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FIGHT ON YOUR KNEESCalling Men to Action Through Transforming Prayer
NAVPRESSCopyright © 2002 Mell Winger
All right reserved.
Chapter OneLET FREEDOM RING
I'm stirred to the depths of my soul by William Wallace's final word in the movie Braveheart. Just before his beheading, he left us a one-word declaration of everything he lived and died for-a lifelong vision and mission statement in a single word. It signifies destiny, duty, patriotism, love, even life itself summarized in one heart-wrenching cry.
I think the scene probably appeals to us men more than to women-at least it did in my house. My wife wouldn't even watch the movie. She'd rather be inspired by something less violent. She also prefers watching figure skating over football, dramas and mysteries over westerns and war movies. Women can be strange.
Back to Braveheart. Challenging men to fight for freedom in spite of the risks, Wallace spoke another great line: "Every man dies; not every man really lives." What a statement! He inspired his fellow countrymen to live for a cause, a dream, an ideal. Can you sense God issuing the same challenge to us?
Men who are purposeless merely exist. Their lives make little impact on the world around them. To illustrate the force of purpose, the great Winston Churchill asked, "Why is it the ship beats the waves when the waves are so many and the ship is one? The reason is that the ship has a purpose."
The purpose of this book, men, is to awaken purpose in you-to make you a spiritual freedom fighter. Yes, at the risk of sounding overly dramatic, our goal is to make you a braveheart, a liberator, a nation changer. If freedom is to truly ring in our homes and nation, it will happen only as we take seriously our biblical charge to pray fervently for our nation and our own families.
Robert M. Hutchins said, "It is not so important to be serious as it is to be serious about the important things. The monkey wears an expression of seriousness which would do credit to any college student, but the monkey is serious because he itches."
Sometimes I think we men are serious about too many of the lesser things, scratching too many itches: sports, TV, careers, pleas-ure, and a host of other diversions. It's time to get serious about spiritual issues, specifically prayer-the aggressive, authoritative kind. The outcome of many battles surrounding us is determined more by our petitions than we can fully understand. The prayers of believers decisively shape families, neighborhoods, and cities. Even the destiny of our nation depends upon our intercession.
Our Freedom Is in Jeopardy
Is our nation's destiny at stake, perhaps even our freedoms? Are things really that bad in America? Consider these facts and statistics concerning our nation:
During the twentieth century, the divorce rate rose 700 percent in America.
Thirteen million children under the age of eighteen are growing up with one or both parents away from home.
Seventy percent of all juveniles in state reform institutions come from fatherless homes.
The United States is the single greatest market on the earth for illegal drugs and leads the world in the export of pornography.
Sixty-six percent of students have sex before leaving high school, leading to more than four hundred thousand teenage girls getting abortions every year-that's more than eleven hundred each day.
More than two thousand teenagers a year commit suicide-six each day.
Facing the Facts
These things aren't pleasant to admit and are horrifying to believe, but face them we must. My friend Stephen Mansfield, a Nashville pastor, specifically addresses leaders but speaks to all men as well:
Facing ugly truth is not easy. Often the toughest battle a leader will face is the one against his own reticence to see things as they really are. It requires uncommon courage and very few have the character to deal with such stark reality. But when the truth is known, the worst is over and the benefits are clearer vision and the wisdom of a "humbler attitude," without which leaders cannot move beyond despair to brighter day of victory.
For several years, Winston Churchill fought a losing battle in trying to convince England of the true intentions of Nazi Germany. Churchill's repeated warnings went unheeded, and his agony is reflected in these words:
Although the House listened to me with close attention, I felt a sensation of despair. To be so entirely convinced and vindicated in a matter of life and death to one 's country, and not be able to make Parliament and the nation heed the warning, or bow to the proof by taking action was an experience most painful.
Referring likewise to the denial of so many, Hitler correctly stated, "What luck for rulers that men do not think."
Facing the Enemy
I'm sounding the alarm, men. I'm asking you to think about the true state of affairs in America. Though it's a war of a different kind, we face an enemy who hates us. Satan wants to steal, kill, and destroy this nation. He wants our families, kids, freedoms, and destinies-and he has made great headway. As the following Scriptures exhort us, it's time to take up our spiritual weapons and fight.
When I saw their fear, I rose and spoke to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people: "Do not be afraid of them; remember the Lord who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives and your houses." (Nehemiah 4:14, NASB)
Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:10-12, NASB)
Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. (1 Peter 5:8-9, NASB)
The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. (Romans 16:20, NASB)
Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. (James 4:7, NASB)
God has graciously given us both the ability and the spiritual weapons to win the war against our adversary. But we must take our place in the battle line and fight.
Our Call to Be Watchmen
One vital aspect of our spiritual warfare is captured in the biblical picture of the watchman. In ancient times watchmen were responsible for protecting homes, cities, and nations from those who sought to harm them. They were also to guard crops from animals and thieves.
The nouns translated "watchman" in the Old Testament are derived from three Hebrew verbs: shamar, natsar, and tsaphah. The various definitions describing a watchman's function help us understand our call to be watchmen. These definitions include the following ideas:
Shamar. "The basic idea of the root is 'to exercise great care over' ... 'take care of,' 'guard.' This involves keeping or tending to things such as a garden (Genesis 2:15)... or it may involve guarding against intruders."
Natsar. "Watch, guard, keep... watch over, protect."
Tsaphah. "Look out or about, watch... [tsaphah] conveys the idea of being fully aware of a situation in order to gain some advantage or keep from being surprised by an enemy."
Like the watchmen in the Old Testament, God is calling men in our generation to take responsibility to protect our homes, cities, and nation from an evil intruder. To effectively guard against the enemy, watchmen must stay awake and be alert. Men, it is our job to prayerfully pay attention so that we're not surprised by the Devil.
This chilling description of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster illustrates to watchmen the importance of paying attention and remaining alert:
Two electrical engineers in the control room that night,... were "playing around" with the machine. They were performing what the Soviets later described as an unauthorized experiment. They were trying to see how long a turbine would "free wheel" when they took the power off it.
Now, taking the power off that kind of a nuclear reactor is a difficult, dangerous thing to do, because these reactors are very unstable in their lower ranges. In order to get the reactor down to that power, where they could perform the test they were interested in performing, they had to override manually six separate computer-driven alarm systems. One by one the computers would... say, "Stop! Dangerous! Go no further!" And one by one, rather than shutting off the experiment, they shut off the alarms and kept going. You know the results: nuclear fallout that was recorded all around the world, from the largest industrial accident ever to occur.
I'm sure the Holy Spirit has frequently shouted to us, both for our personal lives as well as for our nation, "Stop! Dangerous!" or "Satanic fallout approaching!" It is time that we heed these warnings and rise up to take appropriate action. God is calling us to become watchmen for our nation-spiritual freedom fighters, bravehearts.
Keeping Our Own Gardens
While all of the above definitions of a watchman's function are insightful, the most poignant picture appears the first time any of the three Hebrew words for "watchman" is used in Scripture. As we read in Genesis 2:15, (NASB) God told Adam to "keep" the garden. The word "keep" is the Hebrew word shamar, which conveys the concept of protection and preservation.
Adam was assigned the responsibility of being a watchman over the garden. He was instructed to protect what God had given him, to keep it from the Serpent (the Devil). Consistent with His nature to warn, God alerted Adam that he must beware of attacks from the Evil One. Unfortunately, Adam failed in the assignment to protect what God had given him, and consequently he lost his garden.
The Devil is after our "gardens" too-our families, homes, marriages, churches, cities, and nation. Our responsibility as watchmen is critical, as we see in the following story:
In First Things First, A. Roger Merrill tells of a business consultant who decided to landscape his grounds. He hired a woman with a doctorate in horticulture who was extremely knowledgeable. Because the business consultant was very busy and traveled a lot, he kept emphasizing to her the need to create his garden in a way that would require little or no maintenance on his part. He insisted on automatic sprinklers and other labor-saving devices. Finally she stopped and said, "There 's one thing you need to deal with before we go any further. If there 's no gardener, there's no garden!"
Watchmen are gardeners. No gardener, no garden! Let's determine to be gardeners and to keep our gardens-our marriages, children, and nation.
God has "given" the earth to the "sons of men" (Psalm 115:16, NASB). The Hebrew word for "give" (nathan) means not only to give a possession but also to give a charge or assignment. God's gifts are also His assignments and, according to this verse, He has assigned stewardship of the earth to human beings. Part of that assignment for each of us is our family, neighborhood, city, and nation. As men, we must recognize our responsibility to stand as watchmen over these particular arenas.
Unfortunately, the Enemy has already made great inroads into our society. It is too late for us to simply stand guard and keep him out. He's already in. But there is still good news! Although the definitions listed earlier describing a watchman's task refer primarily to defense, there is also an offensive or aggressive aspect of being watchmen. The same three Hebrew words for a watchman's activity can be translated "lay siege to," "spy," and "ambush." Many Bible verses refer to watching in order to overthrow or destroy an enemy (see Judges 1:24; 2 Samuel 11:16; Psalms 56:6; 71:10; Isaiah 1:8; Jeremiah 4:17). God has given us the responsibility of praying authoritatively and expelling the Evil One. Where he has already encroached, we can lay siege to the Enemy's strongholds over this nation and break them.
A Few Famous Freedom Fighters
God used numerous freedom fighters in Bible times to liberate and change the nation of Israel. Much can be learned about both repossessing and protecting nations by considering a few of these examples.
David: A Model of Passion
David was a freedom-fighting watchman. William Wallace might have drawn his inspiration from this man who conquered giants, took cities, and perhaps more than any other leader in Israel's history, established the presence of God in their midst.
But regardless of whether it was David the warrior, David the worshiping songwriter, David the watchman-intercessor, or David the king, there was one essential characteristic that ran like a thread through every facet of this man's life: passion! To be a truly effective freedom fighter demands that you have passion. Genuine greatness in any area of life, including society-changing prayer, requires us to care deeply.
The world is filled with passionless people without a cause-status quo individuals who go through life making barely a ripple, let alone waves. Someone once jokingly defined status quo as Latin for "the mess we're in." Who can argue with that? And if there is any possibility of changing the messy state of affairs in our land, it will require some King Davids and William Wallaces who care more about souls and eternal destinies than they do about life itself. Spiritual freedom fighters, watchmen who liberate and protect nations, are men of passion.
Mordecai: A Model of Responsibility
Another great watchman in Scripture was Mordecai, the cousin of Queen Esther. Like our nation today, Israel's destiny was at stake. Satan was using the schemes of a wicked man named Haman in an effort to eradicate the Jews. Freedom fighters were desperately needed! Yet through the faith, persistence, prayer, and fasting of Mordecai, Esther, and other Jews, God overthrew the evil plot of Haman and saved a nation.
Excerpted from FIGHT ON YOUR KNEES Copyright © 2002 by Mell Winger. Excerpted by permission.
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