In Motion

My uniform is on.

Belt is tied.

The room is full of people busy performing different Karate kata, punching and kicking, kiai! Shouts fill the room.

I work through my kata once.

Twice.

Three times.

Over and over again.

With each repetition I pick up speed and use more power. I torque my hips and use my stances to create more and more power.

My body is full of adrenaline.

Each kiai comes from deep down inside and echos through my body and the room.

Sweat is dripping off my brow. My breathing heavy but steady. Again and again I repeat the same movements. The same kata.

The kiai comes again and again and I feel the power course through my body.

I stop to catch my breath.

I can’t stop for too long or the momentum will slowly fade – I start again.

The next repetition I’m going to focus on making each movement aiming at perfect technique.

The same kata, the same movements over and over again. I’ve been practicing this kata for over 20 years. The kata is not perfect and never will be but I continue to practice.

The next repetition of this kata I’m focusing on fluidity, I want to move like a drop of dew falling from a petal of a flower…and then it happens.

The world around me fades away.

I hear the noises of Karate around me but they seem distant…but not apart from me. Like I’m submerged into warm water.

Everything is muffled but connected.

My movements through the kata are strong and fluid.

I feel buzzy or high, but not ill or overheated, just that the repetitions of the kata are making me one.Hildegard_von_Bingen_Liber_Divinorum_Operum

One with everything.

One.

For a few brief moments I experience the essential oneness of life, a fullness without thought or division. I don’t know exactly how to describe the experience, kensho, an epiphany or henosis?

For a fleeting moment reality all becomes one. My breathing, body and movements all sync and I forget “self.” I’m not looking for this experience but it finds me and fills me.

The Wise Builder

A friend of mine is dealing with his wife’s cancer and immediately I was reminded of this portion from writings of Dr. John Gill. God is in control of all things. He has a plan. Trust in Jesus Christ alone. 

...if anything comes to pass without the will of God, or contrary to it, or what he has not commanded, that is decreed, (Lam. 3:37) how is he a sovereign Being, that does according to his will in heaven and in earth, and works all things after the counsel of his will? (Dan. 4:35; Eph. 1:11)

…and if anything is by chance and fortune, or the mere effect of second causes, and of the free will of men, independent of the will of God, and if he works under these, in subserviency to them, and takes his measures of operation from them, then he must be dependent on them; and how then can it be said with truth, that “of him, and through him, and to him, are all things?

He continues;

The “immutability” of God requires eternal decrees in him, concerning everything that is in time; for if anything is done in time, that did not fall under his notice and will in eternity, this must be new to him, and produce a change in him; or if an after will in time arises in him, respecting anything he would have done, which he willed not before, this argues a change in him; whereas, in him there is “no variableness, nor shadow of turning”. The knowledge of God, supposes and clearly proves and establishes the decrees of God; he is a “God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed”, (1 Sam. 2:13) he has knowledge of all actions done in time; and such an exact knowledge of them, as if they were weighed by him, and before him; and this knowledge of them is not successive, as they are performed; “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning”, or from eternity, (Acts 15:18) both what he would do himself, and what he wills to be done by others: and this knowledge is founded on his decrees; he knows that such and such things will be, because he has determined they shall be. Once more, the “wisdom” of God makes it necessary that there should be eternal purposes and decrees in him, concerning things future; he is the all-wise and only wise God, and in wisdom makes all his works; which cannot be supposed to be made without previous thoughts and determinations concerning them:

The analogy of the wise builder has been used many times, maybe A.W. Pink? I don’t recall. Here’s Gill;

what wise man undertakes a building, without first determining what it shall be, of what materials it shall be made, in what form and manner, as well as for what end? And can we imagine that the all-wise God, who builds all things, should go about them without preconcerted measures, and settled determinations concerning them; “Who is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working?” (Isa. 28:29).

Pentecostalism

I’ve had a difficult time defining Pentecostalism. Is it Charismatic? What is Holiness Pentecostalism? Where did it come from? Dr. Ryan Reeves lays it all out nicely in a very irenic manner.

Bio from Reformed Theological Seminary:

Dr. Reeves has been a full-time faculty member at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Jacksonville, FL since 2010. Dr. Reeves completed a Ph.D. in Church History from the University of Cambridge on Tudor evangelicalism. He has been a guest lecturer for Reformed Theological Seminary and also for Cambridge University. A church historian, Dr. Reeves’ primary research interests are political theology and ecclesiology during the Reformation, specifically political obedience, resistance theory and the relationship between church and state. He also has an interest in the early Swiss Reformation, the Tudor dynasty and early Protestant theology.

Gospel Plough

CHURCH! – Get up and go. It’s the Lord’s Day, not yours, give it back to Him.

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Mary wore three links of chain
Every link had Jesus’ name

Keep your hand on that plough, hold right on
Hold on, (hold on) hold right on (can you hold right on)
Keep your hand on that plough, hold right on

Well, Peter got anxious and he said
Won’t you wash my hands and my feet and head

Keep your hand on that plough, hold right on
Hold on, (hold on) hold right on (can you hold right on)
Keep your hand on that plough, hold right on

Matthew, Mark and Luke and John
All my prophets dead and gone

Keep your hand on that plough, hold right on
Hold on, (hold on) hold right on (can you hold right on)
Keep your hand on that plough, hold right on

I ain’t never been to Heaven, but I’ve been told
It’s a first class city, and the streets are gold

Keep your hand on that plough, hold right on
Hold on, (hold on) hold right on (hold right on)
Keep your hand on that plough, hold right on

Still Reforming, Still a Protestant…

f.jpgor years I have visited different online forums to discuss theological topics and recently spent some time on a forum discussing Anglicanism with Anglicans. Although friendly, it was immediately clear that even a very general orthodox position was not tolerated by Anglicans on the forum. It was as if Christian doctrine was being re-assessed by current cultural trends! Sure, there are plenty of orthodox Anglicans out there in the world but I have to wonder how much longer they can hold out, how much longer will they last in Anglicanism before being driven out? We can find spin-off groups and churches, some Anglo-Catholic and others Evangelical, but as we’ve learned from “Joey,” a spin-off of “Friends,” spin-offs can be terrible. (For the older reader think “Joanie Loves Chachi” and “Happy Days”) We get a lot of the same “stuff” but it’s just not the same.

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majority of Anglican theologians tend to be less than orthodox and their theological views are out of sync with the often conservative worship offered on Sunday mornings. For example, did you know that two percent of Anglican Priests in the UK do not believe in God? Instead of growing in faith Anglican Ministers seem to fall into unbelief with age:

“Clergy were significantly more likely to hold unorthodox beliefs the older they were and the longer they had been in the ministry. Nearly 90 per cent of those ordained since 2011 believe in God compared with  only 72 per cent of those who became priests in the 1960s, the research discovered.” (Source)

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n the Apostles Creed we confess, “Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried…” It was reported back in 2002, that 500 English clergyman took part in a poll and found that 27 percent denied the Virgin Birth! This is astounding. One Priest was quoted, “We will be having a traditional service because that is what people expect and enjoy.” (Source) Not because it was a matter of worship but because “that is what people expect!” In another survey 1 in 50 Anglican Priests in the UK believe God is nothing more than a human construct used to deal with the stresses of day to day life. (Source) The Anglican Church in the West has been declining for decades and is there any wonder, when they lack faith in the essentials?

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t has been pointed out that, “For most of the past 50 years, a great deal of Christian wrangling has been about whether the church needs a doctrinal shift towards liberalism or conservatism to survive.” (SourceAccording to God & Politics “those calling themselves Christians, 40% defined it as ‘I try to be a good person’, 26% chose ‘It’s how I was brought up’ and only 16% selected the statement ‘I have accepted Jesus as my Lord and Saviour’. 49% had not attended a church service in the previous 12 months. Also more worryingly, 49% did not think is Jesus the Son of God and bizarrely 6% did not believe in God at all.” The problem is obviously liberalism, which reinterprets orthodox doctrines in new and fanciful ways. When 60 percent of Church of England Christians never read their Bibles therein the problems lies. The article on God & Politics includes a breakdown of Anglicanism in the UK that can probably be extrapolated for other Anglican Churches in the West.

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s you all know I’ve been attending an Anglican parish for a while now. It was all good at first, everything was new and exciting. It was a good experience getting into the rhythm of the church calendar, the seasons, such as Lent and Easter. If you have ever experienced Anglican worship you will likely agree that it’s beautiful with the candles, vestments, stained glass windows, etc. That all stated I feel my time with the Anglican church has come to an end. Next year the Anglican Church of Canada will vote to allow same sex marriage and will probably be suspended from taking part in the Anglican Communion shortly after. The polling data is clear, the vote to allow same sex marriage seems inevitable and with it, so does the departure of the remaining orthodox Anglicans. So how did we get here, how did this all happen?

It’s not as if the Church of England hadn’t been warned:

As the Church is now internally constituted, her Calvinism is impregnable; while she lives, this is immortal. The legislature have it, indeed, in their power (God forbid they should ever have the inclination!) to melt down her Liturgy, Homilies, and Articles; and, when her component particles are severed by state chemistry, to cast her into the Arminian mould: but, until this is really done, all the artifice of man will never be able to fix the banner of Arminius in the citadel, how daringly soever some of his disciples (John Wesley) may display it on the walls. Our pulpits may declare for free-will; but the desk, our prayers, and the whole of our standard writings as a Church, breathe only the doctrines of grace.” Augustus Toplady, Historic Proof of the Doctrine Calvinism of the Church of England

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oplady’s Church is no more. I have stated many times that the Book of Common Prayer is beautifully Reformed and Calvinistic, however, Arminianism (and with it Liberalism) slipped into the citadel. The enemy is within the Anglican Gates and has been for years. The more any church moves away from biblical Calvinism, the more it places man over all as sovereign.

“The type of religion which rejoices in the pious sound of traditional phrases, regardless of their meanings, or shrinks from “controversial” matters, will never stand amid the shocks of life. In the sphere of religion, as in other spheres, the things about which men are agreed are apt to be the things that are least worth holding; the really important things are the things about which men will fight.” J. Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism

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hat I have Learned 

My sojourning with the Anglicans was not all for nothing and I walk away with a deeper understanding of my own failings, especially when it comes to my personal idealism and sectarianism. Some might say idealism is really “legalism” but I disagree. In my case I was placing such a high ideal on the local church it was bound to leave me wanting. I’ve been a Christian for just shy of 20 years and for most of that time I’ve been extremely sectarian and dogmatic, the Anglicans have taught me to loosen up on what “I” require as a confession from another believer and trust God to sort out the details.

I’ve also been reminded that orthodox Protestantism is in the minority.

Our voice online is often louder than our presence in the local congregation and even though we can download thousands of sermons by orthodox preachers a solid sermon can be difficult to find locally. Where does this leave me? Hopeful. I’m very hopeful and have enjoyed visiting different churches and denominations since leaving the Anglican parish. I’m not sure where I’ll end up or where I’ll plant roots but I know I will. Tomorrow I’m back at First Baptist and looking forward to it after all…it is the Lord’s Day, not mine.

Yours in the Lord,

jm