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Oct 20, 2011

Keeping Watch

It’s almost Halloween again and nearly every amusement park in Central Florida is hosting their annual over priced haunted beer fest. I remember being at one of these events a few years ago, killing two hours in line waiting for my 5 minute barrage of zombies, chain saws, and strobe lights. I was with my wife, my brother, and his wife. While we were in line, walking back and forth past the same people over and over, we kept passing what looked like a potential problem.

In the next line, slowly passing us every few minutes, were three guys and a girl, who obviously had way too much to drink. Each one displayed their inebriation differently. The girl and one of the guys kept making out. The really big guy was just loud and obnoxious. But the little guy was the one who worried me. He was one of those drunks who just stares at people, with a glazed look that basically shouts, “Hey, what are you looking at punk?” Every time the group was passing by us, the little drunk just silently stared down either me or my brother.

Whenever we were near this group my brother and I made sure we were between them and our wives. Other than that, we just tried to mind our own business and avoid direct eye contact, especially with the little tough guy. Before we reached our long awaited haunted house, they eventually got into a heated argument among themselves and some other friends. Not knowing how far the argument was going to go and how it would escalate, we just kept a watchful eye on the group until they calmed down and walked off.

After our pass through the haunted house we took a break and I talked to my brother. I asked him if he had a plan in case those guys tried to start a fight with us. He said “of course” and told me exactly how he pictured the two of us handling those three guys if we had to. The cool part was, I had been thinking the same thing and had almost the exact same game plan in my mind. Without even speaking to each other, we had both been watching the crowd and were ready to defend ourselves and our wives if the drunk guys started any trouble.

All we were really practicing was what is called “situational awareness”; being aware of your surroundings, keeping a watchful eye out for danger and threats, and having a plan of action when it’s called for. Fighter pilots, police officers, and athletes all use situational awareness. A pilot scans the sky for other aircraft and threatening weather, keeps an eye on his gauges and instruments, and has a well practiced plan ready for any emergency. Law enforcement officers look for anything out of the ordinary, size up people and situations, and keep themselves protected so they can continue to protect others. And the best athletes aren’t just the fastest and strongest, but the ones who can read a lineup, anticipate their opponent’s next move, and consistently put themselves in positions to make the big play.

Christians are called to be aware of their situations too. We need to keep watch, read the world around us, and be ready for action when it’s required. We’re told to look out for the enemies around us and resist them. Peter warned us to “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him.”

Jesus told both his followers and his enemies to watch for his return. He told us to “Be on your guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come.”  He even rebuked the Pharisees and Sadducees for being able to read the weather but being clueless about the spiritual world around them, “You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.”

Christian men should wake up and be aware of the world around us, both the culture we live in and the spiritual climate of our present age. We should always be on guard and mindful of our ever present enemies – the Devil, our own flesh, and the world – and resist their enticements, protecting ourselves and our families. And we should be men of action, ready with a plan of attack when the battle comes to us, even ready to jump into the fray on our own to battle evil in the world.

Here are just a few things to keep a watchful eye on, that a strong godly man should be aware of and ready to confront.

• The influence and draw of the culture in “the present evil age.” What evil is the world trying to make acceptable, to push on us and our children, to get us to excuse and overlook? Are you not aware of the prowling lion and his forces trying to turn us and this world from God?

• False religions trying to gain acceptance or even legitimacy as just another flavor of Christianity. What false gospels are gaining ground in the culture and even in “the church”? Can Biblical Christianity really “coexist” with false gods, idolatry, salvation by works, man-made religions, new age humanism, and science fiction?

• Eroding freedoms and liberties in our society and the increase of authoritarianism and government control. When will we finally stand up for our God given rights and say no to the powers who only wish to control, enslave, and kill? When the state no longer acts as a “servant of God” but rather in the “spirit of the antichrist” will you still submit?

• Love of this world over our Heavenly home. Do we still get too wrapped up in the futile things of this world, “chasing after the wind” and laying up treasures on earth? Or will we spend our precious time and strength pursuing the eternal things of God and furthering his Heavenly kingdom?

So men, keep watch of what’s all around you in this fallen world. Be aware of the situations we live in every day. Like in my Halloween story, there are enemies pacing back and forth, staring you down, looking for a fight. Like any enemy, they sense weakness and indecision, or even better, ignorance. Don’t be the mindless antelope in the nature videos, happily lapping up a cool drink at the local watering hole while the hungry crocodile lies in wait only inches away. Be aware. Be ready. “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.”