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“Proactive” is a word Alexander Graham Bell would have understood, and it’s a word every follower of God should learn. It means taking action based upon forward-thinking. It means we should not just react to circumstances, we should pro-act.

We should act with awareness, think innovatively and progressively. We need to try to anticipate changes in culture and seek to influence them. Better yet, we need to lead, not just respond.

Being proactive is what God talked about in the New Testament book of Matthew (24:42-51, 25:1-30). In a series of four parables, God says that he expects us to be watchful, ready, wise, faithful, and working. In other words, in the time that he gives us on this earth, God wants us to do something for him. He wants us to be active in his service, because he will hold us accountable for our work. He gives us life, creativity, and resources to use according to his rules for good living. It’s a form of stewardship—proactive stewardship.

Being proactive stewards as a way of life prevents us from falling into ruts. We keep fixing our eyes on Jesus, and we keep pressing on to what He has in store for us. We keep following His moral will for our lives and expecting His will to be accomplished in our lives.

By becoming proactive stewards we can do great things for God, no matter what title appears in front of our name, or what letters appear after.

Proactive stewardship—anticipating, working energetically, progressively, and accountably—is a worthy philosophy of life. Pursue the Lord’s will and work in this way and you will live with focus and get things done.

 

© 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.

All human beings live by values. Mostly we get them, the late Francis A. Schaeffer used to say, “by osmosis.” We absorb them from surrounding culture. We haven’t thought about them; they’re just there.

Psychologists, philosophers, and theologians debate various ideas about how human beings acquire knowledge and values, among them John Locke’s tabula rasa, i.e., “blank slate.” It’s an intriguing idea, but I’ve never believed all children were essentially born with a mind full of nothing and therefore all our knowledge, attitudes, and values develop later via experience and sensation.

I certainly agree our minds and even personalities are formed over time in part by our environment, i.e. Nature (vs Nurture). But I do not believe we start from scratch. Rather I believe God endows each human being at birth with unique personality and talent. Later, through our choices and our life experiences, Nature again, we can build upon, suppress, or redirect our basic personality and talent. But we don’t begin with nothing, like an animal with no more than instincts.

I also believe we craft our personalities, worldviews, and values via Nurture. Made in the image of God we are rational creatures capable of reason and accumulated knowledge. We may be taught—nurtured—and we may learn.

Along the way, we may be taught and we may learn poor or bad values. We make them our own. That’s what Schaeffer meant by osmosis. We embrace values without questioning their moral content.

For example, I’ve known dedicated, knowledgeable, and otherwise spiritually mature Christian people who hold racist points of view. Have they simply never applied—connected the dots—their Christian worldview to their racist viewpoints? Or are they just not knowledgeable enough about biblical theology to sense the spiritual dissonance between claiming to be Christian and to be racist at the same time? It could be either of these possibilities.

This scenario could apply to any number of attitudes, values, or behaviors we've developed: prejudice toward Middle Easterners, a temper or simply ongoing anger, laziness, you name it. We can be different from what we are.

Our task, as believers, is to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18). We’re supposed to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2). To do this, we must continually run our values through the filter of our Christian worldview. If we do this, that is, compare our values to the principles God's Word provides, with the Holy Spirit’s enablement we will gradually rid bad values, attitudes, or behaviors from our daily life. This is called sanctification, spiritual maturing.

Clearly, it is possible for human beings to learn and adopt new values, attitudes, and behaviors. We cannot blame who we are entirely upon Nature or Nurture. We can change and we are responsible for our own growth.

"You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness," (Ephesians 4:22-24). Which means this: we may not be able to change the world, but we can with the help of the Holy Spirit change ourselves.

This may sound like work, but actually it’s something far more enticing: it’s hope.

 

© 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.

 

Charlie Sheen’s media blitz is a lesson in what not to do in public relations. In a matter of a week, Sheen compared himself to a warlock, a rock star, and God. He’s called himself “special” in a number of different ways and he presented himself to the American public as apparently what he is, a self-deluded narcissist.

This sounds harsh, but if you kept score across his several high profile morning show and news program interviews it’d be “Arrogance 10, Humility 0.” Sheen is way past confident in himself and his own abilities, all the way to “I’m a winner.”

As the star of CBS’s “Two And A Half Men” Sheen makes $1.8 million per episode and as such is the highest paid actor on television. He’s also reputedly a chronic drug and alcohol abuser, has been in and out of rehab several times, is twice divorced, is the father of five children, and is now engaged in a highly public feud with CBS about the impact of his personal behavior upon their top-rated program. For now, the show has been taken out of production and may end its nearly nine-year run involuntarily.

Sheen’s drug and alcohol problems, the fact he lives with two women he calls “the goddesses,” and his bellicose attitude havemoved him from entertainment news to the front page. If it is true that “any publicity is good, even bad publicity,” than Sheen is in for more high paydays later. If not, he’s in trouble.

Journalists frequently refer to Sheen’s “personal demons.” Since O. J. Simpson, it’s a phrase that’s become the go-to description of a person struggling with emotional stability or inner turmoil. It’s a way for journalists to deal with inherently moral considerations without sounding religious or moralistic, which of course would violate current standards of political correctness.

For some who use the term, calling a person’s attitudinal and behavioral issues “personal demons” also serves nicely to ascribe the ultimate responsibility for the issues to something other than the individual involved, i.e. “He can’t help himself.”

Not being responsible sounds attractive, as in “Wow, you mean I can do all this and not be held accountable?” Or, “I’m a jerk because of something beyond my control? Great.”

But it’s not so great. When you think about it, not being responsible means you’re the victim of fate or forces or something, and you have no say in it. If you have no say in it, if you are truly controlled by something else, you’re not just “not responsible,” you can’t change it. And if there’s nothing you or anyone else can do to change you, you’re doomed. Being doomed doesn’t sound attractive to me.

Charlie Sheen, like many people before him and probably many after him, is a product of his own choices. He’s not manipulated by personal demons in the sense of things beyond his influence. He’s driven by his own poor or argumentative attitudes, his own boorish or self-destructive behavior, his own sin—just like the rest of us. His problems seem bigger than those of others because his are on display.

I don’t want to see Charlie Sheen die young. But I think he’s on that track. I don’t think “Two and a Half Men” is worth much—it’s funny, but it’s primarily driven by one plot theme: two brothers trying to get and have sex with women, as much as possible. But otherwise I like some of Sheen’s movies. I’m not trying to throw judgmental rocks at him. But I don’t think it’s compassionate to blame his problems on something he can’t change. It’s more compassionate to call his wrong choices and immoral lifestyle what they are, sin. And then point him toward the God of hope who can forgive, change, and heal.

 

© 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.

 

John Edwards, former North Carolina Senator and erstwhile presidential candidate, husband of Elizabeth, and man who conducted an affair with a campaign aide is, in my book, the definition of a cad.

I don’t write many pieces like this, but Elizabeth died this week after six years battling breast cancer. She described herself as the “anti-Barbie” for her more realistic figure, stood tall in the face of her husband’s moral and political decline, and gave the nation a new definition of strong female grace.

In 2004, John Edwards was on top of the world. A former and highly successful trial attorney, he’d served a term in the United States Senate, and was picked as John Kerry’s vice presidential running mate in what proved to be an unsuccessful run to the White House. Edwards followed this by becoming a leading Democratic candidate in the 2008 presidential race. Meanwhile, the day following Election Day 2004, Elizabeth discovered she had cancer.

Sometime in the midst of all this John Edwards got involved in an affair with political staff member Richelle Hunter. When this news broke during his candidacy in 2008, he followed a now all-too-familiar pattern: denial, denial, denial, which is to say, lie, lie, lie, then tearful admission that “mistakes were made.” He even later vigorously denied fathering Hunter’s child, only to have it later confirmed. All this took place as Elizabeth fought to survive.

Elizabeth went on to write Saving Graces, a best-selling memoir. But she ultimately lost her fight with the disease.

Elizabeth and John deserved a lot more than they got. She deserved respect and better treatment from a cad of a husband. He, while seeing his political future crash and burn, deserved more recriminations than he received.

We don’t know what words were exchanged between Elizabeth and John privately, so we really don’t know what he may have said to her. We do know that his public apologies have all been forced and shallow.

Elizabeth, on the other hand, pulled no punches in a few interviews, yet never really responded publicly with fiery ire. She’ll be remembered for her courage and her grace. Unless he makes a serious readjustment, how do you suppose John will be remembered?

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2010

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