Weekend links

I thought that it might be useful to provide some links to interesting reading and some of my favorite sources of biblical discussion. I will probably do this kind of post once a month or so.

Good theology and biblical thinking links:
A biblical discussion on birth control by Kent DelHousaye: This is a good post about the biblical ramifications of family planning. It’s a good read, and Kent is thoughtful.
Stupid statements Christians make: Michael Patton writes well and interacts with some significant issues. I would LOVE to start the discussion about all sin being equal in God’s eyes. (his latest post in this vein) I posted a comment, because I don’t agree 100% with his premise. It’s a good discussion!
A second post from Kent, this time a review of The Shack: If you’ve wondered about this book, read Kent’s analysis.

Encouraging or interesting reading:
Sportsmanship in action: It’s nice to see sportsmanship in high school athletics. I wish this would make its way into college and pro ball!
A family digs out of $106k in debt: This family did it God’s way and eliminated $106k in debt, and bought a house, in 5 years.
Christian couples staying accountable on social media: This is EXACTLY what Laura and I do.
A commentary on never becoming desensitized: I don’t know Bob Greene at all. I have no idea where he stands faith-wise. I really resonated with his discussion of the heinous nature of some of what we see happening today though!

Goofy and/or ridiculous:
The 7 most inappropriate products for children: My favorite is the toy tattoo gun.
Vintage 21’s Jesus videos: These made me laugh so hard! This church took a really, really bad movie about Jesus and re-dubbed them MST3K style with even more ridiculous voice-overs. They are a parody of what we think of Jesus a lot.

A new blog I am reading–The Church of No People: Matt has some witty insight. The posts on the people who will kill your church, as well as the ones that every good church needs, are hilarious. I especially enjoyed his post on the most interesting church in the world.

Enjoy the reading! Post your significant or interesting links in the comments…but remember, SFW only on Biblical Framework! (that means family friendly)

My Personal Kenpo Creed

Note: To receive my green belt in American Kenpo I had to write out my understanding of the art of kenpo and particularly our creed. This is my understanding of the heart of kenpo from a Christian perspective. I submitted this to my instructor, who approved it. I share it with you to think about your ethic of conflict.

The overriding mission of my life is to know Jesus Christ, to grow as His disciple, to serve Him with everything that I have and to help others do the same. Christ is the beginning and end of everything I seek to do as well as the One whose attitude and priorities I seek to emulate. My priorities must include my study of kenpo and my adherence to its teaching.

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The “Kenpo Creed” was originally written by the founder of American Kenpo, Senior Grand Master Ed Parker, to reflect the attitude of a martial artist. From everything I have been told Mr. Parker was a follower of Jesus Christ; I never had the opportunity to meet Mr. Parker, as he went home to be with the Lord before I began studying kenpo. The original “Kenpo Creed” which Mr. Parker wrote says,

“I come to you with only Karate, empty hands,

I have no weapons,

But should I be forced to defend myself,

My principles or my honor;

Should it be a matter of life or death;

Of right or wrong,

Then here are my weapons, Karate,

My empty hands.”[1]

I honor Mr. Parker as a transformational martial artist and the legacy that I carry as a follower of the art he began.[2] I would not claim to understand all of his intent in the words that he chose. My current understanding of this traditional statement, though, has led me to seek a creed that better exemplifies my personal understanding of kenpo. I find no fault with the version that Mr. Parker gave us; however, as Mr. Parker said, “An ounce of logic can be worth more than a ton of tradition that has become obsolete through the weathering of time.”[3] Mr. Parker was never one to hold onto tradition for the sake of tradition!

Each person has the right to craft the creed that best exemplifies their understanding of the art. Kenpoists utilize kenpo to serve them rather than serving the art, and Christians especially must be wary of serving anything other than the Lord God Almighty. With that in mind I have been praying over and seeking a creed that best exemplifies how I understand kenpo from the perspective of a follower of Jesus Christ. My kenpo creed, then, is hopefully a reflection of a Christ-follower who seeks to utilize kenpo to honor the God I serve. With this creed I seek to honor Christ by being a martial artist who serves Him with my art.

John Correia’s Kenpo Creed:

I have no desire for violence; (Matthew 5:9)

I seek, as much as it depends on me, to be at peace with all people. (Romans 12:18)

But should I be forced to defend myself or others, (1 Samuel 17:34-35)

Whether the attack is physical, psychological or spiritual, (Ephesians 6:12)

I shall use every ounce of the strength and knowledge I have gained through the art of kenpo. (Luke 22:36-38)

Lord, please forgive the one who forces me to use them. (Matthew 6:14-15)

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I know that there are some who would question whether a Christian, let alone a pastor, can appropriately study martial arts. Some might question whether martial arts by their definition include eastern mysticism and/or idolatry that are unacceptable for biblical Christians. Others might object on the belief that Jesus taught nonviolence in all areas. I do not believe that Jesus taught nonviolence in all respects (Luke 22:36-38), and while Christians should certainly avoid idolatry in all forms martial arts do not by their definition mandate idolatry.

For each statement in this creed I have tried to present a text of Scripture from which I have drawn that statement.

  • Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” (Matthew 5:9) Jesus instructs His disciples that those who make peace exemplify the character of God; the phrase “son of…” in the world in which Jesus lived signified one who exhibited the character of another more than a physical or even spiritual descendant. It must be our desire to end conflict peacefully if possible.
  • If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” (Romans 12:18) Romans 12 begins the “practical” section of Romans, where Paul shows us how to live out the fantastic truths taught in Romans 1-11. Here he tells us that we should be at peace with all people. The caveat, though, is very important: we must be at peace “if possible, so far as it depends on [us].” We should do what we can to be at peace, knowing that there will be times when others will not allow us to be at peace with them. This should never be construed as an excuse for unnecessary conflict, but rather recognition that conflict may be unavoidable.
  • But David said to Saul, ‘Your servant was tending his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and took a lamb from the flock, I went out after him and attacked him, and rescued it from his mouth; and when he rose up against me, I seized him by his beard and struck him and killed him.’” (1 Samuel 17:34-35) Here we see David, the boy shepherd, describing his activities to King Saul. When an aggressor took a defenseless animal from his flock he rescued that animal at great peril to himself. It is important to note that David’s heart was to rescue that lamb from the predator. In verse 35 it is significant to realize that it is only when the predator “rose up against” David to attack him that David slew the predator. His heart was to protect the sheep that had been given into his care and to protect his own life, not to show the predator who was better.
  • “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12) Here Paul reminds the Christians in Ephesus that their struggle will not primarily be a physical confrontation. He goes on to liken their preparation for conflict to putting on a suit of armor complete with weaponry.
  • “And He said to them, ‘But now, whoever has a money belt is to take it along, likewise also a bag, and whoever has no sword is to sell his coat and buy one. For I tell you that this which is written must be fulfilled in Me, ‘”And He was numbered with transgressors”; for that which refers to Me has its fulfillment.’ They said, ‘Lord, look, here are two swords.’ And He said to them, ‘It is enough.’” (Luke 22:36-38) In Luke’s gospel this exchange comes directly before Jesus goes to Gethsemane, prays, and is wrongly arrested. He is preparing His disciples for life without Him to guide and guard them, and instructs them to buy a sword if they had none and take it along with them in their journeys. The term used here for “sword” (Greek machaira) is used of a dagger or short sword; it is a weapon used for combat rather than a hunting or cooking implement. In their previous missionary trips they had been told to take nothing with them and allow God to provide for them; here, though, they are instructed to defend themselves.
  • “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” (Matthew 6:14-15) At the very end of the Lord’s Prayer Jesus reminds us that part of a life of discipleship is forgiveness. Even those who have sinned against us by forcing us to defend ourselves or others must not be objects of derision or hatred. Rather, we must as Christians forgive them for placing us in a position to have to defend ourselves or others. Even if we are able to utilize “true kenpo” and avoid a physical confrontation, the person who places us or others in danger is in need of forgiveness. As disciples of Christ we must offer it.

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This creed is my best attempt to articulate my understanding of what it means to be a Christian martial artist. It is not meant to cast aspersions on other creeds or define for others what it means to be a Christian and a martial artist. It is, rather, an expression of my “kiai” or fighting spirit, an attempt to put in words my spiritual fitness and ethic of self defense. Anyone who finds it useful is free to use it in whatever means they would like; anyone who finds it un-useful or useless may of course discard it.


[1] Skip Hancock, Yellow Belt Guide (Verdale, WA; Kenpo 2000, 2004), 6.

[2] I study under Lawrence Robinson, student of Skip Hancock, student of Ed Parker.

[3] Skip Hancock, Green Belt Guide (Veradale, WA; Kenpo 2000, 2005), 7.

Up and Away

We don’t see a lot of movies in the theaters. Buying 6 tickets plus enough popcorn and soda to feed the Correia army is too expensive! We also tend to be Nazis when it comes to what we let our family watch, and combining those two facts leads to very few trips to the movies for our clan. However, every once in awhile we will go to the cheap theater near us when they are playing a movie the family will enjoy.

Sunday after church was just such an occasion. Laura was running errands and noticed that the Disney-Pixar film “Up” was playing at that theater, so we decided to take the family to a Sunday evening showing. Laura and I had seen it on a date night in July and enjoyed it, so we took the kids, got a 55 gallon drum of popcorn at the concession stand, and enjoyed it together.

The second time I watched the movie I really paid attention to the themes and the lessons that it taught. I recommend the movie highly to people of all ages; if nothing else, Dug is hilarious.

WARNING! PLOT SPOILERS AHEAD. If you haven’t seen the movie and don’t want to know some important plot elements, then wait to read this post until you’ve seen it.

“Up” is a story about Carl Fredericksen. His life is turned upside down as a senior citizen when he sets out to fulfill a promise he made to his deceased wife when they were kids. Read a great plot synopsis here if you are unfamiliar with the movie and want an overview of the plot lines. If you haven’t seen it, read the overview before continuing! (that reminds me of the Choose Your Own Adventure books… “if you’ve seen the movie, turn to page 46. If you want to go read the synopsis, turn to page 67.”)

The big theme of the movie that struck me concerns desires and goals. Carl promised Ellie as a kid that he would take her clubhouse to Paradise Falls, and after her death he goes to amazing lengths to do so. Russell wants very much to get his “assisting the elderly” badge so that his dad can be there to pin it on him when he becomes a Senior Wilderness Explorer. Even the villain of the movie, Charles Muntz, lives his life to prove that the bird skeleton he brought to America long ago was not a hoax, spending decades tracking a live specimen down.

All the main characters in the film have to come to grips with whether the goals they have made for themselves are really taking them where they want to go. The first to realize the problem is Russell, who throws his Wilderness Explorer sash at Carl’s feet when Carl allows Kevin to be captured in order to save his house. He realizes that he can’t abandon his friend Kevin to achieve his own goals, putting the spirit of the Wilderness Explorers first.

Carl learns his lesson late in the movie. He allows Muntz to capture Kevin and lets Russell leave, all so he can get his wife’s house to Paradise Falls. As he looks through her adventure book, though, he realizes that the adventure that he thought she was waiting to have in Paradise Falls had instead been fulfilled in her life with him. It wasn’t the clubhouse in South America that she wanted so much as a life of adventure. Once Carl realizes that, he changes his mind, rescues Kevin and Russell, saves the day, and has the grand adventure in South America Ellie had wanted.

Charles Muntz, sadly, does not learn the lesson and ultimately falls to his death from his ship while pursuing Kevin to the end.

At the end of the movie Russell doesn’t get to spend time with his dad; Carl ends up pinning on his final badge. Carl never gets to live on Paradise Falls, though he has adventures with Russell and Dug. Neither of them get what they wanted when the movie began, though both end up with the desire of their heart. Russell has a father figure to enjoy his boyhood with and Carl has a grand adventure in the spirit of Ellie’s dying wish for him.

What a great reminder of the biblical difference between our desires for our life and the goals we set out to achieve them. We set out to provide security for our families financially, doing whatever it takes to make ends meet. When we do, though, how often do we ignore what God says in James 4:13-15?

13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” 14 Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.”

How often do we think that we will be happy when we are married, only to read what Paul says in 1 Cor 7:32-35 and realize that marriage can’t make us happy. We think that blessing comes from our children, and while it can give us joy to see our kids happy and successful we tend to forget Ecclesiastes 6:3.

Instead, the words of Jesus have been ringing in my ears this week, no less so than when I watched Carl and Russell learn that their happiness did not come from the achievement that they sought. Luke 11:27-28 says it succinctly:

27 While Jesus was saying these things, one of the women in the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, “Blessed is the womb that bore You and the breasts at which You nursed.” 28 But He said, “On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.”

Whatever we think might make us happy or successful will not get us what we seek! Instead, it is only hearing the word of God and observing it that can bring lasting joy. Our marriage, finances, jobs, kids, and friends will only bring lasting joy if they are the means by which we obey God. If they are the source of joy we will fail, but if they are the means by which we seek in everything we do to glorify God and be obedient to Him, then we will have the desire of our heart.

Carl got the grand adventure Ellie sought for him. Russell got the father figure he needed. They only got it, though, when they gave up their vision of fulfillment and accepted what was given to them instead. How about you? Are you still chasing your vision of success or happiness, or have you decided to follow the Lord wherever He leads and be obedient to Him?

Kick the bucket?

Laura and I watched “The Bucket List” on Sunday night. I had heard good things about it, and it is directed by Rob Reiner so it had to be good. (he directed one of my favorite movies, “A Few Good Men,” as well as one of my Pantheon movies, “The Princess Bride”) So we headed to our local video store and picked up a copy (no netflix for me…), put the kids to bed and watched it.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable movie, though there is some language and a sexual comment for those sensitive to that (no nudity). To summarize the plot without a bunch of spoilers, Carter (played by Morgan Freeman) is a blue-collar auto mechanic who finds out he has cancer. Edward (Jack Nicholson) is a rich and powerful hospital owner who also gets cancer, and the two of them end up in the same room at one of Edward’s hospitals. The movie revolves around them eventually trying to cross off everything on a list they made that they call “the bucket list,” i.e. “everything I want to do before I kick the bucket.”

The movie was good on a lot of levels. First of all Carter and Edward have a great discussion about God in the middle of the movie. Watching their worldviews interact and conflict is very interesting and instructive for Christians. (ignore this interaction about how to go to heaven, though…) They are both coming to grips with the strong possibility of their death, and that makes for some heady thoughts and talks.

The whole premise of the movie got Laura and me thinking. She asked what would be on my “bucket list.” On the list in the movie, many of the items (10 of 18) involve seeing exotic locales or taking risks like skydiving. Laura wanted to know what my “bucket list” was, and after awhile my answer became really clear to me.

I don’t have one.

While that may sound sad, in reality I don’t have a bucket list because I am so incredibly blessed in my life. I am married to an amazing woman, have four fantastic kids, serve and love a gracious God, have a fantastic job I love, and food on the table. I get the joy of a nice motorcycle ride any time I want. What more can I possibly ask for?

That may sound boring, but there is another more theological reason I don’t have one. Think about what Paul says in Romans 8:18,

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. (Romans 8:18, NASB)

What we have here on earth cannot in any way compare to the amazing truth of eternity in the presence of God. Whatever I set my sights on here is nothing compared to there. Look at the description of God’s city, the New Jerusalem that the Lord will make in the new creation at the end of time in Revelation 21:10-23,

And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, 11 having the glory of God. Her brilliance was like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear jasper. 12 It had a great and high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels; and names were written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel. 13 There were three gates on the east and three gates on the north and three gates on the south and three gates on the west. 14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. 15 The one who spoke with me had a gold measuring rod to measure the city, and its gates and its wall. 16 The city is laid out as a square, and its length is as great as the width; and he measured the city with the rod, fifteen hundred miles; its length and width and height are equal. 17 And he measured its wall, seventy-two yards, according to human measurements, which are also angelic measurements. 18 The material of the wall was jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass. 19 The foundation stones of the city wall were adorned with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation stone was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, chalcedony; the fourth, emerald; 20 the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, topaz; the tenth, chrysoprase; the eleventh, jacinth; the twelfth, amethyst. 21 And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; each one of the gates was a single pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass. 22 I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb.

Wow. Just wow. Why would I settle for a list of things I want to see before I die when the list of that which I will see AFTER I die is so much grander than I can imagine? I can just see Peter when I tell him that I saw the Vatican before I died. “Cool,” he might say. “We have a bathroom here that it was modeled after…in the basement.”* Will the best laugh I ever get on earth feel anything remotely like the bliss and joy I will experience in the presence of Christ? Of course not.

Please, don’t misunderstand me. I am not saying that we shouldn’t enjoy life. God gave us life to enjoy Him and the gift of life He has given us. He made His world beautiful and it is a reflection of His glory (that’s Psalm 19:1 for those keeping score at home); I want to appreciate that glory and see Him in His world. I want to take Laura to Hawaii and London like she wants to some day.

That said, I suppose the bottom line is I don’t have a list of things I want to see and do before I “kick the bucket.” Instead, I have a big list of the person I want to be before I kick the bucket so that I have the biggest chance to serve God and do everything I can in His kingdom after I kick the bucket! (1 Cor 3:12-15; Matthew 25:21)

Our focus shouldn’t be on the few days that we have remaining here on earth. Instead, we should always keep our eyes on the prize and focus on the MANY days that we will have once our time on earth is done, then focus on our faithfulness to the Lord so that our homecoming is sweet.

So, what is your “bucket list” for after you get to go home to meet the Lord? Share yours in the comments if you would like; I’d love to hear what your thoughts are!

*No slight intended on the architecture of the Vatican. It’s a compliment that something on earth now was modeled after something as grand as New Jerusalem!

First and 10

If you know me at all, you know that I am a football fan. A few random observations and some trash talk before we get to the point of this post:

  1. If you are a Chicago Bears fan, are you wondering if somehow Lovie Smith pulled a switcheroo on you and brought “evil Kyle Orton” back and put him in a #6 jersey yesterday? I mean, good grief…4 picks? Really? This is what $47.86 Million buys in the NFL?
  2. On that note, Orton did not look great against the Bungles. However, the guy finds a way to win. It may be crazy, but as of the start of this year Orton has a significantly better career winning percentage than Jay Cutler, the guy the Bears got in trade for Orton. Cutler has been to the Pro Bowl and been lauded as Chicago’s best quarterback in decades, but who decided it was wise to trade a guy with a 22-12 career record for a guy with a 17-20 record?
  3. Brett Favre needs a new mantra: “Call the play…hike the ball…hand to #28…” Is it just me, or did that run look like Tecmo Bowl Bo Jackson? Adrian Peterson is a monster.
  4. Do you wonder if Michael Vick got a teensy bit excited when Donovan McNabb went down with the cracked ribs? I know that they are friends at all, but did you think just for a second that Vick might have signed with the Eagles at least partially because of McNabb’s injury history? I’m not sayin’, I’m just sayin’.
  5. Drew Brees can certainly light it up…but let’s remember for a minute that he was playing against Detroit. (go watch this piece on The Onion for a good laugh about the lowly Lions) I will hold out until he can win a big playoff game before anointing him the best QB in the NFC though.

My real challenge this week came when the Cardinals hosted the 49ers. I have this thing with being an NFL fan and also moving a whole bunch while I was in the Navy. I decided that in the interest of civic pride I would root for the home team of whatever place I lived. So when we lived in Florida, I rooted for the fledgling Jacksonville Jaguars. (they started play the year we moved to Florida) When we were in New York I yelled J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS! When we were in Oregon there was no team, so I got a pass. When in San Diego I rooted for the Chargers. And now we live in Phoenix, making me a Cardinals fan.

Here is the problem, though. Deep down in my heart I am a 49ers fan born and bred. My parents and grandparents raised me a Niners fan. I grew up watching Joe Montana (or as we call him, Without A Doubt The Greatest Quarterback To Ever Play Football) throw the ball to Jerry Rice. I watched Ronnie Lott knock himself out hitting people.

Now, being a young boy idolizing WADTGQTEPF means I cannot be anything in reality but a 49er fan. So when the Niners came to town this weekend, I was on the horns of a dilemma. Sure I root for the Cardinals, but they were playing my Niners! I like Kurt Warner a lot; I think he is a great guy, an excellent ambassador for the game, and a wonderful example of a disciple of Christ. But he was playing my Niners!

I was asked at church who I would be rooting for in the game. There wasn’t even a question about who I would stand behind.

As much as I like the Cards, I love the Niners. So I watched the game with my son, rooting for Shaun Hill (wow…from WADTGQTEPF to Shaun Hill…how the mighty have fallen), Frank Gore, Patrick Willis and the rest of the Red and Gold. If the Cards suffered for losing to the Niners, then my loyalties were clear. GO NINERS!

What might have seemed like divided loyalties were in reality not divided at all. There was no intrigue when the game started. I am a Cards fan, but my heart was behind the Niners. Jesus talked about divided loyalties too, and how in reality we each face a choice as to which side we are on. In Matthew 6:24 He says,

“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”

In reality, we cannot divide our loyalties between two competing “teams.” I can’t say “Oh, I want the Niners to win but Warner to have a great game.” Likewise, I can’t say “Oh, I want to please God with my life, but want it to be easy and prosperous.” I have to place myself firmly in one camp, because I cannot root for both to win. One must lose if the other wins. If I want God to be everything, then I cannot hope for me to be everything too. The teams are opposed to each other!

If we say that our priority is the kingdom of God and knowing Christ, do our lives look like He is our priority? Are we considering how to love our spouse the way God wants us to before we think about ourselves? Are our finances a reflection of His priorities? Since we cannot serve ourselves and God, who are we serving? Does it look like we work for our benefit, or like Paul says in Colossians 3:23 are we doing it like we work for the Lord?

To see God at work in miraculous ways in our life, we must be willing to give up our desire to have it both ways. We need to get behind “our team” and do so single-mindedly. When we try to hedge our bets, the only end is sorrow. When we dive in and serve the Lord with a whole heart, choosing Him over us and our desires, then (and only then) can we experience the joy of life as God intended. Since He wins in the end anyway, why would we root for the other team?