Ammon was a nation located east of the Israelite tribes of Gad and Rueben who were also both situated east of the Jordan River and Dead Sea. We know from Genesis 19:38 that the Ammonites were descended from Lot’s youngest daughter’s son Ben-ammi. From Deuteronomy 2:19 we learn that God did not allow Israel to attack or take any of the Ammonites land because He had given it to Lot’s descendants. Remember Lot was Abraham’s nephew. We also know from Deu. 23:3,4 that because the Ammonites and Moabites refused to help the Israelites during their journey out of Egypt that God excluded them from ever entering “the Lord’s assembly.”
Judges 2:2,3—You are not to make a covenant with the people who are living in this land, and you are to tear down their altars. But you have not obeyed Me. What is this you have done? Therefore, I now say: I will not drive out these people before you. They will be thorns in your sides, and their gods will be a trap for you.
God communicated His Commander’s Intent for the Israelites in Numbers 33:51,52 and again in Deuteronomy 7:2-5. They were to destroy the Canaanite inhabitants so as to eradicate their idolatry and evil that flourished in the land. God knew that if they did not
Ezra 4:1-4--When the enemies of Judah and Benjamin heard that the returned exiles were building a temple for Yahweh, the God of Israel, they approached Zerubbabel and the leaders of the families and said to them, “Let us build with you, for we also worship your God and have been sacrificing to Him since the time King Esar-haddon of Assyria brought us here.” But Zerubbabel, Jeshua, and the other leaders of Israel’s families answered them, “You may have no part with us in building a house for our God, since we alone must build it for Yahweh, the God of Israel, as King Cyrus, the king of Persia has commanded us.” Then the people who were already in the land discouraged the people of Judah and made them afraid to build.
Because of them, Shirley quit working so hard and gave up trying to achieve excellence. Her coworkers said she was making them look like slackers and they badgered her for getting too much done. They told her to stop being an overachiever or they would get her fired.
Because of them, Randy bullied Jonah, a scrawny eighth-grader. He knew it was wrong but he didn’t want his buddies to turn on him so he went along with them when they targeted Jonah for abuse.
When God chose to destroy the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, out of love for Abraham and Lot, He sent angels to rescue Lot and his family. After literally pulling, Lot, his wife and two daughters out of Sodom, the angels told them, “Run for your lives! Don’t look back and don’t stop anywhere on the plain! Run to the mountains, or you will be swept away!” (19:17) But Lot was too afraid to flee to the mountains so he begged that the angels permit him to reach the small town of Bela. His rescuers agreed to his request and Bela became known as Zoar which means “small place.”
Kinshasha is a city of 9.5 million (the third largest city in Africa) situated on the banks of the mighty Congo River. As our plane flew down to land at the airport, this city of 3,848 square miles seemed endless. Les and I deplaned and processed through customs but as we headed to pick up our luggage we were stopped and asked to produce shot records. Les had his and was waved forward. I did not bring my record and was therefore motioned to go sit in line with others of the same plight. When it came my turn the medical official asked me why I did not bring my card. I explained my reason and he said I would have to pay a fine of $60. This seemed not only excessive but ridiculous since I had already mailed it in to the Democratic Republic of Congo Consulate as part of the process for getting my visa.
Revelation 3:2—Be alert and strengthen what remains, which is about to die, for I have not found your works complete before My God.
Imagine if a few influential leaders suggested that traffic lights are too restrictive. They offend a percentage of drivers who feel trapped and forced to conform to other motorists. Three-way lights are insensitive to the needs of the color blind and old fashioned. Either do away with them or give each driver leeway to determine whether to brake or accelerate. Of course, if this really happened there would be an outcry by safety-minded drivers for the ruckus and accidents that would ensue.
Appeasing is not necessarily a bad thing. If it calms anger, eases fear, or soothes pain we may vote for it. But if we placate what is wrong it will be to our own peril.
It is not uncommon today to find supervisors who would rather tolerate mediocrity than risk offending the substandard leader by administering discipline or corrective action. While appeasing a weak leader may accomplish temporary peace, over time it rots the very guts of an organization. First, it demeans those who uphold high standards. Second, it communicates satisfaction with the leader who is unsatisfactory. Third, it encourages those who watch persistent tolerance to themselves become tolerant. Fourth, it reveals insecurity and perhaps cowardice in the supervisor unwilling to take corrective action. Fifth, it prolongs problems which eventually will lead to an organization’s undoing. As Winston Churchill said, “An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile—hoping it will eat him last.”
In Genesis 19, we read one of the saddest stories in the Bible. Evidently, the behavior of the valley inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah was so awful that the Lord with two angels came down to investigate. Fearfully, Abraham asked Him if He would spare Sodom if He found just ten righteous people there. He was concerned because his nephew Lot lived in the city. The Lord replied, “for the sake of ten I will not destroy it” (18:32).
On December 8th, Stephen celebrated his eighteenth birthday. I was in Colorado Springs and missed the big day. As I chatted with him on the phone, he shared about how his school would not allow him or his friends to use the words, “Merry Christmas” for an upcoming drama presentation. The reason the teacher gave him was that the school did not want to offend anyone.
Nadjya* came into our center to get food. As Bryan had her fill out forms, she shared she was mentally struggling. He forewarned me that she seemed kind of bizarre. I called her in and asked her questions to determine her financial and spiritual status. Essentially, a bout of pneumonia and lingering weakness caused her to miss enough work that she was in need of our help. I was surprised at how well her job paid. Most people who visit us make very little money or are in between jobs. I was also impressed with her faith in God’s mercy and forgiveness. She seemed to have a good grasp of the Bible.
Recently, I was talking to John, one of our attendees at The Road Home who works at Gunderson, a manufacturing and assembly plant that makes cast steel parts. John shared how he and a team of workers had to travel to China to investigate why the parts they were receiving from the foundry in China were breaking. What they discovered was profound.
Recently while flying back to Portland, I sat next to a man who worked for KLOVE, a Christian-owned corporation of radio stations that play Christian music. Because of my passion for worship and experience listening to the local KLOVE station, I queried him about how they chose the songs they aired. He told me that songs were selected according to the interests of the listeners. I challenged him on the accuracy of that statement. In essence, big labels sign artists and promote their music. While the public as a purchasing body has a say in what is popular, in fact companies sign artists based on what their market analysis determines will be well received by “young listeners.”
By June of 1997 our church was $11,000 in debt to a property owner who raised our maintenance costs. Because of the $3000 monthly property bill I went six months without a salary as the pastor. God sustained my family through the generosity of a senior citizen who attended Horizon Community Church. An opportunity arose for us to merge with another wonderful church that served in a nearby community and, like ourselves, was about five years old. We prayed. We held several meetings. I championed the plan and was supported by many people who eagerly shared Scripture and a sense that the Holy Spirit was directing us. It seemed that God had given us a great opportunity. So we dissolved and were absorbed into a larger, healthier body of believers.
God promised Abram that He would make him into a great nation, bless him, make his name (Abraham) great and that all peoples on earth would be blessed through him (Genesis 12:2,3). The promise implied that he and Sarai would have offspring. Years later when God spoke to him in a vision, he despairingly shared his childless situation and the reality that all he owned would go to his servant Eliezer. But God said Elizer would not be his heir and that his descendants would one day be like the stars—too many to count. Again, Abram believed God (15:1-6).
James 4:4--Adulteresses! Don’t you know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? So whoever wants to be the world’s friend becomes God’s enemy.
It was a cold evening on the high ground. I briefed my platoon sergeant and my orders were clear. Keep guards awake through the night. We are on the perimeter and cannot afford to let the enemy overrun our lines. Around 2:00 a.m. I awoke. Quietly I left my position to walk the line. They were all asleep. Position by position I grabbed their M16’s and machine guns until I had every weapon I could snatch. Then in a cold fury that comes when life-saving orders are disobeyed I watched in silence as my embarrassed platoon sergeant rousted every squad and ripped them with words on fire.
The popular television series “Hercules” extols the strength and prowess of the mythological half-man half-god son of Zeus. If television had existed 1100 B.C. Hebrew children would undoubtedly have watched their own super strongman—Samson. God raised Samson to lead Israel during a time in its history when it was harassed and oppressed by the Philistines. His father was Manoah from the tribe of Dan. An angel visited his mother before he was born and told her that he would be a Nazirite—set apart at birth for service to the Lord. His hair was never to be cut.
Aber and I sat at the table and dipped the addicting chips in delicious hot sauce. Aber asked if we could meet. He was spiritually hungry, eager to learn more about God. After our usual chitchat he shared about a vivacious gal at work on his team. She had recently moved to Oregon from Massachusetts. He noted her athleticism and that the two of them were working out three times a week during lunch. He was losing weight and felt great. Not surprisingly, the chips I’d been munching lost their flavor.