6 items tagged "history"

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The Real King David

Category: Blog
Created on Jun 07 2017

David

   King David was one of those larger-than-life personalities that simply would not be squeezed into our evangelical view of what a "Bible hero" should be. Joseph was. Daniel was. The Virgin Mary surely was. Not David. The problem is we want a "Christian" David, and he just was not a Christian. He was a Jewish warlord living in the cusp between the Bronze and Iron Age.
     We cannot impose on David a contemporary Judeo-Christian ethos. We want the oh-so-cute and curly headed child with a slingshot who fit so nicely on VBS felt boards. The problem is the real David won't fit on felt boards or in the modern world. He was a sometimes an outlaw who ran what could legitimately be called a protection racket. He sold his sword to become a mercenary for an enemy of his own people. He was despised by his own father-in-law and ridiculed by one of his wives, one of his many wives, by the way. He also had a vast harem of concubines. He was feared by his enemies, envied by some, admired to the point of idolatry by a desperately dangerous private army, desired by women and hated by one of his own sons.
     David committed adultery and conspired to have a faithful follower murdered to cover it up. He was rebuked publicly by a prophet, caused untold suffering among his people with an ill-advised act of hubris and on his death bed, like a mafia don, he ordered the execution of enemies.
     David was also a Spirit-led poet with prophetic and Messianic insights that reached beyond the millennia. He was a consummate musician whose melodies soothed the demonic, a man of unwavering loyalty and the founder of Israel's eternal capital, Jerusalem. The problem with David is actually the problem with the Bible. It's just so darned complicated. There are parts of it that don't even seem Christian.  That is because they aren't, but all together it is.
     If we try to make David into a New Testament saint we will miss one of the truly magnificent complexities of Bible, the REAL Bible, that is.  If we dismiss him as a legend like some kind of Jewish King Arthur, we deny the authority of the Bible. How can we reconcile this complicated and often conflicted genius with the we what we know to be true of God?

Leadership Lessons from D-Day

Category: Blog
Created on Jun 08 2016

D-day

     This week saw the 72nd anniversary of Operation Overlord, which is known to most by its more famous name -- D-DAY.

     On June 6, 1944, the Allies launched their long-anticipated assault on Nazi-occupied Europe. Operation Overlord was the largest amphibious landing in history. More than 150,000 troops supported by nearly 25,000 paratroopers, waded ashore on five beaches on the French coast of Normandy.

     The massive attack was not without its setbacks. Short term goals were not all met. Everything took longer than expected. The weather was no help at all and the cost in blood was horrific. The Allies lost more than 4,000 soldiers, and another 6,000 were wounded, while Germany lost 1,000.  Yet it was the beginning of the end for Nazis. From that tiny toehold, the Allied forces began the steady march toward Berlin and the end of Europe's nightmare of enslavement by Hitler's Third Reich.

     Having said all that, this column is really about leadership rather than history.  I believe one could design an entire leadership course based solely on this one great battle, but in lieu of just such a course here are three important leadership lessons from D-Day. 

The Fall of Marc Anthony: Leadership and Focus

Category: Blog
Created on Jan 06 2016

Bow and Arrow

     When Seutonious, the Roman historian, explained the downfall and death of Marc Anthony, he blamed a flaw in Anthony's character as much as the strategy of his enemy, Octavian. In his pathology of Anthony's astonishing political and military collapse, the historian of the Caesars employed an intriguing Greek word. Literally translated, eklusis simply means to unstring a bow. Figuratively, however, it implies a loss of focus and the resulting loss of energy.

     When a bow is strung, energy is in the bow. Unstrung, it loses all its energy. An unstrung bow is hardly more than a stick with a string attached. The energy is in the tension, in the taught string and the bent bow.  Furthermore, a strung bow is ready to be used for its purpose. Unstrung, the bow is unprepared for much of any immediate use. Between the unstrung bow and the launching of the arrow, there is now a missing step of preparation and the restoration of energy.

     This "unstringing" process is often a matter of distraction. Living in luxury in the Eastern half of the Roman Empire, indulging himself with Cleopatra, and according to Seutonious, frequently staying drunk, Marc Anthony quite obviously forgot the point. Soft, distracted and unprepared, Anthony, could not hope to defeat the ferociously energetic and obsessively focused enemy, who was to become Caesar Augustus.

The Day of Small Beginnings

Category: Blog
Created on Nov 25 2015

Dr. Rutland and Rev. Sammy Odarno
     As I write this I am sitting on the front porch of our national director's house in Ghana. His name is Rev. Sammy Odarno and he has worked in the Global Servants ministry since 1982. One of my dearest friends, Sammy's home is my home in Ghana and Ghana is home away from home for me. It is early morning and there is a delicious coolness to the air which will be gone all too soon. The raucous morning sounds from the nearby village of Anwomaso are getting louder by the minute. Inside the house, I hear Comfort, Sammy's wife, getting breakfast ready. It will be simple; Nescafé, a boiled egg and and her famous banana bread. Comfort's food is, well, comforting.

     In fact, this entire ministry comforts me no end. In Ghana, Global Servants is still called Trinity Foundation, which is the first name under which we incorporated the work here. Here on this compound, just outside the city of Kumasi, we have our headquarters church, the director’s house, a day care center, a K-8 primary school, and House of Grace Ghana, which houses 10 Ghanaian orphan girls. In the countryside scattered all across the north of Ghana are thirty churches. A few more are in Togo, Benin, Ivory Coast, and Burkina Faso.

     I try to remember why we made the decisions, why we took each step to get here, but the length and complexity of the journey defy easy analysis. It unfolded more organically than systematically. Sammy and I began with evangelistic campaigns in remote villages. Those led to churches as the new believers requested houses of worship. Most of those churches were the first and remain the only Christian presence in the villages.

Holiness: More than a Facade

Category: Blog
Created on Jun 03 2015

Circus

Desperate for employment, a depression-era farmer applied at a passing circus. At the circus office door he made an impassioned plea. “I’ll do anything.”

At this the manager’s eyes lit up. “You’re hired,” he fairly shouted, embracing the shocked farmer. “I need a new gorilla. The old one has died, and we cannot afford to import one. We have skinned old Kong out, and I need someone to wear the suit and do the gorilla act.”

All reluctance dissolved at the mention of a sizable salary. Pride gave way to necessity, and the farmer’s new career was launched. As it turned out, the wheat farmer turned ape-man rather enjoyed it. His act was dramatic and crowd pleasing. He would swing out over the lion’s cage on a rope and rain bananas on the enraged beast below. The rope was carefully measured, however, and any actual danger seemed minimal.

At a kiddie matinee in Oklahoma, a miscalculation brought catastrophe, and the farmer in the gorilla suit tumbled into the lion’s cage. The lion leapt upon him immediately, and placing a massive paw on the “gorilla’s” shoulders, he began to roar in his face.

“Help!” the farmer screamed. “Help me! Someone please save me!”

“Shut up you fool!” the lion whispered in his ear. “You’ll get us both fired.”

Unhappily, a great deal of what passes for true Christianity is nothing more than monkey-suit religion. The calamitous condition of the contemporary church is that she has a pretty fair idea of what a Christian looks like. Granted, the view may be informed by local or cultural differences, but the fact remains that a portrait of a proper “Christian” has achieved something of a universal consensus. The

HGTV and the Coliseum: Back to the Future

Category: Blog
Created on Jun 04 2014

HGTV and the Coliseum

This week's Leaders' Notebook is something of a departure. It is actually more of a historical/cultural commentary than a leadership piece.  I wrote this article for publication elsewhere but it will be a while before it comes out, so I thought I would let you get a chance to read it first.

     It is difficult to separate tradition from history with regard to the various waves of persecution endured by Christians under the Roman Empire. The numbers of Christians crucified and thrown to wild beasts may be exaggerated, as some maintain. Perhaps. That this happened in some numbers is undeniable. The first emperor to launch an official state-