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.
January – February 2003
Welcome to the GMAF Newsletter! We pray it will encourage you in your Martial Arts and Outreach for Christ.
Master Joseph Lumpkin
(Master Lumpkin has graciously allowed us to share these excerpts from his new book scheduled to be published early this year.)
What a terrible blessing and frightening gift has been given man that he should possess such great capacity to love and such vast ignorance of how to love. What divine urgings drive us to seek out in others that part of Him we so dimly recognize and that our hearts would respond so joyously to His reflection we glimpse in the face of our lover. Oh, feral heart who would settle for the corporeal image but refuse the spiritual source when both are offered so openly. So saddening is the need to touch and feel and taste the beloved that it goads us like animals down the wrong path, settling only for someone to hold and shunning the higher and more pure love of He who created the very object of our mortal love.
This is a short and barren path, on which we seek love with our whole being and settle for the echo of His voice heard distorted in the mundane love of this world. Why do we turn our hearts away from the clarion call of God beckoning us home? Possibly it is because we have no insight into what we are missing. The plan of family is set in heaven to teach us in types and symbols the relationship of Christ to man and man to Christ. It is a sacred lesson learned on earth. Husbands are told to love their wives as Christ loved the church. Wives are told to be obedient to their husbands. Children are protected, nurtured, and loved. Marriage is the deepest exercise of spiritual application in secular life if we get it right.
EPH 5:22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. 25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. 28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.
MAR 10:13 And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them.14 But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.15 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.16 And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.
We love and cherish one another. We bind our hearts together as lover and beloved. We seek and find a spiritual nature in the relationships of lover, spouse, and family. It is what God intended us to have. Yet, God intended more for us. There is still an emptiness and void unfilled. We love and are unsure of being loved. We are loved but fall short of loving. We wait for that time we may feel possessed and protected by love. We look to the world, but our hearts wait for God. It is not loving or being loved that is needed. We wait on love itself to come. We wait, but He is already here.
PSA 139:7 Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? 8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.9 If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;10 Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.
Somehow, our hearts know Him but we cannot see Him.His presence is felt, His spirit is heard, but our eyes are blind, our ears are deaf to the soft rustle of His steps. In the search for love, our hearts frantically scan the faces of those around us. Are you He for whom I search? Are you the Lord? We look into the eyes of everyone passing, testing each one, until we can say, ” I look at your face and I see God.” When our hearts recognize the face of God in another, we call it love and there we abide. The love of our spouse, at the highest level, is a reflection of the spiritual love we seek in God. The bonding we seek from our spouse is a shadow of a higher need, to bond with God. We love but still, we are not filled. How can the darkened light of our souls illuminate the corners of another’s heart? It is a relationship with God that we seek. We await He who is love. Our relationships with others are divinely inspired by the template of God calling us to a communion with Him. Marriage is sacred. It is based on a divine plan of shadows and types from God showing us how we should love Him and be loved by Him.
SOL 1:15 Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair; thou hast doves’ eyes.16 Behold, thou art fair, my beloved, yea, pleasant: also our bed is green.17 The beams of our house are cedar, and our rafters of fir. 2:1 I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys. 2 As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters.3 As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste. 4 He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.
SON 2:10 My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.11 For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone;12 The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land;13 The fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.14 O my dove, that art in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs, let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely.
SON 5:2 I sleep, but my heart waketh: it is the voice of my beloved that knocketh, saying, Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled: for my head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night.
We seek a deep and abiding communion with another because the desire is placed in us. Relationships of husband and wife are driven to a spiritual depth by the same yearning of togetherness set in us by God for Himself. The pattern of true friendship and holy marriage are the worldly symbols of the heavenly marriage between the believer and Christ. Sex becomes spiritual in this context. The ultimate attempt to commune, share, love, and be one in heart and soul. Yet, in our hearts we are being called home to a place we have never been. We pine for a friend and lover we have barely met. Only He can fill our hearts and souls completely. Only in Him can we rest. Only then will our spirits be at peace.
It is not that we do not love friends or family, but there is a higher love and a deeper calling making us know we are not yet fulfilled, not yet at peace, not yet at rest, not yet free of the emptiness that so graciously plagues our souls.
What devastating mercy and vicious grace has been given man that he would receive by some charity of the Spirit of God this disease of sorrow that only God can cure. Only in this relationship called Christianity does God place a hook in our hearts and draw us homeward. Only here do we have the fisher of men. The great physician and loving Father listens for our call. “Lord, what must I do to be saved?” It is the question that starts the journey of a lifetime as God answers in lessons of love for the rest of our lives.
ACTS 16:29 Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, 30 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? 31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. 32 And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. 33 And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.
This relationship is a marriage mystical and eternal. Christ has assumed his rightful place as both redeemer and husband. He is the spiritual head and high priest of the family of God. He is the bridegroom of the believers. He is the beloved.
REV 21:2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. REV 22:17 And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.
Brethren; I am homesick for a place that I have never been but I know a man who knows the way.
COUNT IT ALL GRACE
When starting the mystical journey it may seem appropriate to bring all of your sins of the past up once again before God and confess all you have confessed before. It may seem good to remember yourself in light of how you were as a sinner. While it is true we are low, unworthy wretches, even this state and all sins are couched in grace. All trials and all sins are not only covered under His grace but are part of His grace. This does not diminish our sins in any way. It does not elevate us spiritually one inch, yet it does show us His magnificent and loving heart. For every step and misstep, all pain and tribulation brought us here to His feet and without any of them we would not be here for such a time as this. Only distress, physical or emotional, forces us to consider our path and only pain of this sort detours us to try other ways. We learn from our mistakes but should not be kept down by them. We repent and must leave the sorrow of our past deeds behind us.
Don’t be troubled when you meditate on the greatness of your former sins, but rather know that God’s grace is so much greater in magnitude that it justifies the sinner and absolves the wicked. Quotations from Cyril of Alexandria (Commentary on the Gospel of St. Luke)
Refection on one’s experiences (sins) is a source of learning and healing. God wants us to become better human beings and we do this through reflective meditative prayer. Bro. Joel Redman OFM
Such a sweet and wonderful balance is maintained between remembering our wretched state and seeking to forget even ourselves in our search for God.
…if any man or woman should think to come to contemplation without many sweet meditations… on their own wretched state, on the passion, the kindness and the great goodness and the worthiness of God, they will certainly be deceived and fail in their purpose. At the same time, those men and women who are long practiced in these meditations must leave them aside, put them down and hold them far under the cloud of forgetting, if they are ever to pierce the cloud of unknowing between them and their God.
From The Cloud of Unknowing
I count it all grace that He knew the path of my sinful steps even before He saved me and still, He saved me. I count it all grace that He somehow wove my freewill into His plan, knowing how low and undeserving I am for His love. I count it all grace, my sins, my strengths, my weaknesses, and all of my limitations are counted as a terrible and undeniable gift designed by God to work in conjunction with the path I walk to lead me homeward to Him. Known by God from before the beginning, knitted together in the womb by His hand, blessed with human frailties so deep and pervasive as to have cost the life of God himself, I was lead to God’s feet. He who is Love has given me the gift of love. It was given for nothing I have done or been. I was sinful even while confessing my sin. There was no need to beg for love. He loves me more than life. There is nothing I may do to thank Him or repay Him except by my free will to accept this gift He gives that it not be given in vain.
ROM 5:17 For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ. 18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. 19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. 20 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: 21 That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord. 6:1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
ROM 6:14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?
For I have attempted to keep myself from sin and sinning and repeatedly failed, utterly. Trying to run or hide from my fallen nature and always finding me with me and never leaving or losing one iota of me, I gave up trying to change me and laid down before Him any hope of my own righteousness. I count myself the only sinner and have received firm rejection from the church, being unable, for any time, to stay me from sinning. Yet, I still feel His spirit welling up within me. But now, there is nowhere to go but to His heart, alone.
You do not have to be perfect. Perfection is not what Christianity is all about. You do your best and God does the “righteousing’. Dr. Gene Scott.
1CO 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
2CO 4:14 Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you. 15 For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.16 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.
JAM 1:1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes, which are scattered abroad, greeting. 2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. 4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
ZEC 4:6 Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts. 7 Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, grace, grace unto it.
Having been shown His grace, by His grace, I at once saw my shortcomings and needs and was drawn to know a basic wrongness in me. I now hold on with my life, for my life, to the grace of God, knowing He who made me knew me and still loved me enough to woo me, with His prevenient grace, by His spirit, back to Him. And if He could and would do this, that by His longsuffering and forgiveness, He would keep loving me to the very end, seeing that He knew all I would be and do before He saved me. By doing this, He is keeping me for Himself until that day I may be made perfect, over there.
WHAT IS GRACE
Only by the grace of God can salvation and the communion we seek take place. We may ask. We may beg. But, it is only in watchful waiting that we will receive. His grace is sufficient and the only vehicle by which salvation and communion with God is granted. But what is grace?
Grace is a blessing, a blessing that is undeserved, unsolicited and unexpected, a blessing that brings a sense of the divine order of things into our lives. The ways of grace are mysterious, we cannot always figure them out. But we know grace by its fruits, by the blessings of its works. We would expect to be startled when grace manifests itself. The opposite is true. It doesn’t startle us at all, for grace is everywhere. We may not discern it; we may not recognize it for we are inclined to take it for granted. “Living with Grace” by Rev. Peter Fleck
If we are walking, dancing, eating, teaching, preaching, meditating, being, we are rid of the impediments which hinder our free movement. We are rid of all the obstacles that block us from being who we are meant to be. This is grace. A grace that indicates not an addition, but rather a subtraction and removal of those things that may hinder us from being who we are. This is grace. Reverend Bill Clark
Grace “is an attitude on God’s part that proceeds entirely from within Himself, and that is conditioned in no way by anything in the objects of His favor.” Burton Scott Easton in The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.
“When a thing is said to be of ‘grace’ we mean that the recipient has no claim upon it, that it was in no-wise due him. It comes to him as pure charity, and, at first, unasked and undesired.” A.W. Pink Attributes of God
In a time before his death, Mr. McLaren, minister of the Tolboth church, said, ” I am gathering together all my prayers, all my sermons, all my good deeds, all my ill deeds; and I am going to throw them all overboard and swim to glory on the plank of Free Grace.”
There is one work which is right and proper for us to do, and that is the eradication of self. But however great this eradication and reduction of self may be, it remains insufficient if God does not complete it in us. For our humility is only perfect when God humbles us through ourselves. Only then are they and the virtue perfected, and not before. Meister Eckhart
If I were good and holy enough to be elevated among the saints, then the people would discuss and question whether this was by grace or nature and would be troubled about it. But this would be wrong of them. Let God work in you, acknowledge that it is his work, and do not be concerned as to whether he achieves this by means of nature or beyond nature. Both nature and grace are his. What is it to you which means he best uses or what he performs in you or in someone else? He should work how and where and in what manner it suits him to do so. Meister Eckhart
The self-righteous, relying on the many good works he imagines he has performed, seems to hold salvation in his own hand, and considers Heaven as a just reward of his merits. In the bitterness of his zeal he exclaims against all sinners, and represents the gates of mercy as barred against them, and Heaven as a place to which they have no claim. What need have such self-righteous persons of a Saviour? They are already burdened with the load of their own merits. Oh, how long they bear the flattering load, while sinners divested of everything, fly rapidly on the wings of faith and love into their Saviour’s arms, who freely bestows on them that which he has so freely promised! Jeanne-Marie Bouvier de la Motte-Guyon
Humility is a grace in the soul… It is indescribable wealth, a name and a gift from God. Learn from Me, He said; that is, not from an angel, not from a man, not from a book, but from Me, that is from My dwelling within you, from My illumination and action within you, for I am gentle and meek of heart in thought and in spirit, and your souls will find rest from conflicts and relief from evil thoughts. John Climacus
Our activity consists of loving God and our fruition of enduring God and being penetrated by his love. There is a distinction between the love and fruition, as there is between God and his Grace. John Ruusbroec
Jesus, are you not my mother? Are you not even more than my mother? My human mother after all labored in giving birth to me only for a day or night; you, my tender and beautiful lord, labored for me over 30 years. Marguerite of Oingt
We are only here and possess what we have because of the timing and grace of God. Whether we have little or we have much, we have it because of God. The love in our hearts and all things we have and feel are because He made us as we are. He sets our path and places us on the path at His time. The people we meet and places we go and thus the situations springing from them are in our lives because we were born at such a time as this. Gratitude keeps our arrogance and pride in check. It assigns all of what we are and all we have to God who made all thingsand keeps them in existence. Gratitude is the balance point between God and man. Thankfulness is a measure of our dependence on God and our obedience to Him. It is the path that our prayers walk to get to God. Gratitude is how we approach Him. It is said there are only two things that motivate us to do things: desire and desperation. It is said, “Gratitude comes from desire”. This is the idea of some philosophers, but there is a higher gratitude not understood by the world.
There is a gratitude springing from the realization that one has no desires, no needs, nothing lacking. It is gratitude from epiphany. Insight brought on by grace enables us to see how God is providing our path and all things on it. It does not mean we have riches or even health, but that we are where we are supposed to be. Even in our lack or pain, we see somehow we are exactly where God would have us to be. It is the gratitude of knowing what we need to fulfill our purpose will be provided on God’s path for God’s purpose. All things are seen in a state of grace and balance and we are here for a purpose; God’s purpose.
Taking God’s Grace to the World!
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