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C. John Miller, Peerless Friend
Written by Rex M. Rogers   
Thursday, 13 March 2014 23:06

 

Aside from my father and two grandfathers no man influenced my life more, and more positively, than C. John Miller.

John was my friend, mentor, and confidant, sometimes amazingly even my fan, and certainly always my most faithful prayer supporter.   

Last week, this twenty-plus year hero in my life went to be with the Lord. He was 82 and as the Scripture said of King David, “He died at a good old age, having enjoyed long life, wealth and honor” (1 Chron. 29:28).

I think John also fit God’s description of David as “a man after my own heart” (Acts 13:22).

I met John in 1991 when he was Chairman of the Board at Grand Rapids Baptist College and Seminary (later Cornerstone University) and I was a young and untested candidate for the institution’s presidency. He and others gave me a chance to run that race and run we did. It was a good run and I enjoyed every minute of it, in part because John was running with me.

I’ve been privileged to work with many trustees and supporters in several nonprofit organizations, including three in which I was charged with a leadership role. John ranks as the best trustee I’ve ever witnessed. He’s the best because of the total package he brought to the task: 

  • faithful—he always showed up
  • optimistic and positive—he was always “up”
  • proactive—he was not only open to new ideas, he looked for initiatives and helped cast vision for what could be
  • spiritual and ethical—he was a Christian who wanted to live and act in a godly manner, personally, professionally, organizationally
  • generous—he gave with an eye toward the good his gifts could do for others.

 

John was a quintessential leader. He led with respect and love for others. He really never tried to stand out, but he always stepped up and stepped out, and when he did, because of his character and example, others invariably followed.

John liked to say he was “just a kid from Kentucky,” but his affable personality, talent, work ethic, and genuine Bible-based spirituality helped engage his fellow board members and others in a desire to increase the academic quality and spiritual effectiveness of the institution, see it through a tipping point name change, and support the idea that a small school could dare to be more in a transition to university status.

John’s leadership helped reposition the “little school on the East Beltline that wanted to be left alone” into a truly Christian institution of higher learning capable of excellence. Why? For John it was always so students could learn to love and live for the Lord. John’s positive influence upon Cornerstone University lies deep yet today in the university’s DNA and it will for years to come.

John blessed more than the university. His family, friends, and those he touched can tell stories without end about John’s generosity with his time, talent, and treasure. I always believed God entrusted John with much because John was trustworthy. He was a faithful steward who didn’t wait for needs to appear at his door. He went looking for them, without need or desire for recognition. I know of seminary students, missionaries, pastors’ families, Christian educators, family and friends, business associates, and more who benefited from John’s helping heart and hand.

I know people, including me, who visited John primarily so they could unload their cares. He would listen, sometimes at great length, then talk about what could be done and, more importantly, what the Lord was doing or might do. He trusted the Lord and he helped me trust him. John was upbeat in the face of trials and he helped strengthen my resolve. John told stories of drilling several dry oil wells in a row and what God taught him during this stress, and then he helped me learn the same lessons. So it went, John sharing godly insight in a way that fit the situation at hand.

God gave John a sense of humor, a leadership talent he coupled with impeccable timing to disarm potentially volatile or paralyzing discussions. We’d be sitting in a board meeting getting stuck on an issue and John would say something about backing ourselves into a corner where “We had to vote on whether to mow the grass.” Or to put in perspective a group of churchmen’s rather egregious behavior toward the university John wryly observed, “Those guys couldn’t run a two-car funeral.” He laughed easily not because he was always happy but because he was always joyful.

John achieved both vocational and avocational success and received many accolades from a variety of business, political, civic, and religious sources. But he never forgot that “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father” (James 1:17). I remember John telling me more than once about driving by himself along an interstate, thinking about his life, and suddenly it would hit him anew how much God had blessed him. Then he’d tell me about welling up in tears and praying and praising God for this unmerited favor called grace. If anything, John’s humility became even stronger with age and accomplishment.

John was a good, forever friend. As Board Chairman, the first thing John ever said to me was “I want to be your partner in this.” He never wavered in this commitment.

Years later in the midst of a trial John said something I’ll never forget: “I’m walking right beside you.” I cannot put into words what this meant to me other than to say it was one of the most moving moments of my life. I cannot repay him for this, but I’ve tried to pay it forward by writing or calling others in the midst of their trials.

During what turned out to be our final discussion, the last thing John said to me was “How can I help you?”

This was C. John Miller. He was quite simply the finest man I have ever known.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2014   

*This blogmay 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.         

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Facing Evil, The Boston Marathon Bombings
Written by Rex M. Rogers   
Tuesday, 16 April 2013 10:08

 

Periodically, we look evil in the face. The Boston Marathon bombings are the latest sickening evidence evil exists and is all too alive and well.

No matter who we are, or what kind of character with which we live, evil intrudes, either from within our own hearts or from the hearts of others. It crashes in without regard for life or limb, without sensitivity or restraint, and without conscience or compassion. It’s just evil. It maims and kills and destroys. Its end is death.

President Obama said, “Make no mistake. We will get to the bottom of this and we will find out who did this and we will find out why they did this. Any responsible individuals, any responsible groups, will feel the full weight of justice.”

In times like this partisanship shouldn’t matter. I’m rooting for the President, the FBI, the Massachusetts Governor, Boston officials, and everyone else involved in the justice, security, and military system. I hope we discover who did this and that they feel the “full weight of justice.”

But we already know “why they did this.” It’s called “sin,” or to stick with our theme, “evil” (Genesis 3:14-24; Romans 5:12).

I’m not in a position to assist professional responders. So how do we respond to this? You can send funds, donate blood, pray, but beyond this there’s not a lot we can do.

We can, though, work to restore our soul and the souls of those around us. Tragedy is disheartening. It generates fear, anxiety, discouragement or disillusionment. It creates a need, whether recognized or understood, for theological perspective and spiritual refreshment. Toward that end, here are a few thoughts from Scripture:

--God is sovereign. No matter what happens, no matter what evil occurs, no matter the fragility and brevity of our lives, God is still God, still in charge, still loves us, still able to bring hope and peace (Psalm 103:15-19).

--“Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation” (Isaiah 12:2-3).

--“The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1).

 --“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God, I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).

--“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” (Romans 12:12).

--“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

--“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).

Evil ascends for a time, but in the end it will not win. We must combat it within (ourselves) and without (in the world), availing ourselves of the power of the Holy Spirit of God. But we’re not responsible for victory. God is. In fact, he’s already finished his work (Romans 8:37; 1 Corinthians 15:57).

Evil like what we see in the Boston Marathon bombings is gut wrenching and sad. But it’s not whistling in the dark to say, “We will trust in God. We will have hope.”

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2013

*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.

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Contemporary Culture: A Celebration Of Irrationality
Written by Rex M. Rogers   
Saturday, 06 April 2013 19:14

 

Contemporary culture seems bent upon finding ways to embrace, even promote, ideas, attitudes, values, and practices earlier cultures considered lacking in common sense. Indeed in much of this it seems contemporary culture is, in sum, a celebration of irrationality.

Some of these relatively recently embraced ways of life (culture) are irreverent, some are immoral, and some at one time were illegal. I say recently embraced, but there are really no new practices under the sun, just old ones recycled (Ecclesiastes 1:9).

Of course, what you call irreverent, immoral, or illegal depends upon your point of view, which in turn depends upon your worldview. What you believe about God, life, and truth influences what ideas, attitudes, values, and practices you embrace as legitimate. This is a prime reason contemporary culture celebrates irrationality. It does so because the current cultural zeitgeist, or spirit of the age, has jettisoned the idea of moral absolutes in favor of a new, ironically, "absolute" called moral relativism.

The existence of ultimate truth is rejected. And the existence of clearly knowable, objectively established truth is rejected. In their place contemporary culture enshrines “There is no truth” or “What’s true for you may not be true for me,” so people believe and do whatever they want. Consequently, since we can know nothing for sure, we cannot believe anything for sure. If we can know nothing and can believe nothing for sure, what we believe, and therefore what we do, doesn’t matter, at least not to anyone but us.

A culture that does not believe in objective truth, i.e. objectivity, is vulnerable, nay, is wide open, to subjective "truth," i.e. subjectivity. In other words, if we don’t believe truth is determined outside of us than it must be OK to determine it within us. We do what’s right in our own eyes.

This approach to what’s right pretty much lets us determine what to do based upon personal experience, not based upon the Bible, the Church, religion, or even history. So if we want to get an abortion, why not? If we want to say heterosexual expression outside marriage or homosexual expression is morally acceptable, why not? If we want to believe life began by chance and that human beings are descended from apes, why not? If we want to spend not only beyond our means but spend other peoples’ means (our children and grandchildren), why not? There’s no piper to be paid, no reckoning. It’s all just going to work out…somehow.

To state what should be obvious, celebrating irrationality is not rational. Our culture cannot sustain itself indefinitely with this kind of pell-mell rush to senselessness. Yet lemming-like, we keep running toward the cliff.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2013

*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.

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Evolution, Chance, And Gambling
Written by Rex M. Rogers   
Wednesday, 20 March 2013 05:22

 

Evolutionary theory, the idea that life began by chance and proceeded through natural selection toward some higher order, has long since gone mainstream in American culture. Gambling, games of chance, has also taken the culture by storm, more recently but just as thoroughly. While one didn’t cause the other the relationship is nevertheless interesting.

Evolutionary theory’s story has a long arc, but the tipping point came in 1859 with the publication of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life and 1871 with The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex. Evolutionary theory quickly gained recognition as the dominant paradigm in the biological sciences and many other fields of intellectual and social endeavor. Evolutionary theory, evolution for short, remains the accepted scientific if not social metanarrative today.

Nevada legalized commercial gambling in 1931 and Atlantic City in 1979. Other than a few racetracks that was it: two states with legal commercial or casino gambling. While reintroduction of state lotteries in the 1960s and 1970s set off a “third wave” of gambling in the United States, gambling hit critical mass with the passage of the Federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act in 1988. Now, only two states remain in which commercial gambling is still illegal: Hawaii and Utah.

Evolutionary theory roots its interpretation of the world in closed-order naturalism. It assumes away the need, then the existence, of a Sovereign Creator God, i.e., replaces intentional divine creation design with chance. While there are many ideas about how this chance works, in the end, it’s just biological happenstance that somehow always moves species toward higher, more complex, and, mysteriously, better organisms. In the case of humankind, begin with protoplasm, become self-aware intelligent human beings.

At its core, gambling, or gaming as it’s now called, encourages people to suspend their faculties in favor of chance, luck, fate, or the “gambling gods.” In this way, gambling at its core is a celebration of irrationality (the “House” or gambling operation owners always work with an “edge”—They’re the only ones in the gambling process who aren’t gambling). Gamblers know this, saying, “You can win a race but you can’t beat the races.” Ultimately, gambling is largely an experience in futility, a vehicle for entrusting ones resources and perhaps future to chance.

In a culture that embraces the idea that life begins by chance is it any wonder that gambling has been enthusiastically adopted as both (harmless?) entertainment and a (harmless?) source of government revenue? As I said, one didn’t cause the other, but the philosophic outlook is neatly aligned.

It isn’t much of a stretch to jump from the idea life began by chance to the idea life is just a gamble, that nothing rational let alone moral guides life, and ultimately nothing invests life with meaning. Evolutionary theory and gambling share a “faith,”—and that is what it is—in chance detached from God and meaning.

If life is meaningless it must be “morality-less.” There are no objective standards, no absolute values, just moral relativism. It therefore doesn’t matter what a person does, much less who he or she is. We know what we want to do, when we want to do it, with whom we want to do it, and why doesn’t matter. We can do what is right in our own eyes because “what is right” is (objectively) assumed out of the equation.

This is what we now think of the human condition. We may be higher order animals but ultimately we’re just animals, ethically as well as biologically. Life is just a crapshoot. It’s just chance.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2013

*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.

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Is Love A Reason To Support Same-Sex Marriage?
Written by Rex M. Rogers   
Tuesday, 19 March 2013 16:33

 

Ohio Senator Rob Portman recently announced his support for same-sex marriage. Why he adopted this view is more interesting than the fact he is the first Republican in the United States Senate to publicly do so.

The Senator recently learned his now 21-year-old son is gay. “Knowing that my son is gay,” the Senator said, “prompted me to consider the issue from another perspective.”

In another public announcement recently Mr. Rob Bell, former pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan and the author of the controversial Love Wins, told an audience in San Francisco that he now endorses same-sex marriage. He justified his position by saying, “I am for marriage. I am for fidelity. I am for love, whether it’s a man and a woman, a woman and a woman, a man and a man.”

So twice in a month notable leaders claim love is the reason they now endorse same-sex marriage. According to Senator Portman and Mr. Bell, love explains their dramatic change of heart. Apparently for them, in the words of the Beatles, “Love is all you need.” But is it?

A few years ago when I was serving as the president of a Christian university, a gay rights group called Soulforce demanded entrance to classrooms and chapel. I simply said, “No thank you.” The university did not verbally condemn the young people comprising the group nor did it criticize other Christian institutions that chose to give Soulforce campus access. We just decided to go a different direction.

I received more mail on this decision than any other in which I was involved during my nearly seventeen years as the university president. More than 90% of this mail supported my decision and lauded the university for the stand it took. About 10% or less of the mail on this issue criticized my decision. What interested me most is that of those who disagreed with me nearly all pointed to a loved one, brother, sister, uncle, or dear friend who was gay and that this love changed their mind about the moral legitimacy of homosexuality. In other words, love was their justification for their view.

Since that time I have time and again noted this link. Indeed when a news channel promoted a “teaser” stating the Senator had changed his position, I said to my wife, “I’m guessing his daughter has come out.” I was wrong: his son had come out.

Love is a wonderful human emotion and expression, but love for the wrong things does not make them good, right, or morally defensible.

If a person says he loves to have sex with little children his actions are not made right or righteous by his love. If a sadist loves to hurt people the love for harming others does not make the action right or moral.

After the Civil War had concluded, John Wilkes Booth’s love for the Confederacy led him to kill a President, and of course his action was immoral. It was still murder.

If a person loves to lie, cheat, or steal, these actions do not become good or right bathed in love. If people pursue sexual intimacy with someone not their spouse, because they love the other person, the adultery is not legitimized.

Love for an action or behavior does not determine its morality. What God says about the action or behavior defines its morality. The reason: love is a choice emerging from human hearts born in and tainted by sin. Love is therefore not always a trustworthy guide to moral considerations. Only God’s Word, the God who is Love in its righteous form, provides a trustworthy guide.

I understand Senator and Mrs. Portman’s love for their son, a love they should maintain no matter what he does or who he says he has become. But their love does not make his same-sex behavior good, right, or moral.

I have less empathy for Mr. Bell, who knows better and who is turning his back on his evangelical roots. Sadly, he claims to be expressing his unbiblical affirmation of same-sex marriage in the name of a better understanding of the Christian faith. His desire to express love is admirable, but it is a love based upon a false interpretation of the Bible. His viewpoint is wrong, not because I said so but because God in his Word says so, and Mr. Bell’s love does not change this truth.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2013

*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.

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Official Abortion Tallies Hundreds Of Millions
Written by Rex M. Rogers   
Monday, 18 March 2013 20:12

 

We learned this week that doctors in China have performed some 336 million known abortions since 1971 when the government first attempted to limit the size of families. I say “known” abortions because this astronomical figure does not include so-called “missing” abortions, those surreptitiously conducted by couples on their own. The total exceeds the population of all but two nations of the world: China and India.

China’s hideous and heinous abortion record involves the infamous one-child policy instituted in 1979, required abortions, forced sterilizations, and other birth control procedures impressed upon women in violation of their human rights. Lest we be smug, note that the abortion tally in the United States now stands at more than 50 million since Roe v. Wade in 1973.

If you believe, as I do, that abortion of a human fetus takes the life of not simply animate tissue or protoplasm but a unique human person, than you must regard these numbers as stratospheric immorality. This systematic infanticide dwarfs other mass murders in history, e.g. 50-75 million by China’s Mao Ze Dong, 12 million estimated in the Holocaust, 8 million in the Congo, 6 million in the gulags by Stalin. The human tragedy in all these horrific figures is beyond comprehension. Each number within these statistics represents one human being, made in the image of God, loved by God, a person eternally valuable and significant.

Abortion of this magnitude cannot but negatively affect the cultures and societies that experience it, whether dictated to a people by autocratic regimes or embraced by a people with euphemisms like “choice” in the name of sexual freedom. So many abortions have been conducted in China that even a nation of 1.3 billion people (or 315 million in the US) is now aging at a pace that’s undermining economic growth and general wellbeing. In addition, China suffers an enormous “marriage problem” because hundreds of thousands of young men in their 20s and 30s cannot find sufficient numbers of young women to become their wives (in a culture that values male children, the “one-child” is often a boy). This in turn is contributing to higher rates of crime, homosexuality, and other social problems.

Abortion is a form of killing or murder. It always has been and no cloaked phrase can hide this fact. It is as illogical as it is irrational. This is evidenced regularly when entertainment stars, many who support so-called pro-choice, appear on late night talk shows to proclaim their pregnancy and talk about “the baby.” The only difference in their expected baby and another aborted fetus is the first is wanted by the parent(s) and the latter is not. This is supposedly the “choice” involved. But whether an adult calls an embryo a baby or a (apparently not-human) fetus doesn’t change its essence. It is what it is, a unique human person whose life should be protected in the name of all that’s moral, right, and good. Governments, cultures, or societies that ignore this truth do not escape unscathed. They pay a price we may yet not fully understand.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2013

*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.

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Dr. Rex M. Rogers

Dr. Rex M. Rogers

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