My birth city is Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  I headed back to my Dad’s home town with my Grandmother when I was a toddler, lived with Grammy and Grand Dad up till age of six and then went to live with my Dad again.   The small towns of Upper Blackville and Doaktown, NB, is where I was raised.  I think the nature of these small towns have changed quite a bit since my childhood days and this is a good thing for this reason:  people liked to fight!  No, not just with words, (although this certainly prefaced level 2), but with fists.  In his early years, my Dad was a street fighter.  A mean machine, to say the least.  But he was not the only “brawler” hanging out at the local dances, parties, and legions.  There were many people in the area who prided themselves as “fighters.”  I know this sounds ridiculous to most who are or will read this blog and that’s ok.  But I do have a point.  Let me belabor this a bit more, for clarity’s sake!  When I attended DCHS (Doaktown Consolidated High School), between the ages of 11 and 14, it was tough and tumble.  There were many school yard fights.  I was involved in some of them myself.  I fought people whose last names were  Munn, Bustard, and Colford.  In my elementary years at Blackville Elementary/High School, I fought people whose surnames were  Hogan, Bell, Peterson (especially), and others.  I’m not sure whether I was trying to follow the footsteps of my Dad (his instructions to me was something like, “don’t let anybody push you around at school), or whether I was just watching too much of Spider Man, Super Man, and Bruce Lee, in Kung Fu!  Regardless, I was always in a scrap.  I figured the only way to settle a dispute was with my fists.  Even at church on Sunday, before or after the service, when our congregation was led by Pastor Leroy Gee, we had some pretty close-to fist-fights back behind the church.

Especially at School, there was nothing like a good fight.  When a fight was brewing between two people, it was an event.  It seemed like “word of mouth” advertising operated at full capacity and with pique precision when a fight was about to go down.  And it seemed like the fighters, usually guys, would wait for the crowd to show up and surround them, forming a large circle of “fans, spectators”, as it were; ya, they would wait until a good crowd gathered in, and then it would happen:  somebody would step in with the first punch, the first kick, or the first slap – and the crowd would cheer them on…until…word got to the principal or the teacher on duty, and unfortunately, the fight was over.  Looking back, it was very exhilarating!  Sound savage?  Ya, but when your, like, 13, you don’t think it those terms.  You think…entertainment.  Aaaannnnddddd…even though, of course, I have never taught my own children to fight, I also taught them to stand their ground and refuse to be … oh, here it comes, the buzzword: bullied.  Sometimes, but not always, inviting a challenge will put an end to the bullying situation.  For example, for about a year there was this guy who had a really stocky build, smoked cigarettes, and used foul language, who constantly said something demeaning to me every time we met.  I just hated it when we met in the hallway or especially outside the school because I knew that he was going to say something mean, or threaten me, or inform me once again, that I was about to get a real good beatin’, just any day now.  I got tired of it.  I decided that I was going to start wearing my army boots to school, and if this guy messed with me again, I was going to take him on.  Sure enough, as I excited the double doors at the south of the school one fine day, the door that faces Home Hardware, which used to be Save Easy, there he was.  Standing there with his friends, pulling out another smoke, cool and confident; and, there was I.  His favorite little loser.  I knew it was coming.  The snide, condescending, threat.  Surprise, surprise.  This time I stopped, looked him in the eye and said, “do you want to fight?”  ”Yes I do”, he said.  ”Then let’s go.  We’ll do this right out there behind the Save Easy.”  And away we went.  Giant strides.  Showdown time.  And magically, we are accompanied by a crowd of High School students who seemed to appear from thin air.  I also distinctly remember several employees of the Save Easy, after hearing the commotion, move into position, outside, at the back of the store, to watch the fight.  This was big time.  I had been anticipating this for months and had finally conjured up the nerve to take on the big guy.  He had the advantage because he was bigger, heavier, and a bit older.  He had also been the bully and the aggressor.  I had the advantage because I was equipped with army boots and a pre-meditated fight plan.  And the fight was on.  I flew into the guy swinging, and so did he.  I few punches were exchanged, but my lethal weapon was unleashed at just the precise moment.  A devastating kick right in the groin area.  This hurts.  And he let me know that it hurt.  As I stepped back he began cursing and swearing and yelling at me for unleashing such a low blow.  I responded, “this is a fight that you’ve wanted for some time, and now you’re getting it.”  He was buying time, spewing out more mean words, and telling me how cheap I was.  I responded again. “too bad.”  And just when I wasn’t ready for it, he came right in with a really nice punch squire on the nose.  My eyes instantly welled up with water and my nose began to bleed.  This ended the fight.  He was apologizing and I was trying to get something to stop the bloody nose.  The fight was over.  He may have walked away with the belt and the pretty girl.  But never again did this guy ever say anything mean to me.  As a matter of fact, I was shocked at how kind he had become.  We never did become friends, but we did exchange pleasantries, at least, and this was way better than all that foul mouthed, demeaning stuff he used to hurl at me.

Not long after that I gave my life to God; repented of my sins, was baptized in the name of Jesus, and received the Holy Ghost, according to the commandment of Acts 2:38.  Suddenly, I learning that my fighting days were NOT over.  They were just beginning.  I thought this christian walk was going to be a really passive, easy, no sweat deal.  Was I ever in for a surprise!  Starting there, all the way up till now I have been fighting.  Paul the apostle instructed a younger preacher of the gospel to “fight the good fight of faith.”  And he wasn’t kidding.  Fight is exactly what he meant.  The word fight was chosen, specifically chosen, because that’s exactly what this walk with God entails.  A physical fight, as I spoke of, out behind the Save Easy?  No, no, no, not at all.  I’m speaking of a fight that’s a thousand times more intense than that, and a thousand, million times more important.  This christian walk is a fight for your eternal salvation.  It’s a fight for righteousness.  It’s a fight for holiness.  It’s a fight to keep Jesus number one and everything else somewhere far below that.  It’s a fight for revival.  It’s a fight to keep yourself pure.  It’s a fight to keep your attitude sweet and pliable in the presence of the Lord.

This fight involves intense, consistent, daily, weekly, monthly training.  Just when you think you’ve learned it all, there’s another battle.  Just when you think you are strong, you wake up and wonder if God is still interested in you.  Just when you win one battle, two more come charging, full throttle, up the battle field, directly toward you.

But fight, you must.  Stand your ground, you must.  Engage in war, you must.  Stay strong, you must.  Because if you don’t, I assure you, the bully will not quit.  He is relentless.  He will criticize and accuse.  He will curse you and criticize you.  He will badger you and beat and you.  He will torment you and tranquilize you.  Either you fight OR fail.  And here’s how you fight:  Read Ephesians 6, in several translations, and DO IT.  Don’t neglect basic and habitual training.  Attend EVERY church service and event possible that’s offered by your local church.  Every prayer meeting, every Sunday service, every revival service, and train every day at home.  Get up before work and walk your living room floor.  Read and study the word.  And get involved with teaching a home Bible study.  Discover and use your gifts, to the max.  Raise your hands and your voice in praise to God every single day of your life.  Live in victory.  If you fight, guaranteed, you will live in victory.

Till next time, fight on, because……………..there’s nothin like a good fight.