|Posted on January 24, 2018 at 9:05 PM|
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This encore post has been updated and re-titled. It appeared on Totally Fit 4 Life's website blog in 2015. The original blog post I wrote as Sensei Charlaine Engelhardt, 3rd Dan from Faith Fighters for Christ appeared in 1998. I decided to revise and repost it due to a conversation I was involved in a Facebook closed group to support the Truth about the New Age movement and its dangers.
I am always amazed and disappointed at the focus on Mind-Body practices in health and fitness. How insidious and enticing. I am referring to the Zen Buddhist philosophy that permeates health clubs across America. It is taught to instructors by certifying agencies in courses such as "Teaching Meditation" and “Mindfulness”. People flock to yoga classes to become "enlightened". Children line up with bare feet in karate gis bowing to the room when they come in and bowing prostrate on the floor before their "Master". Even benign classes are filled with it and many instructors are Christians! This has to hurt God's heart because it steals the hearts of people from God. Our focus should be on the Creator and Sustainer of life never on the god of self nor an impersonal cosmic force.
Back in the late 90's, my late husband and I owned our own Christian martial arts studio.We had a website ministry that was read and commented upon by people literally all over the world, a considerably large following at that time. I wrote several articles, as did Sensei Don, about Christianity and martial arts. One in particular was "Harmonious Living" from our old www.angelfire.com website that I closed down last year. Since I am the author of the article, I can borrow what I wish. Let me share an excerpt for you, then apply it to health and fitness.
"Something to keep in mind as one researches various concerns pertaining to Christian practice and ethics is this: God is a jealous God. He does not want our attention divided. We are to stay faithful and be obedient to Him. When we do, He will bless us and the work we've done building His Kingdom. In the book of Joshua, Joshua was instructed by God to tell Israel to go in to take the Promised Land and they will multiply and prosper, with the condition that they must be faithful and obedient to Him (Joshua 1). That same message is meant for us today. If we, who are called by His Name, will be faithful and obedient, God will take care of our needs and give us blessings that we cannot even imagine.
The opposite can also happen. We can turn from our worship of God (I am not addressing Armenianism nor Calvinism, but rather outward practice and inward dethroning of Christ in one's relational priorities) and allow idols to come in taking up residence within the core of our being. This may occur if we linger too long with various "non-threatening" symbols, attitudes, and teachings. In Ezekiel 8, God takes Ezekiel through a vision-tour of the Temple. At the entrance to the Temple was an idol beside the gate to the Outer Court. God tells him how detestable this is to Him. He then takes Ezekiel to the North Gate of the Temple to see women mourning the death of Tammuz (this god dies in the fall and lives again in the spring in this mythology). That upset God, but He wanted to show what angered Him even more. In the inner court with their backs to the altar of the Temple and their faces toward the sun practicing worship rituals to the sun. This was an area limited for the priests who were to minister to God. The message for us is letting something that seems as harmless as a symbol or practice take up a place in our lives will eventually become central in our lives over God.This is detestable to God and will be our downfall, much like what happened to Solomon.
We are modern day Daniels."
As Manager on Duty (MOD) at a gym where I worked, I was required to walk the building checking for safety hazards, help members and guests, among other duties. In my rounds what I witnessed with yoga classes in session was eye-opening. The Sun Salutation was performed on the rooftop facing the sun one morning. I thought about the Ezekiel 8 passage when I saw class members, some who were Christians, worshipping the Sun. Whenever I walked through the Yoga studio, a table with candles was set at the front much like an altar. Class members would stand in "prayer" position, "Namaste" meaning the god in me recognizes the god in you. The term "Os" in martial arts is the equivalent. Some people have told me in their classes the instructor said it means, "The good in me recongizes the good in you." In Matthew 19:16-17 we read, "Now behold, one came and said to Him, 'Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?'
So He said to him, 'Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.'"
You will see other practices in your fitness centers, gyms, and health clubs with guided meditation at the end of an exercise class, in the massage therapy studio with Reiki and energy healing, among others. Is "It" good? It slithers into the gym quietly, subtly like the serpent in the Garden of Eden, doesn't it?
Some churches are bringing yoga classes into their midst. Simply renaming the Sun Salutation to the Son Salutation and chanting Bible verses does not redeem it for the Lord. It takes a lot more work than that to redeem poses from Yoga into postures to bring glory to God. Laurette Willis shares her testimony on PraiseMoves.com and what sets PraiseMoves apart from Yoga. We must be careful about transliterating a practice another religion used into "something Christian". If you aren't sure about it, leave it alone. Otherwise, it must be carefully stripped down to the bare bones of the exercise that has a valuable use and prayerfully placed before the Lord for His approval BEFORE we use it to honor Him. Sensei Don and I worked very hard for several years as we continued the cleansing process our Sensei started before we could call our martial arts system "American Stratiotia Christou", a Christian martial art system fit for His service. Slapping a Christian label on something like this does not make it Christian! It becomes a stumbling block. I have a motto: If in doubt, leave it out.
As Christians, we are called to be different, set apart for God alone. Our meditation should be upon God's Word, His character, and His works. The entirety of our being is His. In Romans 12:1 God says, " I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service." It is important that we are careful what activities we engage in. If an art-sport-exercise form from another culture which was entangled in another religious practice has not been cleansed and redeemed for our Savior, then we ought not practice it at all. This is the reason PraiseMoves was born. The valuable exercises have been cleansed and redeemed for God’s glory, not ours. That is why Sensei Don and I founded American Stratiotia Christou martial arts system and Faith Fighters for Christ martial arts ministry. The process of redeeming martial arts takes considerable time, but how valuable that time was because we were able to win many people to the Lord and train them to serve Christ. We have a No Zen statement on our About Us page so you know you are safe here. That is why it is important to be careful. Too many souls are at stake. In all that we do, we are called to honor Him. As you work out today, give God the honor and glory that are due to Him alone.
May God bless you!