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A karate student was training for many years to finally receive his black belt. He had worked hard, advancing in rank & was excited for this day to come.
He kneeled before his Master Sensei and the other Sensei. He performed all the Katas he knew, very well. He broke the boards & concrete that was required for testing. He sparred with several other black belts and scored extremely well, passing all the tests.
It came to the end and he again kneeled before his Master Sensei and waited when his Master Sensei said, “What is the true meaning & essence of a black belt?”
The student responded, “It is the end of my journey” The Master Sensei paused for several moments, seemingly disappointed with his reply, and then answered, “You are not yet ready for your black belt, return in one year”
The student continued to train hard and returned to the Master Sensei after one year to receive his black belt. He kneeled before his Master Sensei. His Master Sensei again asked, “What is the true meaning & essence of a black belt?”
The student replied, “It is the mark of true accomplishment in our Martial Art”
The Master Sensei again paused for several moments seemingly disappointed, once again, waiting for more from his student. He then replied with, “You are not yet ready for your black belt, return in one year”
After another year of hard training the student returns and kneels before his Master Sensei. The Master Sensei asks, “What is the true meaning and essence of a black belt?”
The student replies, “It is the beginning of my journey. It is the first step of a never ending journey of discipline, hard work, and the pursuit of an even higher standard. To apply and demonstrate integrity, respect, heroic courage, honor, compassion, sincerity, and loyalty. It is the first step, and why we start at one, the first degree.”
The Master Sensei replied, “Yes, you are receive the black belt and begin your work.”
This article was written by and given permission by and of:
~ Sensei Don Martin
I DON’T HAVE TIME” I don’t have time to make it to church every Sunday. I don’t have time to read the bible. I don’t have time to get in a church group. I barely have enough time to sleep & eat.
Wonder where your time & resources go? It is relatively easy to discover. Simply pull our your check book ledger for the last 30 to 90 days. Or if you are like me, simply go online to your online banking account & google or outlook calendar.
The thing is most people will find time & resources for things that are most important to them. If you are a workaholic like I was (still have that tendency) then you may see your schedule filled with work related, income producing or what is deemed productivity building activities. If you are a sports or music enthusiast, you may see you schedule filled with football games, or music concerts. If your kiddos are in a lot of sports, you may see soccer, lacrosse, football, dance, & recitals fill your calendar. You get the point.
There is also a biblical perspective to where your heart is, your treasure is there too. I may have no problem dishing out a couple hundred bucks for an OSU game, especially against ishigan. Or if the Eagles reunion tour came to Cincinnati, I may find some way to get the money to attend that concert. How about a 50% discount on Buffalo Trace Bourbon for you bourbon fellas, or some quality cubans for you cigar guys? Or that expensive gym membership that you have to sign up for as they are open 24/7.
The things is, we tend to find time, as well as possibly resources to get, attend or experience the things most important to us. But what about our Spiritual Well Being? What about our relationship with our Creator? What about sharing the hope & the Saving Grace to escape hell for others, most especially for the ones we love?
If Christ was able to change the world & lead a ministry of such a magnitude in just 3 years, could we not find time for Him? Could we not carve out time to read the Word, be still and quiet and let Him speak to and into us? Could we not find a mere 1 hour a week to be in a house of Worship, to learn, grow, serve, become better equipped and go out? Isn’t the One who suffered, died an agonizing death on the cross for us, that while we were sinners, died for each of us, worth some investment of time? Isn’t that homeless person on the streets wondering were his or her next meal may come from, worth a lunch & kind word? Isn’t that man or woman in prison worth a visit to share the Good News of hope? Isn’t it worth gathering with fellow believers to share the joy, build one another up, learn & pray for one another? Isn’t those young women sold into sex slavery worth praying for and possibly sharing your resources with to help get them out, and into work? Isn’t that orphanage, or young boy or girl worth mentoring an hour a week?…… It all kind of changes our paradigm a bit doesn’t it.
LONG READ” (However if I don’t share, the rocks may cry out) I once witnessed a man being called out of a message for being “overly charismatic”, saying too many “Amens”, “Praise God” etc… I of course will not mention names, the church, or the event without written permission. I am not sharing this to embarrass a person, a church, or a movement with good intentions. However, I will share in hopes that people may realize God wants you to be you, the best version of you… I believe He wants you to be ALL IN.
As I watched this occur I was initially puzzled. It wasn’t until later I discovered exactly why this man was pulled out of a message. I know this man, a fellow brother in Christ, and warrior for spreading the hope & Good News of Jesus Christ. My answer to him was that he should have stated something like this, “If I didn’t praise God & my savior in this manner, the rocks would cry out.” I told this brother, you be you, & let the Holy Spirit flow as you feel He is compelling you & not to worry what others may think or say. It is not about a church, a human being, not even a movement, it is about you & God. You & the Holy Spirit.
As I started this post I had at least 6 more paragraphs elaborating on examples similar to this from a variety of churches and denominations. However, I stopped and deleted them as the purpose of this post is not to be critical of a church, or a denomination, or any woman or man of faith. The purpose of this post is to share that it is okay to worship as the Holy Spirit leads. It is okay to demonstrate your faith in public as you believe the Holy Spirit is leading contrary to what a church, or man, or denomination declares, in my opinion. Because it is not about them, it is about HIM.
If we can stand up at sporting events, or rock concerts and shout and sing, would we not feel compelled to do the same for our Savior the saved our soul? Now I am not saying be disrespectful to others, or be so distracting that someone could not hear or understand a message. I believe the Holy Spirit is not the author of confusion as the Word states; so there is a place for being quiet and organized. However, if we are exercising our Spiritual Gifts as we feel called, they may be bold and gregarious at times for a reason. If a message convicts you and touches you in a manner that you want to say “Amen”. “Hallelujah” “Praise God” “Yes, Jesus” give applause, by all means, do it, or as the Word states, “the rocks may cry out.”
In addition, if we love our God with all our hearts, soul & minds, as well as love our neighbor as our self as Jesus answer as the greatest of all commandments; then we should be eager to utilize our Spiritual Gifts to full capacity. Which may include not sitting in the back seats, with your hands folded, nearly falling asleep. It means getting into the game with enthusiasm. People like to be around enthusiastic, optimistic people. I say be on fire for Jesus. Not necessarily obnoxiously on fire, but eager & ready to share the joy and hope you have. To use your gift of exhortation, or teaching, or administration/helps, of mercy, of apostleship, of prophesy…. to it’s fullest. If it is supporting a message that speaks to your heart and soul, then yes, shout an Amen, or Praise God. The purpose is give attention to God, not us, and I think people would be attracted to that enthusiasm. The cheerleading for Jesus, and may want to learn more and dig deeper. To support and be on the winning team. Although the world may think differently, or that think that believers are under dogs; but, we as believers, realize we are on the winning team, as we know who ultimately wins in the end.
In my opinion as I close, if the Holy Spirit is gripping you to weep, or kneel, if He is gripping you to raise hands up high or dance, if He is gripping you to sing & shout; go ahead, or the rocks may cry out, or the rocks may weep, or the rocks may dance. As believers we are the rocks being molded, who are built on solid rock and ground in Jesus Christ; therefore as when called by the Holy Spirit, let’s ROCK n ROLL.
Dad’s of young children, your children are listening, observing & absorbing. When I was growing up, I rarely ever seen my dad cry. I never seen his dad cry. I can only recall maybe 3 times my dad ever cried. It was like the earth stood still.
My son seems to have the impression that crying is a sign of weakness. Maybe it’s because he has rarely ever seen me cry, or he was taught that by peers in school, or other influences. I must confess, it does take a lot for me to weep. However, as I have grown closer to God, I find myself being brought to tears during certain worship music, praying & laying hands over people for healing not just of the body, but of the heart, soul & mind. Hearing stories of salvation & overcoming immense challenges, especially around strong men as they fight tears back in revelation, has brought me to tears.
It takes a lot to change how you may have been raised. Taught what is acceptable & what is not. The thing is the strongest man that ever lived, wept. In fact, “Jesus wept” is the shortest verse in the bible for one of the most profound examples. He did not weep over the death of Lazarus as He knew He would resurrect him. He wept over the sadness of his family, friends & the crowd. Jesus wept over mankind. Obviously us as men need to represent strength to our children. We are wired to be protectors & defenders. We are symbols of a sold rock, built & molded by the true solid rock in God, & His Son. However, there is a time to cry. To demonstrate the strength is shedding a tear, mourning, and letting go. If God manifested in the flesh in His Son, Jesus Christ, wept, then we in His image, may weep.
I want to share something with the fellas right now for a moment on how God has spoken to me today and put this on my heart and mind.
What I am about to share, some may not agree with me, or see it the same way, & that is fine. I am certainly not always right. My perspectives may not be everyone’s “cup of tea”, & that’s fine too. You, or I were not meant to be “everyones’ cup of tea” We are all unique & wonderfully made. However, as believers we should drink from the same cup. What do I mean by that you may ask? If you are truly saved, accepting that Christ suffered, died, resurrected & sits at the right hand of the throne of God in intercession for you. That you have asked for forgiveness of your sins, & accepted Christ as your Lord & savior while confessing this with you words, & believing in your heart. Being born again in that you have now been forgiven from your sins, that you have put your sins away, the old ways of the flesh, now striving to the mark, running the race of life, fighting the good fight, to finish the course of your faith in the one true God. You are drinking from a new cup, a cup that fills you up, & quenches the thirst. The cup of salvation, the cup of communion in recognition for the blood spilt for you, & all who believe.
Pretty deep for a Friday morning, eh? What I want to share with all of you men, is that there is a war going on all about you, as well as in you. The enemy wants to put fear & doubt in your minds, hearts and souls.
The enemy wants to wreck your marriage as it is the example of one of the strongest examples of the covenant of God. The enemy wants to go after you at work, with peer pressure, enticing you to compromise, & destroy your testimony among others. The enemy knows that as men, we tend to clean to our careers and work to define us on who we are. The enemy likes to take advantage of that.
The enemy wants to come between you and time with the Father. He wants to put enticing entertainment & activities in front of your time in prayer, reading the bible, & going to church. Whether it may be sports, watching TV, movies, concerts, drinking with the boys, meaningless projects, a different book or magazine, and more.
The enemy knows your weakness and strives to capitalize on it. Whether it is an addiction, a discipline, or idols. And not all addictions are of alcohol, or drugs. Addictions come in many shapes and forms such as pornography, work, fitness, social media. Idols can be anything that takes precedence over your time & resources with and for God on a regular basis.
The enemy knows your past and will use circumstances, examples, people, and even “things of the air” (as the enemy has been called the “prince of the air.”) against you to seek to convince you that you are weak, un-qualified, a poser, a fake, a fraud. The enemy will use this and what ever device available to sow seeds of doubt to turn you away from the light, the truth and the love of God.
The enemy will not only use your weakness, but those around you whether it be a co-worker, or a friend, whether it be your wife, (or girl friend if not married), or for those with a child or children-yes even you child(ren) to get you off course, to get you distracted, to get at your heart, mind and soul.
How do I know this? It has been going on since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden and throughout history to the present day. Do not think for a moment the enemy is a fool. The enemy knows the bible very well, the enemy also knows his/their adversary. Remember the enemy waged a rebellion and war in heaven against the Creator of all. Do not think for a moment the enemy is not a remarkable warrior, general, or strategist.
How also do I know this? I, like some or many of you have faced many battles, some I thought I would never win, or press through. I too have had my fair share of fear, doubt, and failures.
However, our Father is truth, and the creator of all. He does not lie, and He gave us himself in the form of his Son, Whom died on the cross so that we may not perish, but come to a close relationship and understanding of Him, and eternal life in His presence.
So what do we do? Well, we are men. We fight, we protect an we defend. There is a war that the enemy has been waging against the hearts, souls, and minds of men since the beginning. The enemy may have lost the war in heaven, but the enemy knows the best way to get back from that loss, is through what God loves the most, us. So rise in gratitude of the day the Lord has made, be glad in it. Put on the Full Armor of God, and fight the good fight, protect & defend for the Cause of Christ. Run this race of life with perseverance, looking unto the author and finisher of our faith which is Christ Jesus. Finish the course, and finish well.
Want to learn more about this war, and how to fight it? How to protect and defend? Then start on your knees first in prayer. Get prayed up, & pumped up. Learn the key elements of the Full Armor of God and use them. Use them for your family, loved ones, and neighbors. Get active, whether in a Men’s Small Group or other local church’s small group. Gather in your local church to worship, learn, grow, become equipped, serve, and be sent out. Go to the hedges and highways with another and be real to others. Demonstrate the realness of the love of Christ to others in a relatable manner in pairs or more. Get read up, & listened up with the Word. If you are not a “big reader”, (which may be something you may want to overcome), there is plenty of audio & digital sources of the Word, & devotions. It’s 2018, brothers, information is available at a touch of a button streamed on any device, in your vehicles or a headset.
The important thing is do not just sit back and let the enemy take territory over your heart, mind, soul, family, loved ones, friends or neighbors. Do not be a reclining chair observer or bench warmer. Get into the game! You have the best Coach, Team Owner, and coordinator in existence; God the Father, the Son, & the Holy Ghost. However, you must train, and train some more, then get into the game, catch the ball, and run it into the end zone for not just one touch down, but many. Is it the 1st quarter for you? Or do you feel as though you are in the 4th quarter? Are you at half field or in the Red Zone? Is the enemy in the lead and it seems like there is only moments left on the clock? Or has God allowed you to have the clock reset, and the score is 0 to 0? If Christ handed you the ball right now, what are you ready, and willing to do with it?
How is your Armor? Who is ready to fight to win? Who is ready to get into the game with me? Who are our quarterbacks, running backs, half backs, wide receivers, guards, tackles…
The diet products & plans result in a $70.3 billion industry. However, diets may not have to be expensive, nor extremely difficult. If we were to eat as we did a few thousand years ago, with the activities we had to do to sustain ourselves, we may all be a bit more at our ideal weights, & enjoy a long & much healthier life given our modern advances in medicine.
Personally I was blessed with certain genetics to where I never worried about being over-weight until I hit my 30s. A lot can change in your 30s such as metabolism, stress, over work, family, rushed dead lines, & more.
However, I believe adjusting to that metabolism change, eating better, & enjoying a more healthier lifestyle doesn’t have to be as difficult, or as expensive as some may think.
Here are some tips, & strategies that have worked for others, including myself:
Time to ride yourself of soda pops. Even the diet sodas that can sometimes be worse than regular sodas. Try fruit infused water, real fruit juices. It you like the “fiz” in your drinks, then simply add carbonation.
Stay way from enriched breads, & pastas. Go instead with whole grains & genuine whole grain breads. Pastas are even made out of vegetables in addition to whole grains.
Step away from the sugars. If you prefer to sweeten something up, try organic raw honey instead. Or fruit or real fruit juices. Remember high fructose corn syrup is not your friend. It can be your enemy. Anything overly processed or chemically changed, enhanced or overly preserved is not typically a good thing. Read those labels. The canned good labels too. It may be better to simple crush your own salsa, & sauces, and flash freeze fresh fruits & vegetables. This can be fun, and very experiential too.
Fried has lied. Although fried foods may taste good, and tempt your taste buds while being prepared or smelled. Most are typically not good for you. If you cannot resist the occasional fried food, then stick with olive oil in preparation, and use something other than enriched bread crumbs, or flour for the breading. Dried vegetable crumbs may often be a great substitute for bread crumbs or other flour related breading or crusts.
Step away from the Sodium Chloride, aka Table Salt. If you like to flavor things up, then choose Sea Salt, and real pepper. add a variety of fresh peppers to spicing things up.
Go Green, Orange & Red. Eat those colorful vegetables as much and as often as possible. Try to choose organic if possible.
Go nuts. There are so many varieties of nuts out there that are very tasty.
Try Vegan. I try to go on a 21 Day Daniel Fast every 3 to 4 months, and I enjoyed all the fruits, vegetables, nuts, & beans out there. Even bean and veggie burgers were very tasty. With this diet, you must stick to vegetables, fruits, nuts and beans. Nothing associated with animals, or dairy. The results have been impressive for me in not just physical and mental health, but Spiritual as well.
Take a trip to the Mediterranean. The Mediterranean Diet that is. I have found this is one of the most easiest diets to stick with and potentially make it a lifestyle. Rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, oils, fresh poultry & fish. You can also enjoy some good wine here and there if you drink or like wine.
You cannot stand still. You must exercise. However, you may not need to join an expensive gym or buy a bunch of hardware. A brisk walk each morning. Add set ups, push ups, squats, leg lifts can do wonders. Get a bike, ride it for a few miles each morning. Go walk in and around a park. Your mind, & body will thank you and you may feel better, look better and think much better.
Do not be hypnotized or brain washed by your environment or perception thereof. You have the freedom of choice on what environments you are subject to, & how they affect you. You have the power over your perception. Remember that.
You can rejoice in the day that God has gifted you. You may count your blessings, naming them one by one. You can take the hand that is dealt to you, & play it to the best of your ability with the gifts God has blessed you with.
I strive to give my very best in what I do & have a passion for. I teach my children the same. Why do a job that is associated with your name, half way? If there is something you believe in/about with all your heart, why would you consider doing it half hearted?
Life is tough, & life is not fair. However, you do have a choice on how you start each day & the attitude you approach it. Anything worth having takes a lot of work, anything worth having is worth working for. When you feel as though you have nothing left, that you cannot take another step; that circumstances/events have taken the best of you, don’t give up.
You are not alone. You are loved, not just by other human beings, but by your Creator. Listen to that quiet voice that says, you are my child, wonderfully made, keep going, don’t give up, don’t quit.
You are the most influential player in life that your children may know, & others may see. Give this day YOUR BEST, & let God take care of the rest.
Going to get “REAL” for a moment or 3 that it takes to make this post.
I look at my life after 5 decades, as maybe sometimes some of you do too, & say what have I done with those years? What have I accomplished? Will I leave a legacy? Have I made a difference?
When I was younger I thought chasing position, promotions, titles, nice things, a big house was what defined success. I thought if I just get this or that, I will be happy. I was rather task oriented back then, nearly a workaholic, & I like money. Actually there is nothing wrong with liking & striving for success, doing well, & reaping the rewards of your labor. Granted I did accomplish many of my goals, promotions & nice things. However, material things will fade & rust. Money can be earned as well as lost. Great health can be achieved, yet lost in a blink of an eye. I have experienced those as well.
The thing I have realized over my decades, the legacy I leave, is the life I live today. You may have heard me say it, “The good life isn’t about how many toys you have or money you make, it’s about how many lives you touch & good you create” Think about when you were growing up. What are the things you remember the most? Was it the nice toys, or elaborate gifts or was it the precious memories you had with you mom, dad, siblings?
You see life isn’t about arriving at your destination, it is about the journey. Will people remember you for your titles, awards, or money, or will they remember that you were kind, loving, supportive, engaging, and present? The things of this world are temporary. Our lives pass so quickly. There is profound truth in the quote by Charles Spurgeon, “A good character is the best tombstone. Those who loved you and were helped by you will remember you when forget-me-nots have withered. Carve your name on hearts, not on marble.” So how are we carving hearts? Are we investing quality time with our children & loved ones, serving others, or are we working too many long hours, accruing things or unmanageable debt, as our children grow up in the blink of an eye. Is our time spent more on our devices, or vices, than with our children, spouse & other loved ones? Are we calling or visiting our friends just to say hello or tell them we were thinking of them? Are we growing our souls, & minds, as much as we are growing our bodies or muscles?
I remember, & as my dad would often say, especially over the last decade, “Yesterday is gone, son. Nothing we can do to change that, the question is, what are you going to do now?” Remember, too, that tomorrow is not promised. Oh it’s good to set goals, & roadmaps to success. However, that’s the potential future. Something to hope for, & yes to work well for, but not sacrifice family or your health for. Today is now, it is a gift that is not necessary promised for tomorrow, that is why it’s called the Present. One of the most valuable things you can gift to your children & other loved ones is your presence, to be in the now. To really listen, laugh, & engage.