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A Tired Musician


A musician is hot and tired after the gig,
so he pulls into the 7-11 to get a cold drink.
While he's buying his slurpee, he suddenly
realizes that he spaced out -- the accordion
is in the back seat, in full view!

He rushes out of the store... but it's too late.
Someone has already broken the car window

*See what happened in "comments"!!!

A musician is hot and tired after the gig, so he pulls
into the 7-11 to get a cold drink. While he's buying
his slurpee, he suddenly realizes that he spaced
out -- the accordion is in the back seat, in full view!

He rushes out of the store... but it's too late. Someone
has already broken the car window.......

and left another accordion.
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A freezer for Eskimos.
AC adapter for solar calculators.
Air-Bag Motorcycle jacket.
Battery powered battery charger.
Battery-operated nuclear power plants.
Blinker Fluid.
Braille Drivers' Manual
Cat flap for the fridge
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We're not living in the 50s or the 60s or the 70s. It occurred to me recently that the world that seminary prepared me to minister to bears almost no resemblance to the world we live in today. That's not a criticism, just an observation. When I attended seminary in the mid-70s, we were still following models that worked in the 50s and the 60s. Change on the horizon, and we sensed it was coming, but no one foresaw the cultural and technological revolution of the last fifteen years.

Frankly, I can't think of a better time to serve the Lord. We have tools for reaching the world that D. L. Moody (who died in 1899) and Bill Sunday (who died in 1935) never dreamed of. If we are going to reach our own generation, we must be at least as proactive with technology as Moody and Sunday (who were both innovators in terms of their evangelistic methods) were in their own day. By the way, lest anyone think I am advocating watering down the gospel message to somehow "make it relevant" to the post-moderns (or whatever term we're using nowadays), just check out John Piper's website. Everything he writes is saturated with strong biblical content, but his ministry in Minneapolis is also very innovative in the best sense of that term. He offers an excellent model for the rest of us to follow.

Occasionally I visit churches that seem to think that this is 1956 instead of 2006. And they wonder why they aren't reaching people. I am not calling for changing our message one iota, but in the name of Christ, for His glory, in order to follow His command to take the gospel to every nation, if we truly want to make disciples in our own day, we must let go of some things that worked well a generation ago and rethink how we do church, how we reach people, and how we harness modern technology for the sake of the gospel.

I keep saying this, and I intend to keep saying it because I believe it so deeply.

Click Here
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Trickle-Down Theology
Betsy Childs

If you asked most of the population whether or not theology was important
to them, the vast majority would say no. Unfortunately, I have a feeling
that the answer of the majority of self-proclaimed Christians might not be
all that different. Theology is perceived as an academic discipline with
little relevance to the pressing needs of our lives. But this perception
disregards the fact that every human being has a theology, whether
or not they realize it, and that our theology affects everything we do.

Theology is, quite simply, the study of God and the resulting beliefs.
Though many may have never intentionally set out to study God, they have
nevertheless come to some conclusions about Him. You don't need to study
gravity to make deductions about it; all you need to do is fall out of
your bed. And just as the truths we intuit about the laws of gravity
affect how we walk, run, fly, or set the table for dinner, the beliefs we
have about God (whether they be true or not) have a trickle-down effect
that influences every decision we make.

A. W. Tozer writes, "What comes into our minds when we think about God is
the most important thing about us.... For this reason, the gravest
question before the Church is always God Himself, and the most portentous
fact about any man is not what at a given time he may say or do, but what
he in his deep heart conceives God to be like."(1)

Pause and think about that statement for a moment. All those things that
seem important--your reputation, the way you spend your time, your
political views--pale in comparison to the importance of what you believe
about God in your heart of hearts. Not only that, but how you handle all
of those other secondary things depend upon what you think about God. Is
He good, or is He out to trick us? Is He merciful or capricious? Are his
ways arbitrary and purposeless, or is He able bring blessing out of even
the deepest pain?

You may consider yourself a student of theology. You may have a
well-developed, intellectual framework for understanding your creator.
But this isn't the only kind of studying you have done. Every person's
understanding of God has also been shaped (and misshaped) by their
experiences and relationships. Some people have a misshapen idea of God
because Christians have hurt them; some draw their conception of God from
their relationship with their own father. Regardless of what your
experience has been, each of us has a heart theology that we live by,
which doesn't always line up with the intellectual view of God to which we

Consider spending some time examining your own "heart theology." What
comes into your mind when you think about God? Where did that come from?
How is it trickling down into your thoughts and actions?

We each have a need to ask these questions on a regular basis. We also
have a need to truly commune with God, so that our thoughts of Him will be
shaped by real interactions with Him. You may not feel like you have time
to just be in the presence of God, conversing with Him in prayer and
meditating on his word, but you may find yourself desperate to make time
when you realize that your conception of God influences whether you yell
at your kids or speak tenderly to them, whether you anxiously lie awake at
night or sleep peacefully, whether you destroy most of your relationships
or build lasting friendships. No one likes to be misunderstood. We were
made by a God who wants to be known, and He wants to be known by you.

Betsy Childs is associate writer at Ravi Zacharias International
Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

(1) A. W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy, (New York:
HarperCollins, 1961), 1.

Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM)
"A Slice of Infinity" is aimed at reaching into the culture with words of
challenge, words of truth, and words of hope. If you know of others who
would enjoy receiving "A Slice of Infinity" in their email box each day,
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Postmodern Mischief

November 21, 2006

Well, it may finally be time to send for the guys with the white coats to wrap me up and cart me off.

It used to be, in the old days, that the biggest decision new parents had to make was the name of their baby. The one thing they didn't have to decide was the kid's sex—that decision had been made for them, all they have to do is take a peek. That would be that.

Well, not any more, at least not in New York City.

You see, under a proposed Board of Health rule, "people born in the city would be able to change the documented sex on their birth certificates." They would need only to provide "affidavits from a doctor and a mental health professional laying out why their patients should be considered members of the opposite sex." They would also have to promise that "their proposed change would be permanent."

The proposed rule isn't aimed at people who have had "sex-change surgery." They are already permitted to do this. Instead, it's directed at people who "had lived in their adopted gender for at least two years . . . "

Read those words carefully: adopted and especially gender, instead of sex. It is a big hint that there's some major postmodern mischief at work here. "Sex" is what scientists call "binary": You either have an XX (that is, female) or an XY (that is, male) chromosome.

But if nature can't be twisted and shaped to suit our ideological predilections, words, especially in the hands of postmodern vandals, can be. If the goal is to separate "anatomy from what it means to be a man or a woman," then the use of the word gender is a must.

You see, "transgender" activists can get away with saying that gender is just "socially constructed" and more than "the sum of one's physical parts" because gender is a word that most people don't regularly use.

Substituting an obscure word, in this case, gender, for the more common one, sex, is intended to confuse and obscure. It's the kind of verbal tactic George Orwell, in "Politics and the English Language," compared to a cuttlefish squirting ink to confuse its predators.

Of course, what makes this squirting necessary is the denial of the obvious: "Living as a woman," whatever that means, no more makes you a woman than hiding a pot of gold makes you a leprechaun.

These verbal parlor games may wow them in the faculty lounge, but nature is unimpressed. They remind me of the hoax perpetrated by physicist Alan Sokal. He submitted a paper to a leading postmodern journal filled with postmodern gibberish like "physical 'reality' . . . is at bottom a social and linguistic construct."

After the paper was published, he revealed the hoax, that it was all gibberish, adding that those who believe that physics really is a "social construct" should test their beliefs from his twenty-first floor window.

Christians should not be shocked at any of this. Romans 1 tells us that God's truth is made plain in creation, and to deny this truth—in this case, "male and female created He them"—is to exchange the truth for lie, which Paul illustrates by an example of men lying with men, in other words, rejecting their God-given gender, which is a challenge to God's created order. Well, today we have renewed that old lie—that we can create ourselves the way we want, and peeking doesn't make any difference.

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and is dancing around the parking lot, playing the accordian and singing exuberantly.

Nice Blog!

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The First Pilgrims
Danielle DuRant

I imagine many of us know the names "William Bradford" and "Squanto." But
you may be unfamiliar--as I was--with their personal stories, which have
sobered yet encouraged me in the past.(1) William Bradford, you may
recall, was the first governor of Plymouth Plantation and was deeply
committed to Christ. (You can read his own journal reflections in Of
Plymouth Plantation.) He boarded the Mayflower in 1620 with his wife,
Dorothy, and sailed to America to seek a refuge with other likeminded
believers to worship freely. Yet William knew what it was to be a pilgrim
without a home at an early age. His father died when he was one; his
grandfather when he was six, and his mother when he was seven. Under
religious persecution, at 18 he fled his homeland of England to live in
Holland. A few years later he married Dorothy and had a son.

When it was time to sail to America, many agonized over the perilous
journey before them and their families' fate. William and Dorothy chose
to leave their only child, John (who was just four or five), behind for
fear of losing him. After they finally arrived in America, with the
Mayflower anchored off of Cape Cod and many of the Pilgrim men out
exploring a place to settle, Dorothy fell overboard and drowned. (William
remarried two years later, had three children, and his son John made it
safely to Plymouth to rejoin him.)

Of course, years before William Bradford and the Pilgrims settled in
America, tribes of Indians lived in this land. But in 1608 English traders
kidnapped many of them, including a 12-year-old boy named Squanto, sailed
to Spain, and then sold them into slavery. A monk took pity on Squanto
and brought him to his home, where he was taught the Bible and English.
When the monk learned that English ships were sailing to America, he sent
Squanto to live with a family in England so that he could one day sail
home. Ten years after being kidnapped, Squanto finally arrived home. But
it was no more. His entire village had been wiped out by an epidemic
carried by white men.

Squanto lived nearby with a neighboring tribe until one day he learned
that a group of English families had settled in the village that was once
his own home. Yet it had been a difficult first winter and spring for the
Pilgrims there, and many died. Thus one can only imagine William
Bradford's amazement and gratitude when he heard "Good morning. My name
is Squanto" from a kind Indian stranger. Squanto soon taught the starving
Pilgrims how to fish and plant corn. In his journal, William Bradford
would later call Squanto "a special instrument sent of God for their good
beyond their expectation."

Children's author Eric Metaxas draws a biblical analogy from Squanto's
life and imagines Bradford's conversation with Squanto: "'It is like the
story of Joseph from our sacred Scriptures.... Like you, Joseph was also
taken from his home and sold as a slave. But God had a plan for him.
Through Joseph, God was able to save many people from starving. What man
intended for evil, God intended for good.' Then Bradford smiled at
Squanto. 'Perhaps God has sent you to be our Joseph,' he said."(2)

And you know the rest of the story: Months later William Bradford and
Squanto, and the Pilgrims and many Indians would celebrate the first
Thanksgiving together.

This Thanksgiving, as we remember their hardship and perhaps bear our own,
might we also draw strength from their hopeful perseverance, gratitude to
God, and joyful celebration. For the psalmist reminds us that we are also
pilgrims in this land, and how "blessed are those whose strength is in
[God], who have set their hearts on pilgrimage. As they pass through the
Valley of Baca (literally, "weeping"), they make it a place of springs;
the autumn rains also cover it with pools. They go from strength to
strength, till each appears before God in Zion" (Psalm 84:5-7).

Danielle DuRant is director of research and writing at Ravi Zacharias
International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

(1) I am indebted to a wise friend who introduced me to William Bradford's
story in Barbara Rainey's Thanksgiving: A Time to Remember
(Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2003). Further details on Bradford's life
may be found online at The Pilgrim Hall Museum's website
(2) Eric Metaxas (associate editor with Chuck Colson's Breakpoint) tells
Squanto's story in his children's book Squanto And The Miracle Of
Thanksgiving (Nashville: Tommy Nelson Books, 1999). Quote appears on
p. 29.

Copyright (c) 2006 Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM)
"A Slice of Infinity" is aimed at reaching into the culture with words of
challenge, words of truth, and words of hope. If you know of others who
would enjoy receiving "A Slice of Infinity" in their email box each day,
tell them they can sign up on our website at If they do not have access to the
World Wide Web, please call 1-877-88SLICE (1-877-887-5423).
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Journey of Thanks
Jill Carattini

The well-known lines of William Blake's last epic poem "Jerusalem" conjure
images of Jerusalem's first pilgrims:

I give you the end of a golden string;
Only wind it into a ball,
It will lead you in at Heaven's gate,
Built in Jerusalem's wall.

Several times a year, when it was time to celebrate a festival, crowds of
pilgrims would make the trek together toward Jerusalem. Many traveled
from a great distance, their caravans taking more than a few days to
arrive. For some the trip was no doubt long and strenuous, and it would
perhaps be understandable if, when the journey was trying, only a drudging
sense of obligation moved them forward. (Celebrating the Feast of Passover
was a command hastening back to the last days of slavery in Egypt, and
later reinstated under King Josiah.) Yet, in the Scriptures, not only the
feast itself but the trip as well is described as a time of celebration and

The psalmist remembers leading the procession to the house of God, "with
shouts of joy and thanksgiving among the festive throng" (42:4).
Elsewhere the writer recalls the presence of God and the fellowship of
believers as they walked together among the crowds to Jerusalem. "I
rejoiced with those who said to me, 'Let us go to the house of the LORD'"
(122:1). The journey itself, though trying or tiring, was an integral
part of the festival.

There are days when the reality of my life as a pilgrim moving with the
multitudes is as shining as Blake's golden string. I see myself on a
journey in great company, and like the writer of Hebrews and the ancients
before me, I am sure of what I hope for and certain of what I do not see.
There are also times when I see no golden string and begin to wonder if I
was ever really given one. On these days I feel more like a lonely
wanderer than a voice in the great assembly.

But in the imagery left behind by the psalmist I believe there is hope to
proclaim on the journey. In every season of a life moving toward God, the
psalmist shows us that the one we journey toward is the reality that sets
our hearts toward pilgrimage in the first place. In this alone is there
not reason to give thanks along the way? We seek because there is one
to find. Whether in loneliness or in triumph, we are given songs
to sing. And in Christ we find the most hopeful image of a pilgrim, a man
who knew he was far way from home, and laid down his life to show us the
way. We are promised that the road is costly, even as he offers a burden
that is easy and a yoke that is light.

As the weary pilgrims of Israel made their ascent to the Temple Mount in
Jerusalem, they sang with the journey yet on their hearts: "How lovely is
your dwelling place, O LORD Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for
the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God"

It is a stirring image: a great crowd making the ascent to worship God
after a long journey already wrought with thanksgiving on their lips. It
is all the more stirring to see yourself as one of them: "Blessed are
those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage"
(Psalm 84:5).

Jill Carattini is senior associate writer at Ravi Zacharias
International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM)
"A Slice of Infinity" is aimed at reaching into the culture with words of
challenge, words of truth, and words of hope. If you know of others who
would enjoy receiving "A Slice of Infinity" in their email box each day,
tell them they can sign up on our website at If they do not have access to the
World Wide Web, please call 1-877-88SLICE (1-877-887-5423).
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A Thanksgiving Kind of Hero"
2 Kings 7:9

Listen to the audio broadcast!

There was almost no first Thanksgiving. There almost were no Pilgrims. Those Pilgrims who landed at Plymouth Rock got hit very hard their first winter. Many of them died, and many more could have died from starvation if it hadn't been for one man - an Indian brave they called Squanto. As a young man, he'd been kidnapped and carried off to England to be a servant. While Squanto was there, he learned English and he learned about Christ. Because of the kindness of some people he met, he eventually made it back across the Atlantic to his people, except his people weren't there anymore. While he was gone, they'd been wiped out by an epidemic. He was the only one left. This was a man who knew a lot of tragedy and he knew a lot of hurt, but still he reached out to those early Plymouth settlers, struggling to survive. He taught them what his people knew about how to grow crops in that environment. He helped to build bridges between them and the Native Americans who surrounded them. He understood their language, he understood their faith, and he saved their lives.

I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "A Thanksgiving Kind of Hero."

If you belong to Jesus Christ, Squanto is more than just an interesting character in the story of the First Thanksgiving. He's a picture of your life, your destiny assignment from God. Because Squanto was Native American, he knew how to live in the new land of the pilgrims. Because he'd been wrongfully hijacked to another country, he understood the people who were struggling to survive in his land. Everything in his life seemed to prepare him for a vital mission - to help save the lives of people who otherwise would have died.

That's you - divinely positioned by God to help some people in your personal world meet His Son Jesus - their only hope of having any meaning in this life, their only hope of heaven when this life is over. And you're divinely prepared by God. The experiences, the interests, the personality, the pain - they're all gifts He's given you to connect with people who will listen to someone like you.

In 2 Kings 7:9, our word for today from the Word of God, we see another picture of the life-or-death mission God has entrusted to each of us. It's the story of four lepers who eked out a life outside the walls of their city. They weren't allowed in the city because of their leprosy. But when an enemy army besieged their city, nearly starving them into surrender, well there was no food to keep them alive. Each morning, they could hear the anguished cries of mothers in the city whose child had starved to death during the night. In desperation, they decided to walk into the enemy camp and try to surrender, and to their amazement, they found the enemy camp deserted. God had miraculously frightened them into retreat. So the lepers went from tent to tent, gorging themselves with food.

Finally, they woke up to the mission they had because of what they had found. The Bible says, "They said to each other, 'We're not doing right. This is a day of good news and we are keeping it to ourselves ... Let's go at once and report this...'" They did, and they saved many lives.

You have Jesus. You have the good news that lives around you depend on. Are you keeping it to yourself? Whatever you're afraid of, whatever is keeping you from telling the people you know about your Jesus, can it possibly be as bad as letting them live and die without knowing their only hope? God has divinely prepared you to be the kind of person they'll listen to. Your biography is your credentials, and God has divinely positioned you to help the people you know be in heaven with you. Freely you have received, freely give.

Talk about "Thanksgiving" - just imagine a day in heaven when you meet the people that you told about Jesus. They'll be giving thanks to Jesus forever for what He did for them on the cross - and to you, for telling them about Him.

How can I help support the work of Ron Hutchcraft Ministries?

To find out how you can begin a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, please visit YOURS FOR LIFE: HOW TO HAVE LIFE'S MOST IMPORTANT RELATIONSHIP at:
Or, call 1-888-NEED HIM.

"A Word With You" by Ron Hutchcraft is a daily radio challenge, with slice-of-life illustrations and insights - providing practical help on the issues that matter most. If your local Christian radio station does not air "A Word With You," please let them know how much you value this program. Over six years of transcripts are available online, at
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Giving From the Bottom
Malachi 1:6

Listen to the audio broadcast!

During holiday seasons in America, and especially at Thanksgiving, you can actually call the Butterball Turkey Hotline. And, yes, you can get an answer to whatever turkey questions you may have. A famous news commentator said that they had monitored that hotline last Thanksgiving, and one lady called and she said, "I've had this turkey in my freezer for 23 years. Can I use it?" This is a true story! The man on the hotline said, "Well, if your freezer has been set on zero degrees the whole time and it hasn't been defrosted, then the turkey is probably okay. Maybe the taste isn't, though." Well, the lady decided she wouldn't use the turkey after all. She gave it to her church.

When that lady gave to God's work what she really had no use for, she wasn't the only one. That's been going on for a long time. Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Malachi chapter 1 beginning at verse 6 where God says to his ancient people, "You show contempt for my name. But you ask, 'How have we shown contempt for your name?' 'You place defiled food on my altar.' But you ask, 'How have we defiled you?' 'By saying that the Lord's table is contemptible. When you bring blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When you sacrifice crippled or diseased animals, is that not wrong? Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you?' says the Lord Almighty." This is a powerful dialogue, and here's what the Lord expects from us: not the lame, not the blind. No, Numbers 18:29 says, "You must present as the Lord's portion the best and holiest part of everything given to you." "The best, the holiest" he says.

But, the best is what we want to hang onto. We want a low risk commitment that gives to Jesus what doesn't matter that much to us while holding onto the things that really do. Obviously, we know we need to give something to this One who loves us and gives us life forever. But we'd like to reach into the freezer and meet our responsibility with some old turkey and maybe we can even get a receipt for it. God's reaction to that kind of giving? Well, Malachi 1:10 says, "'Oh, that one of you would shut the temple doors, so that you would not light useless fires on my altar! I am not pleased with you,' says the Lord Almighty, 'and I will accept no offering from your hands.'" God says, "Close the church, cancel the meetings, close your hymn books, and forget your offerings. I'm not accepting any of it anyway." What you have given to God is an insult, not a sacrifice.

We have a lot of time to put into making money, watching TV, recreation, sports, but we're just too busy to give prime time to the work of the Lord. When the call comes for young men and women to offer their lives for the Lord's work, we pull our son and daughter a little closer. We say, "Here am I, send someone else's child." We give what we can afford to give, financially anyway, and we keep most of our income to spend on ourselves. Remember Jesus isn't interested in the amount of the gift, but in the amount of the sacrifice. We "dedicate our life to Christ," but we only make Him Lord of the areas that aren't really important to us anyway. Jesus is officially Lord, but we still maintain control over the things that really matter: our relationships, our marriage, our money, our business, our ministry, our dream, our prize possessions. So like the believers of Malachi's day, we give to our Savior from the bottom, not the top, and we forfeit his blessing on our lives. We miss the peace; we miss the significance that could be ours if we gave Him our best.

Maybe you've been limiting His Lordship in your life, offering to Jesus your leftovers. Make this the day you say, "Enough mediocrity Lord. I've played games with your Lordship long enough. I am Yours, Jesus. I am all Yours." He deserves so much more than you've been giving. He says to you today in the words of the old hymn, "I gave, I gave My life for thee. What hast thou given for Me?"


To find out how you can begin a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, please visit YOURS FOR LIFE: HOW TO HAVE LIFE'S MOST IMPORTANT RELATIONSHIP at:
Or, call 1-888-NEED HIM.

"A Word With You" by Ron Hutchcraft is a daily radio challenge, with slice-of-life illustrations and insights - providing practical help on the issues that matter most. If your local Christian radio station does not air "A Word With You," please let them know how much you value this program. Over six years of transcripts are available online, at
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'God's Instrument'
The Story of Squanto

November 23, 2006

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 1618—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 a 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 and grandchildren learn about it. Sadly, most books about Squanto omit references to his Christian faith. But I'm delighted to say that Eric Metaxas has written a wonderful children's book called Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving. I highly recommend it. It will teach your kids about the "special instrument sent of God" who changed the course of American history.

This commentary first aired on November 3, 1999.

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Fish Out of Water
Christian Students on Secular Campuses

November 22, 2006

Note: This commentary was delivered by Prison Fellowship President Mark Earley.

As Christian college students across the country make the pilgrimage home for Thanksgiving, some of them return carrying more baggage than just overflowing laundry bags. College has confronted them with a slew of questions they didn't know they had—questions ranging from faith to sexuality to politics to their own future. If they've dared to identify themselves as Christians at a secular university, they've likely already felt the brunt of a professor's scorn or have even been called intolerant by a classmate.

Such was the experience of Abby Nye, who graduated from Butler University last spring. Spurred on by her journalist parents, she decided to document her experiences as a Christian at a secular university. In her new book, Fish Out of Water: Surviving and Thriving as a Christian on a Secular Campus, Abby covers topics ranging from orientation week, to the lecture hall, to the—you guessed it—party scene.

Through her own experiences and those of friends at other universities, she helps Christian students prepare mentally and spiritually for a college experience that their parents could not have imagined as recently as twenty years ago.

First, she dismantles the T-bomb: tolerance. Tolerance is a word tossed around like a hand grenade on campuses today. The shrapnel from being labeled intolerant can feel like a mortal wound. Abby Nye, however, isn't afraid to take so-called "tolerance" head on.

She emphatically explains, "Today's 'tolerance' makes the assumption that we all hold different beliefs, but those different beliefs are all equal. That appalls me. If I'm going to take the time to believe in something, have a conviction, live it out, and stand up for what I believe in, what good is it if I don't even believe that my beliefs are true? And if my beliefs are true," she continues, "why would I even consider a conflicting belief to be on the same level? I wouldn't!"

I wish more Christians had this twenty-something's conviction. But what I like most about Nye's book is how she engages the culture and encourages us to do the same.

While a defensive duck-and-cover drill would be, by far, the easiest game plan for a Christian at a secular university, it wouldn't be right. Nye goes on the offense, and she coaches others to do the same. "Start with courage," she writes. "Get off the sidelines, jump in, and play ball . . . Resolve that you will speak up. Secondly, resolve that when another Christian speaks up, [even] if it's not going well for him or her, that you will speak up and support that person." She cites Ecclesiastes 4:12, which says, "Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him" (NKJV).

Nye further advises students to stay cool; focus on principle, not personalities; limit the Bible-thumping; be encouraging; and smile, because, as she says, "You're right."

If you know someone in college, this fall be a coach: a coach who arms them with an offensive game plan. Fish Out of Water will help that young man or woman not only survive but also thrive as a Christian on a secular campus.

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What Happened AFTER the Feast
The Rest of the Thanksgiving Story

November 24, 2006

Thanksgiving is just about my favorite holiday—a wonderful combination of family, faith, and American-style religious freedom. I love the story of those hardy Pilgrims, and I love eating turkey and pumpkin pie and gathering with family.

Many of us tend to think of the first Thanksgiving feast as the official end to all the Pilgrims' difficulties. Wrong: Their survival would remain in jeopardy for years to come. And yet, no matter how difficult things became, they never failed to offer thanks to God.

As every school child knows, the Pilgrims arrived in the New World in the winter of 1620. As the freezing weeks passed, nearly half their number died. It was a terrible time, but by spring, things began to improve. Friendly Indians helped the Pilgrims plant their crops. By October 1621, the fields yielded a harvest large enough to sustain the colony in the coming winter. The grateful Pilgrims invited their Indian friends to a three-day feast of thanksgiving to God.

That's where the story typically ends—for us. But for the Pilgrims, the hardships went on. The next month, a ship arrived with thirty-five new colonists. But to the Pilgrims' dismay, they brought no provisions. The entire colony was forced to go on half rations that winter. At one point, with food running out, everyone was forced onto a daily ration of just five kernels of corn.

As my friend Barbara Rainey writes in her book, Thanksgiving: A Time to Remember, by spring, the colony was weakened by hunger and sickness. While the bay and creeks were full of fish, the Pilgrims' nets had rotted. Were it not for shellfish, which could be dug by hand, they would have perished. Despite the great difficulties, they thanked God for His provision.

More ships arrived that year, usually bringing newcomers with no supplies. Pilgrim father William Bradford wrote in his journal that, given the poor harvest, it "appeared that famine must still ensue the next year also."

By April 1623, the conditions were desperate. The Pilgrims planted double the corn of the previous year, only to see a drought several weeks long threaten the precious crop. In response, the Pilgrims held a day of fasting and prayer, asking God for rain. Pilgrim father Edward Winslow wrote that by evening, "The weather was overcast, [and] the clouds gathered on all sides." It was the beginning of two weeks of rainfall. The crop was saved, and that fall, the harvest was abundant. Another Thanksgiving feast was arranged, and again the Indians took part. As Winslow wrote, "Another solemn day was set apart . . . wherein we returned glory, honor, and praise, with all thankfulness to our God who dwelt so graciously with us."

They prayed this, remember, at the end of two terrible years filled with famine, hard work, and the loss of many loved ones.

As we gather with our families to celebrate our blessings, we ought to remember what happened to the Pilgrims after the feasting was over. Their steadfast trust in God is a reminder that we, too, need to trust in God, even in the most difficult circumstances—and thank Him.

May God bless you and yours this Thanksgiving.

This commentary first aired on November 24, 2005.

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But these are written so that you may
believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the
Son of God, and that by believing in
Him you will have life. Jn 20:31

Seek the Lord while He may be found;
call on Him while He is near. Let the
wicked forsake his way and the evil
man his thoughts. Let him turn to the
Lord, and He will have mercy on him,
and to our God, for He will freely
pardon. "For My thoughts are not
your thoughts, neither are your ways
My ways," declares the Lord. "As the
heavens are higher than the earth, so
are My ways higher than your ways
and My thoughts than your thoughts.
As the rain and the snow come down
from heaven, and do not return to it
without watering the earth and making
it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed
for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is My word that goes out from My
mouth: It will not return to Me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire and
achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
You will go out in joy and be led forth
in peace; the mountains and hills will
burst into song before you, and all the
trees of the field will clap their hands.
Instead of the thornbush will grow the
pine tree, and instead of briers the myrtle
will grow. This will be for the Lord's
renown, for an everlasting sign, which
will not be destroyed." Is 55

O Lord, you have searched me and you
know me. You know when I sit and when
I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying
down; you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue you know
it completely, O Lord. You hem me in -
behind and before; you have laid your
hand upon me. Such knowledge is too
wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where
can I flee from your presence? If I go up
to the heavens, you are there; if I make
my bed in the depths, you are there.

If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.

If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide
me and the light become night around
me," even the darkness will not be dark
to you; the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you. For you
created my inmost being; you knit me
together in my mother's womb. I praise
you because I am fearfully and wonderfully
made; your works are wonderful, I know
that full well. My frame was not hidden
from you when I was made in the secret
place. When I was woven together in the
depths of the earth, your eyes saw my
unformed body. All the days ordained
for me were written in your book before
one of them came to be.

How precious to me are your thoughts,
O God! How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them, they would
outnumber the grains of sand. When
I awake, I am still with you. Search me,
O God, and know my heart; test me
and know my anxious thoughts. See
if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
Ps 139

But indeed for this purpose I have raised you up,
that I may show My power in you, and that My
Name may be declared in all the earth. Ex 9:16

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of Glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small:
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.
- - Isaac Watts

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