2nd degree Black Belt – Spiritual Wu Xia

Family with the Grandmaster

Family with the Grandmaster Sin Kwang Thé

On August 27th, 2015, our beloved 9 year old son, Reuben, and I, tested in front of the Grandmaster Sin Kwang Thé at the North Austin school and earned the 2nd degree Black Belt in Shaolin Do Kung Fu. Together with my wife, Sangeetha and second son, Ittai, as a family, we thank God for making it possible for us to test together and be honored in receiving the double white diamond patches that would go on our black belt.

Wu Xia Patch

Wu Xia Patch

While the test was a mental and physical feat in and of itself, we had to train for a little over 2 years, since August 22nd, 2013 (when we earned our first black belt) before being given the patch as Sin Kwang’s Wu Xia (meaning Warrior).

Shaolin Do Kung Fu Weapons

Shaolin Do Kung Fu Weapons

With the support of my wife (who made sure we were always hydrated and pushing us to practice) and Ittai (who was our cheerleader), Reuben and I put hours into practicing the various long and short forms (Tiger, Crane, Bird, …), self-defense techniques, fighting techniques and weapons (Bo staff, Short stick, Nunchuks, Broadsword, Sai, Kwando, Spears, …) and that training paid off when we passed the test.

Now as I pondered upon what to write for meditation today, I realized I personally do not put in significant amount of time to become a spiritual Wu Xia, training in the defensive techniques of using the shield of faith (Ephesians 6:16) or the offensive techniques of using the sword of the Spirit (which is the word of God – Ephesians 6:17). This needs to change, if I am to earn the patch of being God’s Spiritual Warrior and earn the praise from God himself, which is “You have fought the good fight (of faith) and kept the faith”.

Points to ponder:
I plan and pray that I will be Jesus’, my Savior’s, Spiritual Wu Xia. What about you?

2 Timothy 4:7-8 (KJV)
I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

P.S: For those interested, video links of clips from our 2nd degree Black belt are given below:
Tiger Forms Clips – https://youtu.be/PfqSXcfrd0w
Spear Forms Clips –  https://youtu.be/2PPjCoeGmik

Come in, thou blessed of the LORD

When Laban, Rebekah’s brother runs to meet the eldest servant of Abraham, he invites the servant into his father’s house, using the words, “Come in, thou blessed of the LORD.” (Genesis 24:31) The servant agrees and goes into their house and tells them of God’s goodness to him and how God was merciful and truthful to his master Abraham (Genesis 24:27) Although, it is likely that Laban could have equated the jewelry that was given to his sister by this servant as a sign of God’s blessings on the servant, it is not explicitly stated as to the why Laban felt that this servant was blessed of the LORD. However, the fact of the matter is that this servant was recognized as on blessed of the LORD.

Points to ponder:
The Bible says that we have been blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ – chosen to be holy and blameless in love; predestinated for adoption into God’s family; and accepted in the beloved (Son of God, with whom God is well pleased) in whom we are redeemed by his blood; forgiven of our sins, according to the riches of his grace (Ephesians 1:3). Now then, the question that remains is, “Do we conduct ourselves in a manner befitting those who are blessed of the Lord. In other words, if someone sees us, will they notice that we are indeed “blessed of the LORD” and invite us into their lives, so that we can tell them of God’s mercy and truth, goodness and grace.

Genesis 24:31 (KJV)
31 And he said, Come in, thou blessed of the Lord; wherefore standest thou without? for I have prepared the house, and room for the camels.

Ephesians 1: 3-7 (KJV)
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;

Desperately Searching for and Seeking God

The morning of August 23rd, 2015 (Sunday), my wife, Sangeetha, and I were in the washroom upstairs, getting ready for the day and had the door shut, so that it would not disturb our 3 and a half year old son, Ittai who was sleeping in the adjoining bedroom. Ittai was not aware that we were in the washroom and when he woke up, he went downstairs looking for us. Unaware that we were upstairs, he starting calling for his mom, me and his brother, Reuben, who had stayed overnight at the Gymnastic team camp. Not finding any of us, he started to cry (possibly out of fear and worry). Hearing his cry, my wife and I ran downstairs and found him vehemently weeping. Sangeetha immediately reached out to him and gave him a hug and it took both us quite an effort to console and comfort Ittai, who kept weeping in our arms. We assured him that we will never leave him alone and even if something was to happen to us, Jesus will never ever leave him alone. After much talk he finally stop crying and was comforted.

Come to think of that incident, later in the day, during our family prayer time, Sangeetha shared with Reuben, how thankful we need to be to God, for family, as there are many children in the world (in war zones, etc.) who have lost their parents and orphaned, with no one to console them when they are crying. This is what came to her mind when she saw Ittai crying. On the other hand, as I pondered over the incident, I realized that we ought to be like Ittai, when it came to our heavenly Father God. We must desperately search for him and seek him while he may be found (Isaiah 55:6). We can also be assured that, Jesus, promised that he will be with us even unto to ends of the age, never leaving us nor forsaking us, no matter how fearful and worrisome the situation is.

Points to ponder:
Until one finds Father God, they must desperately search for him and seek him. The good news is that God the Father is eagerly waiting and looking for all the prodigal sons and daughters to return to him. God would never leave us alone. We will never be orphans in God’s family. Seek and ye shall find (God). In him, you will find true consolation and comfort. Are you desperately searching and seeking God?

Isaiah 55:6 (KJV)
Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:

Proverbs 8:17 (JKV)
17 I love them that love me; and those that seek me early (diligently) shall find me.

What’s the reason for (your) running?

The Running Father (God)People run – they run toward or from something or some goal, they run for a cause like to be fit, they run by opportunities…

My good brother and believer in the Lord, Patrick Pitchappa, was a member of the Goldman Sachs Mixed running team that won the gold medal in the prestigious Puma Urban stampede event in August 2015. He was also named the running Ambassador in the 2012 Hyderabad Marathon. I asked him the question, “Why do you run?” and his response was in addition to the obvious physical health benefits, when he runs, he feels that it connects him closer to our Creator God. He quotes one verse after all his runs from Psalm 139:14 which states, “I praise you (God) because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” In other words, Patrick was expressing that not only was he running to be physically fit, but more importantly to be spiritually fit, as well. Eric Liddell, Scottish missionary to China and winner of the 400 meters event in the 1924 Olympics in Paris, refused to run his more favored event of 100 meters because it was going to be on a Sabbath, choosing God over gold. As an heptathlon athlete, I ran during my high school years in several intra- and inter-school events, sprinting in individual events, winning the gold medal or in relay races with a team, enduring to win. I now run to be physically fit and for conditioning the body to be fit to do Shaolin Do Kung Fu with our beloved firstborn son, Reuben. So while there may be many reasons as to why people run, the fact of the matter is people run.

In the Bible, we see accounts of people running as well. The Father of the prodigal son ran toward his returning son (Luke 15:20). Elijah, God’s true prophet ran faster than king Ahab’s chariot (1 Kings 18:44-46) when God’s power came upon him. David ran toward the giant Goliath before winning the battle for Israel in the Name of the Lord (1 Samuel 17:48,51). Ahimaaz, the son of Zadok the high priest ran irrespective of what the outcome could be (2 Kings 18:19-28).

In the account of the eldest servant of Abraham, seeking a wife for Isaac, his the master’s son, we see that the servant ran to fulfill the master’s mission (Genesis 24:17), while Rebekah the wife-to-be ran to serve the servant (Genesis 24:18-20) and her brother Laban ran to invite the servant into their household (Genesis 24:29-30).

Cursorily it may seem that Laban the brother of Rebekah was an extremely hospitable man as was the custom of that day and age, however, with the Bible completely canonized by the Holy Spirit of God, with deeper scrutiny, we have more insights into Laban’s character. Laban beguiled his nephew Jacob by giving Leah his first daughter in marriage instead of Rachel the second daughter as promised (Genesis 29). Laban agreed quickly to Jacob’s proposal when he felt that it would be more favorable for him in the distribution of the sheeps and goats (Genesis 30-31). These accounts, in addition to the record that Laban ran after he saw the jewelry (earrings and bracelet) that the servant of Abraham had given to his sister Rebekah indicates that he was likely driven to run for selfish gain instead of a sense of serving or hospitality.

Points to ponder:
You and I may be running toward, or from, or for, something or someone. What are we running for? Are we running to fulfill our Master’s mission (John 13:13) i.e., God’s mission? Are we running to serve as people of God? or Are we running for personal gain? What is the reason for (your) running?

Genesis 24: 29-30 (KJV)
29 And Rebekah had a brother, and his name was Laban: and Laban ran out unto the man, unto the well.
30 And it came to pass, when he saw the earring and bracelets upon his sister’s hands, and when he heard the words of Rebekah his sister, saying, Thus spake the man unto me; that he came unto the man; and, behold, he stood by the camels at the well.

Hebrews 12:1-2 (KJV)
Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

The first and right response upon success

Genesis 24:26-27 records the response of the eldest servant of Abraham, who was on the mission to find a wife for Abraham’s son, Isaac. When he finds Rebekah to be the one, the very first thing the servant does is he bowed down his head and worshipped the Lord exclaiming that it was the Lord God who was the source of and reason for his success (Genesis 24:26-27).

Points to ponder:
Many a times, when we are faced with success, we often tend to forget that it is because of the hand of God that we can enjoy the sweetness of success. Some even write it off as the result of their hard work and skill and others tend to attribute their success foolishly to fate or coincidence. From this account we can learn that the first and right response upon success – any kind of success – is to bow down and worship the Lord for he is the source of and reason for our success i.e, it is the Lord who leads you and me to success. How do you deal with success?

Genesis 24:26-27 (KJV)
26 And the man bowed down his head, and worshipped the Lord.
27 And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of my master Abraham, who hath not left destitute my master of his mercy and his truth: I being in the way, the Lord led me to the house of my master’s brethren.

Offering Rest & Refreshment

Genesis 24 records the encounter of Abraham’s eldest servant with Rebekah, the future bride of Abraham’s son, Isaac. Herein, after adorning Rebekah with precious gold jewelry (a earring and bracelets), the servant confirmed that she was of his master’s household (which was a requirement of Abraham) and asked if there was room for him to stay in her father’s house. Rebekah’s response was that they had “both straw and provender (food for the animals) and room to lodge in.” Did you notice, the servant asked for a place to stay and rest, while Rebekah response offered not mere rest, but refreshment as well.

Points to ponder:
Jesus said, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28). Jesus also said, that he is the bread of life and whoever comes to him shall not hunger nor thirst anymore (John 6:35). In other words, in him alone is offered, both rest and refreshment. Now we the Church, i.e., the believers of the Lord Jesus Christ, as the bride of Christ, are we offering to those who seek, the refreshment of Jesus and the rest that is found solely in him? Not only is this a gesture of hospitality as the Bible commands us to (Hebrews 13:2; 1 Peter 4:9), but it is a matter of heaven or hell, to those who are not of the faith. Think about it … Are you and I offering refreshment and rest (in Christ Jesus)? (as did Rebekah)

Genesis 24:22-25 (KJV)
22 And it came to pass, as the camels had done drinking, that the man took a golden earring of half a shekel weight, and two bracelets for her hands of ten shekels weight of gold;
23 And said, Whose daughter art thou? tell me, I pray thee: is there room in thy father’s house for us to lodge in?
24 And she said unto him, I am the daughter of Bethuel the son of Milcah, which she bare unto Nahor.
25 She said moreover unto him, We have both straw and provender enough, and room to lodge in.

Waiting for confirmation (from the Lord)

When Abraham’s eldest servant sought out a bride for his master’s son, Isaac, from among the kindred of Abraham, as he had vowed, he had prayed and asked God to show his master kindness. In order to identify the correct girl, he reasoned with God in supplication, that the girl who not is willing to give him some water to drink but also she must be willing to quench the thirst of his camels as well, would be the girl, God ordains for his master’s son, Isaac. The fair virgin damsel Rebekah does just as the servant had reasoned with the Lord. Yet, we see from that account in the Bible, that this servant held his peace, to find out whether the Lord has made his journey a success or not (Genesis 24:21). Though Rebekah did just as the servant had requested of the Lord, there was one more requirement for Rebekah to meet – and that was whether she belong to the kindred of Abraham, which she was. But not knowing of Rebekah’s heritage, the servant continues to wait on the Lord God for confirmation.

Points to ponder: 
Many a decisions are made either emotionally or hastily without confirmation from the Lord and these have in the end been rendered futile or as ones that don’t glorify the Lord God. Are you and I willing to wait for confirmation from the Lord, even if the sign posts of our life’s requests are fulfilled as we have so reasoned. Let us not jump into conclusions, but let us wait for the Lord and his confirmation (in all matters of our life).

Genesis 24:21 (KJV)
21 And the man wondering at her held his peace, to wit whether the Lord had made his journey prosperous or not.

Willingly, Hastily and Completely Serving

Rebekah - ServingWhen the eldest servant of Abraham asked Rebekah, just a little water to drink from her pitcher, the Bible records that she said, “Drink, my lord:” and she hasted and let down her pitcher and gave him drink. She however did not stop there. The Bible records that when she had done giving him drink, she offered to draw water for his camels as well, until they have done drinking and she hasted, pouring the remaining water from her pitcher into the trough there and she ran again to the well to draw water, and drew water for all of his camels.

From this account, we can learn that Rebekah was a woman with a serving heart, but not only was she willing to serve, she hurried (for she hasted and ran) to serve.

National Geographic reports that a thirsty camel can drink as many as 30 gallons (135 liters) of water in about 13 minutes. And for all the camels to have drunk not only was an time-consuming task but an ardous one as well. And from this account, we can also learn that Rebekah was someone who serve not only willingly and in haste, but she served completely – for she did not stop until all of the camels had done drinking.

Points to ponder:
As the Church; the woman to wedded to Christ Jesus (Revelation 19), are we willing to serve not only willingly, but hastily as well and not only willingly and hastily, but completely as well? Will you and I be commended by the Lord, who can say of us, “well done, my good and faithful servant”? Think about it!

Genesis 24:17-20 (KJV)
17 And the servant ran to meet her, and said, Let me, I pray thee, drink a little water of thy pitcher.
18 And she said, Drink, my lord: and she hasted, and let down her pitcher upon her hand, and gave him drink.
19 And when she had done giving him drink, she said, I will draw water for thy camels also, until they have done drinking.
20 And she hasted, and emptied her pitcher into the trough, and ran again unto the well to draw water, and drew for all his camels.

Running for the Master’s mission

When the eldest servant of Abraham, who was on a mission to find a wife for his master’s son, Isaac, saw Rebekah, the Bible says that he ran to meet her and asked for a little water to drink. What is of note, is the hastiness in which the servant reacts, to fulfill his master’s mission. He did not wait or walk, but instead ran.

Points to ponder:
The Holy Spirit of God, who is on God’s mission to convict the world of sin (our sin), God’s righteousness (which is imputed on us when we believe in Jesus Christ his son as the only means of Salvation), and judgment (of the devil and his followers) (John 16:8-11) runs to meet with the Church (the woman betrothed to Jesus Christ) (Revelation 19). So the questions to the Church are: First, do we quench the Holy Spirit of God, not his convicting fire, but his thirst? and second, in like manner, are we, the Church running for God, our Master’s mission? Think about it.

Genesis 24:17 (KJV)
17 And the servant ran to meet her, and said, Let me, I pray thee, drink a little water of thy pitcher.

The Virgin Rebekah

It is highly likely that you have heard about virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus, and most unlikely that you have heard about virgin Rebekah, the wife of Isaac. Yet, the Bible makes it explicit in the introduction of Rebekah, that she was a virgin and that no man had known her (Genesis 24:16), after being told that she was a very fair damsel. So what we see here is not only a description of this woman’s external appearance (complexion), but also her inner beauty i.e., she had kept herself pure. But what warrants such details? I believe, the virginity of Rebekah is mentioned, to not only show us her character, but also to assure us that God’s was sovereignly in control as Jesus Christ, the promised Seed of the woman (Genesis 3:15), the seed of Abraham (Galatians 3:16) was to come from the line of Abraham, as God has promised him, and there should be no question of his lineage.

Points to ponder:
God is always in control and his sovereignty in all aspects of our life is not only evident and explicit, if we seek to see it.

As the bride of Christ (the Church), we ought not to be only observed externally as being fair (spotless and clean) but internally we need to be pure, that is brought about solely by the salvation through faith in Jesus Christ and the sanctification of his Holy Spirit in our lives. As a church, we ought to be like virgin Rebekah, externally and internally pure.

Genesis 24:16 (KJV)
16 And the damsel was very fair to look upon, a virgin, neither had any man known her: and she went down to the well, and filled her pitcher, and came up.