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In Other Words...

A Research Service Of Facts & Humor For Christian Leaders

September 2021   Issue 2


ENCOURAGEMENT: The Alex Haley Museum in Henning, Tennessee was renovated to mark the late author’s 100th birthday on August 11, 2021.  Haley won a Pulitzer for his 1976 novel, Roots, which sold over 15 million copies and became a television mini-series watched by over 130 million people in 1977.  Haley lived by his personal motto and often shared it with others: “Find the good and praise it.” Beaumont Enterprise, 8/15/21, p.A10
Jimbo Fisher is among the top 5 highest paid college football coaches, and is set to be even closer to the top in 2022 with a $1.5 million increase.  College coaches must be very intentional about recruiting and Fisher made that clear in a recent interview after his upcoming raise was announced at Texas A&M.  He always has his phone nearby for what he calls the “lifeblood” of his job.  Fisher said, “You’re recruiting every day.  As soon as you don’t, you’re behind.”  He could have been speaking from a pulpit because the same is true in evangelism.  Every day that we’re not sharing the Gospel, we fall behind in reaching people for Christ, and salvation trumps football. Houston Chronicle, 9/2/21, p.C1
Dr. Mark Casanova is a Dallas physician serving on the Texas Medical Association’s COVID-19 Task Force.  In August he described the medical community’s fatigue: “It’s the emotional, psychological, moral, spiritual, ethical exhaustion.  We are not ‘I’m tired because I need a nap on Saturday.’  We’re soul tired.”  David understood such weariness and asked God to restore his soul (Ps. 23:3). Houston Chronicle, 8/15/21, p.Z2
Although a pandemic had already begun in December of 2019, we weren’t yet aware of its presence and life seemed far more care-free than it does today.  It was during that time The Wall Street Journal ran a piece by Erica Komisar.  She’s a therapist in New York City that probably wouldn’t be hired to be a counselor at your church, yet her advice in this article is profound.  She wrote, “As a therapist, I’m often asked to explain why depression and anxiety are so common among children and adolescents.  One of the most important explanations – and perhaps the most neglected – is declining interest in religion.”  So, what’s the advice for parents from this secular, Freudian psychoanalyst?  “Don’t believe in God?  Lie to your children.”  Culture’s relentless obsession to eradicate faith as the problem, has actually become the problem itself. 10 Questions Every Teen Should Ask (and Answer) About Christianity, Rebecca McLaughlin, 2021, p.14
In 2009, Greg Epstein wrote the book Good Without God.  At the time, he was the Humanist Chaplain for Harvard University.  His book aspired to bring out the positives of a humanist worldview rather than hostility about those who believe in God.  He was raised in a Jewish family yet is now an atheist.  In the summer of 2021, the 44-year-old Epstein was elevated to president of the Harvard Chaplains Organization.  The New York Times noted he’s “a seemingly unusual choice for the role” noting Harvard’s founding purpose and the fact that its namesake was a Puritan pastor, John Harvard.  The article quoted a student who said, “Greg’s leadership isn’t about theology,” yet Epstein was the unanimous choice for the job of being lead chaplain.  Upon taking the reins of leadership, Epstein declared, “We don’t look to a god for answers.  We are each other’s answers.”  Uniquely, a Harvard Crimson survey found that the Harvard “class of 2019 was two times more likely to identify as atheist or agnostic than 18-year-olds in the general population.”  Sadly, many seem to believe they are ‘good without God’ yet they will ultimately and tragically realize they weren’t ‘each other’s answers’ for eternal life., 8/26/21
The hubris of our day mocks the past for not being enlightened.  Norms, values, and practices that have stood for millennia are relegated as not only dated, but wrong.  Historian Niall Ferguson cautions against such thinking, and notes we must glean the cumulative wisdom that has gone before us.  Even though he is not a Christian, he insightfully reminds us, “the current world population makes up approximately 7% of all the human beings who have ever lived.  The dead outnumber the living, in other words, fourteen to one, and we ignore the accumulated experience of such a huge majority of mankind at our peril.” Civilization: The West and The Rest, Niall Ferguson, 2012, p.xix
Much of our legacy depends on how we finish life’s race.  Pat Williams reminds us of this in his interesting book about the virtues of West Point.  The United States Military Academy is located about sixty miles north of New York City along the western bank of the Hudson River.  Most Americans would recognize the name of this prestigious institution, but it conceivably could have carried another name.  The Continental Army first occupied the site in January 1778, and it remains our oldest continuously operational army post.  During the Revolutionary War this outpost was known as Fort Arnold.  Imagine coveted appointments being made throughout the past two centuries to those aspiring to attend Fort Arnold Military Academy?  The place was named after the fort’s commander during the Revolutionary War, General Benedict Arnold, but his legacy as a traitor necessitated a name change.  We’ll all finish the race of our life.  Will it be more like Paul (2 Timothy 4:7) or Benedict Arnold? Character Carved In Stone, Pat Williams, 2019, p.17
World Magazine recognized Gentle & Lowly as their 2020 Book of the Year for Accessible Theology.  A book’s Acknowledgments section often goes unread, and seldom ever earns a highlight, but this book is an exception.  The author acknowledged: “Lane Dennis, my boss, who provided time away to think and write, and who lives and leads Crossway as if God actually exists.”  That last phrase is now marked in my copy because transformation by Christ should make every believer ‘live as if God actually exists.’ Gentle and Lowly, Dane Ortlund, 2020, p.218


PARENTING: While on vacation in San Francisco, Tom’s family planned to visit Alcatraz.  Unfortunately, the three kids seemed determined to be on their worst behavior.  Tom and his wife tried everything to calm them down and get them to cooperate while standing in line to buy the tickets, but to no avail.  When they finally reached the ticket booth, Tom threw down his credit card and said, “Five tickets, please.  Two round trip and three one way.” Today’s Christian Living, September 2021, p.38
SPUNK: Actor Ed Asner recently died on August 29, 2021.  He played many roles, but he immortalized Lou Grant.  In The Mary Tyler Moore Show premier, the gruff Grant told his new hire, “You’ve got spunk.”  Moore blushed as though it was a compliment, but before she could respond, Asner’s character barked, “I hate spunk!”  It was an unforgettable line, that resembles more of us than we’d often like to think. The Week, 9/10/21, p.39

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