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History is not destiny, though much of the world believes it so. Past may be prologue but it's not predestination. The future, in particular one’s individual and personal future, need not be dictated by the past. Human beings can change.

Yet millions do not believe this; not really. Some are falsely misled by fear, superstition, or animism. They think “the fates” or some other force beyond us arbitrarily play with our lives and only the “lucky” make good.

Some are locked in family, clan, tribe, or culture influences they’ve inherited environmentally and to which they succumb mentally. Their learned attitudes and behaviors absorbed from their environment form mental cages from which they do not have the faith, reason, education, or inclination to break free.

Some are oppressed by religion or religious systems that demand obedience, subservience, and blind loyalty yet offer nothing but poverty of the soul and hopelessness in return. This is false religion based upon works and ritual that are never enough and leave adherents victims rather than victors.

But human beings are created in the image of God. They are vested with the capacity to reason, to think about tomorrow, to wish for something better, to learn, and to grow. They are vested with the ability to change, if not in their own strength than through the positive benefits of education, community, and the spiritual renewal of true faith.

The Scripture says human beings are born in sin. We are, at bottom, sinners even as babes who’ve not yet willfully sinned. But God does not leave us there. He offers first, love, then forgiveness, and finally hope in this life and the life to come. Through Jesus Christ and the indwelling and enabling work of the Holy Spirit God changes us. In Christ we go from sinner to sinful-but-forgiven and redeemed saint (Ephesians 4:22-24; Colossians 3:1-17). In God’s embrace we remain a saint even when we do not act saintly.

The Bible says, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). For the Christian, the believer, the follower of Jesus, all things are become new. History is not destiny.

Your father was an alcoholic? You need not be. You were beaten or molested as a child? God can give you the ability to forgive and he can give you healing and peace.

You have an “anger management problem” as it’s called today? So? It may not be easy. It will not be easy. But God can give you victory over this emotional and spiritual behavior.

You’re the worst sinner that’s ever lived? Paul considered himself the same thing, yet God changed Saul the Christian killer to Paul the Apostle.

History may be influential. History may be powerful. Nature and Nurture may both be out of kilter in your past. But history is not destiny.

It’s never too late to become what we should and could become. It’s never too late to change. Our history is simply that, history. It’s past. Destiny awaits our choices.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2012

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

For a century or more our culture has moved away in fits and starts from a general belief that God created the universe and everything in it. We still believe in God, sort of, but if he exists we no longer believe he created us. No, we believe the universe, and human beings, began by Chance.

OK, I don't buy that, but let's take the next step. If Chance, the Fates, or some other source launched our human lives, what ends them? In other words, if we came into this world By Chance, do we simply leave this world By Chance as well? Or another way of asking the question, if Chance--unguided, unintentional, non-rational happenstance--determined our birth, do we die without intentionality as well? Do we die without any Direction, Purpose, Meaning, or Significance? Are human beings just animals after all, or worse, do our lives and inner-us possess a value about on the level of a plant?

Here's what I think:

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2012

This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

Years ago one of our sons returned from a date with his girlfriend. They’d gone to a movie and decided to walk out because the film proved to be less than worthy.

What was interesting to me at the time was his exasperation when he got home—something that turned out to be a teaching moment for me and what he later said was a maturing moment for him. Remember, they’d walked out because the film got nasty. I was proud of them for doing so. But when we talked about it at the dining room table that evening he said, “But Dad, it was PG-13. It was supposed to be OK.”

Yeah, it was supposed to be OK. He’d wisely checked the ratings, as we’d taught our kids to do, to assure he wasn’t taking his girlfriend to a raunchy movie. But the film’s language and sex scenes belied the rating.

The teaching moment was this: “Checking the ratings was a good thing. But a rating of PG-13 doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good movie, or one that’s worth your time and money. Hollywood or critics may say it’s a good movie, but that doesn’t mean it actually is. A rating is one indicator. It helps, but you still have to think. You have to exercise your spiritual discernment.”

Through that experience my son learned to think more carefully, purposefully, and thoroughly. He learned to apply his Christian worldview and to flex his Christian critical thinking muscles. He took another step toward mature spiritual discernment.

Thinking, particularly the kind where we apply knowledge of the Scripture to life’s everyday issues and events isn’t what it used to be. In my estimation, as a culture if not individually, we give over too much to a host of pretenders we let do our thinking for us—celebrities, politicians, preachers, athletes, super models and super stars. Meanwhile, we forget how to think.

But God created us to think. He created us as reasoning if not always reasonable beings and he entrusted us with the responsibility to think well and wisely. This we must do to care for our selves, families, country, and world. God wants us to think, to discern as the Scripture calls it.

Spiritual discernment is rooted in Philippians 1:9-11. It’s the act of using biblical principals and values to decide what is best so that we may live the Christian life the way God intended. It’s about holiness, Christian liberty, independent judgment, and mature decision-making. It’s the act of living “in the world” while being “not of the world.”

We’d do well to rediscover how to “think Christianly,” as philosophy professor Arthur F. Holmes (who just passed earlier this fall) used to say.

What, for example, does Christian spiritual discernment suggest about these thorny issues?

Immigration; religious professions or protestations of presidential candidates; gay rights; respecting Muslims while disagreeing with tenets of Islam; deficit spending and debt; global warming; cohabitation without marriage at any age; healthcare; welfare.

The list of issues needing, nay crying, for Christian thinking is virtually endless. So I say, learn to discern and think Christianly…about everything.

How do we rediscover and reactivate thinking Christianly? By learning biblical doctrine, by understanding the principals and values we’ve drawn from biblical doctrine, by learning about real world issues—not just reacting, and by integrating our biblical, Spirit-guided discernment with real world concerns.

As long as we breathe, we can never “not think.” We live, we are Christians, therefore we (should) think Christianly.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

Luck is something that's interested me for a long time. Is luck real? Is there such a thing as "fate" that engages our lives in seemingly arbitrary ways, giving us good luck or bad luck?

If I'm on the receiving end of good luck, how'd I get so lucky? If I'm the victim of bad luck, why? If the world we live in is that fickle and perhaps capricious do we really want to bring children into it? What is good and bad luck anyway? And how does the idea of luck align with the idea of the Sovereign God?

If you're loved one is in a hospital bed facing a serious, life-threatening illness, is it comforting to hear your pastor say, "I guess you're just unlucky"?

When Christians say they got lucky I'm even more perplexed. What really do they mean?

In my book, indeed in The Good Book, Christians are never lucky.

Produced by christianenews with BoDe Productions.

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

 

I grew up in a small, southeastern Ohio town—“3,000 friendly people,” the sign said at the village limits. I was surrounded by an extended family in which virtually everyone was a believer in Christ and who, for the most part, practiced their faith. I didn’t know it then, but I now understand that this family experience was a rare gift.

Both of my parents are dedicated Christian people and have been since before I was born. Mom was a piano and organ teacher, who has participated in church music and worship services since her teens. Dad was a factory worker and barber and a member of my home church deacon board for over forty years, leading it for much of this time. When the church doors were open, so to speak, we were there. And when they weren’t open, Dad and Mom were still there, laboring faithfully behind the scenes—Dad fixing or preparing whatever needed attention, Mom leading music practices with others.

So it’s not a stretch to say my sister and I come from, in the best sense of the term, a “Christian home.” In response to the witness of my parents and many others in the church, at six years of age I made a personal profession of faith in Jesus Christ as my Savior, following this with baptism some three years later.

All four of my grandparents lived nearby and all of them played a role in my upbringing. They were caring and loving, wise, optimistic, modeled incredible work ethics, and “finished well,” living consistent, admirable Christian lives till the Lord called them home. Each one made spiritual and life investments in me that I cannot possibly repay other than by attempting to live by their example and live up to their expectations.

My maternal grandfather was the lively, hilarious spiritual patriarch of the family, and to a considerable extent of many families within our community. He was also a leading deacon in our Baptist church. He and my grandmother, along with three or four other couples, had made the difficult choice years before to leave their church, which had begun drifting into theological liberalism, and to found a new church committed to the Lord and the Word of God. I was a direct spiritual beneficiary of their courage, decisions, and diligent efforts, and so are other generations in a church that yet thrives after their passing.

In my family I learned and I believe that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and the Bible is God’s inerrant Word, our guide for faith and practice. As a young person I attended Sunday School, daily vacation Bible school, church camp, Jet Cadets, and Teens for Christ. You name it, I was there. I was no angel, but I did everything a kid from a Christian home and a fundamentalist church was supposed to do. Then I attended a Christian college, now called Cedarville University.

Aside from a Christian family upbringing nothing marked my life more than my undergraduate experience. I loved every minute of it. While I was in college God delivered me from a spiritual struggle. Early in my Christian life, given a strongly rationalistic mind, I wrestled with doubt—not in the existence of God but in whether or not I was truly saved. My struggle ended with the assurances I found in 2 Timothy 2:11-13. Later, I discovered others who struggled with doubt, so as one outcome of my spiritual journey I’ve often spoken about doubt with college students and others, using Os Guinness’s work on the subject as one key supporting source.

It was also in Christian college that I found and pursued what became a wonderfully liberating understanding of the Christian faith, what we at that time called “a Christian theistic world-life view.” My growing understanding of a biblically-based Christian philosophy of life gradually allowed me to set aside certain fears, undeveloped views, or limited understandings rooted in my good but sometimes legalistic church experience in favor of a still thoroughly biblical but culture-engaging, forward thinking perspective of life.

Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer began writing his influential books just before my college years and continued for a decade or so after I graduated. His books helped me look more confidently upon the world, life, and learning, knowing the Christian faith offered “true truth,” as he called it. Through my education and via Dr. Schaeffer’s books I was intellectually set free, for I realized that one need not fear learning something that would someday undermine one’s faith. The Christian faith, I learned and internalized, was as intellectually sound as it was spiritually trustworthy.

My Christian college years also provided me with an attraction to the teaching profession and Christian higher education and with a friend who would become my wife.

Years hence I was finally able to write what I consider something of a personal manifesto, Christian Liberty:  Living for God in a Changing Culture (Baker Books, 2003), which has since been republished as an ebook, Living for God in Changing Times (Unlikely Leaders, 2011). This book expresses my understanding of how to apply a biblically Christian worldview so one may live “in the world” while being “not of the world,” yet remembering God said to go “into the world.” I believe regular prayer and Bible reading are important ways in which we may and should develop our relationship with the Lord and through which the Spirit of God enables us to live a life characterized by personal holiness.

I am theologically conservative and consider myself a conservative evangelical, though I understand the definitions of these terms are moving targets. Sometimes today I simply say I am a Christian or follower of Jesus. I’m an optimistic realist, which I believe every Christian should be. We embrace God’s providence and know the end of the story, yet we understand the reality of sin in our lives and the impact of evil in the world. God calls us to serve him now, to contribute, to build culture for his glory, to witness to saving faith in Jesus, and to proclaim the Lordship of Christ in all of life. Our faith is eternally contemporary and transformative. All of this is one reason “proactive” is my favorite word.

Sarah and I were married in 1974 and God later blessed us with four children, now adults, and later still with their spouses and four grandchildren. Sarah is a wonderfully gracious believer who uses her gifts, especially hospitality, to bless me, our family, our friends, and many more. She has always served the Lord and has stood beside me as a partner in ministry, but now in our empty-nest years she is even more engaged in volunteer support in missions—Women At Risk, International.

The Lord guided us in attaining advanced degrees, through some thirty-four years of service in Christian education, including 17 years with Cornerstone University, several months in consulting, and now service in missions, doing promotion and fundraising for SAT-7 USA. God has given me opportunities to teach, speak, write, and lead. For as long as he gives me, my aspirations are to honor the Lord by honoring my wife and family, to serve proactively with integrity and vigor in whatever organizations or contexts he places me, and to someday finish well.

For all of this Sarah and I praise God and remember our family verse chosen when we knew our first baby was on the way: “The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy” (Psalm 126:3).

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

 

I am pleased to announce the publication of my second ebook, Today You Do Greatness: A Parable On Success And Significance, co-authored with Dr. Rick E. Amidon. Dr. Amidon is Founder, mark217, and former president, Baker College of Muskegon and Sanford-Brown College. (The ebook is available for $2.99 via the title link to Amazon.com.)

This ebook is a parable about greatness, leadership, faith, and life portrayed in a short story about an immigrant whose memories include a father who encouraged him to “do greatness.” The new American obtains an education, finds a profession, works diligently, and matures.

Our ebook emerges from the fact that all people possess a philosophy of life informing what values they embrace, what choices they make, and who they become. In this story, our immigrant friend does “his thing” based upon the philosophy of life he inherited.

But he eventually faces inevitable questions: Has his quest for success really led him to a life of true significance? Are success and significance opposed to each other – or can he have both?

To probe and hopefully answer these questions we’ve included alongside the parable parallel commentary rooted in a Christian philosophy of life, greatness, and leadership, which is distilled in snippets of biblically based application. By comparing and contrasting the story and the Christian worldview commentaries you’ll discover ways to examine your values and choices, new insights, and new perspectives. You'll come to understand how to achieve both success and significance—and true greatness.

Rick’s talent for narrative fiction is evident in the parable. My contribution rests in the Christian worldview commentary. Together, we hope we’ve provided readers with much to think about, much to apply in their lives and careers, and much to use in the Lord’s service.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.