I helped him warm up on the focus pads as well . . . adrenalin? Oh yeah! he had waaaay too much!  For the past few months, we knew this day was coming and I have been in the Dojo a few mornings a week training with him, and being a technique tester as well . . . *ouch*.  He very trained hard with Sensei and went the full 3 rounds.  the fight was by decision and went to the other man, Cody Kreitler.  It was a good fight, and although he lost, many other people told him he did a good job, because he should have "tapped out" several times from the locks and chokes he was put in . . but then turned them around on his opponent and never gave in. In the aftermath, you always get to dissect things and figure them out.  This was the case here.  Many times over, the word "Heart" was used. that "heart" was his tenacity and drive not to stop.  There were a couple of ugly locks on the floor, and although the causal observer does not understand some of the grappling moves, these techniques could have easily ended the fight.  My point is that Brandon did not give up.

I like that.
Kreitler Vs Holmes Sorry Brandon I couldn't get a good face shot for you!

There are so many things that people start in life and then give up.  This can be justified or unjustified, but sometimes an excuse is just that.... a way of justifying lack of preparation, training or knowledge. The gist of what Brandon stated was that there was a ring doctor and referee there, but more importantly Sensei was there as well.  He wanted to go the distance and do his best.  He lost by a few points from each ring judge. Even in this decision there could still be seen the heart of someone that was always a winner, and for him it is only a matter of time!

Success and failure do not start at some interim success, but start in the head.... and getting out of bed.... and "making" yourself do the stuff that the body doesn't find comfortable.

This venue was my first but also different, because most of the crowd there had a martial arts background, not just UFC or straight MMA.  The crowd was polite and everyone got along really well.  At the fighters and trainers meeting, before we dismissed there was even a prayer offered.  I was happy and pleased that everyone kept God at the center of what they did. The participants recognized it was a sport event, and at the end Martial warriors shared a special bond of respect.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m9c4mLrFJ9Y&feature=player_detailpage
A link to the fight on video

This venue could be considered in light of our walk and way as well. Failures may come across our way, but can we really call them “failures”?   They are more like stepping stones. Let me leave you with one verse of scripture:

For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again
    Proverbs 24:16

For context read the link through verse 18.  An honest effort for the right reasons will never keep a person down!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Pride and Presumption

It dawned on my while writing the last post that pride and presumption go together in a few ways.  While pride can manifest itself in a good or a bad way, usually the bad connotation is seen more.  Presumption is either looked at as a legal term or, of taking for granted something we shouldn’t.
Presumption also goes beyond the bounds of what a person should and should not do to the point where they impose on another person. While humility can be gracious, presumption cannot. For that matter it doesn’t even notice it has done wrong, but only sees itself,  at best as a minor inconvenience, and at worst as his or her lawful right to continue in the offense.
What really brought this idea to a head was a meeting I was involved in, in which I realized that the same ideas apply in  a fight as in a meeting as in the Christian walk and life.



The solutions to our problems have been stated over and over again for the past several years by employees in meetings, but management won‘t listen.  That made me think of when we would go out in door to door evangelism and try to get people to come to church, and eventually Christ.  The problems people had could be answered, but they would not listen to words of wisdom, and words and fighting were futile!


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An angry person you encounter at a restaurant or gas station  at night who may be drunk will also not respond to words and wisdom.  This is the way of presumption, and it seems at times to remain quiet and remember our own sense of purpose. A presumptions person exhibits qualities of both the fool and the drunk . . . In fact, sometimes  they are one in the same!

I have also seen the same behaviors with martial artists, clergy and church members.  Any behavior that would be severely punished in a child is not in a senior member, black belt or corporate representative.  It amazes me that the simple things in life are often overlooked, which also seem to be keys to happiness as well. Presumption does not listen and the best defense, usually is silence!

Have you ever had a problem with a presumptions person and how did you handle it? If so, please share in the comments section.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Pride



I’ve sat in a many church services where the preacher preached on the sin of Pride. 
I believe there is much to be gleaned practically of this subject in churches, dojos and even business.

Pride can be both Positive and negative.

The Negative sides of pride would be examples of the following:
  • Pride will not admit shortcomings
  • Pride does not ask for help
  • Pride takes all of the credit for a job
  • Pride will not acknowledge their team mates
  • Pride points out others failures
  • Pride is loud and calls attention to his/her works
Communism: bad pride. . .


Businesses want team players to accomplish the mission.  The mission of a church is to preach Jesus, save souls and make disciples.  A dojo is training martial artists physical arts for both physical, mental and psychological development.  Pride has a way of creeping into all of these and doing damage that is not always noticeable.
Someone has to be in charge and is ultimately be responsible for outcome, but negative pride hurts teams, companies, churches and dojos. Eventually, morale and work ethic are influenced as well.  If you don’t believe this, just think of a local church that goes through pastors like some people go through socks!  In the last 12 years I have observed many “studios” that open and then close in about 2 years. 
Is it bad business management or pride . . . or both?
How many stories have we heard in fictional tales, even in the Dilbert comic strips of a manager taking credit for his workers ideas?
I don’t want to hurt the church so I will not go into the amount of religious hypocrites there are in our ranks.  I have been badly hurt by them, but realize at the same time that I cannot be a victim of pride as well.
On the positive side, pride can be a good thing when we channel it for the good of a team or company:

Positive or good Pride is shown in:
  • Pride in craftsmanship: A professional always does a clean, neat, lasting job.
  • Pride in one's team and team members.  The sum of the team's work is what makes a product: Testimonials are just as important in church as in a business!
  • Pride in ones self.  What we believe is reflected in our character.  A person can lie and “act” but actions always speak louder than words!

Pride can be tied in with self esteem.  How do we think of ourselves? A persons worth and character is reflected by their actions; even at work.  When I was working as an installer for Sears, I had to represent my company and Sears so I always tried to go the extra mile because it was good business for both my company, Sears, and my paycheck!  As a Christian, I realize that my words and actions in front of my class can affect my testimony.  Sometimes I have to deal with technical subjects or customer service where the conversation can go south quick, either with an area of knowledge I don’t have or a sensitive situation where someone makes a joke.  Pride would get angry or try to shut up the adults.  Trust me this doesn’t work with grown-ups from the inner city . . . nor with good ‘ol country boys as well.  Pride as a martial artist also does not mean flaunting ones knowledge.  It is better to learn always as a beginner than to be puffed up and show off ones “knowledge” . . . or lack thereof.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Article of note

For this particular post I wanted to share a web article from another website.  This article is “Martial arts as a coping tool”  I thought it of great interest, since It mentions Spirituality in the martial arts.
Many times when we hear the word “Spirituality”  it is interpreted to   mean just as it’s name would apply: The persons spirit in reference to a religion.  I hate to define a word with the same word.  It brings back painful Elementary school memories!

Let us Define Spirit and Spirituality

If the word Spirit is defined in and of itself, it is an English rendering from the Vulgate (The first Latin Bible written by St Jerome) that combined at least two terms.  Spirit in and of itself dealt with the life force of a person, or the animating factor of a beings life.  Some of the same words could be, in context the seat of the intellect or another being.  What I will focus on is what made humans live and move! So spirituality, in one sense can be looked at as the activities that motivate and move a person, or work dealing with the seat of our being.  As I stated earlier, the connotation has always been in reference to a religion.

Recently my oldest daughter has started playing the violin.  She is learning under a style called the “Suzuki method”. Shin’ichi Suzuki was a Japanese violinist who was very interested in the development of the whole person through a discipline. It came from his need to learn foreign language and the ensuing frustration that he developed a method of musicianship similar to how children learn their first language.  But, as tends to be the  case with Asian culture (at times) they can be vehemently competitive and exacting (and I like the word Spiritual) in all that they do.
I admire this!

To me, it suggest a part of spirituality in honing the person as one with a task that may be referred to as Zen.  At least at this point, from my research, this is how I understand it.   One commentator on an English translation of a Chinese book stated that ancient Chinese vocabulary could have words so exact in a text to the point of obscurity.

Because of these things, this gave me the thought to share this article because it has worth  and value to express some of the spiritual things that I would like to share as well.  They talk about spirituality from a different point.  I don’t wish to discuss Yoga or meditation at this times, but in keeping with traditions it does make a lot of sense to look at this article. 
I welcome your comments.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Lies Lies Lies

At work today I was involved in several activities where I could observe both my student’s and colleagues behavior.  For some reason on contemplating all of today’s activities a verse of scripture came to  mind:

“ If a ruler hearken to lies, all his servants are wicked. “            -Proverbs 29:13


A rather interesting verse considering this election cycle and politics in general.
Nonetheless we would like to look at this verse in light of today’s context.  In the day and age which Solomon spoke this proverb, nations were ruled by kings, and the kings of the middle East demanded absolute respect and reverence.  To insult the king or commit a crime to the dignity of the throne would be instant death  (Daniel 2:10-13; Esther 7:7-10)  yet we see that the monarch’s law was absolute and those that ruled in justice faired better than those that ruled by caprice and with evil.  Just look through all the books of Chronicles and Kings to confirm this. 
But our modern society, anyone can strive to be a leader of a company, organization, club, city, state or nation.  I understand a majority of us don’t want that, but the potential does or did exist if we wanted it bad enough.
A person in leadership must protect their ears more than the average person, because there is more expected out them and more that is required of them than the average person.  The role of leader requires more because people look at you. Even if a person says: “I’m not a role model..”  They still are to someone.

What we take in, to a good degree will determine what comes out of our mouths or what behavior we exhibit. Ear protection will equal heart protection
Evil intake begets evil actions  and truth begets truth.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve met more than my fair share of religious hypocrites that have a well armed battery of clich├ęs and are quick on the draw.  You generally hear more about these people than what you do the majority of Christians who are striving to do better and be better. What do you think.  Are our activities and what we take in mentally, be it television, radio movies or internet affect our actions? And do you think we need to protect our intake more in society?

I believe if our leaders did, they would be more gracious, wise and diligent!

Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life    -Proverbs 4:23

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Solemn Day

When I was younger I heard people say "I remember where I was when JFK got shot. . . "
I had no perspective to wrap my mind around it.  I was a kid, and to me the fact that my Grand-mama kept a commemorative plate in her kitchen of JFK and Robert Kennedy did not strike a nerve or mean anything.  I was born in 1967 so  could not quite understand that "Camelot" time.  On September 11th 2001 I remember the day too well.  The day was surreal, as if it couldn't be (true).  The days that followed were eerily haunting because no planes flew for about 2 more days. Moreover, no one knew what was going to happen next.



Looking back now, I have more perspective than before in many areas of life and I draw on what I have read, heard and experienced. The two quotes that come to mind are:

Vigilance and  inaction are diametric opposites.  Our time to beat our swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks has not yet come, whether it be proverbial or literal. The Christian is commanded by Saint Peter to be vigilant because of a spiritual enemy, the the Martial Artist trains so he will be prepared to win without fighting.  Both require a model citizen and a ready mind when true injustices come to call and serve their brothers and sisters with a pure heart!

How do you think a Christian or Martial Artist should serve their community in times of trouble?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Traditions

I have always thought of traditions sort of like a bee hive.  They have a purpose in our world and produce something that is sweet to the taste and pleasing to the stomach.  There are many in our world that seek after it, use it and even cultivate it.  Traditions are fine if you just leave them where they are.  The minute you decide you are going to tamper with them is the minute you get swarmed with angry bees!



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If we look at almost any activity or custom we will probably be able to trace it to a practice that has become a tradition over the centuries of recorded history.  In American culture, we have grown up and lived with the fact that our great country is a melting pot of all races and cultures, although in the post modern era that we live in it appears to be more like a salad bowl recently.  This melting pot had a language that has hundreds of borrowed words and, as the nature of language is, it is even in and of itself constantly changing!  Enter into the equation of American culture and change the thought for what we take for granted comes from somewhere and was added not all together for the right reasons.

  • Are foreign cultures any different?
  • Is a Simple bow a form of worship? (martial arts or otherwise)

A story was once shared by a missionary to the Philippine Islands.  He was asked to give a Bible to a man in a large city on another island.  The woman told the missionary that this man was very important and people would bow to him.  The missionary went to see him, and did not bow but used the Western custom of a hand shake and explained his purpose and gift (The bible).  The missionary explained to us that bowing was considered to be a sign and acknowledgment of the “god” within each person.  This point could be argued effectively for the sake of Christianities superiority to other religions however; is it wise to go against common courtesy of the society we live in unless there is a serious reason for going against it?  For example, if it was expressly forbidden in the Bible then it should not be performed.  We think nothing of a performer bowing on stage, or the acknowledgment of participants of a parade.  The simple bows of respect in Karate denote nothing less than mutual respect and not an acknowledgment of the “god” within a person.  Bowing is a tradition that is kept alive in the martial arts just as it is in the Orient.   Some traditions may have more than one meaning or source, but to say that a tradition is bad or evil just because of a connotation to one aspect of another culture is a shallow argument. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Train Up a Child. . .

It dawned on me that a blog isn't really a good blog unless the siad blogger posts often.
the holiday weekend really messed up my grove!
Having a family, teaching duties, my workout regimen and my portion of the house chores takes time as well. To top this off my wife and I have been debating what to to for our youngest daughters birthday party that we were planning for after the school year started.
we asked her what she wanted to do before her birthday for the anticipated day, and as luck would have it, and what a five-soon-to-be-six year old would answer:  "I don't know"

Luck would have it that she said "I want to go to crown center"  This took care of lunch but not the party. 
A week or two later I discussed this incident with my Sensei and he suggested "Why not a Karate birthday party?'  I thought "I love it. . .  but he must want me to die.... try explaining this to my wife.."
I eventually did because we were out of ideas and still getting the same reaction from Jenna.

Fortunately, both girls loved it so it was planned.
It was a great party, and all the kids had fun.  Sensei used me as a demonstrator with him and all the kids got to kick boards and learn some basic moves.

Dad and Jenna: we were trying to tickle each other to make the other laugh!


Something that I thought of during that time of the party, as my daughter was in a new karate uniform was "Does she want to do this?  Have I suggested this to her in a forceful way?" 
I could answer no to both questions.  I do want my daughters to learn karate for the obvious reasons:

  • Discipline
  • Exercise
  • Self defense
  • Mental focus

But more importantly it is not the destination of a "black belt" but the journey and what they become on the way.  I intend on suggesting it for a mandatory period of time for my above goals, but I also want them to be their own person, not some vicarious copy of dad.
It occurred to me that the verse of scripture in Proverbs 22:6 applies the same here.  A child should be trained by word and example.  Hopefully I can put the right stuff in their heads and then the rest is up to them!
What are your thoughts on training up a child using the martial arts?