Chapter OneLET FREEDOM
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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.