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In Other Words...

A Research Service Of Facts & Humor For Christian Leaders

March 2021   Issue 2

 

EASTER: Best-selling author and pastor, Max Lucado, asks, “Ever wonder why there were two crosses next to Christ?  Why not six or ten?  Ever wonder why Jesus was in the center?”  He then goes on to write, “Could it be that the two crosses on the hill symbolize one of God’s greatest gifts?  The gift of choice.”  Both men crucified next to Jesus had made enough bad choices to result in their execution.  Now they were left with one final choice.  Although the reviling remarks of both men are chronicled in Scripture – maybe they had delusions of earning an escape from certain death if they joined the mockery of those responsible for killing Christ – one man had a change of heart.  Lucado notes, “In the end, all his bad choices were redeemed by a solitary good one.”  He then personalized it: “No matter how many bad choices you have made in the past, they are redeemed by one good choice – to follow Jesus.”  Easter is a perfect time to make the choice that changes everything. Experiencing the Heart of Jesus, Max Lucado, 2003, p.176
 
FAITH:
Antony Flew (1923-2010) was the most outspoken atheist of his generation.  He wrote prolifically and admonished people to presuppose atheism until empirical evidence for God surfaced.  While at Oxford in the 1940s, Flew presented his paper on atheism to the Socratic Club, which was chaired by C.S. Lewis.  The gathering took their name from Socrates’ admonition to “follow the argument wherever it leads,” and that insight would play a major role in Flew’s reversal of belief in his 80s.  In 2004, he shocked the world with his book, There Is A God: How The World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind.  In May of 2004, at a symposium in New York, Flew explained how breakthroughs in DNA research reveal enormous complexities in life that point to the work of intelligence.  He went on to say, “This statement represented a major change of course for me, but it was nevertheless consistent with the principle I have embraced since the beginning of my philosophical life – of following the argument no matter where it leads.”  Faith is not the dismissal of facts – it’s a journey of following the evidence that ultimately leads to Christ.  (Sadly, the Methodist minister’s son didn’t claim to embrace Christianity but said he converted from atheism to deism). God’s Not Dead, Rice Brooks, 2013, p.88
 
OBEDIENCE:
Netflix launched Yes Day on March 12, 2021.  It’s a light-hearted comedy with a really low rating (1/2 stars out of 5) but it might have a subtle message for us all.  A helicopter mom, played by Jennifer Garner, is encouraged by a guidance counselor to host a 24-hour “yes day” for her three kids.  With the stipulation that they can’t break the law or go beyond 20 miles of their home, parental “Nos” are off the table.  It goes from jumping on the bed, to ice-cream feasts, driving through the car wash with the windows down, and a surprise theme-park visit.  It may not be a great movie, but what might happen if we committed ourselves to nothing but “Yes” to God?  Especially on Easter. People, 3/22/21, p.29
 
OPPORTUNITY:
On March 11, 2021, Nick Slatten experienced the kind of panic few of us will ever encounter.  He’d just won a million dollars in the Tennessee lottery, but he lost his ticket purchased the day before.  He frantically began retracing his steps, and eventually ended up at the auto parts store in Sparta where he’d taken his brother to buy a car part.  On that windy March day, he spotted the lottery ticket lying in the parking lot and quickly grabbed it.  The lottery commission explained that anyone can claim an unsigned winning ticket, so who knows how many people stepped over a ticket worth $1,178,746 thinking it was nothing more than discarded trash.  Although I’ve never bought a lottery ticket and consider my odds of winning virtually the same as those who do buy them, this piece of recent history paints a picture of what so many do with Christ.  An opportunity of infinitely greater value than a lottery ticket lies before us and we step over it in pursuit of lesser things.  Nick Slatten reminds us of Jesus’ words about a woman desperately searching for her lost treasure until it was found (Luke 15:8-10). Beaumont Enterprise, 3/24/21, p.A2
 
RESURRECTION:
Jeanne Pouchain is a 58-year-old French woman who can’t convince her government that she’s alive.  She was mistakenly declared dead by a judge in 2017, and has been trying to prove her viability ever since.  The declaration of her death has cancelled her ability to work, get insurance, drive, or use a bank.  She’s even appeared before numerous judges with a certificate from her doctor stating that she is in fact alive, but to no avail.  Pouchain explained she can’t do anything because, “I no longer exist.”  Her lawyer is trying to get the ruling reversed but noted the challenges: “When an error is so enormous, it’s hard to admit.”  Similarly, the evidence of Jesus being alive is all around us, yet some simply find it “hard to admit.” The Week, 2/5/21, p.12
 
RESURRECTION:
Timothy Keller is a New York Times best-selling author and the founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan.  In a discussion about his latest book, Hope in Times of Fear, Keller stated, “Eventually, everybody will get to the place where it matters personally whether the resurrection of Jesus Christ really happened.”  His whole life has been immersed in seeking God, and his quest for intimacy with Christ has exponentially deepened during his battle against pancreatic cancer.  Whether through illness, disappointment, stress, crisis, death, or judgment, we’ll all eventually arrive at a point where Jesus’ resurrection matters to us personally. Outreach, March/April 2021, p.70
 
TRUTH:
Moral “relativity” is commonly accepted, but the concept is completely out of context.  Albert Einstein used “relativity” to explain advances in scientific understanding, but chaffed at the way his term was applied to philosophy and life.  In a 1929 interview, 14 years after advancing his theory of relativity, Einstein said, “The meaning of relativity has been widely misunderstood.  Philosophers play with the word, like a child with a doll.”  He then talked about its specific application to the sphere of physics and mechanics and then declared, “It does not mean that everything in life is relative and that we have the right to turn the whole world mischievously topsy-turvy.”  ‘Following the science’ should include listening to the premier scientist. Saturday Evening Post, Nov/Dec 2015, p.98
 

EVERYDAY HUMOR

 
CRITICAL THINKING: In a regular column highlighting a genius in their field, those featured are asked to share one of their favorite jokes.  Dr. Rebecca Richards-Kortum is a professor of bioengineering at Rice University and this was her Joke from a Genius.  “An optimist says the glass is half-full.  A pessimist says the glass is half-empty.  An engineer says the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.” Saturday Evening Post, Jan/Feb 2017, p.32
 
EASTER: Preaching on Easter carries extra stress since the subject matter never changes, expectations for a great message are high, and a number in attendance only hear you speak on two topics per year.  To counter the stress, Randy Frazee has a suggestion that might catch everyone off guard and move people to the restaurants a bit quicker.  His two-sentence sermon is: “If anything changes, I’ll let you know.  He’s still risen from the dead.” When Others Say No Way: 2 Corinthians 4, Randy Frazee, ServiceBuilder, 4/19/6
 
SOLUTIONS: Joanne Wilson’s granddaughter had little strips of paper all over the bedroom floor when her mom came to check on her.  Little Sarah explained, “My tummy didn’t feel good, so I fixed it.”  Her stomach was covered with Band-Aids.  Our solutions to the problems we face are often no better remedies. Mature Living, August 2019, p.56

 

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