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In Other Words..., A Resource of Facts and Humor for Christian Leaders

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In Other Words...

A Research Service Of Facts & Humor For Christian Leaders

July 2024


CRITICISM: Tom Selleck’s memoir, You Never Know, released in May of 2024.  One generation knows him as the Blue Bloods’ patriarch and another remembers him from the 1980s television hit Magnum P.I.  His Hollywood looks didn’t yield any real benefits until he landed his breakout role as Thomas Magnum in his mid-30s.  His fame quickly accelerated and he was asked to be Indiana Jones.  The shooting schedule for Magnum forced him to decline so Harrison Ford played that famed character.  Obvious “what-ifs” crept in, but the more difficult reality for the 6’ 4” actor was his own insecurities and doubts.  Even though his acting appears effortless, as he notes in the book, “That critic on your shoulder is a formidable opponent.”  Regardless of who we are or what we do, some of the greatest criticism comes from within. Houston Chronicle, 5/26/24, p.G4
DEMOCRACY: Over 2,300 years ago, Aristotle wisely noted, “No democracy can exist unless each of its citizens is as capable of outrage at injustice to another as he is of outrage at injustice to himself.”  Great nations are built on communal concern, not selfish interest., 4/6/24
EDUCATION: Protests on college campuses are nothing new but they generally reveal a mistaken understanding of the educational process.  An uproar in 2015 came after Yale professor Erika Christakis sent an email response to a student-directive warning against offensive Halloween costumes.  She suggested that people could be less sensitive about cultural stereotypes.  The backlash was hostile and her husband Nicholas came face-to-face with an angry protester who screamed, “It is not about creating intellectual space – it is NOT!  It’s about creating a home here!” Learning is stifled when we seek comfort more than truth and civil discourse. World, 10/8/22, p.40
FREEDOM: The comments of Samuel Adams and Pope Benedict are separated by centuries but they reveal the same truth about freedom.  Adams, the Boston Tea Party organizer and cousin of our 2nd president, made the following statement on August 1, 1776: “Our Union is now complete; our constitution composed, established, and approved.  You are now the guardians of your own liberties.”  On April 20, 2008, Pope Benedict celebrated his final Mass in the United States at Yankee Stadium.  He told the crowd of 57,000 people to “use wisely the blessings of freedom in order to build a future of hope for coming generations.”  The privilege of freedom is dependent on responsibility. Saturday Evening Post, July/Aug 2023, p.4; Beaumont Enterprise, 4/20/24, p.B7
GOD: In his 2020 book about American culture, Suicide of the West, Jonah Goldberg addressed the advantageous power of belief in God.  He wrote, “The notion that God is watching you even when others are not is probably the most powerful civilizing force in all of human history.”  He explained, “If you think God is watching and speaking to you through conscience…you’re going to think twice about your actions.  Or at least it will give you a strong incentive to think twice.”  Nations are helped, not harmed, by good theology., 5/9/24
LISTENING: Toward the end of his life, John Adams wrote about the man he served under as Vice-President.  He said his former boss, George Washington, “possessed the gift of silence.”  Filling the air with the sound of our voice can be a super power against us.
REPENTANCE: During the Revolutionary War, there was grave concern about the behavior of American troops.  In a letter to his wife Abigail, John Adams wrote about there being “too much corruption…in this infant age of our Republic.”  He then stated, “Virtue is not in fashion.  Vice is not infamous.”  This heavy concern was again noted when Benjamin Rush whispered a question to Adams while they sat together in Congress.  He asked if he thought America would succeed in the struggle.  The future president replied, “Yes, if we fear God and repent of our sins.”  The need is no different today and the prescription is the same. John Adams, David McCullough, 2001, p.160
RISKS: It’s been called her “Redemption Tour” as Simone Biles works to reclaim her dominance in gymnastics after she withdrew from the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo.  As she leads the women’s team in Paris this summer, it’s helpful to recall her perspective: “I’d rather regret the risks that didn’t work out than the chances I didn’t take at all.” Reader’s Digest, October 2021, p.14
STEWARDSHIP: Imagine you’re expecting a package but it never arrives because the FedEx driver decided to keep it.  He takes it home, unwraps it, and decides it will be a good addition to his belongings.  The scenario seems nonsensical yet we can be guilty of the same dynamic by hoarding what God wants us to deliver to others.  Whether it’s the money, time or spiritual giftedness He’s given us, good stewardship involves being an agent of faithful delivery to others.  In reality, we’re all a FedEx guy for God…it’s just a matter of whether or not the gifts He intends for others are getting delivered. The Treasure Principle, Randy Alcorn, 2017, p.79
TEMPTATION: Traffic engineers call it “Induced Demand.”  The principle is: if you make it easier for people to drive then more people will hit the road.  From 1993 to 2017, the 100 largest U.S. urbanized areas spent $500 billion adding new freeways and expanding older ones.  In the same time frame these regions experienced a 144% increase in congestion.  Temptation works the same way – the easier sin is the more often we’ll succumb. Houston Chronicle, 5/19/24, p.A25
TRANSFORMATION: During the summer of 2008, John Elmore worked with the Kuku tribe in South Sudan.  Addiction to lethal moonshine was epidemic as their country had been decimated by the Sudanese from the north.  Young men were killed and virtually every building was destroyed.  The fields for farming were booby-trapped with land mines so people drank from stills that used ethanol, embalming fluid, or anything else that could alter the mind.  Hopelessness prevailed, yet some were becoming sober through Christ.  A little church was formed under a mango tree and former drunks worshiped the Savior who was transforming them.  An elderly man called Mr. C had survived the war but nearly lost the spiritual battle of addiction.  He showed up for worship one day with a land-mine harp.  It had been gutted of explosives, covered in goatskin, and strung to make a harp.  The former weapon of death now yielded beautiful music to celebrate eternal life and the transformation Jesus brings. Freedom Starts Today, John Elmore, 2021, p.50


AMERICA: In his comical rebuff of America, Winston Churchill stated, “Americans will always do the right thing, after having exhausted all the alternatives.” Wall Street Journal, 10/9/23, p.A15
POLITICS: What Dustin Ebey has done could easily be listed in the more serious side of these illustrations.  The 35-year-old teacher in the Ft Worth, Texas suburb of North Richland Hills had his name legally changed earlier this year to Literally Anybody Else.  The veteran has filed as an Independent to run for President in the November election because he’s tired of “the same old choices.”  The write-in candidate said, “For too long have Americans been a victim of its political parties putting party loyalty over governance.”  His website notes, “Literally Anybody Else isn’t just a person, it’s a rally cry.” Beaumont Enterprise, 3/29/24, p.A3;
SPORTS: While watching the World Cup on television, Billy explained to his younger brother Jeffy in Family Circus, “The reason they play so good is their parents aren’t yelling at them from the sidelines.” Houston Chronicle, 5/24/24, p.A16


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