The Way of Walking with Christ - based on a work of Miyamoto Musashi

Sometime back i mentioned that i had watched a show based on the life Miyamoto Musashi.  The host was following the footstep of Musashi's life around the country, and at the various locations expounded upon some exploit or experience of the legendary samurai's life.  Towards the end, as he was visiting the cave where Musashi lived out the last few years of his life (and where he also wrote The Book of Five Rings) he mentioned that a week before his death of stomach cancer, he wrote out his last work.  A list of 21 Maxims titled, The Way of Walking Alone.  Before this show i had never heard of this writing and it peaked my interest.

Later on i researched it out and found a copy of these maxims on-line and read them as i had time.  Musashi's writings, and his whole life really, is centered around the The Way of the Samurai known as Bushido, which in turn has roots in Confucianism, Buddhism and the Shinto faiths.  This is decidedly not a good basis, and often conflicts with Christian teachings.  However, while i was reading that i felt promptings from the Holy Spirit in how these maxims could be viewed, and maybe even applied, from a Christian perspective.  Shortly thereafter i began working through and making my own commentary.  With the help of several friends i am finally ready to begin to share them.  I am referring to my commentary The Way of Walking with Christ.  I see many parallels between the walk of the samurai and how we are to pursue our walk with Christ.  I pray that this blesses any who read this.  Constructive criticism and comments are always welcome.  As i finish the editing, etc. I will post them either one a week, or as soon as i finish them.

Each of Musashi's Maxims are labeled with a number, enlarged in bold and underlined, with my commentary in regards to the walk of the Christian samurai.  Some themes repeat, but i did my best to highlight different aspects as i went along.

1) Do not turn your back on the various Ways of this world.
As Christians we have been reborn in Christ, we no longer are of this world.  Our home is now in Heaven with Christ until we are called out of this world.  Even so, we remain within this world.  If we are to proclaim the gospel as God has told us to, we cannot withdraw from the world.
You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16, ESV)
Also, God is able to use any circumstance, any person, any thing, at any time, to reveal Himself to His creation.  It would behoove the Christian to know and understand things within the world.  Do not isolate yourself from the world.  Know and understand what goes on in your school, your work, your community, and participate as you are able.  However, you must always be ready to avoid the things that are stumbling blocks.  If you have trouble with pornography don't try and go into strip clubs just because the guys from work are going.  If you struggle with drug addiction you should not participate in activities that would put you in places of temptation.

Know your environment and circumstances so that you may act accordingly.

2) Do not scheme for physical pleasure.
Physical pleasure in this world is both fleeting, and addictive.  The most destructive addictions seduce and hook the addict on feelings of Euphoria, or at least the lessening/escape of pain - either physical or mental.  Once hooked to either the escape of pain, or the implementation of pleasure, responsibilities begin to fall by the wayside.  Eventually the addiction becomes the only thing that is important.  It becomes pure selfishness.  All that matters is the addiction.  God, Family, friends.. these are no longer central, they no longer matter. 

I am not trying to say that you can never experience pleasure, that you cannot ever have fun.  What i am trying to say here is that once you begin to manipulate circumstances to seek out "physical pleasure" instead of continuing the pursuit of God, you have left the "narrow path" and started down the broad road to destruction.
Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few." (Matthew 7:13-14, ESV)
Allow God to bring you joy and pleasure in His timing.  He will bring joy and pleasure greater than you could ever hope for.  You will not have to scheme for it.

Self control is like a muscle.  It will only get stronger when exercised.

3) Do not intend to rely on anything.
We live in a world corrupted by sin.  All things effected and affected by man have been corrupted and subject to decay, and this will not be reversed until Christ's return.  As a result things fail.  Quiet times are interrupted by thunderstorms or children waking up too early.  Your car will fail when you need it to take you to church, or your ministry meetings/events.

If you determine yourself to not rely on external things  you then put the onus upon yourself.  If applied correctly this then has the affect of increasing your own personal drive.  Your own desire to accomplish whatever the task is that God has placed before you. Instead of sitting back, waiting for someone, or something else, to step in and accomplish it, you are there and you are the one who takes action.  And there are times when we even fail ourselves.  It is especially in those times we can see, and feel, the grace and mercy of God.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10, ESV)
In the end, rely on God for He is the only thing that will never fail.

4) Consider yourself lightly; consider the world deeply.
I feel that it is important to never take yourself too seriously.  Even Paul struggled with a "thorn in his flesh" and considered himself the "chief of sinners".  When you get ahead of yourself, think of yourself too highly, you are poised for a fall.  Consider such men as Jeffery Skilling, John Edwards, Tigger Woods.  Each of these men (and many more) were at incredible heights of their respective worlds, and it was from there they began their fall.  We are not perfect.  If we were we would not need a Savior.
Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, 24 but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 9:23-24, ESV)
Do not underestimate the world though.  The enemy of our souls is the king of deceivers.  Nothing in the world can be taken for granted.  Be wary and alert so that you are not led astray or taken unaware.  One can be knowledgeable of the world and its ways, without become a part of it.  Study your enemy, learn from your enemy, and anticipate your enemy.

Pride is deceitful and will eventually lead to a fall.  The enemy of our souls walks to and fro throughout the earth, we must constantly be on our guard and take nothing for granted.  We must be on guard for even the slightest "creep" away from the cross.

5) Do not ever think in acquisitive terms.
"All are from the dust, and to dust all return." (Ecclesiastes 3:20, ESV) ~ We are born into this world with nothing, and when we leave this world everything we have accumulated is left behind. The Parable of the Rich Fool speaks directly to this in my opinion:
And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God. (Luke 12:15-21, ESV)
At this point i am reminded of the rich young ruler who came to Jesus and asked, "Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?".  Jesus' reply; "If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”  The young man went away knowing that he could not do it.  His possessions had taken ownership of him.

Do not seek acquiring things as the goal, but as a means to achieve what God has laid before you.

6) Do not regret things about your own personal life.
God’s Word speaks to His intimate knowledge of us.  He knows every day of our lives, from conception to grave.  (Psalm 139) And yet He came anyway.  “…but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  (Romans 5:8, ESV)  Our Lord is not surprised by our sins.  Not past, not present, not future.  There is not one thing that has escaped His attention.  It is still important to repent and ask forgiveness of our sins, even sins long forgotten.  Memories of our transgressions get stirred up and come back to mind days, months, or even years later, BUT, do not dwell there.
The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.  He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever.  He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.  For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.  As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.  For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.  (Psalm 103:8-14, ESV)
Although we are walking out our sanctification, always remember that ~ through Christ's sacrifice on the cross ~ we are completely justified before God the Father.  Regret and repentance, is a part of acknowledging our own sin, but we should not remain there.  Christ's claim on the cross, "It is finished" (John 19:30) says it all.
We are to repent, we are to confess our sins (1 John 1:9), and we are to grow, but we are to move on.  If God has forgiven our sins and removed them “as far as the East is from the West”, we need to keep moving on, just as Lott and his family did while fleeing Sodom and Gomorrah.
The sun had risen on the earth when Lot came to Zoar. Then the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from the Lord out of heaven. And he overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. But Lot's wife, behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.  (Genesis 19:23-26, ESV)
And so God will deal with all of the sin in our lives.  Once He moves us forward… never look back.  We cannot change the past, we can only learn from it.

7) Do not envy another’s good or evil.
First, your walk with God is not my walk with God.  Where He takes You, and what He will do with  you is most likely very different than where and what He is doing in my life.  Our walk with Christ is an individual experience.  What Billy Graham, Jonathon Edwards, Mother Teresa, CJ Mahaney, Habitat for Humanity and Operation Christmas Child accomplish(ed) are all really good things, but the path any one of us are on may not be the same.  To envy what these Godly people/organizations are doing, or have done, will only distracts you from what you need to be doing, and thus you are not going to be as effective. as you could/should be.  Do not covet includes the work God has placed before others.

To envy what is evil is also to place yourself in a position of temptation.  From our finite perspective there are times when those who do not seem to follow the rules, get a head.  Like they have an unfair advantage, but this is what God has to say: 
Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.  If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.  Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord. (Romans 12:17-19, ESV)
Do not burden yourselves with what others are doing, but concentrate on what God has you doing.

8) Do not lament parting on any road whatsoever.
Time is linear, and it is moving only in one direction.  Being within the fabric of creation, to include time, our perspective is limited.  We only see the sliver in which we find ourselves.  God sees the end from the beginning and He is not surprised by where you find yourself either today or tomorrow, or even the choices you or i have made.
As morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Up! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be swept away in the punishment of the city.” But he lingered. So the men seized him and his wife and his two daughters by the hand, the Lord being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city. And as they brought them out, one said, “Escape for your life. Do not look back or stop anywhere in the valley. Escape to the hills, lest you be swept away.” And Lot said to them, “Oh, no, my lords. Behold, your servant has found favor in your sight, and you have shown me great kindness in saving my life. But I cannot escape to the hills, lest the disaster overtake me and I die. Behold, this city is near enough to flee to, and it is a little one. Let me escape there—is it not a little one?—and my life will be saved!” He said to him, “Behold, I grant you this favor also, that I will not overthrow the city of which you have spoken. Escape there quickly, for I can do nothing till you arrive there.” Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar.

The sun had risen on the earth when Lot came to Zoar. Then the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from the Lord out of heaven. And he overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. But Lot's wife, behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt. (Genesis 19:15-26, ESV)
Once we set out on the path with Christ, we are forever bound to Him.  There is a dynamic of God's sovereignty and our free will to be sure, but in the end we are now traveling with the true Master.  There is no fork in the road He has not already seen, not already made atonement for on the cross.
As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God. (Luke 9:57-62, ESV)
Ultimately we are on a journey with the Savior.  To regret, or want to look back and want to return, is to say that the path He is leading us on is not the best, that we feel that He is misleading us, and we know better than the Creator of the Universe.  Our race is before us, run it with fervor.

9) Do not complain or feel bitterly about yourself or others.
To complain is to challenge God's authority in your life.  When your focus is elsewhere, on how good someone else has it, or how hard your path is, you are no longer working to make progress on your own path.  You begin to desire what others have, and this leads to covetousness.
When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!” So the saying spread abroad among the brothers that this disciple was not to die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not to die, but, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? (John 21:21-23, ESV)
When we complain about our circumstances we are saying, "God, i do not like how You are leading me.  I know better than You."  And this is a dangerous place to be.  Job experienced this first hand, and the book in the Old Testament that chronicles his trials has page upon page of him proclaiming his innocence, and how he would challenge God that what he was going through was unfair.  His friends were not of much comfort either.  Only one of them (Elihu) extolled the virtues and character of God, and as a result, he was the only one not rebuked by God.  God's response?
Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?  Dress for action like a man; will question you, and you make it known to me. Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?  Tell me, if you have understanding.  Who determined its measurements—surely you know!  Or who stretched the line upon it? (Job 38:1-5, ESV)
God continues to address Job for two chapters before Job is given a chance to respond.  These were his words:
Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you?  I lay my hand on my mouth.  I have spoken once, and I will not answer; twice, but I will proceed no further. (Job 40:4-5, ESV)
But God is still not finished:
Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me.  Will you even put me in the wrong?  Will you condemn me that you may be in the right?  Have you an arm like God, and can you thunder with a voice like his?  “Adorn yourself with majesty and dignity; clothe yourself with glory and splendor.  Pour out the overflowings of your anger, and look on everyone who is proud and abase him.  Look on everyone who is proud and bring him low and tread down the wicked where they stand.  Hide them all in the dust together; bind their faces in the world below.  Then will I also acknowledge to you that your own right hand can save you. (Job 40:6-14, ESV)
How can one think about even trying to respond, and yet God said so much more to Job when he addressed his concerns.  Since God considered Job a righteous man, and even went so far as to draw Satan's attention to the man, and then allow Satan to do what he did, i do not want to imagine how my dressing down would go.

In the end, if we claim to be followers of Jesus, our complete and utter trust is in Him, and our reward will be to be with Him in Heaven.  He is perfect and just.

10) Have no heart for approaching the path of love.
I will jump quickly to what Paul says on the matter:
To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am. (1 Corinthians 7:8, ESV)
What Miyamoto Musashi is talking about here is strictly from the point of view of having a completely devoted life to pursuing "The Way".  As a Christian samurai "The Way" is not the pursuit of Bushido, but the pursuit of our Lord Jesus Christ.  I can speak from personal experience on this one.  I have been married to a wonderful woman for over seventeen years, and i am very grateful to God for her in my life.  God uses this woman, and our children, in my life to help me grow.  However, my focus is not continually upon the Lord now that i am married.  I need to make sure that i am providing for her and our children.  The cares of the world creep up much more frequently because i cannot just dismiss this or that concern.  But, when one is single, it is much easier to focus solely on God.  You can think less of yourself and be more readily available.  Sort of like when Jesus sent out the seventy two.  (Luke 10)  He instructed them, "Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals, and greet no one on the road." (Luke 10:4, ESV)  Ever try and travel with a baby?  You practically double your load. Now having said all this, not everyone is called to be single.
But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion. (1 Corinthians 7:9, ESV)
Being married does not eliminate you from being able to serve the Lord, but you need to understand that it is a restraint and your focus of learning and conforming is different than that of an unmarried/uninhibited follower of Christ.  If you are married, stay married, but if you are not... consider remaining single.  The whole chapter of 1 Corinthians 7 is an excellent illustration of God's instructions to us in this regard.

11) Do not have preferences.
Unless you are a member of one of the original tribes of Israel, your place within God's plan of redemption does not include you as an original recipient.  That does not mean; however, that His plan does not include you (or me).  I submit two sections of Scripture for your contemplation:
And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.”  But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.”  He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”  But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.”  And he answered, “It is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs.”  She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table.”  Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly. [5] (Matthew 15:22-28, ESV)
When one of those who reclined at table with him heard these things, he said to him, “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!”  But he said to him, “A man once gave a great banquet and invited many.  And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant [3] to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’  But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.’  And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.’  And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’  So the servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’  And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’  And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. (Luke 14:15-23, ESV)
The Gospel of Christ is not limited to the Tribes of Israel, but it is made clear that they were the chosen ones to be among the first. "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek." (Romans 1:16, ESV)  It is not up to us as to who can come unto God (for an illustration i encourage you to read the Book of Jonah).  We are instrumental in either "seeding", or "reaping", but how the Word grows is up to Him.

We were each ones sinners, in direct opposition to God, and yet He reached down and pulled us out of our condition to call us friend.  If God is presenting you with an opportunity to minister, you need to minister.  
The next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour [2] to pray.  And he became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance  and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth.  In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air.  And there came a voice to him: “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.”  But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.”  And the voice came to him again a second time, What God has made clean, do not call common.  This happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven.

Now while Peter was inwardly perplexed as to what the vision that he had seen might mean, behold, the men who were sent by Cornelius, having made inquiry for Simon's house, stood at the gate  and called out to ask whether Simon who was called Peter was lodging there.  And while Peter was pondering the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are looking for you.  Rise and go down and accompany them without hesitation, for I have sent them.”  And Peter went down to the men and said, “I am the one you are looking for. What is the reason for your coming?”  And they said, “Cornelius, a centurion, an upright and God-fearing man, who is well spoken of by the whole Jewish nation, was directed by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house and to hear what you have to say.”  So he invited them in to be his guests.

The next day he rose and went away with them, and some of the brothers from Joppa accompanied him.  And on the following day they entered Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends.  When Peter entered, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him.  But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Stand up; I too am a man.”  And as he talked with him, he went in and found many persons gathered.  And he said to them, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation, but God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean.  So when I was sent for, I came without objection. I ask then why you sent for me.”

And Cornelius said, “Four days ago, about this hour, I was praying in my house at the ninth hour, [3] and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing  and said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your alms have been remembered before God.  Send therefore to Joppa and ask for Simon who is called Peter. He is lodging in the house of Simon, a tanner, by the sea.’  So I sent for you at once, and you have been kind enough to come. Now therefore we are all here in the presence of God to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord.” (Acts 10:9-33, ESV Emphasis mine)

We were all sinners, in direct opposition to God, when He reached down and pulled us out of our retched condition to call us friend.  God does not see our skin color, hear our spoken language, consider our clothes or place where we sleep.  He does not consider our hangups, our preferences, or even our "good deeds".  He sees a man, or a woman, who is in need of His Son and the propitiatory sacrifice Jesus did on our behalf, and He takes action.  So should we when called upon.

12) Do not harbor hopes for your own personal home.
As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”  (Luke 9:57-58, ESV)
Miyamoto Musashi wrote 'The Way of the Warrior' and Book of Five Rings, he was a man who lived his entire life in pursuit of perfecting his skills as a samurai.  Instead of setting down roots in any one place he picked up and moved on when he felt he had learned everything that he could where he was at the time.  Our Lord Jesus also never had a place to call His own once He embarked upon His time of ministry.  He was about spreading the Word and proclaiming the Kingdom of God.  Both men (and i am not relating these two examples as equals) pursued their purpose in life with nothing to hold them back.  When one has a home it tethers one to a location and makes it more difficult to move from region to region as needed.  Jesus advised a rich young ruler, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” (Matthew 19:21, ESV)

To be unfettered in this life to freely and perfectly follow Jesus, possessions are responsibilities that are detracting from the eternal.  But before a reader goes out and sells everything without thought i would also remind you that Paul followed up in 1 Corinthians 7 with:
Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches.  Was anyone at the time of his call already circumcised? Let him not seek to remove the marks of circumcision. Was anyone at the time of his call uncircumcised? Let him not seek circumcision.  For neither circumcision counts for anything nor uncircumcision, but keeping the commandments of God.  Each one should remain in the condition in which he was called. Were you a slave [3] when called? Do not be concerned about it. (But if you can gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity.)  For he who was called in the Lord as a slave is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a slave of Christ.  You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men. 24 So, brothers, [4] in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God.  (17-24, ESV)
So, where you find yourself on the path of following God "seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness".

13) Do not have a liking for delicious food for yourself.
The book of Daniel has an excellent example of this.
But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king's food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself.  And God gave Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs, and the chief of the eunuchs said to Daniel, “I fear my lord the king, who assigned your food and your drink; for why should he see that you were in worse condition than the youths who are of your own age? So you would endanger my head with the king.”  Then Daniel said to the steward whom the chief of the eunuchs had assigned over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah,  “Test your servants for ten days; let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink.  Then let our appearance and the appearance of the youths who eat the king's food be observed by you, and deal with your servants according to what you see.”  So he listened to them in this matter, and tested them for ten days.  At the end of ten days it was seen that they were better in appearance and fatter in flesh than all the youths who ate the king's food.  So the steward took away their food and the wine they were to drink, and gave them vegetables.(Daniel 1:8-16, ESV)
I am sure many people are familiar with the adage, "why does bad food always taste so good".  Athletes know that when they go out to eat at fast food restaurants their performance suffers.  God's word outlines many dietary recommendations. When the Holy Spirit comes to live within us our bodies, for however long God sees fit for us to inhabit them, become a temple unto the Lord.  We should take every measure to provide good nutrition to our bodies, and not become gluttons.

It is a slippery slope when one gets a taste (if you will) of something "delicious".  Humans have an incredible ability to become addicted to things.  Thomas Jonathon Jackson (aka "Stonewall" Jackson) knew this well.  Most of his adult life he struggled with "dyspepsia", today it might be known as acid reflux disease, but he followed a strict diet so as to avoid, if at all possible, his stomach issues.  Once he got a taste of Whiskey and from that point on made a point to never drink it again.  His reasoning?  That he liked it too much and he knew that he would then consume it to excess if he allowed himself.  The same is true with food as well.

You need to eat to live, but you should not live to eat.  It is important to eat a balanced and healthy diet.

14) Do not carry antiques handed down from generation to generation. 
Do not allow sentimentality to inhibit your forward pursuit of God. Within this world things will not last forever. 
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust [5] destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21, ESV)
Mankind places too high a priority on personal possessions.  Value is seen in how elegant, or how 'historic' something is.  As a samurai in the service of the Lord of all we must place a perspective of just how temporary the things of this world truly are.

When the focus becomes things, or traditions, above the gospel of Christ and/or the Word of God, we are in danger of making the "main thing" a "lesser" thing.  Once down that path it can become a slippery slope.  Many a cult has taken a kernel of truth, a select sliver of scripture or some artifact (some real, some not), and used it to pull some away from the Gospel of Christ.

While things passed on from generation to generation are good reminders of the where we have come from, we do not live in the past.  We cannot allow the past to distract us from where God is taking us.

15) Do not fast so that it affects you physically.
Fasting is an excellent part of spiritual discipline.  What Musashi speaks to here is as you fast your body begins to weaken.  In context this would mean that you will lose strength, energy, coordination, and even mental processing will be diminished.  As a samurai for Christ you must feed your soul, feed that relationship, that connection with your Lord.  While Jesus fasted (an example would be when He went into the wilderness for 40 days), He spent time connecting with His Heavenly Father.
Now as they went on their way, Jesus [4] entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house.  And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching.  But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.”  But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things,  but one thing is necessary. [5] Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42, ESV)
But we cannot fast from doing either.  Our on going sanctification process includes doing:
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’  And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ (Matthew 7:21-23, ESV)

16) While it’s different with military equipment, do not be fond of material things.
As we serve our Lord Jesus we are not in this for the pursuit of material things.  If an item is of no use in the pursuit, display, and/or spread of the gospel it is a superfluous.

If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound [2] words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.  Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and [3] we cannot take anything out of the world.  But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.  But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.  For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. (1 Timothy 6:3-10, ESV)

In this example Musashi is of course coming from a professional soldier's point of view.  When he speaks of military equipment is it things needed in the pursuit of his profession, his purpose in life.  We as Christians ultimately need nothing.  For when Jesus sent out His disciples these were His instructions:
And he called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal.  And he said to them, Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics. [1]  And whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart."(Luke 9:1-4, ESV)
Anything extra is a distraction and a hindrance in your pursuit of God and your service to Him. 

17) While on the Way, do not begrudge death.
The rate of mortality of the human race is 100%.  "For the wages of sin is death...", it says in Romans 6 and "...it is appointed for man to die once..." (Hebrews 9:27).  Only two men have never tasted death, and they were both profits to the Nation of Israel and men who walked closely with God.  Although we are reborn in to eternal life in Christ, this body ~ unless Christ returns first ~ will pass away first.  If we are in the Lord's service our lives are to be expended in our service to Him.  Job says, "Though he slay me, I will hope in him" (Job 13:15).  A perfect example of how we should look at our service to the Lord can be found in an interaction between Jesus and Peter:
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these? He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, Feed my lambs.  He said to him a second time, Simon, son of John, do you love me? He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, Tend my sheep.  He said to him the third time, Simon, son of John, do you love me? Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, Feed my sheep.  Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.  (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, Follow me.

Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who had been reclining at table close to him and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?”  When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?”  Jesus said to him, If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!  So the saying spread abroad among the brothers [2] that this disciple was not to die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not to die, but, If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?(John 21:15-23, ESV)
But the word "begrudge" means: 'To envy the possession, or enjoyment of another.'" We are not only to not concern ourselves about when our time will come, we are not to envy those who have "gone to sleep" to await the Lord's return.  Jesus said "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." (Luke 9:23, ESV)  To me, the concept of dying to myself and living for Christ is eloquently illustrated by a modern day warrior, Eric Haney:
All day long, I crossed that mountain from one side to the other.... I would arrive exhausted and breathless at one RV (check point) only to be sent to the next back on the other side I had just come from. The mountain was too big to contour around, and the lay of the was such that I could never anything approximating a direct approach or maintain the hard-earned high ground for any length of time. Never getting anywhere, back and forth across the same mountain. It was a masterful torture. But then I had a revelation. What difference could it possibly make if I crossed back and forth over this mountain until doomsday? A mountain is a mountain, time was time, and route selection was route selection. The only that that mattered was speed and ground made good.... The frustration and mental torture I had been suffering were completely of my own making - and completely within my power to disregard. (From Mr. Haney's book Inside Delta Force)
"Though he slay me, I will hope in him"

18) Do not be intent on possessing valuables or a fief in old age.
This ties in to the gathering of wealth and possessions.  While God knows the end from the beginning, we do not know all that God has in store.
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare [2] and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.(Jeremiah (29:11, ESV)

Of the twelve disciples, including Paul, only one lived to be an "old man", and he was exiled to the island of Pátmos.  So what do we have to look forward to, assuming God allows us to see "old age"?
Then Peter said in reply, “See, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?”  Jesus said to them, Truly, I say to you, in the new world, [2] when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.  And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name's sake, will receive a hundredfold [3] and will inherit eternal life. (Matthew 19:27-29, ESV)

While we will not be sitting on thrones in judgment over the twelve tribes of Israel like the disciples are told in this example, we do have a place to live to live out eternity.
"Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; [1] believe also in me.  In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? [2]  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.  And you know the way to where I am going. [3]  Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?”  Jesus said to him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.  If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. [4] From now on you do know him and have seen him. (John 14:1-7, ESV)
What better promise do we really need?

19) Respect the gods and Buddhas, but do not depend on them.
During Miyamoto Musashi's life he learned that he could not depend on the gods of his land., that they would fail him.  We on the other hand serve a God who says in His Word, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say,“The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5b-6, ESV)

However, Christianity has plenty of history in regards to those who do not believe as we do.  The Crusades, and the Inquisition are black eyes in the history of our faith.  God judges the heart, and a heart cannot be changed at the end of a sword.  As followers of Jesus Christ we are confident in our faith and belief that He is the Son of God and the only way to eternal life; however, not everyone believes as we do and that we may not be able to bring them around to our point of view.  We should understand that God does not reveal all things to all people, but that does not make the Christian superior to the non-Christian.  Ultimately we should be humbled and driven to our knees in adoration for all that God has done and revealed to us in our lives.  For "...God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8 ESV)

Unfortunately i will not be able to expound on this point as thoroughly as i would like, but i encourage any reader who wants to explore this more to seek out the works of Charles Spurgeon (especially All of Grace), Jonathon Edwards, and organizations such as Together for the Gospel and Desiring God.

Remember, you are never going to convert anyone.  Only the Holy Spirit can do that. Respect where others are coming from, even learn from it.  If your message is rejected this is what Jesus says, "And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town." (Matthew 10:14, ESV)  In the end...
Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God;  for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess [2] to God.”  So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. (Romans 14:10-12, ESV)

20) Though you give up your life, do not give up your honor.
Meiyo - Honor: A true samurai has only one judge of his honor, and that is himself. Decisions you make and how these decisions are carried out are a reflection of whom you truly are. You cannot hide from yourself.
A main reason many people do not fully turn their lives over to Christ, and why so many people neglect to meet together for times of worship (see Hebrews 10), is because of men and women "of God", especially those in positions of leadership (both in and out of the public eye), have not taken seriously the fact that they are not only representing God to their congregations, but to the world.  They have put themselves (in some form or fashion) ahead of God.  Many are like those described in Titus 1:16: "They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work." (ESV)
In the Old Testament God tells His people:
"You shall not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind, but you shall fear your God: I am the Lord." (Leviticus 19:14, ESV)
Now, this command is in the midst of several other commandments, but our Lord also has this to say:
"And he said to his disciples, Temptations to sin [1] are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin. [2] Pay attention to yourselves!" (Luke 17:1-3a, ESV)
We as sinful human beings have NO honor in and of ourselves.  Instead of viewing honor in the traditional sense, we must see our selves as ambassadors of our Lord, and while there is nothing that we can do to tarnish His honor (His perfect righteousness and holiness), people adjust their view of God based on what they see in and through us.  As a "Christian samurai" it is not our honor we must concern ourselves with, but the image of Christ we portray to the world.  There are some very good guidelines found in Titus 1; "For an overseer, [4] as God's steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound [5] doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it." (7-9, ESV)

Even though a Christian samurai may not be in a position of leadership within their local church, we should always hold ourselves to the highest standard.

Before i move on from this topic i would like to share this quote from my Pastor,  "It is easier to fall on your sword than to get back up and learn from your mistakes."  Always remember, we are sinners saved by the grace of God.  We must always allow the grace of God to work in and through us.  Our failures are not the end of it, but the beginning - instruments as you were - for growth.  We must not allow them to hinder our pursuit of our service to Him.  Not one sin in our entire lives was unseen by Him.
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.  For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.  For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.  More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. (Romans 5:6-11, ESV)
I cannot wrap this section up better than quoting these verses:
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.  Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.  So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air.  But I discipline my body and keep it under control, [2] lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. (1 Corinthians 9:24-27, ESV

21) Never Depart from the Way of the Martial Arts.
For the Christian samurai 'The Way' is our walk with Christ.  It is not something entered into casually, nor is it something to discard.  You are either a Christian, or you are not. 
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:1-2, ESV)
For those who are parents, we are admonished to "train up a child in the way he should go; [so] even when he is old he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6), the same is true for ourselves.  All soldiers train for battle so our own training should be a daily thing, and in doing so we need to make sure we are evaluating what we are putting into our mind by God's Word.  The Apostle Paul admonishes us...
"O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,” for by professing it some have swerved from the faith." (1 Timothy 6:20-21, ESV)
and again...
Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to [1] a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, [2] and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me. [3]  Follow the pattern of the sound [4] words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.  By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you. (2 Timothy 1:8-14, ESV)
In closing i would like to encourage those who read these words to stay in God's Word.  Read it, meditate on it.  Keep your heart and mind open to it.  At no time should you interpret it by your own experiences.  Be willing to adjust your own understanding, but always remember that God is Holy, He cannot contradict Himself.  If something about God appears to be contradictory then we must step back and reevaluate our understanding because we are finite, He is Infinite; we are mortal, He is immortal; we are imperfect, He is perfect; we are sinful, He is Holy; we are in need of His grace, He died so that He might shed His grace upon us.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.  Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.  Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.  Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,  and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.  In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;  and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,  praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.(Ephesians 6:10-18a, ESV)

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