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In Other Words...

A Research Service Of Facts & Humor For Christian Leaders

October 2021   Issue 1


EXHAUSTION: Around 15 years ago, Christy Nockels hit a wall.  The popular Christian artist was doing good things using her gifts to lead others in worship, but she was spread too thin.  She and her husband felt the pull of their careers moving them away from their children, so that began a quest with God to find renewed balance and fresh encounters with Him.  As she moved to the other side of that challenging season, she said, “I finally realized I’d yessed myself into exhaustion.”  You don’t have to be a well-known singer to do that.  Any of us can yes ourself into exhaustion. Today’s Christian Living, September 2021, p.7
MISTAKES: In an insightful article about children who were born after their fathers died in the 9/11 terrorists’ attacks, one young lady talked about an additional sad irony.  Claudia Szurkowski noted that her dad “wasn’t supposed to be there.”  While training to become a mechanic, Norbert Szurkowski earned extra money hanging wallpaper.  On September 11, 2001, his supervisor sent him to the 104th floor Cantor Fitzgerald offices in the North Tower to fix a mistake made by another worker.  Twenty years later, it still stirs emotions in the daughter who never got to meet her dad.  Some mistakes are inevitable, but too often we hurt others with senseless mistakes that could be avoided. The Week, 9/24/21, p.41
PRIDE: Ken Burns’ 8-hour documentary on Muhammad Ali premiered in September 2021 and created renewed awareness of the legendary boxer.  It’s been 50 years since Ali met Joe Frazier at Madison Square Garden on March 8, 1971 for “The Fight of the Century.”  Both men were undefeated with nearly 50 knockout-wins between them.  When Khalilah Ali showed up for the match, she was dressed entirely in black because as she said, “I knew he was going to lose.”  She went on to explain to her husband, “Let me tell you something.  You have not been training the way you’re supposed to train.  And you know what?  It’s time for you to lose.  So I’m just going to sit back and watch.”  Frazier knocked Ali to the canvas in the 15th round and even though he got back up, the judges scored Frazier with a unanimous decision.  Later, Ali joked about his wife’s prediction and called her a “crystal ball,” but she wasn’t finished with him.  She went on to declare, “There’s going to be a fight that’s more important than this one.  And if you act like this then, then you’ll lose at the big one.”  Pride leaves us ill-prepared for life’s fights, and guarantees ultimate defeat if we fail to address its presence in our lives. Time, 9/13/21, p.97; USA Today, 3/9/21, p.6C
SALVATION: Prior to a deadly Civil War battle, eight soldiers met in a tent to pray.  Knowing their chances of death were high, they wrote a statement declaring their commitment to Christ.  They explained that the certainty of their faith would be a gift to their relatives if they died, so the hymn My Faith Looks Up To Thee was included in their statement of faith.  Seven of the eight perished the next day and the fourth stanza became their epitaph: When ends life’s transient dream, when death’s cold sullen stream shall o’er me roll; blest Savior, then, in love, fear and distrust remove; O bear me safe above, a ransomed soul.  For your family to unequivocally know that you are a ransomed soul, is truly a gift to them, AND an eternal gift to yourself. Common Call, January 2014, p.20
SELF-CONTROL: For the 200th anniversary of The Saturday Evening Post, the magazine has run articles from their archives and one was written in 1950 by Arthur Mann, assistant to the Brooklyn Dodger’s President Branch Rickey.  In 1943, with talent restricted by the war, Rickey wanted to acquire the best ballplayers possible, regardless of their skin color.  It wasn’t a sociological ploy, as Rickey told his top prospect Jackie Robinson, “I want to win pennants.”  But because of the sociological issues, he told Robinson, “There’s more here than just playing.”  On August 28, 1945, Robinson met with Rickey and coach Clyde Sukeforth for three hours and the men didn’t sugar-coat reality.  Sukeforth said to Rickey in front of Robinson, “He can run.  He can field.  He can hit.  But can he take it?”  Rickey then began to animate scenarios where Robinson would face hostile racism on the field.  He yelled racial insults at him while acting out what would happen on the field, then calmly disengaged from the outrage and asked, “What do you do?”  Robinson was a bit puzzled and asked, “Mr. Rickey, do you want a ballplayer who’s afraid to fight back?”  Rickey replied, “I want a ballplayer with guts enough not to fight back!”  Rickey then played out another situation where the tensions of the World Series caused emotions to run white hot and pretended to be a white player getting tagged out by Robinson and then raging with a fist to his face.  Rickey actually took a swing at Robinson and then roared, “What do you do?”  Robinson trembled for a moment, then whispered, “Mr. Rickey, I’ve got two cheeks, is that it?”  Rickey’s eyes misted up, and Robinson’s contract was finalized on October 23, 1945.  Retaliation seems to embody great power, but what Jackie Robinson went on to accomplish was the result of his restraint.  True strength is manifested through self-control. Saturday Evening Post, September/October 2021, p.51
SPIRITUAL WARFARE: Charlie Brown was in a melancholy mood talking to Linus about playing a lot of sports in his life.  He told his friend, “You know what’s depressing?  I’ve never been double-teamed!!”  We might never have been double-teamed in a game, but we can all be certain the evil one is double-teaming us in hopes of taking us out of the game.  Armor up and stand firm (Ephesians 6:11). Houston Chronicle, 1/25/21, p.D5


ISOLATION: A year and a half of social restrictions has fostered some rather interesting behaviors.  The other day I saw my neighbor on the front lawn talking to her cat like that crazy animal could actually understand her.  When I got inside my house, I told my dog all about it and we both nearly died laughing. AARP, December 2020, p.50
LISTENING: Comedian Stephen Colbert explained, “The most important part of acting is listening.  So always act like you’re listening.” Reader’s Digest, October 2016, p.71
PARENTING: Steve Richards’ counsel could easily be applied to parenting.  The San Antonio, Texas resident said, “Listen to your elders.  Not because they’re always right, but because they’re more experienced at being wrong.” Reader’s Digest, February 2018, p.20
PERSPECTIVE: NBA Hall of Famer & current TV sports commentator Charles Barkley was asked, “What’s the most money you’ve ever lost in a match?”  Barkley is known to gamble so his response was telling: “Probably $5,000.  I may be stupid but I’m not stupid enough to play for a ton of money as bad as my golf game is.” USA Today, 11/27/20, p.6C

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