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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

September 2023


ADVERSITY: Words that are translated as “wilderness” in the Bible show up roughly 300 times, but it doesn’t always mean the same thing.  Generally speaking, there are three categories for wilderness in Scripture.  Midbar is uninhabited land where wild animals live and humans are nomads.  Arabah is desert that requires special skills and resources for survival.  Chorbah is desolate wasteland without water - death is certain unless God miraculously intervenes.  Life can often feel like we’re in the wilderness so knowing these three categories can guide our perspective, and remind us that God is not only present in each but He thrives in all. Editor’s Sermon Prep
ANGER: In 2023, added more than 300 new words to keep up with the “ever-changing English language.”  Two were especially noteworthy.  “Rage farming” is the practice of intentionally provoking political opponents to harvest an angry response that can be leveraged to your advantage.  “Cakeism” refers to the erroneous belief that you can enjoy the benefits of two choices that are mutually exclusive.  One plants seeds of anger and the other elicits anger by not delivering on what is wanted.  The schemes of the Devil are designed to do the same…provoke & disappoint…so we must defend ourselves against them (Ephesians 6:11). USA Today, 3/1/23, p.2A
APPROVAL: David Jeremiah has said, “If you are a Christian, your search for approval should be over.”  God’s grace removes the need to prove yourself. Today’s Christian, March 2022, p.22
ENCOURAGEMENT: While feeling the weight of his legs in a half-marathon, my 65-year-old friend Bill encountered a spectator holding up this sign of encouragement for all the weary runners: “One day you won’t be able to do what you’re doing but today is not that day.” Editor’s Experience
FAILURE: Gene Kranz famously said, “Failure is not an option” during the “successful failure” of Apollo 13.  Nobody questions that statement in the context of such a crisis, but many people live with the perpetual fear of failing.  Walter Brunell gave perspective and clarity to that fear by noting, “Failure is the tuition you pay for success.”  Rather than dreading mistakes, view them as educators that can teach you how to succeed. Lead Like It Matters, Craig Groeschel, 2022, p.107
GUIDANCE: When we abandon the guidance of Scripture, we open up limitless possibilities for misery & heartache. This was vividly evidenced in July of 2023 when former New York City Mayor, Bill de Blasio, and his wife Chirlane explained their new marital arrangement in a New York Times interview.  They said they weren’t divorcing and plan to continue living in the same house but will be dating other people.  Exuding great confidence in the arrangement, Chirlane said, “I just want to have fun.”  She further stated, “I hope we can be a model for other couples.”  The farther we move from God’s truth…the further we get from true happiness. World, 7/29/23, p.21
INFORMATION: Throughout 2023 a rather quiet milestone is being remembered…it’s the 100th anniversary of Time magazine.  The first “skinny” issue was printed on February 27, 1923 and contained just 22 sections.  It was “designed for an age of information overload” with the goal of readers being able to digest all of the pertinent news in “an hour” each week.  It was not only novel and unique, it was considered arrogant because it had the audacity to pick which stories were relevant and then briefly summarize them.  Back when Time debuted, knowledge was doubling every 100 years.  By the end of 1945, it was doubling every 25 years.  Today, “knowledge velocity” is around 12 months and experts anticipate the proliferation of Artificial Intelligence could move the needle to every 12 hours.  It felt like overload 100 years ago and the only thing that’s changed is…more overload.  Thankfully, all we really need is just one Book. Time, 2/27/23, p.25
PURPOSE: Harrison Ford was interviewed by The Hollywood Reporter leading up to his final installment as the squashbuckling archeologist in the 2023 release of Indiana Jones & The Dial of Destiny.  At the close of the interview he was asked what he’d like on his tombstone.  The 80-year-old actor replied, “I’d settle for: ‘Was useful.’”  We’d all like to be useful and to be remembered that way but the only pathway to that epitaph is found in John 15:5. The Week, 2/24/23, p.10
SATAN: At the end of June 2023, a 5-Star hotel in India lodged a complaint with the police for a guest who checked in to stay one night and then stayed almost two years before checking out…and left without paying his $71,000 bill.  Satan does the same thing.  He always stays much longer than expected and never picks up the tab.  Don’t let him check-in. The Week, 7/7/23, p.32
SIN: If ever we wonder about sin being the root of all problems, just look at TikTok.  It has plenty of harmful material but that’s not the point here.  CEO Shou Zi Chew says they employ 40,000 moderators to guard against toxic content.  It takes an employee base larger than many small cities to create a firewall against the ‘really bad stuff.’  Sin is real, pervasive & lethal! Time, 7/3/23, p.56
SUCCESS: Cynthia “Cynt” Marshall became the first Black female CEO in the NBA when Mark Cuban hired her in 2018 to run the Dallas Mavericks.  Her leadership prowess was what caught Cuban’s eye because Marshall had a track-record of success at AT&T for 36 years.  She knows resilience as a cancer survivor and a life of adversity growing up extremely poor in the projects with an abusive father.  Her mom prioritized education and Marshall won a full scholarship to the University of California Berkeley.  Because of her background she says, “You’ll hear me talk a lot about ‘education matters…zip code doesn’t.’”  Such statements are reminiscent of Stephen Covey’s mantra: “I am not a product of my circumstances.  I am a product of my decisions.”  Successful people lean in to responsibility, not excuses. Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast, 8/17/23
WARNINGS: The OceanGate Titan went missing on June 18, 2023.  Debris from the submersible was discovered on the ocean floor four days later.  Four men and one’s teenage son all perished when the 21-foot submarine imploded in route to the Titanic.  The vessel had been down to the wreckage a dozen times since 2021, but long before it started taking tours, over three dozen experts signed a letter warning that the experimental craft was unsafe and didn’t meet standards.  In 2022, owner Stockton Rush told CBS, “If you just want to be safe, don’t get out of bed.”  The CEO said industry safety standards were “stifling innovation.”  In 1912, those guiding the Titanic ignored seven warnings about icebergs, and 111 years later, another shipwreck settled just 1,600 feet from the sunken ocean liner because of ignored warnings.  Warnings of all kinds, Biblical included, are designed to protect…not deprive. The Week, 6/30/23, p.8 & 7/7/23, p.17, Time, 7/24/23, p.12


DELEGATION: Jane said, “I made a huge to-do list for today.  I just can’t figure out who’s going to do it.”  We all wish there was someone to do our to-dos.  Mature Living, September 2023, p.49
HEALTH: Ed called the doctor about his lab work because he couldn’t understand it.  His doctor replied, “In very simple terms…your check engine light is on.” Beaumont Enterprise, 9/5/23, p.B6
POLITICS: Time magazine debuted on February 1923 and “Uncle Joe” Canon was on that first cover.  He was retiring after 46 years in Congress and was quoted as stating, “Sometimes in politics one must duel with skunks, but no one should be fool enough to allow skunks to choose the weapons.”  These days it feels like the skunks are dueling with each other. Time, 2/27/23, p.25
RELATIONSHIPS: G.K. Chesterton was somewhat like a British version of Mark Twain.  He once said, “The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because they are generally the same people.” Foundations Volume 1, Holladay & Warren, 2003, p.78


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