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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

March 2023


FORGIVENESS: Best-selling author Brian Tracy may not be entirely correct, but he does offer a very thought-provoking statement about forgiveness: “Forgiveness is a purely selfish act…You forgive others so that you yourself can be emotionally free.” No Excuses, Brian Tracy, 2010, p.291
INFLUENCE: On July 2, 1863, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain made a decision that impacted the world.  The 34-year-old schoolteacher was a Colonel in the Union Army and was charged with defending the battle line at Gettysburg.  He led the 20th Maine and his orders for that day were clear: hold back the Confederate Army.  They were the last line of defense so they could not fail or the rebels would gain the high ground and win this pivotal battle.  The 15th & 47th Alabama attacked first at 2:30 p.m.  Chamberlain’s men defended the hill behind a short stone wall they had assembled that morning and the Confederates retreated.  They held their ground on two more assaults and then Chamberlain was felled by a bullet that hit him in the belt buckle.  He scrambled back to his feet with a resolve that even though he might die, “I would not die in retreat.”  The rebels broke through the wall on the fifth charge and both sides brawled with hand-to-hand combat but somehow the 20th held their ground.  Chamberlain began that morning with 300 men and now he was down to 80.  A 12-year-old boy looking out from a poplar tree yelled that the Confederates were beginning a sixth assault and this time they had reinforcements.  In that moment it was discovered that Chamberlain’s men were out of ammunition.  A schoolteacher, with just six months of military experience, looked over the dismal odds and then yelled, “FIX BAYONETS!”  Chamberlain jumped over the wall and repeatedly shouted, “CHARGE!”  Thinking that the Union was now reinforced with other soldiers storming down the hill, the Confederates dropped their weapons and ran.  Within five minutes 80 men without ammunition in their guns captured over 400 armed soldiers.  Andy Andrews stated, “Historians have determined that had Chamberlain not charged that day…the South would have won the war.”  It’s further noted that had the South won, we would not be two countries, North & South, but a fragmented continent much like Europe with nine to thirteen countries.  Had a teacher-turned-soldier not led that charge 160 years ago…we would have never developed into a country with the strength & resources to stand up against Hitler or fight a global war on two fronts and win. We all live within the paradox of simultaneously overestimating & underestimating our lives.  We can all make a difference with our life; it just may not happen like our grandiose thoughts imagine. The Butterfly Effect, Andy Andrews, 2009, p.10
LEADERSHIP: Ginni Rometty was featured on the cover of Fortune magazine in 2014, and retired as IBM’s chairman and CEO in 2020.  She held that position since 2011 and worked for IBM since 1981.  Her book, Good Power, released on March 7, 2023, recounts some wise lessons on leadership.  In it she notes, “Some of the biggest lessons I learned about power were about how not to lead.”  Her father walked out on their family when she was 16.  She recalls him telling her mom, “For all I care, you can go work on the street.”  He left four children just before Thanksgiving and straddled their family with a new mortgage.  Rometty saw her mother work two jobs and attend community college at night.  They finally got off food stamps and she said, “Consciously or not, I learned that hard work will always move you forward.”  As she faced new challenges climbing the ranks at IBM, she learned to power through her insecurities with hard work.  She recalled, “It taught me such a valuable lesson, that growth and comfort don’t coexist.”  Over the years she made many difficult decisions yet her perspective on such choices was, “As a leader, you want your successor to do well.”  Far too often leaders think they will be validated if their successor fails, but good leadership plans and hopes for their successor’s success. Wall Street Journal, 3/4/23, p.C6
PERSECUTION: Worldwide, 1 in 7 Christians suffer intense persecution.  Years ago, Sabina Wurmbrand (1913-2000) wrote of a political prisoner that was in a Romanian labor camp with her.  This woman had been one of the richest ladies in Romania and was not initially a Christian.  She watched how Christians responded to the communists’ persecution and then made a profound declaration of her faith in Christ.  She said, “The very fact that they fight against God, is the best proof that God exists.  If there were no God, they would not fight against Him.  The very fact that they beat Christians, put you in prison, mock you because of Christ, this tells me that Jesus is the Savior, and I need Him.  He will be my Savior, too.”  When our actions reveal the reality of Christ, salvation of others will surely follow. Today’s Christian Living, May 2002, p.41;
STEWARDSHIP: Randy Alcorn has wisely written, “God doesn’t look at just what we give and spend.  He also looks at what we keep and treasure.” Treasure Principle, Randy Alcorn, 2005, p.65
USEFULNESS: The historical account of Gideon is well-known but a small detail is seldom emphasized.  When Gideon heard two Midianite soldiers contemplating one’s dream about a barley loaf toppling a tent, the interpretation was that Gideon was about to conquer them.  Jerry & Shirley Rose have pointed out that barley was the cheapest and most common grain back then.  That means God used a very ordinary man to accomplish a very extraordinary task…and He still does the same today. Today’s Christian Living, January 2022, p.10
WORK: For a dozen years (1981-1992) Mike Singletary officed at Soldier Field.  His desk sat in the middle of the Monsters of the Midway where he played linebacker for the Chicago Bears.  He was nicknamed “Samurai Mike” because of his intense and dominating style.  Ironically, he wasn’t a large man…barely six feet and maybe 220.  His bone-crushing style came from his strength and intensity, yet much of his success was actually developed in the film room.  He’d spend three hours watching half of a football game, and often watched a single play 50 to 60 times.  By the time he stepped onto the field, he could anticipate a play based on an opponent’s stance or tendencies.  His preparation had him frequently moving to the exact place the ball was going, and resulted in the predictable outcome of being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1998.  Regardless of where we work or what we’re working on, disciplined preparation will make us better at what we do. Disciplines of a Godly Man, Kent Hughes, 2019, p.16


AGING: Before his heart surgery, Frank’s doctor explained that the procedure was serious.  90-year-old Frank replied, “Doc, at my age, a haircut is serious!”
DILEMMA: Katrina Stanford’s 4-year-old son ran into the room claiming his brother was going to hurt him.  She asked why, so he explained that he’d dropped his older brother’s toothbrush in the toilet.  Katrina assured her frightened son that it was no big deal and told him to simply apologize and they would get his brother a new toothbrush.  The little guy replied, “I can’t…he’s in the bathroom brushing his teeth!” Reader’s Digest, September 2010, p.104
PRAYER: Karen Fair’s 3-year-old daughter was having trouble sleeping through the night and would wake her parents telling them she was scared.  When the pattern continued, Karen explained how Abby could ask Jesus to take away her fear.  The next night Abby again woke up her parents so Karen asked if she had prayed.  Abby replied, “Oh, yes.  He told me to come and get you!”  Parents are often the answer to their kids’ prayers. Christian Reader, January/February 1998, p.10
SELF-ABSORBED: Vonda Jeffries called her pharmacy and asked, “Could you tell me what your hours are?”  The young woman who answered cheerfully replied, “Well, today I work nine to one, but tomorrow I work three to six.” Reader’s Digest, December 2020, p.32


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