Tag Archives: military

Lessons From the Wayward Nephew – Lot

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The first recorded war was between 4 kings and money, but it also included a search and rescue mission.

The first recorded war was between 4 kings and money, but it also included a search and rescue mission.

While writing Faith Steps for Military Families, I learned about the Bible’s first recorded war. It’s found in Genesis 14. During Abram’s (later called Abraham) life, wars and rivalries among kings routinely happened, but the first recorded war in God’s Word was between four eastern kings most of us have not heard of before, except for possibly one, King Chedorlaomer (of modern Iran) and five southern kings, that included the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Who was King Chedorlaomer?

Not much is known about him, except that he was quite powerful. It was customary in those days that a city that was conquered paid tribute (money) to the king that overthrew that city.1 Five cities, including Sodom and Gomorrah paid tribute to King Chedorlaomer for twelve years. This is a testament to the might of King Chedorlaomer’s army.

“In the thirteenth year [those five cities paying tribute] rebelled” (Gen. 14:4).They joined forces and rebelled against King Chedorlaomer. They withheld the tribute owed to him. This kind of rebellion infuriated King Chedorlaomer. By refusing to pay the tribute, they predicted it would have a devastating effect to the territory known as the “way of the kings” which was the corridor of commerce between Egypt and the four eastern kingdoms.2 Whoever controlled this land bridge maintained a monopoly on international trade.3

In retaliation, King Chedorlaomer wasted no time and swiftly conquered this quick-forming alliance. When King Chedorlaomer overtook Sodom, he captured Lot, his family, and his possessions. Recall that Lot was Abram’s nephew. Being a prisoner of King Chedorlaomer meant torture, slavery, or death.2

“When Abram [later called Abraham] heard that his nephew had been taken captive, he led forth his trained men, born in his house, three hundred eighteen of them, and went in pursuit as far as Dan. He divided his forces against them by night, he and his servants, and routed them and pursued them to Hobah, north of Damascus. Then he brought back all the goods, and also brought back his nephew Lot with his goods, and the women and the people.” Genesis 14:14-16

It’s plausible that Chedorlaomer underestimated the warrior inside Abraham as he defeated King Chedorlaomer in Damascus, even with a measly 318 fighting men. But God showed His favor on Abram. But how did Lot get himself in trouble with Chedorlaomer in the first place?

Lot – the Drifter

Lot had a character flaw that we see in many younger men and women today. Having no firm goals or sense of purpose, he drifted through life.4 Lacking a father (his father died when Lot was a young boy) to act as a compass for his life, probably contributed to his hunger for the sinful lifestyle in the city of Sodom. Coupled with his greedy desire for rich goods, Lot lived for the moment. As a result, he didn’t contemplate the consequences of his short-sightedness. By seeking after the sinful and greedy lifestyle of Sodom, he eventually blended in with the other citizens in this doomed city. This choice cost Lot everything, including his freedom when King Chedorlaomer overtook the town to punish it for withholding the tribute. Wise ole Uncle Abram had to do the dirty work and go to war with King Chedorlaomer to retrieve Lot.

God is Still in Control

This may have been an incident that crossed several kingdoms–Abram caught in the middle between Lot’s greed and sinful lifestyle and a scandal between kings. It reveals God in control of earthly situations between secular kings and His warriors. God’s men numbered just 318 compared to the armies of the four kings!5

In the midst of a power struggle to control the cash cow of the trade routes, at the center of this scuttle is the story between two related men. Abram knew the foolishness of his nephew’s decisions. He could have taken the approach that Lot got what he deserved and refused to go to war to get him back. After all, living foolishly eventually breeds trouble.

Abram, however, took the perspective of grace. Grace says, “to extend kindness to a person who doesn’t deserve it.” Even God extended grace to Lot by giving favor to Abram to conquer the armies of the four kings in order to retrieve Lot. 

We Were Like Lot Once

Before the Lord reigned in our hearts, we were a Lot, too.6 Prior to giving our hearts over to the Lord, we were lured by the world’s goods and sinful offerings without thinking of the long-range consequences. We allowed our selfish desires to seek and obtain what didn’t satisfy. Sometimes we got away with a sinful lifestyle, but maybe for some of us it led us down the road of trouble. Was there an Abram in your life to go to bat for you? As Lot was carried off by King Chedorlaomer, considered part of the plundered loot, I wonder if he questioned where his lifestyle choices led him.

Is there a Lot in your family? Don’t give up on her or him. Instead, we can be an Abram in that person’s life and pray. James 5:16 says, “The prayer of a righteous (godly and upright) person has great power as it is working” (ESV). Your prayers, prayed in faith, will change things. There is power praying in Jesus’ name and that power will change the course of someone’s life, circumstances, and choices. While praying for the Lot in your life, your own faith will be strengthened as you see God move. We can trust God because He is sovereign over all our circumstances. One of my favorite Scripture verses is 2 Chronicles 16:9. “For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the entire earth, to strengthen those whose heart is true to him” (NRSV). God is looking for faithful hearts to be prayer warriors for the Lots in our lives.




1 Bible Note for Genesis 14:4-16, Life Application Bible (Iowa Falls, IA: World Bible Publishers, Inc. 1989).

2 Officers’ Christian Fellowship, “Abram Goes to War,” http//www.ocfusa.org.  (accessed 29 May 2014).

3 Ibid.

4 Bible Profile on Lot, Life Application Bible.

5 Officers’ Christian Fellowship, “Abram Goes to War,” http//www.ocfusa.org.  (accessed 29 May 2014).

6 Ibid.

Prayer for Protection Against Enemies

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Lord, protect their feet from slipping (Psalm 121:3).

Lord, protect their feet from slipping (Psalm 121:3).

My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade at your right hand…the Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in” (Psalm 121:2-5, 7-8).


Thank you for every member of our armed forces. Each one serves from the heart with a strong sense of duty for his or her country. Each one has voluntarily given up certain freedoms in order to answer to a higher calling. Lord, may their sacrifices be appreciated by the citizens of this country. Bring a revival in the hearts of the people of America to pray for our military so that under God we remain the strongest military force. May each military operation be just and carried out with a clear and honorable vision.

The challenges are many, Lord, and I pray for daily strength as they march into unknown dangers. Arm them with courage, shield each one from evil intentions, injustice, deceptive tactics, and reveal every unknown threat that would undermine their safety and the mission. Protect their feet from slipping (Psalm 121:3), no matter where they are, no matter the circumstances. In the light of day or the darkness of night, shield them with Your protection. When exhausted, be their Source of strength. I boldly come before You and ask that You would protect them against our enemies.

 Lord, like You did for the pilgrims traveling to Jerusalem, be the Keeper of our men and women in uniform (Psalm 121:5). Protect our military against all enemies. Should any return home wounded, physically or from the effects of posttraumatic stress syndrome, I pray that immediate help would be theirs for a complete healing and for the return of a sound mind. For those who have already given the ultimate sacrifice, comfort their families by encamping around their hurting hearts.

Faithful Father, the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning” (Lamentations 3:22). May the mercy You provide be experienced by my loved one and all our troops. Let Your compassion be theirs and give them opportunities to see Your faithfulness daily. Psalm 25:21 says: “May integrity and uprightness preserve me.” May our military leadership be men and women who value Your vital role in the affairs of our country. May our military commanders call on You for guidance, and give them understanding of things they don’t know (Jeremiah 33:3). In doing so, may Your name be exalted. In addition to physical readiness, may our government and military leaders be dedicated and speak out for preparing our service members with spiritual readiness, so faith can make a difference. In the mighty name of Jesus, I ask these things,


Tweet: Protect the feet of our U.S. military. Shield each one. www.LisaNixonPhillips.com/blog

To order a copy of my book, Faith Steps for Military Families, click on the blue button beneath the book’s cover.



Prayer Supports Adult Military Children

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All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his decrees. Psalm 25:10

Does your military member have your prayers?

Does your military member have your prayers?

My book, Faith Steps for Military Families is about spiritual readiness–incorporating one’s faith in preparing for adversity or living under difficult circumstances and includes how well a military family can bounce back. As a retired military wife and now a Blue Star Mother (mothers who have children serving in the armed forces. See www.bluestarmothers.org ), it’s hard to see our grown children who serve our country go through difficult trials.

Our daughter, Megan’s, biggest challenge began in the summer of 2007, between her high school graduation and departing for college at Washington State University in Pullman that fall. She had worked hard and done everything right when she secured a spot in the college’s Army’s ROTC program. Excited, she was ready for her upcoming college experiences and the ROTC program. But all her grand plans were nearly extinguished with a cancer diagnoses. Earlier, I insisted she get her booster tetanus shot. While in that office visit, the doctor detected a large mass on her throat. A tissue biopsy later came back positive for cancer. The timing of this diagnosis couldn’t of come at the worst time–on the very day we were leaving to move her to the college.

 After many phone calls to doctors and faxing medical records to the medical clinic in the small college town, Megan was confident she could mend herself after surgery in order to stay in college, but her standing and participation in the ROTC program was hanging in the balance. Not wanting to give up on college, we supported her decision to have surgery and radiation treatment in Pullman, while attending college. As expected, the ROTC program abruptly ended for her. Understandably disappointed, we encouraged her to focus on her health. From home, we monitored her progress and recovery. As expected, the mental and physical demands of college became challenging and her grades suffered, but she was determined to stick it out and overcome this setback.

 Daily, I prayed for God to provide her with the strength and will to keep strong and not to give up. Surgery to remove the cancer was successful. It was additional good news that the cancer hadn’t spread to her lymph nodes. Radiation was the next step of her treatment. Afterwards, she began working with doctors on her physical health, getting it dialed in with new medication she’d be on for the rest of her life. With the cancer behind her, getting her grades up and seeking to be restated back into the ROTC program became her new focus. She would have to work harder than even the first time around because her health had been compromised by the cancer. It would prove to be her hardest challenge yet. Her grades weren’t stellar, but in time they improved as did her health.

 Four years later, she graduated with a 3.32 gpa and received her criminal justice degree. As parents, watching our determined daughter complete the grueling ROTC program on time, long with her fellow cadets, and be commissioned an Army officer was truly a blessing.

 My son, Lawrence, will have a different challenge come this fall when he departs for Navy boot camp. He will be a submariner – a first in our family. After boot camp, there’s sub school, then from there to “A” school for training in his rating. As parents, we know he will have some big challenges of his own as he completes each phase. Again, his father and I will be on the front lines as prayer warriors.

Prayer is the Supportive Key

 It’s hard to see our young military children go through difficult trials. What it boils down to is that they need to acknowledge there will be challenges in life; some may be life and death situations and some may be living under difficult circumstances. But a life of faith doesn’t always protect from experiencing certain tests and trials. However, having a faith in the Lord does give us a godly perspective regarding trials. God goes before us and meets us right there in the trouble and distress. There’s comfort in knowing that faith in Jesus is that special something for spiritual readiness. Psalm 46:1 says, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Faith makes a difference because God is in the here and now. In those times, however, when we can’t understand the works of His hand, we must rely on His Word, and trust it.

 It’s imperative that, as parents, we pray daily for our military children because we never really know when their skill set will be called upon by our commander-in-chief. Prayer changes things. Prayer affects circumstances. And the Holy Spirit provides discernment into those circumstances. This is so we can see these circumstances through the lens of a godly perspective. Prayer manifests God’s hand into their situation. If your military son or daughter is encountering a difficult season in his or her life, pray these prayer points.

 1). They will recognize Jesus as their strong tower and choose to run to it for safety (Proverbs 18:10). Instead of relying solely on their own abilities, but that they will find their endurance and strength from Jesus.

 2). Pray their heart will become sensitive to the Holy Spirit and follow in its leading.

 3). Pray that he or she will discern, or glean what must be learned from the challenge, and,

 4). Pray their faith would grow as a result of the trials in the complex military lifestyle.

 There’s a human tendency to want to get the rough times over with in order to alleviate the associated discomfort, but encourage your beloved military member not to disregard the golden nugget–don’t overlook the work, the inner spiritual work of the Holy Spirit. God may be allowing this trial to move them along in their faith journey to discover His plan and purpose for their lives.

War (What God’s Word Says About It)

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Smaller size Bible on top of Flag

What is God’s perspective on war?

War. It’s been going on for centuries. Just like in the days of the Old Testament, countries today still invade and take over other countries. It’s the same purpose, just a different century.

The first recorded war was in Genesis 14. And not surprisingly, it was over money. It was customary in those days that a city that was conquered paid money, called a tribute, to the king that overthrew that city. In the first recorded war five cities, including Sodom and Gomorrah paid tribute to King Chedorlaomer for twelve years. However, those five cities decided they would withhold Chedorlaomer’s tribute money. “In the thirteenth year they rebelled” (Gen. 14:4). They joined forces and rebelled against King Chedorlaomer. This kind of rebellion didn’t sit well with Chedorlaomer so he retaliated. He joined forces with four other eastern kings. What fueled his anger? By refusing to pay the tribute, the king realized this would have a devastating effect to the territory known as the “way of the kings” which was the corridor of commerce between Egypt and the four eastern kingdoms.1 Whoever controlled this land bridge maintained a monopoly on international trade.2 In retaliation, King Chedorlaomer overtook the city of Sodom, carrying away its people and their possessions.

But who doesn’t love the underdog! Who doesn’t love the one who comes in and saves the day–turning the tide of the outcome. That person was Abram, later called Abraham. Abram was actually a warrior. In fact, Abram, wouldn’t of even been involved in this first war if it wasn’t for his nephew Lot. Lot was living in Sodom when King Chedorlaomer conquered it. Like the others, Lot and his family, along with all their possessions were carried off as captives. Abram took 318 fighting men and charged after Chedorlaomer solely with the purpose of retrieving his nephew and his family.  So what does the Bible say about war and the military?

God and His Military

We see God directly involved in establishing a military in the book of Numbers 1:2-3. “The Lord spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai,… ‘Take a census of the whole congregation of Israelites, in their clans, by ancestral houses, according to the number of names, every male individually; from twenty years old and upward, everyone in Israel able to go to war…”’ From this census, we can assume that God revers organization and considers the cost of any military endeavor a wise course of action. Moses counted the Israelites twice.1 The first census organized the people into marching units to better defend themselves. It was important to know how many fighting men Israel had so they could determine their overall military strength.

 On a side note, the organized census also provided genealogical records. As it turned out, the first census had a total of 603,550,000 fighting men all from the twelve tribes of Israel.2 The second census takes place in 2 Samuel 24: 1:2 and it prepared the Israelite army to conquer the promise land.3 It’s easy to see that God not only instituted a strong military, but His military agendas played an important role in carrying out His will. God used war and the Israelite army throughout the course of Israel’s history. God’s warriors, men like Moses, Joshua, and David were His instruments, to carry out His plans. And He gave them His blessing. For King David, God gave him victory in every battle.4 “He trains my hands for war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze” (Psalm 18:34). David had victories over the Jebusites, the Philistines, Hadadezer of Zobah, the Syrians, the Edomites, and the Ammonites–all from the book of 2 Samuel.5

In Acts 10 is the story of Cornelius, a Roman soldier, who was the first Gentile convert as a soldier.6 Being a Christ-follower, combined with military service, is highly regarded in the Bible.7 If this were not so, how could we explain the portrayal of David, also a soldier, as “having a heart after God”?8 We know that God highly esteemed David, a brilliant warrior, and blessed his military efforts. And in Matthew 8:5-13 when Cornelius approached Jesus and asked Him to make his servant well, Jesus wasn’t disheartened or try to discourage Cornelius from having a military career. God is Sovereign and this means He doesn’t play favorites. Cornelius imparted personal integrity into his everyday duties as a high-ranking soldier.9 Even the Jews, who despised the Romans, respected this godly Gentile warrior who honored God and in return God honored him.

God is still involved in the military affairs of countries today. Nothing escapes His attention. And like He uses other aspects of events on earth to carry out His will, He also uses the world’s military campaigns of today to bring about His purposes. No country, even America, can thwart His will and plan. The Bible, even though it is predominately God’s love story to you and me, is also a military book.10 If God felt it was necessary to institute an organized military in the fourth book of the Bible, then a strong American military, in which its service is conducted with biblical character, integrity, and honor is a blessed occupation. And like the Jews who respected Cornelius, we, too, ought to show our respect for those who humbly serve under the supreme commander-in-chief. And like Cornelius, God will honor our military members today for their honorable service.




1 Bible Note for Numbers 1:2-3, Life Application Bible (Iowa Falls, IA: World Bible

  Publishers, Inc., 1989).

2 Bible Note for Numbers 1:20-46, Life Application Bible

3 Bible Note for 2 Samuel 24:1-3, Life Application Bible

4 Bible Note for Psalm 18:34, Life Application Bible

5 Ibid.

6 Ron Knott, “God and the Military,” www.ronknott.net/id29.html (accessed 6/10/14).

7 Lisa Nixon Phillips, Faith Steps for Military Families, (New York, NY: Morgan James

  Publishing, 2014), 144.

8 Ibid.

9 Ibid.

10 Ron Knott, “God and the Military

The Anguished Man

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Vietnam3SoldiersHe was sitting there, his face appearing tired and worn; his clothes clean, but torn.

In his hand he held an old faded ball cap, and a small cat lay sleeping peacefully on his lap.

Lots of people were rushing by, but it was me who caught the strange man’s eye.

He smiled, then I smiled, but like all the others, I too quickly passed by.

“Mommy,” my daughter said to me, “What’s wrong with that man? Why does he sit out here all alone? And why does he look so sad?”

“I don’t know,” I guiltily replied. Curious, I stopped and glanced back. His head bent low as his hands were busy fingering shiny letters on his ball cap.

Instinctively I knew. It wasn’t hard to see. He was a  man of sacrifice and pain, now a misfit of society.

Then, carefully and meticulously, he placed his ball cap on his head, and then began to gently stroke the back of his beloved pet.

It was then I read the words of those shiny letters,

“Vietnam Vet.”

-Lisa N. Phillips