The Art of Being Blessed


I am afraid that we have allowed materialism to define who we are as people. We wake up in the morning; go to work for countless hours and keep our children enrolled in after school programs. Many times, we have someone else pick them up from the after school because we are too busy working; working hard so we be able to buy more things. We keep our children busy with computers in their own rooms. We give them cell phones, buy them iPods and the latest technological toy and by the time we make it home we are so exhausted that we can’t even spend five minutes of quality time with our family.

Everybody is busy in their own little world. Many Americans even bring their jobs home with unfinished tasks during work hours or in their conversations as they seem unable to disconnect from work. It’s all about work, work, work and then we wonder why, even as we have the nice house and the nice car and the nice cloths, etc. we are still empty inside. We have made having things our number one idol; after all, that is what capitalism is all about; right?

Blessings are all around us; our nation is indeed, a blessed nation; no doubt about that. However, until we are emotionally blessed, what we have or don’t have has no meaning or value. How can one explain a person with a good personality, talented, with great fame, having all that money can buy yet, still finds him or herself in a state of depression, anger, frustration and great misery?  What we have or don’t have does not indicate how blessed we are; it’s how we feel emotionally that indicates our blessing. Until we can understand that the greatest blessing we have is to have access to a personal relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ, everything else is pointless.

I remember a long season in my life when I exercised, took good care of myself physically, had a good job, worked hard, etc. but when it came down to my emotional condition, I was feeling miserable. It did not matter what I had or even my physical condition; the cry of my heart was for God to give me joy and to give me peace. I have indeed, seen people that are financially poor, but emotionally rich as they walk around with great joy, great peace and a grateful heart. InPsalm 1:1-2David gives us the keys to master the art of being blessed:

“Blessed is the man

That walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly,

Nor standeth in the way of sinners,

Nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.

But his delight is in the law of the Lord;

And in his law doth he meditate day and night.”

 

         Let’s start by defining the word “blessed”; this word literally means “To be happy.” If you are happy, no matter what you have or do not have, you are blessed. Happiness comes when God pours out His favor upon us. The direct result of that kind of relationship with God will keep us in a state of happiness; that is the happiness that remains. How then can we master this art of being blessed or happy?

1.    We must stop getting our advice for life from the secular world:

 

“Blessed is the man

That walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly…”

 

         The world has its own ideas, values and ways of doing things. We must stay away from them. Many of us know what it is to walk around miserably directly because we did things according to the world. Whatever God states as wrong is wrong. The ungodly are ready with their demonic counsel. We must, no matter how unpopular it may be, stay away from their ways if we want to keep the holy state of being blessed.

2.    We must guard our fellowship:

 

“…Nor standeth in the way of sinners,

Nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful…”

 

         Here we see how the Bible places the sinner and the scornful in the same category. A good synonym for “scornful” is disrespectful. I know that in today’s politically correct society and in a church that places everything that challenges our ways under the umbrella of judging, it is hard to express what I am about to express. However, I will express it anyway. Beloved, we have no business fellowshipping with the lost. Our only relationship with them is based on our ministering to them in whatever way possible that is allowed by the Lord. The Bible asked us in 2 Corinthians 6:14“…For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?” I don’t care what a Biblical uninformed Evangelist is saying on TV or in our local pulpits; we are not called to be friends with the world. The Bible also tells us in James 4:4 You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” Many times, when we find ourselves in sin, we turn our backs on God’s people and we run after the world so that we can find approval and acceptance. The problem, or solution, is that no matter what the world says, what God says is the only truth. In the process, we quickly see our blessing escaping us and misery taking residence. Have you ever been there? I have!

3.    We must find pleasure in the study of God’s Word:

 

“..But his delight is in the law of the Lord;

And in his law doth he meditate day and night.”

 

I know this is a long old song; but it is true. When we stay focuses on the reading of God’s Word, it is easier to experience God’s peace and joy. God’s Word is food for our soul. “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” (Mathew 4:4) Staying in the Word is life! I noticed that with days apart from the bible, the feeling of dryness comes in my soul as joy escapes me.

4.    We must guard our meditation:

 

“…And in his law doth he meditate day and night.”

 

         When we talk about meditation, we are talking about our deep thoughts and about those things that we are constantly thinking about. No one knows what is deep inside your mind but you and God. If that meditation is not on God’s Word, our meditation is out of line. For more information on meditation please read the series, “.https://angelcasiano.com/2010/10/18/the-revolutionary-prayer-life-part-5/

When we purposely combine these four elements, we are then on our way to master the art of being blessed. It is then that the Bible tells us:

“He shall be like a tree
    Planted by the rivers of water,
    That brings forth its fruit in its season,
    Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.”

 

 

 

Angelcasiano.com Statistics


Recently I discovered that this humble blog is going to places that I will probably never visit in person. This has to be God because I can’t even write in a 7th grade level in English. I don’t decide in what language to write, what to write or when to write; I write as inspiration hit me. This ministry, without a doubt, has been one of the most enjoyable experiences so far!

 

Nations touched by angelcasiano.com

 

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In 2010, when we started our blog, we ended the year with an average of 30 daily visits. In 2011 we ended the year with an average of 58 visits a day. So far this year our average is 74 visits a day. March has been our best month as we are averaging 108 visits a day.

 

To God be the glory!

“This Day Will Come” by Kelly Fowlkes Anderson


Morning kissed me
gently wiped away my tears
and took me by the hand.
I arose from my childhood bed.
My legs were unsteady
as if they didn’t want to carry me forward.
I looked into morning’s eyes
and there stood confidence and strength
waiting to adorn me.
I sang the first line
of an old familiar song.
The pitch and tone were imperfect
but morning put his arm in mine
and my voice took flight
on a pre-destined path laid for me
by those that knew
this day would come.

What is Going on With Me Now? An Update


I find myself so blessed these days; I can feel the joy of the Lord in my life. It is a beautiful thing when our emotions are in line with the Word. I must confess that it is not always like that with me. There are days I feel depress, sad, frustrated, angry, anxious, tired and disgusted. I suppose I am the only one that has experienced these emotions. J LOL!

 

After much tears, mistakes, tragedy, pain, personal failures, and personal sin and after experiencing the brutality of God’s discipline in my life I can honestly say that God is faithful, even in the mix of my imperfections. His love brought me to a place of repentance and brokenness. Beloved, no one need to tell me how nothing I am without God, for I saw the nastiness and shame of living a life ruled by the desires of the flesh. It almost killed me! But God did not give up on me even when I gave up on Him and on myself! Restoration is real!

 

Now, I feel like I am about to explode; the passion for God’s presence, the passion for ministry, for God’s people and for the lost is burning in my heart like never before. It is not about doing something for God, but when you experience such love and such mercy, serving HIM is an automatic and a normal response.

 

Today I am in the mix of a great transition in my life; decision time is approaching for me. I don’t know what to do to be honest. The transition has to do directly with ministry and what to do next. I appreciate your prayers!

 

I want to share a video of a beautiful time of worship at the local church I am currently a part of; Abundant Hope. You will see my lovely wife Rayette accompanied me on the piano, my son singing with me and my dear brothers and sisters at Abundant Hope Worship Team. I hope you enjoy and be bless!

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rt95j0EtZ0U&list=UUWoFVfqQMjCyI1xCeiBAExQ&index=1&feature=plcp

 

La Falta de Respeto al Espíritu Santo


La persona de Jesús el Cristo es la razón principal por las divisiones en las religiones del mundo. No existe lugar a dudas de que Jesucristo anduvo como hombre en nuestra dimensión de vida hace algunos dos mil años atrás. La forma en la cual reconozcamos el valor de su existencia determina nuestra religión de preferencia. Hay muchas religiones en el mundo y cada una ofrece su versión de quien es Cristo para ellos. Unos lo reconocen como un profeta, otros como un gran hombre, otros como un maestro, un hijo de Dios, etc.

     Como cristiano, yo he aceptado a Jesús como mi Salvador y como mi Señor. He reconocido su sacrificio en la cruz del Calvario por mí. Le confesé a Jesús mis pecados, me arrepentí por los mismos y por Su sangre soy salvo del infierno que le espera a todos los que le rechacen y mueran teniendo dicho rechazo en su corazón. El Cristianismo no tiene nada que ver con denominación, es una cuestión del corazón. El Cristianismo, como se dice frecuentemente, no es una religión, mas una relación personal con Dios.

     Mas es lamentable decirlo, pero entre las más de dos mil denominaciones que se hacen llamar cristianas aquí en los Estados Unidos, el Espíritu Santo ha venido a ser la razón principal por divisiones entre nosotros. En Juan 14:16-17 Jesús nos dice refiriéndose al Espíritu Santo:

“Y yo rogaré al Padre, y él les dará otro Consolador, para que esté con ustedes para siempre: es decir, el Espíritu de verdad, al cual el mundo no puede recibir porque no lo ve, ni lo conoce; pero ustedes lo conocen, porque permanece con ustedes, y estará en ustedes.”

 

      El Espíritu Santo en nuestras vidas es el resultado directo de las oraciones de Jesús. Jesucristo le rogó al Padre para que el Padre nos diera ayuda a través del Espíritu Santo; hoy día tenemos acceso a Su ayuda y a Su existencia en nosotros gracias a Jesús. Juan 14:26 nos dice:

“Pero el Espíritu Santo, a quien el Padre enviará en mi nombre, los consolará y les enseñará todas las cosas, y les recordará todo lo que yo les he dicho.”

 

     Es solo a través del Espíritu Santo que tenemos acceso al conocimiento profundo de las cosas de Dios. Es parte esencial de la obra del Espíritu Santo el recordarnos constantemente la sabiduría sobrenatural de la Palabra en momentos cruciales en nuestras vidas. Sin el Espíritu Santo lo que tenemos es una religión seca, sin poder, la cual es totalmente creada como resultado directo de la vana arrogancia del hombre.

     Queridos hermanos, el Espíritu Santo no tan solo nos enseña, mas también intercede por nosotros de acuerdo a Romanos 8:26. Cuando no tenemos ni fuerzas para orar por nosotros mismos, el Espíritu Santo intercede por nosotros con intercesión perfecta.  El Espíritu Santo nos guía de acuerdo a Mateo 4:1. He aprendido que cuando dirijo mis pasos de acuerdo al Espíritu Santo, aún ante grandes oposiciones, las cosas me salen mucho mejor que cuando me dejo dirigir por los deseos de mi carne o por mi propio intelecto.

     El Espíritu Santo nos da vida de acuerdo a Juan 6:63. Muchas veces nos sentimos cansados y ya listos para rendirnos, mas que bueno es saber que en el Espíritu Santo encontramos el poder de resurrección y vida ante cualquiera que sea la situación. Acordémonos que era el Espíritu Santo el que se paseaba por las aguas mientras Dios el Padre recreaba este mundo. En un momento de total desorden, el Espíritu Santo traía vida, tal y como lo sigue haciendo hoy en innumerables situaciones a través de este mundo.

     El Espíritu Santo también nos llena de acuerdo a Hechos 2:4. ¿Cuántas veces nos hemos sentido vacios y sin propósito para nuestras vidas? Es solo a través del Espíritu de Dios que encontramos esa llenura, esa satisfacción santa que verdaderamente completa nuestras vidas. ¡Al final de cuentas, todo lo demás cansa!

     El Espíritu Santo crea de acuerdo a Job 33:4. ¿Cómo es entonces posible que insistamos en hacer las cosas a nuestras formas? ¿Cómo es entonces posible que sigamos nuestras agotables y aburridas rutinas cada domingo que nos reunimos como Iglesia? La Biblia nos dice en Efesios 4:30

“No entristezcan al Espíritu Santo de Dios, con el cual ustedes fueron sellados para el día de la redención.”

 

    La palabra “Entristezcan” viene de la palabra Griega “Aganakteo”la cual significa, de acuerdo al diccionario Vine’s: “Sentir una violenta irritación”. La idea de que solo le estamos causando tristeza al Espíritu Santo en la connotación que nuestro lenguaje le da a dicha palabra, está lejos de la realidad y de la magnitud del verdadero significado de la misma. Hermanos, cada vez que insistimos en negarle al Espíritu Santo su ayuda, el que nos enseñe, el que nos guíe, el que nos dé vida, el que cree entre nosotros, etc. le causamos una irritación violenta.

     Es tiempo de reconocer que nuestras formas no trabajan, que son limitadas, que sin el Espíritu Santo somos nada; somos fariseos listos para matar a Cristo, a los verdaderos cristianos y a todo lo que delante de Dios sea real. Hermanos, es tiempo de dejar de faltarle el respeto al Espíritu Santo y de dejar que se exprese libremente en nuestros corazones, en nuestras familias, en el medio de nuestras congregaciones, nuestras comunidades, nuestros pueblos, ciudades y naciones. Perdónanos Santo Espíritu, ven y toma tu lugar en nuestras vidas… ¡En el nombre de Jesús!

 

The Missing Ingredients


I grew up in Puerto Rico where we love rice and beans. The best rice and beans I have ever eaten was the one that my grandmother, Genoveva Mercado cooked. My dear grandmother died some years ago and to this day I don’t know how she was able to make white rice and pinto beans taste so good. I am able to cook, but I am, without a doubt, missing one or many ingredients.

That is how I feel about many of the churches I have attended through the years; they are good, good people, good Word, good preaching and teaching, but there is something missing!  First Corinthians 14:3

 

“But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.”

 

            I believe that free flow of prophesy is one of those missing ingredients. Let’s look at a key word in this verse:

1.    Edification: from the Greek word “Oikodomeo” meaning: “to build a house; to build; well built.”

Many people in the Body of Christ are walking around depressed with very little confidence in God and in the abilities God has given them. Through the years they have been told what they can and cannot do and it has now become their own reality. Many have parents that constantly speak curses over their lives, others engage in terrible relationships where they were told horrible things about themselves, and still others grew up without the personality, the charisma and all of those things the world seeks for. So, they walk around as literal losers; as destroyed houses in need of rebuilding. They have, or are, experienced the hurricanes and tornados of life that have totally destroyed their dreams and purpose. This is where the prophet comes to build up in the Lord and remind God’s people what the Word says about them! Glory to Jesus!

2. Exhortation: from the Greek word Paráklēsis meaning: “a calling to one’s side; to beseech. The act of exhortation, encouragement, comfort. All of Scripture is actually a paráklēsis, an exhortation, admonition or encouragement for the purpose of strengthening and establishing the believer in the faith.” (Vine’s Exp)

Have you ever tried-out for a team? You went to practice and went through the hard training hoping to make the team. Week after week you heard the names of the ones being cut, but then finally, you heard your name called out as one who made it. What an amazing feeling that is! When exhorting someone, we are encouraging that person who perhaps is distant from their call and destiny in God. This is not a passive call, we are earnestly calling or even begging someone to return to God, to walk in His ways and to pursue his/her calling. It is the cry of the coach at halftime as the team is losing; it is the boxing-trainer getting in our faces with only a few rounds to go as we find ourselves tired and ready to give up; it is Wallace in the Mel Gibson movie “Braveheart” telling his army: “They can take our lives, but they cannot take our freedom!” It is Balboa in “Rocky 5” getting a beating on a street in Philadelphia by a young boxer and finding himself almost knocked-out. Nothing was able to give him that adrenaline, that juice and that inspiration to get up, but when he remembered his old coach, Mickey saying “Get up you….”  Beloved, this is indeed a passionate call, not just a normal quiet call, but it is almost like it forces us to raise our voices to be heard as our brothers and sisters find themselves so far away from their purpose in God.

3. Comfort: from the Greek word Paramuthía meaning “to console. Exhortation, encouragement. In the NT, consolation, comfort (1 Cor. 14:3). Paramuthía expresses a greater degree of tenderness, at least by word of mouth, than paráklēsis ([3874], comfort, encouragement) which carries a more general sense of helpfulness and comfort.” (Complete Word Study Dictionary NT)

To be a prophet, you don’t have to be loud; even as I see the loud sound of the trumpet as we exhort. When the prophet comforts, he/she is actually very tender. This is when the prophet places his/her arms around you and speaks softly into your destiny. This is when the prophets actually cries with you and helps you carry your burden. Your heart is already broken; you can’t hold back the tears and you feel the infections and pains of your heart and emotions being healed with every word spoken into your life.

My dear brothers and sisters, this is the missing ingredient; we must restore the office of the prophet in the church; we must release edification, exhortation and comfort into the lives of so many that find themselves at the end of the road consumed with the lies of the devil. May the Lord help us to be built up in HIM. May the Lord call us straight into our destiny and may we all be comforted; not for ourselves, but for the glory of God and for the many that are waiting for our full manifestation in Christ Jesus!

 

 

 

 

 

How to Confront the False Prophet and/or Teachers


false-prophet

The prophetic movement has been affected by the infiltration of false prophets and teachers who have caused a great deal of damage in local churches, since the beginning of the church. No doubt, no argument about this. However, the alternative is not to eliminate the Prophetic flow.

     The consequences of eliminating the expression of the Prophetic gift are devastating to the Body; we are then left with more man-made religions, agendas of man and little bulletin letters given to every person walking into the church with the order of the Sunday Morning Service. No excitement, no surprises and no opportunity for God to create and recreate in our mix. The preacher already knows what he/she is going to preach days before the service; there is not even an expectation of God changing his or her message.

     In my life as minister and, I am sure many probably will agree with me, my best sermons were the ones God gave me right as I was getting ready to preach. I came prepare to speak about a topic, but God wanted something else; it is then that we become true vessels for His glory. Not that we have to be irresponsible and not be prepared, however we must always be humble and wiling for the Lord to do and say whatever He wants to do and say through us. He is God, we are nothing without HIM. We must stop disrespecting the Holy Spirit with our Seminary arrogance.

     False teachers and false prophets are easily recognizable because they have a very clear and aggressive destructive agenda; they carry the spirit of the anti-Christ. As we study the Apostle’s letters they were constantly dealing with these false prophets and teachers. We must also learn to deal with them properly. The first thing that I want to point out is that we must make sure that this person is not just making an innocent Biblical mistake. Making a Biblical mistake does not make you a false teacher. We pray and hope that this person develops the heart of a disciple and that he/she be able to see the truth as shown in Scriptures. One of the purposes of Scripture is to correct; Second Timothy 3:16 tells us:

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,”

     Beloved, I know that in today’s world we are told to be tolerant, to be polite and to be open-minded, but when it comes down to the infiltration of these false doctrines we are encourage to be aggressive. The Apostles gave us the example by mentioning these false Teachers by name; they also gave us the names of individuals that moved away from the truth. Why then, are we so cowardly when it comes down to confrontation? We like to talk about sexual sin, but being a cower is not a sin that should be ignored; Revelation 21:8 tells us:

“But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”

     We must boldly allow the prophetic gift to flow among our congregation; it is not an option, it is a must. The Apostle Paul tells is in First Corinthians 14:1-5

1 Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy. 2 For anyone who speaks in a tongue[a] does not speak to people but to God. Indeed, no one understands them; they utter mysteries by the Spirit. 3 But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort. 

4 Anyone who speaks in a tongue edifies themselves, but the one who prophesies edifies the church. 5 I would like every one of you to speak in tongues,[b] but I would rather have you prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues,[c] unless someone interprets, so that the church may be edified.” 

     The reason we have so many people lacking strength, discourage and in great pain is because we have cut off the prophetic. Many feel very comfortable wit the idea of controlling everything; it is easier for them and after all…well! The church is increasing in numbers, so it must be God blessing us! Beloved, the reality is that we can’t survive without the flow of this great gift!

So, how can we properly deal with the infiltration of false prophets and teachers?

  1. Prepare your flock to the prophetic movement by establishing how crucial it is to God’s people, the risk and how to deal with them. You must communicate that the enemy comes to corrupt every good thing, but that the solution is not to get rid of something that is of God, but to be able to keep the Biblical approach and integrity on the matter.

  2. Prepare the people by letting them know the reality of false Prophets and Teachers in the church.

  3. Establish clearly how the leaders intent to deal with them.

  4. Confront and correct even if it has to be done openly. We can’t allow false doctrines to even be entertained in the heart of your flock.

  5. Apply the sit down, be quite and get out policy.

  6. Let prophecies go through the process of confirmation. Somebody may say something off the wall; an event, a situation to come, etc. Do not disregard what was said, but if the person gives a time frame; make sure that he/she is held accountable after the time frame is up. If a person prophesizes that the church will be paid off in two months and two months are here and the church is not paid off, that person must be confronted about that prophecy.

  7. Let the Word be established by two or three witnesses. Prophets are not long rangers. If a prophecy is given to an individual about a possible relocation or something personal, etc. take the Word in, but no matter how good of a person the person that spoke into your life is, let those words be confirmed by two or three mature Christians that are not aware of the situation at hand. Second Corinthians 13:1 tells us:

 “…Every matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.” 

     The only thing needed to apply these very simple steps is boldness. Remember, Jesus was compassionate with the lost, but brutal wit he Pharisees. The Pharisees represented man-made religion which is probably the most dangerous spirit on this earth as they justify their evil by the wrong application of God’s Word. This spirit is so evil that it was the actual spirit behind the assassination of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is the same spirit that comes today to destroy God’s people.

     As a voice crying out in the desert, as one that sometimes feel as if I leave in an island all by himself, as someone that knows the end-result of doing things without the counsel of the Lord and as someone who has experience the horrible consequences of my own evil doing I cry out: Let the prophetic gift flow!

Martial Arts and The Bible By Tom Katch


 

Martial Arts and The Bible

As a Christian and a martial arts student, I have often wrestled with the idea of self-defense. Does God expect me to defend my family and myself when physically attacked or am I to “turn the other cheek” and endure it in the name of Jesus? As I considered the many comments I encountered on this topic, I became even more confused. Some advocates for “religion” have gone as far as to say that anyone who practices any form ofmartial arts is without a doubt bound for hell. It wasn’t until I committed myself to a more thorough study of the scriptures that I discovered the truth for myself. The Bible gives more than a few examples of the practice of self-defense and the idea of martial arts. I would like to share some of what I have learned in this study of the Bible – Old Testament and New. The Bible is, in fact, the very word of God (II Timothy 3:16-17).

God and Warfare

The first example of a physical struggle in the Bible is in Genesis chapter 4. It is here that Cain kills his brother Abel. This is an act of violence condemned by God for two reasons. First, the violence was out of anger and jealousy because his brother’s actions were better than his own (Genesis 4:4-7). Secondly, the violence was pre-meditated. God confronted Cain before this violence occurred. He told Cain that he would need to figure out how to master the sin of anger and jealousy that was trying to overtake him. What this scripture teaches is that God does not want us to initiate violence but he wants us to train ourselves to master our emotions when tempted with feelings of anger, jealousy and rage. He wants us to prepare our hearts to respond humbly. I believe the study of martial arts can provide this kind of training. I have seen it in my son’s martial arts class. His sensei (teacher) may spend up to half of the one-hour class teaching the children humility, manners, concern for others and peace-making. They are taught to avoid violence and stay calm in situations of conflict. This kind of character training is right in line with the example of God’s training of Cain.

The next biblical example of a conflict involving a physical struggle is found in Genesis chapter 14. In this chapter, kings are at war and Abram’s nephew, Lot, and Lot’s family are taken captive. In response to hearing the news about his relatives, Abram sends men to rescue them. In Genesis 14:14-16, Abram sent out “the 318 trained men born in his household”. It seems that even though Abram was not at war, he had a training program for his family and household. It was obviously a training program for warfare of some kind – and a good one, at that, since they were victorious in returning Lot, his family and all of their possessions from the hands of warring kings. After Abram’s successful rescue, he is honored by God and reminded that God had made him successful against his adversary. God later renames Abram, “Abraham” and he becomes the founding father of faith for the Jewish people (and later Christians as well).

To clarify the meaning of the term “martial arts”, Webster’s defines the word martial as “warfare” or “warrior”, and arts as “a skill acquired by study”. In the story of Abram rescuing Lot, the Bible gives us an example of warrior training. Not everyone in Abram’s household was a part of the 318 trained men, but the ones that were had excellent martial arts training. And God helped them to be victorious as they executed their warfare skills.

Here are a few other brief examples of warfare, from the Old Testament, that could be studied further:

 Genesis 32 – Jacob avoids war with his brother, Esau. He prepares for battle but orchestrates a peaceful resolution.
 Deuteronomy 20 – God goes with the warriors to fight against their enemies.
 II Samuel 23:8-39 – the Bible describes David and his mighty men of battle.
 Nehemiah 4 – the builders of Jerusalem’s city wall carry weapons to defend themselves during the rebuilding.

There are many more examples in the Old Testament, with a wide variety of scenarios and many unique resolutions. The subject of warfare is very complex and each situation needs to be considered carefully. Therefore, when faced with adversity, wisdom needs to be applied.

An Eye For An Eye

Even with the Old Testament of the Bible showing support for martial arts training, some might argue that the God of the Old Testament is different than the God of the New Testament – that God’s position on warfare changed when Jesus came on the scene. It might be said that the God of the Old Testament was about war and the God of the New Testament is about peace.

The Bible, however, does not support this. James 1:17 says that God does not change, and Hebrews 13:8 says that Jesus Christ [God] is the same yesterday, today and forever. Therefore, the God of the Old Testament is the same God of the New Testament. As we continue to study this topic, we will see that the New Testament also discusses self-defense and the idea of martial arts.

Matthew 5:38-42, in which Jesus talks about “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”, has been used to condemn martial arts. It reads, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” At first glance this passage seems to be advocating a reversal of the Old Testament laws. I was swayed by this argument myself, and was torn in my own convictions for some time. But when I finally decided to dig deeper into the Bible, I was amazed and encouraged to find some answers.

Many people who want to obey the Bible simply gloss over this scripture, like I did, because they are torn between what they think the Bible says and their consciences telling them to prepare for warfare and to protect.

The truth is that Jesus never intended to abolish the Old Testament laws. He only intended to clarify them, to reinforce them, fulfill them, and reveal God’s heart behind them. This is what Jesus says just moments earlier in Matthew 5:17: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the [Old Testament] Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” When Jesus speaks about “turning the other cheek”, in Matthew 5, he is referring to the Old Testament Mosaic laws found in Exodus 21, 22 and 23. These chapters in Exodus contain the laws God gave to his people, which reinforce and further detail the famous “ten commandments”. Jesus is specifically referring to Exodus 21:22 where God explains what punishment should be given if men are fighting and an innocent by-stander is harmed (in this instance, a pregnant woman). This is not a scripture about self-defense but about restitution and punishment for a crime. Jesus referred to this scripture because the people, in religious self-righteousness, were using this particular scripture to justify retaliation and vengeance. “An eye for an eye” had become an excuse to be intolerant and merciless toward one another. A closer look at the “act of aggression” that Jesus refers to as a strike on the cheek, will reveal that he is talking about an insult rather than a fighting fist. The word “strike” is translated from the Greek word “rhapizo” which is used interchangeably with the word “slap”. In the Jewish culture (as in many other cultures), a slap in the face was a form of humiliation or rebuke. It was not necessarily a physical attack and was not meant to result in physical harm. Even Exodus 21:21 (regarding “an eye for an eye”) says that if, as a result of a conflict, a pregnant by-stander is forced to give birth pre-maturely but there is no serious injury to the woman or the baby, “an eye for an eye” should not be applied as a punishment. Jesus is confirming that this Old Testament law regarding punishment is not to be used as an excuse for retaliation when inconvenienced or insulted. Jesus is exposing the heart of man and is further clarifying the Old Testament Law. God’s desire is that we don’t retaliate but rather that we restrain our emotions in the heat of conflict and maintain righteousness and mercifulness. We are not to pounce on our adversary at the first sign that we have been offended. The ultimate goal of God is to win over the offender, help him to see God’s mercy and institute a change of heart in the offender (see 2 Peter 3:9-15 and Luke 9:51-56 for further study).

Guidelines For Martial Arts

The Bible provides some guidelines for practicing self-defense and martial arts as it aims to clarify what is and is not acceptable in the face of conflict. II Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture [the Bible] is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” I Corinthians 13:7 says, “[Love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres”. Using the Bible as a guide, a person can become thoroughly equipped to be a protector.

Permanent injury or death can occur as a result of practicing martial arts. This does not make martial arts unacceptable to God but God clarifies what is and is not acceptable in regard to deadly force in various situations. For example, Exodus 21:12-14 says that if a person is killed unintentionally, the killer is not guilty of murder. If it is intentional, the killer is to be sentenced to death. Exodus 21:18-19 says that if men are quarreling and one strikes the other and injures him seriously but not permanently (even with a weapon), he is responsible only to compensate the injured man for loss of time and medical expenses. I point out these scriptures to show that God is concerned with the attacker’s and the defender’s intentions as well as the outcome of the conflict. We cannot simply say that anyone who harms or kills another man is guilty and has committed a sin. It depends on his intentions. Also, we see that using extreme force, or even a weapon may be acceptable if it is used in a way as to not intentionally inflict permanent damage.

The Bible refers to another situation in which self-defense may be used during a robbery, in Exodus 22:2-3. If a man is being robbed, he is entitled to protect his property, his family and himself. If the attempted robbery takes place at night and the actions of self-defense result in the death of the robber, the defender is not guilty. If the attempted robbery takes place in the daytime and the robber is killed, the defender is guilty of sin. The difference may be that in the daytime, the defender should have more control of his actions and should be able to subdue the robber without killing him. Self-defense is warranted but control must be applied. At night, in the dark, maximum force would be acceptable since it is more difficult to assess the threat that the robber poses. It would be more difficult to tell if the attacker had a weapon, or to assess his physical strength.

God expects us to constantly make decisions about the situations we are in. In regard to martial arts and self-defense, it seems that God is concerned with our intentions. Guilt and innocence, to him, are a matter of the heart. God expects us to be directed by the heart of the scriptures in the Bible. We must be directed in our actions by scriptures such as Deuteronomy 5:17, which says, “You shall not murder” as well as I Corinthians 13:7 which says, “[Love] always protects”. As the Bible states in II Timothy 3:16-17, all Bible scripture is relevant and useful. During one of my martial arts classes, one of my fellow students asked our sensei, “What attack should I make now?” He had just finished practicing a series of intense self-defense tactics on his partner, rendering him harmless. Sensei replied, “Run”. No final “kill-move”? No, it is time to make another decision about the threat the attacker poses. If the attacker has been successfully rendered harmless then you shouldn’t stick around to inflict more damage or further risk your own safety. The Bible gives us specific guidelines for martial arts but God also communicates his heart about how he wants us to treat one another. He wants us to treat one another with love – even in conflict.

Weapons

I have also wrestled with the question of whether or not it was right for weapons to be used as a means of defense. Should I own a fighting knife, a sword or a gun? Isaiah 2:4 says, “…They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.” If this scripture were taken out of context with the rest of the Bible, to use a weapon would be a sin. But this scripture has to be balanced with others. In the context, this scripture is describing the contrast between the nations of that time and the type of nation Jesus would establish in the future. The nation that Jesus would establish would have no military and there would be no physical walls to defend. It would be a spiritual nation, not a physical one.

The New Testament clearly confirms the right to bear arms. Romans 13:4 says, “For [the governing authority] is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.” Even Jesus directs his disciples to acquire weapons as the time of his crucifixion approached. Luke 22:36 says, “He said to them, ‘But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.’” And in Luke 22:38, “The disciples said, ‘See Lord, here are two swords.’ ‘That is enough,’ he replied.” Peter soon after uses the sword to protect Jesus and Jesus rebukes him for it. This was not to say that it is wrong to use a weapon to protect someone. Peter had earlier been rebuked by Jesus for trying to keep him from fulfilling his mission of dying for the sins of the world (see Matthew 16:21-28). Jesus was re-stating that Peter was not to protect Jesus from going to his death. This was not the correct time to use the sword. Jesus had his disciples arm themselves because Jesus was not going to be with them, physically, any longer. They would need to protect themselves and each other and Jesus gave them the right to bear arms in order to do so.

Martial Arts Is Not Religion

It is important to note that martial arts is not religion in that it is not an institute of service and worship of God. It is only a tool to accomplish a necessary training. There will be flaws in all martial arts training and even things taught that are contradictory to the Bible. This will happen even when the martial arts style or system is advocating biblical-based training. Romans 3:4 says, “…Let God be true and every man a liar.” My son was recently taught by an instructor during class to avoid talking about politics and religion in order to avoid conflict. Though I appreciate the effort made to train the kids to keep thepeace, the concept is biblically flawed. I spent the next week teaching Bible scriptures to my son such as Acts 4, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey [man] rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” It is each person’s responsibility as a Christian to know what the Bible teaches. Even in Acts 17:10-11, when the apostle Paul taught the people of Berea, the Bereans were honored by God for having a noble character because, “they received the message with great eagerness and examined the scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” Each of us has the same responsibility to examine the scriptures to see if what we are being taught is true, whether it be a teaching from our martial arts instructor, school teacher, neighbor, or religious leader.

Conclusion

Martial arts training has its place. It can help people learn to deal with the inevitable conflicts in life. There is no escaping battle in life. God wants people to be prepared to handle these battles, whether it is to turn the other cheek to an insult, find a peaceful resolution, or physically defend themselves or others. Martial arts and self-defense are not sinful or inherently wrong, but without the guidance of God and the Bible, martial arts could be misapplied. Without proper biblical training we are left to our own sinful nature, which tends toward retaliation, haste, fear, hatred, pacifism, and intolerance. Martial arts is a biblical concept, but even more attention should be given to biblical training. The Bible should be used in conjunction with martial arts training. In conclusion, I Timothy 4:7-8, which says, “Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

Author’s Bio: 

Tom Katch, Christian and martial artist. CEO of Kataaro – Quality martial arts uniforms, custom embroidery, and screen printing at http://www.kataaro.com.

http://www.selfgrowth.com/articles/katch1.html

Puerto Rico: Todavía Hay Esperanza


Que no se confunda mi isla; te llevo en mi Corazón. Como una novia lejana te extraño tanto. Aunque los malvados te hayan corrompido; aunque la violencia atemorice nuestros corazones; aunque la sangre del inocente clame a Dios en las calles de los pueblos y en los callejones obscuros,  aunque el gobierno te haya dado la espalda, aunque los tecatos se apoderen de las esquinas mi barrio, aunque la trampa de las drogas y las cadenas del alcohol, como acido, devoren tu destino, aunque vea los valores que un día te hicieron la perla del Caribe, desaparecer… te llevo en mi corazón.

Puerto Rico: Todavía hay esperanza. Todavía las canciones que han inspirado tus montes no se acaban; todavía el roció de la mañana nos regala sonrisas; todavía las melodías de las aves decoran nuestro escuchar; todavía los aguaceros de Mayo renuevan nuestros pasos,  todavía el coquí no deja de cantar y nos rompe las noches con sus conciertos que anuncian la esperanza de un mejor futuro. Puerto Rico: Todavía hay esperanza.

Que no se rinda el jibarito con su Seis Chorreao y que no se detenga el Pie Forzao…por favor, que no deje de cantar el sonero valiente y que se escuche bien fuerte el grito de los jóvenes con su reggaetón. Que el grito de Lares se escuche; un grito de libertad, un grito por un futuro con Cristo, un grito de dignidad; un grito por amor a nosotros mismos, un grito por amor a Dios. Mientras las olas sigan acariciando nuestras costas, mientras las palmas no dejen de bailar al son de los vientos, hay esperanza.

El Arco Iris adorna nuestros cielos después de tan grande lluvia, es la señal del Pacto de Dios…Puerto Rico: Todavía hay esperanza.