Grace Martial Arts Fellowship began in 1990, went online with a website in 1995 and began publishing newsletters to the Christian martial arts community in 1998.
Because of the quality of information found in those early newsletter articles and the fact they are no longer available online, we’ve decided to re-publish many of them in the coming weeks and months. Our hope is that a new generation of Christian martial artists will be blessed by the wisdom of those who were on the path before them.
GMAF NEWSLETTER FEBRUARY 2001
Welcome to the GMAF Newsletter! We pray it will encourage you in your Martial Arts and Outreach for Christ.
Thoughts from the Master
“He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.”
“How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!”
The Apostle Paul
“The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, the Lord hath made even both of them.”
“Marching Through Treetops: Success with God”
by Mark McGee
I have long been fascinated by the way ancient Israel waged war against its enemies. God’s people were always successful when they obeyed God’s Word about what to do and how to do it.
One of the most successful warriors of God was David. He was successful in battle long before he became King of Israel. God told the teenager David to face the heavily armored giant Goliath without wearing armor and armed with only a a slingshot and stones. David obeyed God and killed Goliath with a single strike.
We know from previous studies of ancient Israel that David is an example of the power of God’s Spirit in spiritual warfare when Christ is the King of our lives. Saul is an example of the lack of power of man’s flesh in spiritual warfare when we are our own king. Christ wins spiritual battles, not our flesh.
David was a mighty man of war. He killed many in hand-to-hand combat. He led Israel’s troops into tough military campaigns. Some of David’s top army chiefs were also mighty men of war. Jashobeam, a Hacmonite, was an expert in the spear and killed three hundred men in one encounter. Abishai was also an expert with the spear and killed three hundred men in one encounter. Benaiah was a great fighter from Kabzeel. He killed two of Moab’s best men, a lion in a pit and a seven-and-a-half-foot Egyptian who was expert with a heavy spear. Benaiah went against the giant using a club. He snatched the spear from the Egyptian and killed the giant with his own spear. Benaiah was a highly-skilled martial artist.
Thousands of talented soldiers joined David’s army after King Saul was killed and Israel made David King at Hebron. They marched against the Jebusites in Jerusalem and defeated them. They could have looked upon their great strength and training and believed themselves invincible against any enemy, but that would have been a great mistake. They were powerful because David obeyed God. “So David waxed greater and greater: for the Lord of hosts was with him.” (1 Chronicles 11:9)
One of my favorite passages about Israel’s battles is in 1 Chronicles 14.
“And when the Philistines heard that David was anointed king over all Israel, all the Philistines went up to seek David. And David heard of it, and went out against them. And the Philistines came and spread themselves in the valley of Rephaim. And David enquired of God, saying, Shall I go up against the Philistines? And wilt thou deliver them into mine hand? And the Lord said unto him, Go up; for I will deliver them into thine hand.” King David defeated the Philistines and gave the glory to God. “God hath broken in upon mine enemies by mine hand like the breaking forth of waters.”
David then gave orders to his army to burn the gods of the Philistines.
The Philistines weren’t finished fighting David. They spread themselves abroad in the valley. David asked God what he should do. “God said unto him, Go not up after them; turn away from them, and come upon them over against the mulberry trees. And it shall be, when thou shalt hear a sound of going in the tops of the mulberry trees, that then thou shalt go out to battle: for God is gone forth before thee to smite the host of the Philistines. David therefore did as God commanded him: and they smote the host of the Philistines from Gibeon even to Gazer. And the fame of David went out into all the lands; and the Lord brought the fear of him upon all nations.”
What a powerful lesson for us! Wait for God to go before us to fight our battles. I don’t know about you, but I have a tendency to want to fight my own battles. That’s the flesh walking. We don’t have to think back too far for examples in our own lives of when walking in the flesh has made a mess in our lives and the lives of people we love. The flesh takes us in one direction: failure.
God told King David to hold back his troops from fighting until they heard the sound of going in the treetops. That meant God had gone before them to strike the Philistine Army. What was that sound? The Hebrew word for “going” is “s’adahl” and translates as “marching.” Who would be “marching” in treetops? “… for God is gone forth before thee to smite the host of the Philistines.” The sound of marching was God’s Army going forth before the army of Israel.
Imagine for a moment that you are a member of the Army of Israel. You know that an enemy is coming against you with a great hatred in their hearts and a desire to wipe you and your fellow soldiers and your wife and mother and father and children from the face of the earth. You are waiting for orders from your superior officers to go up against the Philistines. The orders come and they are to turn away from the Philistines, go over against some mulberry trees and wait for the sound of marching in the treetops. You are a good soldier, well-trained and skilled in the art of war, so you don’t ask questions. You trust that your superior officers know what they’re doing. You wait near the mulberry trees, then hear the sound of an army marching in the treetops. You look up but see nothing. You hear the sound, but do not see. Within moments of the sound of marching in the treetops, your superior officers give the battle sound and you rush forward with all your strength to engage the enemy. You look into their eyes and see a great fear which seems unnatural for seasoned warriors.
You pull your sword, raise your club or thrust your spear in front of you and find the battle to be an easy one. Philistines drop quickly as you strike them down with powerful blows of your weapon. Your shield staves off every attack of the enemy and the battle is yours. You look around at the dying and dead and watch the living Philistines flee for their lives. The word goes around the battlefield quickly that God won the battle. You smile, thank God and resheath your weapon, ready for the next opportunity to obey God’s Word and experience great success.
The battles Israel’s Army fought against the Philistines and scores of other armies of ancient times are no different than the spiritual battles Christians fight today. The Apostle Paul wrote: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” How do we succeed in spiritual battles? The same way God told David to win. “Go not up after them; turn away from them, and come upon them over against the mulberry trees. And it shall be, when thou shalt hear a sound of going in the tops of the mulberry trees, that they thou shalt go out to battle: for God is gone forth before thee…” We succeed in battle even as David did. We wait upon the Lord and listen for the marching of His Army going before us to smite our enemies. “David therefore did as God commanded him: and they smote the host of the Philistines from Gibeon even to Gazer.” We will also succeed in spiritual battle as we do what God commands us, wait on the sound of God going before us, and following through using the spiritual weapons of warfare.
“Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” Ephesians 6:13
What is your spiritual battle? Are you fighting it in your own strength? Have you gone up against the enemy alone? Are you tired and bruised? Are you frustrated and angry? Then go not up after them; turn away from them. Go over to the mulberry trees and wait upon the Lord. When you hear the sound of marching in the treetops, you will know that God has gone before you to smite your enemy. Your battle will be easy, your victory sure.
May God bless you richly this month, my friend and warrior of Almighty God.
Taking God’s Grace to the World!
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