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Yoga and the Martial Arts – Should Christians Practice Either?
Posted by Clare
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I was asked by a reader to comment on whether or not Christians should practice or participate in either yoga or the martial arts. My short answer is – very carefully.

Depending on your age, you may have very little interest in either activity. However, if you have children, grandchildren or you mentor someone who does, you would be wise to have a position on these activities. (See my May 6, 2013 blog on Writing Jesus’ Speeches).

I’ll be right up front. I have less concern with yoga, the exercise, not the practice of spiritual meditation, than I have with martial arts. I realize that both came out of eastern religions and both were practiced for centuries as a religion, or a way to connect with “the gods”, and in most cases, still are. But, we don’t stop celebrating Christmas even though December 25 was originally a pagan holiday – Roman Solstice. So, I’m less concerned about the historic roots than the actual practice today by Christians, or led by Christians.

I’m also aware that there are serious Christians who believe we should stay as far away from both as possible. And, that could be the wisest choice for you. However, the Church in Corinth had similar questions. For instance, should they eat meat sacrificed to idols? In I Cor. 8, Paul addresses this issue straight on when he says, “Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat sacrificial food they think of it as having been sacrificed to a god, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled. But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.” I Cor. 8:7-8

But in the same chapter Paul goes on to say that he’d never eat such meat if it offended another believer’s conscience. “Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.” I Cor. 8:13

So here’s my first warning; I would not want to see either yoga or the martial arts practiced in a church or family if it seriously violated the conscience of another Christian. My second warning is this; just the other fact that these practices have their origin in eastern religions, should not automatically disqualify Christians from practicing them, unless any element of that religion is also practiced or encouraged.

Here’s how this issue worked out for my wife and I recently. (more…)

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Questions
Posted by Clare

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Q:   Every time I hear someone say, “God told me to do… whatever,” I want to run for cover. I’m generally skeptical. What should I say to these people and how would I know if God has actually spoken to them?  Karen

A:   That depends on what God “told them to do.” If it sounds to you like something God would tell a Christian to do, I’d encourage them to do it. Don’t reject their “revelation” out-of-hand, but give them some guidance.

On the other hand, if it sounds a bit off the wall or will really impact their life, I’ll often ask these questions. “Who are the three people you most admire spiritually?” Once they’ve answered, ask them this follow-up question, “Have you sought out their counsel?” If not, I’d urge them to do so. The second piece of advice is this; “Don’t just go to people who you think will agree with you. Go to the people you most respect spiritually.”

I really get nervous when, what “God told them to do”, is in violation of some fairly clear teaching or principle of scripture. When that happens, I do tell them my reservations. But, I’ve also found many are so convinced they heard from God that I can tell they’ve made up their mind. A wise pastor of a local charismatic church once observed of his flock. “I’ve found that many strange bugs get attracted to the light!” How true.

My pastor, Jim Samra, wrote a book God Told Me. While I’m not entirely in agreement with him on some aspects of this topic, he is one of the wisest, godliest men I know and he has some excellent tips for discerning the will of God in your, or someone else’s life. I particularly like Chapter Three.

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Please share your own 10 second rule questions by commenting here, or emailing me at claredegraaf@gmail.com

 

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How to “Lose” Gracefully
Posted by Clare
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A few weeks ago, I was trying my best to persuade a group of Christian leaders of my church to take a course of action that I believed strongly in. Of course, I believed I was right! But, I lost. And, I don’t always like losing. (But, that’s another blog for another day.) It wasn’t a moral or spiritual issue, but it still stung when the majority saw it differently.

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I now had a choice to make. I could accept the decision gracefully or go on believing that I was right and be frustrated with those who saw it differently. Sound familiar?

A wise elder once told me, “Clare, when the train is leaving the station, you have two choices. You can either wave it goodbye, or shake your fist at it. Meaning that we have choices how we “lose” – gracefully or angrily.

So, in the church how do we learn to lose gracefully? (more…)

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Questions
Posted by Clare

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Q: Aside from giving some money to a few men with “need work” signs, I’ve not had many 10 second rule impressions. Is that normal?  Todd

A: Well, I’m not sure what “normal” is. However, most of my impressions have to do with encouraging people and warnings from the Holy Spirit about saying or doing something I know is unkind or worse.

I have worried that because the first two stories I told in chapter one of my book were about giving people money, that readers would look first for generosity opportunities. I believe we gravitate to generosity because it usually makes us and others feel better. Saying “no” to sin rarely does in the short run. Personally, I’ve found that self-denial or “sin management” is tougher than doing good for others.

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Please share your own 10 second rule questions by commenting here, or emailing me at claredegraaf@gmail.com

 

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