On July 7, 2010, a barge in the Delaware River near Philadelphia struck an anchored tour boat killing two tourists and injuring another 26. The preliminary reports have now been released and it turns out that the mate serving as lookout was on the phone when the collision occurred. In fact, in the two and a half hours preceding the collision, he had made 13 calls and answered six. He was, to say the least, distracted. Now, to be fair to the lookout, we can acknowledge that we don’t know what was going on or why he was on the phone so much. Perhaps he was dealing with some kind of issue or family emergency; at this time we just don’t know. But to be fair to the 28 victims, we must recognize that the lookout failed in his duty and it cost them and their families dearly.
In Ezekiel 33, we read of God’s instructions regarding the watchman. In 33:4, God says when danger is coming and people hear the warning but don’t heed it, they will bear the blame for their own calamity. However, if the warning isn’t sounded and the people meet an ill-fate, the blood of the victims will be on the head of the watchman (33:6). In 33:7-9, God gives the warning again. There is no misunderstanding what is at stake here. 33:8 reads, “When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you shall surely die!’ and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand.” Did you catch that? Of course you did; it’s very plain. If we fail to warn the wicked that they are headed for hell, we stand accountable for it.
In the church today, we tend to think that evangelism is the job of the evangelist and no one else. We say to ourselves, “It’s just not my talent. I’m using my other talents.” Especially as women, we grab our spoons, bake a casserole and assure ourselves that we’re doing all we can for the kingdom. Meanwhile, the cashier who checked our items at Walmart goes home, tucks her little boy in bed and continues with her life unaware of the peril her soul is in. Our neighbor down the street pulls his trash to the sidewalk every Wednesday, waves when he sees us and stops off at the office on his way to Hell. Are you really doing everything you can?
Ladies, let’s get this thru to our hearts for understanding: the end will come for each and every soul on earth and for the vast majority, it will not be pretty (Matthew 7:13, 14). There will be those who are surprised when they are turned away (Matthew 7:21-23). If you don’t want to stand with those who have a part in the lake of fire, get it in gear (Revelation 20:15). Sound the warning. Find a way! So you’re not comfortable leading a study. Your tongue gets all tied up, your palms sweat and your brain goes numb. Nevertheless, you can ask that neighbor man for his number to pass along to the preacher or elders. You can offer to go with the elder’s wife and keep watch over the cashier’s little boy while they study God’s word. There are many, many things you can do that will directly help to lead a soul to Christ and snatch them from the fire (Jude 23). Here’s a few steps to take toward becoming better watchman:
- Get motivated. When you really understand the war we are in, the word of God will become a fire in your bones and you won’t easily stand by and watch as those you know fall over the edge to where the worm never dies and the fires are never quenched (Mark 9:48).
- Pray for soft hearts to come your way. Pray for those who are in your life to have soft hearts. Pick a few specific people and make them your prayer projects. Ask them what you can pray for and add to their list that they may have a soft heart for God’s word.
- Look for opportunities to start spiritual conversations. Make it your goal to have at least one spiritual conversation every day. This can be scary– true. Start small if you must (maybe share with your husband or best friend something that you’ve studied recently), but start and grow from there.
- Make room in your schedule for time to study with others. You’re busy, I know. Susie has to get to soccer and Johnny has to get to baseball. I get it. But do you get it? Susie’s soccer coach may get in a wreck tomorrow and land in Hell. Would you like her blood on your hands? You can find 30 minutes in your week to sit across the table with a Bible. You can definitely find time to send a link to the Searching for Truth video.
- Study with them and study on your own. If you’re not prepared, you can’t lead someone else. Maybe you already know that you’re not up for leading a study. Fine, but you still need to study. There will be questions and you may well be the one who needs to answer. You become a mentor to a young Christian when you help to bring them to Christ; you should be a good example.
- Follow up and be a friend. Studies show that when someone enters the church, they need to make seven connections immediately in order to stay faithful. Remember that this babe in Christ is trying to create an entirely new life. They need some new anchors to this new life or they are very likely to drift back to the old one.
On July 7, 2010, the mate was supposed to be the lookout and watchman, but he was apparently too caught up in his own affairs to care about what was happening to 28 passengers on some tour boat. Now it looks like he has the blood of two tourists on his hands. It’s a sad tale… don’t let it be yours.
Click here for news article on collision.
*Originally posted March 9, 2011