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In Other Words...

A Research Service Of Facts & Humor For Christian Leaders

January 2021   Issue 1

BALANCE: Dr. Bruce Leff directs the Center for Transformative Geriatric Research at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.  He advocates, “Everything in moderation, including moderation.”  That’s balance…with balance. AARP, December 2016, p.25
CHARACTER: New Year’s resolutions, which are scarce this year, usually involve a list of things we hope to do.  In that process it might serve us well to remember the famed words Shakespeare put in Hamlet’s mouth as he penned his famous play: “To be, or not to be, that is the question.”  As Steve Rogers notes, “He didn’t say, ‘To do, or not to do.’”  Character reveals itself through actions, so it’s prudent that we include a “To-Be” list alongside our “To-Do” list. Mature Living, January 2015, p.30
COMPLACENCY: Six years before the United States nearly unraveled in the Civil War, Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote her epic poem Aurora Leigh.  Ensconced in that lengthy work are these words that have been repeated countless times: “Earth’s crammed with heaven, And every common bush afire with God; But only he who sees, takes off his shoes, The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries, And daub their natural faces unaware More and more from the first similitude.”  May we enter this new year with a resolve to see every bush that’s “afire with God.” Aurora Leigh, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, 2008, p.246
FAITH: January 6th marks the Epiphany, which symbolically represents the visit of the Magi twelve days after Christmas.  In his Christmas Eve message, Mark Batterson said of the Wise Men, “They didn’t know where they would end up, but that didn’t keep them from starting out.”  A recent editorial cartoon pictured a man seated in front of his television watching the ball drop on New Year’s Eve.  As the countdown neared 0, he sarcastically explained to his wife, “I’m getting ready for Season 2 of 2020.”  We obviously don’t know where we’ll end up in 2021, or how similar this year will be to 2020, but that shouldn’t keep us from starting out with anticipation of what God might have in store.
LIFE: Fiona McPherson is a new-words editor at the Oxford English Dictionary and hasn’t ever seen anything like 2020 for “the sheer breadth of words that were popularized this year.”  It was so unusual that for the first time since it began doing so in 2004, the dictionary giant declined to pick a Word of the Year.  But that doesn’t mean there weren’t plenty to choose from: Essential Workers, Front-Line Workers, PPE, Flatten the Curve, Remote Learning, Social Distancing, Superspreader, Contact Tracing, Zoom, and Unprecedented.  But the most relatable one is probably Blursday.  Confusion over which day it is has been universal, and the Washington Post seized on it by starting an e-newsletter called “What Day Is It?”  For now, 2021 will be somewhat of a 2020 Groundhog Day and the passage of time will seem a bit blurred.  When confusion abounds, like sailors in a storm, fix your eyes on the North Star of Christ (Hebrews 12:2). Houston Chronicle, 12/22/20, p.D2
PERSPECTIVE: Add to 2020 the fact that more Hall of Fame baseball players died that year than any other year in history (Lou Brock, Whitey Ford, Bob Gibson, Al Kaline, Joe Morgan, Tom Seaver, and Phil Niekro).  Niekro died the day after Christmas at the age of 81 after a long battle with cancer.  Tributes to the famed knuckleball pitcher recalled intriguing facts about his 24-season career that didn’t end until his retirement at 48.  By his own admission, Niekro acknowledged, “I was a one-pitch pitcher.”  But that one pitch allowed him to win a record 121 games after his 40th birthday.  Niekro never experienced arm problems in his lengthy career and was a five-time All Star.  But what might catch our attention most is that in 1979, at the age of 40, Niekro became the last MLB pitcher to win AND lose 20 games in a single season.  He won 21 games and lost 20.  After losing 20 games, the most in the league, Niekro finished sixth on the 1979 ballot for the National League Cy Young Award – and he’d go on to pitch 8 more seasons before being selected to the Hall of Fame in 1997.  The losses of this year seem astronomical, but they don’t have to define us, nor do they negate the wins. Beaumont Enterprise, 12/28/20, p.B1
PRAISE: Matt Redman wrote 10,000 Reasons with his friend Jonas Myrin.  It became Redman’s first #1 song on Billboard’s Christian Songs and was Song of the Year in 2013 at the Dove Awards.  It also won a Grammy for Best Contemporary Christian Song.  The lyrics were inspired by Psalm 103 where David listed reasons his heart was full of worship.  Redman & Myrin composed their own list of reasons for praise and realized they were only scratching the surface.  In an interview with Worship Leader Magazine, Redman explained the song’s purpose.  "The point behind the song is this, if you wake up one morning and you cannot think of a reason to bring God some kind of offering of thanks or praise, then you can be sure there's something wrong at your end of the pipeline, and not his.  We live beneath an unceasing flow of goodness, kindness, greatness, and holiness, and every day we're given reason after reason why Jesus is so completely and utterly worthy of our highest and best devotion."  2021 may find us struggling with reasons to be grateful and celebrate, but even in these dark days the reasons for praising God are endless.
PRIORITIES: After just viewing the Great Conjunction on December 21, 2020 (last issue) we should still have Jupiter and Saturn on our minds.  Scientists believe that due to the atmospheric conditions of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune, it may literally rain diamonds on these planets.  We’d love to be in one of those thunderstorms, yet it reminds us that what we treasure here is insignificant there. Reader’s Digest, October 2017, p.95


CLOTHES: Janice picked out a pair of size-2 pants as a gift for her petite friend.  When she went to check out, the clerk looked at her plus-size figure and stated, “Well, you’re pretty optimistic aren’t you?” Reader’s Digest, July 2013, p.181
DIET: Jon Goad’s wife asked their 4-year-old son what he wanted for breakfast so he requested soup.  Jud’s mom explained, “We don’t eat soup for breakfast.  We eat soup for lunch.  So, what would you like for breakfast?”  Jud replied, “Lunch.”  Diets can leave us feeling like Jud, we’d like something else instead. Reader’s Digest, February 2018, p.35
NEW YEAR: After 2020, most of us can relate to Charlie Brown’s conversation with Linus.  Charlie Brown sighed, “Just when you think everything is perfect, life deals you a blow.”  Linus replied, “I know what you mean…maybe we should all wear batting helmets!”  Might be our strategy for 2020’s successor. Houston Chronicle, 12/22/20, p.D5
WEIGHT: Oprah Winfrey explained healthy eating habits this way: “It’s more about eating anything you want…just not all at once.” Houston Chronicle, 1/9/20, p.D12


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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