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About ten years ago, the university where I served as president experienced significant financial pressure.

We did everything organizations do in times of financial duress: postponed new initiatives, cutback programs, curtailed operations, discontinued activities, delayed hiring, and worst of all, laid-off personnel.

Somebody once said that when you’re squeezed what’s inside of you comes out. It’s true. Some people responded to the pressure, even loss of their own position, in remarkable demonstrations of faith and fortitude. Others, not so much. None of this was fun.

Professionally speaking, it was the most challenging thing I’d ever endured. I remember a weekend when I literally bent over with stress pains.

Of course I prayed, perhaps like never before. And I read the Scripture, certainly like never done before. In two months I read the entire book of the Psalms—twice.

I confess that up to this time the Psalms didn’t make much sense to me. David seemed to forever be in trouble and unable to deal with it. I used to think David needed more resolve, more “toughness.”

But I began to understand the Psalms in a new way and realized my assessment of David woefully missed the mark. Until then I’d never experienced anything that stopped me where I stood. I’d finally, as we all inevitably do in life, faced something I couldn’t handle. I felt like David.

Now I saw the Lord’s teaching clearly. When we face challenges beyond our capacity God is there. When we feel like failures God’s “unfailing love” is there. When we cannot go on God’s “strong arm” is there.

A year ago I wrote about God’s “unfailing love,” a phrase repeated many times in the Psalms. Now I share the other truth the Lord taught me in the Psalms: God’s “strong arm,” his “right arm,” upholds us.

Financial duress isn’t fun. It generates stress and anxiety. But God’s strong arm undergirds us.

God teaches us many things in adversity:

--He strengthens ministries during or even because of financial challenges.

--We can grow spiritually.

--We can actually make some needed adjustments more easily.

--We can re-vision, reposition, and restructure for greater mission effectiveness.

--We can experience what it means to be part of the Church when supporters pray and give.

--We’re reminded who owns the ministry.

The Apostle Paul said God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness. So God’s strong arm is even stronger in the midst of financial shortfalls. Like the old hymn says, we can take heart “leaning on the everlasting arms.”


A version of this was originally published as "Encouraging Words" in "What's New With Our Family," SAT-7, Number 133, September 2010.

© 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 or follow Dr. Rogers at


There’s something about sports heroes. They’re different from other heroes. We get to know them.

Unlike other heroes—the woman who rescued a child from an oncoming car or the fellow who served his country in harms way—sports heroes do their deeds in front of us. We get to see it happen, time and again, in HD, TiVo, or live at the event. We get to be heroes vicariously, one of the great joys of sport.

So when sports heroes go awry it brings us up short. It’s no fun, unless you’re a bit perverse, to see sports heroes brought down to earth.

That’s the case with the New Orleans Saints Reggie Bush who yesterday gave his Heisman Trophy back. Bush returned the award to spare the Heisman Trophy Trust from having to ask for it. Both giving it back and asking for it back are unprecedented in the award’s 75-year history.

The NCAA recently ruled Bush was ineligible during his award winning 2005 season on the basis of evidence his family received hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts, free housing, and more from California agents. In other words, Bush was paid like a professional before he turned professional, a clear violation of NCAA policy.

Sports heroes are falling from grace, in part, because cultural commitment to character has declined in the past few decades. More youngsters are growing up without moral teaching, good role models, or moral restraint. You can see this in elementary and middle schools. If you don’t believe this ask school teachers, EMTs, fire-fighters, nurses, or police personnel who’ve been on the job for more than 25 years. They see it.

Tiger Woods, Michael Vick, Marion Jones, Art Schlicter, Darryl Strawberry, Mike Tyson, O.J. Simpson, Barry Bonds, Pete Rose—athletes whose character failures harmed their careers and their lives. There are many more.

I think incidents like this are going to increase. Reason being, kids are still growing up in homes without both parents, without instruction in right and wrong, and little chance of getting either anywhere else. Neither schools, nor churches it seems, can handle it.

One of the great beauties of sport is the purity of competition. It’s the idea that we can watch athletes go head to head at the pinnacle of physical talent and skill with all the heart they can muster. And “May the best man/woman/team win.” And when they win it’s because they deserve to win, not because they cheated but because on that day they are truly the best.

The integrity of sport. Lose it and lose the meaning of sport.


© 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 or follow Dr. Rogers at

I’m weary of the coarse, crass, and crude levels to which much of our entertainment culture has stooped. It’s been a forty-year dive during my lifetime and doesn’t seem to have reached its depth.

Latest evidence, for me at least, is the new Investigation Discovery channel program, originally airing August 25, called “Who the [BLEEP] Did I Marry?” It didn’t encourage me to learn the program weighed-in with early Nielsen success, meaning millions of people watched it.

The show features marriages gone bad, really bad, when a spouse eventually discovers some horrible skeleton in his or her mate’s closet. In other words, a spouse has been living a lie. The titillating nature of the show focuses upon betrayal.

The program is investigatory in the tradition of crime and justice shows, and I suppose there may be some positive contribution in all this for someone somewhere. But beyond the uncouth name of the show what bothers me most is that this feels more like voyeurism than humanitarianism.

I’d say the same for most—not all—of the so-called “reality shows” popularized in the past 10 years. These scripted-“unscripted” shows provide viewers with a steady stream of unrealistic-“reality,” much of it celebrating rude, crude, and lewd behavior. They focus on people apparently desperate for money or their fifteen minutes of fame and the raunchier, more vulgar, over-sexed, or profane they can be the greater the viewership.

Reality programs create wanna-be celebrities, actually non-celebrities, what some call “nonebrities,” meaning "a pointless media figure who would love to rise up high enough to scrape on to the bottom end of the D-list.” Sounds harsh but the debased dialogue in a lot of these programs suggests the term is, sadly, not far off the mark.

To name a few such programs: E!’s “Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” MTV’s “A Shot At Love With Tia Tequila,” featuring 16 straight male and 16 lesbian female contestants working to earn the ostensibly bi-sexual Tequila’s attention, E!’s “Kendra,” HBO’s “Hung,” featuring pimps and a male prostitute, Oxygen’s “The Bad Girls Club,” the various “Real Housewives” shows, and many more.

Of course entertainment flaks always say, “Don’t watch if you don’t like it.” And to a certain extent they’re correct. If people don’t watch it puts pressure on advertisers and producers and, sometimes, push a program off the air.

But there’s also the scores of commercials marketing these programs that all of us have to endure even if we don’t watch. And there’s the fact that producers of such programs sometimes air them no matter their financial results because the producers, directors, actors, et al involved in the show get professional accolades from industry peers for “pushing the envelope.” They’re given kudos for achieving a brave new entertainment world—which in essence means doing whatever they want, recorded in HD.

You really don’t have to be a prude to be weary of in-your-face dumbed-down culture. It just gets old, especially when you consider how much of the nobility of human culture is out there, available but neglected in mass entertainment.


© 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 or follow Dr. Rogers at

Twitter is an interesting and still relatively new social media tool. Great fun and useful. I enjoy it and there’s much about Twitter that’s worthwhile. It’s amazing what you can say in 140 characters. And I find it fascinating how quickly you can detect what makes people tick, what they’re personality is like and what values they hold, just in a few tweets. It’s also truly social media, meaning you can connect, possibly directly interact, with famous, powerful, distant people you wouldn’t typically engage in any other way.

But if you use Twitter for a while you’re bound to develop a few pet peeves, or “Tweet Peeves.” Here are ten of mine:

    · Following a promising bio and it turns out it's a front for ads.

    · Following a notable individual, then reading a tweet "from him/her" written in third person, i.e., a ghost-tweeteer.

    · Following a theme but getting spammed.

    · Answering people’s direct message questions and never hearing from them again.

    · Tweeters who never offer original thoughts or material, just compilations of what others have done. This material may be intriguing, but you wonder after awhile what the tweeter thinks.

    · Following a person or organization hashtagging a theme of interest to you, then discovering the hashtag is being used by the tweeter to assure his or her message, which has nothing to do with the hashtag, appears in hashtag searches.

    · Multiple tweets listing nothing but wall-to-wall thanks for RTs. Give it a rest or thank them via direct mail.

    · Spam-a-palooza. If this keeps happening, I un-follow.

    · Vulgarity. I can take it if it seems to fit a given context, but if it becomes a pattern I un-follow.

    · Tweeters who want to be followed but never follow. In other words, they’re enamored of the sound of their own voice.

Twitter culture is still in its infancy, so it will be interesting to see how it evolves moving into adolescence and beyond. Tweet on tweeple.


© 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 or follow Dr. Rogers at

September 11, 2001 is immortalized by infamy. Nine years later Americans still struggle with understanding and responding.

Toward continued healing, here are 9 things we should remember and 11 recommendations for moving ahead.

9 Remembrances

Every life matters. Each person who died (2,977 innocents, 19 suicidal perpetrators) is, like us, eternally important. God creates, individually bestows, and affirms life, not death.

Victims hailed from 90 countries. Loss of life is significant no matter who dies, but 9/11 was not just an American tragedy. It was a world tragedy.

First Responders died in the line of duty. In addition to civilian and military dead 343 fire-fighters, 60 police personnel, 15 EMTs, and a K-9 Dog named Sirius died as heroes. In ensuing years, as many as 900 are dead due to complications connected with their rescue work on 9/11. About 2,000 more were injured.

9/11 was a planned enemy attack. Despite conspiracy theories and 9/11 truth organizations claiming otherwise, to date there’s no credible evidence 9/11 was other than a terrorist suicide attack. 19 hijackers commandeering four jets for key targets was not a random act.

Evil exists. No amount of hope or general faith in the “goodness of human kind” can dispel the fact that evil is. It’s part of the human condition, and the challenge of dealing with it individually and socially will always be with us.

Nobility exists. Though evil had its day, human beings rose to the challenge in remarkable and admirable ways—the First Responders, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s leadership, citizen sacrifice and community, citizen service-qua-heroism.

People cared. Americans gave more than $1.4 billion and tens of thousands of units of blood toward 9/11relief.

God is in charge. He did not forget, go to sleep, or get surprised. He is sovereign, omniscient, and omnipotent.

Never forget. This phrase has become synonymous with 9/11 and rightly so.

11 Recommendations

Construct 9/11 Memorials as expressions of respect and remembrance. Memorials are recorded in Scripture and every nation and culture has developed means of honoring their dead. Most Civil War memorials were not erected until the 1880s-1920s, decades after the war. Passing time yields understanding, depth, perspective.

Clarify how we describe those responsible for 9/11. After 9 years American leaders in both parties still haven’t learned to define and identify who it is that threatens American security. We need to set aside political correctness, ignorance, and/or a foolish embrace of hoped-for visions of the enemy in favor of realistic ones.

Learn more about the Middle East. The Middle East is a region, not a nation-state. It includes North Africa and the Gulf States, involves 22 countries, 7 time zones, and 500+ million people. Spiritually and politically it is the most strategic region of the world.

Learn more about Islam. This is a complex religion practiced by more than 1.57 billion people worldwide and growing in influence. It’s not a simple creed but one nuanced by cultural and country-specific variations, ideological movements, and political agendas.

Honestly assess America’s actions and responsibility, but get over the fantasy of blaming all our problems on America. This is an approach oddly popular among a segment of the American citizenry, odd in the sense that the hand they bite is the one that feeds them.

If the American military is deployed, identify clearly stated objectives including an exit strategy, use levels of force required to execute the objectives, win, and get out. I’m convinced Americans are perennially more disturbed by the confusing way we’ve gone about fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan than they are the actual perceived need to fight.

Prepare for possible future attacks. This is responsible political, social, and as necessary military stewardship. Another attack is more probable than we want to admit, and we're not prepared. It seems so logical but not to those who don't really believe in human depravity and, consequently, believe talk and good intentions can solve all tensions.

In the face of fear, anxiety, and anger affecting our society be prepared to speak your faith. In 1 Peter 3:15 the Apostle reminded us to “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”

Recognize that life goes on. God gives us life and he wants us to live it. Building a future is not a disrespect of 9/11, and other travails have occurred that also require our ministrations.

Look for opportunity in the face of tragedy and its aftermath. This is a life-affirming thought rooted in a Christian worldview. If indeed God was in charge even on 9/11, and he was, than he’s in charge of how he can then-and-now enable us to turn tragedy to triumph. Sin has its moments but never ultimate victory if we look to the Lord to work through us.

Don’t claim insider knowledge about what God is doing. God is providentially engaged with human history, but we work with finite understanding and should take care to avoid comments detailing God’s every step (Romans 11:33-34).

On this day we did not forget.


© 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 or follow Dr. Rogers at


Should Christian nonprofit organizations compete or collaborate?

The American economy with some nuance is based upon capitalism. It’s a free enterprise system wherein people may own businesses offering products or services. Consumers compare these products and services in the competitive marketplace, choosing to purchase, or not, based upon perceived need, demand and supply, quality, and price. Businesses survive or thrive in direct competition, and generally speaking, there’s no safety net.

Given this environment one might think businesspersons would bring a competitive mindset to Christian philanthropy. But usually they don’t. Nor interestingly, do many foundation executives.

Businesspersons and foundation executives considering supporting a ministry financially sometimes want to know whether the ministry is collaborating with other ministries doing similar work. Sometimes they make a gift contingent upon such collaboration.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with this approach. It is, after all, their money. They can choose to donate resources however they wish.

Generally their motivation is stewardship, i.e. a desire to encourage more collaboration in order to gain, hopefully, more bang for their buck. Encouraging collaboration is also motivated by a perception that collaborating ministries achieve a higher level of effectiveness or productivity fulfilling their missions.

By the same token, competition may be perceived ipso facto as a waste of resources. The premise, stated or implied, is that kingdom work, God’s work, shouldn’t be subject to head to head contests for donors, reputation, service, or impact.

But competition isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Competition can yield the same push-to-improvement among nonprofits as it produces among for-profits. Quality matters, including and especially in the Lord’s work, and competition is one means of encouraging it. Sure, it may mean that some ministry overlap occurs serving a given population or addressing a particular need. It may even mean from time to time that donors support two or more ministries doing similar work. But God can bless each ministry’s work, and he can bless the donors.

Whether Christian ministries compete or collaborate may depend upon a variety of circumstances: denominational or doctrinal differences, ministry philosophy, personalities, organizational capacity, potential for impact, or more. Either way, both approaches can be used to honor the Lord.

© 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 or follow Dr. Rogers at