Category Archives: Ministry

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
  •  

  • November 25, 2015
 
Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving

  • Eric Metaxas
  •  

  • Thomas Nelson Publishers
  • August 2012
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Iran: shock, trauma and crisis

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ABOUT IRAN

  • Primary Language: Persian, Iranian
  • Primary Religion: Islam

BreakPoint: A Museum Fit for the Bible Telling the Story of the World’s Greatest Book

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The Bible is the greatest book ever written—and now, there’s a museum fit to tell its story!

At the end of his Gospel, the Apostle John said, “Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.” You could probably say much the same thing about the Bible—that no single place could adequately convey its impact, history, and unforgettable narratives. But that isn’t stopping an ambitious and expert team from trying.

I’m excited to tell you about the grand opening on this November 17 of the massive, 430,000-square foot, state-of-the-art Museum of the Bible in our nation’s capital. A project of an interfaith, international team of scholars, the museum is an innovative, global, educational institution with the aim of inviting all people, of whatever faith or no faith at all, to engage with the history, narrative, and impact of the Bible.

The museum cost $500 million to build, and when you visit, you’ll see why. Museum of the Bible has breath-taking exhibits, hi-tech LED screens, and tons of ancient artifacts and precious manuscripts. You’ll be amazed. But why so much, and why now?

“It was surprising to us that a book this influential didn’t yet have a major museum focused on it,” Steve Green, Hobby Lobby president and Museum of the Bible founder, told Christianity Today. “The Bible has influenced nearly every aspect of our world, from the arts and culture to business and entertainment to health care, education, and government. We hope to create the kind of museum that would share this book we love with as many people as possible.”

And Museum of the Bible—situated just three blocks from the U.S. Capitol and two blocks from the National Mall—comes not a moment too soon. As we’ve been telling you a lot recently here on BreakPoint, biblical illiteracy is running rampant in the culture. New Testament scholar David Nienhuis states, “Christian leaders have been lamenting the loss of general biblical literacy in America. … Much to our embarrassment, however, it has become increasingly clear that the situation is really no better among confessing Christians, even those who claim to hold the Bible in high regard.”

Indeed. Gallup and Castelli call us “a nation of biblical illiterates.”

But is biblical literacy really important? I’ll let a couple of American Founders answer. John Adams, our second president, noted, “The Bible contains the most profound philosophy, the most perfect morality, and the most refined policy that ever was conceived upon earth.”

And here’s what physician, social reformer, and signer of the Declaration of Independence Benjamin Rush said: “The Bible contains more truths than any other book in the world.”

Of course, many in our postmodern world don’t believe that and dismiss the Bible out of hand—but maybe that’s partly because they’ve never had the opportunity to engage with it. Museum of the Bible gives them that opportunity, not by cramming “religion” down someone’s throat, but by presenting the Bible as the best-selling, most debated, most influential book of all time. Back in the day, you weren’t considered educated if you didn’t know the Bible. It’s still true today, and Museum of the Bible will step in to fill that knowledge gap for Christians and non-Christians alike.

So kudos to Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C., and for the thousands of people of many faiths who helped make it a reality. The Bible is the most influential, beloved, and profound book in the world, and I’m grateful for a gleaming new museum fit to tell its world-changing story today. I invite you to visit it, starting November 17, with your family and friends.

 

 

A Museum Fit for the Bible: Telling the Story of the World’s Greatest Book

Take the opportunity to invite family and friends to accompany you on a visit to Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C. For information on admission and exhibits, go to the Museum of the Bible website, linked here.

Resources

Inside the Museum of the Bible

  • Martyn Wendell Jones| Christianity Today | October 20, 2017
Sneak peek: D.C.’s huge new Museum of the Bible includes lots of tech — but not a lot of Jesus

  • Michelle Boorstein, Julie Zauzmer and Sarah Pulliam Bailey | Washington Post | October 16, 2017

Witnessing for Christ: through the eyes of a persecuted pastor in Sudan

(The following news report comes from Mission Network News. You can read the the story here. )

 

 

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Letter writing campaign encourages persecuted believers from North Korea

North Korea (MNN) — With the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church approaching this Sunday, November 5th, there is an obvious focus on praying for persecuted believers. But there’s something else you can do as well to encourage them: write a letter.

Each year, the Orange Letter Campaign with Uncharted Ministries focuses on a specific group of believers suffering for their faith to send letters to – and these letters are from fellow Christians around the world.

Two years ago, they sent encouraging letters from believers to the widows of the Egyptian men who were martyred on the beach in Libya by ISIS. In fact, the Orange Letter Campaign was so named in honor of these men for the orange jumpsuits they all wore as they were led to their deaths for their faith in Christ.

Then in 2016, Orange Letter Campaign’s letters went to Syrian Christian leaders on the frontlines. The past few years, they’ve been able to send around 2,000-3,000 letters, and this year they’re hoping for even more!

This year, the letters will be going to persecuted North Korean believers who defected out of the country. Tom Doyle, author of “Standing in the Fire” and with e3 Partners, explains, “This year, we felt like our focus should be North Korea. We have a partnership with Voice of the Martyrs Korea and we know this that there is at least 100,000 believers in North Korea, which is phenomenal when you think about that it is the worst country in the globe to live as a believer…. There are at least 100,000 believers, but 30,000 of them are in prison.”

North Korea has been at the top of Open Doors’ World Watch List for 14 years in a row as the country with the harshest persecution of Christians.

“So we’re writing letters to North Korean defectors, new believers that have come out of North Korea that we’ll meet with and encourage them. Also, Voice of the Martyrs and our new ministry, Uncharted, will be broadcasting into North Korea by radio to read some of the letters to believers there that have radios that hide at night and listen to Christian broadcasts coming out of South Korea.”

 

If you’d like to write a letter of encouragement to a North Korean Christian, you can send your letter in an email to info@unchartedministries.com. Or you submit your letter through 8thirty8’s Facebook page here!

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Breakpoint: Teaching the Bible in the schools, and Billy’s thoughts on reaching the students

( Billy’s thoughts – Before I post today’s Breakpoint radio commentary which I support,some thoughts of my own. Teaching the Bible in the schools is good but unless students meet the Savior who is Jesus teaching the facts about the Bible won’t mean anything. Though teaching the Bible might open them up to hearing about the God who loves them with an everlasting loving. So it is good to teach the Bible. Also I am part of a ministry called Campus Life which is part of Youth for Christ which is reaching non church youth. One week this middle school kid told me he had never heard of the first book in the book. That excites me. Because he is coming to Campus Life. Pray for the Bible being taught in the schools,along with ministries like Campus Life to be used to impact many students. )

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We told you about having your kids take their Bibles to school. But what about teaching the Bible there?

Last month I told you about a growing movement in the U.S. called “Bring Your Bible to School Day,” organized by our friends at Focus on the Family. It’s part of a growing national movement to encourage our kids to bring their Bibles back to public schools, and perhaps 500,000 young people participated this year! But that’s not all we can do, not by a long shot, despite what you may think.

As you probably know, prominent atheist Madalyn Murray O’Hair brought a case before the U.S. Supreme Court, Murray v. Curlett, that ended devotional Bible-reading in public schools in 1963. Schools then threw the baby out with the bath water and stopped teaching the Bible academically, which the U.S. Supreme Court upheld. The results, speaking modestly, have been disastrous. In our schools, suicide, pregnancy rates, and violence have risen dramatically, while our scores in reading, writing, and math have plunged. Of course, while it’s not causation, the correlation is hard to miss.

Bible knowledge, a foundation of Western civilization, has also collapsed. According to Gallup, only a minority of American teens are “Bible literate.” It’s no wonder that over half of the graduating high school seniors in one poll thought that Sodom and Gomorrah were husband and wife and that Billy Graham preached the Sermon on the Mount! Truly, Johnny can’t read … the Bible!

It’s simply impossible for kids to be fully educated without basic knowledge of the world’s greatest book. Without the Bible, students can’t really understand fully the English language, English literature, history, art, music or culture—and the experts agree. In a poll of high school English teachers, 98 percent said that students who don’t know the Bible are disadvantaged when reading English literature.

Another survey of English professors from Harvard, Yale, and other prestigious institutions found that 38 of 39 agreed that “an educated person, regardless of his or her faith, needs to know the Bible.” Indeed, there are more than 1,200 documented references to the Bible just in the 36 plays of Shakespeare.

That’s why the global campaign “Teach The Bible In Schools” is so important. Started in the United States in 2005 through the Bible Literacy Project, the nonprofit Essentials in Education created a textbook and constitutionally safe instructional resources to help school districts implement a Bible course in the public and private schools that follows federal law.

In the U.S., the course can either be a language arts elective or a social studies elective for grades 9-12. The textbook is called “The Bible and Its Influence,” and it’s being used in 640 schools with 140,000 students in 44 states.

Nine states have passed laws that encouraging teaching of the Bible academically in the public schools. And the latest state is Kentucky. But that’s just the beginning.

“The ‘Teach The Bible In Schools’ goal is two-fold,” says my friend Chuck Stetson, CEO of Essentials in Education. “We want to get the other 41 states to endorse Bible literacy as a supported academic course and to spread that legislative backing across the globe.”

This is indeed an international movement. Campaigns are underway in Australia, Great Britain, Finland, Brazil, India, and the Philippines. “The Bible and Its Influence” is already being used in Canada, Rwanda, Taiwan, South Korea, and even in China.

If your state does not yet support courses in biblical literacy, I strongly encourage you go to TeachTheBibleinSchools.org to see how you can be a part of this vital campaign. Or, of course, come to BreakPoint.org, and we’ll link you to it.

Folks, we’ve just marked the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, which brought the Bible to the masses. And up ahead is National Bible Week. Now is the perfect time to make sure that Johnny can read, and understand, the Bible!

Why Johnny Can’t Read … the Bible: The “Teach the Bible in Schools” Campaign

Find out more about the campaign to get the Bible and its influence taught in the classroom. Go to TeachTheBibleinSchools.org.

 

Resources

The Epidemic of Bible Illiteracy in Our Churches

  • Ed Stetzer | Christianity Today | July 6, 2015
The Scandal of Biblical Illiteracy: It’s Our Problem

  • Albert Mohler | AlbertMohler.com | January 20, 2016
Bible Study in Public Schools Sought In New State Laws

  • Jackie Zubrzycki | Education Week | March 17, 2016
Kentucky allows public schools to teach Bible classes

  • Aida Chavez | Thehill.com | June 29, 2017

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. 

Three Reasons You Should Go Trick or Treating Halloween can be a time to be on mission and build relationships that will deepen throughout the year.

This holiday has sparked quite a bit of controversy in Christian circles over the years. Halloween, as most know, has a mix of origin stories, some of them Christian, some pagan, and some occult. Its dark history certainly should concern us as believers and factor into our decision regarding how we and our families plan to engage in the festivities on the night of October 31st.

And it’s just that—your family’s decision. My family does not promote holiday myths (as in, our kids did not believe in Santa Claus), but we do participate in trick or treating.

Let me explain why.

To Trick or Not

Many believers feel that they can faithfully don their creative costumes and pumpkin-shaped candy buckets without violating the tenants of their Christian beliefs. Others feel that this holiday’s emphasis on all things spooky and scary, coupled with its complex past, should motivate us to steer clear of any Halloween related events.

For me, the question we really have to answer here is this: As Christians, what does it look like to engage culture in a Christ-like manner?

Paul tells us in Romans 12:2 to never conform to the pattern of this world, because we serve a God who frees us from all its burdens and baggage. But, interestingly enough, Jesus—during a prayer to his Heavenly Father in John 17—acknowledges that “they” (the disciples) are “not of the world” but also adds that he isn’t asking the Father to “take them out of the world.”

So, it looks like even amidst this earth’s real dangers and difficulties, Jesus still wants us here. Furthermore, he doesn’t just ask us to sit around lazily waiting in anticipation for his second coming, but instead gives us a Great Commission: to make disciples of every tongue, tribe, and nation.

When it comes to Halloween, trying to live in the tension between our earthly bodies and heavenly homes can be difficult. Some believers will feel compelled to bring their faith to bear amidst all the Reese’s and Gummy Bears, while others might decide to abstain from the festivities altogether.

Right now, I want to make the case for the latter decision. I am going to argue that Christians not only can but should put on their costumes, pass out candy, and greet guests at the door each time Halloween rolls around.

Here are three reasons you should plan on trick-or-treating tomorrow.

First, this is likely the only time all year when neighbors will flock from near and far, ring your doorbell, and want to have face-to-face interaction with you.

When guests arrive at your porch, take time to let the conversation go past celebratory exclamations of ‘trick or treat.’ Remember their names, take down their numbers, and convey your interest in being a part of their lives. This night is a once-a-year opportunity to do something so simple, yet so critical: get to know your neighbors.

We are planning a bonfire for our kids’ friends even while we pass out candy to the neighbors.

 

Of course, you can meet your neighbors any time—but on this day, they are coming to your door.

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The Legacy of Chuck Colson

 On what would have been Chuck Colson’s 86th birthday, our hosts look back on an incredible conversion, a historic life of ministry in prisons and the culture. They explore the ways in which Chuck’s work is still impacting the Church and guiding the mission of the Colson Center.

John and Ed also discuss the #MeToo campaign, which saw countless women from all walks of life publicly identify themselves as victims of sexual harassment or assault in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal. They call it an eye-opening moment and an opportunity for men everywhere, especially in the Church, to call themselves to protect, value, and respect women.

 ( Listen to the radio program here. )

The job of publishing the Bible is not complete

Listen to a commentary here.