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The Way of the Warrior
8 traits found in God’s men to win the wars of life
by Bryan McAnally
The Way of the Warrior by Bryan McAnally Copyright 2007, 2010 All Rights Reserved You may share this freely with others after reading it. Please visit bryanmcanally.com for more books, the blog, & audio
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Table of Contents
Introduction .............................................................................................................. 5 Bushido - The Way of the Warrior ...................................................................13 Yu - Heroic Courage.................................................................................................25 Gi - Benevolent Morality & Righteous Justice ...............................................42 Chu - Unwavering Loyalty ....................................................................................56 Makoto - Complete Sincerity ...............................................................................70 Rei - Polite Courtesy.................................................................................................85 Jin - Fearless Compassion .................................................................................... 101 Meiyo - Dignified Honor .................................................................................... 115 Tei - Sacrificial Service ......................................................................................... 130 Mokuteki Shori - The Purpose of Victory .................................................. 144
Whether you like it or not, you are at war. And at this exact moment, you are under attack. You face an enemy who has breeched your borders and who will not stop until you are conquered. The enemy will not be satisfied until you are defeated, slaughtered on the field of battle. Your enemy is singularly focused on bringing down in combat. He doesn’t care if you are slain by surprise, sabotage, or even subterfuge. He delights equally, whether sniping you individually or by taking you out by as one of dozens, hundreds, or thousands. He wages his war against you with the end in sight, proudly confident and cockily assured of an ultimate victory that leaves all men ravaged and savaged across the battlefield. And you are in his crosshairs. Make no mistake, every day this war you are in claims lives. Your enemy revels in the spilt blood and defeated victims. Men – every day – are vanquished by the hundreds, struck down never to fight again. Young and old. Rich and poor. Every race. Every class. In this war, the enemy is no respecter of civility. The collateral damage is unspeakable. Women and children are slaughtered in the carnage. Wives, mothers, daughters; none is safe. Every day, the mayhem goes unreported as another family and another community is devastated by an attack that maims and destroys, leaving carnage and chaos in its wake. By many accounts, your enemy is winning this battle. He has established a stronghold in the battalions of men and dwells among them. He poisons them and hides in shadows. He stabs men in the backs and laughs from the darkness. He entices men to betray them, and when he succeeds, he mocks them in misery from within their own communities. The enemy dwells amongst men because as men, we have been lax. We have been asleep. We have been remiss. Our homes are not safe because our defenses have been compromised and our
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efforts have been feeble. Our adversary has seized the advantage and is tightening the noose that will only continue to constrict until the very last of us is defeated. Even now, if the land is silent it is not peace-filled. The enemy plots against us toward the next wave of violence, incubating his scheme in our own neighborhoods, just beyond our awareness and just outside our perception. He is waiting for you to relax your guard and to lower your weapons. He lingers patiently, his hatred for you gnawing in his belly and fueling his rage. He will remain as long as necessary to get you, too. Whether you like it or not, he hates you. You are loathed and despised, and you are the reviled object of his focus. Whether you knew it or not, you are in this battle. If you will not fight, you will die. You are both a combatant and a potential victim in this war. It is the battle of your life. It is the battle for your soul. The question before you is simple…will you fight in this battle or will you succumb, like so many others? ***** The world today desperately needs brave men who will fight. Men who will rise, face the challenges and battle for victory. This need is so desperate because this war – despite being waged since the onset of history – is unlike any other ever contested. The conventional warfare of battle lines, deployment and allocation of troops, and strategic alliances all are antiquated philosophies in this war. This war has been bloody, relentless, and merciless. There is no recorded treaty in this war, and its combatants receive no quarter, no respite, no refuge. Yet history has proven that if you do not fight, you will lose. And if you lose, the safety of those you love and have sworn to protect is at stake. You must fight, for yourself and for those around you. In this unconventional battle that all men have been destined to combat, from where should you draw your strategy? In the war where your soul is the quarry, how do you both protect the prize and defend your life? Are you relegated to fight this as a defensive battle or is it possible to go on the assault? How indeed can you live at peace when your very spirit is under the specter of this war? If your very life and the lives of all who you love exist under this canopy of doom, how will we recognize victory and taste the fruits of overcoming the enemy?
Every man must confront these very issues, and every man must ask these very questions. To discover the answers and solutions that give men hope, you must look both back into history and forward to your future. Only then can you formulate a strategy, develop a plan, and employ tactics to regain lost ground. Only then can you begin winning battles. Only then can you ultimately defeat this enemy in the war for your soul. Removing the Scales Because you are at war, you will be well served to examine the safety of your soul. Take a moment to take stock and make assessment. Are you at risk? Has your soul been compromised? Are you in peril? Would you even know or be able to determine the answers to these vital questions? Most evidence of a soul in peril is easy see. One example of evidence is an empty life. A life devoid of meaning and purpose is clearly a life under attack. It is not by coincidence that one of the best-selling books of contemporary history is Rick Warren’s seminal work, The Purpose Driven Life. People everywhere are hungry to discover the meaning and reason for their existence. Growing up in a world and an educational system that has professed that God is dead and life is an accidental, coincidental process has left generations wandering aimlessly. These “living dead” cry out, their very souls protesting this lie that life is without meaning. Countless people live without hope, seeing neither cause nor reason for the life they have been given. They have no identification with their own soul, much less a connection to their Soul-giver. On the other side of the spectrum are the people who are equally empty and aimless, but who have successfully deceived themselves by filling their lives with empty pursuits. Addictions of every sort mark the lives of these deluded soldiers. For this sad lot, life’s meaning has been reduced to feeding the never-satisfied hungers of jealousy, resentment, selfishness, and discontent. The result is not an accumulation of wealth, but an accumulation of debt that is sometimes measured in dollars and sometimes in despair. Sometimes these victims acquire impressive bounties, but still pay the price of their soul. In the end, they pay a fool’s ransom for a life held hostage, only to discover they had been bartering in a slavemaker’s market with a dishonorable merchant who uses unfair scales. Where do you find yourself? Does your life echo with emptiness, regardless of how full of worldly pursuits? Does your soul cry out for safety and protection? In this battle of life where
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every man is a combatant, your soul’s security is your primary concern. You have no hope of seeing victory in life if your soul is in peril. History’s Lessons Countless men have waged countless wars for countless causes throughout the hillsides and hideouts of history. Some of these causes have been noble, while some have been lamentable. Common men have been rallied and inspired to fight with altogether uncommon valor. Men have fought with equal fervor for liberty and for oppression, for freedom and for despotism. Men have demonstrated the capacity to make equally effective weapons out of courage and out of cowardice. We suffer from no lack of source material when scanning the annals of history, discovering that man has warred against himself, against his brother, and against one another. Man has always been at war. The truth of history may be difficult to track since, as it has been well said, history is recorded by the victor. However, in all of world’s history and in all of history’s wars, only one man has ever fought and won the war for men’s souls. He fought the fight that no man could win, defeating the enemy, conquering death and delivering life. In fighting and winning the war for men’s souls, he delivered to all men the prize that man himself could never capture…life. This man is Jesus. In the two thousand years since Jesus won the ultimate war, much has been recorded about him. No other man has been the object of so much discussion, punditry, and even argument as has Jesus. Sadly, numerous wars have been waged over Jesus himself, using misinterpretations and justifications improperly made in his name. The simple fact is that Jesus fought the fight for your soul. He won the battle. All that remains is for you to claim the victory. The Warrior Jesus The battle and victory of Jesus for men’s souls has been commemorated for history in the Bible. In it, you will find the account of his battle and you can read the record of his teachings. You see, not only was Jesus a mighty and victorious warrior, but he was also the world’s greatest teacher. He provided insight and instruction on both how and why to live the life intended for man. He revealed that only by claiming the victory that he offers can a man truly fulfill his 8
destiny. He demonstrated how a man can embrace the purpose designed for him and discover the adventure that awaits him. He proved for a skeptical humanity that the promise of hope waits, but it must be grasped. Once grasped, it could never be released and a man’s life would never be the same. Twelve simple men were the first to discover what Jesus had to offer when they responded to his call to follow him. They were twelve men who the world either ignored or deplored. They were twelve men whose souls were in peril. They were twelve men who individually, by faith, placed their trust in him for their souls’ security. They were twelve simple, unimportant, insignificant men who were then empowered to change the world. The Bible records that they did not fully understand everything about Jesus when they began following him. Some thought him simply as a great teacher. Some saw him as the leader of a revolution. Others thought he was destined to be a king, promised to men by God. Still others thought he was God’s prophet. The truth they eventually learned is that he was all these things, and so much more! Today, right now, you might be reading about Jesus for the very first time, or you may have seen a movie like The Passion of the Christ where your senses were assaulted at the way Jesus was tortured and killed by being nailed to a Roman cross. You might be wondering how Jesus could be the warrior who wins men’s souls when he could not save his own life. You might have read, seen or heard numerous thoughts and opinions about who this man Jesus was (and is). Decide for yourself based upon the accurate and trustworthy recording of his history, including what he himself said about: • His identity o “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”1 o “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved.”2 • His purpose o “For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.”3
John 14:6 John 10:9 3 Matthew 18:11 www.bryanmcanally.com - visit for more books, the blog, and audio.
o And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.4 o “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”5 • His work o “If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him.”6 o “I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again.”7 • His victory o “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do… into Your hands I commend My spirit.”8 o “It is finished!”9 By his own testimony, Jesus did not come just to teach people to be nice to each other. He was a man’s man, a teacher of the highest order, a leader without peer, a friend to the lonely and rejected, and a mighty warrior. He rebutted the religious adversaries of his day, rebuked death and rose from the grave. He is a conquering King and the Lord of all creation. He is God! Answer the Call Jesus is not content to be just one of many teachers to you. He is not satisfied to be only a philosopher, or only a leader, or only a “really great guy.” Jesus has declared that you must accept him or reject him as Lord over everything, including your life. He claims the right of that expectation based on his life, his death, and his resurrection. He faced death so you can face eternal life. He did the work, fought the battle, and won the victory for your soul. He stands
Mark 8:31 John 3:17 6 John 10:37-38 7 John 10:17-18 8 Luke 23: 34, 46 9 John 19:30
before you now, providing you with the opportunity to kneel at his throne, release authority over your life to him, and join him as a victor even as you submit to his Lordship. These terms are extreme, no doubt. You have to renounce your ways, admit that you have made mistakes in your own battle, and that your own effort was futile, ending only in death. You have to give up title to your life, but as Jesus himself said, it is the only way to win: “He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.”10 The resistance to submit to Jesus as Lord is strong. Everything in your body resists it. Every man wants to be lord over something, particularly his own life. In a world where we seem to have to bow to a hundred different masters – bosses, judges, creditors, parents – every man wants to have the authority and autonomy to make his own decisions. The Bible reveals that only by answering the strong call of Jesus to release your life to him can you finally experience the freedom that was designed for you in his victory for your soul. The Bible not only details Jesus’ victory for your soul, it also reveals how you can claim that victory: “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”11 If you understand that you have never placed your trust in Jesus, he is calling you to do so right now. Pray this prayer to God with a sincere heart: Lord God, I confess that I am not lord of my life. I’ve made mistakes and wrong choices. I confess that Jesus is my rightful Lord. I believe in my heart that you, God, raised him from the dead. Please save me from my self and give to me the promise of heaven and eternal life. Please, be my Master. Guide me. Teach me. Give me everything I need to follow you and obey you all my remaining days.” If you have prayed this prayer with an honest, humble heart, the Bible says that God has already answered it and has forgiven you of your mistakes and has indeed saved you for heaven and eternal life. You can never lose this victory; it can never be taken away from you. Nothing can separate you from the unchanging, eternal love of God.12
Matthew 10:39 Romans 10:9 12 Romans 8:38-40 www.bryanmcanally.com - visit for more books, the blog, and audio.
Moreover, even as you submit to the Lordship of Jesus, He claims authority over you. His Holy Spirit now dwells within you, guaranteeing your soul’s destination in heaven,13 and equipping you to live the adventure He planned for you before time began.14 With God’s salvation, Jesus’ Lordship, and the Holy Spirit’s direction, you are ready to join the army that began with twelve simple men and now numbers in the billions. You are ready to fight as a warrior in the battle for men’s souls.
Ephesians 1:4 Ephesians 2:10
The Way of the Warrior
History’s violent landscape drips red with the blood of countless wars. Generals have recorded their histories, their strategies, and their philosophies, filling libraries with the books of warfare. Commanders have shaped their formations, their attacks, and their defenses based upon the wisdom and insight of those who fought and fell upon the battlefields of their ancestors. Governments – both of the people and over the people – have been built, managed, manipulated, suppressed, and overthrown using the strategic intelligence of wartime leaders. This knowledge applied wisely has given men and nations both the life-breath of liberty and the suffocating jackboot of tyranny. Accordingly, you must be a student who selects your teachers wisely. In this battle, you must be cautious that the ways and weapons you choose are both safe and effective. In the battle for souls in a field that covers the globe, no nation deserves favor nor exclusion. Every arena and every confrontation is worth consideration. Such a process will ultimately reveal many unworthy, unusable strategies or ideologies that are incompetent or incompatible with meeting the objective of winning the battle. This multitude of inappropriate, unusable battle strategies should be discarded unceremoniously and without regret. This battle is not about being polite or politically correct. It is about winning. Beware the Samurai In an ancient society that outlawed weapons, these men wielded twin swords at all times. They ruled their land as servant leaders for more than sixty decades. Fearless and loyal, they gained renown as superior swordsmen, excellent horsemen, and experts in archery and combat. Their exploits and their reputation have withstood the tide of time. These men were Samurai.
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Kosunoki was just such a man. One morning, Kosunoki surveyed the jagged horizon. The day’s dawn had yet to awaken; the sun’s advance was just beginning to infiltrate the night’s blackness, churning its fringes to a hazy gray. A spring wind blew brisk air gently in Kosunoki’s face, filling his nostrils with the subtle aroma of dew seasoned with jasmine from the blossoms nearby. With a slowly deliberate breath, the warrior closed his eyes, suspending his watch to concentrate on examining the scent for any hint of odor foreign to the morning’s predawn breeze. The enemy approached. Kosunoki’s foe was skilled, no doubt. No snap of a broken twig to unveil his secretive advance, no rustle of disturbed shrubbery betrayed the location of his impatient hiding. Yet the enemy had not accounted for the consistently inconsistent dance of the midnight wind, and the tell-tale scent of the enemy’s steed gilded the breeze. Completely unnoticeable only moments before, the stallion’s odor now rankled Kosunoki’s trained nostrils. The warrior stood soundlessly, despite his thick armor made from bamboo, metal, and cloth. Dotanuki—his katana—would soon be unsheathed. Its merciless steel would soon be employed to fell Kosunoki’s foe, likely a team of scouts for the still-reeling Mongol horde, devastated by the legendary Kamikaze. The recent typhoon battered the Japanese coastline, tossing the invader’s armies across the beaches and pulling an innumerable multitude to a watery grave. Still, the Mongols had hired mercenary ronin to strengthen their armies. A clash was inevitable. Blood would spill before the sun finished its daily arc spanning the heavens. Behind Kosunoki, his brothers-in-arms followed his lead, standing in unison without disturbing the long grass beneath their feet. Their numbers were relatively small, likely only a fraction of that of their enemy. Yet each man in this force could wield a sword with each hand if necessary, with uncompromised skill and fury. Each warrior fought with the strength of three men, and they would first strike from a distance using yumi. These bows allowed them to create chaos as they slay the opposing field generals with the devastating accuracy of well-aimed arrows. Inevitably, their confused and frightened troops would remain, only to fall to the samurais’ unyielding blades forged to cut through torsos and defend the safety of Japanese feudal clans. Kosunoki would lead them. He always led. As the shogun, it was his duty. His courage was legendary and his honor was heroic. He did not fear death. This is why he could fight so bravely to protect life. He will battle this day, because battle was necessary. He will battle this day for his 14
wife, his children, and the generations not yet born. He will battle for the honor of this field growing steadily more visible with the rising sun. He will fight for the jasmine laced in the eastern wind, and he will slay for the jagged horizon. He, the daimyo standing immediately behind him, and the army of swordsmen they commanded, warred against the invading Mongols because they knew they would and must prevail. This was his destiny. Kosunoki is Samurai. Warrior Servant The Samurai were a class of warriors with a 1,200-year history beginning approximately in 670 A.D. Their history is marked with epic battles against foreign invaders and domestic enemies. They fought for noble causes and for self-preservation. Their identities have been mythologized in such films as Kurosawa’s The Seven Samurai and Zwick’s The Last Samurai. They are known today for their unwavering bravery, their heroic courage, and their unmatched skill in the arts of combat. What is less known about the Samurai is that they existed to serve their fellow man. Their very name Samurai means “servant,” and service both defined and described their lives. They lived in service to their master, the Emperor. These warriors in service to their emperor were not the cultural elite; often, they were humble servants of Japanese aristocracy who were little more than simple men, faithful husbands and devoted fathers. A Samurai’s life was a resource of the emperor and would be used according to the sovereign’s discretion. Born into a warring culture, they were men who proved themselves on the battlefield. If a Samurai failed in his service to the master, he failed in the very purpose for which he was born. The Samurai adopted the discipline into an uncommon way of life. This was no mere acceptance of a series of laws or embracing of a codified system of belief, but it required the absolute personal identification in a different way of life, alien to the average person. The servant mindset code of Samurai required bushido – the way of the warrior. Bushido was more comprehensive than even a complex code of conduct. Bushido was a system of belief. The key to a Samurai embracing bushido was to accept the inevitability of death. Once a Samurai reconciled himself to death, he was freed to live according to the designs of the master. However, history remembers Samurai as brave, honorable, and noble not simply
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because they were resigned to death. Rather, they are regarded today because these dead-butliving were common men set apart by the choice to live every breath of their vital lives according to their uncommon code. Bushido was established upon eight pillars essential to serving the master. If any one of those pillars was not honored, a man was not truly Samurai. These pillars were not merely concepts to be studied, philosophies to be understood, or ideals to be discussed. They were absolute, foundational, essential fibers woven through the identity of the Samurai, ever-present in the warrior, as reliable to be present as was the rising of the morning sun. These are the eight pillars of bushido:
• • • • • • • •
Yu – heroic courage. Gi – benevolent justice and righteous morality. Chu – unwavering loyalty. Makoto – complete sincerity. Rei – polite courtesy. Jin – fearless compassion. Meiyo – dignified honor. Tei – sacrificial service.
The Samurai set aside the personal priorities of his life, adopting the priorities of his master and expressed through the disciplines of the eight pillars. The samurai’s code illustrated that real life was experienced in pursuing the master’s benevolent agenda and the selfish life was nothing more than a counterfeit illusion. Bushido both defined and described Samurai. Authentic Samurai adhered to bushido for it chartered the path of authenticity. To depart from bushido was to betray the essence of a Samurai. Only in living by bushido, was a man a Samurai. Samurai Christ Pre-dating the Samurai by 800 years, Jesus of Nazareth walked the earth as One who had the Creator’s insight and showed the true way of the warrior. Before the Samurai, Jesus modeled the mindset of in life reconciling Himself to death. He declared that He did not come to be served,
but to serve.15 He demonstrated heroic courage, perfect morality, unmatched loyalty, complete sincerity, polite courtesy, unparalleled compassion, unequivocal honor, and selfless, sacrificial service to others. Then, He has said of those who would follow Him that they must be of the same mind.16 History records the exploits of those who were Samurai Christians, those who walked the way of the warrior and were difference-makers to the world around them. The Christ-follower Paul wrote, “for me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”17 Paul embraced the mindset that the only way to fully live was to fully die to self, so that his purpose as a servant could be fully experienced. Should anything less be expected of the Christ-follower today? Rather than talk about Christianity in global terms and risk dismissing personal accountability, focus instead on yourself as a Christ-follower. We men today tend to do well in identifying ourselves as Christians according to what we believe about Jesus. Beliefs are wonderful for classification. Yet, it is actions—not beliefs—that will either confirm or deny your beliefs (and classifications, by association) as genuine. James, a brother and Christ follower himself said it – belief without action is worth nothing!18 God calls those who belong to Him through faith in Jesus to nothing less than a bushido-like expression of that faith! The proof is in the Word:
Yu – heroic courage. Only bushido Christians can share a testimony of the martyrs who have gone before us. Crucified, stoned, hanged, flayed, pierced, pushed from a high wall, dragged to death, beaten, mauled, eaten alive by wild animals, burned at the stake, drowned, beheaded. There is no room for a cowardly, “What will I say?” or, “What if I don't know all the answers?” Rather, a warrior Christian should see opportunity in the face of opposition, cause in the face of conflict, and purpose in the face of persecution. At the same time, the Christian bravely stands up for those with no voice of their own, peaceably demanding truth, dignity, and hope for those who would otherwise be vanquished under oppression. Paradoxically, you wield the mightiest sword when you
Matthew 20:28 Philippians 2:2 17 Philippians 1:21 18 James 2:20, SIM www.bryanmcanally.com - visit for more books, the blog, and audio.
wield no earthly weapon, but instead the Sword of Truth that is the Holy, inerrant, eternal Word of God Almighty. Gi – benevolent justice and righteous morality. The Christ-follower is to love justice and mercy. He is not to be in love with power nor money.19 The apostle James railed against those who would claim Christ as Lord, but oppress the poor, the weak, and the maligned.20 Paul would not allow distinction to be made between one class of human and another. He was all things to all people, without ever sacrificing his integrity or morality, for the express purpose that some might find salvation for their soul in peril.21 Jesus reminded His followers that anything done to the least of all humans in actions of mercy and kindness is as though done unto Jesus Himself.22 Chu – unwavering loyalty. Those who follow Christ are called to loyalty. Those who faithfully follow Christ have been commanded to be loyal to God, with the promise of fidelity’s reward: Be faithful unto death and I will give you the crown of life. 23 They are told that faithfulness to responsibilities offers greater opportunities for service : “Well done, good servant; because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities.”24 Christ’s men are commanded to be faithful to family (both physical and spiritual), and also to those who do not share their beliefs.25 Only a man who continually and deliberately puts himself last, behind the needs and priorities of others is walking the way of the warrior in Christ-honoring faith. Makoto – complete sincerity. Like the Samurai, bushido Christianity demands more than just telling the truth. It demands a complete congruence between words and speech. Do you actually pray for others when you say you will? Do you actually care about those in your neighborhood and around the world whose souls are in peril? Is your heart broken
1 Timothy 6:10; 2 Timothy 3:2 James 2:1-9 21 1 Corinthians 10:33 22 Matthew 25:40 23 Rev. 2:10) 24 Luke 19:17 25 cf. 3 John 1:5
over sin? Do you mean what you say and say what you mean? Do you just know the truth or do you live it out with every breath, every thought, every deed, because the truth of Jesus Christ lives within you and there is no other master to whom you must submit? Jesus hinted at the complete sincerity required of true believers when talking about genuine worship with an inquisitive woman at a shared well, “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.”26 Rei – polite courtesy. The command herein extends far beyond platitudes of gentility and civility. Politeness is not simply 27smiling when a foe spits in your face, or having an “aw shucks” attitude when an adversary unjustly maligns you. This pillar requires brave men to be polite and courteous, even to your enemy. Those who follow Jesus are expected to reproduce the grace and mercy that Jesus showed so abundantly to them when they themselves were enemies of his Lord.28 A bushido Christian loves those who revile him,29 who gives his coat to the enemy who would steal his shirt, and who returns blessings for curses.30 Jin – fearless compassion. Related to the ideas of justice and morality, this ideal involves the commitment to the attention of humanity. Just as the Samurai were expected to use well those they would lead, Christians are expected to be good and godly stewards over their human resources. They are to treat every human, regardless of age or circumstance, as one of value and inestimable worth before the Lord. As Paul exhorts the Philippian Christians, we are not to think of ourselves more highly than we ought – that we should simply not think of ourselves.31 The result of such selflessness will be the benefit of others. Jesus, the Master, was willing to put Himself in harm's way in order to protect a harlot caught in idolatry. He not only had compassion on her – his very manifestation of compassion was so incredible that it caused her accusers to flee. He used
John 4:23 Matthew 5:40 28 Romans 5:8 29 Matthew 5:44 30 Luke 6:28 31 Philippians 2:3-4 www.bryanmcanally.com - visit for more books, the blog, and audio.
her to suit His purposes, but His use of her benefited and blessed her beyond what could be discerned in an unknown scribble in the sand.32 Meiyo – dignified honor. To the bushido Christian, honor is not just about being honest and honorable. It's about having a good name, or of being esteemed because of the name you bear. Those who are followers of Jesus as the Christ were given the name Christian as a derisive term, as a scorn-filled insult that adherents were “little Christs.”33 In the two thousand years that have followed, much has been done both to give incredible honor to this term once intended as a put-down, and also to bring it shame. The Word declares that in Jesus, a person is given a new name, unknown to human lips.34 Those who bear a new name, a new identity, and new life in the Christ should seek to live in such a way that esteems His name and brings honor to the Savior. Tei – sacrificial service. The warrior Christian is a man of benevolent action. He honors God in his care for his parents and grandparents.35 He actively serves the widows, assists those in need, and is a father figure to those without fathers.36 He remembers to share with those who have nothing, even when he himself only has a little.37 His loving kindness shown in deed helps society’s lowly and outcast see the dignity they can have as children of God. A Samurai Christian makes the world around him a better place. These eight pillars deserve the attention and focus of the Christ-follower today. While the Christian has little in common with the Samurai of old, he is well served to learn from his warring ancestor. In the war for men’s souls, every Christian has been called to take up arms. Such a battle requires unshakable pillars, a strong spirit, and a reliable identity that is both heroic and uncompromising. And while there is an eternity of difference between the Samurai’s life structure formed from the amalgamation of Shinto Japanese, Buddhism and Confucianism, and the grace-defined belief and life system of the Christ follower, there are dynamic, essential
John 8:2-11 Acts 11:26 34 Revelation 2:17 35 1 Timothy 5:4 36 James 1:27 37 Hebrews 13:16
parallels between the two systems. Such a focus on these parallels will equip a Christian warrior to boldly take his place in the war for men’s souls and bravely join the battle. Like the Samurai, the Christian lives to serve the Master. This Master is known historically as Jesus of Nazareth. He bears many titles, all of which are universally recognized, even if not yet universally honored: the Christ of God, Lord of Lords, King of Kings. He is the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and End, Who Was and Is and Will Be Forevermore. He is the Ancient of Days and the Eternal. He is the Son of God, the Son of Abraham, the Son of David, the Son of Joseph, and the Son of Man. He is the Prince of Peace and the Avenger of Blood. He is Holy, he is Love; he is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He is the High Priest, the Holy Spirit, and the Light of the World. He is the Lamb of God and the Lion of Judah. He is Messiah and he is God. The Lord God Jesus of Nazareth won eternity’s greatest battle by beating sin and death when he died for men’s sin, only to rise from the grave three days later, fulfilling the ancient prophecies. He revealed that he was the “Samurai God,” showing his servant heart when he said, “the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”38 On the night before his death, he gave what has been rightly called “the greatest object lesson in history” when he stripped himself down to a loincloth and subjected himself to the humiliating work of a slave by lovingly and tenderly washing the filthy, manure-caked feet of his power-hungry, infighting followers before they ate a final meal together. When he finished, he said to the stunned and confused group of men, “I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.”39 The world has never been the same in response to that challenge. Jesus has continued to call men to the task of serving Him faithfully and to expect his return. He then charged men with the task of serving others and bringing them to a reconciled relationship in God through faith in the sufficiency of the Master’s sacrifice. He has saved men for heaven, but he has indwelt men for warriors’ service here on earth. He has called men to bushido Christianity.
Matthew 20:28 John 13:15 www.bryanmcanally.com - visit for more books, the blog, and audio.
Battlefield Report In the 2,000 years since Jesus entered history and claimed the eternal victory, many brave warriors have followed his way as bushido Christians. They have bravely fought with no fear of death, serving their fellow man with acts of humility, love, and sacrifice. Countless men have shared the truth of Jesus Christ with a hostile world, even at the expense of their very life. Christianity has been buoyed on an ocean of martyrs’ blood, and servant warriors have faithfully carried the message throughout history. Today, though, the message of Jesus is as important as ever in a world that has never been more hostile. In a relativistic, carnal, pleasure-seeking, Truth-hating world, the need for bushido Christians has never been greater. Like never before does the world need men who will bravely stand at the front of the army of believers, wield the sword of Truth, and speak the name of Jesus without compromise. The need is urgent for men to stand arm-in-arm, should-to-shoulder, backto-back facing the world with the only message that will save man’s imperiled souls. Sadly, every indication reveals that men have abandoned their posts and are absent without leave. They have shirked their responsibilities, ignored their duties, and fled from their destinies. Marriages fail more than half the time and a third of all homes have no father present. The industries that cripple a man’s spirit – pornography, gambling, drugs, prostitution, and alcohol – all enjoy record profits and growth. Most damning is the evidence that there is little distinction in these trends between those identified as Christians and those identified as non-believers. In a world filled with fatherless children, abandoned wives, rampant divorce, escalating debt, widespread addiction, and epidemic sexual disease, men must pick up the sword of truth, steel their courage, and join the battle. God designed men to lead and men must answer the call. Twenty centuries have passed since Jesus commissioned men with this task. By the miraculous provision of God, the battle has been highlighted by victory after glorious victory. The enemy has tried to destroy the lives, the faith, and the hope of Christians, yet the faith and the army numbers in the billions. Nations that have known only spiritual darkness have seen the light of Truth in Jesus, as faithful and brave warriors have taken his message to foreign shores and hostile lands. Martyrs have lost their lives to see the gospel spread. God has indeed been faithful. Yet it seems today that we have never done less with more. Churches have become storehouses of Christian believers. Congregations have developed a “y’all come” approach to 22
faith, somehow blaming the non-believer if they don’t show up to the facility and discover faith for themselves. Men have abandoned the church, instead seeking to find their faith and fellowship in hunting and sporting groups, or even alone with nature. Women have taken up the abdicated mantle of spiritual responsibility. Without their noble effort, the devastation would be even more pronounced, yet the biblical reality is that spiritual leadership is the responsibility of the man. When that responsibility is ignored, everyone pays the price. The consequences are undeniable. Foremost, thousands of people are dying each day, selfbanished to hell because they never were reconciled to God through Christ. Doctrine has suffered, with the steady infiltration of humanistic thought that slanders the holy nature of God and the essential tenets of the faith. Membership and active participation in the church has declined as well. Population growth continues to outpace church growth at an exceedingly alarming rate. The truth is simple. More than ever, the world needs brave warriors with faith in Jesus. Men who are not willing to just “play church,” to “be religious,” and who can only talk tough but wilt under the heat of conflict. The world needs men who are ready, even eager, to step to the front of the line, to lead in the charge, to be fearless in the face of death. The world needs men of honor who are engaged in the battle for souls. They serve the Christ, Jesus of Nazareth. They are men, like Samurai, are dead-yet-living, men with purpose. The world needs men who walk the way of the warrior. The Journey Ahead Over the course of this book, we will walk the way of the warrior together. We will closely examine each of these eight pillars of the warrior Christian. You will be encouraged and challenged to explore each principle in the context of the different battle fields in your life:
• • • •
Your battle with your self Your battle for your family Your battle for your church Your battle for the world
In this, you will be challenged to expand your comprehension in following Christ.
www.bryanmcanally.com - visit for more books, the blog, and audio.
The way of the warrior is not for the weak-hearted. Choose today to walk in the way and together we will win the war for the souls of men, women, and children in the name of the Master, Jesus.
Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. 1 Corinthians 16:13 Jesus nicknamed them the “Sons of Thunder.”40 James and John were sincere, but brash. They were the leaders of Jesus’ following who were the first to limit access to the Messiah, yet were the first to question why and how he came to his decisions. These brothers were noble, yet impetuous; impulsive and ambitious. James and John each sought a greater life than that of a fisherman that was their destiny by birthright. Accordingly, they quickly identified with the radical preacher John,41 who railed uncompromisingly for all people to turn from evil because of the soon-coming judgment of God. Looking around, James and John saw a community tainted by inequality, injustice, pain, and corruption. Ignited by idealism, they joined John’s following.42 This same firebrand spirit led them to follow Jesus, once the invitation was extended.43 Perhaps they sensed a chance to be on the leading edge of a revolution. Maybe they saw in Jesus what they wanted in themselves – to be a common man who accomplishes uncommon greatness. Whatever the motive, they quickly dropped the fishing nets that had defined and confined their lives. They cast away the relative success of industry for the prospect of lives of significance. Walking in Jesus’ footsteps offered a way to leave the shores of Galilee and become men of consequence. James and John soon became two-thirds of Jesus’ “inner circle.” They were at his side as Jesus taught, healed, and comforted the immense crowds. They witnessed his many miracles first-hand, watching crippled men walk, the blind given sight, lepers made clean and even the
Mark 3:17 cf. John 1:29-39 42 see John 1:35 43 Mark 1:19-20 www.bryanmcanally.com - visit for more books, the blog, and audio.
dead brought to life. They observed the supernatural and heard him explain that he performed these feats so that all would know his power to forgive sins.44 They listened to his sermons on the soon-coming kingdom of God and they felt their hearts stir with eager anticipation. They controlled the crowds and ushered the children around him when Jesus proclaimed, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God.”45 James and John stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Jesus as he confronted and confounded the religious experts. They witnessed as he challenged them with pointed parables that were divinely designed to bring insight to sincere seekers and confusion to spurious scribes and licentious legalists. Even as they walked with Jesus, James and John interpreted him through a lens of ambition. When Jesus drew increasingly larger crowds, the brothers grew increasingly concerned. They at times tried to restrict access to Jesus or protect him from interacting with a crowd. They weren’t worried that Jesus would be overwhelmed; they had watched him countless times preach with bold authority and total security in his identity. They had seen him perform a miracle in a house so crowded that a hole had been torn through the roof and a paralytic lowered down at Christ’s feet. No, the brothers were possibly more worried that they would be forgotten, and their chance to “be somebody” would flit away, like a prize fish escaping the nets they had left behind to follow Jesus. James and John determined that they would force the issue and make sure they were not overlooked. The brothers connived to have their mother approach Jesus on their behalf. She agreed to their ploy, approaching Jesus and kneeling at his feet before making her request. She appealed to Jesus, asking him to assign the highest positions of prominence to her boys so that they would sit at his right and his left when his kingdom was established. Jesus responded as though he had been long anticipating just such a strategy by these wellintentioned but misdirected young men. Looking past their mother, Jesus replied directly to James and John, saying, “You have no idea what you're asking. Are you capable of drinking the cup that I'm about to drink and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?”
See Matthew 9:6 Mark 10:14
They had seen Jesus baptized by John the Baptist. They had seen him turn water to wine. In their vastly limited understanding, the prospects seemed more inviting the more they thought about their potential future. “Sure,” they said. “Why not?” Jesus then told James and John—two men so afraid to make a request of their friendly leader that they commissioned their own mother to the task—that they would one day indeed drink from his cup. He made no promise for where they would be seated, deferring such assignments to his heavenly Father. He then reminded them that anyone who desires to be great in his kingdom must first be willing to be a servant.46 In this gentle correction, Jesus revealed that ambition is no twin to courage. Within days, Judas betrayed Jesus into the hands of murderous conspirators. James and John abandoned their ambitions as they fled in panic, also abandoning the Messiah. They watched from far as Jesus was mercilessly beaten, relentlessly mocked, and painfully crucified. From the distant vantage of fear, they watched and did nothing as he died innocently, nailed upon a cross. For all their false bravado and hollow moxie, they were unprepared for the bitter drink that must pass lips of the courageous, the sour elixir awaiting all followers of Jesus. Defeated and deflated, they returned to the life they had known before their adventure following Jesus. With Sabbath over, they would once again return to the shores of Galilee and eke out an existence as mere fishermen. They had heard the news that he had been buried and that some women were going to his tomb this morning to prepare his body according to the laws. The best they could hope for was that this would all be forgotten, and the angry Pharisees would let them toil in obscurity, their Messiah’s defeat being punishment enough for their rebellious ambition. Before they could return to their insignificant anonymity on Galilee’s waters, Mary Magdelene ran to them, shouting that the tomb of Jesus was empty. In despair, John sprinted to the tomb. Upon entering the tomb, he immediately understood and rejoiced. Jesus’ body had not been stolen. He had been resurrected! In their time of turmoil, the resurrected Jesus returned to them and gave them courage to fulfill their destiny. Jesus was fully alive and victorious. His presence gave them new perspective. As their comprehension of Jesus expanded, so too did their courage to follow him.
Matthew 20:20-28 MSG www.bryanmcanally.com - visit for more books, the blog, and audio.
James and John overcame the paralyzing dread that chased them away that ominous night of apparent defeat. Jesus, now resurrected, dwelt with the apostles and empowered them for their mission. He prepared them for the baptism they would face, modeled in his own sacrificial death. James and John became leaders. They were present as Jesus ascended to the heavens, and they persevered in the upper room waiting upon the Holy Spirit. There, the Holy Spirit visited them at the promised time and they were commissioned to advance the kingdom to the corners of the earth. Rather than run away, they began the advance. Like Jesus, they shared the good news about the coming kingdom of God. Like Jesus, they gave and taught and healed and served. Like Jesus, they sacrificed. Barely a decade after Christ’s crucifixion, James was murdered by King Herod. The ruler had him cut down with a sword to appease those in opposition to the emerging church, and to crush the rapidly growing movement of those known as Christians. John would be remembered as the closest follower of Jesus. From the cross, Jesus gave his mother to John’s watch care. The apostle Paul would later call John a “pillar” of the church47 and John is recorded as being engaged in the early church leadership48 and missionary efforts.49 John survived the beheading of his brother James at the hands of Herod, persevered through the martyrdom of each of his brother apostles, and was himself exiled to the remote island of Patmos by the emperor Domitian as a judgment against him for preaching Jesus. James and John eventually learned the distinction between ambition and courage. Each did, in time, drink from the same cup as Jesus. They grew to understand that Jesus was more than a cultural revolutionary; the Son of Man is the Son of God. To follow Jesus requires much more than raw ambition; it requires heroic courage. A Samurai Says “No matter whether person belongs to the upper or lower ranks, if he has not put his life on the line at least at least once he has cause for shame. —Nabeshima Naoshige (1538-1618)
Galatians 2:9 Acts 3:1 49 Acts 8:14
The Sword Speaks Courage is not simply a matter of “either you have it or you don’t.” In fact, the Bible indicates that courage is either something that you take or are given. Time and again, God’s men are exhorted and encouraged “Be strong!” “Be brave!” “Take courage!” “Don’t Panic!” Courage does not happen by accident, and true courage is not natural to the common man. The scriptures speak of common men who flee in fear50 and that the natural man’s response to God is to hide in fear.51 Fear is the first instinct; this is why God tells his children “do not be afraid” when facing him or his heavenly host,52 and “take courage” when facing adversaries or temptations.53 Yet, if courage is uncommon and supernatural, it requires much more from the Christian warrior than just “faking it.” To his warriors, God gives weapons that will help steel your courage to be a HERO when you might be tempted to flee in fear or fold in apathy: • Heavy Armor – You have been equipped with every spiritual resource you need to face the daunting circumstances in life.54 God has provided you with defensive armament called “the whole armor of God” to protect you from the attacks and assaults of the enemy, the world, and even of your self: o You are protected with the truth of God. The Bible commands you to “gird up your waist with truth” because God understands both how the temptations of life are like a gnawing in your belly, and how your midsection is the weakest, most vulnerable part of your body. The sin desires of sex, gluttony, and greed are all described as “hungers.” When those hungers are filled, they rarely satisfy. Soon after, the growling returns with an even larger appetite. The only remedy for this abdominal attack is the protection of the truth of Jesus. Jesus, who identified himself as the embodiment of truth, said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free!”55 Too many men toil in the bondage of self-imposed slavery to sin because they never embrace the truth available in Jesus.
see Judges 9:21 for example Genesis 3:10, Exodus 3:6 52 Luke 1:30 53 Luke 12:4 54 Ephesians 6:10-18 55 John 14:6, 8:32 www.bryanmcanally.com - visit for more books, the blog, and audio.
Jesus is no “nicotine patch” for the sin in your life. You do not simply “put him on” at the start of the day and “take him off” when you think you are safe. He is the liberator and the deliverer. His indwelling empowers you to rise above your temptations and your weaknesses. His truth is timely and it is timeless; you experience no circumstance that could be an exception to his merciful truth.56 o You are covered by his righteousness. You are told to put on the breastplate of God’s righteousness. God understands the vulnerability of man’s heart. The Bible judges the common heart to be wicked above all things and completely untrustworthy.57 To leave the heart unprotected leaves a man completely exposed to its inevitable contamination.58 The only hope for the warrior’s heart is for it to be covered by the breastplate of God’s righteousness. The Lord makes it clear that righteousness is nothing less than having a right standing before God, and the only way this is possible is to have the right standing of Jesus imparted unto you through your faith in Him as Lord.59 Jesus possesses the ability to stand before God’s righteous, holy judgment and because He who knew no sin became sin for you.60 This means he took away the wickedness of your heart and willingly bore the wrath of God’s judgment upon that wickedness on your behalf. This has purified your heart and allowed it to be a treasure chest of honor rather than of dishonor, from which blessings flow rather than evil.61 The righteousness of Jesus protects the heart of the Christian warrior. He renews the heart of the man identified in Jesus.62 He strengthens the heart with his courage.63 When you delight yourself in the Lord, he even gives you the desires of your heart!64 o You are shod by the gospel of peace. Interestingly, God identifies his gospel of peace as what protects a warrior’s feet. Perhaps it is because God understands that for all the might of a man, if he is cut down at the ankle, he is doomed in his inability to escape.
Psalm 100:5; 117:2 Jeremiah 17:9 58 Psalm 58:2-3 59 Romans 4:6-8 60 2 Corinthians 5:21 61 Matthew 12:35 62 Psalm 51:10 63 Psalm 27:14 64 Psalm 37:4
Maybe it is because God knows that passive, unprotected feet will walk compliantly into any battle, carrying a vulnerable belly full of desires or an exposed heart poisoned by wickedness into a man’s certain demise. Often, a man brought low by sin will lament, “I don’t know how it happened!” or even “It just happened!” as though the sin unexplainably manifested itself in a person’s life. However, upon closer review, the footprints of wandering into sin can be identified and tracked to show that unprotected feet inevitably lead a warrior to his defeat. Look at the example provided by Lot in the Old Testament. He saw the land of Sodom and desired it. Then, then he approached Sodom and pitched his tent there. Then he dwelt there. Then he is found at the city gates of Sodom, indicating he was counted among the leaders of that sin-filled city. After Sodom was destroyed, Lot was found living in ignominy up in the cave of Zoar with his two daughters.65 What a picture of the steps into sin! Whatever the temptation, a man first sees it from afar. Then he begins to dabble in it. Then he is living in it. Then he is fully immersed in it, believing himself to be the master over it. Inevitably, God brings that sin to judgment and lays it low, for his wrath against sin burns with a white heat of fury.66 Consequently, the man is left in shambles, facing the ignominy of being a slave to the sin which he thought himself to master. The shoes of the gospel of peace will lead you away from temptation and toward righteousness. They will take you from strife and conflict and direct you toward peace and reconciliation. However, when you find yourself in the heat of spiritual warfare, you will find that it is impossible for the enemy to attack your “Achilles heel” and bring you low when you rebuke his assaults with the truth of the gospel of Jesus. o You are buffeted by the protection of your faith. Faith is described as a shield that thwarts the “fiery darts of the wicked one.” God understands that the enemy rarely attacks directly; accordingly, you need an impenetrable defense for all the indirect assaults levied in your direction.
Genesis 13:10,12;14:12; 19:1,30 (gratitude to Chuck Missler for this example) Romans 1:18 www.bryanmcanally.com - visit for more books, the blog, and audio.
Your faith is just such the defense. When the enemy attacks you with doubt, your faith responds with the truth, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength!”67 When he flings the arrow of independence upon you, faith answers with, “In me (Jesus) you will bear much fruit, for apart from me, you can do nothing!”68 The simple truth is that faith has a defense for every lie, every accusation, and every assault the enemy can hurl at you. It is important that faith is no mere “hope that things will be okay.” Faith is not a matter of crossing your fingers or holding on to a superstition. The Bible says that your faith is the substantiation of what you hope for from God, based upon the evidence of what you cannot see.69 Faith looks with the eyes of the spirit and not the eyes of the body. It trusts in the reliable goodness and might of God and it protects perfectly. True faith is found resting in the identity of Jesus for every need of your life. One last thing about faith. It grows. Early on, James and John were of such little faith that they conspired with their mother to get their way with Jesus. However, their faith in Jesus grew and their reliance upon him increased. They were later able to “drink from his cup” because God grew their faith to a point where they were ready to do so. Likewise, even if you are “of little faith” today, begin building on your faith even today. Remember how God was faithful in your salvation. He saved your soul from the fires of hell. Certainly He can be trusted with the “lesser things” that you face, even the matters that seem overwhelming. Faith in Jesus is your shield. o You are secured by your very salvation. God calls your salvation “the helmet.” This blessed defense protects your head, your active thinking, and even your passive thoughts. Satan showed that he will attack your thought life without hesitation. Remember when he asked Eve, “Did God really say you should not eat of every tree?”70 He successfully convinced Eve to doubt her beliefs and believe her doubts. The enemy has successfully advanced the lie throughout history that to follow Jesus,
Philippians 4:13 John 15:5 69 Hebrews 11:1 70 Genesis 3:1
a person has to “check their head at the door.” This is nothing more than an unveiled attempt to reproduce the tactic that he successfully employed with Eve. However, God wants you to believe your beliefs and doubt your doubts. God reveals that the unthinking mind is a fertile field for the seeds of the enemy’s lies to bear poisonous fruit, but the active mind protected by the helmet of salvation is united with Christ. He calls the former mind “conformed,” and the latter mind, “transformed.”71 This means that the carnal mind is shaped into exactly what the enemy wants it to be – defeated, useless, and non-threatening. However, the mind of the Christian warrior is transformed, made into the actual mind of Christ.72 It is victorious, creative, powerful, and dangerous to the enemy! God is not content for you to always be on the defensive, withstanding blow after blow, wave after wave of onslaught. If this were the case, it would be very easy to feel defeated and eventually give up. No man likes to be beaten down over the course of his entire life. Thankfully, God has also provided you with offensive weaponry that you can use to take ground and claim victory: o You carry the Bible, God’s sword of the Spirit. This sword is actually presented in the Greek language as a short sword, which is used for hand-to-hand combat, as compared to the broad sword that is used for sweeping attacks. The sword of the Bible is God’s Word. It is sharper than any earthly weapon; it will pierce to the soul and the spirit. It will discern thoughts and intentions. What a great weapon to send the enemy fleeing. The fact that God equips you with this weapon indicates that you, Christian warrior, can expect to be in intimate conflict with the enemy. He hates you and he wants to destroy you. You had better be prepared to use the offensive weapon the Lord has provided you. This requires that you spend time in His word. Learn it and grow in your understanding of it. Learn how to apply it and how to avoid misapplying it. Become skilled in using it to deftly cut through lies and deception, but to also bless and heal with it. Finally, remember that this weapon is nothing less that Jesus
Romans 12:1-2 1 Corinthians 2:16 www.bryanmcanally.com - visit for more books, the blog, and audio.
Himself.73 You access the power of the Christ Himself when you humbly rely upon the Word of God to serve as your weapon against the enemy. o You have direct access to the Master through prayer. It has been said that prayer is the one arena where you can attack the enemy head on because it is the mechanism God has created for you to be in direct communication with your heavenly Father. God will hear you and answer you when you pray for the Lord to keep Satan from establishing a stronghold in your life. He will hear and answer when you ask God to lead you away from temptation and to deliver you from evil.74 When you pray with a supplicating spirit in the powerful name of Jesus, the enemy cannot stand.75 He must flee because he cannot remain in the presence of the Holy Lord God. The key to praying “in the name of Jesus” is much more than slapping that slogan to the end of your nightly prayers. This means praying the word of God for your life. It means praying what Jesus wants for you instead of what you want for you. If you want to know what Jesus wants for you, just read His Word and then pray for that!
You are not alone. You are one of a great number of mighty warriors, and courageous men will partner with you in your battle. One of the enemy’s favorite tactics is to isolate you before he undertakes his acts of destruction. He convinces you that once you fall, as soon as you sin, you are unlovable. He deceives you with the lie that God won’t accept you and that your fellow Christ-followers will judge you. Then, once he has you isolated, he convinces you to remain in your rebellion since you are unacceptable to both God and man. This, though, is not the way of God. He commands you to not forsake the assembly of other Christ-followers. This is not just an ordinance requiring your church attendance so He can mark whether or not you are in weekly Bible study. He knows you need to assemble with other warriors to sharpen your sword, to pound out the dents in your shield, to re-fill your quiver and to refit your armor. He knows you need to heal, rest, and seek counsel with other men who are on the front lines with you. You need to hear the stories of those who have survived and overcame the sniper
John 1:1 Luke 11:4 75 John 14:14
shots, frontal assaults, and hidden traps that the enemy has set. More than anything, though, you need time to worship your Lord God. Worship has taken a lot of bad press over the past couple of decades. The matters of worship have been reduced to preferences over music styles, lighting choices, and how long is “too long” for a preacher’s message. Sadly, none of this is worship. Worship is about periodically, habitually, putting oneself in right relationship with God individually and corporately. Worship is the matter of gathering together with other Christ followers and voluntarily submitting before God with joyful hearts that he is the creator and redeemer of men. Worship is praising God for who he is forever and who you are in him. When you worship God with other men, you are strengthened for the battle that inevitably waits outside the doors of the sanctuary. You have been given the complete arsenal of functional supplies to withstand any circumstance. You live in evil days and God has provided you with everything you need to stand and fight. Only when you are fully equipped with God’s provisions for the battle are you truly able to be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. • Eternal Security – The Bible declares that through faith in Jesus, you are completely protected. Even if God had not given you all the heavy armor for the battles of life, you would still be absolutely, impenetrably safe from the attacks of the enemy. Once you are safely in the hands of God, nothing can take you out of his grip.76 Nothing can separate you from God: 77 o You cannot separate yourself from Him. If you are truly “in Christ,” you will remain in Him. He will stay close to you and He will keep you close to Him. He will protect you and guide you and equip you. He blesses you and comforts you and encourages you. He will go wherever you go, and he will empower you to go to places that you could never go to alone. No man is great when he is apart from God and every man in Christ is destined for greatness. o The world cannot pry you loose. When a man’s faith is in Christ, no divisive tool from the world can pry you from him. Certainly, many men fall because of
John 10:28 Romans 8:37-39 www.bryanmcanally.com - visit for more books, the blog, and audio.
succumbing to sin; thankfully, they are forgiven and do not “fall away.” No earthly enticement is more powerful than God, and He has a solution for every temptation.78 o No leader can force you apart. Not only can you separate yourself from Jesus once He has cleaved Himself to you, nor can any other person remove you from Him. No earthly government, no secular force, and no corporate leader can divide you from the One who saves your soul and cares for your life. o Not even demons can take you away. Satan and his fallen minions are powerful and have been given authority over this world for a time.79 They wreak havoc on those who have no protection. However, for you, warrior, they have only the power that you entitle them to have, and even that power is restricted. While they can impair and restrict you, they cannot remove you from the Savior’s grasp. Your identity in Jesus is both protected and guaranteed by The Holy Spirit, who seals you until that day where you are redeemed in heaven.80 Reliance on God – You are completely protected and completely armed. Yet amazingly, you will find your courage only when you embrace the reality that it is not your fight to win! This is not your license to flee the field of battle; rather, it is the call to set your self aside and let God work through you. Whatever battle you face, a truly courageous man does not go to war using carnal weapons and humanistic strategies. He instead remembers that the indwelling presence of Jesus is greater and mightier than any adversary, anywhere, any time…forever!81 Accordingly, the courageous man uses his spiritual resources, resting in his eternal security. He gains wisdom through investing in the Word of God, for it is how he wields his sword. He prays faithfully, diligently, and continually because he knows the enemy is vanquished when the courageous man communes with God. He walks by faith, he lives righteously, he celebrates truth and he shares the gospel of peace.
1 Corinthians 10:13 Ephesians 2:2 80 Ephesians 1:4,14 81 1 John 4:4
Ordained and Trained – A man of courage realizes that life does not happen by accident, even when the events are unexpected. He believes that either God is in control of everything or he is in control of nothing. As such, he faces every difficulty because he recognizes that God has deemed him worthy to do so. He seeks learning and understanding in each of life’s trials because he realizes that to share in suffering in this life brings glory to God for the next.82 When you find yourself sipping from the same cup as Jesus and being wronged for righteousness’ sake, you can stand firm for the Kingdom, thankful for the opportunity.
Every man has the opportunity to be either a hero or a zero. The Christian man of courage is fully engaged in the battle, acutely aware of his resources, and fully dependent upon God for his protection and provision. No matter the potential earthly outcome, the Christian man overcomes life’s fears because of the works of the risen Lord Jesus working mightily within him.83 Be a Man of Heroic Courage Courage requires much of a man, and God requires his man to have much courage. Courage requires bravery, wisdom, calm, and patience. So many of the demands and expectations of the Christian life are impossible without courage. In a world where the assault on faith is relentless, a man without courage has little hope of withstanding the attack. Without courage, a man is quickly rendered powerless or even irrelevant. As it has been said, courage is not the absence of fear but the mastery over it. A courageous man is one who will stand firm in the face of fear because he knows that fleeing has devastating consequence. True courage is found in the man whose conduct affirms and not betrays his convictions. He faithfully assumes his place as a sentinel over himself, his family, his church, and others. He will suppress his fear for the sake of others because so much is at stake. However, time has proven that the true enemy of courage is not fear, but apathy. Too many men in too many generations have “opted out” of the opportunity to be men of courage. It is not that they are afraid; it is that they have chosen not even to address the circumstance. The consequence of this negligence is that morals are relative and relatives are immoral. With few men standing up for what is right, “what is right” has been exchanged for “what feels right.”
2 Timothy 1:7-9 Colossians 1:29 www.bryanmcanally.com - visit for more books, the blog, and audio.
Consequently, there is no greater coward than a man of apathy. God makes clear that there is no place in heaven for just such a coward.84 James and John demonstrated the uncompromising expanse between ambition and courage. While a drought of courage parches today’s landscape, there is no similar shortfall of ambition. Comparing qualifications and conniving to get ahead is never healthier than now, being orchestrated by ambitious men possessing little courage. James and John learned that not only are ambition and courage not related, they are often at odds. As a man becomes more courageous because of his identity in Christ, he will often find that the ambitions that compelled him earlier in life no longer hold such an attraction. A man does not become less ambitious as a Christ-follower; his ambitions are re-oriented toward more worthwhile and significant pursuits. Heroic Courage in Your Family Relationships Everyone you love is looking for a hero. Even if she will not admit it, almost every woman wants to marry her hero – the man who will protect her, defend her, lead her, and love her. She wants to feel completely safe, comprehensively secure, and exclusively desired by her man. Unfortunately, most women settle for far less – the unheroic man who sees his wife as a possession, a necessity, or perhaps an inconvenience, but certainly not a treasure. Jesus commands you to love your wife as He loves His bride, the church.85 Jesus loves His own bride with a heroic love. His love is passionate, attentive, sacrificial, gracious, and merciful. He tends to His bride and nurtures her. He forgives her continually and is extremely patient with her. What a model for you, warrior! When you love your own bride the same way your Master loves His bride, your own bride will likely find you an easy husband to submit to, and be eager to embrace you as the hero you were ordained to be. Your children are desperate for a hero, too. In fact, your children need a hero so badly that many are quick to adopt reckless athletes or self-addicted celebrities as their role models. You may never be as flashy as the All-Star who rings up felonies like they were a statistic in the box score, but you can be so much more heroic. You may never make a headline like the womanizing
Revelation 21:8 Ephesians 5:25
movie star, but you can provide a real, tangible example of what it means to be a godly example to your children. As a dad, you have two basic jobs. To your sons, you have the responsibility to show them what it means to follow Jesus. You are their best example of a godly man. Teach them well. Do not give in to the temptation to be your son’s friend at the expense of being his father. Heroically commit to teaching him the hard-but-necessary lessons about sexual purity, personal integrity, godly fidelity, and pursuit of his personal mission. To your daughters, you carry the heavy responsibility to show them the type of man they should be seeking in a husband. Show them devotion to God. Show them that their own husband should be a man who will heroically stand up for the truth of God and compassionately share the truth of Jesus as His warrior. Then, protect your daughters from the multitude of men who fall short of this standard. Teach your daughters to be confidently assured of their beautiful identity in Christ, and not to compromise themselves for any man and forfeit God’s best in the process. Heroic Courage in Your Spiritual Relationships The Kingdom needs brave warriors leading the church. God is looking for servant-hearted men who will stand up and be counted. God is calling men as pastors, ministers, elders, deacons, and lay-leaders who will stand up against the heresies of the day. God seeks men who will not passively sit idle while false doctrines, worldly wisdom, and selfish people poison the congregation and imperil His flock. You don’t have to be clergy or wait to be ordained to begin your service as a heroic warrior. Be brave. Volunteer for preschool Sunday morning care and invest in the lives of God’s smallest blessings. Serve in the children’s department and model godly manhood to young boys and girls, since many do not have any parallel example in their own homes. Spend time in your church’s youth group or student ministry. Invite teens into appropriate relationships with your family, to whet their appetites for good, healthy family relationships. As a man, you have been called to the front line of the spiritual battle. You have been called to partner with your pastor and ministerial staff to engage the enemy. Recognize the men with whom you are in alliance. Pray for your pastor and clergy. Ask God to imbue in them His power of influence and effectiveness. Intercede for them, asking the Holy Spirit to protect them. Take courage to ask God to protect your leaders’ and cohorts’ flanks.
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Finally, be active in your church’s life. Go to church more frequently than just Sunday morning. Be involved in a service or leadership teams and serve out of your giftedness. Discuss the direction of the church with your bride and explain the congregational activity of your church with your children. Have spiritual conversations with your family and with your church friends. The more you focus on the church as a central component to your life, the more you will care about the enemy’s and the world’s attacks upon it, and the more you will rise up and oppose the assault. Heroic Courage in Your Personal Relationships Many people in the world are looking for a courageous hero, too. They just do not realize it. The angry bravado of many men is really a false front masking a multitude of insecurities and fears. Many men give their entire lives to a losing battle of comparing incomes, job titles, and excessive indulgences with their neighbors as an empty means of establishing their own worth and merit. When you conscientiously step out of this unwinnable contest and instead place your security in Christ, this brave action is noteworthy in its uniqueness. Being a man of heroic courage in Jesus has high risk, but it also has great potential reward. In being this sort of man, you will be drinking from the cup of Jesus, because you certainly increase the likelihood that you will be mocked, scorned, suppressed, or even oppressed. However, you will be a testament to those around you, and you will have opportunities to share truth with them that would otherwise pass by in silence. Boldly live your faith in quiet, respectful, but distinctive consistency; when the opportunity arises, clearly communicate the faith that lives within you.86 These are the simple actions of a courageous hero that indeed please the Master. Heroic Courage in Action In Western society, rarely is a Christ-follower asked to be courageous enough to die for Christ. Instead, the challenge is even more frightening – to live for Jesus. These are days where the livelihood of a man is much more often at stake than is his actual life. To follow Christ requires a man to be willing to pay the price and continue living. This brand of courage expects a man to live with the identity of a Christian, knowing that it may isolate and ostracize him. It
1 Peter 3:15
requires him to be a leader, and to walk in submission to Jesus even if by doing so, he will suddenly stand alone. Tennis great Arthur Ashe said, “True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic.” The courage required to be faithful to God, day-by-day and temptation-totemptation is no small task and is heroic indeed. Timeless Insight “It requires more courage to suffer than to die.” ––Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821) For Personal Reflection 1. Has there been a time in your life where you have acted like a “Son of Thunder?” How have you behaved with impetuous ambition, and what were the consequences? 2. Why do so many men simply “opt out” of the call to walk the Way of the Warrior? How have you seen the effects of men abandoning their responsibility to be spiritual leaders? 3. What are you afraid of, spiritually? What are the concerns you have for this life with your self, your spouse, and your family? How has God provided to address those fears? 4. Which aspect of the HERO acronym is most encouraging to you? Why? 5. Courage rarely consists of monumental stands against opposition in heroic arenas. Rather, it requires the persistent commitment to keep standing in the face of every small conflict, unwilling to give ground to your enemy. Take inventory over your life and assess where you have given ground simply because the adversary has been dogged in his attack. Reclaim lost ground today in the name of your Master, and renew your passion to live the vigilant life of a courageous warrior. The Warrior’s Wisdom The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me? Hebrews 13:6
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Benevolent Morality & Righteous Justice
Blessed are those who keep justice, and he who does righteousness at all times! Psalm 106:3 NKJV In the shadow of the cross, James—the brother of Jesus—considered the injustice he had just witnessed. For three years, he had watched as his older half-brother circulated through the communities of Judea teaching, preaching, serving and healing. Sometimes, James lingered on the fringes of the crowd, unable to get near his miraculous brother through the constant throng that gathered around him. James stood at the outside edge of the audience when Jesus proclaimed that his real family consisted of those who heard and did the will of his Father in heaven. This message both stung his ears and burned in his heart. Jesus was calling for a radical new religion…a faith that existed in its expressions of benevolent morality and righteous justice. 87 James had heard the speculation stirring through the swarms. Some people thought Jesus was a prophet. Some thought he was Elijah or even John the Baptist. Others thought he was a high priest. Yet another group considered him to be God’s chosen Messiah to lead them to break free of the Roman oppression. James watched it all with fascination, not sure exactly which theory about his brother to believe. He was even less certain how to place his own faith in his brother for relief from the injustices against which Jesus routinely railed. Regardless of what was said about him, there were two basic thoughts of how people wanted to relate to his brother. The crowd wanted either to follow him as king or to kill him as a blasphemer. James viewed the now-empty cross, seeing its rough grain sodden tacky with his brother’s blood. James lowered his head in disappointment, knowing that in the end the murderers had overwhelmed the worshippers. Though his brother was innocent of the charges against him, he
had been put to death in order to satisfy the bloodlust of the falsely religious Pharisees. Now, while the conspiring murderers sanctimoniously celebrated the ironic Passover of God, his brother’s body lay wrapped in burial cloths on the slab of a borrowed tomb of a rich and respected Jewish Christian from Arimathea named Joseph.88 Shortly after the death of Jesus, James went through a personal change captured forever in the history of the Bible. Perhaps the unequaled injustice of his brother’s murder motivated James. Perhaps the sheer absence of morality required to falsely accuse, arrest, imprison, abuse, and ultimately murder Jesus compelled James to act, rather than just to talk about how somebody should stand up and make a difference. Perhaps after the following of Jesus’ death, James became so aware and offended by the prevalence of immorality and injustice in the world that he could not sit any longer idly by as the world imploded on its own lack of spiritual conviction. Whatever possibilities provoked him to action, in his brother Jesus, James witnessed how much justice one man could bring to an unjust world when his morals served as a catalyst for action. This was no small matter for James. The initial example Jesus provided influenced James greatly. However, if the initial example were all Jesus that had been able to offer, there would have been nothing more in his brother James than simply a great inspiration. Sources of inspiration are a fine blessing, but James’ commitment to justice and morality far exceeded mere inspiration. The Bible records that Jesus proved that He was much more than a muse who incited good works. Three days after he was buried, fantastic and amazing reports spread through the region that Jesus who had been killed on the cross was alive, risen from the dead! Quickly, the events unfurled to detail that Jesus, fully resurrected had been seen by some of his female followers, and then by his inner circle of followers.89 Soon after, Jesus appeared to five hundred followers at once. Then, Jesus appeared to James himself.90 James’ older brother—born of the same mother, but from a different father—was once dead and was now fully alive. Jesus spoke among, broke bread with, and taught these people; he was no mere ghost or apparition. Jesus demonstrated that the same power He had used to defeat the
John 19:38-42 See Matthew 28:1-19 90 1 Corinthians 15:5-7 www.bryanmcanally.com - visit for more books, the blog, and audio.
injustices rampant in His life were at His disposal to defeat the injustice of His own death. Jesus showed that He was more than a charismatic leader with an intriguing message and an inspirational philosophy. He showed that He is the Lord’s Messiah, God in flesh!91 It was nothing less than the reality of Jesus as Lord that compelled James’ transformation from fringe observer to fully devoted follower. By the blessed provision of Jehovah God, James was a blood sibling to Jesus; by willful submission by faith, James was a servant-warrior and follower of the Risen Lord Jesus. James was a witness who saw his resurrected brother Jesus ascend to the Father in the heavens. James was a participant who obediently waited in a small upper room for the Helper who Jesus had promised would come.92 The Helper arrived as promised; the indwelling, empowering presence of the Holy Spirit freed James to complete the journey from cynical skeptic to hopeful seeker to justice-imparting ambassador. James became a church leader to Jerusalem. He was known for his attention to justice. When his colleague Peter was freed from Herod’s prison, he instructed disciples to get word to James that he was free.93 In his leadership, James exhorted followers of Christ to remember to minister to societies’ disadvantaged.94 James was the spiritual leader in charge when a dispute arose about whether or not Gentile converts should be circumcised in obedience with the Old Testament laws. Not surprisingly, grace-laden justice won out. James eventually penned an epistle to Christ’s followers that was reproduced and circulated from congregation to congregation and believer to believer. Its theme: let there be no gap between faith and works. He clarified that the marks of true religion were joy in the midst of calamity, unshakable faith and a resolute mind, an ability to accept circumstances as they came, an ability to withstand temptation, a recognition of the source and expression of blessing, and a complete congruence between beliefs and conduct. James lived and taught that where there were no good works, there was no faith. In fact, good works perfected faith. Conversely, wherever there was injustice, it was evidence of false faith and a worldly mindset. James clearly instructed that partiality or partial obedience, doubleminded thinking or double-tongued speech, the Spirit of God was absent and unholy conduct of
1 Timothy 2:5 Acts 1:9-14 93 Acts 12:17 94 Galatians 2:9-10
all varieties would likely soon manifest. He warned all believers to be steadfast, prayerful, and consistently about the work of sharing the gospel with others. Historians record that James died a martyr’s death for bringing justice to those who had suffered injustice. Approximately thirty years after Jesus was crucified, James was swarmed by a mob of Pharisees and scribes. They urged him to restrain the Christians who were proclaiming Jesus as Lord. When he refused, they threw him from a high tower. Surviving the murder attempt, James was then stoned to death by the unruly horde as a penalty for the trumped charge of “breaking the law.”95 While he lived, James became significant because his morality was more than philosophy; it was a catalyst for mercy-filled, grace-giving justice. When he died, he was welcomed into eternity by his Brother and His Lord, Jesus, who commended him for his diligent and faithful service, affirming that one day all injustices would be remedied and peace would reign forever.96 A Samurai Says It is truly regrettable that a person will treat a man who is valuable to him well, and a man who is worthless to him poorly. ––Hojo Shigetoki (1198-1261) The Sword Speaks The Christ-follower enjoys the blessing of the Holy Spirit to live perfectly, yet many who call Christ “Lord” struggle to live any differently than they did when they lived apart from his lordship. One of the most damaging witnesses to the gospel of Jesus is the immoral choices and actions of those who are identified as the children of God through faith in Jesus. At a time where evangelical Christianity is known more for what it is against than for what it offers, the call to live righteously and justly is timely and relevant If morality and justice are indivisible twins, then it is important to understand each, as well as how they relate. Morality is an act of the will to live according to an established standard. By extension, “amorality” is living according to no standard and “immorality” is living against the established standard. Justice is the execution of morality. Where many men fail is in connecting
Eusebius, Fragments from the Acts of the Church; Concerning the Martyrdom of James, the Brother of the Lord, from Book 5. 96 Matthew 25:21 www.bryanmcanally.com - visit for more books, the blog, and audio.
the execution of justice by the standard of morality that governs them. Here are four practical anchors you can count on in your own life to help you execute justified living according to the morals established in you by the power of Jesus Christ:
Faith in God’s Justice: This age is one not only of relative morals, but also in relative justice. The wealthy and famous seem to be judged by a different standard and are often held to a more lenient code of conduct. A quick look through the day’s top news headlines highlights that injustice is rampant and immorality is the new morality. Every day, guilty murderers “walk” on technicalities, pedophiles roam the playgrounds, and criminals manipulate the legal system to their advantage. This injustice is nothing new; it has been this way throughout time. The Bible’s oldest book laments an apparent lack of justice in the world.97 Jesus said that as time nears its end, injustice will increase significantly.98 God himself looked upon the earth for justice distributed among men and found only oppression.99 Looking back through history and around the world today, any honest evaluation would assess man’s ability to execute justice apart from God as an abject failure. Because men fail so miserably in distributing justice, it seems foolish not to trust completely in God’s perfect judgment. Men who trust in Jesus as Lord count upon God’s fairness in judgment when they die. The Bible teaches that those who are saved are not judged on their own merit, but rightly upon the merit of the Son.100 Unfortunately, too many of the same men who are absolutely counting upon God’s mercy for their selves fail to extend the same faith to God in his ability to rightly judge others. Too many Christian men withhold the gospel, withhold mercy, withhold grace, and withhold service to others because like Jonah, they fear that if they extend these blessings to those they have unfairly judged as “the worst offenders,” God may “let them off the hook.”101 Remember that you are judged by the same standard by which you judge.102 In this regard, it is better to stay “off the bench” and leave the judgment to God alone.103 Trust that
Job 19:7 Matthew 24:4-11 99 Isaiah 5:7 100 1 John 4:10 101 See Jonah 4:1-4 102 Matthew 7:2 103 Luke 6:37
God will faithfully and rightfully judge every nation and every person of every nation.104 When the Lord executes his judgment it will be perfect, it will be appropriate, and it will be final.105 While you have the liberty (and even the command) to be a wise discerner of this age and the situations taking place around you, take peace in the promise of God’s perfect judgment.106
Abundant Mercy: Once you are free from the responsibility of patrolling as a selfappointed circuit judge of divine justice, you are available to begin distributing abundant mercy. Many men might say they do not possess much mercy and are therefore reluctant to share what little resources they have. Never forget that in Jesus, you are a full recipient of God’s abundant mercy. The blessing of mercy from God means that the Lord generously determined to withhold something that you rightfully deserved – judgment, death, and eternal separation from Him.107 Everything in you deserved strict judgment, yet God instead withheld that consequence from you and instead placed it upon His Son. God’s command to you to be full of mercy means that you, too, would withhold consequences from an offender even when they do not merit such an act of disciplined restraint. It is human nature to give people “what they deserve,” but you in doing so, you only invite judgment upon yourself by that same measure. Instead, the Bible teaches that deliberate mercy to all is both redemptive and therapeutic.108 Abundant mercy is shown in dozens of little ways, most of which originate with the humble act of acknowledging to God that you cannot judge nearly as effectively as can the Lord and that your own shortcomings blind you from dispensing appropriate justice.109 Once you have turned judicial matters over to God, you are free to “hold your tongue” from speaking critical statements and to dismiss condemning thoughts about the one who offends you. Grace: Just as justice and morality are two sides of the same coin, so too is
grace inseparable from mercy. If mercy is when God withholds something you rightfully deserve, then grace is when he lavishly gives you something you do not deserve. When He
1 Sam 2:10,25 cf. Rev. 20:12,13 106 cf. Heb. 5:14 107 Ephesians 2:4-5 108 Matthew 5:7, Proverbs 11:17 109 Matthew 7:4-5 www.bryanmcanally.com - visit for more books, the blog, and audio.
withheld judgment and punishment from you, that merciful action was accompanied by the grace-filled blessing of instead giving you forgiveness, fellowship with Him, heaven and eternal life. When you withhold judgment from others who offend you, it never occurs in a vacuum. You always have an opportunity to give a blessing in the place of the condemnation that was withheld. In fact, you end up overcoming an enemy when you bless them in their time of need because in doing so, your enemy becomes your ally.110 Grace is amazing because, like mercy, it is undeserved and it is supernaturally restorative. Grace does not have to be distributed in grand, dramatic displays. In fact, it is often in the small, seemingly insignificant ways that the lasting blessing of grace is most impacting. When somebody is rude or insensitive, be gracious in your response to them. When someone selfishly benefits at your expense, be graceful and give them the gift of undeserved forgiveness. The reality is that there is no small undeserved blessing, and a dozen small kindnesses are often much more meaningful than one sweeping gesture. Finally, imitate Jesus and dispense grace impartially. God gave you grace based upon who He is, not upon who you are or what you have to offer.111 He poured out His grace to you because doing so is totally in accordance with His character and nature. Take advantage of those opportunities that God gives you to impart grace upon those who deserve it the least but need it the most because God dispensed His grace impartially to you. List people to whom you would not normally give grace, versus those to whom you would more liberally. Are your wife and children among those who receive your regular gifts of grace, or is it rare for them to receive this blessing for you? If they receive much grace for you, make the deliberate effort to be as graceful with others as you are with them. If they tend to receive more judgment from you than do others, focus on being more graceful with them. Remember that grace is not based upon performance, or else it would not be grace.
to Holiness: As a child of God, you have an obligation to relate with
Him. The Lord never intends to have an estranged relationship with those He redeems. He desires close communication with you, where you speak to Him in prayer and He speaks to
Romans 12:20 Ephesians 2:8-10
you through His Word and leads you by His indwelling Holy Spirit. In every way, God demonstrates his holy nature to you, which in turn should evoke a response from you. The Bible offers repeated examples of how common men responded when they encountered God’s holiness. Moses hid his face.112 Isaiah became “undone.”113 Daniel was troubled.114 Paul fell to his face.115 John fell as though dead.116 The example is clear: in the presence of God, there is no pride, no sense of self. All vanity melts away in the purity of God’s holiness. Awareness of the holiness of God keeps man in proper perspective of self and frees him to conduct himself in a way that honors God and glorifies Jesus. Total humility before the Lord empowers a man to behave with grace and mercy, deferring all judgment to God so that as his child, the man may exemplify and advance justice and morality in a sin-filled and woefully unjust and immoral world. How do you respond to the holiness of God? Most men never get the opportunity to encounter God the way the warriors of the Bible did, such as to witness a fire from heaven or a pillar of cloud or a burning bush. However, it is still possible to have significant, meaningful encounters with the God of eternity. Remember that it is only possible to encounter God in worship. This does not mean you can only have a “Sunday morning experience” with your master. While you certainly can have a real encounter with God on Sunday morning’s corporate worship, any time you are in prayer, any time you are in Bible study, and any time you are spiritually focused upon God, it is possible to have an encounter with him. When you do encounter God in worship, expect to share the common reaction as your patriarchal forerunners. Expect to be undone in your sin. Expect to be driven to your face in humility. Expect to be laid low in your realization of the high, inestimable holy glory of God and in the contrasting low, filthy, sin-filled depravity of man. Your sin will be laid out before you and it will be judged. Expect to be sanctified in the presence of God, cleansed to accomplish the miraculous. The warrior of Christ does not fear this opportunity, he welcomes it. He acknowledges that his nature is base and needs redemption. He concurs that in the flesh he struggles, but in
Exodus 3:5 Isaiah 6:5 114 Daniel 7:15 115 Acts 9:4 116 Revelation 1:17 www.bryanmcanally.com - visit for more books, the blog, and audio.
the spirit he soars. And the true warrior, even while reading these words may find his flesh groaning in protestations, in his spirit he implores, “Yes Lord! Cleanse me!” The passive man and the common man share a mediocre or blasé response to the possibility of encountering God in worship. Perhaps it is because too many men call him “Savior,” but do not submit to him as “Lord.” To them, Jesus is a friend, an example, or just someone important for their children. But to the true warrior, the only proper response to encountering God is to fall face-forward in worship. Just as there is a proper physical response, there is also a proper attitudinal response to God. That simply is, “Yes, Lord!” Whatever God commands, the warrior’s response is obedience. There is no such response as partial obedience, for this is merely total disobedience dressed up in the camouflage of time. Jesus has removed the scales from your eyes. He has opened your perspective to the reality of His holiness. You now have every ability to respond to God properly in attitude, in word, and in deed. Your proper response to His holiness equips you to see the world as it truly is in its fallen state, and respond with the supernatural morality and justice of Jesus Christ. “That’s not fair!” is the common cry of injustice in this life. The reality is, God never said it would be fair. In fact, He said you can count on life to be unfair at times. However, God’s tolerance for injustice is limited, and the day will come when His justice is distributed without restraint, without prejudice, and without delay. When that day arrives, He will comfort those who mourn and give them beauty for their ashes and oil of joy for their mourning. He will exchange their spirit of heaviness with a garment of praise, to the purpose of His glory.117 Until that day arrives, you have been authorized to be a model of God’s morality and justice by how you preach good tidings to the poor, how you heal the brokenhearted, how you proclaim liberty to the captives, how you open the prisons of those who are bound, and how you proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.118 This was the mission mandate for Jesus, and He has commanded you to go and do likewise.119 Be A Man of Benevolent Morality & Righteous Justice
Isaiah 61:3-4 Isaiah 61:2-3 119 Luke 4:16-21; Matthew 28:18-20
Most men believe they are moral, regardless of spiritual devotion or religious affiliation. Most men generally identify themselves as “good.” A typical man does not generally think evil of others, want harm to come to others, or plan malicious schemes against others. And for most men, this low standard of goodness is all that is required to pass a relatively flattering selfassessment of his character and nature. The typical man reasons that when the net assessment of his life is given, if his positive attributes outweigh his negative traits—even if only slightly— then his goodness will be sufficient for reward. However, the biblical standard of justice is much loftier, and it is undeniably linked to a principle of absolute morality. The Hebrew term for justice, tsadaq, means to “be right” in a forensic sense. This means that moral rightness has a universal standard, an objective, unwavering, changeless point of reference by which all conduct is measured. It also means that man is not the determiner of his own goodness; his life will be measured according to that standard by one who is just and justified to make such a determination. Interestingly, Jesus is both the standard as well as the one who measures all men to it.120 He was tempted yet sinless, the embodiment of absolute morality.121 Jesus Himself declared that perfection was the baseline for entrance into heaven and any person who fell short had no hope on his own of passing through to eternity.122 Unfortunately, every person falls short.123 Only the person who realizes his own inadequacy to attain God’s perfect standard has hope. He who accepts his own imperfections—his fatal limitations—and confesses his need to God will be shown grace and mercy by God. Jesus who was perfection is the perfection available to men. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father except through Me.”124 When a man submits to Christ as Lord, not only has he been imparted with the standard of absolute morality to be measured as justified by God, he has also been empowered to live with moral excellence and distribute compassionate justice.125 In this, justice and morality are two sides of the same coin. Justice without morality is tyranny and morality without justice is sin.126
Romans 2:16; 2 Tim. 4:1 Hebrews 4:15 122 Matthew 5:48 123 Rom. 3:23 124 John 14:6 125 John 14:16-17; Matthew 25:31-46 126 cf. Acts 15:10, James 4:17 www.bryanmcanally.com - visit for more books, the blog, and audio.
The faith that saves you from hell is also the faith that compels you to exemplify morality and justice with selfless service and virtuous living.127 Morality and Justice in Your Family Relationships As the leader of your home, you are both the thermometer and thermostat of morality and justice within your family. Just as a thermometer reads a room’s temperature, you are responsible for monitoring these conditions in your home. You bear the weight of assessing whether your wife and children have a clear sense of morality. You are responsible for discerning whether or not your loved ones are sensitive to the injustices in their world, and whether or not injustices concern them. However, it is not sufficient to simply be aware of the spiritual temperature in your family environment, you are also to serve as a thermostat that can “turn up the heat” whenever necessary. Be the leader in your family to develop morality based upon the high standard of God’s holiness. Teach and model grace, mercy, and justice to your loved ones, explaining the source of these concepts as you do so. In a world that screams that life does not matter and consequently, “if it feels good, do it!” the challenge grows increasingly difficult to be taken credibly, even from within your own family. Even so, stay faithful to the unwavering standard of God’s truth, for your consistency will serve as a stark contrast to the shifting positions of the carnal mind in the fallen world. Explain right and wrong at every opportunity, and adhere to it with equal fervor. Morality and Justice in Your Spiritual Relationships James passionately exhorted Christians to avoid favoritism because he understood that the divisive practice of preferential treatment had a knack of weaseling in to even the most “religious” of places. In fact, relative morality and skewed justice are prevalent heresies in the church today. Too many otherwise well-intentioned church-goers fancy themselves heavenbound not on their personal faith in Jesus as Lord, but in their baseless self-assurance that they are relatively righteous enough to make it to heaven, not nearly as carnal-minded as that weirdo sitting across the aisle. This sort of relativity is the breeding ground for all manners of heretical practices and favoritism. It is a small step from grading or rating sins to grading or rating sinners. Jesus
reminds warriors to take out the plank of sin in their own life before they comment on the splinter of sin in their brother’s life.128 Morality in the church is deaf to the arguments intended to betray its unattainable standard in the perfection of Jesus. He said, “Be perfect, like your father in heaven is perfect.” 129 The standard is clear and no contemporary argument can accommodate a corruption of the morality expected of the Christian man. Conversely, the justice of the Christian warrior is blind to differences of the offended. Because the standards of morality are clear and unchanging, so too are the implications that the unwavering nature of justice be fairly and evenly distributed among all people. Morality and Justice in Your Personal Relationships All around you morality is lax and justice is perverted. Coworkers steal office supplies and hard-workers get passed over for promotion in favor of sycophants or relatives. “The wrong people” get fired or laid off despite faithfulness and loyalty, while the other “wrong people” are rewarded despite being divisive, lazy, conspiring, or mutinous. Neighbors are cheating on their spouses and domestic violence is ever-increasing. Crime continues unabated and all around you, people cry out for justice only to see a mockery be made of it. You have a unique opportunity to speak to truth with so much going on about injustice. You have a message of future hope, equality, and justice. You have an encouraging word that nights of fearfully locking down windows and shutting blinds will one day soon be over. You have great news that no injustice will go unaddressed, and no personal offenses of the children of God will be held against them. Beyond being a carrier of this good news, you also have the opportunity to be a distributor of justice and morality while on this earth. You can be the kind heart that gives to those who never receive. You can be the man who lives according to the disciplined moral code to live pure, think pure, live pure, and be pure. You can set the tone that worshipping God is paramount, being a disciple in His truth is vital, and that your example can be held in preferred contrast to the inferior way of the world that honors immorality and perpetually allows injustice.
Matthew 7:5 Matthew 5:48 www.bryanmcanally.com - visit for more books, the blog, and audio.
You will find that you do not have to wag a finger in anyone’s direction when they do wrong, as long as you commit to living right, and to verbally connect the dots between the ‘why’ and the ‘how’ of this decision. The Spirit of Conviction will do His work, as He moves them from the guilt of their offense to the rejoicing of forgiveness.130 Be faithful to stand up for those who have no advocate, and speak truth in all things. These simple actions of justice and morality will be highly effective in the arsenal of the faithful warrior. Benevolent Morality and Righteous Justice in Action For all the social development that has occurred over the centuries, the reality of injustice has only increased and immorality has become more acceptable. As a warrior for Christ, your morality is the personal code of conduct that determines how you will act in and react to the world around you. Justice, on the other hand, is how you express your morality to others. Justice is the hands and feet to the mindset established in morality. For every man, his expression of justice (or how he treats others) either affirms or denies what he claims about his morality. Strive to live consistently according to the moral code established in you through your faith in Jesus. Demonstrate your morality through expressions of justice where grace and mercy abound, holiness is honored, and judgment is deferred to the Lord. Timeless Insight “Justice is a certain rectitude of mind whereby a man does what he ought to do in the circumstances confronting him.” ––Thomas Aquinas (1225 – 1274) For Personal Reflection 1. Have you ever been victimized by the injustice or immorality of another? What did that experience do to your faith? 2. How have you seen a godly man behave in a way that betrays his morality? How did that experience change your opinion or relationship with that man?
3. Where do you see justice and morality diverge in your own life? Are they ways that your justice nearly matches your morality, but doesn’t align perfectly? For example, do you tend to give grace impartially or with partiality? 4. Which aspect of the FAIR acronym speaks to you most about how God deals with you? How have God’s actions of justice and morality unto you provided blessing to you that you otherwise would not have experienced? 5. It is impossible to be moral if you are not also just. Choose to live your morality today as a just man who has been made just by the grace, mercy, holiness, and justice of God. Demonstrate your Christ-oriented justice with real acts that make a difference of the lives of others.
The Warrior’s Wisdom For the LORD gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding; He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk uprightly; He guards the paths of justice, And preserves the way of His saints. Proverbs 2:6-8 NKJV
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Look at that man, bloated by self-importance— full of himself but soul-empty. But the person in right standing before God through loyal and steady believing is fully alive, really alive. Habakkuk 2:4 MSG Timothy was loyal; his steadfastness is the fruit borne from his mentor’s own experiences of seeing painfully misplaced loyalties replaced by new devotion marked by grace. Before Timothy was ever born, a man named Saul lived the devoted life in loyal service of Pharisaic Judaism. Saul followed the law devoutly. As an heir in the tribe of Benjamin, he had grown up as a reverent disciple of the faith. He studied under Gamaliel, the most esteemed and authoritative Rabbi of the day. And when the sect of believers who had been worshipping Jesus as Messiah began preaching his resurrection, Saul was zealous to crush the movement with an iron fist of persecution. He quickly sentenced imprisonment and even death to any proselytizing heretic at any opportunity. Saul’s loyalty afforded him the responsibility of officially witnessing the murder of Stephen, who many today consider the first martyr of Christianity. With pleasure, Saul set course to Damascus. There, he would retrieve shackled Christians for delivery to Jerusalem, where they could face trial and judgment simply for believing that Jesus was the Promised One of whom the scriptures had clearly spoken.131 Yet, it was on that dusty, well-traveled road to Damascus where Saul’s loyalties were radically exchanged. As he approached Damascus, Jesus—the very one who Saul had dedicated his life to opposing—confronted Saul. The rumored Messiah appeared to him, resurrected and fully alive. There, Jesus forgave Saul. There, Jesus saved Saul. There, Jesus re-commissioned Saul.
Phil 3:3-6; Acts 22:1-5,20
There, Saul offered a new, eternal loyalty to the One he had persecuted, to be expressed in the context of faithful service. From then on, everything about Saul was different. While he completed his journey into Damascus, instead of collecting a quarry of Christians, Saul went and dwelt among them. They established a new, shared loyalty with their former oppressor based on a common faith in Jesus as Messiah. They receiving Saul warmly and ministering to his needs. From there, Saul bravely toured the synagogues and instead of condemning Christians as heretics, he proved that the claims of Jesus were true. 132 Eventually even his name would change to Paul to reflect his new loyalty.133 Because of his new understanding of Jesus as Lord, every thought, belief, and loyalty of the former Christianmurdering Pharisee was transformed to meet a new purpose. Because Paul had always been passionate about his loyalties, he determined that he could not simply stay put. He determined that to truly honor his loyalty to God, he would faithfully carry the message of Jesus as Lord to his family in the Jewish faith, and also to the Gentile world. Under the protective wing of his loyal friend and mentor Barnabas, the firebrand Christian warrior Paul began his first missionary adventure as an apprentice. Together with Barnabas’ nephew, the young John Mark, they had canvassed 1,400 miles. From Antioch in Syria over to the island of Cyprus then on eastward to the regions of Pamphylia and Pisidia, they took the gospel into every community and established congregations of faithful Christ-followers. Well into the journey, John Mark left the group and returned to Jerusalem, causing contention between Paul and Barnabas. Yet the two continued, sharing the gospel of Jesus first with the Jews and later with the Gentiles. Together, they arrived in Lystra where the resident Greeks confused the missionaries for the gods Hermes and Zeus.134 The Gentile crowds first adored Paul as he performed a miracle, only to soon revile him as Jewish leaders from nearby communities gathered and incited the crowd to stone him in an attempt to silence him forever. The mob left him for dead, but he yet lived when he rose after being surrounded by fellow believers.135 He continued ministering in the area, introducing many to faith in Jesus and leading
Acts 9:1-20 Acts 14:9 134 Acts 14:12 135 Acts 14:20 www.bryanmcanally.com - visit for more books, the blog, and audio.
them to grow in their understanding of what it means to follow Jesus. A couple years passed; Paul and Barnabas continued on and eventually returned to Jerusalem. When the time came for a second missionary endeavor, Paul and Barnabas revisited their division over John Mark. Paul was travel-tested and persecution-conditioned. The apprentice had become the mentor and he was looking for a young Christ-follower who would be a worthwhile investment. They agreed to honor their loyalty to their Master, Jesus, and undertake two separate missionary efforts. John Mark and Barnabas departed for Cyprus. Paul returned to Lystra, accompanied by the disciple Sirus. As was his custom, Paul taught in the synagogue, to a mixed audience of Jews and Christian converts. A young man was among the converts, and Paul learned that the young man held a good reputation with the leaders. Paul looked at this young man with in consideration for his need for an apprentice. Paul knew the work ahead would be demanding, the reward would be delayed, and the opposition would by harsh and consistent. Paul needed a man who would be brave and had the mettle to face trials, setbacks, and determined opposition. Paul needed a man who would be loyal – loyal to God and loyal to him. Paul found his loyal apprentice in this young man named Timothy. Timothy had been raised in a mixed home with divided loyalties. His mother was a Jew and his father was a Greek. He grew up under his devout mother learning the Hebrew Scriptures, but without a strong male role model to affirm the teachings as truth and exemplify them in practice. He grew up in Lystra’s polytheistic society that venerated Greek gods and tolerated the God of the Jews. In Paul, Timothy saw a man who was loyal to God because God had been loyal to him. He saw that a man could live according to the principles of Jesus’ teachings, and he wanted to be just such a man. Paul welcomed Timothy as his own disciple. He invested in the young man, teaching him the doctrines of the faith. He mentored Timothy, instructing and modeling how to be a servant leader. Together, they traveled on their common mission. Together, they met with the Jewish leaders. Together, they met the needs of the Gentiles. Together, they trusted, supported, and relied upon one another. When God brought Timothy alongside Paul, little did either know what adventure God had in store for each of them. Yet, the Lord quickly bound the men’s souls with a fiercely shared 58
commitment to spreading the message of hope in Jesus with those throughout the world who had no hope. Timothy indeed proved himself loyal. He accompanied Paul on his second missionary excursion – one that approximately doubled the distance of the one prior, covering 2800 miles. Together, they visited Phrygia, Galatia, and Traos. As the mileage accumulated and the challenges multiplied, the relationship matured between Paul and Timothy, and their mutual loyalty only grew stronger. Timothy assumed greater responsibility, eventually taking responsibility of leading the Ephesian church.136 It was in this position of responsibility where the long-nurtured loyalty from Paul to Timothy bore significant fruit. Because of how Paul had mentored his underling, Timothy was adept and prepared to faithfully discharge his responsibilities. He led the church through its confusion and heresy. He re-established healthy practices among the community of faith. He appointed and trained godly leadership. He taught sound biblical doctrines and commissioned that those doctrines be passed down among trustworthy men. Because Timothy had received loyalty, he was able to re-instill and reproduce loyalty in a church that had been devastated by disloyalty among its prior entrusted leaders. The scriptures reverberate with an echo of mutual loyalty between Paul and Timothy that resonates throughout the ages. Over time, Paul thought of Timothy the same way a proud, devoted father thinks of his son.137 Timothy was later with his mentor in imprisonment at the hand of Romans.138 Timothy is identified as a man of loyalty, encouragement, and service to the Christians, in Phillipi, Rome, Corinth, Collosae, Thessalonica, and all Christians dispersed through the land, including Philemon.139 As a warrior walking in the way of Christ, Paul understood something about loyalty. He shared that wisdom with Timothy. Those lessons of allegiance eventually returned a multiplied blessing to Paul, who while in prison, told a fellowship of Christian believers that they could expect Timothy to arrive soon. When he did, because of his loyalty, both the church and the apostle would be encouraged.140
1 Timothy 1:3-4 1 Timothy 1:2; 2 Timothy 1:2 138 Phil. 2 139 Romans 16:21; 1 Cor. 4:17; Col. 1:1; 1 Thess. 3:2,6; Heb. 132:23; Phm. 1:1 140 Phil. 2:19-23 www.bryanmcanally.com - visit for more books, the blog, and audio.
A Samurai Says A man who has been born into the house of a warrior and yet places no loyalty in his heart and thinks only of the fortune of his position will be flattering on the surface and construct schemes in his heart, will forsake righteousness and not reflect on his shame, and will stain the warrior's name of his household to later generations. This is truly regrettable. ––Torii Mototada (1539-1600) The Sword Speaks It is impossible to express loyalty in theory, but not in practice. Loyalty is only expressed in the context of a cycle of relationships that began at God’s initiation before time began. Wise Christ-followers who have gone before you have entrusted the Bible’s truth and wisdom unto you. They have been loyal to you. Your best expression of loyalty to them is shown by entrusting that same truth and wisdom into others. Loyalty is a most valuable resource for it multiplies your offenses and minimizes your vulnerabilities. Just as the loyalty of Timothy aided Paul, so too, can your loyalty be an asset to the Christian men who bravely walk by faith along with you, facing the challenges of this day. In a “me first” world, loyalty is often not respected or even highly regarded. Yet, God greatly esteems those who are loyal – to Him and to others. God will bless your loyalty because such conduct reflects the loyalty expressed in His nature. Here are five helps to lead you be a loyal man of TRUST:
Team up: The Bible offers several examples of men who teamed to triumph. Jesus sent
out disciples in pairs throughout the region to communicate the gospel of the coming kingdom of God. Mark is considered the historian who recorded Peter’s gospel account of following Jesus. The nascent Christian church grew dynamically when Peter and John first teamed to carry the message of Christ’s resurrection to the Jews of Jerusalem. At different points of his journeys, Paul teamed with Barnabas, Silas, John Mark, Timothy, Titus, and others. Many scholars agree that the gospel of Luke and the book of Acts are a two-part defense of Paul, written by his teammate Luke to be used in the trial the apostle would face in Rome.
Virtually everything you do as a warrior of Christ is strengthened by teaming up.141 You can make steady progress in your walk with Christ when you have the confidence of knowing you have a partner who covers your back, who strengths account for your liabilities, who stands shoulder-to-shoulder with you. Successful men are the ones who identify their teammates early and welcome new friends often. Like Paul, they understand that loyalties in Christ do not waver; loyalties only mature and expand to include others in shared faith in Christ. You are a stronger man and a better warrior when you have a multitude of relationships at different stages of development. You are never too old to still be a Timothy to someone else, and you are certainly never too young to be a Paul or Barnabas to a friend coming to faith in Jesus after you. Any person old enough to receive Jesus as Lord is old enough to begin making disciples of others. You will be blessed as you learn from one teammate and turn around and share that lesson with the one you are discipling. Conversely, you can take the challenges you encounter in leading your understudy to your mentor and ask for their wisdom and perspective on the situation. As you pursue relationships along the entire continuum of life, you will find that the bonds of loyalty are multiplied, augmented, and cemented through your common experiences.
Run the relay: In the relay of relationships, Barnabas handed off to Paul who in turn
handed off to Timothy who was instructed in turn to hand off to other trustworthy men.142 No man comes to Christ on his own, and most men can point to someone else who trained or mentored them as a Christian. As a follower of Christ, you have been handed a baton of responsibility. God has given you an opportunity to serve him, to impact the world in His name and to mentor others who will run the next leg of the race. To them you will hand the baton and encourage them as they take the gospel farther than you could alone. As a follower of Jesus, there are times of learning and times of teaching. There are times when you hand off the baton to others who will run the next leg, taking the gospel to new people and new places. There are other times where you receive the baton and “run the anchor.” Be faithful to run your part of the race for the purposes that has God has ordained,
Ecclesiastes 4:12 2 Tim. 2:2 www.bryanmcanally.com - visit for more books, the blog, and audio.
knowing that the circumstances you face are being used as a testimony to others of God’s love and redemption.143 The important truth to remember is to entrust your understudy enough to actually hand off the proverbial baton to him. There is certainly a good chance that he won’t handle the challenges or opportunities the exact way you would. He may not do it as well as you, but he could do it better. The point is that God has ordained for you to run only your leg of the race. You must hand off the baton of God’s truth and God’s power to those who come behind you because their time and their opportunities will inevitably follow yours. Trust God to equip them and bless them just as he did for you in the opportunities and challenges he presented you when you took the baton of Christian service into your own hand. The loyal warrior trusts his team, but more important, he trusts God.
Understand the partnership: Timothy was particularly valuable to Paul as a
friend because the young disciple understood the elder so well. That understanding was developed over time and a shared passion for serving God. Because Timothy was so loyal and so well understood Paul’s drive for advancing the gospel, Timothy was the logical and natural person to extend Paul’s ministry to the Gentile world. Paul delegated Timothy to Corinth, Phillipi, and Thessolonica, to encourage them and instruct them. Timothy understood that the purpose of his loyal friendship was not simply to be a loyal friend to Paul, but to be a loyal servant to Jesus. God has chosen you to serve as his ambassador to this world.144 However, God has graciously placed you into relationship with other ambassadors who will collaborate with you to accomplish his purpose. When you understand your partnerships and know how your strengths and gifts fit and complement your fellow believers, you can more effectively partner to make a difference in your spiritual service. This cooperation will expand your reach, extend your friendships, and increase your faith. You can look at your loyal friendships and already begin to identify some of the reasons why God has brought you together in unity and service. You can acknowledge how one friend may be the reality check to your bold visions, or how another may be the wild dreamer to your practical “nuts and bolts” approach to life. You know who your prayer
Acts 20:24 2 Corinthians 5:20
warriors are and who you can call when you need somebody to walk with you through a valley of tribulation. Likewise, you know who counts on you for counsel, who relies on you for a good laugh, and who counts you as a “brother-in-arms.” Thank God for those relationships and intentionally strive to broaden your partnerships in loyal service to Jesus. God also understands that you will not be able to win every battle on your own. There are simply some barriers that you will not be able to overcome for one reason or another. This is why Jesus understood that “some sow and some reap.”145 It is vital for you to understand that your partnership in some relationships is to learn what only you can teach, and in other relationships it is to teach what only your understudy will be able to share with effectiveness.
Share the burden: The relationship between Paul and Timothy evolved over time. In
the early stages of their partnership, Paul assumed the lion’s share of the responsibilities while Timothy observed how his mentor worked. Then, as time progressed, they shared the labor more evenly. Finally, Paul’s later letters show that he relied upon Timothy to assume the “heavy lifting” of ministry. As a loyal friend to other Christian men, this same process is true with you. As you watch your mentors lead and serve, learn what they have to teach so you can lift more of the burden as you go through life. Likewise, be like Timothy to diligently share what you have learned with others so the men you impact through mentoring relationships will be conditioned and disciplined to faithfully extend the work of the gospel. Sharing the burden will have a different appearance for every partnership of the gospel. Sometimes, that burden will be expressed in the bonding, unified prayer with and for one another. Other times, it will be to help provide resources for your partner. And still other times, you will need to be the actual resource for your co-laborer. Sharing the burden means that you assume an equitable portion of the responsibility for the work and that you bear the weight of participation as you pursue the same objective.
Tether to the same anchor: Any number of factors could have kept Paul and
Timothy from partnering: Timothy could have thought Paul was too old and out of touch. Paul could have thought Timothy was too young and immature. They could have disagreed
John 4:37 www.bryanmcanally.com - visit for more books, the blog, and audio.
over methodology about how to do the work. They could have argued over priority – where to go first and to whom to preach first. Yet, the Scriptures show that they shared a common heart because they were tethered to the same anchor: Jesus Christ. They kept their objective in front of them every step of the way and they never let any other matter take priority over Jesus. They never let a personal agenda interrupt God’s agenda. Their teamwork was harmonious and effective because Jesus was their anchor and He also was their message. As you team with other men, you will face many opportunities to become untethered from the anchor of Jesus. Age, methodology, priorities, preferences, prejudices, preconceptions, and any number of other factors may tempt you as reasons to separate and go about the work yourself; however, these factors should bind you rather than separate you. God is not limited by your differences. God is glorified when you overcome these differences to focus on your shared trust in Jesus as Lord, demonstrated through your partnership in Kingdom service. Take the time to remember your common tether, because in the “fog of war,” it is easy to become confused or disoriented and take your sight off your common tether. You are tethered to Jesus. Your tether is not your Bible study class, your men’s group, or even your church. Too many variables change with any entity that is not Jesus. Worship styles change. Leaders change. Times change. Topics change. Any number of things that are present today can be gone tomorrow, leading to a drift in partnership when the tether of unity is improperly moored to a “lesser thing.” Only Jesus is unchanging. He is stable, reliable, and unifying. Keep your partnerships rooted in Him, and don’t let go of Him at any expense. Be A Man of Unwavering Loyalty The demand for loyalty is everywhere. In fact, many men get so overwhelmed by the expectations of loyalty that they end up giving their loyalty to all the wrong things at the unexpected and regrettable expense of betraying their loyalties to the things in life that really matter. Too many men gladly devote their loyalty to their favorite sports team at the expense of being the spiritual leaders in their home. Too many men give their allegiance to the heavy demands of work – long hours, distant and frequent travel, and massive stress, not realizing the high price they are paying with every forgotten birthday, every missed ballgame or recital, and every cancelled family plan. 64
Every man willingly offers his loyalty to someone or something. Some men are loyal only to themselves. Others are loyal to their addictions. Still others are loyal to their flaws. Remember: whoever or whatever holds your loyalties is your master. Most men who are loyal to unmerciful masters such as alcohol, pornography, materialism, or work foolishly convince themselves they are in control and that they are masters over that which enslaves them. They ignore the heavy chains that slow their walk with Christ and the shackles that restrict their ability to do all that God would have them do. Their attention is divided, their families are fractured, and their lives may end up shattered. Paul and Timothy showed that loyalty nourishes both those who offer it and those who receive it. Timothy was loyal to Paul because Paul offered loyalty to Timothy. They both could express and receive loyalty because each was first loyal to God. Timothy and Paul developed a true, close, long-lasting, and loyal friendship with one another because their loyalty was rooted in their loyalty to Jesus. Being rooted in Christ, their friendship flourished. Paul’s loyalty first benefited Timothy and later, Timothy’s loyalty benefited Paul.146 A Christian man is loyal to God because God was first and foremost loyal to him. That loyalty empowers the Christian man to reproduce loyalty with his family, his church, and his friends in a way that honors God and perpetuates blessings. Unwavering Loyalty in Your Family Relationships Viewed another way, loyalty is a deep expression of love and commitment. Just as Jesus proved his love and commitment to you by going to the farthest lengths necessary to redeem you and restore you, you are called to a similar loyalty to your spouse and children. A man shows loyalty to his bride by being wholly and solely devoted to her. This requires more than just saying “I do,” paying the bills and remembering their anniversary. Maybe you are not far removed from your days of romance, or perhaps you are years separated from your days of courtship. Regardless, return to the conduct you underwent to woo your bride. Every day actively remember what you found so wonderful and compelling about your bride. Grasp hold of what is special and unique about her and celebrate it. Commit to bringing flowers to your bride often. Tell her she’s beautiful and, particularly when she does not feel beautiful or lovely.
Acts 16:1-3; 2 Tim. 1:4 www.bryanmcanally.com - visit for more books, the blog, and audio.
These disciplines are much more than romantic rituals. They are vital balms for every man’s heart, given that it is prone to wander. The more you focus on the exquisite details of your bride, the more you will remember them when you are tempted to focus on her shortcomings after a disagreement. The more you celebrate what you find alluring and enticing about her, the easier it will be to speak well of her to others or resist the “Bathsheba” who might otherwise catch your eye, leading you into infidelity. Loyalty is not the life sentence of monogamy; it is, however, the joy-filled expression of gratitude that God saw fit to cleave you to another for your life’s journey. Rejoice that God has partnered you with a life mate with whom are your joys are doubled and all your sorrows are halved. Similarly, loyalty to your children is expressed in being the same type of dad to them that your heavenly Father is to you. Three simple principles to follow, exemplified by God’s devotion to you, will assist you in the active expression of your loyalty to them:
Actively love them. Tell your children you love them. Tell them you are proud of them. Be their biggest, loudest cheerleader. Hug your sons so they will feel the safe embrace of their dad. Provide your daughters with the secure cuddles they seek, so that when they become young ladies, they do not seek it from unfamiliar, uncaring arms. Actively discipline them. Be disciplined to discipline. If you determine that certain words, conduct, attitudes, or behavior are inappropriate, discipline them as inappropriate from the beginning and never waver. A child’s nature is such that it seeks to find the fault line of inconsistency and then exploit it once it is located. Start early and be consistent with appropriate discipline; the effort may seem tedious and tiresome, but it will be effective. Actively respect them. Celebrate the child that God gave you by striving to develop them to be the best they can be. Do not endeavor to make them into a clone of who you are, who you were, or who you wished you could have been. Talk to your children with respect and dignity, and they will learn to reciprocate. Do not disrespect them by expecting them to be your live-in servants. Live by the same code that you impose upon them. If you want them to speak with manners, then you speak with manners. If you want them to clean the dinner table and wash the dishes, make sure you regularly take your shift as well.
Unwavering Loyalty in Your Spiritual Relationships God wants every man under the banner of Christ to love his church and to be single-minded in his loyalty to it. The same principles expressed in loyalty to family can and should be reproduced in loyalty to his church. First, love your church. If you cannot love your church, find one you can. For you and for it, you need to belong to a church you can love with whole-hearted zeal. Your church needs to be a place that you speak of with affection and devotion, not complaint and grumbling. Second, you need to belong to that church. You need to identify with the church so that the church will identify with you. It needs to be the repository of your prayers, of your tithes, of your service, of your worship. It needs to be the school of devotion for you and your family. It needs to be institution where you mature and develop in your discipleship to Jesus. Third, celebrate who God made your church to be and do not try to make it something it is not. However, always lead in pursuing God’s best for your church, to be faithful in the mission God has given it. Remember that the church is comprised of the people who call it home. Ask yourself if you would want to belong to this church if every other member were the same type of member that you are right now. If not, commit to being more loyal to your church because all its members deserve your best, most loyal effort. If you are satisfied with your effort, commit with all humility to continue growing and encouraging others to do the same. Unwavering Loyalty in Personal Relationships The modern day is marked by disloyalty. Businesses long-known for fidelity are downsizing and outsourcing employment to faceless labor in faraway lands. Corporate CEOs are selling the company out from under their employees in the name of greedy personal prosperity. Men cannot count upon their favorite athlete remaining loyal to their favorite team anymore because professional sport has come to emphasize the “professional” at the expense of “sport.” You will stand apart from the crowd if you become known for your loyalty to your friends. People today come to expect to go through friends like facial tissue – a nice luxury to have, but utterly disposable. In these relationships, sometimes you are the sneeze and sometimes you are the tissue. Be different. Don’t be content to be discarded when your friends’ lives get messy. Be there with them through the divorce, or through their children’s rebellions. Be the first to offer a helping hand when their water pipes burst, or to offer to pay a bill when they are unexpectedly
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“downsized.” Routinely laugh with your friends so they will be comfortable enough to weep or grieve in front of you in the future. Stick with your friends even when they neglect or turn away from you. Your loyalty to them is not contingent upon their reciprocal loyalty to you. Unwavering Loyalty in Action Your loyalties are challenged every day, and often those challenges come in the form of little choices of seemingly little consequence. Remember that your loyalties are interconnected, too. Paul and Timothy were loyal to one another and to God, and the loyalty they established with one another served as the bedrock for the loyalty each would later extend to other. So, too, is your loyalty a matter of continual giving and receiving. Show your loyalty by keeping your commitments, by being mentally and emotionally engaged, by sacrificially serving, and by entrusting to others what God teaches you along your life’s journey. Timeless Insight “Unless you can find some sort of loyalty, you cannot find unity and peace in your active living” —Josiah Royce (1855-1916) For Personal Reflection 1. Who was one of the first Christians who ever demonstrated loyalty to you? How did that loyalty reflect God’s loyalty? 2. In what ways do men you know show disloyalty – to God, to their spouses and families, to their church, to others? 3. Where are your loyalties divided? What are areas where you have compromised and find yourself serving the wrong master? What are the consequences (immediate or potential) for this divided loyalty? 4. Which aspect of the TRUST acronym have you seen God show most recently in his loyalty to you? How did this demonstration of loyalty strengthen you? 68
5. To be loyal to one means to turn away from another. Renew your loyalty today to godly relationships, turning your back on those loyalties that have hampered your walk as a warrior.
The Warrior’s Wisdom Don't lose your grip on Love and Loyalty. Tie them around your neck; carve their initials on your heart. Earn a reputation for living well in God's eyes and the eyes of the people. Proverbs 3:3-4 MSG
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Now the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith. 1 Timothy 1:5 HCSB Saul had sincerely committed to all the wrong pursuits a life could offer. He was born into Pharasaic Judaism and raised in a home devoted to fulfilling the unattainable law. He was a scholar of promise, sitting at the foot of the preeminent Rabbi and learning the finest points of legal interpretation. He quickly became a man of religious prominence and civic influence. When the murder of Jesus failed to quiet the emergence of his followers’ growing fellowship, Saul knew what he must do. He steeled himself vigilantly to oppose the Way any way he could.147 He was zealously dedicated to do whatever necessary to eradicate this emerging threat to his Pharasaic Judaism. He was prepared to threaten, intimidate, imprison, and even murder if necessary. He would earnestly protect and defend his faith from the ragtag revolutionaries known as the followers of Jesus the Nazarene. He was relentless, merciless, and persistent. His animosity toward the followers of Jesus was genuine and his authorized offensive against had stricken fear in Christ’s disciples throughout the region. Under this umbrella of sincere zeal, Saul went so far as to authorize the death by stoning of Stephen under the baseless charge of blasphemy. Consequently, the majority of Christians fled Jerusalem, sending the movement into hiding and on to the brink of extinction by all reports.148 Yet, Christianity would not die. From his perspective, it was like a terror cell that reformed outside the reaches of his iron fist. So he extended his reach and committed to travel wherever necessary to arrest and suppress those who would follow Jesus as the Messiah. Suddenly in the midst of one such manhunt, everything changed on the road to Damascus.
Acts 9:1-2 Acts 9:13-14
Yet, in his obsessive pursuit of the Christ followers, Saul found himself without warning at the feet of the resurrected Jesus. With a blinding vision, Jesus gave Saul a new mandate. He turned Saul toward a new direction, even though he continued on to Damascus. The zealous man who had only days earlier enjoyed the reputation of the chief persecutor of Jesus’ disciples had instantly become a chief communicator of Jesus’ gospel. Instead of rounding up Jesus’ followers, he preached in the synagogue to round up people to follow Jesus. He confounded the men who were once his allies, as they tried to reconcile the unexpected turn from the one who so faithfully and sincerely had served their interests. 149 Saul pursued this new direction with the same passion, fervor, and sincerity that he had with his earlier obsession. Freed from the unmerciful bondage of the law, Saul strived earnestly to share grace with those who he had formerly persecuted. Unfortunately for him, those who were now his allies were recently his sworn enemies. Understandably, the inner circle of Jesus was reluctant to embrace him as a friend. Saul—a man who only wanted to genuinely worship God in obedience in truth—found himself ironically labeled a hypocrite, both by Jews and Christians alike. As such, the Jews wanted to kill him and the Christians were terrified of him.150 The initial perception of Saul’s post-conversion hypocrisy was the new apostle’s first great challenge. However, his commitment to complete sincerity ushered forth the eventual recognition of one of his greatest attributes. Saul was soon accepted by the Christian disciples and even further vilified by the Jewish authorities. As Saul continued in genuine service, his reputation as devoted follower of Jesus grew and his sincerity was affirmed. Saul would not be satisfied with a mediocre life of small influence. He had determined that he had been delivered from great transgressions in order that he make great contributions to his Master’s cause. He dedicated himself to take the gospel to all Jews first, followed by all Gentiles. He would travel wherever necessary, but whatever means necessary toward the end that some might hear that Jesus is Lord, become convinced, and believe. This resolve resulted in Paul partnering with several other believers, some were men and some were women. Some were aged and experienced while some were young and needed
Acts 9:21 Acts 9:23, 26 www.bryanmcanally.com - visit for more books, the blog, and audio.
mentoring. He faced abuse, danger, and even the specter of death, but nothing would distract him or derail him from his commitment to spread the gospel of Jesus around the world. When he could not travel, he would write letters affirming sound doctrine and advancing biblical truth. When he was too weak or too old to write, he dictated words to penmen would record his message for reliable delivery. Eventually, Saul became known as Paul, the earnest missionary/pastor, solemn mentor and evangelist. History remembers him as bold, confrontational, and aggressive. He was known to gaze intently, speak loudly, and react dramatically. Paul routinely upset crowds and incited mobs. He voiced his opinions on matters and wore his emotions on his sleeve. There was nothing milquetoast about Paul, and there was no insincerity in how Paul expressed his faith. Though Paul may have been a polarizing personality in his day, there is no denying the effectiveness of his consistently earnest witness. He became a man of routine who would travel from community to community, first preaching in the synagogues and later evangelizing among the Gentiles; in fact, it became known as “his custom.”151 In his prolific writings, in three letters to three different audiences, he affirmed the truth of his statements to dispel any notion of deceit.152 He encouraged those he mentored to put away lying and deceit.153 His letters became prized possessions among the churches he established. They would transcribe the letters and redistribute them around neighboring communities so that all could benefit from the truth and instruction contained therein. By the utility of the pen, the cooperation of the ever-expanding community of faith, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, Paul’s effectiveness far exceeded his personal limitations. Regardless of the media used, Paul was candid and he was forthright in his communication with others. He told nonbelievers that there was no hope without Jesus. He articulated the gospel clearly to his Jewish brethren using their beloved Scriptures of the Tanakh (Old Testament) as his proof text.154 He argued persuasively to the Gentiles that Jesus was superior to their unknown gods.155 He told the Corinthian church first that it was confused, and later that it was sick. He told the Galatian church to release its hold on legalism so it could instead embrace grace. He instructed the Ephesian congregation to stop dividing over its differences and to instead focus on
Acts 17:2 Romans 9:1; 2 Corinthians 11:31; 1 Timothy 2:7 153 Ephesians 4:25 154 See Romans 155 Acts 17:22-34
uniting on its singular identity formed in Jesus. He exhorted the Philippians to continue in their excellence, encouraging them from a Roman prison, at a time when he could have been excused for being in need of some encouragement himself. He wrote to the Colossians to focus on Jesus instead of on religious ritual and ceremony and he counseled the Thessalonians to keep their eyes fixed on heaven amidst their troubles, even hinting to a glorious gathering that would occur in the blast of a trumpet from heaven.156 Paul was just as forthcoming in his personal communication with individuals. He encouraged his protégé Timothy to stand confidently in his God-given authority and then instructed him on who to enlist as kingdom leaders. Later, he exhorted him to persevere in the face of adversity and to face conflict and heresy biblically. Paul offered similar encouragements to his understudy Titus, and then interceded on the behalf of a convert named Onesimus to his slaveholder Philemon. Paul implored him to receive the runaway slave as though he were receiving Paul himself. Indeed, Jesus had radically changed the former Pharisee, who at an earlier time in life would have harshly punished Onesimus and offered no grace whatsoever. Paul was uniquely gifted to “talk straight” because he lived consistently as a man whose sincere faith shaped his word and liberated him to perform deeds that exemplified his faith. As Saul, he began his religious pursuits by imprisoning those who followed the Christ. As Paul, his life ended as a prisoner at the hands of those who were of his original mindset. Yet, even in the last opportunities of life, Paul shared the message of grace, love, and forgiveness with anybody who would hear. He was sincerely, Paul. A Samurai Says “A Samurai’s word is harder than metal.” ––Tsunetomo Yamamoto (1659-1719) The Sword Speaks Complete sincerity is less about being earnest than it is about being genuine. There is a reason why the adage “the road to hell is paved with good intentions” is so well known. It is entirely possible to be sincere-minded about all the incorrect matters. A man who trusts in himself to gain
1 Thessalonians 4:16 www.bryanmcanally.com - visit for more books, the blog, and audio.
heaven may be solemn in his effort, but such an endeavor is entirely misplaced. Perhaps because sincerity has become as placid as the common email closing, we have forgotten that when a man is sincere, he is known as unaffected, authentic, open and honest. Paul’s complete sincerity afforded him the benefit of being taken at face value as he served others. There were times when Paul was coarse, brash, and confrontational. There were other times when he was encouraging and supportive. Whatever the circumstance, Paul was genuine. He was the same genuine man in his simple, transparent presentation regardless of the situation. Accordingly, as a Christian warrior who pursues complete sincerity, here are four character disciplines of a genuine follower of Christ:
Relate to the “real world:” The Bible repeatedly warns Christians not to love the
things of the world.157 This has led to the often-repeated declaration that Christians are to be “in the world, but not of the world.” Unfortunately, this has led to too many Christians alienating themselves from the world as though faith in Jesus is an inoculation that may wear out under repeated contact with the world. Modern Christianity has created “safe,” “Christian” alternatives to virtually every secular counterpart in an effort to imitate the world without being infected by it. Modern Christianity sells Christian radio and television, Christian clothing lines, Christian reality programming, Christian fiction, Christian toys and action figures, and more. Note that acknowledging the Christian marketplace is not an indictment on the wholesome alternatives to secular offerings that should be avoided; rather, it is a criticism that treats “Christian” as nothing more than a marketing adjective instead of as a noun identifying Christ’s lordship. Jesus affirmed that external influences do not corrupt a man; it is the sinful nature that comes from within that corrupts.158 This is no license to wantonly indulge in the carnal world as though you are immune to its temptations (in fact, Jesus warns sternly to avoid the things that cause you to stumble in your spiritual pilgrimage159). Nonetheless, you are commanded to interact in this world160, getting your hands dirty in the gritty, grimy work of ministering to people who often behave exactly as though they worship no god but themselves. God commands you not to conform to the evil ways of the world, but to be
e.g., 1 John 2:15 Mark 7:15 159 Matthew 5:29-30 160 Matthew 28:19
transformed by the renewal of your mind.161 Spiritual transformation is not to be confused with an evacuation plan. You must exist within and relate well to those in the world so you have ample and effective opportunities to explain and encourage others to hear how the saving power of Jesus transforms you to live beyond the confines and debilitations of the world. Jesus offers simple insight on how to relate to others in the real world: o Go where the people of the world are found. Jesus was not afraid to go completely out of his way to have an encounter with the Samaritan woman.162 He willingly went into the unclean areas to meet the needs of the lepers.163 He did not treat the temple as a place where he could be quarantined from the world. He understood that God’s house was a sanctuary for the world to have sanctuary from the world. More followers of Jesus need to take the initiative to actually follow where Jesus leads today. His Holy Spirit is at work around this world, and He has not relegated Himself to only deal with those who show up to Sunday church. God’s Spirit is convicting souls on beaches, in city streets, and ski slopes. He can be found in board rooms, in school halls, and city councils. He is speaking to people in social networks, civic organizations, and community causes. He simply needs more of His ambassadors to pick up the mantle of responsibility and help the people of the world “connect the dots” with what the Spirit says to them. o Talk to them. Jesus talked to the people of the world every chance he had. He would talk with them one-on-one and he would talk with them in crowds. He would strike up conversations with them and he would ask questions of them. He was intensely interested in developing relationship with them. Many Christians fear talking to non-Christians because they are afraid they may actually have to talk about their faith. This is exactly the point! If you are developing your relationships the right way and using Paul as a model, your relationships with others will naturally come to a point where you can share how
Romans 12:1-2 John 4:1-26 163 Matthew 26:6 www.bryanmcanally.com - visit for more books, the blog, and audio.
your faith and your life intersect. Those moments rarely come, though, without the context of relationship. o Serve them. Jesus met needs and then shared out of the context of blessing. He performed miracles and then made it clear that the purpose behind the miracles was so that people would understand that He has the power to forgive sins. Jesus knew that people are typically self-centered. Preaching without serving was a commonly futile endeavor. However, by serving others before sharing the gospel, Jesus offered a two-fold blessing and enjoyed profound success. Though they may be in a minority, a segment of Christians exist who excel in prophecy (or “truth-telling”) and/or evangelism. For these warriors, “relationship” is a secondary concern and a luxury indulged by others not sharing their conviction to share the gospel. While their burning passion is commendable, it is not the common trait of most people. Rather, most people fear sharing at all out of worry of rejection or conflict. And when they eventually overcome those unfounded fears, they are only able to do so because they have established a strong enough relationship with the other person that a safety net of trust has been woven that can presumably withstand the tension of a spiritual conversation. Regardless of whether the conversation takes place upon a first meeting or after a long-time spiritual courtship, effectiveness in sharing the gospel is often related to being able to serve the person receiving the message.164 When you meet a person’s pressing physical or perceived need, they will then be more open and receptive to receiving the blessed solution to their real, spiritual need that wears the mask of a physical, perceived need.
Empathize with those who struggle: Paul understood the wide gap separating
“sympathy” and “empathy.” Where a sympathetic man assesses another man’s unfortunate circumstance and says, “Boy, that sure is sad!” and empathetic man makes the same type assessment, but instead arrives at the personally-connected sentiment of, “Boy, I am moved with compassion to do what I can to help!” Paul looked around and his culture and was moved with compassion for his countrymen. He saw them under the unforgiving yoke of the law and the oppressive tyranny of the law-enforcing Pharisees. He saw a system that he
Gratitude to Dr. Don McMinn for coining the term “spiritual courtship.”
had submitted to his entire life thinking it would impart righteousness unto him, but now understood the entire system was designed by God to show every person his need for a Savior who could transcend and overcome the death-bringing power of the law. Paul didn’t simply pity those still under the law; in his empathy, he actually desired to take their place in hell if such an option were possible.165 Complete sincerity calls men today to be likewise empathetic to the plight of the nonbelievers sharing the world with believers. Just as Jesus Himself was so moved with compassion that he left heaven to save you, you are exhorted to remember what it was like to not have hope, to be abandoned and forsaken to the world. From that, you are encouraged to share the wonderful gift you have been given, being ever sensitive to the struggle that every person faces when he is confronted with the gospel of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. Empathy with those who struggle also means to have patience, perseverance, and thick skin. It means wanting the struggler to overcome, and not keeping records of offenses or failures along the way. It means hopes for the success of that person to walk by faith, believes in its inevitability, willingly bears whatever necessary to see it happen, and rejoices with the person when the success arrives.166
Authenticate your testimony: Paul was known among fellow followers of
Jesus as a servant leader, a mentor, and a church planting missionary pastor. However, Paul did not count on these credentials when he brought the gospel into new communities. Wherever Paul went, he first sought out Jewish leaders to share the testimony of the man he was before submitting to Christ and how he was different after trusting in Jesus as Lord. He would teach and reason with his cultural kin, relying upon the unity they had in shared heritage.167 Paul demonstrated the importance of sharing a common identity because he understood that this investment brought down barriers that would have otherwise prejudiced his audience to the gospel. Paul knew that transparently sharing his spiritual journey afforded others to find hope for their own situations through the evidence of hope Paul had received in his own life. When Paul said, “I have become all things to all men, that I might by all
Romans 9:1-5 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 167 Acts 17:1-3 www.bryanmcanally.com - visit for more books, the blog, and audio.
means save some,” he wasn’t declaring himself to be a spiritual chameleon; rather, he simply committed to share whatever part of his life was most useful toward the person of drawing others to God.168 Too often, a Christian will err toward one of two opposite extremes regarding sharing his life’s experiences. One mistake is to avoid discussing any details of his life before trusting in Christ. Perhaps the shame of sin causes the man to fear that friends and listeners may become so fascinated or focused on his offenses that they will not follow the journey’s pathway to forgiveness in Jesus. The other extreme occurs when the Christian shares so many details of his sin-laden life before Christ that it sounds as though he discusses it in a wistful manner that romanticizes the offenses. This certainly is counter-productive and ineffective. Paul understood the balance. To the people of Galatia, Paul shared the details of his life in a way that acknowledged the success and notoriety he experienced as a persecutor of Christians. While he “pulled no punches” about his accomplishments, he also did not revel in those accomplishments, explaining that the plan of God to lead him to follow Jesus was one of grace and was better than anything he had experienced earlier.169 He did the same thing with the people of Philippi, even going so far as to declare that the gainful exploits of his life before Christ were now counted “as loss” and “as rubbish.”170 God has given your entire life to you as a gift. Do not regret the events of your life before you belonged to Jesus; they were necessary to bring you to Him. In fact, every detail of your life was ordained to occur so that you could come to faith in Him.171 When God allows you the opportunity to share a “Pre-Christian” experience with a non-believer, He is doing so that it may be used as a reference point where you can communicate the transformational power of Jesus that took you from where you were without Him to where you are now with Him. Be careful not to “glory in sin;” Paul loathed his past life, yet willingly shared it for God’s glory. Whatever your life was before you trusted in Jesus, make sure that everything you extol ends in the glorification of the God who saved you.172
1 Corinthians 9:19-23 Galatians 1;13-15 170 Philippians 3;1-10 171 Proverbs 16:9 172 1 Corinthians 1:31
Look at your relationships through the lens of Jesus: Paul viewed
every relationship through the lens of his relationship with Jesus. A person was either an associate in his service to Jesus or an audience for the gospel of Jesus. Paul did not avoid Jewish people after he became a follower of Jesus; in fact, he sought them ought with zeal to share the hope of Jesus with them. As a follower of Jesus, Paul did not avoid the Gentiles, the very people who as a Pharisee he would not approach because they were “unclean.” Now, he deliberately sought to meet and befriend them, so that they might hear the gospel and receive Jesus as Lord. Paul was equally comfortable in the synagogues as he was in the pagan temples, because he understood that the gospel would take him to the places that used to be taboo to him as “a religious man.” Today, God calls men to take the gospel to dangerous and dirty places. He calls men to be light in a dark world.173 Do not be a Christian who quarantines himself from the world, only mingling with other Christians and avoiding as much of the world and as many people of the world as possible. God has surrounded you with family, neighbors, and co-workers who need to hear the good news of God’s saving love. You live in a community that needs Jesus in a world lost without Jesus. Determine to develop your relationships by being genuine, toward the end that it affords you an opportunity to share your faith in Jesus with others.
Be A Man of Complete Sincerity One of the most widespread accusations being leveled against Christians by non-Christians is that those who follow Jesus are simply hypocrites. Unfortunately, in the court of public opinion, the evidence that condemns Christians is ample and convicting. Each week, church pews are packed by people who say one thing and do another, who behave in direct contradiction from what they believe. The awareness of the world of the hypocrisy of Christians illustrates the reality that people all around you are constantly watching you to see what, if anything, about being a follower of Jesus makes you different from everyone else. It is not uncommon to hear a Christian admit that he is a hypocrite. Normally, this takes place in the context of a conversation that the accused hypocritical Christian affirms the necessary role of a church in the man’s life as some sort of neutralizer to his hypocrisy. Unfortunately, it is no
Matthew 5:16; 2 Corinthians 4:6 www.bryanmcanally.com - visit for more books, the blog, and audio.
great victory to simply confess to being a hypocrite. To resign yourself to this ignoble act is to surrender to a defeated enemy and to relent to continual disobedience. A Christian warrior overcomes hypocrisy because he understands that submitting to the lordship of Jesus requires obedience to his commands and persevering toward godliness.174 Paul himself struggled with the challenge of personal hypocrisy. He didn’t understand why he continually did the things he knew he should not be doing, and why he rarely wanted to do the things he knew that he should. In fact, he was so torn over this recurrence of hypocrisy that he cried out, “Who will free me from this body of death?”175 Fortunately, Paul chose not to live in the defeat of hypocrisy. Rather than living as a slave to inconsistency, he chose to live in the spiritual reality, believing himself to be a born again child of God, victorious over the sins that manifest hypocrisy.176 Paul rose above hypocrisy to live a life of complete sincerity. History remembers him as a man of genuine faith whose sincere actions influenced the world and introduced countless souls to eternal peace with Jesus. Complete Sincerity in Your Family Relationships Complete sincerity requires that you “be real” with those in your family. Typically, a man will come home every day, quick to tell the dynamic details of his day and quickly tune out when his wife begins to share the account of her own day’s events. Perhaps he thinks the details are just like the previous day’s (and perhaps he is right). Perhaps he feels like her situations were not just as interesting as his own encounters and dilemmas (again, maybe he is accurate in this assumption). Maybe he just thinks that her adventures are just less important that the challenges he faced (and here, no matter how disparate the two may be, the man is almost certainly in error). The reality is, every bride needs to be heard with the same attention and interest that she extends so lovingly to her husband. She needs her husband to ask, “So then what did you do?” and “What do you think will happen next?” instead of just “Hm. Is dinner ready, yet?” or “Well then, why are the kids still screaming at each other?” Your bride needs you to be real and to invest emotionally in her life, particularly in the mundane details, so that she is not walking through her challenges alone (even if they seem trifling and insignificant to you).
Acts 15:39 Romans 7:15, 24 176 2 Corinthians 5:17; 1 John 4:1; Romans 8:37
Your children are crying out for a sincere relationship with their daddy, too. Your children are desperate for you to know who their friends are, and how they are addressing the seemingly monumental challenges they encounter. They need you to be real about how you went through the “tween” awkwardness and how you overcame the mistakes and misfires of adolescence. They need you to be graceful because God was so graceful to you. They need you to listen and not always have every answer. They need you to hug them and tell them that everything will be alright because in the peaks and valleys of childhood, only the reassurance of a guide who has already traveled the tumultuous path can convince them that it is so. Complete Sincerity in Your Spiritual Relationships Many indictments are levied against Christians every day. Some are legitimate, many are not. One common accusation is that Christians are plastic and insincere. A common myth is that the only Christian is a happy Christian. While it may be more accurate that Christians are more likely to be truly happy than those without faith, it certainly is no axiom that to be Christian requires a permanently-affixed smile on your face. No Christian is promised that he will have to avoid sickness, doubt, disappointment, setback, or even tragedy. The Bible makes it clear that even the heroes of faith faced troubles, the loss of loved ones, and significant personal breakdowns. Great men overcame great fears and colossal failures. Yet, God is the giver of second chances. The same is true today. The reality is that many Christians go through the same ups and downs of life that are common to people of every faith or of no faith. Jesus said this would be the case.177 The church needs to be a place where Christians can be real about the challenges of life. The church needs men who will transparently discuss whatever they face in life. When your children have disappointed you, be transparent to seek help in how to respond. When you have given in to the wrong temptation, seek the support of other men to help you overcome. When a parent has surprised you with a bad decision or when you get sucker-punched by an unexpected tragedy, lean on the wisdom and insight of a trusted mentor. Every person comes to church carrying their life’s baggage. They need an example of a man who can set that baggage down at the foot of the cross and lift his hands in supplicating worship. This is a man whose smile is genuine, reflecting the healing grace of God.
Luke 13:2-5 www.bryanmcanally.com - visit for more books, the blog, and audio.
Be that man. Complete Sincerity in Your Personal Relationships The same transparent sincerity needed in the church is needed in the world. Some time ago, the term “cocooning” was coined to reflect how people are becoming increasing insular and independent. Today, people are so cocooned from one another that the barriers keeping us from one another are forebodingly omnipresent. We have taken the pithy idea that “tall fences make good neighbors” to an unhealthy level. Remember that Jesus said the problems that Christians face are common to all people. It is amazing to discover how many people step forward from the crowd when you are transparent about the difficulties you face in life. When you receive that diagnosis of cancer, you will be surprised at the number of people who approach you as either fellow fighters, survivors, or a family or friend of a victim. When you openly talk about how God has carried you through a significant grief, more people than you could imagine will share openly and in confidence about how your walk of faith blesses and ministers to them. One of the main reasons you face challenges in life is to bring glory to God so that others may come to faith. An often misused and overused Scripture in times of difficulties is that “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”178 This does not mean that your difficulties will be easy to face or simple to bear, but that God is purposeful in every detail of every detail of your life, whether splendid or awful. Seek God’s good purpose in your calamities and speak openly about your discoveries with others. Seeing others come to faith and grow in their faith through your sincere testimony will be a balm to your own real wounds. Complete Sincerity in Action Sincerity is much more than simply being well-intentioned or honest. Complete sincerity requires a total alignment with your words and deeds. A sincere man is trustworthy and reliable because the reputation he has earned affirms that what he says, he does. When you are sincere,
you don’t have to inflate your words with artificial claims like, “I swear,” or “I promise.”179 Rather, when you speak, be a man who says what he means and means what he says. Your sincerity will be the measure by which others assess your faith to be true or not. Your complete sincerity will affirm to others that a relationship with Jesus is beneficial and preferable. Insincerity will inevitably impair your witness and impede the good work to which you have been called. Do not resign yourself to hypocrisy; strive continually toward an alignment between your beliefs, your speech, and your conduct. Timeless Insight “To be persuasive we must be believable; to be believable we must be credible; credible we must be truthful.” –– Edward R. Murrow (1908-1965) For Personal Reflection 1. In what areas of your life do you have good intentions but poor execution? What are the potential consequences of this conflict? 2. How does your opinion of others change when you discover a person to have a “do as I say, not as I do” personality? Where are you accountable to the same type of hypocrisy? 3. Take some time to list some of the people who are “watching you” to see if you are “the real deal,” and if your faith is genuine. Take stock of circumstances where you have given a conflicted or compromised testimony. Commit to live a consistent witness in your relationship with all people. 4. Which aspect of the REAL acronym speaks to you most about how to live with complete sincerity? How well do you relate with non-believers? How empathetic are you? What aspects of your own testimony do you unnecessarily avoid, or unnecessarily glorify? Do you view your relationships the same way as Paul, through a perspective of partnerships in Jesus or potential followers of Jesus?
James 5:12 www.bryanmcanally.com - visit for more books, the blog, and audio.
5. Paul showed that the only way to live in complete sincerity is to live in the spiritual reality of who you are in Jesus. Even when the temptation is great to indulge in conduct that will compromise your witness, choose to live in the spiritual reality that you are a born-again child of God, able to live above sin through the power of the Holy Spirit in you. Take time to write out a plan of action to undertake the next time you are faced with temptation that would lead others to think of you as a hypocrite.
The Warrior’s Wisdom And I pray this: that your love will keep on growing in knowledge and every kind of discernment, so that you can determine what really matters and can be pure and blameless in the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. Philippians 1:9-11 HCSB
So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; Colossians 3:12 NASB Stephen solved problems…even if the price of the solution was his own life. The early convert to Christianity, most likely a Jewish believer from Greek heritage, found himself in Jerusalem among the daily-growing population of Christ followers. He sat under the powerful preaching of the apostles and had experienced the spiritual phenomenon of “being filled with the Holy Spirit.”180 The strict religious rituals that had defined and confined his early life had been replaced by a supernatural empowerment and motivation to experience life through loving service and sacrificial giving. As he shared from his resources, he watched as other Jews—nationals and foreigners alike—came to believe that Jesus was the Messiah who God had promised to them all. As the congregation of believers expanded rapidly, Stephen witnessed the growing predicament. The local widows seemed to benefit from the benevolence of the church more often than did the Hellenistic widows who typically lived on the outlaying areas of the region. The church leaders agreed it was vital to address this concern, for at stake was the validity of their claim that the gospel was unbiased and available to all people. After the apostles met, Stephen and six of his countrymen were named as the first deacons to meet this pressing matter. The commitment was significant. The widows required daily attention, and the septet of men who would serve them would be required to undertake a daily circuit of delivering them food that they otherwise would not receive. When Stephen and his colleagues were named, the congregation in Jerusalem rejoiced, for taking responsibility of these elderly women were men who were wise, respected, and filled with the Holy Spirit.
Acts 6:5 www.bryanmcanally.com - visit for more books, the blog, and audio.
Stephen was honored to have been appointed this work because it was an opportunity to serve his Master. Stephen was a faithful man who served with commitment and courtesy. By relieving the twelve apostles of the work of ministering to the widows, they were freed to continue spreading the gospel and many additional people came to faith. Soon after taking over this task, the congregation again rapidly increased in number. However, Stephen was not the type of man simply to fulfill the minimum work of distributing food and cleaning up tables. While he held those responsibilities in high regard, he also understood that he had a duty to carry out every bit of his own ministry, including the details that went beyond the job description. For Stephen, being a deacon did not define his identity; rather, it described his character that was expressed in every part of his ministry. No doubt, Stephen kept stewardship over a servant’s heart. Yet, he was also a man of polite courtesy, which compelled him to share his faith whenever the opportunity arose.181 Because of this, Stephen was soon doing things he had never imagined. In fact, God filled him with the grace and power to perform miracles and demonstrate wonders. The Holy Spirit filled him to speak with unassailable wisdom. Prior to this, these were actions seen only in the apostles. As Stephen went about his duties as a deacon, he also faithfully extended the mission of the church to share the mission with anyone who would listen.182 One day the deacon was advancing the gospel as was his custom. This meant that as he addressed foreign Jews living in Judea, he would begin to teach them from their common origins. He would speak about Abraham and the Patriarchs, and continue with Moses as the Lawgiver and the prophets. He would then interpret their Jewish history of Babylonian and Assyrian captivity through the context of God’s promises to His rebellious nation Israel. He would then explain Jesus as the liberator of nations and the redeemer of men. He would appeal for these Jews who were looking for their Messiah to turn their eyes to Jesus and receive Him as such! Unfortunately, not everyone who listened to Stephen agreed with him. A group ironically known as the Synagogue of Libertines (or “Freedmen”) heard the gospel as Stephen shared. Rather than rejoice, this congregation of foreign Jews became incensed. They valued the control imposed by the law more than the prospect of true freedom found through faith in Jesus as Lord.
See Acts 6:1-7 Acts 6:8
First, they disputed him. When they could not silence him, they tried to resist his wisdom. When that failed, they conspired to overtake him with violent force. They provoked a mob to seize him and drag him to the Synagogue’s council to face unfounded charges. They fabricated accusations that he blasphemed against the God, the temple, Jerusalem, Israel, Moses and the law. The mob blurted out untruth upon untruth, their rage fueling the lust to see this pious man silenced permanently.183 Amidst it all, Stephen was politely courteous. He sat, as the Bible records, as though his appearance was the “face of an angel.184” Modern appreciation for this imagery paints an image that Stephen was peaceful and serene, in compliance with the destiny that awaited him in the ongoing travesty of justice. While this may be so, it is also worth remembering that one role of the Lord’s angels was that of messenger. In this, Stephen is seen as a meek man, boldly confident in the message he carried from the Lord, deeply loving the message’s recipients even when they threaten his life for having shared it. When the High Priest asked Stephen if the charges were true, the deacon did not speak as one who was timid, or resigned to death. “Brothers and fathers, listen!” he commanded.185 He then proceeded to repeat and expand what he taught outside the temple in the public arena. He offered no defense; instead, he gave a moving, powerful, passionate, and flawless exposition of the gospel tailored specifically to this crowd. Stephen understood this was a chance to solve the problem of his countrymen’s separation from God. With gentle tact and a calm demeanor, he shared a message to the Libertine Jews that spoke of hope, redemption and second chances. He masterfully explained how Abraham had not fully obeyed God’s command to leave his family behind, but God had given him a second chance and blessed the patriarch’s subsequent obedience. He then detailed how Joseph’s brothers had first rejected him and then later accepted his leadership. He recounted how Israel had first rejected Moses, only later to be delivered by him. He reminded them that even after being delivered, their forefathers rejected Moses’ prophecies and oracles and instead turned to idolatry and rebellion. He wove history with biblical prophecy and implored them to recognize Jesus. He closed by confronting their history of rebellion and acknowledging their pattern of rejection. The time had
Acts 6:9-14 Acts 6:15 185 Acts 7:1-2 www.bryanmcanally.com - visit for more books, the blog, and audio.
come. He had established his case. Now was the time to speak the truth in love, challenging his compatriots to see the dire reality of their circumstance. “You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers, who have received the law by the direction of angels and have not kept it,” he said. By the power of the Holy Spirit, Stephen – the accused one – convicted those who had accused him. They were cut to the heart with violent rage by the polite, courteous response of the one they had seized and charged with false offenses.186 They loudly interrupted him, assaulted him, and dragged him to the street. Their fury was unbridled, their bloodlust unquenchable. They pushed him to the ground and pummeled him with large stones. Stephen, though, was in the control of the Spirit who sealed him and who filled him. Even as the stones bruised his flesh, broke his bones and crushed the life from him, Stephen looked and saw the heavens open and Jesus receive him. “Lord, do not charge this sin against them!” he implored in his dying breath. The Holy Spirit enabled Stephen the deacon—history’s first martyr—to intercede for his murderers. A bold, strong and gentle man who served his Master by courteously solving the problems of others, asked Jesus to judge his killers innocent of the crime even as his blood covered their hands.187 A Samurai Says “One should always be genteel in his speaking. A man shows his inmost self by a single word.” —Hojo Nagauji (1432-1519) The Sword Speaks Today’s culture prioritizes fast service over friendly service, rendering courtesy outdated and unnecessary. Even so, the call to courtesy is ever-present before the Christian warrior. This mandate is so much more than just “being nice,” or smiling instead of scowling when you make
Acts 7:3-54 Acts 7:55-60
eye contact with a stranger. The responsibility to be courteous means loving those who revile you and returning blessings for curses. The polite courtesy of a Christian warrior is only possible if such a man is marked by meekness. Unfortunately, too many men confuse “meek” to mean “weak.” However, a closer look at biblical truth reveals that no stronger man exists than the man who is meek in Christ. A man of meekness has:
Might, restrained: Stephen demonstrated extraordinary restraint of strength when
facing his accusers. He was by no means weak or even tame. He spoke with courage and boldness in addressing their individual and collective sin. In his conduct, Stephen imitated the pattern of restrained might demonstrated in Jesus, when he stood before his accusers. The Bible records that Jesus was silent before his accusers and spoke only when the law required Him to do so. When Pontius Pilate asked Jesus if He was indeed the King of the Jews, Jesus meekly answered with confident assurance, “It is as you say.” His response was not a quivering, fear-filled confession. It was a calm, bold, secure declaration of his identity.188 Meekness is not weakness. Where the accusers of Jesus and Stephen and of meek men today label meekness as a character flaw, the warrior of Christ understands that his meekness is a reflection of his character placed in submission to God’s power and authority. As a meek man, you do not have to lash out and with your own resources to subdue those who oppose you. Instead, you face each trial and circumstance with the bold assurance of the power and authority of the One who holds the bridle over your spirit. In this, you convey the image of a powerful, mighty lion held in check by an even more powerful and mighty Master. The same power that enabled and equipped Stephen to perform miracles and demonstrate wonders is available to you. Stephen did not follow any clever plan or “seven habits” to become a mighty man of God. He simply walked closely with the Lord in fellowship with the Spirit. This is the same Spirit who was promised to impart power to the followers of Jesus and who came down with power upon the believers at Pentecost.189 Stephen explained that this was the same power that enabled Moses to be the great leader of Israel. The Bible
Matthew 27:11 Acts 1:8; 2:1-4 www.bryanmcanally.com - visit for more books, the blog, and audio.
explains that this power is available to you because God intends to use His power through you to bring people to faith in Him.190 As a warrior of Christ, you have unmatchable power through Jesus. That power is best demonstrated when it exercised in holy, patient, and kind restraint.
Energy, maintained: The meek man is not a resigned man. There is no “giving up”
with the follower of Christ. Stephen’s circumstance was dire. The mob was hostile and the outcome was bleak. A lesser man would have recognized his plight and changed tactics so that he might escape with his life. Stephen, though, persevered because he recognized the greater issue – that this was his opportunity to share the truth with his countrymen and he could not guarantee that he would ever have another chance. In fact, Stephen was emboldened by the hostilities of the crowd, and the deacon pleaded even more earnestly for them to turn from their rebellion. The apostle Paul exhorts Christians to be likewise steadfast. His encouragement to press on comes from experience having faced five different whippings at the hands of Jewish leaders, thrice being beaten with rods, once being stoned and left for dead, surviving a shipwreck and being abandoned in the sea. He faced perils in water, the dangers of robbery, assaults of his own countrymen, Gentiles, and false Christians, menace in the city and in the wilderness. He grew weary and he toiled. He went without sleep, without food, without drink, without shelter, and without clothing. Yet, Paul’s pressing concern was for the strength of the churches.191 Paul could have been devastated and emaciated, yet still able to share out of the abundance of the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Accordingly, he encouraged others to maintain their energy and vitality in the Spirit, regardless of the circumstance, leaving the past in the past and pressing toward the realization of every promise of God in Christ.192 Your spiritual tank has reserves that never deplete. Long after you have become physically fatigued, mentally exhausted, socially spent, and emotionally empty, the Holy Spirit replenishes you to persevere. He abides in you forever.193 Develop the discipline not to “opt out” of an opportunity to share Christ just because you do not feel in top form.
Romans 9:17; 1 Corinthians 1:18 2 Corinthians 11:23-28 192 Philippians 3:13-14 193 John 14:16-17
Often, your opportunities come to bear precisely because you are weak. Christ’s strength is magnified in your weakness.194 Like Stephen, seize the moment even when you have been seized by the opposition.
Example, unstained: Typical men lose their composure when they find themselves
roasting in the heat of conflict. Men who would otherwise be logical, reasonable, and even pleasant can turn angry, obstinate, irrational, or even violent. Stephen witnessed this exact phenomenon. As he answered the questions of the Jewish leaders, he remained calm and coherent. The leaders on the other hand, grew furious and murderous. Because Stephen was filled with the Holy Spirit, he was able to persevere with a tranquil countenance of one who will not be undone by the tumult of the moment. Stephen’s example of the transforming power of Jesus Christ is a marked contrast from the behavior and conduct of the temple authorities. History’s timeline is filled with the unmarked tombs of countless martyrs who have similarly remained faithful in the face of persecution. These nameless saints are forgotten on earth but celebrated in heaven because they determined that they would rather face death that to compromise their witness. Jesus came to redeem mankind, not overcome it with force; consequently, he voluntarily went to the cross instead of calling in a dozen legions of warring angels.195 You will face conflict; such events are inevitable in life. The question is, will you like Peter draw a sword to defend, or turn the other cheek to preserve the purity of your witness? It requires more fortitude to withhold than to assault. By refraining to return evil with evil, you demonstrate strength in meekness that leaves your example in Christ unstained and onlookers convicted of God’s power.196
Kindness, unchained: While he was in the death grip of the ironically named
Freedmen, Stephen showed that a meek man in submission to the Holy Spirit is one who experiences true liberty. In the face of legal condemnation, Stephen responded with gracefilled, mercy-rich kindness. He was a man who was unfettered from the shackles of the law.
Romans 8:26; 2 Corinthians 12:9 Matthew 26:53 196 See Matthew 27:54 & Luke 23:42 www.bryanmcanally.com - visit for more books, the blog, and audio.
Even in persecution, he was free to share the great news of God’s provision of forgiveness through faith alone in Jesus. The paradox of being free to serve in the heat of persecution was something Jesus foretold. He warned His followers that they would be cursed and reviled by others because of their hatred for Him.197 Yet, Jesus never entertained the notion that worldly opposition was a valid excuse for disobeying the Great Commission. In fact, the Scriptures proclaim that a Christ follower will overcome the world because Christ Himself overcame the world.198 You have been released to share kindness, grace, and mercy with a world in shackles.199 Your message is revolutionary because your Messiah is revolutionary. Expect opposition and anticipate the blessing.
Nervousness, contained: Nobody would have blamed Stephen for being terrified
of the situation that had overtaken him. He had only been going about his ministry of evangelism as was his habit. He likely had enjoyed previous success using the same method of witnessing with others. Yet the conflict rapidly escalated and what began as a passionate discussion had led to trumped-up charges and calls for his death! Through it all, nothing ever hints that Stephen was beset by fear or worry. To the contrary; his face conveyed peace and his speech exuded confidence. Even in a violent death, he left this life with the calm of one whose faith was realized and whose promises were fulfilled. The same fear-denying, terror-defying sense of peace that presided over Stephen also is what gave Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego the calm to enter Nebuchadnezzar’s fiery furnace and empowered Daniel to sleep amidst King Darius’ lions.200 This was the same tranquility of being that equipped Moses to face Pharaoh, Joshua to overcome the mighty fortress city of Jericho, Gideon to defeat the Midianites despite being vastly outnumbered, and Elijah to slay the 450 false prophets of Baal.201 It is the same serenity that facilitates your ability to succeed in every impossible situation. A meek man knows that no safer place exists than when he is located in the center of God’s will, regardless of how dangerous the environment is at that particular moment. He
Luke 6:22 1 John 5:4-5 199 Colossians 3:12-17 200 Daniel 3:19-25; 6:10-23 201 Exodus 11:4-8; Joshua 6; Judges 7; 1 Kings 18:20-40
knows that God has not given him a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.202 In fact, love drives out fear.203 When you are protected by the perfect love of God, you can face any circumstance or trial confident that the Lord is with you and there is no need to fear or be dismayed.204
Eternity, obtained: Stephen attempted to reason with men whose hope for eternity
was based on the tragically flawed understanding that they could be righteous enough and religious enough to attain heaven on their own. Their understanding was so dysfunctional that they determined that murdering Stephen would prove their good standing with God. Instead, all it did was affirm their condemnation that God takes no favor with the prideful. Stephen could reason faithfully, confidently, and convincingly because he spoke as a man who had already been given the assurance of heaven, and not one for whom heaven was held just out of reach like a baiting carrot stick. The promise of heaven and eternal life is based on your belief that Jesus is Lord and your confession that God has raised Him from the dead. These actions are faith responses to the good work that Jesus Himself has done, and not a work of your own.205 Then, God has established for you to do good works yourself so that others will see the glory of God in you and will in turn come to faith. No part of the salvation process requires you to do good works to gain heaven; rather, the Holy Spirit compels you to do good works because eternity has already been obtained by your faith in the One who could provide it to you.
Scriptures, explained: When Stephen answered their charges, he did so using a
masterful presentation of Israel’s history explained by the insight of revelation through the Old Testament writings from Moses and Amos and Isaiah. They could not refute his claims because he was not arguing opinions or interpretations, he was presenting Spirit-filled truth that confronted the self-deception of their religious system and challenged them to either repent their sin or reject the Savior. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth. He guides seekers to truth, which is found in the Word of God and ultimately points to Jesus of Nazareth.206 When you have opportunities to
2 Timothy 1:7 1 John 4:18 204 Deuteronomy 31:8 205 Romans 10:9-13 206 John 16:13 www.bryanmcanally.com - visit for more books, the blog, and audio.
share your faith, take comfort in the knowledge that among the responsibilities of the Holy Spirit is to bring the right Scriptures to your mind and to give you the right words to say as well as what not to say.207 God will use you to bring clarity in an out-of-focus world to people who genuinely desire to see God clearly. Stay faithful to the study and meditation upon the Word of God, and His Holy Spirit will bring His Word out of you in your opportunities.
Spirit, retained: Interestingly, Stephen is never presented in the scriptures apart from
the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is Stephen’s constant companion through the events of his life. The Spirit fills Stephen as he serves the Grecian widows. The Spirit is with him as he encounters the Freedmen Synagogue. The Spirit fills him as he exhorts them to repent. The Spirit fills him as he is assaulted by large stones and is martyred. Never alone and never forsaken, Stephen was under the constant protection and care of the Holy Spirit even up to the moment he was received into glory. As a follower of Christ, you too retain the Holy Spirit at all times. He is your constant companion and is ever-present. He lives within you and as He lives within you, you abide within Him.208 The believer is filled with the fullness of God at all times, and the Lord is present at every time of trouble.209 Whatever you face, know that you do not ever have to address the situation alone, for the Holy Spirit is with you and He will not leave you, no matter the circumstance.210
Be A Man of Polite Courtesy Most people would agree with the contemporary notion that chivalry is dead. So, too, it seems, is courtesy. Gone are the days of “please,” “thank you,” “no, ma’am,” and “yes, sir.” Rarely will anyone hold a door open much less say, “after you” or “Please, go ahead,” when doing so. Sadly, the courtesy void seems to have found its way into the church. Churches around the western world are closing their doors every week because they never learned that courtesy is not just a nice thing to offer, but it is a necessary service to offer.
John 14:26; Luke 12:12 Romans 8:9; 1 John 2:27 209 Ephesians 3:19; Psalm 46:1 210 Titus 3:4-7
People unfamiliar with a church often seem surprised when they enter to find it friendly. They do not expect to find smiling greeters and helpful ushers because, unfortunately, most churches do not provide such courtesy services. They seem baffled by pleasant staff or a congenial pastor because too often, the ministers are surly, burly, or just want to leave early. It is a sad indictment indeed, when simple common courtesies as pleasant greetings and offering directions set some congregations apart from so many others. The reality is that the church, and the Christ followers who comprise it, are expected to offer more than simple common courtesy. In fact, Christians are called to be uncommonly courteous. If you belong to Jesus, you have been commanded to think of others better than what you think of yourself and to give preference to one another.211 You should be willing to go so far in your courtesy that you will politely, gently, and in great humility point out when another strays from truth, just as did Stephen.212 Uncommon courtesy can be expressed in a multitude of ways. Stephen demonstrated that it is shown simply in being consistent in your attitude and conduct. He earned the reputation of being wise and Spirit-filled because he was disciplined to stay in fellowship with the Holy Spirit. He was not known for taking extended vacations “in the flesh,” where his behavior was selfish and his attitude erratic. He also showed that courtesy is altogether uncommon when it is expressed in the heat of conflict. Even as the mob grew more volatile, Stephen remained calm. As they called for his death, he asked for their pardon. As their hatred exploded, his love expanded. Stephen showed that uncommon courteous is revolutionary and dangerous because the world has no weapon to overcome it. Only boldly confident men who are secure in their relationship with Jesus as Lord can extend this courtesy common among God’s children in such an uncommon manner to those who are so unfamiliar with it. Polite Courtesy in Your Family Relationships Your entire family learns their deportment from your example, primarily in how you treat them. Your sons will take their cue on how to treat their wives by how you treat your own bride. They will see whether or not you thank her for the multitude of work done in the home and for
Philippians 2:3; Romans 12:10 James 5:19-20 www.bryanmcanally.com - visit for more books, the blog, and audio.
the family (whether or not she has employment outside the home), or whether you simply “brush it off” as her responsibility and never offer a statement of gratitude. Your daughters will either come to treasure the example of how you treasure your wife or disregard you for your apparent disregard for her contributions. Your children must come to understand that apart from your salvation, your wife is perhaps the most excellent gift the Lord has given you. Always let your children and all your extended family know that you “married up.” See your wife as the treasure that she is, and let her see that you see it and appreciate her every day. Recognize, too, that your children are a precious treasure from the Lord. Every child is fearfully and wonderfully made; accordingly, they should be treated as such.213 Little details like greeting your children each morning with a smiling “Good Morning!” and a happy embrace to consistently meeting their questions with a pleasant response establish your home as a courteous place where family members treat one another well. Show your family that you have deep respect and pleasant appreciation for them. Your wife and children need to feel that you like them as much as you love them. Your polite courtesy should extend simply holding your wife and children in high regard. They need you to be their kind, courteous protector. Your children will notice when you defend your wife when salesmen try to pit you against one another, or when you speak well of her in a group conversation when all the other men seem to be complaining. Your children may never voice it, but they will be grateful when you speak publicly of your pride in their accomplishments. Even if the acclaim is relatively small, your praise can be relatively large. In the same respect, be politely honest with your children in all matters. Today’s culture suffers from no lack of children growing up with a sense of parentally-driven entitlement that they are the world’s next superstar singer or actor. Help your children see the vast difference and supreme superiority in pursuing God’s will versus the spotlight of celebrity or fame. Gently encourage your children to be all that God has designed them to be. Polite Courtesy in Your Spiritual Relationships There is no room for rudeness in your spiritual relationships. You serve a gentleman Lord who never forces His will on any person and is a supreme respecter of every individual’s personhood. While some churches struggle with kindness within the congregation, most enjoy a
consistent sense of hospitality and hospitability between its members. However, there is an increasing need for courtesy among Christians who are separated by denominations or worship preferences. It has been said that all titles will either fall off on the way to heaven or burn off on the way to hell. Furthermore, Jesus made it clear that He is the shepherd of one flock, not a multitude of divided flocks.214 Until that time arrives when all denominations disappear and only “children of God” remain, Christians of all stripes and varieties must learn to collaborate and cooperate better. Undoubtedly, Satan revels in the division within the universal church. He laughs when one group of Baptists fights with another because they cannot agree on which revision of their statement of faith to represent them. He rubs his hands in delight when charismatics and noncharismatics refuse to feed the hungry, bed the homeless, and clothe the naked because each dogmatically thinks the other is misinterpreting the Holy Spirit. Satan grins a mocking smile every time a debate about predestination or free will gets in the way of actually sharing the gospel with a nonbeliever. He giddily dances to the cacophony of discord whenever disagreement arises over traditional hymns or contemporary praise. In the spirit of polite courtesy, commit to keep your personal preferences personal and the Lord’s priorities public. Worship where you want and how you want according to your comfort and preferences, and celebrate that others do the same, even if it is different from you in location and procedure. Let the church’s testimony be one of unity under the single Lordship of Jesus Christ. Polite Courtesy in Your Personal Relationships Few people into heresy or apostasy willingly. Most people are sincere in their worldviews, whether they belong to the cults of world religions, the cults of materialism, secularism, or atheism, or whether they embrace deviant interpretations of the Christian faith. Remember the fervent, wrong-minded persecution of Paul prior to his faith in Jesus. Every person wants to believe in something, even if that “something” they end up embracing is altogether apart from the loving goodness of God. As such, each person you encounter is deserving of your polite courtesy. It has been correctly advised to seek to understand before you seek to be understood. You will gain much in your
John 10:16 www.bryanmcanally.com - visit for more books, the blog, and audio.
understanding of your own faith as you strive to comprehend the world views of others. You will also gain the respect and attention of those you seek to understand because they will sense that you, like Jesus, care about their personhood and are not simply trying to “pad the statistics” of Christian conversions. Some Christians fear seeking to understand the worldviews of others, as though doing so might put their own faith in peril. In fact, the opposite is true. The more you learn about the legalistic requirements of cults, the hopeless future of secularism, and the baseless foundations of other worldviews, the more your faith in Jesus by God’s grace will be affirmed and confirmed. Your position in Jesus is secure in who He is and who you are in Him. This frees you to be kind, gentle, and courteous with every person you encounter, regardless of their belief or nonbelief. Polite Courtesy in Action While you were still in rebellion against God, Jesus demonstrated the ultimate courtesy and died for you.215 He did not wait until you showed kindness or favor to him. When you were at your worst, most defiant moment, Jesus presented himself to the Father as the atonement for your offenses. Then, in the most uncommon courtesy imaginable, His Holy Spirit wooed you to Himself so that you could receive Him as Lord and Savior.216 You now live in the blessing of that unmatchable courtesy, and Christ calls you to in turn be likewise courteous.217 The term for courtesy literally means “fondness of thought.” This means to think well of all other people, and let those fond thoughts dictate appropriate actions. A godly man named Harry Piland once said, “If Jesus so loved every person I meet, how dare I not?” Show courtesy creatively. Invite strangers to meals. Ask every person you meet to not only come to church and Bible study, but to come with you and sit by you and share the experience with you. Invite nonChristians into your “church life” and Christians into your “secular life.” Blur or erase the lines that divide your worship and your work. Be friendly all the time, and be a friend for all times. When other people are nice, be nice. When other people are mean, be nice in return. When other people are rude, hateful, vengeful, spiteful, ugly, or even violent…respond with courtesy.
Romans 5:8 2 Timothy 1:9-10 217 1 Peter 3:8
Timeless Insight “The greater person is one of courtesy.” ––Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-1892) For Personal Reflection 1. Where in the world do you see an absence of courtesy? How does a lack of courtesy show up in church? 2. In what circumstances is it difficult for you to be courteous? When someone speaks poorly of your spouse? Your president? Your church? About you? About God? How do you react? Why do you think you react this way? 3. What are some ways your church can improve from “common courtesy” to “uncommon courtesy” in relating to visitors, new members, and/or people in the community? What will you do to personally make a similar improvement? 4. Which aspect of the MEEKNESS acronym speaks to you most about how to be a man of polite courtesy? How has your perception changed of what it means to be meek? Who are some examples you can share of meek, godly men worth emulating? 5. Stephen was the epitome of a courteous man who possessed supernatural strength in Jesus Christ. He embodied every essential characteristic of the gentle Christian warrior, and is appropriately honored as the first martyr of the faith. The kingdom exploded in exponential growth because of the persecution and paradigm that were catalyzed in the persecution of Stephen. God will do far more in your bold, intercessory courtesy than in fleshly, confrontational defiance. Invest a few moments to develop an agenda to increase expressions of courtesy through your own life. Do not merely focus upon “being nicer;” like Stephen, be intentional about staying close to the Holy Spirit and sharing out of that fullness with every opportunity He provides.
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The Warrior’s Wisdom Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing. 1 Peter 3:8-9 NKJV
Compassion doesn't originate in our bleeding hearts or moral sweat, but in God's mercy. Romans 9:14 MSG Joses discovered that generosity is the wellspring of a compassionate heart. He was a Cyprus-born Levite living in Jerusalem. As a Levite, he was a descendant of the one tribe of Israel that received no territorial inheritance upon entering the Promised Land, who in exchange for their religious and political service were told, “The Lord is your Portion.”218 Inexplicably, he owned a tract of land. While scholars are divided where his real estate was located, it was undoubtedly a valuable commodity to him. As a land-owning foreign Jew with priestly heritage living in Jerusalem, Joses was an anomaly. Yet he lived in Jerusalem when strange things were increasingly commonplace. Jesus of Nazareth had been crucified, buried, and rose again. Forty days had passed, and now the Holy Spirit was moving throughout the land of Israel. The original followers of Jesus did all they could ride along with Him. They preached Jesus as God’s Messiah in the synagogues and they refused to be silent. The Spirit had answered their prayer for boldness, and people were coming to faith in Jesus by the multitudes.219 As the number of believers increased, the Spirit wove within the community an attitude of unity and selflessness. He imparted upon the congregation a sense of shared responsibility to care for one another. As needs were voiced, needs were met. Grace permeated every circumstance; consequently, nobody “did without” and the work of the Holy Spirit advanced rapidly.220 Joses was in the middle of this work. He was counted among the Christ followers. His selfless, compassionate attitude made an indelible imprint on the community of believers. He
Joshua 14:1-4, Numbers 18:20 Acts 4:31-32 220 Acts 4:33-34 www.bryanmcanally.com - visit for more books, the blog, and audio.
earnestly partnered with the apostles, serving alongside them in meeting the needs of his countrymen, kin, and strangers. Soon, the needs of the Christian community outpaced their resources. Without hesitation, Joses sold his precious land and placed the proceeds at the feet of the apostles to be used at their discretion.221 Joses saw a need; a compassionate heart led him to exchange his most valued earthly possession to meet it. It was just this type of behavior that had led the apostles to nickname Joses as the “Son of Encouragement.” History knows him as Barnabas. Barnabas was no mere cheerleader getting caught up in the sweeping movement of Christianity. Barnabas was also there among the oppressed believers when the Pharisees and Romans first stoked the fires of persecution following the horrible murder of the deacon Stephen. After the onset of unwarranted, widespread violence against Christians, Barnabas apparently remained in his adopted and ancient home of Jerusalem to persevere with the apostles, while many other believers scattered throughout the region to escape. For years Barnabas labored alongside the apostles, sharing the gospel in the context of oppression and persecution. Periodic reports filtered to the Jerusalem congregation that the gospel was being preached north toward Samaria. Miracles were happening and people were coming to faith in Jesus.222 Yet, in Jerusalem, Christianity was underground and Kingdom work was covert and discreet. While only eternity knows the details of the dangers Barnabas faced along with his fellow warriors, one particular event at the crossroads of Christianity reveals that his compassion served as the tipping point for the faith, resulting in rapid spiritual and numerical advance. One day the apostles received the news of a visitor. His name was Saul…the very same man who had overseen the martyrdom of Stephen. This was the man who catalyzed the fever of persecution that dispersed their fellow believers and had sent them underground. Even three years later, they remembered Saul. They had suffered the effects from Saul’s aggressive persecution against the church in Jerusalem. They had struggled against the avalanche of violence that Saul had initiated. The
Acts 4:36 Acts 8:4-8
apostles were great men of tremendous faith; yet, they simply could not believe that the man who once had hunted them was now himself a follower of Jesus. With wisdom tainted by fear, they rejected his appeal to join them.223 That is, until Barnabas was moved with compassion. Like the apostles, Barnabas was a faithful Jew who had come to understand that Jesus was not merely the promised Messiah, He was actually God in the flesh. While the apostles denied Saul’s request to join their work because they were afraid, Barnabas was touched with compassion for Saul, and in him saw the same grace and mercy from the Lord that he had received when he first believed. Barnabas did more than cast a dissenting vote against the apostles. Barnabas actually intervened for Saul. He took a risk. At great potential for personal peril, Barnabas personally connected with the one man who was feared to have the power to squash the movement of the Holy Spirit in Jerusalem. Just as he had earlier placed his valued property at the feet of the apostles for their discretionary use, Barnabas now placed his valued life at the feet of the Lord to be used at his discretion. He brought Saul to the apostles, and made the appeal on Saul’s behalf. Barnabas shared Saul’s testimony of conversion, and Barnabas reported on Saul’s faithful work in Damascus for the cause of Christ. In interceding for Saul, Barnabas stepped forward and cleaved Saul’s reputation with his own. In standing by Saul, Barnabas vouched for him.224 Only the deep, intimate movement of compassion within the innermost parts of a person can compel a person to act so selflessly and courageously. Barnabas did not simply “feel sorry” for Saul. He understood something that possibly could not have been expressed in words at the time: that Saul was vital to the work of the gospel. He saw the Holy Spirit upon Saul and perceived the potential in him. He stood up and spoke out that Saul was every bit as vital to Kingdom efforts as Barnabas was himself. Barnabas put himself on the line for Saul’s sake.
Acts 9:26 Acts 9:27 www.bryanmcanally.com - visit for more books, the blog, and audio.
Moved by the compassion of Barnabas, the apostles received Saul into the congregation and the former persecutor joined their efforts.225 Saul was able to stay with the Jerusalem congregation for only two weeks before the Grecian Jews attempted to kill him. Yet, the assembly of Christians now protected the man who had once sought to kill them. They secreted him out to Tarsus, where he could more safely continue his mission of preaching the gospel. The compassion they had witnessed in Barnabas they now reproduced. Consequently, peace pervaded the church and the kingdom multiplied through all the regions.226 The compassion of Barnabas did not begin and end with these two dramatic examples. Compassion led Barnabas to leave the new peace and prosperity of Jerusalem and travel to Antioch, where he encouraged the Christ-followers there to persevere. Consequently, many new believers were added to the church. Barnabas personally sought out Saul in Tarsus, brought him back to Antioch, and together they labored for a year teaching the new believers. There, the name “Christian” was born.227 From its original example, the title worn by believers today is inextricably linked to kind, selfless, sacrificial and compassionate actions that exemplify the nature and work of the Lord Jesus. For almost fifteen years Saul (and by this time, now renamed “Paul”) and Barnabas served alongside traveling to city after city – sharing the gospel, encouraging the church, and spreading compassion. For Barnabas, compassion meant never losing hope in the potential that he saw in someone else. Just as he persevered with Paul, Barnabas also never gave up on his cousin John Mark. The young man joined Barnabas and Paul on the journey to Antioch as they prepared for their first missionary journey, but instead returned home rather than accompany them.228 Later, Barnabas and Paul so strongly disagreed over whether or not John Mark should have another opportunity to minister with them that the two went in different directions to continue their common mission. Not surprisingly, Barnabas brought along John Mark in his work of compassion to the very island where John Mark had originally declined to go.229 The compassion shown to John Mark
Acts 9:28 Acts 9:29-31 227 Acts 11:19-26 228 Acts 12:25; 13:13 229 Acts 15:36-39
brought a return on the investment; years later, Paul himself would name John Mark as a fellow prisoner for Christ.230 Joses was a man of compassion. He did not just give encouragement; he so lived that even his nickname Barnabas exemplified his encouraging nature. To those who feared, he gave hope. To those who lacked, he gave provision. To those who did not know, he gave instruction. To those who had failed, he gave another chance. From the purse of compassion Barnabas gave an offering of service, whatever the need and regardless the cost. A Samurai Says Feeling deeply the difference between oneself and others, bearing ill will and falling out with people — these things come from a heart that lacks compassion. If one wraps up everything with a heart of compassion, there will be no coming into conflict with people. –– Yamamoto Tsunetomo (1615-1719) The Sword Speaks Compassion is an enigmatic characteristic. Affected by emotion and influenced by logic—yet ruled by neither—compassion causes a Christian warrior to perform baffling and unexplainable acts of kindness. Yet compassion that at the moment of expression makes little sense will later prove necessary in distinguishing itself as a Holy Spirit-led work of God. This mysterious nature of compassion explains how a Christian warrior can live a life full of unexpected surprises while showing the remarkable consistency of one who CARES. A warrior of compassion is a man who:
Cultivates Unlikely Relationships: From the common perspective, Barnabas
had nothing to gain and much to lose by befriending Saul. The former Pharisee carried the reputation of a persecutor who had authorized the murder and imprisonment of Barnabas’ fellow Christians. The risk was extreme, but the reward changed history. What is even more striking that Barnabas brought Saul to the apostles is that Barnabas stayed with Saul for many years of ministry. The Bible illustrates the cultivating approach that Barnabas brought to their relationship. As their ministry advanced, their relationship developed. Early in their
Colossians 4:10 www.bryanmcanally.com - visit for more books, the blog, and audio.
work, they were known as “Barnabas and Saul.”231 Yet, Saul’s renaming to “Paul” signals a turning point in their relationship where they were most often recognized as “Paul and Barnabas.”232 The changing nature of their relationship is indicative of Barnabas’ compassion upon Paul to see his friend’s ministry succeed and continue even if it meant his own relegation to helper rather than leader. God himself cultivated an unlikely relationship with you when He offered you purpose and eternal life through Jesus. God is complete in Himself without you.233 That He chose to give you life when death was your destiny shows the incredible compassion he showers upon you.234 Moreover, the Holy Spirit remains with you, continually cultivating His relationship with you through nurture, compassion, and care.235 God has placed you in a community filled with the potential for unlikely alliances. Perhaps the person God has planned for you to share the gospel with is that co-worker who has historically been hostile to the Lord. The opportunity may be waiting for you to shower compassion upon that neighbor who has declared himself an atheist for as long as you have known him. If all your friendships are with other Christians, then it is worth considering that perhaps you are “playing it too safe.” Jesus hung out with lepers, tax collectors, and other undesirables not because he was trying to be provocative. He understood that great needs and great opportunities abounded in the margins of society. You have the same opportunity to make a difference with Christ in you.
Assists Sincere Seekers: Barnabas did not just align himself with unlikely friends,
he also made it a point to give help to anyone who was sincerely seeking God. He remained with Paul for more than a decade, teaching and training him until his ministry could thrive without him. Repeatedly, Barnabas took extended journeys and remained with the new converts to Christianity so they could learn the essential doctrines of the faith and thrive on their own after he had departed to go to the next opportunity. Paul learned this lesson well, and over time, made similar commitments to his own protégés such as Timothy and Titus. Furthermore, he instructed his pupils to reproduce the
Acts 11:30; 12:25; 13:2, 7 Acts 13:9, 43, 46, 50; 14:20; 15:2, 22
Colossians 1:19 Romans 9:15 235 1 Peter 5:7
same effort in those they would instruct, who would in turn instruct even further generations of believers.236 Paul understood that while salvation occurred in an instant of belief, sanctification was a process the required the remainder of one’s days. As he received the full devotion of Barnabas’ time and attention, so he too committed himself fully to those under his watch care. As you reflect upon your own spiritual development, it is virtually impossible to do so without identifying a person who invested in you and brought you along a path of discipleship. Someone—or likely even several “someones”—assisted you because they saw you sincerely seeking and they wanted to show you what they had discovered. The journey of a disciple was never meant to be walked alone. Likewise, you can likely think of at least one other man in your church who either looks up to you or trusts you. You can take the time and invest yourself in another man. Share time in the Word of God together. Pray for one another. Share spiritual insights with each other. Assist another who is sincerely seeking Christ and prepare to receive a greater blessing that the one you give.
Represents the Faithful: While the world might have you believe that every
Christian looks alike, talks alike, thinks alike, dresses alike, and votes alike, the reality is that Christ’s warriors are found in many segments of society and have wide-ranging thoughts, appearances, expressions, and opinions. Barnabas took the personal risk to represent Saul to the apostles even though he was a frightening person who was very different from them. His history as a Pharisaic persecutor intimidated and frightened the apostles. Barnabas, though, stood before the apostles and put his own identity on the line in vouching for Saul. The apostles then received Saul because of their trust in Barnabas. If Barnabas believed in Saul, then they would as well. Paul learned from Barnabas’ example. He remembered how he personally benefited from Barnabas personally representing him before other believers, and how the church benefited as well. Paul would later make it a practice to employ emissaries who would extend his message and serve as his representative. In fact, he send Tychicus and Onesimus to Collosae so the Colossian church would be encouraged with the news of the faithful advance of the gospel in the world.237 Paul understood that representatives did much more
2 Timothy 2:1-2 Colossians 4:7-8 www.bryanmcanally.com - visit for more books, the blog, and audio.
than deliver messages and vouch for other individuals. In reality, they represented the faithful presence of God in the world, the faithful work of Jesus in the lives of believers, and the faithful activity of the Holy Spirit in and through the church. The Proverbs declare that a faithful ambassador brings health.238 You represent Christ to the world and you can even represent other believers from one community to another. Whenever you speak well of your pastor and your church to your unbelieving friends, you vouch for them using your own reputation as the standard for comparison. That reality can challenge you, compel you, or convict you. Also, you may be uniquely aware of opportunities to connect your church with a ministry that would otherwise go unmatched. Take the initiative to bring needs and opportunities to your Bible study group, your missions team or committee, to your ministry staff, or even to your congregation. You may have to stand up and declare your belief and support for the other opportunity; just remember that Barnabas did the same and the result was a massive increase in the Kingdom of God.
Encourages Fellow Warriors: Barnabas invested an entire year with Saul
encouraging the Antioch church to continue its work faithfully. From there, they brought encouragement in the form of financial relief to believers struggling in Judea.239 They took seriously the responsibility to encourage others because they understood that encouragement was much more than a motivational speech, a “rah-rah” cheer, or a stern lecture to set people on path; encouragement took time, commitment and was an expression of relationship. Paul was a believer in the incredible blessing of encouragement. He repeatedly sought to encourage others, and for believers to encourage one another.240 He knew that while discouragement was a common spiritual and emotional malady, it was antithetical to the Christian life and an impediment to Kingdom advance. They also understood that often, a discouraged Christian was an ineffective Christian. Fellow warriors in your battalion need to be encouraged. Many times, the men you worship alongside on Sunday mornings arrive discouraged because they have been fighting the enemy all week long and are in need of support. Too many Christian men feel alone and
Proverbs 13;17 Acts 11:26-30 240 e.g., 1 Corinthians 14:41; Colossians 2:2; 1 Timothy 3:2,6
outnumbered, not connected to the blessing of an army of men standing shoulder-toshoulder against the enemy. Make a habit to call other men and check in with them. Schedule a weekly breakfast prayer time where a small group of men can gather and encourage one another. A man who is encouraged lives in the spiritual reality that he can accomplish anything through Christ who gives him strength.241 As a warrior for Christ, you have an obligation to be an optimist.242 Your optimism is not a “pie-in-the-sky” wishfulthinking optimism, but a realistic optimism based on the reality that you have been given insight to the future and by the grace of God; you are on the side of victory.243
Sacrificially Supplies Unity: It may be tempting to view Barnabas simply as a
generous man. He gave the proceeds from his valued property to the apostles’ work. He gave his testimony of support for Saul to the apostles as well. He gave his time and teaching to Paul. He gave his encouragement to numerous churches. He gave and gave, but he was not simply a generous man. More important than what he gave is why he gave. Barnabas gave because he knew that through his giving, he facilitated unity. He knew that his gifts advanced the work of the One God, Jesus Christ. He knew that by giving himself, he shared the one gospel of the one way to the Savior. He understood that by sacrificing himself, he submitted to the authority and persuasion of the single Holy Spirit who brought unity. Paul learned this lesson well and faithfully extended the message. Paul taught that unity was not conformity, and that it could be experienced in a variety of personalities, gifts, and expressions of faith.244 He taught that unity was ultimately expressed in the total submission of self, setting aside personal agendas for the glory of God.245 For many men, giving is a major barrier to Christian growth. As the “breadwinner” of the family, most men are protective about where their money goes. Many men are reluctant to tithe because they view giving money to the church more about “how” they give than “why” they give. Make no mistake; giving to the Kingdom cause is compulsory.246 God challenges men to tithe.247 Yet God does not need your money to accomplish His work.248
Philippians 4:13 John 16:33 243 1 Corinthians 2:6-16 244 1 Corinthians 12:1-2,12; Ephesians 4:1-3,13 245 Philippians 2:1-4 246 Proverbs 3:9 247 Malachi 3:10 www.bryanmcanally.com - visit for more books, the blog, and audio.
This paradox therefore reveals that giving is as much “for you” as it is “through you.” It has been said that if you want to know where a man’s priorities lie, look at his checkbook. As you faithfully give, you become united to your church and with other warriors for the cause of Christ. Just as Barnabas gave sacrificially because he completely identified with the work of God through the apostles and through the church, so you too, are called to give sacrificially as an expression of unity. Be A Man of Fearless Compassion Whereas many of the characteristic strengths of the Christian Warrior are perceived as weaknesses in the world, compassion is often simply overlooked. At worst, those most in need of compassion do not receive it. At best, the world offers second-rate generosity in the name of compassion without any genuine lasting effect. The example of Barnabas shows that real compassion is life-changing. His compassion opened a significant door of blessing and growth to the Jerusalem church. His compassion for Saul caused a man who would have otherwise been rejected to instead be accepted, which allowed Saul to become the father of a missionary movement that still thrives to this day. His compassion strengthened numerous churches to inspire them to persevere through difficult times – only in eternity will the impact of that compassion be fully measured. His compassion upon his cousin who had once failed set the tone for young John Mark’s ministry. Today, the gospel that he penned is included among the inspired, inerrant canon of the Bible and set the standard for the others that would be later included. Compassion cannot be reduced to simple pity and it cannot be expressed as simple generosity. Compassion is a deep-seated, undeniable compulsion to give or serve another. It requires personal investment of resources—whether mental, emotional, physical, financial, or spiritual— and almost certainly results in the blessing of the recipient. A modern rendering of the word is literally understood as “with passion,” and unites a deep feeling of sympathy with an unrestrained urge to act upon it to make a difference. Compassion causes a man to accomplish extraordinary feats that may never be remembered apart from the commendation of the Lord.249 Still, it must never be forgotten that the miracles
Psalm 50:10; cf. Ephesians 3:11 See Revelation 2:2
and ministry that glorify God and receive accolades and attention are often possible because of the selfless compassionate service of good men like Barnabas.250 Fearless Compassion in Your Family Relationships It is no secret that God has “wired” men differently than women. Men are typically more logical and women are typically more emotionally centered. Men are visually stimulated and women are typically more audibly stimulated (and “stimulation” extends beyond the physical realm, but also includes relational, conversational, and intellectual stimulation). A compassionate man will step outside of his own designed motivations and appeal to the manner of speaking that ministers to his wife. Compassion goes way past occasionally watching a “chick flick” with your wife. It means listening to her, writing her a little note to tell her you love how she looks or smells or feels. Compassion means identifying with her relationally, emotionally, and certainly spiritually. Fearless compassion is much more, too. It means to encourage your wife through her own doubts. Commend her for the giftedness that you see in her and encourage her to develop it in Kingdom service. Serve alongside her and mitigate her weaknesses with your strengths (and let her do the same for you). Praise the excellence you see developed in her. Likewise, your children begin in your mission field and after their salvation are some of your chief disciples. Have compassion on them as young believers and teach them the way they should go and they will not depart from it.251 Do not abdicate your responsibility as a dad in providing compassionate spiritual leadership to your children, counting on the church to provide it. The reality is, a child is rarely able to overcome the ceiling of spiritual maturity experienced in the home. The church’s job is to support what you are doing in the home, not vice versa. Include your children in your spiritual conversations and encourage them to ask spiritual questions. Stimulate their thinking to focus upon the Lord, for if you do not, they will instead fix their focus upon this things of this world. Show them the compassion of a man who is passionate to follow Jesus. Spark that same passion in them.
Acts 11:24 Proverbs 22:6 www.bryanmcanally.com - visit for more books, the blog, and audio.
Fearless Compassion in Your Spiritual Relationships The church is an organization that is driven primarily through volunteers. In fact, this is how God ordained it to be. The work of paid ministers is important, but limited.252 The work of Christians is interdependent, described scripturally as “a body.”253 You must be as compassionate with the spiritual body of the church as you are with your own physical body. If you get a cut on your arm, you would be unwise to ignore it and let it get dirtier and dirtier until became infected. The infection left untreated could enter into your bloodstream and put your entire body at risk. Instead, you would quickly clean the wound, carefully dress it, apply any appropriate medication available, and attentively monitor the wound for healing. The same should be the case in your spiritual body. When a fellow warrior is wounded by sin, you would be guilty of gross neglect if you simply ignored the problem. In fact, the Corinthian church tried this tact and was soundly rebuked by Paul for doing so.254 To ignore sin in the congregation puts the entire body at risk. Instead, God offers prescriptive care to heal the wound and restore the wounded. Confront the problem and clean it out. Address the wound and apply the balm of God’s truth. Carefully monitor the wounded person for healing.255 The church has been called a “hospital for sinners.” Perhaps it is more accurately described as a spiritual rehabilitation facility for saints. Church is where you can connect with your spiritual identity in Christ, rather than toil in the failed and failing identity of your flesh. Show compassion to other spiritually-minded men to restore them to serve alongside you in fighting for the souls of men. Fearless Compassion in Your Personal Relationships Jesus is known as “a friend of sinners.”256 The Bible repeatedly speaks of how Jesus looked upon the crowds of people and was moved by compassion to minister to them.257 He showed fearlessness in his compassion by ministering on Saturday, the holy Sabbath held in reverence by the Jewish authorities. He demonstrated that compassion was more important that piety.
Ephesians 4:11-13 1 Corinthians 12:12-30 254 1 Corinthians 5:1-13 255 See Matthew 18:8-9, 15-17; James 5:19-20 256 Luke 7:34 257 See Matthew 14:14
All around you, people are mired in the pigpen of sin. Financially overwhelmed, morally bankrupt, and spiritually crushed, a multitude of people are suffering in the misery of being separated from God. They need a friend who has a personal relationship with Jesus and who will take the initiative in introducing the two to each other. They need a friend like you. You don’t have to do a lot. You just have to be there. You have to reach out to them and give them a better alternative to that which oppresses them. They don’t need to be preached at to be told what they are doing is wrong. Most people already know what they are doing is wrong, even if they don’t call it by the name “sin.” Instead, they need to see that they matter and that God matters to them. They need to see that God is aware of their circumstance and has a better plan for them. They need to see that God has brought you to them as a grace gift and that you bring good tidings of peace and reconciliation with the God who created them. Be a good friend to others, whether you meet them at work, in your neighborhood, or in extended social circles. Be a friend to sinners, just like Jesus was to you. Be the type of friend who can be relied upon, who will listen, and who will give honest, thoughtful, godly advice without judging or condemning. Show compassion and be fearless. Fearless Compassion in Action Everybody gets discouraged at one time or another. You have been given the incredible opportunity to be a person who brings hope to the hopeless or encouragement to the discouraged. You have been given a multitude of resources, not so that you could hoard them but so that you can share them. You give a precious gift when you share an encouraging word, a helpful hand, or a sacrifice of your time, attention, or even service. Paradoxically, the more compassion you release to others, the more you will find that you have been given to give. On his own, Barnabas was not an extraordinarily compassionate man; he simply submitted completely to an extraordinarily compassionate God. Almost two thousand years later, Barnabas is not only known as a compassionate warrior for Christ, his testimony still encourages Christian warriors today. You, too, can be a man of extraordinary compassion.
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Timeless Insight “The wretched have no compassion; they can do good only from strong principles of duty.” ––Samuel Johnston (1733 – 1816) For Personal Reflection 1. Have you ever been discouraged? What were the thoughts you had in discouragement? 2. Have you ever been shown compassion by another man? What did you think about that man because of his compassion? What did you think about God because of that man’s compassion? 3. What circumstances, situations, needs, or events move you with compassion? What keeps you from being compassionate? How would your life be different if God had used the same standard in giving or withholding compassion toward you? 4. Which aspect of the CARES acronym speaks to you most about what God is saying to you regarding compassion? How can you show compassion in a new way to someone who you in the past have not shown given compassion? 5. Compassion is not simply a gift, it is also a discipline. Determine today to be compassionate, regardless whether or not it comes naturally to you. If you struggle to connect compassionately with others, view their circumstance through the context of the compassion that Christ showed you in taking your sins to the cross. When you willfully give out to others providing hope and encouragement, you show similar compassion in a way that honors your Savior.
The Warrior’s Wisdom If we have all we need and see one of our own people in need, we must have pity on that person, or else we cannot say we love God. 1 John 3:17 CEV 114
If anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter. 1 Peter 4:16 NKJV If any man had tasted the bitter wine of shameful embarrassment, it was Peter. Hotheaded and strong-willed, Peter seemed to have had developed a taste for sandal leather as often as he found himself with a foot in his mouth. As one-third of Jesus’ “inner circle,” Peter often spoke before he thought and almost as often acted just as impetuously. He was a man who witnessed incredible sights and unfathomable miracles; yet, he often showed a failure to appreciate what he had seen as evidenced by the foolhardy words that inevitably followed. Everything about Peter hints to his lightning-fast response and at-times reckless behavior. Peter was the first to answer the call of Jesus to follow him. The fisherman “immediately” cast aside his fishing nets and along with his brother Andrew, began to shadow Jesus while they learned his teachings and planned for a future of prominence and influence.258 When Jesus and the apostles gathered at his home, he discovered his mother in law was ill with a fever and “at once” told Jesus.259 The very next morning, a crowd gathered to sit in the audience of Jesus and he was not to be found. It was Peter who searched him out, and upon finding him, exclaiming, “Everyone’s looking for you!” 260 Peter was the first to confess what he believed, that Jesus was the Christ!261 However, he quickly followed his faith declaration, with embarrassing proof that he did not understand what he was saying. Jesus prophetically informed them that as the Christ, He must suffer and die. At this news, Peter unsuccessfully tried to chastise Jesus for such negative notions. However, Jesus
Mark 1:18 Mark 1:29 260 Mark 1:31 261 Mark 8:27-29 www.bryanmcanally.com - visit for more books, the blog, and audio.
rebuked the apostle sharply, saying, “Get behind Me, Satan! For you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”262 Merely six days later, Peter accompanied Jesus, John, and James to a high mountain. There, Peter watched as Jesus was transfigured. Suddenly, Jesus was no mere man, but he was radiating in light, dressed in a perfectly white, flowing robe and talking with Elijah and Moses! They were all terrified, but Peter alone tried to mask his fear by blurting the suggestion that they build three tabernacles. The suggestion was not outrageous. It even sounded intelligent. It honored the prophet and the patriarch. It venerated Jesus in equitable terms with the heroes of their faith. It even acknowledged the scriptural commands to build tabernacles as part of their annually-mandated festivals. In the face of fear, Peter quickly tried to bluff his peers with the appearance of brilliance. Again, Peter was rebuked, this time by God himself!263 Peter not only underappreciated Jesus in moments of haste, but rash thinking also led him to overestimate his own abilities. Once, after a long day of witnessing the miraculous feeding of five thousand people from only five loaves of bread and two fish, Peter and the apostles embarked on a boat to sail across the Sea of Galilea. Jesus stayed behind and dispersed the wellfed crowd. That night, the waters were tossed with an angry wind and the apostles recognized their peril. Yet, looking out to the dark tumult, they saw Jesus walking on the water. They were all filled with fear…except Peter. He looked out and saw his Master defying both physics and logic. He immediately bade the Lord to invite him to duplicate the feat. Christ graciously complied with the gentle command to “Come.” Within mere footsteps away from the boat, his attention distracted from Jesus, Peter failed famously. “Lord, Save me!” he cried out, as Jesus rescued him with an outstretched hand.264 Peter would fail even more dramatically later when, in the upper after piously proclaiming that Jesus should either wash him entirely clean or not cleanse him at all, Jesus instead foretold that
Mark 8:31-33 Mark 9:1-7 264 Matthew 14:22-31
Peter would deny Jesus three times.265 What brash Peter never could have imagined soon came to pass exactly as Jesus had predicted when Peter thrice denied allegiance to Jesus who had been turned over to the Pharisees at the betraying hand of Judas. Peter fled in shame as the rooster’s crow brought down the gavel of conviction. In the crucible of conflict where faith meets fear, Peter floundered. He committed the very act he professed he would not. He failed because not only did he not recognize his weakness in his pride, but also he mistook it for strength. He fled, weeping bitter tears of disappointment and denial.266 He could not stop the execution of his Savior or even witness it from the crowd. Despite his bravado, in the most important moment of his life, he cowered in the shadows, alienating Jesus and leaving his Lord to be beaten and abused by malicious strangers. Failure still shadowed Peter three days later when Mary Magdalene rushed to the disciples and told them that Jesus’ tomb was empty. The angel who had visited Mary remembered Peter specifically in telling her to find Christ’s faithful warriors – even the one who had faltered in the decisive moment.267 They rushed to the gravesite to find only his burial cloths. The stone had been rolled away and the tomb was indeed empty. Jesus had risen from the dead! Three times in the following days, Jesus visited the apostles…and Peter. Three times Jesus appeared and showed His love, his power, and his authority. Three times, He demonstrated that He was more than a rabbi, greater than a teacher, more significant than merely a miracle worker. Three times, He visited the apostles and proved that He is Lord. On His third encounter with Peter, it is not by coincidence that he three times asked Peter a simple, direct question, “Do you love me?”268 In this, Peter who wallowed in shame was given another opportunity at honor. No greater picture exists of God’s confidence in His warrior than that of Jesus restoring Peter to continue the mission for which he had trained the previous three years at Christ’s heels. Jesus never gave up on Peter; for every failure and denial perpetrated by the apostle, Jesus had a patient, persevering love response that called His follower to a life of honor, obedience, and offering. To God’s glory, Peter finally grasped what he had been shown so intimately when he walked in the shadow of the Messiah. Jesus is Christ and He is Lord! Typical to his nature, Peter could not stop from telling others what he knew. Empowered by the indwelling visit of the Holy Spirit,
John 13:6-9; 31-38 Luke 22:62 267 Mark 16:7 268 John 21:15-19 www.bryanmcanally.com - visit for more books, the blog, and audio.
Peter led the apostles back to the same synagogue that they had feared to enter earlier because of the inevitable risk of being identified as the contingency of Jesus’ followers. Where he had denied the relationship only a short time earlier, he now embraced his identity in Christ, took the lead and preached Christianity’s first great sermon. With passion, he persuaded. With conviction, he convinced. With integrity, he influenced. With boldness, he beckoned, “Repent from this perverse generation and be saved!”269 Three thousand souls were added to them, baptized that very day.270 Peter, once a man scarred by shame was now a warrior leader marked by honor. He preached with authority. He performed miracles to glorify Jesus as Lord. He confronted hypocrisy and he defended grace. He brought honor to God, too, in his suffering. He was imprisoned because he preached Jesus as Lord. He was jailed at the folly of murderous King Herod. Finally, as Jesus foretold, he gave his life in martyrdom, legendarily crucified upside down because he considered himself unworthy to die in the same manner as Jesus.271 Twenty centuries have past, and today Simon Peter holds a primary place of honor among Christian warriors. He is universally recognized among Christians as a foundational leader in the church. He is considered essential to the church’s survival and expansion. Yet, in addressing his community of faith, Peter could only address himself as an apostle and bondservant to Jesus Christ.272 He had weathered many battles and now could teach others that honor was attained by submission to Christ, prestige in obedience to His Spirit. Where earlier his faith had faltered, it later flourished. Upon that bedrock of Peter’s faith, Jesus grew His church and His kingdom and the gates of hell will not triumph against it. A Samurai Says “Some people live all their lives without knowing which path is right. They're buffeted by this wind or that and never really know where they're going. That's largely the fate of the commoners--those who have no choice over their destiny. For those of us born as samurai, life is something else. We know the path of duty and we follow it without question.” –– Oishi Kuranosuke (1679-1701)
Acts 2:14-40 Acts 2:41 271 John 21:18 272 2 Peter 1:1
The Sword Speaks Honor is a trait that is potentially as elusive as humility: as soon as you think you have captured it, you surely have lost it. However, God’s word offers Peter’s example, giving insight to five characteristics necessary to claim the PRIZE of honor, bringing glory to the giver of honor, Jesus:
Persistence – Never Give Up! For all Peter’s shortcomings, nobody can fault his
“stick-to-it-ness!” When Jesus rebuked Peter for scolding the Messiah for predicting His own death, lesser men would have abandoned the relationship and scooted away, unable to overcome the ridicule of reprimand. However, Peter is present just six days later, being made privy to the most amazing sight imaginable when Jesus was transfigured. This was nothing unusual for Peter, too. Even after his colossal failure when he denied Jesus before the crowds three separate times, he was soon leading his friends on a fishing expedition.273 For Peter, all he knew to do in response to failure was to return to the last effort where he had experienced success. This habit would prove vital later in his life when he led the church. When he was imprisoned, Jewish leaders tried to intimidate him to be silent. They attempted to shame him with false accusations. They attempted a variety of indictments, hoping that even one would prove effective in quieting this persistent preacher. Peter never gave up when he faced opposition. Confrontations carried risks, but Peter feared not seizing the opportunity to honor God more than he feared the possibility of imprisonment. As you follow Christ, you will be faced with temptations to give up or even deny Jesus. Sometimes, the temptations will be subtle, much like the initial inquiries into Peter’s own loyalty to Jesus. “You don’t really believe in Jesus, do you?” you may be asked, as though such belief is the silliest thought imaginable. Other times, the confrontation may be more direct and dangerous. Peter, though, has made the point clear: “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.”274 Keep Peter’s example in mind the next time you do not achieve the expected results. Go back to where you last experienced success and then take the next step differently. Perhaps
John 21:3 Acts 4:19-20 www.bryanmcanally.com - visit for more books, the blog, and audio.
you did not trust enough in the Lord. Maybe you trusted too much in yourself. Maybe the timing just was not right for whatever you were attempting. Learn what God wants to teach you and stick with it. When you persevere, you pursue the disciplines of God’s design. God affirms that the trials in life develop perseverance and that perseverance shapes a man toward godliness.275 Perseverance is God-honoring because you mimic the same steadfast determination and persistence that God has shown in His Holy Spirit’s perseverance in you. He never gives up on you, He never leaves you, and He never turns His back on you. He perseveres in you until your life here is finished, and He empowers you to stay faithful to the pursuits He sets before you as a faithful follower. It has been said that the only difference between a successful man and a failure is that the successful man was willing to get back up after being knocked down, just one more time than the failure. Remember that God has much for you to learn in your failures and they are often necessary steps through which you must persevere if you ever expect to see success.
Rigor – Discipline Pays Dividends! Peter’s life shows that the dank flowers of
failures bloomed when the apostle was undisciplined. When Peter kept his eyes focused upon Jesus, he defied physics and walked atop the water. When his discipline wavered, he plunged into its cold depths. When Peter was focused upon Jesus, he saw his Lord transfigured. When his discipline wavered, he got scared and said something inappropriate just to fill the frightening silence. Discipline was required throughout the rest of his ministry. He grew to understand that he was not just one man following Jesus; he was one man following Jesus leading many others to follow Jesus. He would later encourage the warriors walking in his footsteps to live lives defined by spiritual disciplines: humility, submission, sobriety, and vigilance.276 Most men, when asked who they are, respond by defining themselves by their occupation, for their work is their greatest habit in life. As a warrior for Christ, you have the unique opportunity to develop habits born from a commitment to the rigors of holiness: prayer, love, sacrifice, and service. 277
2 Peter 1:6; Romans 5:2-4 1 Peter 5:5-8 277 Hebrews 12:1-3
Few warriors experience the ongoing blessing of living the disciplined life that is marked by God’s power over sin, influential wisdom, and joyful living. When you keep your focus upon Jesus, you will be able to accomplish feats that you never would be able to do when you strive from your own abilities. The disciplined warrior glorifies Jesus and sees spiritual victories in his own life and in those he loves.
Indwelling – Spirit-filled and Spirit-Led. Peter’s life changed when he was
indwelt by the power of the Holy Spirit. Prior to the arrival of the Promised Helper, Peter was just a well-intentioned guy who tended to mess up almost every time he tried to help! However, with the Holy Spirit leading, guiding, and empowering, Peter was a spiritual dynamo who preached with authority, who acted decisively, and who led with clarity. Theological matters that before confounded him now made sense. Personal insecurities disappeared, giving way to clear purpose and targeted direction. When the Spirit spoke, Peter heard and Peter obeyed. Inevitably, blessings soon followed.278 God’s Holy Spirit is the spirit of wisdom, of knowledge, of counsel, of might, of understanding, and of the fear of the Lord. One more thing…the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of the Lord Himself! 279 Jesus offers nothing less than Himself as the chief resource for his warriors. When you abide in the Holy Spirit of Jesus and He abides in you, you will bear much fruit, but apart from Him, you can do nothing!280 When you continue in Jesus, letting His Spirit work mightily through you, God will receive honor from you as a man of honor. You will see these blessings manifested in a variety of expressions:281 o Love: The Bible affirms that God is love, and that the only reason any person understands love at all is because God first loved us.282 The indwelling of God’s Holy Spirit in you empowers you to love the unlovable and to love others the way God loves you. o Joy: Simply translated, “joy” means “cheerfulness.” Being indwelt by the Spirit of God fills a man with cheer. No doubt, being a warrior of God is serious business, but
Acts 10:19-48 Isaiah 11:2 280 John 15:5 281 Galatians 5:22-23 282 1 John 4:8-10 www.bryanmcanally.com - visit for more books, the blog, and audio.
you have no excuse for a dour disposition. You are on the winning side! You have been blessed beyond measure! You bring with you good news of God’s love! Warrior, be fully of cheer and spread the joy you have in the Lord. o Peace: The world clamors for peace and knows only war. Man is naturally at odds with himself, at odds with other men, and at odds with God. Yet, for the Christian warrior, God promises peace. Literally, the word means to be enjoined with God. You are reconciled to God through Jesus and there is neither enmity nor animosity between the Christian warrior and God. This empowers you to bring peace to others as Christ’s emissary, sharing the gospel liberally and without prejudice. o Longsuffering: This is also known as “patience.” Patience is the ability to endure that which is unpleasant. The funny thing about patience is that you never have it until you need it. If you ask God for patience, he does not give you patience, but he gives you opportunities, where patience is needed. Too many men claim to be impatient, only to discover that God blesses them with His Spirit of patience in the trials where patience is required. As such, God develops patience in the trials of life, not in the triumphs.283 A man who honors God is patient with others because God has been so very patient with him. o Kindness: This blessing means so much more than “being nice.” It means that the Christ follower is man of moral excellence and has a benign spirit. He desires good for all, even his enemies. He wants all men to be restored and redeemed, not just friends and families. He reproduces the kindness shown to him in Jesus by being benevolent and generous at every opportunity, toward the aim of bringing honor to the Lord. o Goodness: This trait is similar to kindness in that it is excellent. However, “goodness” reflects more upon the upright honor of God as demonstrated through the men who He has redeemed. Only those who have been restored into right standing with God through faith in Jesus Christ possess the ability to do good deeds and to be good. Apart from God, there is no goodness in any man, and every act done by any man apart from God is deemed to be filthy.284 Thankfully, through the indwelling of
James 1:3-4 Psalm 14:3; Isaiah 64:6
Jesus, man can do good deeds, will do good deeds and will be good, reflecting the goodness of God.285 o Faithfulness: When a Christ follower is full of faith, he overflows with the conviction of God’s truth. This fruit emboldens the warrior and encourages others. In a world filled with lies and accusations, deceptions and doubt, the man who is full of faith in the truth of God is a welcome blessing. o Gentleness: The blessing of gentleness is kin to the concept of meekness. A Christian warrior is able to be gentle with himself and others because he possesses nothing less than the mighty power of God at his availability. He can turn away wrath or break a bone with a gentle tongue.286 To be gentle with others is to emulate Christ’s own conduct with you, when He through His gentleness offered rest for your soul.287 o Self-Control: This blessing does not mean that you have self-control. Instead, it means that your self is under the control of the Holy Spirit. A warrior of Christ is disciplined because his spirit is held in check by the Holy Spirit and restrains him from pursuing the desires of self. Certainly, expressions of self-control are abstinence or moderation, but the manifestation of this spiritual blessing is also demonstrated in what you do in the place of what you could have done. Rather than enjoying selfish indulgence, a selfcontrolled warrior enjoys selfless sacrifice or benevolence. When your self is under the Spirit’s control, God is glorified in your conduct and demeanor. Eight characteristics describe the Spirit-filled, fruit-bearing life. Note that these are not items on a buffet line; you cannot accept the ones you like and pass by the ones you think are too difficult. A Spirit-filled Christian warrior pursues the disciplines of them all, and all will manifest in the Christian’s life. Also, every fruit listed after “love” is really a modifier or amplifier of love. As you walk by faith in the indwelling Spirit of God, you will share His love with others through your expressions of joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.
3 John 1:11 Proverbs 15:1; 25:15 287 Matthew 11:29 www.bryanmcanally.com - visit for more books, the blog, and audio.
Zeal – Be ‘On Fire’ Without ‘Flaming Out!’ Nobody could ever accuse Peter of
not having enough passion. Even when he didn’t fully think things through—which was often—he was passionate about his convictions. He was the man who would rather have been bathed head-to-toe by Jesus than have only his feet washed. He was the man who sliced off the ear of Malchus, the high priest’s servant, because he mistakenly thought the Garden of Gethsemane was the place where Christ’s battle would be waged.288 That same fire of zeal burned bright through the rest of the apostle’s life. His fires of passion were stoked whenever he had the opportunity to profess Jesus, defend grace, or exhort other believers. From his first sermon that saw a multitude come to faith to his final letter that warned against destructive doctrines and false teachers, the personal Lordship of Jesus was Peter’s primary passion. Everything that Peter taught and preached was held in context to the personal appeal to submit to Jesus as Lord and savior. He did not waver, and he did not falter. Every Christian man should likewise be filled with zeal. There is nothing boring or mundane about the miracle God performed when he saved your soul from the fires of hell. People today get amazed to see an illusionist perform a cheap parlor trick, perhaps because of the zeal with which it is presented. God did so much more for you; be filled with zeal to tell others so they may experience the same blessing. Every man is passionate about something. Unfortunately, too many men are passionate about the wrong things. They name their children after athletes, they will paint their bare chests the color of a favorite team and cheer them on in freezing temperatures, and they will eat noodle soup for a week to pay for expensive concert tickets. You are in partnership with the God of Creation, the Redeemer of Mankind, and the Savior of your soul! He was passionate for you when He took your sins to the cross. If you cannot be passionate for him, you may need to check your toe for a tag, because you just might have lost your pulse!
Equipping - is Not About ‘the Flock’ Staying Fat & Happy. As Jesus
restored Peter to ministry and service, his command to the apostle was to “feed my sheep.” There certainly was a shepherding, protective aspect to this call, as demonstrated by Peter’s commitment to give excellent watch care to the Christians in his congregation.
While God continually used Peter to add to the congregation, Peter understood that he could not grow the Kingdom on his own. He continually partnered with others. Peter undertook a missionary journey to Lydda, Joppa and Caesarea.289 Peter understood that the leadership of the Kingdom must expand for the Kingdom itself to expand, In this, Peter also understood a vital part of his pastoral ministry was equipping his congregation to be relevant, relatable, and revolutionary to the world. He taught the truth to others and exhorted them to be difference makers in the world. He instructed them to be watchful, wary, and wise. Peter challenged Christ’s followers to serve, with their service representing honor unto God.290 You have been described as “the salt of the earth.”291 Salt accomplishes three primary functions. First, it preserves. You have been called to preserve the purity and goodness of God’s truth in this world. Second, salt seasons. You have been called to season this world of deception with the truth of God. You will spice things up in your world as you live for truth and glorify Jesus. Third, salt brings thirst. You have a responsibility and an opportunity to lead people to thirst for the things of God. As you speak truth and live truth, you will provide a stark contrast to the ways and means of this world. You will be effective in leading others to be thirsty for the Living Water, Jesus Christ.292 God does not hide his intent: He will honor those who honor Him and He will dishonor those who dishonor Him.293 God will honor Himself through you. The warrior disciplines himself to bring God honor through obedience to his Master. Be A Man of Dignified Honor The modern world is one that knows neither shame nor honor, and accordingly confuses each for the other. In a relativistic world that bestows reverence to the irreverent and wastes nobility on the ignoble, the very idea of honor is viewed somewhere between the opinionated extremes of naivety and cynicism. Among the dangerous descents of moral relativism are the notions that honor is meaningless, that shame is archaic, and that self-assessment is the final arbiter of a man’s value in life. These very ideas are fools’ ideology, and are in fact judgments by God
Acts 9:32-10:2 1 Peter 4:7-11 291 Matthew 5:13 292 Gratitude to David Apple for this illustration 293 Proverbs 29:23 www.bryanmcanally.com - visit for more books, the blog, and audio.
Himself against those people who worship the world they have created rather than the God who created them.294 In its simplest expression, honor means to prize or fix a value upon an object. God has honored humans in his creation.295 Before time began, God determined to fix a value for each person. That price is His Son Jesus and God pays that price for every person He redeems. Conversely, God has shown throughout history that he will honor those who honor Him and he will dishonor those who dishonor Him.296 It is no simple task, though, for a Christian warrior to remain pure in the pursuit of honor. Snares wait on every side. Even in close proximity to the Christ, Peter vainly chased selfish honor for three years only to end up empty-handed, slumped in shame. It was only when Jesus resurrected repeated his first command of “Follow Me,” that Peter understood what Jesus had told him in between the bookend invitations: “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.”297 Peter then understood that a man’s greatest honor in life is discovered in giving all honor to God. Such a commitment is not for the faint-hearted, for Peter himself exhorted, “Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble.”298 It is impossible to be a true man of honor apart from the call and election of Jesus as Lord. No man is good enough or strong enough to attain honor on his own.299 However, a man wholly sold out to Christ and fully devoted to Jesus will one day receive honor, even if he is unknown and insignificant in this world.300 Dignified Honor in Your Family Relationships One of the simplest, most meaningful and most enduring gifts of honor you can bestow upon your family is your name. When your bride takes your surname as her own and when your children receive your name as their means of identification, your honor accompanies the gift. Your identity as a follower of Christ is inherently interwoven to the letters of your name and the legacy behind it. Your beliefs, your behavior, and your character all combine to form the identity
Romans 1:18-32 Genesis 1:31; 296 e.g., See Hebrews 11: 1 Samuel 31:1-13 297 Mark 8:36 298 2 Peter 1:10 299 Isaiah 64:6 300 Luke 16:19-31
of your honor the same way the letters of your name flow together to form your personal identity. Give your wife and children a good name. Give them a name that speaks to your heroic courage as a Christian warrior. Bless them with a spiritual heritage of faithfulness and perseverance, even if yours is the first generation to be identified by faith in Christ. Enrich them with a commitment to sacrificial service, to unwavering loyalty, and all the disciplines of the faithful follower of Jesus. Dignified Honor in Your Spiritual Relationships In a similar manner, you have a contribution to make to the dignified honor of your church’s name. Your church is known by the conduct of its congregants, and while you cannot control the actions of your fellow men, you can take responsibility for your own decisions and expressions of faith. Help your church be known for whom it stands and how it loves and serves, rather than for what it opposes and who it stands against. Be a leader of men who recruits other warriors to partner in God’s mission. Whether God takes you around the world to share the gospel in dangerous lands that are hostile to God’s truth, or just down the street to the lonely widow who needs help with her lawn care, you convey the dignified honor of your Savior through your benevolent actions. Help the men of your church understand that Christ’s warriors are dignified men who always conduct themselves with deportment and class whether serving in an official capacity or just simply proceeding through their normal day’s business. The standard of godly honor is high and established in God’s word. It is not relative to the bad behavior of unbelieving men in the secular world, nor is it to be compared by the inactivity of other men in other churches. The Bible declares that Jesus evaluates every church and gives each the appropriate commendation or condemnation.301 He will make no mistake in assessing you and your brothers in service. Let your dignified honor be a reflection of your devotion to the Lord. Dignified Honor in Your Personal Relationships You have been identified as an ambassador of Christ; accordingly, speak with the diplomacy and tact that represents Him well. Develop the discipline to communicate kindness, grace, and
See Revelation 2,3 www.bryanmcanally.com - visit for more books, the blog, and audio.
hope. Speak with the bold assurance of one who has been forgiven and has the wonderful destiny of heaven in his sights. Share this hope with other, communicating the truth of the wonder and majesty of heaven, and the glory of God’s love. Through your dignity and honor, express the joy and liberty you experience so that others may have their imaginations sparked and the gates of heaven may be opened up for their consideration. Then, live so your conduct aligns with your genteel speech. A man of honor cannot speak blessing then bestow curses. He cannot espouse grace and then advocate legalism. Honor requires the alignment between word and deed. Be aware of the shame that accompanies disgracing the name of Jesus; chase after integrity with your every effort and intention. Participate in the mission that God sets before you and do not let the temptations and distractions of the world mislead you, even while you impact the world for Christ’s valiant cause. Dignified Honor in Action Honor is an aphrodisiac. Many men fall in love with the stench of self at the first errant whiff of honor that wafts in their direction. A wise man who follows Christ is he who is smart enough that honor will only be received in eternity if in this life it is deferred and deflected unto the One who truly deserves all honor. The entire reason your life has been given to you is to serve and bring glory to Jesus. God has ordained to bless those who bless Him. Giving honor to Jesus is not only your opportunity, it is your obligation. You do all that you do in this life for Him and through Him. It is to His glory that He has included you in His plan and empowered you to bear fruit. Praise His name! Timeless Insight “No amount of ability is of the slightest avail without honor.” ––Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919) For Personal Reflection 1. What is the greatest honor you have ever received? From where did this recognition come? How did it make you feel?
2. Have you ever been credited with honor that rightfully belonged to someone else? How did you feel when you were honored? How do you suppose that other person would have felt/did feel about you getting his/her honor? 3. Have you ever felt less valuable than another person? What caused that? How does it make you feel to know that you are as valuable to God as the wealthiest executive, the most famous celebrity, the most powerful king, or most talented athlete? 4. Which aspect of the PRIZE acronym speaks to you most about what God is saying to you regarding honor? How can you honor to God in a new way? 5. Honor is also the value that you set on an object of your affection. Determine today that you will honor God more highly than any other object of your affection. Remember this commitment when you are tempted to put another affection before God, and keep your priority Value in order. The Warrior’s Wisdom By humility and the fear of the LORD Are riches and honor and life. Proverbs 22:4 NKJV
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Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. 1 Peter 2:16 NIV Philip only wanted to pitch in with a helping hand. The twelve apostles of Jesus were overwhelmed with responsibilities. They were preaching the gospel of Jesus in the Jerusalem’s synagogues for the Jewish population, and in the city’s streets and temples for the Greek population. People were joining the fellowship of Christ followers every day, and every one of these new believers brought with them their needs and burdens and baggage. This urgency of continually taking the gospel to unbelievers constantly pressed against the continual need to meet the needs of the daily growing count of new believers. This tension came to bear when the contingent of Grecian widows began to voice unhappiness that the Jewish widows seemed to be receiving preferential treatment. The twelve apostles cared deeply for all their widows, but quickly realized that they were spread too thin and could not of all who looked to them for help. The apostles realized that they needed help, too. Philip was not among the inner circle of the first generation of Christ’s apostles. History does not record Philip’s resume’ or detail his training and experience. All that is known is that following a critical meeting of the nascent church’s leadership, Philip was among seven Gentile men appointed to the ongoing task of meeting the needs of the Grecian widows. The task that they were to undertake would be considered menial in any day’s standards. They would simply serve as wait-servants for the widows. They would bring the meals, attend to their dining interests, and then clean up after the women had finished. They would take responsibility for meeting any other basic needs as the situation arose. The work was common and any person could have accomplished it.
Yet, the apostles set a benchmark in naming Philip and his six colleagues to this work. They chose seven men who were known for being wise, evidently honest, and “full of the Holy Spirit.” The apostles chose from among their best men to do this work. While human logic might ask, “What were they thinking?” the Bible instead records that the congregation of believers were pleased by the selection of these seven men. What presented as an administrative crisis resulted in the multiplication of ministry, the accomplishment of service, and the expanse of the gospel to reach even a large number of Jewish priests in Jerusalem.302 The placement of Philip and his colleagues was in synchronicity with the heartbeat of Jesus that taught the foremost leaders were those who were willing to do the most menial tasks. Philip’s life of service was inaugurated when he was appointed among the church’s first slate of deacons in Jerusalem. However, his work in Jerusalem was short-lived. Shortly after they began their commissioned service to the Grecian widows, the deacons were scattered from the City of David when Philip’s colleague Stephen was stoned to death by an angry, conspiring mob when he preached the gospel to them.303 Fleeing the tyranny of persecution under the zealous Pharisee Saul, Philip traveled north to Samaria. Suddenly, Philip found himself without a home and without a community of faith. He was miles away from his mentors totally disconnected from their encouragement and shared ministry. He now lived in an alien culture that was hostile to him as Jew. Philip may have been excused if he had chosen to “lay low” or take a break. Instead, the deacon did the only thing he knew to do; he began to preach Jesus as Lord to the Samarian people. Amazingly, the Samarian people responded to Philip’s message. His words were accompanied by miraculous signs. The Samarians were unified in their acclaim of his ministry and in their receptivity to his message. Soon, many people in Samaria came to faith in Jesus and were baptized. Samaria was filled with joy at the selfless service to its citizens. The stage was set for Philip to announce his arrival as a new charismatic celebrity to the community of Christ followers. He had a following and a ministry that was manifesting the works of God. Philip was so successful that even a self-glorifying charlatan named Simon put aside his wicked ways, believed in Jesus, and was baptized. However, Philip never pursued the career of figurehead or dogmatic mouthpiece.
Acts 6:1-7 Acts 7:54-60 www.bryanmcanally.com - visit for more books, the blog, and audio.
He only wanted to pitch in with a helping hand for the cause of Christ. When God called him to leave Samaria at the apex of its successful campaign and head south into the dangerous desert, Philip immediately obeyed. He put the success and growing ministry of Samaria behind him and headed south by foot, walking more than forty miles on a dusty, precarious, barren path simply because God had commanded him to do so. On that lonely trail in the stark desert, Philip encountered the treasurer from the court of the Candace, the queen of Egypt. Philip and the treasurer shared little in common – not their race, their class, or even their circumstance. Yet, they did share one thing in common: the treasurer sought the God who Philip knew as Lord. The treasurer had come to Jerusalem to worship God in the outer gates of the Temple and was on his return journey home. At the prompting of the Holy Spirit, Philip approached the treasurer’s chariot and recognized that the man was reading from the scroll of Isaiah. He asked the treasurer if he understood what he was reading, and the treasurer admitted that he needed help. Philip just wanted to pitch in and lend a hand where it was needed. Immediately, Philip stepped into the chariot with the treasurer and initiated a conversation with him. The treasurer sincerely asked for clarity, whether Isaiah was referring to himself or someone else. Philip then explained to the treasurer how every prophecy in Isaiah pointed to Jesus as Messiah and Lord. The Bible reveals that the Egyptian believed Philip and immediately placed his faith in Jesus. He quickly shared an emergent problem – he needed to be baptized. Philip wanted to pitch in and help the new believer with his predicament. They came upon a pool of water, and Philip baptized the treasurer right on the spot. The Ethiopian treasurer did not even have time to thank Philip, for he was nowhere to be found. From this encounter pre-ordained by the Holy Spirit, the Orthodox Ethiopian Christian Church began. The Ethiopian treasurer did not leave his faith in the desert of Gaza. He joyfully brought it home and just as Philip did with him, he shared it with others.304 Philip did not indulge the temptation that ensnares many other men used by God to bask in the blessing and miss subsequent opportunities. Philip was next seen in the border town Azotus, where he preached Jesus to anyone who would listen. He continued the practice as he traveled all the way to Caesarea.
Many years later, Philip still lived in Caesarea. He was still known as one of the original seven deacons, but by this time he was also known as Philip the evangelist. He was the dad of four unmarried daughters who prophesied. He welcomed Paul, the man whose persecution decades earlier had sent him from the comfortable but important service as a deacon in Jerusalem to the faith-building adventure that followed. They stayed in Philip’s home for a number of days, strengthening Paul to head toward the final chapters of his own ministry as a faithful follower of Jesus.305 Philip’s hospitality to Paul was the last recorded action of the warrior with the servant’s heart. Perhaps that would have suited him just fine, for Philip had never intended to be a churchstarting evangelist. He was just one man with a heart for serving the Lord. He only wanted to pitch in with a helping hand for the cause of Christ. A Samurai Says When one is serving officially or in the master's court, he should not think of a hundred or a thousand people, but should consider only the importance of the master. ––Hojo Shigetoki (1198-1261 A.D.) The Sword Speaks Jesus has called his followers to assume the responsibility of serving mankind. He provided the example when He declared, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve.”306 As the King of creation, Jesus would have been justified to establish his throne on the earth and readily receive the service of all people forever. Instead, he humbled himself and took the form of a servant, willfully dying on the cross for the sins of his people.307 Likewise, Christ’s followers have been commissioned to disregard any pride-building personal status and serve others as an expression of love.308 Here are some simple ways you can serve others and glorify Jesus:
Provide – Inherent in the way of the warrior of Christ is to give out of what you have to
those who have nothing. Like the Pharisees, too many Christians give out of their excess
Acts 21:8-9 Matthew 20:28 307 Philippians 2:8-9 308 Romans 12:3, Galatians 5:13 www.bryanmcanally.com - visit for more books, the blog, and audio.
without ever sacrificing.309 Jesus commands to give the shirt off your back to one who asks for it, offering him your coat as well. If someone in need asks you for a provision, Jesus directs you to meet the need.310 The early church committed to this principle, trusting God to repay any sacrifice they gave to meet the needs of others. The first generation of believers shared everything with one another as need arose.311 The Macedonian church is commended to the Corinthian church as an example of generous giving, despite the fact that the Macedonian congregation faced severe poverty and ongoing persecution. Giving to others was a reflection of faith in God’s provision, and not a reaction to the prosperity of a time or circumstance.312 Give away your treasures. How many coats do you have in your closet? How many shirts or sweaters do you keep in your bureau that no longer fit or have fallen “out of style?” Once a month, skip a Sunday lunch at a restaurant and instead eat at home. Give that money to your church’s benevolence ministry, or offer it directly to someone you know to be in need. Give away your time to others. Instead of spending every weekend out at the lake, give a Saturday at a food or clothing ministry. Instead of staying home to watch the television, go to church and teach children or students about the things of God. Give away your talents, your skills, your gifts, and your abilities. Sing in the choir. Help build a wheelchair ramp or patch a leaky roof. Serve on a ministry team or a church committee. If you can teach, then teach! If you can administrate, then do that! If you can change smelly diapers, even if you do not really want to, do it! Give away the truth. How cruel it is to know the truth that has set you free from the bondage of sin and not share it with the shackled slaves with whom you share your life. Speak to others about Jesus. Tell them about the difference He has made in your life. Liberally talk about the prayers He answers. You don’t have to know everything. You know Jesus and what He has done for you, in you, and through you. That’s enough! Share Him with others!
Invite – In a time of teaching, Jesus instructs his followers how to plan a dinner feast. To
an outside observer, this may seem like an eccentric lesson, but he shares a meaningful
Mark 12:41-44 Matthew 5:41-42 311 Acts 2:45 312 2 Corinthians 8:1-4
insight about the hospitality of God reflected in inviting others into fellowship. He exhorts them not to invite the friends and family who would offer return invitations to their own parties but instead to invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, and the blind. He reveals that this generosity is blessed because these invitees cannot return the invitation.313 In hospitality such as this, you can see a picture of what heaven will be like when Jesus welcomes his invitees to his marriage supper table.314 Most dinner parties that take place are social extravaganzas for seeing others and for being seen by others. When soirees are organized, praise quickly goes to the host and hostess for their flair, style, lavishness. However, God’s design for hospitality is more noble and purposeful. Rather than for honoring your self, open your home to others so that you may use the opportunity to honor your guests. Demonstrate your appreciation for them by inviting them into your personal world and planning your evening around their comfort and well-being. Be mindful, too, of who you invite to your home. Is your invitation list exclusive or inclusive? Do you invite people improve your status or community standing, or do you make a point to invite those who would otherwise never enjoy the comforts you will provide? It has been said that a man’s home is his castle. If that be so, then drop the gate to bridge the moat keeping people away, open your castle doors and share the blessings of your home with others. More than just inviting people into your shared events, invite them into your personal experiences. Invite them to experience the God you worship. Invite them to know the Christians with whom you pray. Invite them to know your family who God has blessed. Invite them to know your challenges that God will address. Invite them to know the burdens of your life that matter to God. Invite them in and show them the way around. Introduce them to Jesus, He may just choose to dwell with them as well.
Tell – The principle Philip followed was to keep the gospel of Jesus fresh on his lips.
Today he is known as “Philip the Evangelist” because he faithfully shared the good news in the context of his service to others. He didn’t wait for permission to speak about Jesus
Luke 14:13-14 Revelation 19:7-9 www.bryanmcanally.com - visit for more books, the blog, and audio.
because the Holy Spirit had already granted it. Philip understood that he progressed through light with a perpetual “green light” to share the truth as he gave of himself to others. While it is always appropriate to be sensitive to the situation and to look for the right time to share the gospel, it is necessary to actually step up and share when the Holy Spirit announces that the moment has arrived. Just as the Holy Spirit compelled Philip to pursue the Ethiopian and led Philip to illuminate the scroll of Isaiah with the Light of Jesus, so too will the Spirit compel you share. Someone once pointed out that Jesus himself did not save people simply by his lifestyle. He used words. If you hope that your lifestyle will persuade others that there is something different about you worth considering, you have only started the process of telling. The Bible affirms that faith in Jesus does not come by seeing, but by hearing the Word of God.315 Do not excuse yourself from this responsibility by saying you do not possess the gift of evangelism, or that you are afraid you will mess up sharing the gospel. If you have the testimony of what your life was like before putting faith in Jesus, having an experience of trusting Jesus as Lord and Savior, and how your life is different now that you belong to Jesus, then you have what it takes to tell.
Coach – When Philip came alongside the Ethiopian, the deacon took the time to teach
the Ethiopian treasurer about Jesus, using Isaiah to do so. An important part of serving is coaching those you disciple to grow correctly in their wisdom, knowledge, discernment, and understanding so that their faith may also likewise increase. Paul coached Timothy in many different matters regarding servanthood. He taught his protégé about which qualities to look for in selecting appropriate candidates for the deaconate.316 He also coached Timothy that to be a servant, a man must be gentle, not quarrelsome, patient with those who oppose him, and humble.317 Jesus coached the apostles to understand that they would be about the sort of work represented in washing the dirt off others’ feet, and that if they desired to be first they must be willing to put themselves last and be the servants of all.318
Romans 10:17 1 Timothy 3 317 2 Timothy 2:24-25 318 John 13:1-16; Mark 9:35
A basic premise of being a discipler is that you would have relationships with men who you disciple. Who are those men who walk behind you in your footsteps of faith? What are you teaching them about God? Are you encouraging others with what you have learned in your own journey of faith? Are you serving other men by coaching them to succeed in their spiritual pursuits? A discipler knows the names of those who he disciples and the stories of their lives. He knows where he is teaching them, both formally and informally. He knows what he is teaching them. He knows how he is teaching them. He knows when he is teaching them. And he also knows why he disciples them. Discipleship does not happen by incident or by accident. Be a purposeful discipler and coach to win!
Help – The principle for helping is simple: be willing to do whatever needs to be done
whenever it needs to be done for as long as it needs to be done. Philip’s pedigree is unknown, but the Bible does record that he was deeply respected and well thought of. When the request came for him to wait on the Grecian widows, Philip immediately went to serve. When the persecution brought that service to an abrupt halt, he immediately headed toward Samaria and began looking for the next way to serve. When he became aware of a vacuum of service, he filled it. The Bible does not record if Philip had the gift of an evangelist, but he was faithful to share the gospel, and many people came to faith. When the Holy Spirit called him to the Gaza desert to meet the Ethiopian, Philip did not barter, complain, or delay. He simply obeyed and trusted God with the results. The church is constantly looking for a few good men to step up and serve. You do not have to pass a qualifying exam to serve. If you can smile and be friendly, you can welcome guests to worship. If you have a vehicle and some time, you can take senior citizens on hospital visits. The church is strengthened when its men agree simply to obey God and lead. The more your skills are developed in these lesser tasks, the more equipped you will be to carry out the more important tasks that fall into the responsibility of a deacon. Jesus is faithful to reward a faithful servant with more service of a greater impact.319 Do whatever needs to be done for as long as it needs to be done, without any complaints or excuses.
See Matthew 25:21,23; Luke 19:17 www.bryanmcanally.com - visit for more books, the blog, and audio.
Inspire – Jesus encourages his followers that when they take in the sick or visit those in
prison, it is as though they minister to the Christ himself.320 Jesus was deliberate to minister to the sick, hurting, and marginalized. To them, he brought the inspiring news of God’s love and mercy. He dined with the loathed tax collectors of the community and healed those who were thought to be sin-stricken since birth.321 Christ’s service in this way was radically different from the “service” offered by the Pharisaic leaders. The Pharisees service consisted of ruling on points of law, declaring people to be unclean, and determining the unrighteousness of an individual. Jesus, though, brought the service of hope to the poor, healing to the brokenhearted, liberty to those held captive or under oppression, and sight to the blind.322 Remember that the gospel of God’s love in Jesus is good news. You have been given the opportunity to bring a proclamation of peace and salvation to people who without Jesus have no hope.323 When you take the time to go out of the normal traffic flow of your life and visit those in the hospital, or to encourage those who are in prisons, you deliver an inspiring message of God’s faithful love and kindness. The world has no shortage of people who want to dine with politicians, superstar athletes or celebrities. The kingdom is looking for more men who will share a meal with sinner and give their time to the marginalized segments of society so that hope in Jesus can be expressed and received through service and speech.
Nurture – The original deacon body formed to meet ongoing physical needs of the
Grecian widows. In sharing the story of “the Good Samaritan,” Jesus told the provocative story of a commendable Samaritan man who helped a Jewish victim of robbery, after the victim had twice been ignored by his own countrymen. Jesus taught that compassionate care has no racial or social litmus test. There are many socially acceptable reasons why not to extend a helping hand to someone in need. The Samaritan could have reasoned that the Jewish victim wouldn’t fully appreciate his generosity and therefore did not deserve it. He could have argued that the Jewish victim may just turn around and treat his Samaritan kin poorly, and decline to help.
Matthew 25:36,45 Matthew 9:11; John 9:1-5 322 Luke 4:17-19 323 Isaiah 52:7
Yet, the Samaritan did not make excuses. He simply saw someone’s hurt, ignored the excuses to turn his back, and went the full distance in helping a person in need.324 Be a Man of Sacrificial Service A common complaint in today’s consumer-driven culture is the ongoing decline in the quality of customer service. Gas stations that, in the past, offered full-service attendants now instead only provide self-service gasoline pumps. If you want your oil level looked at or your windows cleaned, you better be prepared to get your hands dirty. Banks that used to greet you with a smiling teller and a free lollipop for your child now charge you a convenience fee if your transaction actually requires human interaction. Wait staff in restaurants are increasingly rude, forgetful, sloppy, and neglectful. Everybody wants excellent service and nobody wants to provide it. This mentality has infected church life and the expression of faith. “Church service” has come to be understood as the scheduled time of corporate worship, rather than all that the church does in service to the world. It could be argued that the modern Western church has never done less with more, in terms of money, personnel, and other resources. The reality is that the church does not need more resources to accomplish its assignment. All that the church needs is more men like Philip who are completely committed to pitch in with a helping hand to accomplish the cause of Christ. Men like Philip will avail themselves wholly to meet whatever needs arise. These men don’t say, “This is why I cannot serve…” Rather, they say, “Why not? Can I serve in this?” Men who are cut from the same cloth as Philip do not fret over titles. They let others worry about titles why they are busy about the business of meeting needs and sharing Jesus. No man needs to bear the title of “deacon” before serving. Philip understood that his assignment as a deacon came because it was a reflection of who he was and an honor related to what he was already doing. A godly man has enough pride in the Lord to determine to do everything as well as he can for the glory of Jesus.325 At the same time, he possesses enough humility to accept the opportunity to participate in even the lowliest tasks, believing that God may be significantly extolled in seemingly insignificant work.
Luke 10:29-37 Colossians 3:17, 23 www.bryanmcanally.com - visit for more books, the blog, and audio.
Sacrificial Service in Your Family Relationships The spiritual leadership of your home is build upon the twin pillars of sacrifice and service. As a husband and a father, you are asked to sacrifice your own agenda and your own priorities for the benefit of the family. You are asked to give up some of the things that you like and enjoy so that your wife and children may discover and develop their own interests and pleasures. In fact, it is not enough to simply abdicate your own itinerary, but you will also need to actively embrace the itinerary of those under your care. You may never have anticipated that you would one day need to become the biggest enthusiast of speech and debate, or that you would one day go to a high school football game just to watch your son play the trombone at halftime (or to watch him suit up and not play or to be there in case he has the chance to win the game in the final moments). You may never have imagined that you would one day be known not for your own accomplishments, but for the excellence of your bride in her own pursuits and God-given passions. You will discover that God made you to become excited at what excites those you love. You will rejoice in their relative successes and incremental improvements. You will be blessed by their own growth and maturity, and you will be thankful to see them discover what God reveals to them through their hobbies and avocations. You will also discover that life is not an “either/or proposition” when it comes to the quest of life. You will still find ample time to rebuild hot rods or play bass guitar or whatever it is that brings you happiness. God has the amazing ability to redeem time back to you when you put others first. Conversely, if you neglect your family and refuse to serve them sacrificially, you will find yourself constantly busy and always having to make unfulfilling compromises that mitigate the satisfaction you would otherwise experience. Sacrificial Service in Your Spiritual Relationships With no disrespect intended to the faithful women who have served God throughout the centuries, the simple truth remains that as go the men of the church, so goes the church. This is as true locally as it is universally. It is simply inadequate for Christian men to be complacent to attend and let females lead in their stead. With great humility, men, you are called to assume the position of servant leader in your church.
Christianity needs more men to step up and mentor the next generation of men. Tomorrow’s men cannot learn the dangerous disciplines of the Way of the Warrior from well-meaning and sincere-hearted women who have stood in the gap while their male contemporaries have forsaken their duty. You have something to offer to today’s boys so that they will extend the mission and expand the reach of the King through their own sacrificial service. The tenets of the Christian warrior cannot be taught in theory; they must be experienced firsthand and passed from a warrior to his protégé. With a lowly heart, give your life to the service of the master. Be willing to take on the unglamorous, dirty work of washing feet and serving others. Come early to prepare for your church’s fall festival, give your service through the festival, and stay late to clean up afterward even if it means you’ll miss a little sleep and have to return early the next morning for your regularly scheduled service as a Bible study leader and worshipper. Serve out of the sufficient and strong call of God, relying upon His resources to accomplish in you what needs to be done. One final note regarding sacrificial service: commit to serving only where God calls you to serve. Too many noble men serve everywhere they are asked simply because they are asked, and never discerning whether or not God actually has led them to that opportunity. When you serve outside of the Lord’s leading, you serve out of your own strength, guile, and reserves. It won’t be long before you find yourself burnt out, used up, frustrated, and overwhelmed. When you serve outside of God’s call, you stand in the way of the person who God is calling to serve in that capacity. A wise and humble man will graciously accept God’s invitation, no matter how modest the job description. Likewise, he will decline men’s invitations with equal grace, even if they are accompanied by the promise of great acclaim and appreciation. Sacrificial Service in Your Personal Relationships Opportunities abound to serve others in your world outside your family and your church. From little details like being a gentleman who opens the door for others, who takes empty wrappers and cups to the trash at lunchtime, and who offers to help out as the project approaches deadline in the office, you can serve others in hundreds of little ways that all lead the beneficiaries to see the sacrificial service of your Master in you.
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Remember the example of the good Samaritan who aided his fellow man in a time of need, even going so far as to pay for his own care out of his own pocket.326 The Samaritan had every excuse to keep walking, just as the injured man’s own countrymen and spiritual kin passed him, leaving him neglected. Instead of making excuses and dismissing the problem, the Samaritan took action and made a difference. You can do the same as you alertly proceed through life and observe the needs of friends, neighbors, and colleagues. Serve them in their need and earn the opportunity to share the gospel in the process. Jesus’ command to you is the same to those in the audience listening to the parable of the Good Samaritan: “Go and do likewise.” Sacrificial Service in Action To be a man of service, all you need to do is “PITCH IN.” God chose his best men to serve as deacons. All their qualities of excellence were expressed most comprehensively in the context of service. They were full of the Holy Spirit, which resulted in an outpouring of selfless service. They were wise men whose wisdom led to effective, efficient, productive service. Their good reputations afforded them the confidence of the people that the service they were to provide would strengthen the church and advance the kingdom. When you are asked to serve, do not consider the request to be an inconvenience or a burden; rather, consider it a high honor that you have been chosen to follow the example of Jesus and assume the role of a servant. For Personal Reflection 1. Where have you been asked to serve? Was your experience positive or negative? 2. What have you learned about others through your service in and through the church? What have you learned about yourself through service? 3. How would you define or describe a servant leader? Is it easier or more difficult to follow a servant leader? Why or why not?
4. There are seven action points of the PITCH IN acronym for service. Which service action is most appealing to you? Which requires the greatest step of faith to do so? How can you team with other men to pursue an action point of PITCH IN? 5. When you serve others, you mimic the blessed work of Jesus. Take a few moments to jot down one way you can serve your spouse, your children, your co-workers, your boss, and even your neighbor today. Spend time in prayer asking God to bless your service to Him, just as he blessed Philip with a fruitful ministry.
Timeless Insight “The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant.” ––Max DePree (1924 - ) The Warrior’s Wisdom For you have been called to live in freedom—not freedom to satisfy your sinful nature, but freedom to serve one another in love. Galatians 5:13 NLT
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The Purpose of Victory
You have been created for such as a time as this. You have the resources needed to take up arms and fight the good fight. You have been equipped with heroic courage, benevolent justice and righteous justice, with unwavering loyalty, polite courtesy, complete sincerity, fearless compassion, dignified honor, and sacrificial service. These characteristics are part of you and they mark you as a warrior. You are a warrior. You have been ordained by God the Father to enter the fray. You have been redeemed by Jesus the Son, qualifying you as fit for battle. You have been indwelt by the Holy Spirit, armoring you for the conflict. The enemy is known. The prize is the souls of men, women, and children. You love them and God loves them. The enemy hates them and wants to destroy them. You have been charged with the responsibility of standing firm, protecting others, and pushing back the advance of the enemy. The conflict will be heated. There will be confusion at times, and you may experience weakness and frustration. You may have doubts when you see brothers fall and loved ones fail. You may yourself slip and drop your weapon. You may lose grasp of your shield and take on an assault. You may lose your footing and fall face-first in the mud of life. Never forget that you are God’s warrior. And you have been created to win. The outcome is guaranteed. You will be victorious. Yet, you still must fight. Close these pages and pick up your weapons. Wear your identity as a warrior with confidence. Lead your family to follow the Christ. Lead other Christians to march in advance against the enemy. Lead others to Jesus so that they may come to faith and join the battle that you will win. You are a warrior. 144
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