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The Battlefield is in your mind: You choose sides by what you think about - Part 3 Created 12 March 2014

Part 1 || Part 2 || Part 3 || Part 4

We're looking at how things may affect, influence or determine your thinking, and whether or not that is a good thing in terms of spiritual life.

Jesus said, He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad, ... Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit (Mat 12:30,33). In the greater scheme of things - in the final analysis - there are only two categories in life: Black or White, Good or Bad, honouring God or dishonouring God, Blessing or Cursing, Life or Death[3].

This Part 3 ofthe series is a little more confrontational, so, if you want to bail out, now is the time.

The Amplified Bible renders Ephesians 2:2, ... at one time ... you were following the course and fashion of this world, were under the sway of the tendency of this present age, following the prince of the power of the air. You were obedient to and under the control of the demon spirit that still constantly works in the sons of disobedience - the careless, the rebellious, and the unbelieving - who go against the purposes of God.

Note, it says "the careless", meaning those who do not take due care to pursuing what is right, ... they are the unbelievers and they are 'Christians' who are frivolous; the jokers, the 'elsewhere-focussed', the 'not-so-serious'. They are the 'sloppy' "children of God"[1]. Is this you? I hope not. But, it is me, to some degree. Yes, I have been born again. Yes, I am being washed by His Word. And, perhaps, Yes - I am not yet loving God with all my heart.That is a sobering thought considering that loving God with all of your heart is the first of two commandments on which hang all the Law and the Prophets[2]. It is a serious issue.

Despite a conscious decision on my part to depart from sin, some things in my heart remain hard to get rid of. I find it hard to give up. I find it hard to make the sacrifice. I find it hard to choose life[3]. Sometimes when I get upset or sad I do things which I later regret. Thank God we may confess and be set free. Other things are more habitual - they reflect the "sloppy Christian" within me; the guy whose physical nature still gets the better of him.

Here's the issue: Whenever I have an opportunity I like to watch Mixed Martial Arts on television - the hand-to-hand combat sport for elite athletes - men and women - which has taken the world by storm. So, why do I have such a keen interest in what is essentially violent? Since I can remember Bruce Lee has been an enigma to me. I used to buy magazines in his name, watch his movies and even acquired my own Nunchucks (those 'Bruce Lee sticks' that sportsmen, actors, pro fighters and ordinary kids like me used to play with). I would find a dark and quiet spot and swing them till I could do so no longer.

Bruce's Nunchucks became my Prozac for deep inner pain and depression as a child - stuff the outside world was unaware of. And stuff I could not readily define at the time. So, Bruce was my hero. His death in the '70s - shrouded in mystery - for some, is still hard to believe. A pity indeed that a unique physical specimen like his had to perish. But a reminder, nevertheless, that no matter how strong we are today, one day you and I will breathe our last.

Since those early days of my life I have been born again, healed (emotionally and physically) and delivered from spiritual oppression. But in my heart there is still space for that which is not of God - hand-to-hand violence. No, I don't practice it and I do not condone it outside of the UFC's "Octagon" (Video - WARNING: very violent (turn the sound off)). In fact, I am dead set against it.

So, what is the conclusion? I cannot help but contemplate the idea that my 'schooling' in mixed martial arts, albeit via Bruce Lee's example only, got stuck somewhere in my heart and I'm finding it hard to depart from it.

Think about it: What is in my heart today is what I will have thought about in time past.

So, what do I make of it in spiritual terms? It's simple, really: despite what I may think of myself, or hope, my heart may not yet completely belong to Christ. What I mean is not that I have not been born again. Only, like Paul, that my unregenerated carnal nature comes into play from time-to-time. Why else would I enjoy that which is not of Him (violent sport)?

What's up with this thing called "MMA" anyway? Just because it is called a "sport" or "entertainment" and just because people do it for a living, does that make it right to inflict on another person as much damage as you can?[4] No, I do not think so.

Don't get me wrong, professing Christians do participate in MMA. My intentions here are not to discredit them. Jon Jones the UFC's undefeated Light-Heavyweight champion and best pound-for-pound fighter in the world has Philippians 4:13 tattoo'd on his chest. So do others proclaim their faith. But my issue is with ME, not with them. What is God's expectation of ME in this regard?

Here's my dilemma: Time spent on MMA is time spent on thinking on things that are not of God, ... reliving that knock-out punch in my mind, or the sharp elbow to that other guy's forehead, or the 'arm bar', or the 'Superman puch', ..... yes, I must admit, these things do cross my mind going to bed some nights. But that is not thinking on the kind of things the Bible tells us to be thinking on: ... whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy - meditate on these things. (Phil 4:8). In fact, if I am being totally honest with myself, MMA entertainment gets me to think about the exact opposite things to what the Bible tells me to be thinking about.

So, why am I still doing it? Because I have not seriously considered the things that occupy my thought life. And I have not made haste in rooting out that which is not of God. I have simply carried on and waited on God to bring stuff to my attention.

Thus, I have now come to conclude: we do not have to wait on God to tell us what to think about - He has already told us: ... whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, ... Time spent on MMA is time away from God's way. Period. No argument. No debate. No case to be made. No, "but it's just innocent entertainment!" For me it is wrong. Because, what God has called me to do is not to pummel another guy till he gives up. Clearly then, He hasn't called me to be entertained by it either.

Or, perhaps He has? What do you think? Shall a man not have his own 'innocent entertainment'? What about watching rugby? That's violent too, some will argue. No, it is not. Being physically competitive and being violent is not the same thing. Rugby's objective is to score tries. MMA's objective is to knock the other guy unconscious. There's a difference. When rugby becomes violent it is unruly. When MMA is not violent there is no point to it. So, I'm okay with watching rugby. Still, not too much.

Nevertheless, what is becomming abundantly clear to me is that Proverbs' 'as a man thinks in his heart, so is he' is true. What I have imprinted in my heart defines my behaviour. What is in my heart determines my whole life[5]. What I think about today will sit in my heart tomorrow and determine my course of life the day after. See what Solomons says about this: Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life (Prov 4:23).

We can easily understand that the things that we think about most often are the things that shape our lives. These are the things that determine how you behave - what your likes and dislikes are and what your likely course of action will be in any given situation. That's why Jesus wants us washed clean: Sanctify them by your truth. Your Word us truth (John 17:17). Whenever I choose to be renewed by His Word I choose life. Whenever I choose to be directed by the prince of the power of the air I do the opposite - I choose not life and blessing but cursing and death.

Thus, being sanctified by His Word and having your mind renewed by it is the same thing.

It hinges on a decision that is set before us[3]: It is OUR CHOICE to decide what we get to think about from day-to-day unless, of course, we deligate that decision to a TV channel or a rock band or a movie house or a book store or a tabloid publisher.

It begs the question: What do you most often think about? On what are you meditating (perhaps without even knowing it?)?

Yes, it is that important!

Not in vain did Jesus say to those who used His power but did not allow Him (His Word) into (all of) their hearts, "I do not know you. Go away from me". There's something very serious about that statement. So serious that you will not find it in a stand-up comedy show doubling as a church service, or a sit-com, or a pop concert, or a 'Cool Dude' sermon on God's unconditional acceptance of all, or mindlessly watching sports on television, or surfing the 'Net, or having beers with the boys, or 'jamm'n with the jocks', or watching Lord of the Rings. Yes, this is a return to a previous point:

Neither case (Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings) equate to sound doctrine. Neither case honour God. Neither are acceptable to the regenerated spirit. Neither get your thinking in the right direction. Neither bring you closer to God. Rather the contrary.

See it for what it really is

I have always been of the opinion that The Lord of the Rings does not constitute wholesome, godly reading/watching. Several of my friends see no harm in it - they not only love it but promote it as well. But I do not judge godliness by my friends' response to something. I judge godliness by how it stacks up with Scripture. Therefore, despite all the 'good things' I have heard about it I have never considered The Lord of the Rings as anything but promoting witchcraft and ungodliness. Accordingly, I was not surprised when I found the work of a previous witch to confirm my suspicions:

"I am always amazed when I hear ministries such as Chuck Colson, “Focus on the Family”, and the Assemblies of God defend such works as Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, and The Narnia Chronicles. I am amazed because they say the same things that initiated coven witches are saying, which is that good triumphs over evil! It is all witchcraft, and the good that these professing Christians are defending is witchcraft as forbidden in Deuteronomy 18:9-14. As a former witch, I was horrified and outraged to find that “Focus on the Family” was promoting a book as announced in the December 2001 issue of their magazine. The book being promoted is titled, Finding God in the Lord of the Rings. The asking price was 13 dollars. (The number “13” is the coven number in the occult.) Thus, these so-called “Christian” ministries are making witches their evangelists and using witchcraft materials in their Sunday Schools. Soon they will find their children are in the craft as “good little Christian witches.”" [6]

You'd think that ministers of faith would see the trees from the forrest. No. Instead I have heard several lift up in praise The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter for their "amazing cinematography", their "great story line" and their 'praiseworthy Christian themes' of 'good triumphing over evil' (by way of witchcraft mind you!). Considering how the works of the flesh of Galatians 5 relate to the work of the "prince of the power of the air" of Ephessians 2, who really is doing the talking through them (I mean no disrespect to my friends who love either of these movies)?

C'mon, get serious! When a thing is not of God it is not godly. Period. Ephesians 2:2 tells us so. The Lord of the Rings together with all it's 'great cinematography' and 'great Christian themes' is not of God. Christians, STOP sucking up that lie! Stop thinking like the prince of the power of the air would like you to!

Well did Paul say to the interested - the reborn Christian, "redeem the time for the days are evil".

For those who really want to get their thinking right there is no time to waste.

Part 1 || Part 2 || Part 3 || Part 4

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Footnotes:

[1] When a person becomes a Christian his/her life no longer belongs to him/her. They will have given it over to the Lord. In so doing, they will have accepted that there is Another's will to pursue (let your Kingdom come, let your will be done), not their own. Whilst God is patient with us (2 Peter 3:9) we should not be mistaken in thinking that He is not keenly noting how we conduct ourselves in the choices we make. A child of God makes choices according to His will. The one who is not a child makes choices according to their own sense of pleasure or excitement or ambition. [back]

[2] Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (Mat 22:37-40) [back]

[3] I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; 20 that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; (Deut 30:19-20) [back]

[4] It should be noted that fighters, in general, do not extend their violence beyond the 'ring' or "Octagon". Also that, generally speaking, they demonstrate concern for their opponent should they be knocked out during the fight. Thus, they demonstrate 'good sportsmanship' within the context of their profession.

[5] Keep your heart with all diligence,for out of it spring the issues of life. (Prov 4:23) [back]

[6] I will encourage you to read the full article here. I do emphasize that although I mostly agree with the content of this article I do not know this particular ministry nor the individual behind it and thus cannot endorse them.

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Please consult the Bible and test what is written here. Ask the Lord to give you wisdom in this area. Keep that which is good and reject that which is not Scriptual. Should you come to a different understanding than I please let me know - perhaps I can learn from you.

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