Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Quick and Powerful

Since 1980 I have been training in the martial art of Tae Kwon Do. Just about anybody who does martial arts thinks very highly of Bruce Lee. Folks who enjoy Kung Fu theater definitely enjoy watching him even if they cannot emulate him. I picked up a book just before heading to Japan so I could have an interesting and possibly beneficial (physically) read during my month-long stay. "Bruce Lee's Fighting Method - The Complete Edition" by Bruce Lee (himself) and M. Uyehara fit the bill perfectly.

Who better to learn from than the master himself? During his brief life, Bruce Lee was considered the best martial artist in the world. He started his training in the traditional kung fu arts of his native China. He became so good that he began to develop and perfect his own style known as Jeet Kune Do. After a while his desire was to share his knowledge and art with the western world. He wanted to do this not just in the movies but especially in his own training schools.

Unfortunately he met a lot of resistance from the Chinese masters. They did not want westerners to learn the ways of the east. Even today, many believe we are incapable of learning the martial arts. I personally believe that is true in the sense that we typically do not learn the philosophical and cultural aspects of the arts. However, the physical aspects have definitely caught on here in the US over the last 40 years, thanks in large part to one of Lee's friends, Chuck Norris.

Bruce Lee's fighting method was definitely unconventional. Just about everything I learned in Tae Kwon Do I have thrown away to learn Jeet Kune Do. Unfortunately, two things are happening: First, I have no master to teach me, and; second, I find myself totally uncoordinated it seems as I learn all new moves and ways of thinking. I wish Bruce was still alive and by my side to teach me. It's quite difficult to do it slowly in a mirror.

Bruce said in his book that this is in fact a terrible way to train (as I just read today so now I better stop it). He said that he never heard of a world class sprinter train to win a race by walking around the track. Likewise, the Jeet Kune Do fighter will not learn to be quick and powerful unless he trains quickly and powerfully all the time.

As I pondered all this today while riding in a bus to another city, some excellent counsel from the Lord came to me. Perhaps you have already picked up on some of the connotations.

It is difficult to learn a martial art by reading a book and looking at still pictures. Yet in the Christian life, our major tool of learning is a book with no pictures at all. What is the difference? Why is the Bible so quick and powerful and why do we see the results from reading it in such quick and powerful ways? Let's look at the Scripture.

God says in Hebrews 4:12, "For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."

The answer is because the target of all Scripture is our spirit and mind. These two elements of our triune being direct our actions. This is what God says in Proverbs 23:7a, "For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he:" We are what we think. We do what we think. And we think at the speed of light (literally).

The other big difference between the efficacy of reading the Bible and any other book is the fact that the Bible is literally a living Person. It is not mere words on paper or mental banks. God says in Revelation 19:13b, "and his name is called The Word of God." Who is this talking about? That answer is found in John 1:1, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."

This is one of my favorite truths in all the Bible. The Word of God is quick (alive) because Jesus is the Word and Jesus is alive. He says so in John 11:25b, "I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:"

There is no life in "Bruce Lee's Fighting Method". It's just a method. Words on paper. Very difficult to get into the mind and out through the body. Having a master by your side makes it much easier but that master is dead. But my Master, my Lord Jesus, is alive and dwells within me by His Holy Spirit. And His Spirit teaches me everything just as He says in I John 2:27, "But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him." No matter how hard I try to imagine him there speaking the words of his book to me, Bruce Lee just isn't there to help. Even if another were to come along and teach me personally, it just would not be the same as having Bruce teach me himself. He was the master and is still considered unmatched today.

The other thing that occurred to me today, and this is something new, is how all this helps me with combating random thoughts. We all have this battle. We can be right with the Lord, even in the middle of worship when out of nowhere comes an evil thought. These wicked things come from that old dead man trying to get up. To keep him down and dead, I need to act quickly and powerfully against him (the flesh). Formerly I would start to do things like:

Ask, "Now where did that filth come from?" or,

Try to convince myself that it was just one thought and it will go away on its own. After all, I was alright with God just a moment ago. But then I find throughout the day that one more thought comes along randomly, then another, then another, and then pretty soon it turns into wicked thinking. If left alone, that turns into wicked actions. Sin always works this way as God tells us in James 1:14-16, "But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. Do not err, my beloved brethren."

So now my desire and training is focused on quickly and powerfully putting to death even the very first random thought, just as with any sin of any magnitude. I have written much about this method so I will not fill the page here again (although I can barely resist the richness of the Word!). Just as Bruce taught (and why his method was so superior): the best fighter is he who is most quick and powerful. Speed and power come from short, straight-line punches and kicks.

God's Word works just like that too. The term "sharper than any two-edged sword" refers to a dagger actually. We think of swords as long metal blades while a dagger is a short blade. Swords slice but daggers pierce. Swords do widespread damage but daggers do precision cutting. That is what God's Word does - precision cutting. Short, straight to the heart words. Perhaps you have heard the term "spiritual surgery". That's what this means.

Thanks for letting me share a bit unconventionally today.

1 comment:

W McCallum said...

Brilliant post.