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In Other Words...

A Research Service Of Facts & Humor For Christian Leaders

November 2021   Issue 2


EFFORT: Tom Yeakley’s family has a Thanksgiving tradition of making butter.  They place cream in a jar with a tight lid, and then take turns shaking the jar.  The whole process usually wears out several people and it seems like the cream will never turn to butter.  But suddenly, almost in an instant, the cream gels into a lump of delicious butter.  Much of what we’re thankful for is like that stubborn butter.  It took time, patience, and effort to finally reach the cherished goal.  And for those results we still don’t see?  We keep praying like the shaking of that jar. Praying Over God’s Promises, Tom Yeakley, 2015, p.57

GRATITUDE: For Thanksgiving 2019, the Houston Chronicle invited readers to share their reasons for gratitude.  Responses spanned the spectrum from meaningful relationships to migrating birds.  The most profound entry came from Christie Sproba.  She began by stating, “I am grateful most people take their health for granted.”  She wrote of how she has been a perpetual patient for 15 years.  Her health issues began with cancer and then developed to Multiple Sclerosis.  Noting that people can become resentful or find greater appreciation for life, she expressed gratitude for her husband and friends who care for her – plus the fact that she enjoys life.  From her wheelchair of uncertainty she asked, “How lucky am I?”  We can’t help but pause at someone whose health is failing yet celebrates that most people can take their health for granted. Houston Chronicle, 11/28/19, p.A17

GRATITUDE: In 1995, Ivan was invited to church…but had a bad experience.  He was a military man who by his own admission was “far from God.”  He dabbled in the occult, was a rude husband, thief, and had a penchant for alcohol & profanity.  On the encouragement of a military comrade, who happened to be a Christian, Ivan and his buddy Valera visited a church and aspired to visit with the Americans who had come on a mission trip.  That evening they went to see the Americans, but the hostess of that house harshly turned them away.  The two men left angry and offended with no intention of ever returning to church.  To their surprise, one of the Americans later caught on to what had happened and began running after them.  He finally caught up with them and tried to bridge the language gap with his hand gestures and inviting demeanor.  Ivan and Valera returned the next day and heard about Christ in their native language.  The mission team returned to America, and soon after those two men accepted Christ.  They led their wives to Christ and began doing missionary work themselves.  Ivan graduated from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary through distance courses (before online classes).  His work expanded to publishing a Christian newspaper and later led to chaplaincy work among the military.  Valera also entered the ministry and became a pastor.  Now there are missionaries, pastors, and deacons scattered in Russia who are the fruit of their ministries.  In Ivan’s 2021 letter to Gil Lain, the pastor who ran after them, he stated, “Your visit to Russia became a decisive moment for me to find Christ.”  Ivan explained that Dr. Lain’s compassionate sprint after them “changed our minds about Christians.”  During the Thanksgiving season may we all take time to express gratitude to those who ‘ran after us’ with the Gospel, and determine to compassionately run after others with the same Good News.  One simple act can set off a domino effect in God’s Kingdom. Editor’s perspective from his friendship with Gil Lain

GRATITUDE: For ten years, Dr. Priscilla Strom was the only surgeon at a mission hospital in Bangladesh.  She moved to Georgia in 1994 to be close to her ailing parents.  In 2015, she was elected chief of staff for Northeast Georgia Medical Center.  Joel Belz, founder of World Magazine, once asked her what she enjoys most about being a surgeon.  Dr. Strom replied, “I love Saturday nights at Grady Hospital when I get to help repair all the awful things that happen out there.  I get to help fix so much that is broken.”  Opportunities to help others can and should foster gratitude within us. World, 10/9/21, p.8

LISTENING: Columnist Doug Larson (1926-2017) provided plenty of wit & wisdom throughout his long career as a writer.  Over the years he learned a lot about listening and the value it offers.  He wrote, “Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you’d have preferred to talk.” Beaumont Enterprise, 8/29/21, p.D1

SERVICE: Chick-fil-A employees continuously repeat a phrase that’s part of their brand: “It’s my pleasure!”  Whenever a customer thanks an employee, they hear that cheerful reply.  Truett Cathy spent nearly a decade building that one phrase into the cultural DNA of his franchise.  He didn’t demand compliance, he just consistently encouraged the response until it finally took hold.  Those three words communicate something far more than “You’re welcome.”  It reminds people that it’s a privilege to serve them.  Although we may not adopt Chick-fil-A's catchphrase for our personal interactions, we can communicate greater gratitude to God and others by clearly conveying we believe it’s an honor to serve them. The Eight Paradoxes of Great Leadership, Tim Elmore, 2021, p.94

THANKSGIVING: In an insightful editorial unrelated to Thanksgiving, Kevin Martin turned a phrase that belongs right next to the cranberries and dressing.  He wrote, “Throughout the year our focus often turns more to the task at hand than to the hand that provides.”  The task at hand seems to perpetually dominate our thinking…even when it comes to preparing a Thanksgiving meal.  But the infinitely better focus is on the hand that provides.  May that be our aim this Thanksgiving…and beyond. World, 7/17/21, p.6

TRUST: Gallup found that 45% of U.S. adults don’t trust other Americans.  Trust in our country has fallen from 86% in 1976 to 55% in 2021. USA Today, 10/18/21, p.1A




ACADEMICS: James “Old Hat” Chambless wrote about the time he picked up his son after the boy bombed a test that he’d assured his dad was going to be easy.  While stewing over his disappointing grade, the young student sighed, “I would have done better if I had known more of the information.”  A reality for us all. Examiner, 8/19/21, p.23B

ATTITUDE: Jane Brooks wrote about the process of saying the blessing around her grandchildren’s dinner table.  It usually involved an argument over who would get to say the prayer, 5-year-old Michael or his twin sister Brittany.  They finally hit upon a tie-breaking strategy: whoever had the best attitude that day would get to pray.  One night their mom asked who was going to offer thanks.  The twins sheepishly looked at each other, and then Michael said, “Mommy, I think you should say the blessing tonight.”  Hopefully, we’ll all come to the table “qualified” to say the blessing. Mature Living, November 2016, p.56

MEMORY: In his poem Mental Floss, author & speaker Greg Asimakoupoulos writes, “I’ve reached the age where once again I play at hide-and-seek.  My playmates aren’t the kids next door but facts I try to speak.” Mature Living, August 2019, p.21

IN OTHER WORDS... began in 1991 and is produced by Dr. Raymond McHenry, Senior Pastor of the Westgate Memorial Baptist Church in Beaumont, Texas.  Subscribers receive full access to our Web site of over 5,000 illustrations PLUS two email issues per month filled with fascinating facts, quotes, humor, and spiritual illustrations from headline news.  All content is copyrighted.  Visit to start a new subscription or send inquiries to:

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