by Guy Rodgers, President and CEO
It’s hard to believe that I began this journey with you and Pinnacle Forum twenty months ago. Of all the callings I’ve responded to since I was rescued from the darkness by Christ nearly 44 years ago, my calling to Pinnacle Forum was by far the most clear. Some of you have heard the story, but if you’ll indulge me, I’d like to share a condensed version of it as a prelude to what I’ve learned since answering this call.
In early 2014, God put I Chronicles 12:32 on my heart, where it reads “the sons of Issachar who understood the times and knew what Israel should do.”
This wasn’t the first time I’d studied this passage and the broader history surrounding it, but this time was different. This time the compelling sense of the Holy Spirit was that this was an important message for us, today, in America.
The longer I reflected on it, and the more I discussed this with friends and colleagues across the country, the more the timeliness and application of this came into focus. I’d rather not presume upon God, but I also don’t want to miss what He’s saying. In this instance I simply could not escape the conclusion that God was preparing a new generation of sons and daughters of Issachar, that he was beginning to call them out and connect them to each other, and that, if this faithful remnant heard and responded, He wanted to do something extraordinary through them in these increasingly dark and chaotic times.
Later that year, on a Sunday in early October, I received a call from my stepmother that my father was on his deathbed. I caught the first flight to Omaha the next morning and joined my brother to visit my father in hospice. Little did I know that the man who discipled me for four years back in the late 70s and early 80s, the man to whom I owe a debt I could never repay, was also in Omaha that week to teach at a church.
When I learned of this, I called Pastor Ollie to see if he had time to meet with me. To my delight he did, and the next day we met at the house of my mother-in-law. What happened then I can only describe as one of the most providential “God things” I have ever experienced.
I was anxious to hear this wise sage’s perspective on the church and our culture, so I asked him, “Ollie, what are you seeing? What do you hear from God?”
He leaned forward in his chair a little, paused, and then said, “Guy, in I Chronicles 12:32 we read about the sons of Issachar, who understood the times and knew what Israel should do…”
Well, you could have knocked me over with a feather.
And then he went on to talk about revival. Understand, this man really knows his Bible (he has a large portion of it memorized), he’s one of the finest Bible teachers I’ve ever heard, and he is a keen student of history and the history of revivals.
He said he thought a future awakening will be different from the great revivals of the past. “I believe God is preparing a small number of key Christians in many communities, perhaps a few hundred or so, just like he prepared 200 sons of Issachar, to be his conduits for revival. This will start, community by community, with seemingly small brushfires, gradually spreading throughout the culture.”
Eight months later, in June of 2015, I encountered Pinnacle Forum and its search for a new President and CEO. As you can guess, I couldn’t look at Pinnacle Forum’s vision and mission without thinking back to what my mentor told me that previous October.
I knew God had prepared me and called me to this, and it’s a calling I take very, very seriously. I’m persuaded that God has an important role for Pinnacle Forum to play in whatever plan he has for our nation’s future – if, as the sons of Issachar, we’re obedient to the call.
But in the course of exercising the mantle of leadership that’s been entrusted to me, I can say with joy that I have progressively come to see how much Pinnacle Forum is impacting and influencing me.
I’ve come to more deeply appreciate, more than at any other time in my walk with Christ, how central relationships are to his kingdom. Of course I knew this in my head. How can one study the Bible and not? But thanks to those in Pinnacle Forum, this knowledge is traveling from residing comfortably in my head to burying itself deeply in my heart.
From the Pinnacle Forum Partner who told me “The kingdom of God advances at the speed of relationships” to the forging of new relationships with those in Pinnacle Forum, I’ve been challenged to live my life differently, to balance my wiring for tasks, goals and problem-solving with investing in relationships.
I’ve come to understand more clearly what the Apostle Paul meant when he described the body of Christ in his first letter to the church in Corinth, and how we, the “body”, are to live out our witness to the world. I owe a special thank you to my friend and Pinnacle Forum founder Merrill Oster, who directed me to a book entitled Body Life, by Ray Stedman.
I’ve come to recognize how much I have fit the profile of “the lonely Christian leader” throughout my adult life, and how much each of us needs a close-knit community of brothers and sisters in Christ – especially during the turbulent times we have entered into, where antagonism towards Christianity has already reached a zenith unlike anything in our history.
Just recently, I had the opportunity to interview Os Guinness, a man whose book The Dust of Death I read while being discipled by Pastor Ollie, a man I regard as one of the leading Christian thinkers and social critics of our times. The interview was filmed and we’ll be showing it at the National Conference. It’s an interview you don’t want to miss.
At one point I asked Os what word he would have for those of us in Pinnacle Forum. Can you guess what he said?
Without missing a beat, he spoke of the sons of Issachar, and the great need that exists for Christian leaders who understand the times and recognize what God wants them to do.
As you can see, I know why God brought me here, and when you hear me speak about “understanding the times,” you now know as well.
But as is God’s way, I’m discovering anew how many dimensions he is operating in, how many things he’s weaving together, how his plan for me to be here with you is both about his preparation of me for this role, and his preparation of you for my life.
We have a great and glorious adventure to walk together, if we will but seize it.
Isn’t God Grand?