Monday, December 31, 2007

Forgive Me


Forgive me.

I have been lonely and sought the company of Satan, my enemy,
rather than that of Christ, my Friend.

I have been bored and sought the entertainment of the world,
rather than the work of the Kingdom.

I have let my mind wander down paths of vain imaginings,
rather than taking my thoughts captive for Your sake.

I have taken advantage of Your mercy,
rather than loving You through my obedience.

I have not loved You,
I have not shown Your love to those around me,
I have only loved myself, have only served myself.

Forgive me.

There is no joy in this selfish state,
only fleeting and momentary pleasure.

Give me strength to turn from it,
to seek the eternal rather than the temporal,
to repent quickly,
to run after You,
to prove my love with my obedience,
to accept Your grace and mercy,
to allow Your spirit and Your love to flow through me to those around me.

Forgive me and accept me.
Thank You.

Rebecca A Givens, 12/31/07

Thursday, December 27, 2007

New Beginnings

I love beginnings - new weeks, new months, new years. It’s a chance to start again, to find a better plan, to change something for the better, to set goals. Not exactly New Year’s Resolutions, but similar perhaps. I’d like to share a few ideas and maybe get you to think about setting some goals for yourself. Not just about being a better person, or losing weight, but practical and objective things to get closer to God.

This year I am planning to read the Bible all the way through, chronologically. I want to get an overall big picture of God’s Word. Yes, this will take some time and effort, but it is a do-able task. I have found a web site that will plan it out for me, even link me to an on-line Bible, and I am posting this information here on my blog each week in the hope of making it easy for some of you to do this with me! I am really excited about this. If it seems like too much, take it slower, just start at the beginning of the Bible and take it one chapter at a time until you finish. Even if it takes you several years you will have accomplished so much!

I would also like to encourage you to do some devotional reading. There are a number of good devotional books with short daily readings and stories that bring scripture to life. I have been reading through The Valley of Vision: A collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions, and will continue in this for the coming year. I have no planned date to finish, because I sometimes spend several days on one page of this book. Whenever I do finish, I plan to start reading out of a hymn book. I suppose this may sound strange, but have you ever really read the words to those old hymns? Some are odd, I admit, but most are quite profound, especially if you read about the authors and the stories behind their songs. In the past I have gotten a lot out of Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest: An Updated Edition in Today's Language, which has devotions by date (I actually prefer the original, not the today's language one), and The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence, which has nice short sections, easily read as a devotional. You can find click on the links to buy these books from Amazon. You could also use my blog as devotional material, but these other things I have mentioned are much deeper than what I write.

So, I have devotional reading and Biblical overview reading, that just leaves more intensive Bible Study. At this point in your spiritual life you may not need this; the Sunday sermon and the overview of the Bible may be enough for you, and that’s ok, please just make sure you are doing at least that. But if you find yourself hungry for more, go for it! Start out with going deeper into your Sunday School lessons and sermons. Take notes. Read the Bible passages in context (what comes before and after it). Pick key passages or verses to memorize (you really should be doing this anyway). Go to a Bible Study at your church and do the above suggestions. Or if there is a particular book in the Bible that you really want to learn better, spend a lot of time reading that book slowly. Look for commentaries or other books written about that book. There are some good studies on tape too. Study the author of the book, the setting, the culture. I believe that Bible study and memorization make you smarter, not just about Biblical or spiritual things, but in all of life.

You must realize from the outset that you will fail sometimes. You will miss a day, or a week or more, of Bible reading. Life happens. Don’t let yourself get discouraged and quit; pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and continue on. Getting knocked down is no excuse for staying on the floor. Falling down is not failure, failure is quitting. If you start doing these things to get to know God and His Word better, He will honor that. Of course, Satan will also try to keep you from it, so don’t give in to Satan by quitting. Stay the course!

Rebecca A Givens, 12/2007

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


Lord Jesus,

I sin –

Grant that I may never cease grieving because of it,
never be content with myself,
never think I can reach a point of perfection.

Kill my envy, command my tongue, trample down self.

Give me grace to be holy, kind, gentle, pure, peaceable,
to live for thee and not for self,
to copy thy words, acts, spirit,
to be transformed into thy likeness,
to be consecrated wholly to thee,
to live entirely to thy glory.

Deliver me from attachment to things unclean,
from wrong associations,
from the predominance of evil passions,
from the sugar of sin as well as its gall,
that with self-loathing, deep contrition,
earnest heart searching
I may come to thee, cast myself on thee,
trust in thee, cry to thee,
be delivered by thee.

O God, the Eternal All, help me to know
that all things are shadows, but thou art substance,
all things are quicksands, but thou art mountain,
all things are shifting, but thou art anchor,
all things are ignorance, but thou art wisdom.

If my life is to be a crucible amid burning heat, so be it,
but do thou sit at the furnace mouth
to watch the ore that nothing be lost.

If I sin willfully, grievously, tormentedly, in grace
take away my mourning and give me music,
remove my sackcloth and clothe me with beauty,
still my sighs and fill my mouth with song,
then give me summer weather as a Christian.

Taken from The Valley of Vision: A collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas, 2007!!

When December began, I knew there was no way we would be able to make it through the month. We are still in the hole from a financially difficult summer, and December has 2 1/2 weeks of unpaid "vacation"... my husband's students don't seem to want to take guitar lessons over holidays! So I toyed with the idea of getting a part-time temporary job just to get us through. But God seemed to be saying don't do it, and my husband definately preferred me not to, so I didn't. I did continue to pray.

Now, on Christmas Eve, I have to say that I have never been happier or more content than I am right now. I have never felt more loved or cared for. God has provided for our needs and even for our wants this month. We have presents under the tree, food in the kitchen and the freezer, the bills are paid. We have our family, our extended family, our church family, and I even have karate family, not to mention other friends. This season I have felt the love of God and of my friends and family like never before; maybe I am just more sensitive to it. I have also felt love for my family and friends like never before. Perhaps I am more able to love as well as being more aware of its presence.

This year, more than any year previous, I am aware that it is God who is Provider. One of God's descriptive names in the Old Testament is Jehovah Jirah, the Lord who provides. Truly this season I have seen Jehovah Jirah! He has even provided things I did not ask for, things I did not know to ask for, things I did not have the faith to ask for. God knows my needs before I do, and plans for them in advance. And not just material needs, but emotional and spiritual as well. He has provided my husband and children, my pastor and church, my sensei and karate brothers and sisters.

As we cook and eat, watch Christmas movies, bake cookies and make ornaments, give and receive gifts, read and reflect on the Christmas Story, play games and spend time with family and friends, I will continue to thank God, Jehovah Jirah, for all of it. The gift of His Son, the babe in the manger who grew up and went to the Cross, is so much more than I deserve. Yet God did not stop there; He has continued to provide material and spiritual blessings, heaped up, running over.

O Lord,
Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Quotes on Worship

"Let us remember therefore this lesson: That to worship our God sincerely we must evermore begin by hearkening to His voice, and by giving ear to what He commands us. For if every man goes after his own way, we shall wander. We may well run, but we shall never be a whit nearer to the right way, but rather farther away from it." John Calvin

"Nothing should be done or sung or said in church which does not aim directly or indirectly at glorifying God or edifying the people or both." C.S. Lewis

"Unless men see a beauty and delight in the worship of God, they will not do it willingly." John Owen

"Till you can sing and rejoice and delight in God as misers do in gold, and kings in scepters, you can never enjoy the world." Thomas Traherne

"I may worship in a different building from you, I may worship in a different style, but all we hold dear is God’s gift in Christ Jesus, who is our Unity. In Him we have all and lack nothing." Michael J Davis

"God is not moved or impressed with our worship until our hearts are moved and impressed by Him." Kelly Sparks

"Many a professing Christian is a stumbling-block because his worship is divided. On Sunday he worships God; on week days God has little or no place in his thoughts." D.L. Moody

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

My Life as a Dishcloth

I have been learning to knit. I have crocheted all my life; my grandmother taught me when I was small. But knitting has always eluded me. A lot of years ago I knitted one house-shoe; just one because it took me so long and took so much work that I couldn’t bear to do it all again on its mate. But for the past year my daughter has been knitting, and the texture drew me. So I made a few things on a Knifty Knitter Loom. That was so much fun that I picked up some needles and started knitting. Now I am knitting dishcloths. They are relatively small projects with an infinite variety of patterns, and I have enjoyed it immensely.

Right now I am working on a cloth that requires a bit of thinking to keep up with the pattern. I still have to think to knit anyway, so this one has been a challenge. Last night I sat down to knit and watch a movie. I got to the end of the 3rd row of the night, and found a mistake at the beginning of the row, 3 rows back. Ugh. So I pulled it out, one stitch at a time, all the way to the mistake. Started again. Did another 2 rows. Found another mistake. Pulled out a row and a half. This continued for 2 ½ hours. Knit, find a mistake, pull out, start again. At the end of my time, I was exactly 4 rows further along than when I started. Sigh. That’s really not a good return on my time investment! The first evening I started this cloth I got several rows in and had to unravel the whole thing, because I couldn’t figure out how to pick up my stitches as I pulled it out. So that night I had absolutely nothing to show for all the time I had spent. This has been a bit frustrating, but I do want the finished product. It looks really pretty, and I want to make it, so I keep working at it even though it would be easier to quit.

I can’t help but think that my own life is like that cloth. It seems to be going along just fine, and then a mistake shows up down the road. God unravels me to pull it out and start again. At the beginning, when He first saved me, He had to pull it all out and start over. God still has to pull out my mistakes on a regular basis, far too often. But He does so with infinite patience. Over and over again He works on my life, pulling out the fabric, changing the pattern, starting completely over in some areas. Why? Why is He so patient with me? Why does He keep working on me? Because He loves me. Because He knows what the finished product will look like, and that’s what He wants me to be. And He will never give up on me. How cool is that?

Psalm 139:13-16 – For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place. When I was sewn together in the depths of the earth, Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.

Rebecca A Givens, 12/12/07

Monday, December 17, 2007

Faithful Christian

"Christians are promised participation in the exaltation of Christ, but not without participation in the humiliation of Christ… A faithful Christian is not the Christian who stays in his closet in prayer, but who dies in the sand in the coliseum." RC Sproul, Revelation tape series

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Paul Washer message

Several weeks ago I posted a sermon video, with the promise of my own comments soon. For those of you who did not see it, I am re-posting both the video and the link where you can download the mp3; the sermon is 1 hour long and I personally am not likely to sit and watch something that long in front of the computer. But I do listen as I drive. Here's the link where you can do that:

If you are curious, you can read more about this man's ministry on his web site here:

Paul Washer passionately puts into words some things that I have been thinking a lot about over the past year. I am not going to try to outline his sermon, I really want you to listen to it. But scroll down below the video where I will try to articulate my own thoughts.

It is way too easy to call yourself a Christian in America today. It costs us nothing. Everyone claims to be a Christian, particularly here in the Bible Belt. Is everyone who claims to be a Christian really a Christian? What is a Christian? Someone who believes in God? Someone raised in a home with Christian values? An American? If everyone who claims to be a Christian is not one, how do I know I am a Christian?

The definition of a true believer is very narrow. I am a sinner, God loves me anyway, the penalty for my sin is death, Christ paid that penalty for me, and I become a child of God through faith and trust in Christ for my salvation. When I put my faith and trust in Christ, something fundamentally changes in me. I don’t have to fix myself and be perfect, but my life will begin to reflect my encounter with God. My life will change, what is important will change, my behavior will change, my focus will change. Life will no longer be about me, it will be about God. Not so that He will love me, but because He loves me and I love Him back. I have entered into a relationship with God, a living, breathing, intimate relationship. He is not just an example that I must follow, it is as if He lets me come alongside of Him while He works; because it is He that is working through me.

If I am living a life of habitual immoral behavior, then I must question my own salvation, because I obviously do not love God. If I am God’s child, He will discipline me and keep pushing me back in line; He will not let me continue to live a life characterized by sin. If I love Him, I will obey Him out of love, I will seek Him through studying His Word the Bible, and in prayer, I will seek fellowship with other believers. Without those things there is no relationship.

These are very hard teachings here in America, where the definition of a Christian has changed so much. But God impresses them on me more and more, and I find myself unable to not write and post this. I pray that you will look into your own life, and see if there is any evidence of God working, of a personal relationship that extends beyond attending church or repeating a bedtime prayer. I pray that you will seek Him, because if you do, He promises that you will find Him. But don’t take it for granted that you are a Christian just because you prayed a prayer once, or because you have a Christian family. Because Jesus also says that many will come before Him at the Judgment and claim to know Him, but He will not recognize them.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Keep Me

Thank You God, for who You have made me to be.

You have given me strength of character
The will to fight
The determination to not give up
The intelligence to learn
A love of learning
The ability to think
The ability to imitate
A desire for You
A hunger and thirst for Your Word
Good leaders to follow
Spiritual sensitivity
Tolerance of other’s weakness
A love for words
The ability to love
The ability to trust

Lord, keep reminding me of my own sin
Of my selfishness
Of my weakness
Of my fear
Of my failure
Of my pride
Of my lack of discipline
Of my loneliness
Of my need
Of my self-sufficient tendencies
Of my anger
Of my distrust

God, keep finishing me, don’t let me finish myself.
Keep teaching me.
Keep drawing me to Yourself.
Keep holding me close.
Keep me.

Rebecca A Givens, 12/14/07

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Kime and Worship

This morning I was reading a prayer from the book, Puritan Prayers. I have found these prayers to be quite deep, and they require much from me as I read them. I often make them first person and use them to start my own conversations with God. Here is the one I read today:


Glorious God,
It is the flame of my life to worship You
And heavenly pleasure to approach You.
Give me power by Your Spirit to help me worship now,
That I may forget the world, be brought unto the fullness of life,
And be refreshed, comforted, and blessed.
Give me Jesus, Son of Man, Son of God,
That I may be drawn near with Your love.
Let me live wholly to my Savior,
Free from distractions and hindrances.
I am pardoned through Jesus’ blood –
Give me a new sense of it
That I may worship You in spirit and truth.

The words of this prayer remind me of the Japanese idea of kime. As in most martial arts terms, this one short word conveys a broad thought, attitude, and experience that requires a long description. Kime means focus. More than that, it is single-minded focus, where nothing else exists to you except that which you are focusing on. It may be a board, a technique, a kata, or an opponent.

My first experience with kime came as a surprise to me. I don’t think I had ever even heard the term or the concept at that point. Seven or eight months after I started training in karate I was testing for 7th kyu. Throughout this test is was as if my world was slowly contracting, first down to the gym, then down to the dojo floor, and finally at the end down to a circle on the floor around myself and sensei. He was holding a board for me to break and I had never done that before. Sensei spoke quietly, coaching and encouraging me. In that moment, there was nothing else in the world but his voice, my knee, and that board. And then I heard the board break. It was an incredible experience. Since then kime has come to me many times. Once I realized what it was I began to look for it, to cultivate it, to bring my mind to that state on purpose rather than just waiting for it to happen.

As I read the prayer on worship, I realized that kime is what is required for true worship; to forget everything else so that the only thing that exists is God. I have been in worship services that swept me away, that called me out of everything else and focused all of me on God alone. These are wonderful experiences, and now that I know what worship looks like and feels like, I can look for it, cultivate it, and bring my mind to that state on purpose, rather than just waiting for the right combination of emotions and music to take me there. It becomes something I can practice, not something that I just wait to happen to me.

Rebecca A Givens, 11/2006

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Knitting, Pass It Forward!

OK, today I am going to post something that some of you will find odd... but remember that I am such an odd person anyway you shouldn't be surprised! I have been learning to knit. My daughter got me started on it and I have had so much fun knitting... dishcloths. Yes, I hate doing dishes , but dishcloths are such quick projects and come in such a variety of patterns! Anyway, I am on a dishcloth yahoo group (which I will put a link to when I get a chance), and the talk there has been all about a PIF. That's a Pass It Forward.

It works like this. The first 3 people who respond to this post will get a hand made gift from me sometime in the next 365 days. No promises as to what the gift will be, or when! They agree to put a post on their own blog with the same offer. I signed up on (which looks very interesting, BTW). So, who wants to participate?

Monday, December 10, 2007

Psalm 18:30-36

Psalm 18:30-36
As for God – His way is perfect;
The Word of Jehovah is tried;
He is a shield to all who find refuge in Him.
For who is God but Jehovah,
And who is a rock save our God?
The God who girdeth me with strength,
And maketh my way perfect;
Who maketh my feet like hind’s feet,
And setteth me on my high places;
Who traineth my hands for war,
So that mine arms can bend a bow of brass.
And Thou hast given me the shield of Thy salvation,
And Thy right hand hath holden me up,
And Thy graciousness hath made me great.
Thou hast made room for my footsteps under me,
That mine ankles have not slipped.

God’s way, His path, is perfect. Read down a few verses, and we see that the outcome of this is that He makes my way and my path perfect. I can trust the way that lies before me because I can know that it is God who lays out the path. His Word is where the path is laid out and made known to us. Jehovah’s Word is tried; it has been shown to be pure and true, perfect and flawless. God doesn’t stop there; He not only sets our path under our feet, but He protects us as a shield. A shield is a defensive weapon. You hide behind it, letting it take the blows for you. Jehovah plans the way we should go and then protects us as we walk the path. What other God can do that? What other God can stand and not be moved? He is as immovable and unbreakable as a great rock that withstands the march of time.

Who is this God? Who is this rock? David testifies that this is the God who arms him with strength, who makes his way perfect, who gives him the quickness and sure-footedness of a deer, who puts him in a position of military strength that allows him possession of the whole country, who gives him the skill and the strength of Ulysses to bend a bow of bronze that no one else can use. God gave David the ultimate protection, the shield of salvation, and the ultimate sustaining power, His own. God stooped down to David’s level, and lifted him up high. God even kept him from stumbling on the difficult path.

I am no David, but David wrote this not just for himself, but for us too. All of scripture is for us as well as the people in the day that it was written. I am a child of God, just as David was, and this is for me. Go back and read this passage, with the knowledge that God has done these things for you. God will continue to do these things for you; pray that you will see it.

©Rebecca A Givens, 12/07/07

Sunday, December 9, 2007

My karate weekend

I am exhausted, bruised, sore, humbled, challenged, encouraged, and inspired; physically, mentally, and emotionally. I just got home from a karate clinic in Montgomery. Well, actually I went straight from Montgomery to Hoover this morning to get to church (maybe more on this morning’s service later, it was awesome), and then home to take a nap. So technically I just woke up, and some of the exhaustion is relieved. Anyway, it was a great clinic.

Some of what I learned and re-learned:
MOVE – don’t stand there with a big target painted on your face! Get out of the way!
No unnecessary motion
Use my hips to generate power to block, punch, throw, whatever
Use angles
Sushi is good
I am part of a great martial arts family, I love them dearly, and I thank God for them!

Those of you who were there, I hope your various bruises and injuries heal quickly! We spent a lot of time fighting… and as a result there were a few black eyes, 3 stitches, a broken hand, and a lot of bruises. Everything but the bruises was upper ranks. And not me . Yes, I am crazy, it was great fun. Beaten on the outside, but not on the inside.

I love kata, more than anything else, and the blackbelts got to spend some time doing kata. We also learned a new kata from Jim Davenport Sensei. Wow, training with him is always an awesome thing. I love to watch him move. His gi snaps with every movement he makes in kata. He moves so effortlessly. He throws people around without ever seeming to exert any effort or power on them. And then there was Bill Stockey Sensei, also awesome. He seems to cause pain, but not harm , effortlessly. And Doshu, of course, who breaks down and teaches us such wonderful self-defense. To spend time with all 3 of these men is an opportunity not to be passed up. And the numerous other shihans, including my own teacher, as well.

This post seems rather pointless to the non-karate type folks out there... I apologize. I think you all know me well enough to know that this is my passion, if you give me a chance to talk about it I tend to get carried away...

Friday, December 7, 2007

Overflowing Hope

After yesterday's discouragement post, allow me to continue on in Romans 15...

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."

I don't know about you, but joy, peace, and overflowing hope sound pretty good to me!

Thursday, December 6, 2007


I have to admit that today I am discouraged. I see the way Satan is successfully attacking Christian families. I see the way he is attacking my church. I see my own sin nature. I see the worldliness of the Christian church in America, and it is no great shock to see the downward spiral of our country. If the professing Christians will not maintain high moral character, how can we expect the rest of the world to? I wonder what kind of world my children will have to live in in the coming years. Persecution makes the true believers stand strong and weeds out those who only profess with their mouths, but is persecution what I want for our country and my children?

These are the thoughts that plague me today.

As if God knew ahead of time what my thoughts would be, which He did BTW, my meditations this week have been in Romans chapter 15. Today this caught my eye. "For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accept one another then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God."

Endurance and encouragement come from the Scripture and from God. And unity with other believers comes as we accept one another. And it is all to bring praise to God. As I have prayed over the last months, increasingly I have come back to unity among believers and unity in our church. Being accepted was what drew me to my church. Endurance and encouragement is what will hold me there. And a commitment to the Word and to prayer. We must be united in these beliefs, we must stand together and we must pray together. Does no one else hear this call? The call to unite, the call to pray, the call to stand firm and not give ground to Satan?

Oh yeah, God promises there will always be a remnant, doesn't He. Where will you stand? Will you stand with the small remnant, or will you stand with the crowd in the worldly American Church?

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


"The golden rule for understanding in spiritual matters is not intellect, but obedience." Oswald Chambers

"You may as well quit reading and hearing the Word of God, and give it to the devil, if you do not desire to live according to it." Martin Luther

"When God gives a command or a vision of truth, it is never a question of what he will do, but what we will do." Henrietta Meers

"Character is what you are in the dark." D.L. Moody

"Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says." James 1:22

Sunday, December 2, 2007

The Dark Guest

O Lord,

Bend my hands and cut them off,
for I have often struck thee with a wayward will,
when these fingers should embrace thee by faith.

I am not yet weaned from all created glory,
honour, wisdom, and esteem of others,
for I have a secret motive to eye my name in all I do.

Let me not only speak the word sin, but see the thing itself.

Give me to view a discovered sinfulness,
to know that though my sins are crucified
they are never wholly mortified.

Hatred, malice, ill-will,
vain-glory that hungers for and hunts after
man's approval and applause,
all are crucified, forgiven,
but they rise again in my sinful heart.

O my crucified but never wholly mortified sinfulness!
O my life-long damage and daily shame!
O my indwelling and besetting sins!
O the tormenting slavery of a sinful heart!

Destroy, O God, the dark guest within
whose hidden presence makes my life a hell.

Yet thou has not left me here without grace;
The cross still stands and meets my needs
in the deepest straits of the soul.

I thank thee that my remembrance of it
is like David's sight of Goliath's sword
which preached forth thy deliverance.

The memory of my great sins, my many temptations, my falls,
bring afresh into my mind the remembrance
of thy great help, of thy support from heaven,
of the great grace that saved such a wretch as I am.

There is no treasure so wonderful
as that continuous experience of thy grace toward me
which alone can subdue the risings of sin within:
Give me more of it.

taken from The Valley of Vision: A collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions

Friday, November 30, 2007

Little Warriors

Little Warriors Street Safety Workbook And Program
The Little Warriors Street Safety Program

This optional workbook is designed for kids under 10. It covers many of the aspects of safety that I teach, making it a great reinforcement to what we do in class. These are available for $15. If you have a child who enjoys books and workbooks, they would enjoy this. I will order them as there is interest.

You can read more about this program and the workbook at

Please note: there are a few pages in the book that advocate principles that I do not teach, because I do not believe they are effective. I will put in my own explanations of these few pages and you can cross them out if you wish.

I have developed a list of skills to teach from this program, and Kids under 12 who complete the program (the workbook is not required) by attending all of the required classes will receive a purple chevron for their gi. The skills will be taught cyclically, each skill will eventually come around again so there is no need to worry about missed classes.

NaBloPoMo - Done!

Well, here it is, the last day of November, and I made it through the NaBloPoMo challenge! I did indeed manage to post every day for the month of November, and it was a really good experience. It forced me to go ahead and post some of the articles I have written over the past couple of years, and who knows how long it would have taken me to get around to doing that. I learned some technical things about blogging. And I learned that I have a lot more to say than I realized. God has taught me SO MUCH in the last few years, and I have to write. I can't not write, just like I can't not do martial arts. These 2 things connect me to God, and they have become an expression of who I am. So I train and teach and write. When I see that God is using me to encourage someone else, then it's even better.

I won't be posting every day any more, but I will post at least several times a week. I am pursuing magazines and devotionals that might be interested in publishing the kind of writing I do. I am training more now while I have time off from teaching. I am trying to unclutter and clean my house. I must continue to push my kids through their school work, and the end is in sight for the oldest! Oh, and Christmas is coming! Life is busy, as always, for all of us. I hope you will check in periodically to read what God is teaching me in the midst of it all!!!

Thursday, November 29, 2007


Today has been set aside, at least in our Presbytery, as a day to pray and fast for our pastors, elders and deacons, their wives, and their marriages. I have been hearing story after story of Christian marriages coming apart. Pastors and leaders are not immune to this. What happened? How did these marriages that seemed so right at the beginning go so wrong?

Can you think of a better way to attack the church, distract it from it's mission, and make it unusable? I believe Satan knows this is a great way to suck the life out of a church; attack the leaders' marriages. Marriage is an earthly picture of God's love for us. The church is the Bride of Christ. Satan can undermine the church's message by destroying our marriages.

The world we live in places no value on fidelity, on commitment to marriage, on staying pure until you marry that one person who you will spend the rest of your life with. Television and movies and popular heroes constantly portray to us, and to our children, those life styles that are inconsistent with scripture. Our culture is focused so much on individual freedom that we no longer think of anyone but ourselves. What "I" want is all that matters. Pornography is on the rampage. You can now view it in the privacy of your own home, and it is addictive. It takes away something that should only belong to your spouse. My satisfaction, my desire, my needs are supposed to be fulfilled in my spouse; not in fantasy with a picture or a movie.

Christians, we are under attack! We must face this head on, eyes open. If we do not, we will lose some of our soldiers. You cannot fight a war without, well, without fighting! How do we fight? Start with the one thing that should precede everything - prayer. Pray for your own attitudes and actions, and your own spouse and marriage. Pray for your church leadership and your pastor, and their wives and marriages. Don't think they are immune because they look like they have it all together, even good marriages need to be prayed for and protected. Then take steps to strengthen and protect your own marriage. Pray together, stay in the Word (yourself and together), and communicate. Communicate on a deeper level than planning your week or talking about what the kids have done. Talk about what matters in your life, your dreams and disappointments, your struggles and your victories. Talk about money, and lack thereof. Spend time with other married couples, including older couples, who can encourage your marriage.

For the sake of God, of His Son who gave His life for us, His bride, we must strengthen and protect our marriages. We must hang on. Please do not perceive this article as judgment or an attack if you have been through a divorce; this is a call to preserve what we have, to fight back and not let Satan have the victory in this battle.

Trust God and fight to protect what He has ordained.

Rebecca A Givens, 11/29/2007

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Karate Class Code of Honor

What is honor?

How do we know how to act? Where does our code come from?

I Thessalonians 4:4 - each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable.
Hebrews 13:18 – we desire to live honorably in every way.

1) I promise that I will use karate only to defend others and myself.

I Peter 5:8 – Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
Genesis 4:7b – But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.

2) I promise to be respectful of others.

Luke 10:27 - … Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.
Romans 13:7 – Give everyone what you owe him: …if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

3) promise to be gentle to all I see, but also to watch everything carefully.

Matthew 10:16 – I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and innocent as doves.

Rain Clouds

I woke up excited this morning; I was taking the motorcycle from home, in Alabama, to Arkansas. Anxiously I looked out the window – good; clouds, but no rain. I had been planning this trip for weeks, months if you count from the time I first conceived the idea of riding out to visit my sensei. I had waited for warm weather, money, and the opportunity to be able to get away, and finally these three things were going to coincide!

All week I had watched the weather, praying that the rain would pass through quickly during the night. The weather radar on the internet confirmed that although it was quite overcast, the rain had indeed passed. I quickly dressed and pulled the bike out of the shed to load my gear. As I strapped my bag on it began to mist. "Well, it’s just a bit of leftovers from the rain," I told myself. I finished and rolled the bike back into the shed to wait. It wasn’t going to be warm and sunny, and I didn’t want to start my trip out wet, because if I did I knew I would freeze the rest of the day. The mist did not quit; in fact it increased and began to drip off the house. In frustration I went back to the internet radar. It looked clear. Where was this coming from? I found a really neat button on the screen that lets you zoom in on the radar map. As I zoomed in I saw a tiny pinpoint of green on the map, just northwest of Calera, AL. I zoomed in some more and saw my street, and that tiny pinpoint of green was… directly over my house. Less than half a mile down my street there was no sign of precipitation. Without a second thought I said good-bye, jumped on the motorcycle, and took off down the road. By the end of my street the mist had stopped and it was dry.

My spirits soared as I took off down the road. Yes, it was chilly with a low, solid overcast, but I had looked at the forecast and the weather maps and as I rode west it should be clearing. I got comfortable and settled in for the 500 mile ride. As I rode along I began to look for signs that the clouds were clearing, but the overcast stayed pretty solid. Every once in a while I could see a thinner place or a lighter place in the sky, and once, for a second, I saw a bright blue hole in the cloud cover, but it quickly disappeared. Still, I knew it had to clear eventually.

I stopped in Tuscaloosa for gas and a cup of coffee; I was a bit chilly and wanted to warm up before I got on I-20. As I stood inside the gas station drinking my coffee a woman in line commented that it was a cold morning for a motorcycle ride. "Yes," I agreed. "But I am headed west and it should be clearing up as I go." Her reply was depressing. "I left Jackson this morning and it was just like this." Humph. But after that initial groan my brain kicked in. Weather travels from west to east. This woman was following the trailing edge of the front, and would likely stay in it all day. I was traveling the other way, and would soon leave it behind. I had studied the map and looked at the radar, and I knew the weather patterns were on my side. But the sky was gray and I couldn’t see any sign that she was wrong and I was right. I headed west, anxiously looking for signs of a clearing sky. There were none.

As I rode into Meridian, MS, I was cold and tired; I wanted to see the sun. I elected to stop for lunch, thinking I’d rather stop now in the cold overcast rather than later, when I hoped and prayed the sun would be out. Would the sun come out? I parked, took off my leather, fished out my wallet and cell phone, and walked into Cracker Barrel. It was crowded. As I waited for a table, I glanced out to check on my bike, and the sky was bright blue! The sun was out and there was not a trace of clouds in the sky at all!

As I continued my trip I thought about the events of my morning. I began to see a connection between the weather of the morning and my spiritual life. So often my spiritual walk is full of hope and promise. But I begin to focus on what I see, the clouds and cold, or the world around me, and I get cold and weary. And then the world comes in and whispers in my ear that God is not really there. And even if He is, He doesn’t love you, He cares nothing for you; these clouds are never going to end. But I must remember what I know to be true. Weather radar is a true picture of the weather, just like the Bible is true. And no matter what I see in my immediate surroundings, I must trust what I know to be true. The weather will clear ahead; God does love me and He has a plan for my life. I just have to hold on for a while longer. When I least expect it, there will be blue sky and sunshine. By the same token, one day I will bow before God in Heaven and He will exchange my imperfect sinful flesh for a perfect body, just like He promised in the Bible. Heaven (and Hell) is real, and the unseen spiritual life is real on this earth, even when it doesn’t look like it.

John 3:16-18 – For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because He has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

Rebecca A Givens, 03/2007

Monday, November 26, 2007

Welcome to Karate Class!

This letter contains some important information that you need to know about karate class. Please make sure that you fill out a registration form and sign a release form. You also need familiarize yourself with the page of Dojo Rules.

My name is Becky Givens, and I study and teach Shingo-ha Yoshukai karate. There are many different styles of martial arts, and each is different from the other. Even within the same style, different teachers will teach differently. My purpose here is to describe my style and my goals in teaching.

Shingo-ha Yoshukai karate is a traditional Japanese style of karate. We tend to emphasize the self-defense aspect of karate rather than the sport application. Tournaments are not the focus of what we do. Self-discipline and respect are built into everything we do in class; character is a major focus, and bullying is not tolerated. Because we are a traditional martial art, we use Japanese terms and etiquette in the dojo (training hall). We also teach some history and culture along the way.

Shingo means to unite heart, mind and spirit. Our dojo name is Shintaikan, which means a place to unite heart, mind, spirit and body. This is what my own study of the martial arts has done for me. I hold the rank shodan (black belt), and I have been teaching karate since September 2004. Martial Arts is a passion God has given me, and I have enjoyed passing it along to others. I am a committed Christian and I teach from that perspective; God is involved in everything I do and karate is no different.

Let me outline my vision for karate class. The first hour is a family class for all ages. I love seeing families getting involved together! The hour after the family class will be a continuation of the first hour, where interested adults and kids 12 and up will stay for another hour of training. This second hour involves much more contact and is more intense. It is not for everyone, and that’s ok. All students are expected to come for the family class, this first hour is for all of us to learn and practice the basics and to be a good example and help for the kids. You are welcome to come only one day a week, just realize that rank comes slower when you train less. Also, for whoever is interested, there are regular opportunities to train on the weekends at special clinics.
My goal for my classes is to provide the students with good exercise, to have fun, to build self-confidence and self-discipline, and to teach self-defense. We will do all this through the vehicle of traditional Japanese karate. I will be stressing to the children that the things they learn are for self-defense only. They are not to be hitting or kicking other kids, brothers or sisters. If I learn of such an occurrence, they will not be allowed back in class. Please help me enforce this. They need to know that I am serious when I say this, and that you as parents are in agreement. One of the most important things we can teach our children is the discipline of self-control (2 Peter 1:4-7) especially when angry (Eph 4:26). This brings me to the subject of bullies. I teach the kids 1) to pray – for the bully and for themselves; 2), to seek adult help and stay away from the bully, making sure to not antagonize them. Name-calling and getting picked on should be ignored, but if a kid is getting hit or hurt, 3) I want them to block and forcefully say "stop" or "no". If that does not work, 4) fight back. Chances are good that no matter who "wins" the fight, a bully will not attack a kid that has fought back. It is hard to think about our children hitting another child, but they need to have permission to defend themselves.

One of my other goals for the kids in this class is to teach my students to defend themselves against adults. We will cover some very simple things and do some role-playing dealing with strangers… basically avoiding potentially dangerous situations. We will also cover some basic escapes from grabs and things of this nature. Please take advantage of this as a time to teach your children how to stay safe. The library has some excellent children’s books on strangers and on good touch/bad touch issues. Kids need to be taught that no one has the right to touch them in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable. It is so very, very important to teach your kids that not all touch is good, and to trust their instincts. If someone makes them feel weird, they need to tell a parent. I would be glad to talk to you further on this subject if you would like.

In class we will talk about and practice karate basics (blocks, strikes, kicks, etc.), kata and self-defense, but these will only be remembered and perfected after much practice. Karate is not something that you can become good at in a short period of time, even with natural ability. It takes many years to develop the skills and knowledge of a black belt. Because we are a traditional style, it will take longer to achieve rank than some other styles of martial arts (such as tae kwan do), particularly for the children, but it is a fun and exciting journey along the way. I am looking forward to sharing it with you!

for Class info click here

Becky Givens, Sensei


Fear is something I have dealt with a lot, both in my life and in my martial arts training. I came across some quotes in the last couple of days that I'd like to share.

"We will always live less than a responsible life if we fear anything other than God."
Neil Anderson

"A hard heart is impenitent, and impenitence also makes the heart harder and harder. If you would be rid of a hard heart, that great enemy to the growth of the grace of fear, be much with Christ upon the cross in thy meditations, for that is an excellent remedy against the hardness of heart; a right sight of Him, as He hanged there for thy sins, will dissolve thy heart into tears, and make it soft and tender. 'They shall look upon Me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn.' Now, a soft, a tender, and broken heart is a fit place for the grace of fear to thrive in."
John Bunyan

II Chronicles 20:12b - For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon You. 20:15b - Do not be afraid or discourage because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God's.

Proverbs 29:25 - Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.

Deut 31:6 - Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.

We should fear God. He is the Almighty Creator and Judge of the Universe. God-fearing is a good thing. The term Bunyan used, 'the grace of fear', intrigues me! If we are His children, we should also trust Him, so that we do not have to be afraid of man or circumstances here on this earth. All men and all circumstances are under His control, what have I to fear?

Sunday, November 25, 2007



Lake Crest Presbyterian Church
560 Lake Crest Drive
Hoover, AL, 35226

Family Class meets on Tuesdays at 4:30, Thursdays at 6:30. Please do not be late picking up your children, I have another class to teach and do not have anyone to watch them after class ends. New students may begin at any time during the year. We generally do not have class in the month of December.

Appropriate dress will be required, preferably a gi (uniform), but that will not be absolutely necessary until the first rank test; if students do not have a gi, then they should wear modest, loose fitting clothing that allows them to move.

Registration fee is $30, and includes a free Gi. Dues for 1 student is $40/month. 2nd student in the same family is $30, all others in same family are $20.

Testing will be offered every 3-4 months, however, very few students will be ready to test each time. Students will need to have been training for at least 6 months before their first rank test. The fee for the first yellow belt test (8th kyu) is $60, the fee for the 7th kyu test is $35.

Please note, fees and class times are subject to change.

Becky Givens, Sensei

Testing Requirements

Testing Notes:

Testing will be conducted every 3 months, however, be aware that very few students are ready to test every 3 months. Payment is due at the time of the test. Students testing for 8th kyu are required to have been training for 6 months minimum. After that students must attend a minimum of 20 classes and be proficient in the specified skills and kata in order to test for each next rank. Testing is at Sensei’s invitation, it is improper to ask to test.

Children will have intermediate tests for chevrons, which will either catch them up to the adult rank requirements, or be intermediate tests between ranks.

8th kyu
Zen Shin Kotai
2 self-defense
1 board break
2 sets of 3 combinations
1 & 2 Ippon Kumite

7th Kyu
Above kata + Kyhon Kata
3 self-defense
1 board break
3 sets of 3 combinations
1-3 Ippon Kumite

Yellow Chevron (children)
Above kata + Shiho Empi no Kata
All above requirements

Yellow Chevron
Above kata
Ippon Kumite 1-2
Bo kata 1

6th Kyu
Above kata + Kyhon Kata Shodan, Kyhon Kata Nidan
4 self-defense
2 ind board breaks
4 sets of 4 combinations
1 - 4 Ippon Kumite
1 & 2 bo kata

Green Chevron (children)
Above kata + Shiho Wari
All above requirements

5th Kyu
Above kata + Kyhon Kata Sandan, Kyhon Kata Yondan, Shi Ho hai
5 self-defense
2 ind board breaks
5 sets of 5 combinations
1 - 5 Ippon Kumite

Green Chevron (children)
Above kata + Shime no Kata
All above requirements

4th Kyu
Above kata + Seisan
6 self-defense
3 ind board breaks
6 sets of 6 combinations
1 - 6 Ippon Kumite
Above weapons + 1 nunchaku

3rd Kyu
Above kata + Shiho Empi no Kata
7 self-defense
3 ind board breaks
1 - 7 Ippon Kumite
2 nunchaku, 1-4 bo

2nd Kyu
Above kata + Ni Sei Shi
8 self-defense
4 ind board breaks
1 - 8 Ippon Kumite
Above weapons + 1 sai

1st Kyu
Above kata + Ro Hai Sho
9 self-defense
4 ind board breaks
1 - 9 Ippon Kumite
Above weapons + 2 sai 1-5 bo

Above kat + Ro hai Dai
10 self-defense
5 ind board breaks
1 - 10 Ippon Kumite
5 bo, bo tai bo, 3 sai, 3 nunchaku
1-6 Kensetus no kata

Additional Requirements For All Ranks: Written Tests, Oral Tests, Book Reports or Essays at the descretion of Sensei.

Saturday, November 24, 2007


We want to
Walk with You as did Adam and Eve in the Garden,
See You as did Moses in the Burning Bush,
Hear You as did Elijah in the quiet whisper,
Touch the hem of Your clothes as did the woman who was ill,
Have our feet washed by You as did the disciples,
Break bread and drink wine with You as at the Last Supper,
Be raised to life from the dead as You did for Lazarus.

Oh LORD please
Speak to us as You spoke to Noah,
Guide us as You guided Abraham,
Comfort us as You comforted Joseph in prison,
Lead us in power as You led the Israelites coming out of Egypt,
Take us from this world as You took Elijah,
Empower us as You empowered Elisha,
Kill giants through us as You did with David,
Give us wisdom as You gave Solomon,
Be pleased with us as You were with Your Son at His Baptism,
Show us Your glory as You did on the mountain at Transfiguration,
Fill us with the Holy Spirit as You did at Pentecost,
Blind us as You blinded Saul,
Open our eyes as You opened the blind man’s.
Turn our water into wine,
Feed us as You fed the 5000,
Cook breakfast for us as You cooked the for disciples by the sea,
Come to us in the Upper Room.
Care for us as a shepherd cares for His sheep,
Gather us in as a hen gathers her chicks.

Give us
the wings of eagles
the faith of a mustard seed,
the diligence of an ant.

Love us with the unconditional love of a Father and the joy of a Bridegroom.

God, thank You for Your Word that gives us knowledge and promises
Your Spirit that gives us wisdom and comfort
Your Son who gives us salvation and sonship.

Rebecca A Givens, 11/07

Friday, November 23, 2007

The Gap

Like most teenagers I was looking for my own identity, separate from my parents. I thought a lot about myself and what I wanted. I was never fashion conscious but I liked to be different. I often wore a headband, indian/hippy-style, because I liked the way it looked and the way it felt. Faded jeans and t-shirts completed my wardrobe. One day after Christmas I was shopping in a nice store in the mall. I picked out what I wanted to buy and went to the counter where the sales clerk, an older woman, looked me over out of the corner of her eye, and ignored me. She would not look directly at me, she would not wait on me, and she had such a look of disdain on her face that I still remember it almost 30 years later. This woman did nothing to endear me to old people; in fact, she fed my rebellion against authority.

Fast-forward 24 years. I am no longer 16, I am 40 years old. This particular Sunday morning was a beautiful spring day. Our church had closed the previous fall and although we had visited several churches we were still without a church home. Since I was by myself that morning and we had just bought a motorcycle a few weeks before, I decided to ride the bike to a church we had visited a couple of times. The back road from my house to this church is a nice ride, and I have to admit that might have been part of my reason for picking that particular church! However, I really did like the pastor, and the people seemed nice. I had ridden the bike there once before, and had parked down on the lower level of the parking lot. That had been the first time I had ever ridden that bike and I didn’t want anyone watching me ride away! I was also unsure of my reception at this more traditional church. The pastor had seen me come in that first time with my helmet and fussed at me, telling me next time to park up closer to the building to make sure nothing happened to the motorcycle. So this time I pulled up the hill and into the parking lot, passing by the glass front doors as I parked. Dressed in my usual riding attire: boots, jeans, t-shirt, and leather jacket, I entered the church; I did at least take off the do-rag and stuff it in my back pocket. As I walked through the small foyer there was an elderly woman sitting on the couch, and she spoke to me. "I saw what you were doing." I sank inside. Here it comes. She was dressed nicely (like everyone else), she was older, she was going to disapprove of me. What she said next totally amazed me. "It looked like fun. Why don’t you sit down and visit?" I was so shocked I sat down. She told me the names of the people as they came in. We chatted. I had a wonderful visit, and I knew at that moment that this was the church I wanted to join, and I prayed fervently that God would convince my husband of the same thing.

Two years have passed since that day in the church foyer. In that time I have gotten to know many of the older people in church. I regularly go to a Ladies Bible study attended primarily by elderly women. I have grown to love and appreciate these precious saints of God. I have also begun to see the prejudice that I have had toward older people; a prejudice based on fear of rejection. The "Generation Gap" is real, but its cause is the sin nature of both younger and older generations.

Our world today teaches tolerance to a fault; in spite of the fact that there are some things that should not be tolerated! But younger people and older people must tolerate each other. We must not judge each other based on preferences. Each generation must respect the strengths and be patient with the weaknesses in the other. We cannot afford to alienate each other; we need each other! Young people bring life, enthusiasm, and energy. Don’t despise or judge the young person’s perspective; embrace it, help shape and direct it, and most importantly give them an outlet for it. Don’t push them away and reject them if you want them to listen to you. Remember who you were when you were young! Older people bring wisdom and experience and love. Don’t despise the elderly person who is set in his ways, struggling with declining health, and has a hard time with rapidly changing technology. Benefit from their wisdom and experience, listen to their stories, give them your energy and your knowledge of life today, and accept their love. Think about who you will be at their age. As we accept and learn from each other, let’s fill the gap between the generations with respect and love so that there is no room for judgement.

Rebecca A Givens, 5/2007

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Dojo Rules and Regulations, Dojo Etiquette

1) Treat the dojo with respect:
Bow when entering or leaving the dojo area.
Leave your shoes lined up neatly against the wall.
Do not misuse the equipment or the building.
Clean up after yourself and your children. Know where your children are and what they are doing at all times.
Students are welcome to come early and train on their own, but horseplay will not be allowed.

2) Nursery and children:
Our families are welcome to use the nursery for their children. Please make sure you leave it clean and put everything back in place, and take out any garbage (especially diapers!). During the family class, small children and mothers are welcome to come and go as needed. During the 2nd hour, children should stay out of the dojo area.

3)Starting class:
All students will line up according to rank and seniority. If a student comes in late, regardless of rank, they shall line up at the rear of the class.

A bow is a greeting and a sign of respect.
When bowing to someone of higher rank, bow lower than they do.
Bow when you enter and leave the dojo.
Bow to the front of the dojo and to sensei at the beginning and end of class.
Bow to your partner before and after training with them.
Bow to anyone teaching you, regardless of rank.
Bow when giving or receiving a weapon.

5)During Class:
Sensei is the authority in any martial arts setting.
Proper respect and discipline will be maintained at all times.
When Sensei or an upper level black belt first enters the training area, the senior student on the floor will call the class to attention and have them bow. The class may then continue training.
When a student must leave the class during training, they must first receive permission from the instructor unless there is an extreme emergency.
Visitors and parents should watch quietly in the back of the dojo.

6) Face the rear of the dojo when adjusting your gi.

7) Jewelry should be removed during training to avoid injury.

8) No food or drink is allowed in the gym. Because we want to condition our bodies properly, students should drink only water during class.

9) Keep your uniform and yourself clean. Keep your fingernails and toenails short.

10) Refrain from misusing your knowledge.

Basic Terms

Dojo training hall
Domo Arigato thank you very much
Sensei teacher
Sempai senior student
Kohai junior student
Gi uniform
Obi belt
Yudansha black belt student
Mudansha non-black belt student
Kata form
Migi right
Hidari left
Kazushi balance

Kyotsuke attention
Yoi prepare to begin
Hajime begin
Mate stop
Yame finish
Tsuki prepare to punch
Kumite fight, spar
Kiai yell
Rei bow

Ichi 1
Ni 2
San 3
Shi 4
Go 5
Ruku 6
Shichi 7
Hachi 8
Ku 9
Ju 10
Ju-ichi 11
Ju-ni 12
Ju-san 13
Ju-shi 14
Ju-go 15
Ju-ruku 16
Ju-shichi 17
Ju-hachi 18
Ju-ku 19
Ni-ju 20
San-ju 30

Atemi-waza striking
Kensetsu waza joint-taking
Nage-waza throwing
Ukemi waza falling

Seiken fist
Shotei heel palm
Shuto knife hand
Haito ridge hand
Empi elbow
Nukite finger
Koken wrist

Jodan upper
Chudan center
Gedan lower
Oi-tsuki same side
Gyaku opposite side
Uraken back fist

Musubidachi attention stance
Uchihachidachi feet apart, toes in (yoi)
Zenkutsudachi front stance
Kibadachi horse stance
Fudodachi 45° straddle stance
Shikodachi 180° straddle stance
Hasamadachi scissor stance
Nekkoasidachi cat stance
Kumitedachi fighting stance

Jodan uke upper block
Chudan soto uke outside center block
Chudan uchi uke inside center block
Gedan uke lower block
Gedan barai lower block

Mai geri front kick
Mawashi geri round kick
Yoko geri side kick
Hiza geri knee kick
Nidan geri double front kick

Happy Thanksgiving!

What are you doing in front of the computer? Go help with the dinner! Go spend some time with your family and friends!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Lifehouse Everything Skit

This is really powerful. I would be interested in hearing your comments after you watch it. How does it make you feel? What does it make you think?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Good Job, Son

Today I will brag on my son. He will begin college next year at UAB (University of Alabama at Birmingham), and we received notice a couple of days ago that as one of the top academic students he has earned the Presidential Scholarship, $8000 renewable for 4 years! That doesn't quite cover everything, but he also has other grant and scholarship opportunities ahead. Not to mention working close to full time. He will finish with his high school courses (come on, son, you can write that research paper!) in January; with the exception of his 2nd Calculus course at the local Community College (where he has an A in the first course) that is in the spring semester. And my parents worried about us homeschooling our kids! I better call them and tell them the news...

I told my 2 oldest several years ago that they needed to figure out how they were going to pay for college; there was no way we would be able to help them. College is not required, but if they aren't in school they will need to plan to support themselves. They will NOT sponge off of us. They are of course welcome to stay home as long as they are in school and we will help them however we can. Plans are now finalizing for the oldest, and I am proud of his accomplishments. I'll also be glad to have one less home-school student to account for!!

God is SO GOOD!!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Thanksgiving and Prayer

Giving thanks is

the key to joy
the cure for depression, anger, and bitterness
the source of the "Big Picture"
the door to fellowship with God
the beginning of humility
the opening for prayer

"Gratitude changes the pangs of memory into a tranquil joy." Dietrich Bonhoeffer

"We have short memories in magnifying God’s grace. Every blessing that God confers upon us perished through our carelessness, if we are not prompt and active in giving thanks." John Calvin

I Thes 5:16-18
Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

Phil 4:4-7
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Psalm 100
Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before Him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
It is He who made us, and we are His;
we are His people, the sheep of His pasture.
Enter His gates with thanksgiving
and His courts with praise;
give thanks to Him and praise His name.
For the Lord is good and His love endures forever;
His faithfulness continues through all generations.

Sunday, November 18, 2007


Tonight at church we celebrated what we call "Thanksgathering". It is simply a time to fellowship together (with food, of course!), and a time to publicly thank God for whatever we want to. It is a wonderful time to share our blessings with each other. Here is what I said:

I have been thinking all week, trying to figure out what I wanted to say tonight. I have so much that I thank God for, too much to list. So the question has been what would God have me say here in public.

I have to say that God has done some wonderful things in my family this past year. I have seen evidence of Him working in my children and that is a blessing beyond measure. My relationship to my husband has been strengthened and I thank God for that.

But deeper than even these blessings in my family are the blessings in my own heart, the things God has taught me over this past year that affect all my relationships and all my actions. I write what God is teaching me, and as I look back over the things I have written this past year, the articles and devotionals, I am amazed at the volume of it. God has brought me so far in the last 2 years, and as I look at how far He has brought me and how much He has taught me, I cannot help but be excited about the future.

This church has played a major part in my spiritual journey, and I thank God for it. I am thankful for the preaching and teaching of the Word, for the godly council, and for the lessons on prayer. I thank God for each of you, for how He has used you to encourage and teach me. You will never know just how much God has used you to touch my heart.

So that is what I said. And I meant it. My church has become my family, and the people there have become very special to me!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Psalm 18:25-29

Psalm 18:25-29

With the good Thou wilt show Thyself good,
With a perfect man Thou wilt show thyself perfect.
With the pure Thou wilt show Thyself pure,
And with the perverse Thou wilt show Thyself froward.
For THOU savest the afflicted people,
And bringest down high looks.
For Thou givest light to my lamp,
Jehovah my God maketh my darkness to be bright.
For by Thee I can rush against a troop;
And by my God I can leap over a wall.

God is good, perfect, and pure to those who are good, perfect and pure. Remember from the previous passage that it’s not that we have to be perfect in our own strength, but that God sees us that way when we become His children, so it is to His children that these promises apply. But what is He to those who do not belong to Him? He does not yield, He does not comply with their needs or wants; He gives them up to follow their own perverse way until it brings them to destruction. God abandons them to their own devices. But His own people, in the midst of their affliction, will be saved by Jehovah Himself. It seems we have a choice: to be abandoned by God or saved by God.

What is my lamp? What is the light in my lamp? The parallel passage in II Samuel 22 uses a bit stronger language: "You are my lamp, O Lord.." So He doesn’t just light the lamp, He IS the lamp, the light of my life. When we speak of dark times in our lives, we mean the hard and difficult times. When God is for me, I can make it through those dark times because He lights my way. He gives meaning and guidance through the dark times, just as the lamp gives vision and clarity to the dark path. Without God I am left alone in the darkness.

God has assured me that He will be good to me; He has not promised there will be no affliction, but that He will save me and light my way through my affliction. And then He says that not only will I make it through the darkness, but I will rush against the enemy force, even climbing over their embankments to get at them. He will enable me to take the offensive. I don’t have to run away from the enemy, I don’t have to just defend myself against my enemy, but I can rush in and go on the attack. You can’t win a battle if all you do is block. You have to do something to take the enemy out so he will stop attacking you. The power to do that is in Jehovah God. As someone who has battled powerlessness, helplessness and fear, this gives me great hope. I know that I cannot win the battle on my own; but I am not on my own. I have God - His love, His light, His strength, and His power. And this is the power that created the universe! That is more awesome than I can convey in words!

God, make your strength and power known in my life! Light the battlefield of my life with Your lamp; attack the enemy through me. Lord, I want to be wholly Yours!

Rebecca A Givens, 11/16/07

Friday, November 16, 2007

The New Year is coming...

November is now half over; next week is Thanksgiving. Then we will be rushing headlong into Christmas, and before you know it will come the New Year. I hope you are planning some good family time into your holiday season. I look forward to Thanksgiving; my children all help in the kitchen and we prepare a magnificent feast. Then we begin our Christmas decorating. Hopefully I will get some other piles of clutter gone before that point...

I have already been thinking about the New Year. I guess that's because I am a great fan of new beginnings in general. This year I have been thinking about some things that I want to accomplish next year. I want to train for my Nidan (2nd degree black belt) test. I have lost so much physically in the past 2 years and I need to get back into training hard. That is going to take a lot of time. I also want to continue to grow in Christ. I have gained so much there in the last 2 years, and I want to continue to know and serve Christ more. I have decided to read the Bible through in a year, chronologically. I am very excited about this. I always get distracted and want to dig deeper when I am reading; I tend to spend time meditating on smaller sections, on familiar passages that I find comforting. But now I am also feeling the need for seeing the big picture.

So, I would like to challenge you to join me in this journey of reading the Bible through in a year. I am going to post the daily reading assignments here on my blog so you can read with me, along with a link so you can even read online. I have found a list that will give us the readings chronologically, so we can get a good picture of God working in our world, from the beginning to the end. I hope you will join me so we can encourage each other to keep up!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

When You Are Most Alone…

I wrote this two years ago; hard to believe how fast the time has flown. I have been thinking a lot about Romania lately, perhaps because I have recently been re-aquainted with a young Hungarian lady that we met in camp there. I think I need to hear this lesson again, so I thought I would post it and let you all benefit from it as well.

When You Are Most Alone…

Did you ever meet someone truly remarkable? Someone that in a very short period of time left a mark on you – a mark that changed you forever?

I have met a few such people. Two of them were Visky Ferenc and his wife Visky Utika, or as they were known to all who loved them, Feri bacsi and Utika nini. This was a remarkable Hungarian couple who suffered greatly under communism in Romania. Feri bacsi was imprisoned for seven years for being a preacher of Christianity who would not bow to communism, leaving his wife to care for seven children on her own in terrible circumstances.

Years later, after communism fell, this couple was one of the foundations of the Reformed Church in Romania, teaching and preaching and encouraging the church of God. I met them several times on our trips to Romania. They would visit and preach in the camps Wesley and I taught in each summer. Feri bacsi preached in Hungarian and spoke to us through an interpreter, but even without a translator, the Spirit of God was so strong on this man, you could feel the power of his words without understanding them. This man and his wife had truly participated in the suffering of Christ. I was astounded the last time I saw them. Feri bacsi remembered me. We had spoken only a few moments the year before, and been briefly introduced several years before that. I was asking him to sign a book for me, many of us were. He would look each of us in the eye and speak. I do not know about the others, but when he looked me in the eye it was as if he was looking into my soul. I remember I was going through some emotional turmoil at the time. He said to me, "I remember you." He then said, and wrote in my book, "Remember, when you are most alone, Christ is with you." I have not forgotten that phrase. I remembered it often in the months and years that followed. It has served me well, as it must have served him well in his days of solitary confinement in prison, and his wife as she raised their children alone.

Today I think of it yet again… when I face a different kind of loneliness. Utika nini died several months ago, and today I received word of Feri bachi’s death. I had so hoped to see the two of them again, and I feel a deep sense of loss and loneliness. These were two heroes of the Christian faith that I knew, that I touched and held, and they left a mark on me that I pray will last forever. And so I grieve their passing.

Yet I also rejoice in their home-going, for truly they are at home, together, in heaven with the God they so faithfully loved and served. How can I wish them to have stayed on this earth when they deserved so much more. And one day I shall see them again, and they will be full of life and vigor. I will sit with them and listen to their stories, and Feri bacsi will look me in the soul again, and he will see that I remembered.

Rebecca A Givens
October, 2005

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Key to Marraige?

Last Sunday was the 63rd anniversary of a couple in our church. There was a teasing comment made about the fact that she had put up with him for 63 years, and her answer was that it had all been good. I laughed and told her she just didn't remember the bad times... and she answered that yes, that was true - there was no point in remembering the bad stuff. What an incredible attitude! Maybe that's the key to a long, successful, happy marriage...

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Ephesians 1:17-18

Ephesians 1:17-18
... asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the wonderful future He has promised to those He has called. I want you to realize what a rich and glorious inheritance He has given to His people.

I pray through scripture as I read it. It makes the scripture come alive in my heart. As I have been meditating on this passage, I pray it for myself, and I also pray this prayer for my family, my church, and my friends. It is not at all a rote prayer, it is a prayer that I would never have thought to pray on my own, but when I read it I found my spirit saying, "YES! Lord that is what I want for myself and my family!"

When we read the Bible we must interact with it on a deep level. It is not just words on a page, it is what God has to say to us and for us; it belongs in our hearts and minds, not just in a book.

Allow it to breath life into you!

Monday, November 12, 2007

I've been infiltrated...

This morning I came into the living room to find my 10 year old sitting in front of a computer screen filled with pop-ups. "You have a virus, download our software now!" McAffee windows said, "Warning! This web-site is not safe!" And the internet continuously returning to the "unsafe website" that kept advertising that I had a virus.... After some digging around in my computer I found that some changes had been made at 3:41am this morning. That narrows down the first unfortunate victim of this attack to my oldest daughter. Apparently she hit a bad web site that invaded our system.

So now I have spent the better part of my day trying to follow computer instructions that I do not understand. As well as setting up a new phone (which I also do not understand). And answering the "what's for dinner?" question with an "I don't know". So basically I know nothing and I understand nothing and I have accomplished nothing. It's a good thing God's grace isn't dependant on anything I have to do or even understand fully!

I will advertise for a web site that I found, that has given me step by step instructions on how to rid my system of "malware". Great word, isn't it! Check out their site in case you ever need help..

Sunday, November 11, 2007

A Christian's Prayer

Blessed God,

Ten thousand snares are mine without and within,
defend Thou me;

When sloth and indolence seize me,
give me views of heaven;

When sinners entice me,
give me disrelish of their ways;

When sensual pleasures tempt me,
purify and refine me;

When I desire worldly possessions,
help me to be rich toward Thee;

When the vanities of the world ensnare me,
let me not plunge into new guilt and ruin.

May I remember the dignity of my spiritual release,
never be too busy to attend to my soul,
never be so engrossed with time
that I neglect the things of eternity;
thus may I not only live, but grow towards Thee.

Form my mind to right notions of religion,
that I may not judge of grace by wrong conceptions,
nor measure my spiritual advances
by the efforts of my natural being.

May I seek after an increase of divine love to Thee,
after unreserved resignation to Thy will,
after extensive benevolence to my fellow creatures,
after patience and fortitude of soul,
after a heavenly disposition,
after a concern that I may please Thee in public and private.

Draw on my soul the lineaments of Christ,
in every trace and feature of which Thou wilt take delight,
for I am Thy workmanship,
created in Christ Jesus,
Thy letter written with the Holy Spirit's pen,
Thy tilled soil ready for the sowing, then harvest.

Taken from The Valley of Vision: A collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Psalm 18:20-24

Continuing back in Psalm 18...

Psalm 18:20-24
Jehovah rewarded me according to my righteousness,
According to the cleanness of my hands did He recompense me.
For I have kept the ways of Jehovah,
And have not wickedly departed from my God.
For all His judgments are before me,
And His statutes do I not put away from me.
I have also been perfect with Him,
And have kept myself from iniquity.
Therefore Jehovah recompensed me according to my righteousness;
According to the cleanness of my hands in His eyesight.

This is a difficult passage. David appears to be saying that he has never sinned, that he is perfect, and this is why God has blessed him. But it can also be read a little differently.
David has always been a humble man, a man who seeks God. We know of one instance of gross sin, the incident with Bathsheba. God called him down on that one, and he humbly accepted God’s correction and discipline. So we KNOW that David has not been perfect and has not kept God’s law perfectly. None of us are perfect; with David’s humility I am sure he realized this. How can this passage make sense? I believe the key is the very last line. "According to the cleanness of my hands in His eyesight." How does God view us? We know we are sinners, but when we become Christians, God no longer views us that way, He sees our hands as clean. Jesus takes our sin, and we take His righteousness. That is our ticket to Heaven – the righteousness of Christ. The focus of this psalm is on God, not David. There are other psalms where David focuses on his own sinful condition, but here I think he just wants to portray God’s awesome mercy. This psalm is the Old Testament promise of the salvation that Christ is going to bring in the New Testament.

Oh God, I am so thankful that you do not see the blackness of the sin on my hands; instead You see the blood of Jesus covering me.

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see.

Rebecca A Givens

Friday, November 9, 2007

A Martial Artist Looks at Ephesians 3:14-21, Part 5

Ephesians 3:19
May you experience the love of Christ, though it is so great you will never fully understand it. Then you will be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

One of the coolest things to me about martial arts is that there is always more: more to learn, more to perfect, more to experience. No matter what my rank is, there is a next one. The first time I tied on my black belt my overwhelming thought was how much more there is ahead of me to learn; so much more ahead of me than I have learned so far. No matter how many times I practice a kata, there is always something deeper, something new that I didn’t see before. No matter how much I practice, there is always something to work on, something that is not perfect. I am constantly discovering new things to learn and practice, and that it is the journey that I find fulfilling, not the destination, because I will never master it all.

My spiritual life is the same. The love of Christ is so great that I will never fully grasp it all. I experience it but there is always more of it. So many times I feel like, “I have it, I see it, I get it!” And I do… yet there is more. It is deeper than I see, more powerful than I understand. There are so many little intricacies hidden within it that I have yet to discover, so much more ahead of me than there is behind me. Just like you never “arrive” in martial arts, you never fully understand God’s love. But the journey along the way fills you up constantly.

Ephesians 3:20-21
Now glory be to God! By His mighty power at work within us, He is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope. May He be given glory in the church and in Christ Jesus forever and ever through endless ages. Amen

Martial arts has taught me more than I ever imagined it would. I am not sure what I expected when I began training, I think that I was just looking for something interesting to do. But what I found was a passion and a way of life, and my life has not been the same since. I never dreamed that it would take me on the path it has, I could not have known the path even existed.

God is like that. He will accomplish more in my life than I know is possible. I can not ask, dream, or hope for all the things He can do, because I do not yet know that they even exist. Who knows what the future holds? Glory be to God!

Rebecca A Givens

Thursday, November 8, 2007

A Martial Artist Looks at Ephesians 3:14-21, Part 4

Ephesians 3:18
And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love really is.

How big is God’s love?

It is big enough for Him to send His son to die for us. That’s pretty big. "While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Did Christ die for us because we are wonderful and great? No. There is nothing good in us, nothing at all. We were actually His enemies before we became Christians. God called us and loved us while we were His enemies.

How should we treat our enemies? I know karate… should I beat my enemy to a bloody pulp? That kid doesn’t like me, he calls me names… should I punch him out? What did Christ do for us while we were His enemies? He loved us.

So, the kid that calls me names, I can ignore. I can try to be a friend, I can laugh and not take the words seriously, because God loves me and it really doesn’t matter what some kid thinks. The kid that picks a fight with me… do I let myself get beaten up? No. But do I beat him senseless? No. I defend myself. But with as little harm as possible. I fight back until my enemy quits fighting. I control the situation and I control myself.

I say "kid" that calls me names or picks a fight, but adults do the same. Road rage is a serious problem. Someone cuts in front of me or is rude driving down the road. I get mugged. These are the adult versions of what the kids face. Always defend yourself when necessary, but is it necessary to get violent in traffic?

Think about your life. Think about how Christ loves you, in spite of your sinful nature. Meditate on how wide, long, high and deep God’s love is. Show that same love to others.

Rebecca A Givens

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

A Martial Artist Looks at Ephesians 3:14-21, Part 3

Ephesians 3:17b
May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love.

One of the first things a new karate-ka must work on is stance and footwork. Stance is how you stand – which way do your feet point, how far apart are they, where are your knees and hips? You must learn and think about these things in a variety of different stances. Next comes footwork – moving in those stances. Moving adds "which direction" and "how far" to these questions. And which stance is appropriate for each circumstance?

Stance is very important for a number of reasons. A proper stance allows you to move quickly and easily, be strong and stable, punch and kick with power, and throw or fall with ease. Everything starts with a good stance.

Stability begins at the ground. When you are looking for stability, when you do not want to be knocked over, you sink. You lower your center of gravity, bend your knees, sink your body down. You root yourself to the ground. The stronger and more flexible your legs are and the more you have trained, the lower you can sink and the more stable you can become. Power also begins at the ground. If you try to punch or kick without a good stable stance, you are the one that will lose your balance and fall. The power comes from the ground, up through your foot, leg and hip, and then goes out into your opponent.

This is how the Christian life works as well. You sink your roots down into God. You learn to do this just as you do with karate - with practice. You pray and study the Bible. These are your roots. You learn to draw your stability and strength from these roots as you sink them deep into God’s love. As you spend more time with God, your roots grow deeper and deeper, and you become stronger and more stable. Our spiritual power flows from our roots that we sink into God. The deeper those roots go, the stronger and more stable we become.

Archimedes said, "Give me a place to stand and I will move the world."

Stand firm, sink your roots deep. Not only physically, but spiritually as well.

Rebecca A Givens

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

A Martial Artist Looks at Ephesians 3:14-21, Part 2

Ephesians 3:17a
And I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts as you trust in Him.

Karate is made up of lots of repetition. We punch over and over, kick up and down the length of the gym, do kata time and time again. We do this so that the actions will become automatic. It is like learning to drive, at first you have to think about everything: the steering wheel, gas and brake pedals, directions and destination, the traffic and road. It can be overwhelming! But the more you drive, the easier it gets. Many of those actions become automatic. When you want to speed up, your foot automatically presses on the gas pedal without conscious thought. This is what we want for karate as well. When someone attacks you, you do not have time to think about how to react or what to do. The reaction must be instantaneous and without thought. That is why we practice these things over and over.

Our spiritual life is the same. As we “practice” the spiritual life by studying scripture and praying, we learn to trust God more and more. The more we study and pray and experience God, the more we do it automatically without thinking. When the attacks and hard things in life come, we want to be able to automatically trust God, instantaneously and without thought. But this will not happen without putting time into practicing the Christian life. How much time are you spending practicing your spiritual life?

Rebecca A Givens

Monday, November 5, 2007

A Martial Artist Looks at Ephesians 3:14-21, Part 1

Ephesians 3:14-16
When I think of the wisdom and the scope of God’s plan, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from His glorious, unlimited resources He will give you mighty inner strength through His Holy Spirit.

In karate class we focus on the physical. We exercise our bodies, we stretch, do crunches and push-ups, punch and kick. We strengthen our bodies through exercise and we toughen it. We hit targets, shields and the heavy bag. We also hit each other. Our fists, shins and arms get hard from repeated striking. We learn to take punches and strikes as well as give them. We physically push ourselves, and each other, time and time again to build strength, skill and stamina.

Physical strength is important. Our bodies function better when we exercise them, and by training this way, we are physically more capable of handling an attack. But there is a strength that is more important than the physical; that is inner strength. Strengthening the body the way we do in karate also builds inner strength. As you build control over your body, you build control over your emotions and spirit. You learn to face fear. You learn assertiveness and pride. You build self-esteem. You learn control so that you do not accidentally hurt your training partner.

This inner strength is important. But there is something more important still. That is an inner strength that is given to you, you cannot develop it on your own. This inner strength comes from God. It is a gift that comes through His Holy Spirit. At salvation, the Holy Spirit comes to indwell you; in this way you become the temple of God. God is the Creator of the universe and He has unlimited power and strength. This is the power and strength that we have available to us as Christians! No, it does not mean we will be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, or run faster than a speeding bullet. It does mean that we can endure when the hard things happen in life. It means we can find peace and joy in difficult circumstances. It means we can keep going when others quit. We have a source of strength and power that our enemy cannot have. Even in physical death we will have spiritual victory, as we go to spend the rest of eternity with God. With that kind of strength, we cannot lose. That is the strength that I desire for my students.

Rebecca A Givens