Category Archives: Heroes

BreakPoint: Thanksgiving 2017 Squanto and the Providence of God

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Hi, I’m John Stonestreet. Today, we want to share a classic Chuck Colson BreakPoint commentary on Thanksgiving, Squanto and the providence of God.

Chuck Colson: Most of us know the story of the first Thanksgiving; at least we know the Pilgrim version. But how many of us know the Indian viewpoint?

No, I’m not talking about some revisionist, politically correct version of history. I’m talking about the amazing story of the way God used an Indian named Squanto as a special instrument of His providence.

Historical accounts of Squanto’s life vary, but historians believe that around 1608, more than a decade before the Pilgrims arrived, a group of English traders sailed to what is today Plymouth, Massachusetts. When the trusting Wampanoag Indians came out to trade, the traders took them prisoner, transported them to Spain, and sold them into slavery. It was an unimaginable horror.

But God had an amazing plan for one of the captured Indians, a boy named Squanto.

Squanto was bought by a well-meaning Spanish monk, who treated him well and taught him the Christian faith. Squanto eventually made his way to England and worked in the stables of a man named John Slaney. Slaney sympathized with Squanto’s desire to return home, and he promised to put the Indian on the first vessel bound for America.

It wasn’t until 1619, ten years after Squanto was first kidnapped, that a ship was found. Finally, after a decade of exile and heartbreak, Squanto was on his way home.

But when he arrived in Massachusetts, more heartbreak awaited him. An epidemic had wiped out Squanto’s entire village.

We can only imagine what must have gone through Squanto’s mind. Why had God allowed him to return home, against all odds, only to find his loved ones dead?

A year later, the answer came. A shipload of English families arrived and settled on the very land once occupied by Squanto’s people. Squanto went to meet them, greeting the startled Pilgrims in English.

According to the diary of Pilgrim Governor William Bradford, Squanto “became a special instrument sent of God for [our] good . . . He showed [us] how to plant [our] corn, where to take fish and to procure other commodities . . . and was also [our] pilot to bring [us] to unknown places for [our] profit, and never left [us] till he died.”

When Squanto lay dying of fever, Bradford wrote that their Indian friend “desir[ed] the Governor to pray for him, that he might go to the Englishmen’s God in heaven.” Squanto bequeathed his possessions to the Pilgrims “as remembrances of his love.”

Who but God could so miraculously convert a lonely Indian and then use him to save a struggling band of Englishmen? It is reminiscent of the biblical story of Joseph, who was also sold into slavery, and whom God likewise used as a special instrument for good.

Squanto’s life story is remarkable, and we ought to make sure our children learn about it. Sadly, most books about Squanto omit references to his Christian faith. But I’m delighted to say that my friend Eric Metaxas has written a wonderful children’s book called “Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving.” I highly recommend it because it will teach your kids about the “special instrument sent of God,” who changed the course of American history.

How great to hear again from Chuck Colson. I know that I and my colleagues at BreakPoint are so thankful to God for all that He accomplished through Chuck’s life.

And this Thanksgiving on behalf of Chuck and Eric Metaxas, I want you, our BreakPoint listeners, to also know how thankful to God we are for you—for all the encouraging words, and prayer and financial support you’ve provided this ministry over the years. Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts.

And before I go today, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that my friend Eric Metaxas wrote a great children’s book about Squanto called Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving. We have it for you at the BreakPoint bookstore online.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

 

(This commentary originally aired November 26, 2015.)

 

Thanksgiving 2017: Squanto and the Providence of God

Get your copy of Eric’s book “Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving,” available at the online bookstore.

Resources

The Miracle of Squanto’s Path to Plymouth

  • Eric Metaxas
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  • Wall Street Journal
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  • November 25, 2015
 
Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving

  • Eric Metaxas
  •  

  • Thomas Nelson Publishers
  • August 2012
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Thanksgiving Day Quiz

Read it here,  or listen to the audio of it. 

The Point: What Constitution?

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It’s time for a civics refresh. For the Colson Center, I’m John Stonestreet with The Point.

A new study by the Annenberg Public Policy Center finds that Americans are woefully misinformed about basic constitutional provisions. More than half believe that illegal immigrants have absolutely no rights under the Constitution.

Three-quarters of Americans can’t name all three branches of government. And perhaps worst of all, over a third can’t name any of the rights guaranteed under the First Amendment, including freedom of speech, press, or religion.

This doesn’t bode well for public education, which began as a means of producing well-informed citizens. But Christians should be the first to insist on good civic education, because we stand to lose so much freedom.

In his book, “A Free People’s Suicide,” Os Guinness shows how modern views of freedom are incompatible with the views of the American founders, and argues that “the ultimate threat to the American republic will be Americans.”

He also sketches a plan for good civic education—a plan to implement if our Republic is to last.

 

 

Resources

Americans Are Poorly Informed About Basic Constitutional Provisions

  • Annenberg Public Policy Center | University of Pennsylvania | September 12, 2017

A Life Worth Saving and there are many more like him

 

 

 

 
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His message is one more people need to hear. For the Colson Center, I’m John Stonestreet with The Point.

Last month, Congress heard testimony from Frank Stephens, an actor, Special Olympian, and advocate for those with disabilities. Stephens has Down syndrome, but he had something to say in a country where an estimated 67 percent of those diagnosed with the disorder in utero are aborted:

“I am a man with Down syndrome,” he said, “and my life is worth living. I have a great life!”

His story echoes the vast majority of adults with Down syndrome, as well as their families. A study in the American Journal of Medical Genetics shows that 99 percent of individuals with Down syndrome are happy with their lives; 97 percent of parents of children with Downs expressed pride in their child, as well as 94 percent of siblings.

This information has the power to impact the decisions of parents who get hard diagnoses, and shape our society into one where people with disabilities aren’t considered better off dead.

But Stephens can’t get the word out on his own. We need to speak up, too.

Resources

‘I Am a Man With Down Syndrome and My Life Is Worth Living’

  • Conor Friedersdorf | The Atlantic | October 30, 2017
Down Syndrome Awareness Makes a Difference

  • Mark W. Leach | Public Discourse | October 7, 2011

God does love to use Teenager boys, and girls

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God loves to use teenagers. He’s done it throughout history. When you think about it, the blessed virgin Mary was undoubtedly a teenager. David was a teenager when he was anointed king of Israel. Abraham was a young man when God called him. Daniel was only 12 years old. Oh yes, God loves to use teenagers. 

I remember reading how in 1904 in Wales there was a great national spiritual awakening. In nine months over 100,000 people came to Christ and filled the churches. It was a great national revival, and you know one of the triggers that made it happen was a teenage girl singing in a quartet. And she said one night as she was starting to sing, just before the song, she said, “I love the Lord Jesus with all of my heart.” And when she said that there was a touch of God; the congregation started to weep. They fell on their knees. They began to pray and a great revival spread in that part of Wales in 1904. 

How about today? Are you a teenager? Are you allowing God to use you? As a parent, encourage your teenage boys and girls to really walk with God and be used by God. God loves to use teenagers. 

 

This is Luis Palau

 

The Point: History? What History?

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History, schmistory. For the Colson Center, I’m John Stonestreet with The Point.

Christians of all people should be good at remembering. Why? Because our faith is rooted in history.

We ought to remember those who have gone before us, warts and all. King David, for example, was a “man after God’s own heart.” And also a murderer and adulterer. Yet Israel didn’t write him out of Scriptures.

Tell that to Historic Christ Church in Alexandria, Virginia, which will remove two plaques honoring former parishioners Robert E. Lee and George Washington.

George Washington? The church, as Rod Dreher notes, is on Washington Street. Washington’s picture is on the donations it receives. Throw a silver-dollar across the Potomac and you’ll hit the city that bears his name.

Neither Washington nor Lee were towering figures of faith, but they were towering figures of history—and significant members of Christ Church.

A church with “Historic” in the name should put history above political correctness. I’m not saying history should be whitewashed, but to rework a classic phrase, the best way to avoid repeating history is not to forget it.

 

As Dodgers fan this will keep me happy if they don’t win ( I hope they still do )

Read about the man who is leading the Houston baseball team far as spiritual faith goes right here. 

Right focus during a sad event

Have you ever gone through something that shook you to your core? My friend, Monty Williams, the well-respected Oklahoma City Thunder Assistant Basketball Coach, experienced a tragedy. His wife died in a tragic car accident in 2016.

During the memorial service, Monty surprised those in attendance with his response to his wife’s death. He said, “I love you guys for taking time out of your day to celebrate my wife.  But I didn’t lose her. When you lose something you don’t know where it is. I know exactly where my wife is. I’ll miss holding her hand. I’ll miss talking with my wife…but she is in Heaven.” 

Wow! When I heard his speech, I got tears in my eyes. Despite losing his spouse, Monty – a very committed Bible believer – let his faith be his guide. And in doing so, he showed the thousands of people who watched his televised speech what an unshakable faith really is. Maybe you’re experiencing a tragedy in your own life. Maybe you lost a loved one, or experienced a serious illness or injury. In any case, you have two choices. You can give in to the anger and sadness that usually accompany those events, or you can keep your eyes fixed on Jesus, His promises and presence. 

Acts 2:25 in the Bible says, “‘I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” Keep your heart focused on Jesus. And regardless of what comes your way, you will not be shaken. 

 

This is Luis Palau

A death row inmate changed, and like him we all have a need

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BreakPoint: Martin Luther Eric Metaxas Tells the Story of a Very Human Man Who Changed the World

To understand how the Reformation changed the world, you have to understand Martin Luther. Which is why the new biography by Eric Metaxas is a must read.

October 31st marks the 500thanniversary of the event regarded to have started the Protestant Reformation: Martin Luther nailing his 95 Theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg.

Now, as my BreakPoint co-host Eric Metaxas writes in his outstanding new book, Martin Luther: The Man Who Rediscovered God and Changed the World, Luther’s theses probably weren’t posted on the church door until two weeks later, and even then,  it may not have been that defiant act it’s often portrayed to be. Still, what did happen on that date was that Luther sent to the Archbishop of Mainz a letter expressing his concern about the selling of indulgences.

As Eric relates, Luther had no idea how that letter and the events that would follow in its wake would change the world.

Even today, most people, apart from some historians, fail to fully appreciate the impact of Luther’s ideas and actions. Protestantism is, as the title of Durham University’s Alec Ryrie’s book puts it, “The Faith that Made the Modern World,” and without Luther there’s no Protestant Reformation.

The problem is that history is too often told in dry and inaccessible ways, at least to non-academic readers. What’s been needed to appreciate Luther and his legacy more is a book that takes the history seriously by situating Luther in his historical and theological context while still being enjoyable, even fun, to read.

And that’s where Eric’s book succeeds.

In many ways, “Luther” is a kind of sequel to Eric’s “Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy.” Both books are about world-shaping historical Christian figures who, motivated by their conscience and conviction, took enormous risks against the most powerful institutions of their time.

And not coincidentally, both Luther and Bonhoeffer were from eastern Germany, as is Eric’s mother. I note this fact not in any way to detract from his accomplishment. On the contrary, Eric’s personal connection is one of the book’s strengths.

As is, of course, Eric’s trademark engaging style, full of clever turns of phrase and humor that makes the incredible story of Luther all the more accessible. Often, biographical subjects don’t feel human. They are, as was famously said of Robert E. Lee, “marble men.”

But not Eric’s Luther. He’s quite human, for better and for worse. Early on, you practically feel Luther’s anxiety and dread over his own sinfulness. Which helps to make sense of the terror he felt during that fateful thunderstorm that ultimately led him to become a monk, abandoning the legal career his father had mapped out for him.

All of this is important backdrop to understand why Luther’s study of Romans and the idea of justification by faith was more than an academic exercise for him. For Luther, it was more like getting water from a rock in the middle of a desert.

And yet throughout Eric’s book, we learn that Luther was far from being an angel, or for that matter, even pleasant a lot of the time. He was someone who, as a church historian once put it, never knew a moderate moment in his life. Eric writes of Luther’s “execrable fireworks” that were not only directed at his enemies, which included Protestants as well as Catholic prelates, but also at innocent parties, in particular Germany’s Jewish population.

As he did telling the story of Bonhoeffer, Eric depicts Luther’s humanity while simultaneously putting it in its proper historical context, one in which there was a perfect storm of church corruption, political instability, and technological change. Eric gives us a feel for both Luther the man and his world. Both are necessary to understand if we are to see how Luther changed the world.

 

Obviously, Eric’s a personal friend and a BreakPoint colleague. But I promise it’s nowhere in my contract to promote his latest book! This recommendation is driven only by the simple facts that Luther is too important a historical figure and Eric tells the story too well not to recommend this book.