Tuesday, July 26, 2011

No Wonder Evangelical Christians Are Irrelevant to The Present Culture

This past Sunday a question was asked, how do you share the message of Jesus Christ with others?  The answers were the standard replies.  “They will know we are Christians by the way we live.”  “My life with Christ is personal.”  “I don’t feel we can be direct with individuals we are not acquainted with.”   These are all “correct” answers but they fail to answer the real question.  Are we really sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ?   Are we really trying to convince the world that Christianity is right?  There are so many reasons we are not getting the message of the Gospel to the non-believers.  We are apologetic, indifferent, irrational, ignorant, cowards and know-it-alls, no wonder the message of the Gospel has been rejected, and ridiculed as irrelevant to the present culture.

If I were standing outside the boundaries of the evangelical church, I would ask why do you try to convince me that you are right and then apologize if you have offended me.  We are commanded to give an answer for the hope that we have in Jesus Christ.  The problem is we are afraid that we might offend someone for what we believe so we have no strong presence in our culture.  We should NEVER apologize for the TRUTH. 

Among those who are faithful in their witness for Jesus Christ there is a larger group who are actually indifferent to the message of Jesus Christ.  Too many Christians don't seem to care that Christianity is routinely ridiculed as outdated, irrational, and narrow-minded. These same indifferent Christians may complain in a Sunday school class or a Bible study that they are “offended" but they do little to counteract the charges by offering a defense of the Christian message. We should have the same attitude the Apostle Paul had who was "greatly distressed" when he saw the idolatry of Athens. Did he apologize for the TRUTH? No! Was he indifferent to the message of Jesus Christ? No!  He engaged them with the TRUTH without being ashamed of the Gospel.

I spent twenty-eight years teaching in public education.  Often I would have students who would take the name of the Lord in vain.  Since it was a public school and religion was considered taboo and most Christians were afraid to complain about the name of Jesus and God being used in vain, I became proactive.  When a student would use the name of Jesus Christ in a disrespectful manner, I would inform him, I am a Christian and that I was offended.  I would then ask him, why he was  disrespecting my God and not the name of Buddha, Allah, or Zeus?  The result, students stopped using the name of Jesus in vain.  In fact, some apologized for their language.  Others agreed that they should not discriminate against my God and Savior. There is no need to be indifferent or apologize for the message of the Gospel.  We might be surprised at the number of non-Christians that actually agree with us on many of the points of our message.

Other evangelical Christians deny the possibilities of reason and feel their faith means belief in the absence of evidence and argument.  This is where the “traditions of men” come into play.  “We have always taught this or believed this way.”  Why?  “Because this is what the church teaches.”  The more irrational our beliefs, the better--the more "spiritual" they are. No wonder we come across as fanatics and uneducated.  The actions of some Christians give creditability to such accusations. We need to become more knowledgeable about our belief in Jesus Christ.  We need to stop admiring ignorance and stop accepting the opinions of those who are ignorant of the accurate message of the Gospel.

Ignorance is often mistaken among Christians for humility.  We should not be proud of our ignorance when we are called to defend the message of the Gospel.  One lesson I have learned over the years as an educator, is the tremendous intellectual resources available to defend "the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints" (Jude 3) As Christians we are deficient in our ability to defend the message of the Gospel.   Ministers are more concerned about the touchy-feely message than addressing the evidence for the existence of God, the resurrection of Jesus, the atonement and the plan of salvation.  Is it because they are cowards?

Too many evangelicals are more concerned about being "nice" and "tolerant" than being biblical or faithful to the exclusive Gospel found in their Bibles. Where are the evangelicals willing to present and defend their faith in challenging situations, whether at school, at work, or in other public setting? The temptation is to privatize faith, to insulate and isolate it from public life entirely. Yes, we are Christians, but we have difficulty engaging anyone with what we believe and why we believe it. This is nothing less than cowardice and a betrayal of what we say we believe.  Our relationship with Jesus Christ is personal but our message is to “whosoever will”.  Our commission requires us to be able to engage people in an intellectual discussion.  Even then, we will experience rejection, we will be insulted and misunderstood but we are to engage the non-believer. We must never forget that Jesus has all authority in heaven and on earth, and that he has commissioned us to declare and defend his Gospel. 

The opposite of the coward is the arrogant know-it-all who is only interested in looking superior.  Among evangelicals this often is the minister who is more interested in looking authoritative, being dogmatic, and uncompromising than defending the truth in a godly manner. The besetting sin of these know-it-all Christians is intellectual pride--- the Truth we defend is a gift of grace, not our intellectual achievement. The time of harsh self-righteous and judgmental defense is no longer going to win the non-believer. We must "speak the truth in love" (Eph. 4:15). Truth without love is arrogance; love without Truth is sentimentality.

So, how are you sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Conservative, Fundamental or Evangelical--Confused Yet?

In 2003, I along with several Quaker ministers banded together for the purpose of promoting Evangelical Christianity throughout the Society of Friends.   As a group we believed the purpose of the Church is to establish the authority of the Scriptures as interpreted by the Holy Spirit: to guard against the tendency of creating a popular gospel, rather than the Gospel which is personal, exposes sin, and offers eternal life only through Jesus Christ; and to provide direction, guidelines and encourage the believer.

I am unaware what the others are doing in the role of defending the cause of Jesus Christ and promoting the authority of the Scriptures. I am sure many are aware of a gospel that is popular within the church without the power to change lives.  Even among evangelical there is the tendency to be politically correct.  Often, it is easier to isolate one’s self than to become engaged in the community in which one lives.  Over the years Christianity has suffered from the politically correct mindset.  As Christians we have failed in our endeavor to bring a life changing gospel to the world.  We have lost the zeal of the Lord.

 Could it be that we have lost the zeal of the Lord because we have lost our identity?  The identity of the evangelical Christian has been often confused with being a “conservative Christian”.  The media has blurred the terms conservative, fundamental and evangelical to the point that everyone is lumped into one general definition.  To be a conservative Christian means to be part of the Religious Right.  This creates a problem for me.  

First, there are those in the Religious Right that no doubt are there only for the financial gain and the power of position.  This bothers me because they are not concerned about the authority of the Scriptures, nor are they guarding against the tendency of creating a popular political gospel.  More often than not, it is these greedy power hungry charlatans that have brought shame to the cause of Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul had the same problem with those who wanted to be associated with Christ but had their own agenda.  “Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; but have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.   But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.  For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake for God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to [give] the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”2Cor.4:1-6

Next, there are popular religious leaders who are associated with the Religious Right that set an agenda for “Conservative Christians” that I totally disagree with.  The main message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ was not abortion, homosexuality, a balanced budget, and marriage, protection of Israel from invasion and health and prosperity along with all the other side issues.  It is true that these are important issues but they are not the central message of the Gospel.  We have allowed individuals with personal agendas to dictate the direction of the Church which is not the direction established by Jesus Christ.  

There religious leaders today that are like the old prophet in the book Kings (IKings 13:18)  that want to be included in those called evangelical. “I too am a prophet, as you are.  And an angel said to me by the word of the LORD: Bring him back with you to your house so that he may eat bread and drink water.” (But he was lying).  Jeremiah was confronted with the same problem, (Jer. 23:16) This is what the LORD Almighty says: "Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you; they fill you with false hopes. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD.  Not only have we accepted these false religious leaders as the messengers of God we have also include the “Conservative Talk Show Host” as messengers of Truth. 

When it comes to my doctrinal beliefs I do not want Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, or Shawn Hannity or any other conservative media personality establishing what I believe.  Politically they may have elements of truth but they are not always correct.  Like many leaders within what is considered conservative evangelical circles they have their own agendas. The great hunger in the world today is to have a deeper spiritual life and to resolve the injustice in the world. The sad fact is that there are very few who are working on this agenda.

As an Orthodox Evangelical Quaker I am concerned that the lines of politics and religion have become so blurred that if your politics are on the Right you are a Christian, if they are on the Left you are anti-Christian.  Both Left and Right in the political spectrum have elements of Christian values.  We should not allow the Left and Right of politics to determine our responsibility to the message of Jesus Christ.  The social message that is often attributed to the politics of liberal theology today such as antislavery, women's rights, child labor, prison reform and reducing poverty was at one time considered the politics of the conservative Christian.  The Church has divided its Gospel message into a political message determined by issues that garner the most in public approval. 

The message of the Gospel should not divide the Church over which issue has the most importance in the world of politics but are we proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ which is personal, exposes sin, and offers eternal life only through Jesus Christ and gives direction, guidelines and encouragement for the believer?

As Christians were are more than Conservative, Fundamental or Evangelical, we are followers of Jesus Christ preaching the message of the cross. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. I Cor.1:18

Saturday, July 16, 2011

In Defense of Christianity

Almost every day Christianity comes under fire from those who for whatever reason find it offensive.  Yet, where would society be today without the influence of Christianity?  It might come as a shock to some but the largest single provider of healthcare and education in the world, working in some of the poorest countries where there is no other care available is provided by Christians.

One of the oldest organizations to protect the rights of children around the world is Save the Children.  This organization was founded by Eglantyne Jebb a Christian whose impact has been worldwide.  The Declaration of the Rights of the Child was adopted by the League of Nations.    She also pioneered the Child Sponsorship program.

Another advocate for children was Thomas John Barnardo who founded the world’s largest orphanage system  Barnardo was preparing to become a medical missionary in China, he studied medicine at the London hospital, and later at Paris and Edinburgh, where he became a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons. During the time he was preparing for his missionary work in China he did evangelical work where he became aware of the seriousness of homeless children in the cities of England. He gave up his ambition to lead a missionary's life in China, and began what was to prove his life’s work. The first of the "Dr Barnardo’s Homes" was opened in 1870 at the time of his death in 1905, there were established 112 district homes and mission branches.

There are others who were advocates for the rights of the young.  Men like Richard Oastler who helped bring about the English Factory reform bill.  Passionate Christian women like Joseph Butler who became a key advocated in social reform for the age of consent to be set.  She was not only a vehement feminist but a passionate Christian; she once said "God and one woman make a majority". 

It was from the compassion and concern for the elderly and disabled that during the 10th century that Almshouses were established.  They were the forerunner of the nursing homes and hospitals.

The Quakers pioneered prison reform during the 1600’s.  Prison Fellowship International a Quaker organization works around the globe in prisons to help reform and rehabilitate prisoners.  Also, there are many other Christian prison ministries working to change the lives of prisoners.  

Christians are more likely to voluntary for community service than non-Christians.  In research done earlier this year it was found that 81% of evangelical Christians do some kind of voluntary work at least once a month. This compares with a much lower figure of 26% for the population at large. The level of community engagement is influenced not only by faith, but by how seriously faith is taken. The research also showed that those who consider their faith to be the most important thing in their life undertake an average of two hours' volunteering each week, compared with an average of one hour 15 minutes by those who do not consider their faith to be the most important thing in their life. Eighty-six per cent of evangelicals voted in the last general election, compared with 65% in the population at large. Forty per cent of worship-attending Americans volunteer regularly to help the poor and elderly, compared with 15% of Americans who never attend services. Frequent-attenders are also more likely than the never-attenders to volunteer for school and youth programs (36% v 15%), a neighborhood or civic group (26% v 13%), and for healthcare (21% v 13%).  

I could add to this every growing list men like Louis Braille who on his deathbed said, “God was pleased to hold before my eyes the dazzling splendors of eternal hope…”  His system is now used on a worldwide basis.  There are compassionate women like Rose Hawthorne Lathrop who created the first homes/treatment centers for cancer patients in the US.

We could speak about the great success of the Salvation Army in caring for the poor and the aid given during devastating disasters. Another Christian organization, Habitat for Humanity, one of the largest charities in the US which internationally provides housing for the poor. We could add to this list the YMCA, World Vision and the Samaritans Purse.

 In the area of education men like Friedrich Wilhelm August Fröbel who laid the foundation for modern education based on the recognition that children have unique needs and capabilities. He developed the concept of the “kindergarten”, and also coined the word now used in German and English or, Mary Lyon who was a pioneer for the education of women. We add to the education list men like Frank Laubach a committed Christian and pioneer of world literacy.   Known as the “Apostle to the Illiterates” the programs he developed have been used to teach about 60 million people to read their own language.  It is often forgotten but out of the initial 110 universities started in the US, 100 had Christian foundations.  

In the field of science men like Isaac Newton, Michael Faraday, Johannes Kepler, Blaise Pascal,  Gregor Mendel, and George Washington Carver are just a few of the hundreds of Christians who have help to change this world for the better.

More often than not, those who criticize Christianity, never focus on what good has been accomplished by devoted Christians.  The critics who dwell on the failure of the Church, thinking this will tie our hands and make us crawl into a dark corner however, they fail to understand the reason behind our motivation.  It is what we have found in our salvation that drives us to do the will of God.  When a true picture of the impact of Christianity upon world societies and cultures is viewed in its proper perspective, it is a startling revelation of contrast between the other religions of the world and the secular ideologies of the anti-Christian. 

For those who choose to continue to criticize Christians show me your contributions to the betterment of mankind.  It’s a put-up or shut-up invitation.  I am fully aware of the history of Christianity and its many shortcomings, but if we are talking about perfection where are the perfect? We are called to do our reasonable service that is all we can do.  There will always be those within Church that will have questionable actions that will bring disgrace to the cause of Christ but, we cannot stop because of an imperfect Church.  We must carry on the work of Jesus Christ regardless of our critics.

Friday, July 15, 2011

"What Do You Want On Your Tombstone"

 - 2 Kings 20:1-3
 1 In those days Hezekiah became mortally ill. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came to him and said to him, “Thus says the LORD, ‘Set your house in order, for you shall die and not live.’” 2 Then he turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD, saying, 3 “Remember now, O LORD, I beseech You, how I have walked before You in truth and with a whole heart and have done what is good in Your sight.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.

I started a hobby a few years ago of restoring old pioneer cemeteries.  It has been a very interesting hobby.  What I have found out is I can talk to the dead all day long and they never talk back, they don’t complain about my work, they don’t have high expectations for me, they don’t asked me to set goals, if I don’t visit them for several weeks they don’t question my dedication and I am never expected to invite them home for dinner.  

What has been interesting is I have become attached to these people.  I want to know their story.  For the past three years I have spent hundreds of hours learning about the people buried in the Old Cemetery here in Thorntown.  What I have found is the forgotten story of those who are only remembered by what is written on their tombstone.  More often than not there is not much to remember them by—born and died is about all.

Some have been fortunate like Hezekiah and have been given additional days added to their life.  Others had their life cut short without ever having reached the promised seventy-years of age.  Walking through a cemetery reveals the fact that death is not a respecter of age, gender, race or social status.   

What will be said of you after you are dead and gone? I hear that the mortality rate is 100%. Will the thought of you be a blessing or burden? Remember, some people are blessings wherever they go; others are a blessing whenever they go! 

The short message on your tombstone may tell your whole life story in just a few lines.  I have read some very funny epitaphs which no doubt have an element of truth.  

1787 - Jones - 1855
Here lie the bones of Sophie Jones;
For her death held no terrors.
She was born a maid and died a maid.
No hits, no runs, and no heirs.
Scranton, Pennsylvania

We are not really defined by our birth date or our death date.  What we truly are is all summed up in that little dash which is everything.
Carried by Angels
Leonard Ravenhill
“Are the things you are living for
Worth Christ dying for?”

If you have been blessed with extended life or if God has granted you additional days as he did Hezekiah you might give it some thought what message you want to be read one hundred years from your death.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Black Belt Christianity

John 8:30-32Kin g James Version (KJV) As he spake these words, many believed on him.  Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

Back in my younger days when I was in a physical shape different from the shape I am now in.  I trained in the Shorin-Ryu style of karate at the Kokomo School of Self-defense. I started my training along with my three sons under Eddie Bethea an 8th Degree Black Belt.   Mr. Bethea has training thousands of students in the martial arts.  He is a man of high integrity and principles.  Myself and our three sons are grateful to have had the privilege of getting to know him and his willingness to share his knowledge with us.

We started in a self-defense class that lasted for six weeks.  We then enrolled in the karate class and our journey of learning started with the various forms or katas, kicks, blocks, punches and balance.  What I learned was learning did not start to take place until you had done something at least twenty time.  We practiced kicks, blocks and punches by the hundreds it was the basics that helped with the advanced techniques.  In each class it seemed we were pushed to our physical limits only find that we still had a little more to give.  Every week brought about a change in body and mind.  The things I thought I could never do after a while became routine.  Becoming aware of your surroundings was important to your “survival” in Kumite or sparring.  One on one was not as difficult but when there were three against one you had to be not only aware of those who you were confronting but your surroundings as well.  Students honed their skills by working together with those in the school.  Respect was earned by the accomplishments of the individual student not by how long they had been a member of the class.  Yet, it was not about the number of accomplishments one had but about the willingness to learn more.  It was not about studying what was taught but applying what one had learned through the experience of practice.  

Not only did we learn physical skills we were required to learn terms.  The first was Karate.    The word Karate is derived from the words: Kara meaning “empty” and Te meaning “hand”.  The essence of the training was, “I come to you with only Empty Hands. I have no weapons, but should I be forced to defend myself, my principles, or my honor, should it be a matter of life or death, of right or wrong, then here are my weapons, my Empty Hands.” 

We learned the history of our style of karate.  It had something to do with the response to the Japanese conquest of Okinawa. The Japanese conquerors are said to have prohibited the people of Okinawa from owning weapons apparently as a means of insuring their control of the island. The Okinawans developed karate, literally "empty hand", as a means of protecting themselves from brigands, criminals and their Japanese conquerors. Karate was taught in secret only to trustworthy individuals. 

I have always enjoyed a good karate movie.  Even though most have the same plot, I am amazed at their physical skills.  The storyline often runs like this, a non-karate individual find himself in trouble and must learn karate to protect himself, his family, friends or community from the “evil doers”.  He finds a sensei who teaches him the skills he needs to defeat his adversary. The master then teaches him the skills needed to defend himself.   The training was always hard and there was very little mercy shown the student.  But in the end he became a great fighter and saved his family, friends, or community.  These movies were often based in a historical setting when the average person was not permitted to own weapons.  They had to rely upon their abilities to fight with their hands or some farm implement that was handy.  The whole purpose of the karate training was to defend against those who had weapons and power  .In order to test my skills outside the classroom I entered the world of competition.  My first year of competition I did not win one contest, needless to say it was discouraging.  I applied the principles I learned in the class but it didn’t work in the completion ring.  That was when I learned the importance of being aware of my surroundings.  It was not just the adversary I faced in the ring but the boundaries of the ring and the position of the judges. 

The second year I started winning.  The last tournament of the year I injured my foot and was unable to train.  We moved to Indianapolis and stopped training.  When we moved to Thorntown I enrolled the wife and our youngest son in classes in Lebanon and started training again. I had not competed in a tournament for three years and thought I could just jump in and still be successful.  I entered a contest in Greenfield and was ready to take up where I left off.  It didn’t work that way. I was beaten by a younger faster man and my only consolation was he won first place in the tournament.  At the end of the tournament he came up to me a said, “For an old man you sure hit hard.”  I’m sure he was only being kind but what hurt was being called an old man I was only 43.  It was then I realized practice and hard training were needed to compete in a world of young fighters.  Knowledge, skill, experience, and past training could not make up for everyday practice—I had lost the agility needed to be successful against a younger and faster competitor.  The sad part of my training is that it really did not serve any real purpose outside the dojo or the completion ring.  The karate we studied has never been used for the purpose for which it was created.  Here we were Quakers learning how to fight fights which will never happen.  We were learning how to disable adversaries we would never encounter.  Karate no longer serves its intended purpose.  However, it does teach discipline, respect and character.  But those were not the real reasons for the existence of a “martial” art.  It no longer serves its original purpose.

How does this apply to the Christian life? Both Karate and Christianity are similar in their purpose—to fight against evil.  Karate has lost its true historical purpose; Christianity seems to have lost its historical purpose as well. Over the years Christianity has lost the mission of making disciples.  Why?  Some would say it is because the times have changed.  In regards to the study of karate we are more civilized and there's very little need for anyone, at least living in America, to be able to kill someone with your bare hands.  In regards to the Church there is little need for the average Christian to go out and seek disciples after all that is the minister’s job.  

You can imagine the dilemma that poses for the students of Karate. They love it. They honor the senseis who taught them. They want to see it continued.  For the church member they feel it is the ministers’ responsibility to make disciples yet, they love the thought of being religious and they would hate to see their church close down. So how do you motivate Christians to dedicate years and years of training to learn an art making of disciple when they will never use the skill?  Do you think it is time to get back to the purpose of what Christianity is all about---making disciples.

 First, we are called to be disciples of Jesus Christ, he is our Teacher.  We learn the basics prayer, fasting and learning the scriptures.  We practice in church; we learn the terms and can speak the language.  We debate the various doctrines and read devotionals, watch religious movies, go to seminars, listen to “successful religious leaders” and study history and still we are losing in the tournament of life.  We are not aware of our surroundings, our adversary seems to be better trained, the judges are unaware when we score a point, and the ring is not to our liking.  We need to train as Black belt Christians with purpose to use our skills.

In order to become a black belt we need a teacher (Jesus Christ), we need a style,(Righteousness and Holiness) we need to know the forms, (the doctrines of Gods Word) we need to practice daily (take up the Cross and follow Him daily).  We must follow the Teacher and become a disciple not a student.   Jesus said, if ye continue in my word.  The “secret” is to continue in the words of Jesus.  If we follow his training routine we will become successful in combating the adversary.  Being a disciple is to know the truth and freedom found in the truth.  

Disciples are learners who apply their knowledge to daily living.
The Greek word for 'disciple' is 'mathetes,' which means 'learner.'  In biblical times a disciple would attach himself to a teacher and learn from him.  He would follow him throughout the day, interact with him, work with him and often would go home with him at night.  As a result of this close, personal real-life training, a disciple often took on the characteristics of the one who trained him.  In fact, this is exactly what Jesus said, if you love me you will keep my commandments.

Disciples become like their Teacher
1.     When fully trained, disciples are like their Master (Luke 6:40).
2.     Disciples of Jesus increasingly reflect His character, conduct and commitments (Ephesians 4:13).

Christian Discipleship Never Ends
The word, "Learner," does not have a sense of “having arrived”.  A disciple is one who is always learning.  He’s not "Learned", but a "learner."  Discipleship is a life-long process (Philippians 3:12-14).  We will never fully reflect Jesus Christ in our lifetime.  But disciples keep moving in that direction, learning from Jesus throughout their lives.

The English word "disciple" refers more to a hierarchical position, I am a disciple of…., or he’s a disciple of . . ., whereas the Greek word "disciple” refers more to the activity of a learner. The characteristics of a disciple are: desires to learn; is a learner of Jesus Christ; has a need to apply knowledge to everyday living; and has a willingness to imitate the Teacher. 

 I Corinthians 11:1 Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ
Disciples are those with a love for God, their neighbor and Christian Brother and show this love in deeds.  They put Jesus first in everything and count the cost before they jump in.  They are willing to wait on pleasure and comfort, to suffer now for the reward waiting them. They serve those whom they lead.  They seek other’s good before their own.  They work out of gratitude and love and are zealous to do good deeds.  A disciple of Jesus seeks to impart what he has learned to others, to fulfill the ministry Christ has given to them.  Disciples are ready to receive whatever Jesus has to offer — His forgiveness, love, direction and commandments — and to pay the price to get it. The common characteristics revolve around the attitudes and behaviors of a learner.

All too often those who call themselves by the name of Christ are not disciples.  They may be students who wish to gain the knowledge and status of a follower of Jesus Christ but are not willing to take up the cross and follow him-- they are not disciples.   

It is true that the techniques of karate are effective at self-defense and a person could seriously injure someone or even kill someone if they were skilled at karate. But over the course of history the farm tools are no longer needed to defend “myself, my principles, or my honor, should it be a matter of life or death, of right or wrong”, the original purpose of karate has changed. We are not Okinawans trying to defend themselves against criminals and Japanese rulers. However, the mission of the church has not changed and the lesson learned from Jesus Christ and following his teaching still has the power to change lives and saves souls.  The making of disciples is just as important today as when Jesus said, Go ye into the all world and preach the gospel—making disciple.  Let us not take a skill that has been passed down by the Master Teacher (making disciples) and make it of little use.  He has given us the weapons to defeat the adversary and put fear into the hearts of the wicked. Let us study to show ourselves approved rightly dividing the word of truth and find freedom in the truth of Jesus Christ.

We are in a spiritual warfare.  Just as the marital artist has learned the skills to “defend myself, my principles, or my honor, should it be a matter of life or death, of right or wrong, then here are my weapons, my Empty Hands” we as Christians must use the skills the Master has given us.  Paul tells us we are to, Put on the whole amour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 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.  Wherefore take unto you the whole amour of God that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.  Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.