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.
March – April 2003
Welcome to the GMAF Newsletter! We pray it will encourage you in your Martial Arts and Outreach for Christ.
Thoughts from the Master
“Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” Jesus Christ
“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” The Apostle Paul
“These six things doth the Lord hate; yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren. My son, keep thy father’s commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother. Bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck. When thou goest, it shall lead thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee. For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life.” King Solomon
One of the aspects of martial arts that attracts many people is our emphasis on building Character. I heard a wise teacher many years ago say that martial arts is not about becoming a better fighter, but about becoming a better person. Character is at the core of martial arts. Without character a martial artist would be little more than a skilled thug. Character shapes martial artists into strong citizens, good fathers, mothers, sons and daughters.
Read the founding principles of most martial arts systems and you’ll see the importance Character has in the art. Character traits of Honesty, Humility, Loyalty and Perseverance are paramount to the success of any martial artist. Here are some examples from the doctrine of several martial arts systems:
- “Strive for the perfection of character!”
- “Defend the paths of truth!
- “Foster a spirit of effort!”
- “Honor the principles of etiquette!”
- “Refrain from violent behavior!”
- “Always act in a courteous manner”
- “During training, concentrate to the limit of your mental endurance.”
- “Give your all, mentally and physically, as training without concentration prevents advancement”
- “The physical and mental training of Karate should be combined as one.”
- “The heart, mind and body should be in unison at all times.”
- “Heed the advice of your teacher and of more advanced students of other schools. Listen to and never forget their advice.”
- “Listening and watching are key points to advancement.”
- “In order to advance, one must strive to obtain the true spirit of Karate.”
- “Training is on a continuous basis and one learns a little at a time. Do not take breaks in training as it will result in a step backwards.”
- “Always strive for advancement and when advanced, one must not brag or boast.”
- “Self-praise and over-confidence is a sickness that corrupts training.”
- “Refrain from over-eating, drinking and smoking, for these bad habits hinder the effectiveness of your training.”
- “Karate training has no limits. Step by step, study by study, and one day in the future you will undoubtedly enter the temple of Shaolin.”
- “To gain a more profound understanding.”
- “To gain strength from our weaknesses.”
- “To become more sincere.”
- “To become more righteous.”
- “To better control our emotions.”
- “To have more peace in our homes.”
- “To prohibit intentional violence.”
- “To rule the actions of the warrior.”
- “To edify.”
- “To promote virtue.”
- “To promote peace among the people.”
- “To produce harmony in society.”
- “To bring about prosperity.”
- “Respect for God, Family, Friends, Country”
- “Qualities – Humility, Honesty, Confidence, Courage, Strength”
- “Responsibility – Sincerity – Justice”
- “Be loyal to your country.”
- “Be obedient to your parents.”
- “Be loving to ones husband or wife.”
- “Be cooperative with your brothers.”
- “Be respectful to your elders.”
- “Be faithful to your teacher.”
- “Be faithful to your friends.”
- “Kill only in justice and with honor.”
- “Never retreat in battle.”
- “Always finish what you start.”
- “Reverence for nature.”
- “Physical concentration.”
- “Cultivate courage”
- “Be strong inside and mild outside”
- “Reading ability”
- “Purpose of training should be enhancement of the mental and physical self.”
- “Sincerity is necessary.”
- “Effort is necessary.”
- “Consistent schedule during practice.”
- “Do your best when training.”
- “Train in the basic spirit of the Art.”
- “Regularly spaced practice sessions.”
- “Obey without objection the word of instructors or seniors; look and learn.”
- “Don’t be overly ambitious.”
- “Pay attention to every aspect of your training.”
- “Pay attention to the order of your training.”
- “Get instruction step by step in new forms and techniques.”
- “Try to overcome feelings of idleness.”
- “Cleanliness is desired when practice is finished.”
As Christian martial artists we know the importance of Character. God’s Word emphasizes the importance of Character. The Bible gives us hundreds of real-life examples of people with good and bad character. Character became an issue early in the lives of the first family. Adam and Eve sinned against God and were banished from the Garden of Eden. Abel displayed excellent character qualities; Cain did not. Cain killed his brother because of bad character. The Bible is filled with stories of the success and failure of character. Noah was an example of good character. Abraham and Lot are examples of good and bad character. Joseph was an example of good character. Moses expressed both good and character. Joshua was an example of good character. Ruth was also an example of good character.
“And now, my daughter, don’t be afraid. I will do for you all you ask. All my fellow townsmen know that you are a woman of noble character.”Ruth 3:11
Job was an example of good character with the challenges of being human. David was an example of good and bad character. Read the Bible from front to back and we find everything we need to know about character.
Character is something for which people should strive.
“A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones.”Proverbs 12:4
“A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.”Proverbs 31:10
“Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.”Acts 17:11
How do we develop character? Are we born with it? Do we inherit it from our parents? Do we get it from our social standing? Is it because of the church or school we attend?
God makes it clear that character is something we develop by clear intention and expression.
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”Romans 5:1-5
Notice the process:
- Justified through faith
- Peace with God through Christ
- Access by faith into our standing of Grace
- Rejoice in the hope of the glory of God
- Rejoice in our sufferings
- Knowing that suffering produces perseverance
- Perseverance produces character
- Character produces hope
- Hope does not disappoint us because God poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit
Character comes from having a right relationship with God through faith in Christ followed by a rejoicing in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces perseverance and perseverance produces character. Character produces hope. What does our world need? Hope. That hope comes from character which is developed by persevering through suffering. These precious Words written by the Apostle Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit give us a fresh perspective on dealing with the challenges of living in this world.
Biblical Health Principles
MS, MH, DNM
Biblical Health Ministries
Steve Shober is is a Doctor of Naturopathic Ministries and a Master Herbalist. Steve is Director of Biblical Health Ministries in Wisconsin and has a keen interest in helping Christians enjoy a healthy lifestyle. As Christians and martial artists we have a special interest in being healthy and strong. We asked Steve to share his insights with us in each newsletter this year to help us better understand the gift of health God offers to His children.
Our soul is essentially our mind (personality, character, heart, psyche, emotions, intellect, will, etc). Our mind is plagued with all sorts of health issues. In fact, the Scriptures confirm our soul is polluted with the things of this world, has a bent toward evil, is obsessed with self-gratification, and is innately “me first.” Thus, after salvation there is a need to start healing the diseased soul/mind. The need for healing is termed many things but “renewal” is apropos. Renewal of the mind is a major concern of Scripture, and Romans 12:2 is most instructive: “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind…”. The new spiritual being created in Christ is now asked to start thinking and behaving in accordance with the new Divine nature. the goal is to remove the pains, wrong value systems and failures of our old life and replace it with that which god has specifically fashioned for us.
Since one’s identity determines their behavior, the fact that one is identified with Christ should create a desire to behave accordingly. Thankfully, there is Divine help to accomplish this. The Greek word in Romans 12:2 often translated “transformed” is the basic word “metamorphosed”, which means to change (meta) into another form (morph). Just as a caterpillar is metamorphosed into a beautiful butterfly, so too the Lord wants to transform our life. This transformation results in a renewed mind: renewed in principles, outlook, ideals, and values. It also helps release the past with all its problems. The new essential inner nature (resulting from salvation) is now to be revealed in a mind that is continually being renewed and improved.
The passive voice used in Romans 12:2 indicates that the transformed mind is something god will produce in us, but only as we allow Him to work in our lives. Thus, the transformation desired is not a free-gift like salvation, nor is it something we can do on our own, nor is it a one-time event (not a single act of God), nor is it instantaneous. The renewal is an ongoing, lifelong process that is a cooperative venture between us and the indwelling Holy Spirit. Cooperation includes communing with Jesus Christ, studying His Word and applying it to every situation, meditation on the things of Christ so we know how to apply the Word, waling according to the light He has already shown us, and having a heart ready to change/yield to further insights from the Master. It is a process over time in which the mind and heart of the Lord can be imparted to each believer. This is the process by which we become Christ-like in our mind and our life. This is how victory over anger, obsessions, evil thoughts, the past, etc., are replaced with the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, etc., see Galatians 5:22).
Summary: Considering our spirit and soul, we see two interesting principles emerge (principles recognized by those involved in natural health). The first principle is that healing begins from the inside and works outward. Thus, God comes into the deepest recesses of our being, into our very core, and gives new birth to our terminally ill spirit. Then He starts to work outward into our minds. (We have not gotten there yet, but later we will see He then works outward even more to help our physical bodies). The second principle is that healing begins at the top and works downward. Could anything be more true. Overall healing begins with God (top) and comes downward to us.
Taking God’s Grace to the World!
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