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In Other Words...

A Research Service Of Facts & Humor For Christian Leaders

June 2020   Issue 2


AMERICA: Astronaut Frank Culbertson was circling the earth in the International Space Station on September 11, 2001.  While cameras and eyes were fixed on the two burning towers in New York, he saw something more.  Through the crackling communication link to NASA, Commander Culbertson spoke of what he saw from 250 miles above Manhattan.  He said, “I just wanted the folks to know that their city still looks very beautiful from space.  I know it’s very difficult for everybody in America right now.  The country still looks good, and for New Yorkers, your city still looks great from up here.”  The remarkable video clip shows a beautiful day in which the great tragedy is evident through the rising smoke, but it also reveals hundreds of millions of people in the United States that were alive and safe.  It was a perspective that could only come from someone witnessing the events from above.  There is great angst in America today, yet there is much that is good for which we can and should be thankful.  Lord, please gives us eyes to see what You see from above, and hearts that are willing to respond appropriately. Every Job A Parable, John Van Sloten, 2017, p.xv

DIRECTION: Doug Hissong wrote about a trip he took to go spelunking.  On the way, they got lost on an old country road so they pulled over to ask a farmer, “Is this the road to Waynesville?”  He replied, “Yes, it is.”  They quickly shouted their thanks and accelerated off when they barely heard the farmer say, “But you’re going the wrong way.”  It certainly brings a smile, but it should also cause us to seriously evaluate the direction of our lives, families, communities, churches, and country.  We may very well be on the right road, but it does us no good if we’re going the wrong way. Reader’s Digest, June 2017, p.73

HAPPINESS: The COVID Response Tracking Study, conducted at the University of Chicago in late May 2020, concluded that Americans are the unhappiest they have been in 50 years.  And most of the interviews were completed before the death of George Floyd.  The findings aren’t really news; just a harsh reminder. USA Today, 6/17/20, p.3A

PROBLEMS: A couple of years before his death, Billy Graham (1918-2018) was asked what he thought was the biggest problem of today’s world.  The 97-year-old evangelist replied with three words: “the human heart.”  He told how the Bible bluntly declares this and then quoted Jeremiah 17:9.  He later added that he believed the main challenge for the world has always been the human heart.  As noted in a previous issue, Dr. Graham often said, “We don’t have any possibility of solving our problems today, except through Jesus.”  Many people are trying to fix the symptoms rather than the problem, and the result will only be greater frustration.;

TRUST: On Thursday night, November 3, 1988, the Tishomingo Bulldogs were playing their rivals, the Falkner High School Eagles, in Mississippi.  In order to secure a spot in the 1A division football playoffs, Tishomingo had to win that game by four points or more.  The Bulldogs were 35 yards from the end zone and ahead 16-14 with seven seconds on the clock.  Coach Dave Herbert had Lou Gehrig’s disease so he was seated on a flatbed truck along the sidelines contemplating the call for this final play.  He knew a fifty-two-yard field goal was out of the question, and it was unlikely they could score on one play from the 35-yard-line.  Tishomingo fans were ecstatic about a two-point win because Falkner was their nemesis and these seniors had never beaten them, but Coach Herbert had a different plan.  Knowing their best shot for a playoff berth required them to force overtime and try to win by more than four points, Herbert called a play that’s still talked about all these years later in a popular book.  The play so confused his team that they were assessed two delay of game penalties, and game film shows turmoil in the huddle as these players couldn’t believe their coach was asking them to throw away their hard-fought win.  Coach Herbert’s son was the quarterback and he tried to explain the play but nobody in the huddle wanted to do it.  When the play was finally executed, the stands fell silent.  Herbert took the snap, and then pitched it to his running back Shane Hill, who ran 52-yards the wrong way.  Tony Dawson, the sophomore ball boy, ran down the sidelines stride for stride with Hill yelling, “Shane, you’re going the wrong way!”  In stunned silence, Hill slid into Tishomingo’s end zone, oblivious to the fact that he had just completed what would later be hailed as the greatest play in his school’s history.  Hill’s stats for that night were negative 26 yards on 10 carries.  With the score now tied, overtime began and Tishomingo won the game 22-16 to claim their spot in the playoffs.  Coach Herbert was featured on the Today show, Brent Musburger talked about it on CBS’s NFL Today pregame show, and the story was even carried internationally; it went viral long before the Internet.  Even though Tishomingo lost 22-14 to the Anguilla Bulldogs a week later in Coach David Herbert’s final game as a coach, that bold play demonstrates foresight to see what most can’t see in the moment, and it speaks of great trust.  Those high school football players had to trust their coach for doing something that didn’t make any sense to them at the time.  These are the issues of faith.  We trust God for seeing what we can’t, while remaining confident that He has our best interest at heart. Playing For Overtime, Al Ainsworth, 2019, p.194

UNCERTAINTY: No one has to remind us these are uncertain days, but a few recent quotes from leaders help us realize we aren’t just imagining the uncertainty.  Dr. Anthony Fauci asked and answered his own question: “Where is it going to end?  We’re still at the beginning of really understanding.”  Randal Quarles, the Federal Reserve vice chairman stated, “There’s probably never been more uncertainty about the economic outlook.”  His boss, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, reiterated the same: “The path forward for the economy is extraordinarily uncertain and will depend in large part on our success in containing the virus.” Houston Chronicle, 6/10/20, p.A26; 6/20/20,p.B2; 7/2/20, p.B1




SOCIAL DISTANCING: In a recent Dennis the Menace comic strip, Mr. Wilson hung up the phone and told his wife Martha that “the Coronavirus wants to come over for milk and cookies.”  He then explained why he didn’t want their little neighbor stopping by: “I take social distancing very seriously these days.  I even stand six feet away when I’m looking at myself in the mirror.”  With so many personal opinions being foisted as absolute and sovereign truth these days, we might all do well to practice a little more social distancing from ourselves. Houston Chronicle, 6/28/20, p.U4

STANDARDS: While waiting in line for the Space Mountain ride at Disney World, guests were entertained by a woman’s conniving creativity.  Her young son wasn’t tall enough for the ride, so she reached into her backpack and pulled out a pair of high heels.  The little guy gingerly walked “taller” until he was seated on the galactic rollercoaster.  In our world of shifting standards, it seems like a lot of people are toting their own “high heels” so they can alter reality to their own choosing. Reader’s Digest, June 2017, p.69


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