I hope everyone’s New Year is off to a good start. My first resolution is to keep learning. As I enter my 80th year, I feel the importance of learning more than ever. Learning helps me feel alive. If I am gaining new knowledge and understanding, hopefully I am coming closer to wisdom.

I learned some new facts. As the COVID death toll in the United States passes the 800,000 mark some interesting data has emerged:

  1. The U.S. has 4% of the world’s population and 15% of the COVID deaths.

  2. 91 percent of Democrats are vaccinated and 60% of Republicans.

  3. The death rate in counties carried by Trump is 25 people per 100,000. In counties carried by Biden around 8 per 100,000.

I am grateful the United State has more freedom than many other locations—such as New Zealand, but the statistics are good reminders that freedom has consequences.

Headlines. Losing John Madden was a blow to pro football fans. I was always impressed with how he was never full of himself. He reported the game with the game and the fans first and foremost — never himself. He reported the game with fun and good humor. I felt like he was someone I would be comfortable having in my home for a meal and he could be a friend.

One of my pet peeves these days is headlines. They exaggerate and mislead, especially sports headlines. My grandson taught me that in today’s world of artificial intelligence, many headlines are computer generated. One of his college roommates helped generate the algorithms used to perform that task.

A headline caught my eye this week. Dan Reeves, a devoted Christian and another well-known pro football coach also died this week. The headline I saw announcing his death was accompanied by a picture of John Madden. Either the computer or someone goofed — big time.

Coincidence? Recently, I had one of those “coincidences” happen. I was asked to teach Sunday School this spring. I could choose any topic.

I have a strong interest in the Sermon on the Mount. To my reading, I have always found the teaching to be a long way from the self-promoting, self-interested, self-righteous approach I see in many people and do not like when it occurs in me. I hoped to gain more insight with a study of the topic.

I googled books on the Sermon on the Mount. Out of all the possible topics and all the possible books, the first book that came up was a book written by Jen Wilkin. It just so happened our fall study had been centered in an excellent book on the 10 Commandments written by — of all people — Jen Wilkin.

In case you are wondering, I had never googled Jen Wilkin’s name. Thus, I do not think the “coincidence” was cause by a Google algorithm of my previous searches.

We are going to use her book for Sunday school this spring.

Good News. Another resolution for me, is to continue to look for and share good uplifting news, in part to counteract the negativism that dominates the news.

  1. We have all seen corner beggars; I confess I am never sure what to do. One man did and his story is heartwarming.

Texas Man Brings Warm Meals To Family In Need (sunnyskyz.com)

  2. Amidst all the news of interracial stress and troubled youth. This story from Memphis is encouraging.

‘Memphis Has Good Youth’: Young Man Pays For Woman’s Gas (sunnyskyz.com)

  3. Christmas eve was not the usual for a group trying to save elk who had fallen through ice.

Rescuers Spend Hours Saving Elk Trapped In Icy River On Christmas Eve (sunnyskyz.com)

 Being kind not only affects the person you are helping but can have a great influence on those who are watching.

  4. Dollar General Employee’s Act Of Kindness Leads To Viral TikTok Video (sunnyskyz.com)

And speaking of keeping on learning –

88-year-old Texas Man Graduates College Alongside 23-year-old Granddaughter (today.com)

Peace

Jerry

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