TNG Radio, where today's culture and timeless truths come together. It's reasoned relevant content apologetics, worldview, and answers to the questions that you need to know. From Alex McFarland Ministries, this is Truth for a New Generation Radio.
And now the man who preached in 50 states in 50 days, speaker, writer, and advocate for Christian apologetics, Dr. Alex McFarland. Why does God allow suffering? Can anything good come out of pain and suffering in this world?
Hi, Alex McFarland here. Welcome to another edition of Truth for a New Generation. You know, famously Helen Keller, who was blind, said that the world is full of suffering, but the world is also full of the overcoming of suffering. In today's program, we're going to talk about one of the perennial objections against the gospel, which is pain, suffering, what people often feel like is injustice.
It's just not fair. Why have I been dealt a hard hand in life? And very often I dialogue with skeptics who say, well, there's pain and suffering, therefore there must not be a God, or certainly not the biblical God who's compassionate and loving. And we're going to talk to somebody that has had a cross to bear in life, and somebody who's, in my opinion, had a real painful pathway to walk that many people probably couldn't handle, but he's handling it well, and he's doing it for God's glory. But first let me read a little bit from Psalm 107. Psalm 107 says, And it talks in Psalm 107 about wandering in the wilderness, being hungry and thirsty and almost fainting, and it says that God's people cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and God delivered them out of their distress.
Verse 7, Well, God is our provider, God is our source of joy and strength, and God is our source of sustenance in all of life, and I believe somebody that personifies that so well, trusting in the Lord, is a friend that I have met in West Texas. His name is Rowdy Cogdill, and I'm in his business right now, which is The Night Owl Espresso in T-Bar inside of the Ghost Horse Gallery here at 506 Main Street in Silverton, Texas. And I've got to ask you about your name. Your name is Rowdy Luke Cogdill, right?
Yes, sir. Luke being your middle name. Tell me about your first name, Rowdy. A lot of people ask me that. They ask if I'm wild, and I'm a little bit wild, but my parents were going to call me Billy Rank and Rowdy Bill or something along those lines.
And I guess just the Lord had told them to name me Rowdy, and not exactly sure how that name came to be, but I guess that's what they decided. I was real crazy when I was a young kid. Well, how did you get into the coffee business, running the coffee shop here in Silverton? Well, I started about three or four years old drinking coffee with my grandfather, Billy Whitten, who has recently passed away about a year or two ago, and he would always take me to the coffee shop, and I'd listen to all the older people that would, you know, start stories and swap gossip and everything and tool you. So once I started getting older and learning, you know, the coffee trade itself, after I graduated from high school here in 2013, I was given the great opportunity to go down to Austin, Texas, to the Texas School for the Blind and visually impaired, and I studied down there for three years. And for two of those three years, I worked at the on-campus coffee shop that blind and low-vision students run, and I wasn't even thinking anything about it, about opening my own coffee shop, really, until after I graduated, and I thought that was something I would be really wanting to do here.
And I was given the great opportunity, and it was a God-wink or a God-send from, their names are Tammy and Hunter Penn. They moved here about six or seven years ago from Colorado, and Tammy wanted to open an art gallery here, and when I was getting ready to fly back to school for my last year at the blind school, Tammy asked me, well, Rowdy, what do you want to do when you get through at the Texas School for the Blind? And I told her, well, I'd really like to open my own coffee shop someday, and she then asked me, would you like to open a coffee shop in my art gallery that I'm about to open in Silverton?
I immediately told her, that sounds like a great idea, that's something I've always wanted to do. So the coffee shop's been open since August of 2016, and that's the same time that I started working for the Silverton Volunteer Fire Department here. And what do you do with the Volunteer Fire Department? I am the Silverton Chaplain. I pray for our men and women that are on the fire department, pray at meals when we have our business meetings, I pray for each and every one of us as we go out on a call, and then we try and pray for each other when we get back from a call. I also work with the command vehicle, I do mainly radio traffic for our fire scenes, work with our water tender, which is a 5,000 gallon semi-truck with water, traffic control, just kind of just some not, I guess, high risk jobs.
I'm on the, I guess you could say the behind the scenes is where you could find me, is where I would be. Sure, sure. For those just tuning in, we're speaking with Rowdy Cogdell here in West Texas, and I want to talk about your blindness, because you operating a business, you being a chaplain for the local fire department, I mean, those are wonderful things, and yet you've got a physical challenge, your blindness that, you know, many people would find debilitating and they maybe wouldn't even try, and yet you're doing more and busier than most, most sighted people I know.
Oh, yeah. And it started, you know, when I was a lot younger. When I was in high school, well, let me back up a little further. I was born January 28th, 1994, to Billy Rank Cogdell and Toy Cogdell in Amarillo, Texas, and when we moved back to our ranch, the Tool Ranch, I grew up and I was considered legally blind, because I had detached retinas and all sorts of different eye conditions. By what age were you considered legally blind?
I'd say about four months. Oh, my goodness. Well, hey, we've got to take a break. I want to hear this. Folks, you're listening to Truth for a New Generation with Alex McFarland, our very special guest. Rowdy Luke Cogdell, we're going to come back and talk about why God allows suffering, can good come out of suffering, and how do we manage the things in life that we find to be painful. Stay tuned.
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Alex McFarland here in West Texas talking to a new friend I've made, Rowdy Cogdell, and he's talking about dealing with blindness. Let me just say this. I do want to hear your story, but let me commend you, Rowdy, because you seem to represent the Lord so well. You've just got joy about you, and I've never heard you say anything about being angry with God, or, you know, why me?
Why me? So many people seem to go that way, and good job, brother. You represent Christ well, even in spite of your disability. I appreciate that, and it was not always like that. Whenever I was a lot younger, I used to always, you know, I hate to say this, but I used to not really cuss God, but I would complain to God.
Why is it me? Because I realized I was the only legally blind person in my family. But when I started looking at my dad's dad, his name was Billy Cogdell, my grandfather. He had polio when he was about 19, and when I came to know him, I would always see him in a wheelchair, and that polio had taken over, I believe, 90% of his body, and I never saw him complain about it. Did he complain about it before, whenever he was younger? Oh yeah, I know there's a lot of people that can complain about stuff, but whenever you have the love of your family and friends and my fiancé, you know, like Taylor, she understands it's God that has put me in this position, and she's okay walking by my side for the rest of our lives, you know, with this. And going back to Papa Billy, you know, like I said, I never saw him complain.
He would always praise the Lord for being alive every day, and that was something him and my dad would be the two people I look up to. Speaking of your dad, your dad mentioned that you had, since childhood, probably had 50 or more surgeries on your eyes. Do you remember those, when you were a little bitty child, having to go through those procedures?
I'm 27 years old, and ever since I was four months old was when my first surgery was, and I've been through probably 50 or 60 eye surgeries, and halfway through that, you know, like I said earlier, I was complaining to the Lord, why'd I have to put up with this? Now, of what you can see, how clear is it? Have you ever seen a Dairy Queen straw?
Not that I'm aware of. There are like the big blue straws that are big enough you can drink like a Dairy Queen Blizzard out of. They're about the size of your, I'd say your pointer finger, or maybe a little smaller than that, where you can look through the straw and see out the other end, and then you put a piece of cellophane over the end of that straw, and then poke a hole right in the center of that straw, of the cellophane that you put on the end of the straw, and that's about how I can see. You know, that's a very, I can picture that. That's a very good description.
So looking out of a straw, and then a tiny little hole there. So, I'm just curious, are you able to drive? You're not, you don't drive, do you?
Would you like the legal answer or the not legal answer? Well, I know out here in West Texas, there's a lot of farmland now. Rowdy, where I grew up in rural North Carolina, I was driving by the time I was about 10. So, out on the farm, things are a little bit different, I do understand. Yes, sir. Well, that's a lot of people don't understand. But like I was saying earlier, during my elementary to high school years, up until 2015, you know, I'd probably had about 30 or 40 surgeries, maybe by then.
I'm not exactly sure we've lost count since I've had so many. I was never 20-20. My vision was good enough. I could see the road a little bit, but I couldn't see anything probably 20 or 25 feet away, I guess, or something along those lines.
It may be not that far, but I could read decals on the side of cars. So let me ask you this. At what age did you accept Christ as your Savior? Oh, I can't remember. I remember it was a young age. I was probably about 9 or 10, I think, when I accepted the Lord, I believe.
My mom would probably know exactly the day because we probably have it down in our paperwork at the church or in our records at home, but I think it was about 9 or 10. Did you ever pray and ask God specifically to heal your vision? Oh, it's been an ongoing deal. I still ask Him to heal my vision every day. The struggle is real, and I know that sounds, I don't know if you'd say cliche, but the struggle is definitely real for not just me as a blind person, but I have a lot of blind friends that talk about the struggles that they're going through. I just tell them that you need to put your love and trust in the Lord and your family as well. Number one is the Lord seconds your family. Don't ever give up.
That's the number one thing I want to let people know. I've had bad days where I don't even want to go out and do anything, but I know that the Lord's always with me. My grandfathers are with me. A lot of people that I trust in life are with me here on earth or up in heaven. Definitely Taylor being just a phone call away, and she comes over to see me every so often.
That's another reason I keep myself going because I want to be that wonderful husband in the future for her. Amen. Let me ask you this. At what point did you begin to understand that maybe your blindness is actually something God entrusted to you, and you could use it to glorify Him, and you grew through it? I'd have to say it'd probably be around probably right after high school or right during high school actually. There's a program that's no longer up here in the Panhandle. It was called Sweep, and what it was called was Summer Work Experience and Ethics Program.
It was for a lot of blind and low vision students as well as people that had other types of disabilities, and it was put on by the state. The third year that I was in that program, I worked at the Hampton Inn and Suites in Lubbock. I was just doing my job. I was there as maintenance, just learning from the people that actually worked there. I was working the front desk one day, and the manager came and asked, can I see you in my office here in a few minutes?
Once you're through up here, I was thinking, yes, ma'am. After she walked off and went to her office, I was thinking, oh boy, what did I do to make them mad now? I didn't know if it was something I didn't do or what, but when I went back there and talked with her, she basically at that point gave me a job opportunity that I would think I would never have been given. She offered me a full-time position down in San Antonio at the Ambassador Suites in their maintenance department.
Now, as you're talking to me today, I own my own coffee shop, so that means I didn't take it, but I was very appreciative and honored that I was even considered for something like that because I was just barely out of high school and didn't think I'd be getting a job offer that soon, and I didn't even put in a resume. Wow. Hey, hold that thought. We've got to take a brief break. Folks, stay tuned. Truth for a New Generation is back after this.
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You're listening to Truth for a New Generation Radio. We're back on Truth for a New Generation, and before we resume our conversation with rowdy Luke Cogdell, I do want to remind everybody on my website, which is alexmcfarland.com, my speaking schedule is there. We've got a lot of really, really great things coming up.
We have all sorts of opportunities around the country. We're doing biblical worldview and apologetics, and of course, we'll be at First Baptist Church of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, October 15-17, with a big Truth for a New Generation conference. And the theme of that conference is going to be reaching millennials and younger. Churches all across the country are asking, how do we reach the 20-somethings?
Well, we're going to be talking about that. So keep us in prayer, and of course, my book, The Assault on America, How to Defend Our Nation Before It's Too Late. It's available everywhere, and we encourage your prayers, your support, and we encourage you taking a strong stand for Christ, because our nation surely does need the gospel right now. Well, if you've been listening, we're talking with Rowdy Cogdell.
We're in West Texas, and he's been talking about the blindness that he has encountered since he was four months old. But again, I want to say your witness for Christ and the joy you radiate as walking with the Lord, Rowdy, I mean, that's just such a positive thing. And I felt like your story would be encouraging to a lot of people, because in one way or another, we've all got stresses. We've all got burdens we bear. Most people don't have the burden of blindness, but again, did you feel like you made a choice? You said, look, I'm going to honor Christ. I'm not going to get mad at God. How did you make the decision to joyfully go forward with the Lord, even in spite of your blindness?
It was, like I said, with my grandfather and my dad and a bunch of my family. I used to be upset about it, but once I started realizing my full potential after the little deal at the high school, going to that program and then going through the Texas School for the Blind, and then in 2019 getting to go and get my Seeing Eye dog, Trevor, who was a black lab. And going to that school, having a Seeing Eye dog is eye-opening to a lot of people. And to me, it's kind of like a conversational piece. And they ask, well, what does Trevor do for you? And he helps me get around town, go around obstacles, keeps me from walking out in front of cars whenever there's a certain danger.
And just knowing that I have the love for the Lord that I do, and growing up in a godly family, that is my biggest deal. I'd like to share with people, you know, just as well as for the blind community, there's a lot of things that people think blind and low vision people can't do. But I'm here to tell them, you just give us a little time. And the technology that is out in the world today, it may be a little more difficult for us to get jobs as our sited counterparts. Like, I do wood workings a little bit here and there, as well as leather work, but they have technology such as talking tape measures, braille compasses, and stuff that a lot of people don't realize because they're more focused on what we can't do. But I'm here to tell a lot of people we can do a lot of stuff.
Just give us a little bit of an opportunity. Can good come out of suffering? Have good things come into your life and into your heart through your suffering? Oh, definitely.
I definitely think so, Alex. It's a wonderful thing. You know, my blindness, I've had a lot of suffering. When I was a lot younger, like I said, I was low vision. I'm not allowed to drive just due to my visual impairment and my being legally blind.
You know, that was the most heartbreaking thing for me is because I can't drive certain places, I can't go hang out with my friends, I'd always have to get rides from people. But I looked past that and, you know, with the love of the Lord and just doing certain things that I'm able to do now, I look back and think, why in the world did I ever complain to God about this? For the person out there who needs to make the decision to trust the Lord and really give their burden to Christ, you've got a verse, Isaiah 43.2. I saw it on the shirt you wear as chaplain of the fire department. Let me read this verse. It says, When you pass through the waters, I will be with you. When you pass through the rivers, they will not overtake you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned. The flames will not set you ablaze or harm you. You know, the water won't overtake you.
The flames won't hurt you. That Isaiah 43.2, that's a great verse about how God protects us, isn't it? Yes, sir, it definitely is. It's one of the verses that I cling to. I know people tell me that I need to quit thinking about the fire department so much, you know, not making it a staple of my life. But, you know, I've got a wonderful group of men and women that helped me through the fire service here in town. But that verse means a lot to me because I can take it back to when I was in elementary, junior high. And that kind of makes me think of my past. He's been with me every step of the way.
And that verse, when they brought it back from College Station whenever they first made our logo, I thought that is the best verse that I can think of. And that's what I want to live my life by, is making sure that everybody knows that it does not matter what kind of disability you have, what's going on in your life. You may have just lost a loved one. You may have lost your mother. You may have lost your father. It doesn't matter what you've got. Just keep your trust in the Lord and your family and your friends and surround yourself with good people and you will come out of it a-okay.
Rowdy, that's a great word. And to everybody listening, let me say some of the reasons. We don't fully know why God allows all of the things in life. But if we will trust our situation with Jesus Christ. Alright, first of all, suffering very often shows us how much we need the Lord. And maybe God in His mercy allowed suffering into this or that person's life to humble them so that they would turn to Christ. And like in the case of Rowdy Cogdell, suffering deepens our desire for God and causes us to put our trust in the Lord. Suffering comes with opportunities for ministry. You know, I read a verse by Robert Browning Hamilton. It said, I walked a mile with pleasure, she chatted all the way, but left me none the wiser for all she had to say. I walked a mile with sorrow and ne'er a word said she, but oh the things I learned when sorrow walked with me.
If we allow it, suffering and challenges can do wonderful things to bring our heart to Jesus Christ and our witness to a watching world. God bless you folks. Keep your eyes on Christ and take a bold stand for truth. Call us at 877-Yes-God-1.
That's 877-Yes-God and the number 1. Or give online at AlexMcFarland.com. While you're there, listen to Program Archives, read Alex's blog, invite Alex to speak at your event, or contact Alex with a question or comment. AlexMcFarland.com. Thanks for listening today and join us again next time as we bring you more truth for a new generation on TNG Radio.
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