Semper Vigilans

Getting a telephone call from your foreman at 6:03am, advising you to hurry outside with a gun, assures you won’t need that cup of coffee to get your heart pumping. I didn’t ask why, I just grabbed my Smith and Wesson, donned my muck boots, and skedaddled outside. Judging from the clowder of barn cats around the rear of my pickup, and Mr. John’s affixed stare (phone in hand), I knew the reason. S-N-A-K-E! What I wasn’t prepared for was its size and its aggressiveness.

Coming across a snake is not uncommon here at the Cross-Dubya. In fact, my pal Bubba the chocolate lab normally brings me 8 to 10 he’s killed each year as gifts. Luckily, Bubba was secured in the garage recovering from an injury that morning or I may have become Bubba-less. Unfortunately, cottonmouths (aka water moccasins) are pretty common in this part of Texas; especially near our stock ponds and ditches. To find one on my carport in early morning is rare. In the nine years we’ve been here, this was only the second time I know of.

Under my truck near the rear tire, a large cottonmouth was striking at the cats. Not wanting to shoot a hole in my truck tire, we used a bow rake to drag the over five-foot long serpent into the open. Super aggressive, I made the first shot count by blowing his head off. John and I have both seen plenty of water moccasins in our lifetimes; and we both commented almost simultaneously that this was one of the largest we had seen. Mr. John added, “He sure would’ve ruined our day, wouldn’t he”. I wondered to myself, What if we hadn’t noticed that rascal before we tried getting into the cab of my truck? A snake that large would have certainly put one of us in the hospital, and would have most likely killed Bubba, if bitten.

I’ve learned, when checking and repairing fences, mucking the barn, or working hay, to maintain a heightened sense of situational awareness. I also keep a weapon handy. When living and working near the same habitat as snakes, we learn to be semper vigilans (ever vigilant). Checking the grass, corner of a stall, or under a fallen tree branch becomes second nature. Checking under your pickup truck on a concrete pad, not so much.

With the threat eliminated and what remained of the enemy disposed of, we returned to our morning routine. Throughout the day though, my spirit was repeatedly checked. Keep watch; now more than ever. I kept feeling that stirring within my soul. Was it leftover adrenaline from rushing outside that morning in muck boots and BVDs to face a threat? Was it the Holy Spirit exhorting me to raise my spiritual radar more? Whatever the cause, I’m learning to heed those feelings more and more.

Do you heed those feelings of caution or warning in your life? #Discernment #HolySpirit Share on X

As cliché as it may sound, my encounter with the dangerous snake reminded me of the importance of maintaining my spiritual awareness as much as my situational awareness. I need both to ensure my and my family’s safety. Situational awareness recognizes all that is going on around us. Spiritual awareness recognizes all that is going on within us. To live a balanced life of peace and security, we need both. In recent days, with all the random violence and attacks going on, both are being threatened.

Like the enemy who slithered his way near my home, it seems “that serpent of old” (Revelation 12:9) is growing bolder as his days of reign on earth grow shorter. I wonder if his great deception of so many has effectively made much of the church and mankind more vulnerable to his ploys. Have we become so complacent and so distracted by the busyness of this life that we have neglected the spiritual aspects of our lives? What part have we played in ushering in this season of moral depravity and godlessness we see in much of society today?

The words of Ezekiel 3:17-19 have been shouting from the depths of my heart lately. I realize that if I am God’s child, then I too am a watchman on His wall, and I must do the job He has called me to do.

“Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the
house of Israel; therefore hear a word from My mouth,
and give them warning from Me: When I say to the wicked,
‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning,
nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way,
to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity;
but his blood I will require at your hand. Yet, if you warn
the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness,
nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity;
but you have delivered your soul.”
(Ezekiel 3:17-19, NKJV)

I interpret this scripture to mean that God will not hold me responsible for those I shared the gospel of Christ with who ignored my message. God will not hold me responsible for those I warned of the eternal cost of sin who elected to ignore my warning. He will hold me responsible for those to whom I withheld the good news of Christ Jesus from. As the day approaches, we must be bold in sharing the message of salvation, my friends. We must also hold steadfast in our faith so we might help exhort others to do the same.

Now is the time to #StandUpForChrist Share on X

I’m convinced that the condition of this world is only going to get progressively worse. Let us band together as a “family of faith” to boldly show and share God’s love and message in this ever-darkening world. #LetsBeLight #StandUpForChrist

God’s blessings,


60 thoughts on “Semper Vigilans”

  1. What a frightening experience! I’m so glad it ended without anyone bitten. It surely is a good analogy of the evil spiritual snakes waiting to bite us. I agree, evil is everywhere, more powerful than ever. But God is even more powerful and will protect us from the enemy. Let’s put on the full spiritual armor of God each day and be wise as serpents yet innocent as doves. Let’s band together and proclaim the gospel in these dark days. Amen!

    1. Thank you Ms. Karen. We must be prepared and vigilant to ensure we can overcome the threat ma’am. It seems they’re coming from new directions with each passing day my friend. it’s time to Armor-Up isn’t it?

  2. WOW, J.D.! Thank God for a good outcome in this. But I know you will not let down your guard because you’re well aware there are others lurking out there.
    You’re so right that we’re each a watchman and are to give warning every chance we get to those on the wrong path.
    We pray for discernment, wisdom, and boldness, all through the power of Holy Spirit. Thank God for the Holy Spirit empowering us every time as we welcome Him to do so.

    1. I’m with you Ms. Connie. It is so important to enhance our ability to discern God’s direction and guidance in all things. I also agree it’s past time we sound the alarm my friend.

    1. Thank you Ms. Gail. During this time of year, especially after heavy rains like we had the night before this, they seek warm, dry places. We must be “always vigilant” ma’am.

  3. A very needed and timely reminder and perfect picture of what is happening in the world today. That snake is being found in unusual places – we have to remain vigilant for sure my friend.

  4. Love this message – as I always love the thoughts you share. Glad all of you survived your unfriendly invasion of “satan”. Ick. I loathe snakes. Yuck, yuck,

  5. A physical and harrowing experience that so vividly describes the battle going on in the spiritual world, J. D. So grateful that no one was hurt and that your gun addressed the evil. May we, too, be vigilant, standing strong against the wiles of the devil. We must proclaim the goodness and grace of God at every turn.

  6. Kathy Collard Miller

    I wasn’t aware of the hashtag “stand up for Christ.” I’m going to use that. Thanks.

    1. Thanks Ms. Kathy. I may be the only one it seems who does, I even created a logo for it, but I think it important today that we make it clear where we stand, and Who we stand with.

  7. God gives us “situational awareness” to heighten our spiritual awareness, as you say JD. Then, you take it a step further and share your experience and insight. I would still be shaking in my boots to be confronted by a snake – but God! I will stand strong against the wiles of the enemy for such a time as this. Thanks, JD for another wonderful reminder from the Cross-Dubya.

    1. So very glad you enjoyed the post Ms. Kathy. I try not to be afraid of snakes or other evil lurking about in this world, but I do have a healthy respect for it because I’ve seen firsthand what it can do if unchallenged.

  8. J.D., I hate snakes! Seeing the one you described would have creeped me out for a long time. In a word study I learned the Hebrew word serpent comes from the root word that means to hiss or to whisper. I think that goes with how he seduces our culture.

    1. What a great point Ms. Debbie. Satan seldom entices or attacks us face-to-face, mano-a-mano. He prefers to slither in and silently hiss out his lies, hoping they seep into those weak spots in our armor.

  9. What a great (albeit personally challenging for you and John) illustration of an activity that has been missing from so much of the Church of Jesus Christ in this culture for far too long. It’s so easy to relegate the watchman’s responsibility to our paid professionals, or to just assume that some special class of spiritually gifted people are doing it. As I read your compelling rendition of the snake event, I recalled one evening when I was about 11 or 12. I was at home alone while the rest of the family was out at a dance where my step-dad’s band was playing. We had a little dog who started going nuts at the back door going out to our carport. I looked out several times and saw nothing. Finally, I opened the door and looked down. There, at the base of the single step coming into the kitchen, a large copperhead snake was coiled up on the warm concrete. I got my .22 rifle and shot it, but left it where it was. I wanted to see if anyone noticed it as they walked by it later that night. As I suspected, no one did. Your admonition to be a watchman is a well-timed and powerfully presented call to pay attention to the situation around us and inside us. I love the way you find these gripping pictures that call us to active vigilance. We are the ones God equipped to recognize the danger and I join you in praying that the Holy Spirit overcome whatever reticence we have to tell others where the danger lies. God bless you for another great lesson.

    1. Thank you Mr. Ron. You probably understand this better than most, but there’s a reason I seek to blow their heads off. I know that a dead snake, with head and fangs attached can still secret deadly venom from their sac, located just behind their head. While I may disperse it across a wide area, I always seek to clean up the remnants. I don’t want any of it remaining behind. I think it an act of repentance.

  10. Edwina E Cowgill

    Yikes! I’m grateful that no one was hurt and that you were able to destroy the snake. This is a timely message for such a time as this! May we all become more aware of the spiritual and physical snakes around us. Physical snakes don’t always mean actual snakes.

  11. This is a timely word JD. Satan is certainly on the prowl and seems bolder than ever in his attempts to destroy and deceive. I for one need to be continually reminded to stay vigilant!

  12. I am truly afraid of any snakes, good or bad ones. I am thankful you all are safe and that Bubba didn’t get near that snake. I love your reminder that we must be on guard against the evil in this world. Put on the full armor of God every day.

  13. Yvonne Morgan

    How many AMENs can I write in this space. The spiritual serpent has gotten bold in his efforts to take people away from God and His church. We all must take action to help others before it is too late.

  14. My grandparent’s ranch had more than it’s share of rattlesnakes. My anxiety reaches a near phobia around them. But when it comes to the enemy? We have the weapons to protect ourselves and even invite others into that protection if they are willing.

    I’m so grateful you, your foreman, and Bubba are safe.


    1. Thank you Ms. Tammy. We most certainly do ma’am, and not all of them are defensive only. As I mentioned earlier, I pray I can be bold in the face of darkness. “Let me shine Your light Lord!”

  15. My snake story from this past week is not nearly as exciting as yours, but on a walk around the yard, I thought I almost stepped in a pile of dog poop. However, it looked like an oversized pile. On closer inspection, it was a garter snake, not coiled, but folded up in the grass.
    Your points are well-taken, J.D. These are days of spiritual warfare. We can’t afford not to be prayed-up and suited-up in the full armor. Our battle is not with flesh & blood, but humans can sure be the enemy’s agents.

  16. This is a powerful message, J.D. Thank you for sharing it with us! I’m so thankful you, John, and Bubba are safe.

  17. Oh how true, things are only going to get worse. Your experience with that dangerously close snake was a perfect picture of how the enemy lurks, hoping we are unaware and unarmed. Grateful you were well prepared and covered by the blood of Jesus! I was recently prodded to share the gospel’s message with someone who I assumed had never been given an opportunity to choose (or reject) Jesus. It’s in the Lord’s hands what will come of my response to the Spirit’s leading where this man is concerned. I pray the enemy doesn’t strike before he offers his heart. May we all keep a lookout with that same degree of vigilance, JD – physically and spiritually!

    1. Yes ma’am; I too believe they are getting worse with each passing day ma’am. And while we must be prepared to overcome Satan’s numerous attacks, we must also remember to apply end-game thinking so we can endure to the end, which I believe is nearer than many expect.

  18. Terry L Palmer

    wow, too much for this ol’ papa. Glad you figured it out. Great story and example and thanks.

  19. Years ago I had an encounter with a similar sized cotton-mouth. I had stepped over into the flower bed to cut roses (without looking). But the Lord spared me because the monster had just swallowed a huge frog. My scream shrieked through the neighborhood and my husband and several neighbors came with their shotguns and killed this evil enemy.
    The lesson I learned was to be careful where I stepped. And as I’ve grown older I notice Satan and his demons are ever on the attack…we must not be lax in watching where we step.
    I’m so grateful for your Mr. John.
    Today it seems the snake of the garden has multiplied and we must watch every step, but like you said, we must be careful to sound the alarm for all who are not watching and are totally unaware of the danger…the eternal danger to themselves and their families.

    1. Am so glad you were rescued my friend. The world would be a bit less bright without you in it. And I agree, there are many “snakes” of many shapes and sizes out there, and all of them are out to steal, kill, and destroy ma’am. God’s blessings.

  20. I tolerate (and even welcome) non-poisonous snakes on the farm because they are beneficial. But I keep an eye out all the time for all snakes because I want to see them first. I cringed when I heard your description of this monster moccasin–Ugh! I’m so glad none of you were hurt. As you always do, you used this experience to share wisdom with us. We all have a part in the absence of Christianity in our society and we all have a responsibility to spread the Good News of Jesus to others. Thank you for this compelling reminder.

    1. Thank you Ms. Katherine. I’m glad all are safe too. I’m back to carrying my pistol with me everywhere we go around the farm since that encounter. Having one with snakeshot in the UTV isn’t nearly as secure-feeling of having a .410 on my hip.

  21. Yowza! I didn’t know cottonmouths were that aggressive. Used to be common here in Indiana but they’re now endangered. Last sighting was 10 years ago. I’m sure they’re just laying low and will bounce back!

    1. They’re the most aggressive snake I’ve encountered Ms. Ronda. I remember throwing rocks at copperheads when I was little in southern Indiana ma’am. We have them here in TX too. Don’t care of any of the poisonous ones.

  22. Another wonderful post, J.D. I hate all snakes, much less a rattlesnake. This analogy to have a sense of our spiritual awareness as much as our situational awareness. Because the serpent, Satan, is the vilest of all. Like the Ezekiel passage.

  23. Yikes!! I’m so glad this snake was seen before it could injure or kill! And a great spiritual lesson for us all from your experience. Thank you!

    1. Thank you Ms. Kathy. I’m equally glad we were able to get him before he did any real harm. Frayed nerves simply reminded me of how important it is to remain vigilant.

  24. Not a fan of snakes. I’m glad all turned out well. God was definitely protecting you (and Bubba). It’s no accident that Satan is referred to as a deadly serpent. (And a roaring lion). These two things are frightening, but like you said, we are to be prepared with the weapons and armor of the LORD. Whoa. Praise God for your safety and for the great object lesson for us.

    1. Thank you Ms. Jackie. I could not agree more ma’am. God is a wonderful protector ma’am. I’m sensing more and more attacks with each passing week, which tells me Satan is desperate to derail our journey in faith and make us wholly ineffective. With wonderful praying friends like you, he’ll lose again! 🙂

      God’s blessings gentle friend; and am so glad you and Mr. Lynn are home safely.

  25. Yikes! Even the photo unnerved me. I am ever so glad that Bubba and the barn cats were not hurt especially when that evil thing was striking at them. (I hope Bubba’s injury has improved.) My husband came across a 6-foot rattler in the woods recently while walking the dogs and I am still thanking God for keeping them safe. Gosh, now I’m gonna have to add snake safety to my Cross-Dubya prayer list!
    Of course, any snake reminds me of that dreaded enemy Satan. I liked your observation of it sneaking up into your garage space closer to you. Yes, he is relentless and aggressive. We need not have any reservation to “blow his head off.”

    1. Thank you Ms. Karen. I’m glad Mr. Parky and the babies are safe also. Yes, snakes are truly a representation the way the silently slither, hiss, as they make their way into our lives. And this cottonmouth, the most aggressive snake I know of, reminded me of how Satan is becoming more and more bold and aggressive as his final end nears.

  26. Excellent article! Yes, living on the farm means always keeping a vigilant watch. I once had a snake at my front door and I thought about how the enemy tries to come into our homes. Also, dealt with a non-poisonous snake in my kitchen, and killed it. Then there was the day I was bitten by a poisonous snake. He got my glove and pulled it away from my finger. I was thankful for the protection of my gloves or I would have made a trip to the hospital. God’s protection was all that I could think about. And every day we know as Believers, we have His protection and provision.

    1. OMGoodness. I once found a small copperhead caught inside a glue trap near our front door (still don’t think I told Ms. Diane about it), but this was as close as I ever want an aggressive cottonmouth/water moccasin to come Ms. Laura Lee. I’ve had several encounters with snakes, but poisonous and non-poisonous (I think the most frightening was when a large anaconda or boa constrictor fell out of a tree and across the back of my legs), but I thank God I’ve never been bitten. So grateful that glove saved you ma’am.

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