The Discipline of Discipleship

US Air Force 061029-f-8789C-041 Chuck Norris v...
US Air Force 061029-f-8789C-041 Chuck Norris visits the 386 AEW (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last night at church we had a Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) demonstration followed by some teaching.  It was a great time.  I got some great notes from the speakers.  The first speaker was Carlos Machado who is friends with Chuck Norris, the demi-god that is said to start fire by rubbing ice cubes together, can count to infinity, and has a living grizzly bear as a rug in his room; too afraid to move.  He also did some work on the show Walker, Texas Ranger.

The second was from Victor Marx (http://www.victormarx.com/) who tells the story of his tragic life growing up, and how he fully embraces Romans 8:28 when it says “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”  You should really check out his story and documentary.

I will be talking more about these guys and some of the stuff they taught me soon, but for now I want to talk about something that comes from just the foundation of martial arts.

When you hear of martial arts, what do you think of? Fighting? Mr. Miyagi?  Martial arts is not just about getting strong and fighting to beat people up.  It is a discipline; it teaches discipline.

dis·ci·pline

  • training to act in accordance with rules; drill
  • activity, exercise, or a regimen that develops or improves a skill; training
  • the rigor or training effect of experience

The word discipline is a heavy word.  If you want to be really good at something it takes a lot of personal discipline to get good at it.  This goes with anything. Martial arts, musical instruments, carpentry, or programming.

To be good, to be effective, you must discipline yourself. You must work hard, and not just from time to time, but all the time.  These guys that are good at martial arts are good because they do it, every day.  Hours a day of training and dedication to get good.

I can speak from experience with this point, but from the other side.  I have tried to play multiple instruments in my life, and tried various disciplines of martial arts, but for one reason or another (or for one knee giving out or another), I had to give it up.  Sure, I had a couple months of training, but it never became a part of my life.  Nothing that I ever became dedicated about long enough to get good.

I do remember a few things though.  Like how to break some simple wrist holds (if you hold my wrist in just the right way) and I can, with a lot of effort, play part of Fur Elise on a keyboard still, but I’m not good at it.  I did not, or was not able to, stick with it enough to let it become a discipline in my life.

Ever wonder why the followers of Jesus called themselves disciples?

This thought crossed my mind last night while thinking on these things.  Is it a coincidence that these words sound like they have the same root word?

Is it possible to be a disciple of Jesus Christ without having the same kind of discipline towards Him that martial artists have in training?

If you have followed this website for any amount of time it is no surprise to you that I am a fan of Leonard Ravenhill.  Leonard Ravenhill was a preacher with a great ministry. He was able to reach people for Christ and encouraged a lot of people to be bold preachers, to be prayer warriors, and to long for personal revival in ones life.

But the ministry he had did not come to him easily, it was not something that he just participated in occasionally and one day something just clicked and he was deeply spiritual.  On the contrary, every part of his life and ministry had the impact it had on others’ lives only because he was disciplined.  It was only because he treated prayer like a discipline that he was effective at all.  His son, David, said this about him.

My father was a powerfully anointed preacher who could bring down the convicting presence of God in a way that very few can. People would begin making their way to the altar even before any type of invitation was given, their hearts pierced by the Word of God. His preaching was superceded only by his passion for prayer. Like the apostle Paul, he carried “the daily pressure of concern for the church.” Prayer was his life. Prior to his death in 1994 he told me he had received a number of requests from seminary students who wanted to come and see him for the sole purpose of having him lay his hands upon them in order to receive his “mantle.” With his typical dry British humor, but at the same time deadly serious, he said, “Everyone wants to have my mantle but nobody wants my sackcloth and ashes.”

Leonard Ravenhill. Why Revival Tarries (Kindle Locations 21-26). Kindle Edition.

1 Corinthians 9:24-25 tells us that we are to train in the same way, with the same intensity that an athlete trains.  Not training to run, but to win.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.

I remember being amazed during the Olympics that just ended at the athletic ability of each of these athletes.  It never came easy to them, well, maybe for Phelps (just kidding).  They gave their life to their sport, to not just doing a good job at it, but at being the best.  None of them trained for last placed, or trained for the bronze; they trained to win the gold.

The self-discipline required to do that was amazing.  Hours a day at the gym and training for years on end, giving up many of the pleasures of life we enjoy like deserts or watching tv and playing games.  Why did they do it? For a medal and for fame.

How much more, my brothers and sisters, how much more should we be training spiritually to take the gold.  Not for fame and fortune, but to know God, to draw closer to God.  To have more faith.

Faith comes from God

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, – Ephesians 2:8

And through reading scripture

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. – Romans 10:17

It makes us strive to live Holy before God, while Jesus works on completing our faith

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. – Hebrews 12:1-2

Being a Christian is not a weekend adventure, or morals we consult occasionally, it is a lifestyle of following Christ, a discipline of putting Him first in our life.  In every part of our life.

After all, this IS the call that Jesus gave to those who want to be His disciples.

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. – Matthew 16:24

Oh father, please forgive me for the lukewarm attitude I have had towards you.  Help me to have the discipline to put you as a priority in my life every day, and to stop living a life that ignores you.  Father, give me a renewed vision of the goal, and give me an increase in faith.  Only you are worthy of the pursuit of my life.

Amen.

Removing Distractions does not make more time for God

Last week I took up a challenge to go 40 days without TV or xbox in order to remove distractions from my life and to draw closer to God.

I am currently on day 5 and I have already learned something.

Getting rid of a distraction does not mean you have more time for God. Removing a distraction from your life is like removing a cup of water from a bucket. As soon as you remove that water, more water floods the space you just freed up and in a split second you cannot even tell you removed any water in the first placce.

Removing a distraction from your life just gives you more time for other distractions. Sure I spent more time this week playing with my son Malikai, relaxing with some music with Danae, and reading a lot of books, getting the house ready for company, which we can all agree are much better than watching tv. But my main purpose of doing this challenge was to draw closer to God.

Your flesh, and Satan, have a lot of proven ways to keep you distracted from God. If you want to take a challenge to go without something in order to spend more time with God, you must not only remove the distraction, but commit yourself to actually spending more time with God.

There is a war going on, your flesh wants to keep you focused on the flesh and the things of the world, and Satan wants to keep you focused on anything but God and the Bible. Declaring to fight by removing something from your life isn’t as easy as you may think.

It takes some dedication and discipline to spend that extra time with God above and beyond what you already spend every day. So if you want to take on this challenge, go into it prepared with a battle plan.

Are Men Fools? (death of masculinity by feminist ideology)

Interesting information from a Focus on the Family newsletter I received in the mail months ago but decided to not throw away because i believe the things said are just so relevant for today. It’s gonna be long…but bear with me…and also please read it through….it’s gonna take long enough to type this all out by hand.

It is impossible to understand what is happening to our kids today, both male and female, without considering the influence of feminist ideology. Swirling out of it was an attack on the very essence of masculinity. Everything that had been associated with maleness was subjected to scorn. Men who clung to traditional roles and conservative attitudes were said to be too “macho.” If they foolishly tried to open doors for ladies or gave them their seats on subways, as their fathers had done, they wre called “male chauvinist pigs.” Women presented themselves as victims who were “not gonna take it anymore,” and men were said to be heartless oppressors who had abused and exploited womankind for centuries. Divorce skyrocketed as a surprising number of women simply packed up and left their husbands and children.

Although these early feminists called attention to some valid concerns that needed to be addressed, such as equal pay for work and discrimination in the workplace, they went far beyond legitimate grievances and began to rip and tear at the fabric of the family. By the time the storm had blown itself out, the institution of marriage had been shaken to its foundation, and masculinity itself was thrown back on its heels. It has never fully recovered.

Feminist Karla Mantilla summarized the philosophy behind it in an article entitled Kids Need ‘Fathers Like Fish Need Bicycles.” She wrote, “I submit that men tend to emphasize values such as discipline, power, control, stoicism, and independence. Sure there can be some good from these things, but they are mostly damaging to kids (and other living things). They certainly made my son suffer an isolated and tortured existence until he began to see that there was a way out of the trap of masculinity.”

The trap of masculinity? That is the way many feminists view maleness. A centerpiece of this hostility is seen in an ongoing effort to convince us that “Men are fools.” It claims that the majority of males are immature, impulsive, selfish, weak, and not very bright. It is interesting to note, for example, how disrespect for men pervades the entertainment industry, including many television commercials. The formula involves a beautiful woman (or a bevy of them) who is intelligent, sexy, admirable, and self assured. She encounters a slob of a man, usually in a bar, who is ignorant, balding, and overweight. The stupid guy quickly disgraces himself on screen, at which point the woman sneers and walks away.

So what is going on here? Is it possible that men, especially male beer drinkers and sports-car enthusiasts, actually like being depicted as dumb, horny, fat, nerdy, and ugly? Apparently they do. We also have to assume that guys are not offended when they are made the butt of a thousand jokes. But why? Women would not tolerate that kind of derision. Not in a million years would you see a corpulent, unattractive woman lusting after a good-looking man who shows disdain for her as she does something ridiculous.

Television sitcoms also blast away at traditional masculinity. There is not a single example of a healthy family depicted on network programming that includes a masculine guy who loves his kids and is respected by his wife. NONE!

Invariably, sitcoms today feature at least one gay or lesbian character, who is cast in a sympathetic role. One overriding goal of homosexual activists is to influence the next generation and to recruit children to their movement. How can impressionable boys and young men possibly discern what it means to be a heterosexual male, let alone a dedicate and disciplined husband and father, when this tripe is fed to them every night and when their own dads are nowhere to be found?

Roger Scruton, author of “Modern Manhood,” explained what is happening to perceptions of masculinity. “Feminists have snuffed out male pride wherever it has grown and ruthlessly uprooted it. Under their pressure, modern culture has downgraded or rejected such masculine virtues as courage, tenacity, and military prowess in favor of more gentle, more ‘socially inclusive’ habits.”

The bottom line is that many men have lost their compass. Not only do they not know who they are, they’re not sure what the culture expects them to be…It is time that men acted like men–being respectful, thoughtful and gentlemanly to women, but reacting with confidence, strength and certainty in manner. Some have wimped out, acting like whipped puppies. Others have boldly spoken out against feminist influence, refusing to be intimidated by the advocates of political correctness. Some have lashed out, reacting in anger and frustration. Some have flamed out, resorting to alcohol, drugs, illicit sex and other avenues of escape. Some have copped out, descending into mindless TV, professional sports and obsessive recreational activities. Some have sold out, becoming advocates of the new identity. Some have simply walked out, leaving their families in a lurch. Many, however, seem placidly unaware that they have lost their places in the culture. The result is a changing view of manhood with far-reaching implications for the future of the family.

Nations that are populated largely by immature, immoral, weak-willed, cowardly and self-indulgent men cannot and will not long endure. The presence of a father–or at least another responsible male role-model, is a critical component in the life of a boy. Without such influence, disastrous consequences–such as homosexuality–may follow.

The wrong-headed notion that children can thrive in a same-sex family (ie. an environment in which they are robbed of either a mother or a father) is just one more way that our culture is diminishing the natural, innate differences between the sexes and leaving boys confused about their masculinity. In light of this ongoing assault on men, we are left to ask, “What DOES true masculinity look like?”

Suffice it to say that the physiological and emotional characteristics of a typical male are dramatically and intrinsically different than those of the typical female. Males tend to be more aggressive, more assertive and more inclined to lead. When the male psyche functions as intended, it is sensitive to the needs of women and loving to children. The masculine temperament lends itself to two major responsibilities: to protect and to provide for the man’s family.

Despite the fact that men were designed by their Creator to fulfill these critical and unique roles, our culture remains resolute in its determination to strip away the very essence of what it means to be a man. If we leave it up to schools and media to teach young boys what it means to be real men, we will be subjecting them to potentially irreparable harm.

How Should Christians Deal With Suffering?

WHY WE AS CHRISTIANS MUST SUFFER

John 16:33 – This world is full of suffering, we are not exempt. Suffering is a sign that we are alive.
1 Peter 1:7 – Tests our faith to prove it is strong and real faith that gives glory to Jesus.
James 1:3 – When faith is tested Endurance can grow.
Proverbs 3:11-12 – God, being our Father must discipline us to show his love for us. Discipline is a sign of his love.
Hebrews 12:7-8 – God disciplines his children, we are his children.

WHAT SUFFERING DOES TO US
James 1:4 – Develops perseverance.
Perseverance – perseverance = makes one steadfast.
Steadfast = firm in belief, determination, or adherence : LOYAL.