Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.
Human life is harder now than 10 years ago. I say this because we have more temptations today than ever. We have more challenges. With each year, our body physically gets worse. It's easy for us to see the things we want, but it is harder for us to want things we do not see. As Tae Kwon Do practitioners, it's easy for us to kick and punch targets we see, but harder when our target is invisible. It is hard to focus on something that we can not see, smell, hear or touch. But that is what faith is, is to believe without seeing, to trust without knowing, to follow without doubting.
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.
In Tae Kwon Do, when you are under black belt, your level number is high. As a white belt you, are 9th gup and as you test, your number goes down 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. This signifies that we all are sinners; we all have greed, desire, anger and all the things that weigh us down. As we grow our physical, mental and spiritual self, we shed these worldly desires and thoughts. Black belts go from 1st dan to 9th dan. This means as we grow higher in our rank, we have even more challenges to keep ourselves in check. When we increase our levels, the skills and knowledge to hurt or help more people also increase. It is harder for us to change as we learn and know more, especially when we think we are right. This is why we go to testing. Testing is not just one day; testing is every day. Testing is to mentally and physically change ourselves to be better. This requires for us to listen to our faith and others who are giving us criticism.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—
Even when Noah spent over 100 years telling people to change and warning them of impending doom, everyone kept eating and drinking. No one listened to him. Some people don't change because they don't want to. It's too hard to see themselves in a mirror. It's too hard to see that we are wrong and admit we are sinners. But if we see beyond ourselves, we can change. We cannot change with just our own effort; it is only with faith and the grace of God we can truly change.
Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.
Tae Kwon Do is not just for entertainment and it is not just for sport. Every movement we must focus on building our spiritual self. We block our anger and kick/punch out our selfish desires. We workout deeply no only to change our belt, but to mentally and spiritually improve. February is my school's month for testing. A lot of children, families and students will be growing in rank and changing their belts. A lot of my students want to change physically and learn self-defense. True self-defense is spiritual self-defense. Build your mental and spiritual self, so no one can hurt you. Build your mental and spiritual defense, so you can serve. This requires deep thinking and dedication to build your inner spirit, not only to change your life, but to change your afterlife: your new beginning.
How can we survive? We must slowly accept change into our heart and our spirit. Think of this world as a slow cooker. At first, it is easy; the temperature is cold to warm. As time passes, the temperature gets hotter and hotter. Eventually, we all will face death. Do we want to live in this world easily and make the next life harder? Or do we want to survive and prepare ourselves for the next life? Surviving is focusing beyond the world goods and our selfish nature; surviving is focusing what our next life journey takes us. How will you put your faith in action? We must invest in our future: the future that awaits us after death.