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For the next few months, I will serve as the Interim Executive Director of SAT-7 USA, a satellite television ministry producing quality Christian programming for Arabic peoples in the Middle East and North Africa.

This means The Timothy Group, for whom I work as Vice President, has developed a consulting relationship with SAT-7 USA (actually, TTG, via my friend and fellow consultant Derric Bakker, has been working with SAT-7 USA in fund development for the past year and one-half) wherein we provide the ministry with short-term leadership. SAT-7 USA’s full-time Executive Director recently departed. My role as Interim will be to assist the fine professionals working at SAT-7 in maintaining momentum and preparing the organization for an anticipated search for a new, permanent Executive Director. I’ll serve in this capacity for as long as the SAT-7 USA Board and The Timothy Group deem it helpful.

If you click this link:, then click “News and Events,” then “News,” you’ll find an announcement about my work with SAT-7 USA. This is the U.S. website. SAT-7 offers several other websites, including in Arabic, which you may discover if you Google SAT-7 (sometimes listed as SAT7).

Founded in 1995, SAT-7’s U.S. headquarters is located in Easton, Maryland and the ministry maintains production studios in Cyprus, Egypt, and Lebanon. SAT-7’s mission is to share the person and message of Christ via satellite television with Arabic peoples in the 10-40 window. SAT-7 produces quality content that is evangelical and evangelistic. God has blessed the ministry with hundreds, even thousands, of contacts with Arabic people who have learned about Christianity, been encouraged, or accepted Christ because they heard the truth in their homes on satellite television.

During the last week of January, I’ll travel to North Carolina to meet with Derric and SAT-7 USA board members, then to Maryland to meet staff members. During the last week of February, I’ll likely fly to Cyprus for SAT-7’s annual international management meeting. I’d appreciate, and I’m sure SAT-7 USA would value, your prayers.


© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2009

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 or follow him at


Senator and presidential candidate John Edwards’s admitted affair reintroduces a recurring pattern—political leaders trying to recoup their public reputations in the wake of poor personal choices.

Edwards, like several who’ve gone before him, lied repeatedly before owning his indiscretions.  Now he’s making the familiar round of talk shows and news outlets purportedly “coming clean” with a series of mea culpas.

New Jersey Governor James E. McGreevy and New York Governor Eliot Spitzer both lost their public office because of sexual scandals.  The Reverend Jesse Jackson lost some of his moral credibility as a social activist because he fathered a child in an extra-marital affair.  President John F. Kennedy didn’t live to see his extra-marital White House affairs exposed to the public, but his legacy suffers because of them.

When it comes to questionable character in a leader President Bill Clinton is Exhibit A.  During his second term he endured the nation’s second presidential impeachment trial, racked up millions in legal fees, and was disbarred because he lied under oath—which all started in the scandal of his “inappropriate relationship” with a White House intern.

President Clinton’s hubris in conducting an affair in or near the Oval Office, ambiguous definitions of words like “sexual relations” and “is,” glib lies to the American people, and squandered political leadership opportunities presented us once again with a leadership question.

Do a leader’s private choices inevitably affect his or her public actions?  Politicians, pundits, and professors debated whether it’s possible for a leader to act with such mind-bogglingly questionable judgment privately while acting with astute judgment publicly.

In the United States historically, private character and public action were considered inextricably linked.  Yet at the time of President Clinton’s impeachment, some 70% of the American people did not want Congress to pursue the matter.  So the Senate’s vote during the trial fell short of conviction and President Clinton was spared the ignominy of being bounced from office.

Whatever your thoughts on the outcome of this trial, we can say that the American people’s inclination to separate private from public character is a choice with consequences not yet fully understood.  The lasting ripple effects of the Clinton affair only history will tell.  But it’s neither a partisan comment nor a cheap shot to say that the impact of one leader’s poor character choices can greatly and negatively affect a nation—or an organization.

But what kind of poor character choices should cause us to disqualify a person from leadership?  Where do you draw the line?  According to the present American mindset private sexual immorality is apparently O.K., but what private character choices are not O.K. for a leader or potential leader, particularly in public office?

President Clinton, for example, was not a traitorous man.  He was not an autocrat or a murderer.  He did good things in office, even as a sexually immoral man.  He is charismatic and many people like him.  Some people seem to like him because he’s a rogue.  So his “not-so-bad-just-like-the-rest-of-us” immorality tends to be written off with softer words like antics or peccadilloes.  But still, the problem remains.  Which character fault lines in a leader’s heart should give us pause?  What about a candidate for office who’s known or shown to be a congenital liar?

What about a leadership candidate who admits to illegal behavior but explains it away as one of his or her “youthful indiscretions”?  Allow me to say it again, where do you draw the line?  Should private morality be ignored?  How does a political leader (or you or me) separate his or her moral being into private and public personas?

From a Christian perspective, the short answer is “You can’t.”  Yet that’s what our culture now seems to believe.  You see?  It’s tough.  We’re all sinners.  Any of us who are leaders or leader-aspirants have already established a record of wrong choices in our lives.  We’re human.  We were born in sin and we’ve committed varying levels of wrong-doing ever since.

We know it’s impossible to select perfect leaders because there are no perfect people, so we work with a sliding scale.  We place character choices (often subconsciously) on a continuum running from Acceptable-to-Unacceptable.  Where a character choice sits on that continuum varies based upon our cultural values at a given point in time.  Before President Ronald Reagan, for example, candidates for the highest office in the land were not taken seriously if they’d ever been divorced.  Now it doesn’t seem to matter.

We know that good and bad behavior exists and, consequently, we know that good and bad leaders exist.  But as a culture we sometimes struggle with where one fades into the other.

How do you recognize bad leaders?  They lack integrity.  They allow fundamental flaws to fester in their character.  These flaws are not the vague “He’s struggling with his demons” you read about in the press, as if something or someone else is responsible.  No, these flaws are sinful attitudes and behaviors sprung from the leader’s own hearts.

There’s generally a pattern of wrong moral choices in a bad leader’s character.  Bad leaders don’t tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.  Bad leaders live for their own self-aggrandizement.  They take from rather than grow with the people.  Bad leaders’ lives and leadership are a running story of ethical lapses and duplicity.

Bad leaders always exact a price from their nation or their organization.  They can destroy in a matter of months what took years to build.

In the Old Testament book of Proverbs, God reminds us that, “when the righteous thrive, the people rejoice; when the wicked rule, the people groan” (29:2).  Good leaders and good leadership are a blessing.  Bad leaders and bad leadership are a curse.

Long after President Gerald R. Ford’s administration, former Senator Alan Simpson summarized well the importance of a leader’s character when he introduced Mr. Ford at Harvard University.  Simpson said, “If you have integrity, nothing else matters.  If you don’t have integrity, nothing else matters.”

The continuum of Acceptable to Unacceptable character choices we tolerate in our leaders is a picture of how Americans think about values, character, and leadership.  It’s not necessarily a trustworthy guide for how God thinks about these matters.  Nor should it be our standard because in Christian terms good enough is not good enough.

God’s moral standard for leadership is high.  He said, “from everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked” (Luke 12:48).


© Dr. Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2008

*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 or follow him at


The Shack, by William P. Young, has taken the country by storm – to date selling more than one million copies largely on the strength of word-of-mouth marketing. It’s a novel about a man’s encounter with God while he attempts to deal with “The Great Sadness” that has entered his life. The sadness is the loss of his child.

The Shack is a publishing phenomenon (beginning with a $200 marketing budget and books shipped from a friend’s garage) and has so far generated more than one thousand book reviews on Amazon’s website, and probably as many critiques, both positive and negative. The latter range from reviews citing a few questions about the book to reviews alleging new age conspiracies, or worse. Clearly, many evangelical theologians are genuinely concerned about whether the book promotes universalism in terms of salvation, false views of the Trinity, under-developed views of God, and several other theological issues.

I’ll offer a few comments, but first, a reminder. Remember that the act of publishing is an act inviting response. You may write and never publish, so your writing remains private and personal. But to publish is by definition to make known, to share, to broadcast, and to invite readers and responders. So if you’re thin-skinned, don’t publish.

In a lofty but important sense, the opportunity to publish is an exercise of freedom of speech. We live, God be praised, in a free country, so we may speak openly, freely, and often. In addition, The Shack is a publication dealing with religious ideas, so the author not only benefits from freedom of speech but also freedom of religion.

Consequently, to discuss or even possibly to disagree with content in The Shack is not a threatening or unwarranted action. To discuss The Shack is an opportunity to participate in the exercise of the most precious ideals of a free, pluralistic, and democratic society. This we should celebrate even as we critique not the person but the merits of his ideas.

Comment One: Now, what do I think of The Shack? I was not offended by the book, but I didn’t like it much either. This admission says more about my reading preferences than it does the merits of this book. Though my reading habits are eclectic this kind of fiction is not what I typically enjoy reading.

Comment Two: The book is an allegory, a fictional metaphor, like Aesop’s Fables, John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, or C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia. It’s an attempt to help people understand something about God via a story written from an angle and featuring characters that are, to say the least, not traditional, common, or expected.

Since this book is fiction, and unlike authors of The DaVinci Code or The Celestine Prophecy, Young never claims The Shack is anything other than fiction, we might try to lighten up. In other words, jeremiads are not in order. A number of Christians are over-reacting. The Shack will follow a pattern, here for a little while then fade. Certainly The Shack is less spiritually or theologically threatening than books like Mitch Albom’s The Five People You Meet in Heaven, which is spiritual mumbo-jumbo.

Comment Three: The Shack is a theodicy, an examination of the problem of evil, an attempt to convey a theology of pain and suffering relative to the existence of a just God, like the Old Testament Book of Job. One of the reasons Young’s book has sold so many copies is that it strikes a chord with people who’ve suffered loss – and who, if they’ve lived long enough, hasn’t suffered loss? The book also strikes a chord via its interesting and engaging story in a time when people are looking for something soothing in the face of global terror, economic volatility, and numerous social pathologies, from random violence to rampant substance abuse and more.

Comment Four: But I have some quibbles with the book, for example, the legend of the beautiful Indian maid, the Multnomah Princess (pp. 27-31). In the book you’ll find the following (slightly abridged here) dialogue:

“Is the story true?”

“I don’t know, Kate. It’s a legend and sometimes legends are stories that teach a lesson.”

“So, it didn’t really happen?”

“It might have sweetie. Sometimes legends are built on real stories, things that really happen.”

“So is Jesus dying a legend?”

“No, honey, that’s a true story; and do you know what? I think the Indian princess story is probably true too.”

I know this book is fiction, but I do not like the fact that the author equates the redemption story of Scripture with pagan ideas about human sacrifice. No human being, no matter his or her noble motive, can sacrifice himself or herself for the sins of others. To believe this is to embrace paganism.

Sure, we know many stories of heroic self-sacrifice, to the point of giving life for one’s loved ones, but these stories do not result in someone’s eternal soul salvation. And they only involve physical healing in the sense that the hero was able to reach some form of essential medical help necessary to spare the afflicted.

No, human beings cannot sacrifice themselves for the sins of others and to place the Bible’s redemptive story on an equivalent level with a legend is not accurate or wise. This is one reason The Shack is not a good book for the theologically uninitiated, for new Christians, or for non-believers seeking spiritual truth. Young’s portrayal of Christ and of God is incomplete and at best inconsistent.

Comment Five: I also did not agree with characterization of politics, economics, religion, religious activity, and patriotism as just so many humanly-devised systems that control and trap us (thus bad, evil, or to be avoided?), while freedom in Christ liberates us from all these things (pp. 179-181). This is the author’s way of explaining “in the world, not of the world,” but he offers the old sacred/secular dichotomy. A biblical worldview encompasses all these systems, which God ordained and which are no more evil in themselves than money is evil. People’s sin is what taints these systems. People’s right actions before God are what can develop them for God’s glory. Young’s perspective sounds like the traditional-but-theologically erroneous campfire song, “This world is not my home. I’m just a passin’ through…”

Comment Six: I especially did not like the Jesus character’s rejection of the word “Christian” (p. 182). This is problematic at best and makes no sense to me. It is confusing, biblically askew in its conjecture, and simply unnecessary. The followers of Christ were first called Christians at Antioch and it is a worthy and still-accurate term.

Comment Seven: The Shack is questionable in other ways as well. It suggests we can see the afterlife and talk with the dead, that uncertainty is preferable to certainty (a key element of postmodern thought but one human beings simply cannot live with or live by), that what really matters is God loves everyone—not who God is, what he expects of us, who we are in sin, how we must confess, and how we may be redeemed. In the end, the story is warm and fuzzy but it’s not biblical Christianity, not genuine theodicy, and not an allegory worthy of listing alongside Pilgrim’s Progress or The Chronicles of Narnia.

Concluding Comment: All this said, I am not apoplectic about this book. You can find compelling thoughts about God and humanity in this book, ones from which we can learn. But this book is not one I’d recommend to a person unfamiliar with the Bible, at least not implying this book presents a full or accurate picture of God or biblical Christianity.

I do think that people who have criticized book stores for carrying The Shack are off-base. Conservative Christians too often look for someone else to do their thinking for them. A Christian book store, just like a Christian university or a church, is not and cannot be held accountable (though some may try) for the fact that individual Christians too often abrogate their own responsibility before God to do their own thinking and make spiritually discerning moral choices. Just like with the rest of life, you and I must decide what it means to be “In the World, Not of the World.”


© Dr. Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2008

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 or follow him at


When Robert N. Bellah entitled his 1985 bestseller on American society Habits of the Heart the phrase entered the cultural lexicon of everyday conversation. We talk about "habits of the heart" in church, school, business, you name it. It's such a useful phrase, which is why I'm commandeering it now.

After more than fifteen years, this program today will be the last continuously aired “Making a Difference” program on WCSG. I say “continuously aired” because WCSG may hereafter periodically air “Making a Difference,” but this is the last one in sequence. So I’m using this space to tell you, our listeners, that one habit of my heart will always be good memories of the longtime opportunity God gave me to think with you about how biblical principles work in the marketplace.

Over the years I’ve heard from many listeners, some who disagreed or sought a clarification, but most who affirmed some thought I’d shared. I’ve received notes, letters, and phone calls—and I’ve answered scores of emails—from listeners representing the kaleidoscope of Christendom—men, women, and teenagers who moved me with their passion for truth. I’ve met countless listeners in churches, grocery stores, and multiple other places throughout West Michigan. They unfailingly made kind comments and I joked about them discovering I had a face made for radio.

I’m not bragging but grateful when I say that nothing I’ve done has produced more regular and positive feedback than “Making a Difference.” For some reason, this program struck a chord. I greatly appreciate this, for your comments encouraged me to keep writing and, now, to attempt to syndicate “Making a Difference” nationally. (More on this coming soon.)

So, dear WCSG listeners, thank you. May you always strive to make a difference by applying Christian values in everyday life. You will always be one of the habits of my heart.


© Dr. Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2008

Originally recorded June 19, 2008 as #551 on “Making a Difference."

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The Jonathan and David Fellowship in Grand Rapids, Michigan is an all-too-rare multi-racial gathering of men committed to the Lord, their Christian faith, and a heartfelt desire to grow in brotherly love.

Founded and directed by Rev. Chico Daniels, President of Mel Trotter Ministries, the JDF, as it's called, meets monthly for breakfast, Bible study, and discussion, 7:00 am to 8:30 am. In the interim between breakfasts, JDF men meet one-on-one for lunch to get better acquainted and periodically show up en masse and unannounced with their wives at one of the churches represented in the JDF.

During Bible study and discussion, no questions are off-limits. Pain, personal stories, and progress all find their way into the conversation.  Often-used words don't seem adequate: integration, reparations, reconciliation, anger, healing, history, revisionism.

No one, if he's honest, really wants to discuss past sins, but sometimes it's appropriate so those responsible may experience forgiveness and those affected may experience release and closure. Be angry at sin, not the people, we sometimes say. But in our human nature our response is uneven. Yet Christ, a Jew, set the example when he met the woman, a Samaritan, at the well. He acknowledged and turned from her promiscuous past, but he offered her forgiveness and living water.

Race in America will always be "an issue," especially again in 2008 where differences in color and culture are at times over-shadowing legitimate discussions of personal character and political competence in the presidential campaign. We are a "conflicted" people, evidenced by one of our most eloquent heroes of freedom, Thomas Jefferson, a man who maintained slaves and a slave mistress throughout his life.

Political answers to our racial questions may help. Clearly the country has made some progress in racial matters since the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. But answers to our racial questions will never be fully developed in the give and take of politics.

Answers to our racial questions will most fully be developed in a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ, followed by a greater application in our lives of the principles of the Christian faith. Loving our neighbor as we love ourselves is only possible as we abide in Christ and he abides in us.  Learning to do this by getting to know our brothers in the Jonathan and David Fellowship is one way to start.


© Dr. Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2008

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 or follow him at


Paul Gordon was a model in all the right ways. Paul (1923-2008), the patriarch of the Gordon Food Services family in Grand Rapids, Michigan, went home to be with the Lord this week. I am glad to say that I knew him.

Paul was an innovative, highly successful business leader of a large and growing privately-held food services company. But he will be remembered by people throughout the world--thousands that he helped during his lifetime--for his overt and always evident commitment to the Lord, for his vision and insight, for his deep, gravelly voice, for his side-splitting sense of humor, and for his generosity. It is not exaggeration to say that he was "beloved" by virtually all who made his acquaintance.

Paul's heart for international Christian missions took he and his wife, and often his children and grandchildren, to mission fields in countries around the world. In countless places he gave significantly and he gave quietly, generally insisting his name appear nowhere in print or on facilities because he wanted God to be glorified. His quiet approach is legendary, so much so many in his hometown simply do not realize how extensive Paul Gordon's influence is among Christian people and those they help worldwide.

Paul called me one day a few years ago and said, "Dr. Rogers, how would you and your lovely bride like to go with us to Turkey?" I said, "Turkey? When?" He said, "October." At the time he called it was early September. Long story short, Mr. and Mrs. Gordon underwrote my wife's and my trip for ten days with a Christian tour visiting biblical sites in Asia Minor like Ephesus, Galatia, and many more. It was a wonderful, instructive time in which we were privileged to get to know Paul and Dottie better, learn about the Apostle Paul's missionary journeys, and fellowship with other believers. Thank you, Paul.

Paul Gordon showed us what a Christian man ought to be. I will always be grateful God allowed me to be Paul's friend.


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2008

*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 or follow him at