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I don’t think it’s particularly morbid to pause from time to time to remember those who’ve gone before, people we miss and wish still walked among us.

I have friends who think it’s odd. But for me it’s a walk down memory lane as well as a quiet form of respect I can express one more time for those remembered.

Who you miss says something about you, I guess, but I’m not reaching for the philosophical here. Just good thoughts.

Men influence boys. Again, not reaching for the philosophical; just saying something that seems obvious but is often missed or dismissed today. A few men now gone influenced me. This isn’t an attempt at a complete or even a most important list; just a list of a few who come to mind. Here’re a few men I miss:

-My Grandfathers – both men made huge contributions and impact upon my life. I wish I could know them, now that I’m an older adult.

-Dr. Mead Armstrong – he made a lasting contribution to at least one young mind.

-Ronald Reagan – the man was incorrigibly “up.”

-Uncle Bob – he was a good, hilarious, hard-working man, a life-long friend of my father’s and a highly influential uncle for me.

-Johnny Carson – I can’t affirm his lifestyle and may not have liked him if we’d met. But his talent, intelligence, and finesse as a late-night comedian far surpassed the dumbed-down drivel we’re presented today.

-Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer – I never knew him, but I got to hear him speak once when he was by then weakening and sitting down for the presentation. Few can claim a greater impact on whatever understanding I possess of a Christian worldview. I’ve read all his books long since and still draw upon them. I’ll be forever glad for that one session.

-Jimmy Stewart, James Arness, and Gregory Peck – real men all.

-Herb Corum, Ed Daverman, and Richard Stewart – elder statesmen on the Board when I was a young college president, men who loved the Lord and the school and taught me much.

-Louis L’Amour – who can write a better short Western?

Who do you miss?

 

© 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.

It’s springtime and baseball’s back. And fans are once again filling stadiums to watch the boys of summer chase a hardball.

Baseball produces sports heroes and one of the greatest in his day was Mickey Mantle. Those who got to see him play still talk about his athletic prowess. But unfortunately Mickey pursued other interests off the field that changed and eventually took his life. For a time he thought he was invulnerable.

Charlie Sheen is not a baseball player but a Hollywood star. He’s in his 40s, “livin large,” thumbing his nose at the world, and also thinks he’s invulnerable. Charlie could learn from Mickey.

Young Mickey was born to play baseball. By the time he was 20 years old, this strong farm kid from Oklahoma was playing for the New York Yankees. At 25 years of age he’d won baseball’s Triple Crown, leading the league with a .353 batting average, 52 homeruns, and 130 RBIs. By the time he’d finished his baseball career, he’d blasted 536 homeruns, third all-time in his day, had played in 12 World Series (Count them: twelve!), and was one of the most popular players in the history of the game.

But for much of that career Mickey’s lifestyle included unfettered excess: alcoholism, drug abuse, and womanizing—with its associated physical maladies. Eventually it all caught up to him. After a failed liver transplant he died of inoperable cancer at just 63, way too young with way too much good left undone.

Just before Mickey Mantle died, though, he made two memorable choices. He made a video in which he sat in a chair with his emaciated body, looked into the camera, and told viewers about his poor choices. Then he said, “Don’t be like me.” It is one of the saddest yet most compelling videos you will ever see. It’s a summative comment on the results of embracing deficient values and making poor, ill advised, wrong, and truly, insane choices.

Mickey Mantle made one more momentous choice. According to the testimony of his good friend and former major league playing partner Bobby Richardson, Mickey Mantle placed his faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of his sins and therefore was promised entry into heaven. As he lay dying, Mickey asked God to change him from the inside out, to give him a new reason for living and an assurance of his destiny. Mickey Mantle finally got the help he needed. Though his life was near its end, Mickey embraced the Lord and with that commitment a wholly new and transformative worldview.

Mickey’s spiritual decision, real and wonderful though it was, didn’t alter his life expectancy. But had he made this decision years earlier it likely would have. He could have turned his exceptional talents and popularity toward accomplishing something that helped others and blessed him in the process. But he hadn’t, so in a very real sense his life ended too soon with potential unfulfilled.

Charlie Sheen is on this same track. He’s literally burning himself out in front of the eyes of the world—on Twitter, on UStream.com, maybe eventually back on network television. But however cool, cocky, and bad boy roguish he seems to be to some who voyeuristically follow his every word and deed, he’s spending, a la wasting, his life on excess and narcissistic pursuits.

Behind the Sheen bravado is a scared, scarred, and confused person. Charlie needs a wholly transformed worldview, which as long as he breathes is available to him through rebirth in Jesus Christ.

While Mickey is gone the legacy of his testimony is not. Based on that, I think I know what Mickey would say to Charlie if he could. He’d say, “Don’t be like me.” I sincerely hope Charlie learns from the life and lesson of Mickey Mantle.

 

© 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.

The successful rescue of Chile’s 33 miners late last evening is an all-too-rare good news story, this one of global proportions. Trapped a half-mile underground for 69 days, the fact their rescue was played out live on worldwide television made it even more dramatic.

The miners’ resilience and their families’ emotional welcome were moving illustrations of human resolve. The crew’s outstanding leadership and well-organized activities underground for the past two stressful months were inspiring. Both the responsiveness and effectiveness of the Chilean government were enough to give one hope that government really can get it right, sometimes.

And three cheers to the rescuers, including particularly the six who descended to the miners’ chamber to help them come back safely to the surface. Needless to say, the world wishes the miners well in their post-traumatic re-entry and healing process.

Of course there are those who find ways to muddy the story. Sure, the miners are human and they’re not necessarily all stand-up guys when it comes to family and fidelity. So with 33 men involved it’s not surprising to discover there may be both wives and mistresses in the mix. What’s more discouraging, though, is to see various world media trying to make some kind of cheap reality program out of whatever moral mess they can find or agitate.

Still, the story is a great one from which books will and should be written. These books will bear some similarity to the story of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s ill-fated 1914-17 expedition and ship, Endurance, which was trapped in Antarctic pack ice and crushed. Shackleton led his 27 men through extreme hardship to safety with no lives lost, earning for the captain, though mostly after his death, heroic status.

The extraordinary efforts put forth to rescue 33 miners reminds the world once again of the ultimate value of each human life. Everyone matters, everyone deserves dignity and liberty.

There are leadership lessons, as well as disaster prevention and response lessons to be learned here. There’s fodder for fictional plot twists and compelling documentaries. There’re religious and political morals to this story.

Here’s hoping these lessons are learned, stories are told, and these Chilean men go on to other achievements and an appreciation for a gracious God.

 

© 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.

 

The passing of a former president of the United States always brings with it a host of memories and feelings for the American people. This is especially true for me in the December 26 death of President Gerald R. Ford, at age 93 years, the nation’s longest-living former president.

I never met President Ford, but I’ve felt a kinship to him throughout my adult life. On August 8, 1974, President Richard M. Nixon announced he would resign effective the next day. On August 9, 1974, the nation’s first unelected Vice President, Gerald R. Ford, became the nation’s first unelected President, and on August 10, 1974, Sarah and I were married. So for a young man interested in politics and in a certain young lady, it was quite a weekend. The 895 day Ford Administration paralleled the formation of our new family.

Years later in 1991, Sarah and I moved our family of four (three boys and a girl like the Fords) to President Ford’s hometown, Grand Rapids, Michigan. Not long after this I made my first of many visits to the Gerald R. Ford Museum downtown, and during the ensuing sixteen years I grew to appreciate the values in this community that formed “Jerry Ford”: a strong work ethic, integrity, frugality, patriotism, commitment to faith and family, and a respect for individual liberty and achievement.

I remember one of the key words of the Ford presidency, “candor.” President Ford used it often and so did others. In the wake of Vietnam and Watergate, it was what the nation yearned for, and President Ford embodied the concept. Two other words come quickly to mind regarding President Ford: courage and character. It took personal and political courage to pardon former president Nixon September 8, 1974, and though this decision contributed to the loss of the presidency in 1976, time rewarded President Ford with the affirmation of the American people.

Now President Ford is remembered for his character. He was a man of principle who quietly tried to do what is right. I’ll always remember him as a humble hero.

 

© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2006

*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 him at www.twitter.com/rexmrogers.

Today is my Mother's 74th birthday.  I am truly thankful on this Thanksgiving Day for a loving, caring, Christian mother.  I could not have had a better one.  Praise God for his gracious blessing.


© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2005

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 him at www.twitter.com/rexmrogers.