Tag Archives: BreakPoint

BreakPoint – Garrison Keillor Says Farewell: Lessons from Lake Wobegon

For the past 40 years on National Public Radio, Garrison Keillor has served up a humorous slice of Americana through his Saturday night radio program, “A Prairie Home Companion.” Each episode features live music and amusing skits like “Guy Noir, Private Eye,” plus hysterical promotional spots like the one for Bebop-A-Reebop Rhubarb Pie.

But the highlight of each show comes near the end, when Keillor shares the news and latest gossip from his beloved Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong, the men are good-looking, and the children above average.

Now if you know Prairie Home Companion, you also know that Keillor’s worldview doesn’t always line up with a Christian worldview. So it may surprise you that we’re talking about it today on BreakPoint. But I think there are a number of things we can learn from the success of this show.

First, in an age where much of what we call entertainment is all flash and no substance, Keillor has accomplished the extraordinary. His show has become “appointment listening” each week for four million people on almost 700 radio stations. The successful longevity of Prairie Home Companion testifies to the power of great art and storytelling, and it’s a lesson for all of us who are called to share “the greatest story ever told.” As we say often on BreakPoint, Christians should be champions of the arts, especially those that, through story, point to the deep truths about life and the world.

Continue reading BreakPoint – Garrison Keillor Says Farewell: Lessons from Lake Wobegon

BreakPoint –  The Indictment of David Daleiden: The Culture of Death Shoots the Messenger

As you’ve probably heard, a grand jury in Houston Texas, originally tasked with investigating Planned Parenthood’s possible involvement in the sale of fetal tissue and body parts, has decided to instead to shoot the messenger.

Well, not exactly “shoot,” but something almost as inappropriate. The Harris County grand jury indicted both David R. Daleiden, the founder of the Center for Medical Progress, and his colleague Sandra Merritt, for “tampering with a government record.” Daleiden has also been charged with a misdemeanor related to the attempt to purchase human organs.

The first indictment is in connection with Daleiden’s and Merritt’s alleged use of fake California driver’s licenses to gain access to the various Planned Parenthood facilities. The second indictment is based on an email that Daleiden allegedly sent, offering to buy fetal tissue from Planned Parenthood.

To put it very mildly, what happened in Houston was ironic. While Daleiden’s actions amount to a prima facie – the legal phrase meaning “at first glance” – violation of Texas law, no one believes he intended to buy fetal tissue. His and Merritt’s goal was to expose those who profit from this gruesome practice.

Continue reading BreakPoint –  The Indictment of David Daleiden: The Culture of Death Shoots the Messenger

BreakPoint –  Which Christianity: Following Scripture or the Huffington Post

The big religion story of last year? Christianity is in decline in America. The sensational headlines were based on data from the Pew Research Center. But as Ed Stetzer of Lifeway Research observed in the USA Today, the folks writing the headlines must not have read the study.

It turns out that almost all of the reported decline took place not among evangelicals, but in mainline Protestant denominations, which have been in freefall spiritually and numerically for decades. And no wonder. The “Christianity” preached in many of them sounds more like the Huffington Post opinion pages than the Bible.

Take the Episcopal Church, which in 2003 began ordaining openly gay clergy, and in 2015 created a marriage ceremony to bless same-sex couples. Earlier this month, a majority of bishops from the worldwide Anglican Communion voted to suspend the at a meeting in Canterbury voted to suspend the Episcopal Church’s voting rights over its support for homosexuality.

This decision, along with the statement from the primates reaffirming one-man-one-woman marriage was due in large part to the leadership of the African bishops. As Archbishop Foley Beach of the Anglican Church in North America explained to me and Ed Stetzer on “BreakPoint This Week,” African Anglicans retain the traditional, biblical beliefs of the missionaries who planted their churches generations ago. And they feel abandoned by their American and European counterparts.

Continue reading BreakPoint –  Which Christianity: Following Scripture or the Huffington Post

BreakPoint –  Finding the Pool of Siloam: Another Testament to the Bible’s Accuracy

The Gospel of John chapter nine tells the story of Jesus’ healing of a man born blind. After telling his disciples that the man’s blindness had nothing to do with either the man’s sins or those of his parents, Jesus applied mud to the man’s eyes and told him to wash it off at the Pool of Siloam.

Since at least the fifth century, Christians had identified a spot in Jerusalem as the Pool of Siloam and the site of the miracle. But it was not until a decade ago that archaeologists found what they are certain is the ancient pool of Siloam.

Like so many such finds, it was almost by accident. During construction work to repair a water pipe near the Temple Mount, Israeli archaeologists Ronny Reich and Eli Shukron found “two ancient stone steps.”

According to Biblical Archaeology Review, “Further excavation revealed that they were part of a monumental pool from the Second Temple period, the period in which Jesus lived.” The pool was trapezoidal in shape and 225 feet long.

Continue reading BreakPoint –  Finding the Pool of Siloam: Another Testament to the Bible’s Accuracy

BreakPoint –  Critiquing Culture for Christ and Our Neighbor

Back in the old days—so I’m told—Christians used to compete with one another to see who could reject culture the most. Sometimes this was good and necessary.

For example, whatever you think of the temperance movement of the early 1900s, there is no doubt that it addressed a massive social problem—widespread public drunkenness and addiction to alcohol.

Sometimes to embrace a good thing, such as a faithful walk with Christ, we must first reject a bad thing. But sometimes we reject things that maybe we shouldn’t, because rejecting them means cutting ourselves off from contact with people who need to hear about Jesus.

Now I’ve made a big deal about not having enough Christians in the arts telling our stories, based of course on the Greatest Story Ever Told, to a culture that’s unknowingly starving for the True, the Good, and the Beautiful.

And as I mentioned recently on BreakPoint, our culture makers seem to be running out of fresh ideas, so they keep recycling the old stuff. Take the commercially successful but artistically vacuous Star Wars remake, for example.

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BreakPoint – J.I Packer’s Christian Journey–and Ours: Knowing God  

One fall afternoon in 1994, as a not-new but certainly newly-serious believer, I wandered into a tiny Christian bookstore near the small Christian college I attended. One book in particular caught my eye. Actually, it was the title that caught my eye:  “Knowing God.” At the time, I’d never heard of the author, J. I. Packer.

When I looked at the dust jacket, however, every Christian leader whose name I did know (like Chuck Colson, Joni Earackson Tada, Chuck Swindoll, Elisabeth Elliot, Billy Graham, and others) said something along the lines of: “This is one of the most important books I’ve ever read other than the Bible itself.” So I picked it up, and I’ve been recommending “Knowing God” ever since.

As I wrote recently on my blog at BreakPoint.org, the book is essentially a work of “devotional theology.” For many Christians, that may sound like two incompatible words, as if diving deep into theological truth is stuff of the “head,” while our walks with God are matters of the “heart.” Packer, in a thoroughly biblical way, destroys that false dichotomy in “Knowing God.”

It was especially two statements this Oxford-trained theologian made in the second chapter that hit me like a ton of bricks. First, “One can know a great deal about God without much knowledge of Him,” and second, “One can know a great deal about godliness without much knowledge of Him.”

Continue reading BreakPoint – J.I Packer’s Christian Journey–and Ours: Knowing God  

BreakPoint – The 2016 Wilberforce Award Weekend: Honoring Chuck, Equipping for Service

Back in 1987, Chuck Colson established an annual award to honor men and women who make a profound difference in the face of formidable societal problems and injustices. Chuck named the award after his hero William Wilberforce, the eighteenth-century British parliamentarian who stood against the prevailing culture and powerful economic interests in his campaign to abolish the slave trade.

Having written a biography of William Wilberforce myself, I can say without hesitation that winners of the Colson Center’s William Wilberforce Award have indeed embodied the spirit, compassion, and drive of that Christian statesmen. People like Philippine martyr Benigno S. Aquino, the Rev. Canon Andrew White, the vicar of Baghdad, and Professor Robert George of Princeton, a stalwart defender of religious freedom and the sanctity of human life.

One person who always got nominated for the Wilberforce Award was Chuck Colson. But he always refused to accept it. But this year is different. I can say in all love and in a way I hope would give Chuck a laugh, that he has no choice but to accept this year’s William Wilberforce Award.

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BreakPoint –  Autism and Totally Pro-Life: Helping to Bear the Burden

A few years ago, a Newsweek article told us about Hillary Toucey, a single mother of three living in Louisiana. Toucey’s life was, as you might imagine, difficult.

Well actually, most of us probably couldn’t imagine her life. Besides struggling to support her children by herself, Toucey’s two sons, Jonah and Eli, had been with diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Eli’s autism was severe on the spectrum, and he’d also been diagnosed with “cerebral palsy, celiac disease, epilepsy, and asthma.”

At the time of the article, Toucey wasn’t just Eli’s primary caregiver, she was his only one.

While Toucey’s case was, perhaps, exceptional, the stress she was under wasn’t. “One 2009 study found that the mothers of older autistic children had levels of the stress-related hormone cortisol similar to those found in combat soldiers and those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.”

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BreakPoint –  The Colson Fellows Program: Putting Your Worldview to Work

Imagine having dozens of new friends come into your life this year—friends who are, like you, committed Christians. These friends have the capacity to change your life forever, and help you develop your own ministry, using your own vision and your own God-given gifts. Plus, they’re a lot of fun. Wouldn’t you gladly embrace new friends like these?

Well I think, folks, you’d be crazy not to. Because these new friends are the leaders and participants of the Colson Fellows Program, formerly known as the Centurions Program.

As a Colson Fellow in training, you’ll spend nine months reading the best books, participating in teleconferences with the best thinkers, and attending three residencies with the best teachers of Christian Worldview—people like Jim Daly, president of Focus on the Family; Joni Eareckson Tada; Sean McDowell of Biola University, Nabeel Quereshi of the Ravi Zacharias Institute, and our own Colson Fellows National Director, Dr. Bill Brown, former president of Bryan College and Cedarville University. And yes, of course John Stonestreet and I will be speaking to you as well!

Chuck Colson founded this program, as he said, “to equip serious Christians to think seriously about all of life’s issues and to become change agents to strengthen the church and in turn the culture for generations to come.”

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BreakPoint –  Now THIS Will Change the Climate

One of the newest and most-rapidly spreading memes in popular science is what’s being dubbed the “Anthropocene.” According to this meme, human beings are having such an impact on the environment, especially the climate, that we’ve entered a new geological age.

That’s exactly the point a recent article that British geologist Colin Waters and his colleagues recently made in the journal Science. They argue that the combination of the “rapid global spread of novel materials including aluminum, concrete and plastics” and “fossil-fuel combustion,” and the “atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons” has produced “rapid environmental change” sufficient to call our times a new geological age.

Now to put this in perspective, the last shift in geological ages from the Pleistocene to the current Holocene, saw the end of the Ice Age. Average global temperatures rose 20 degrees in a century, drastically more than the worst-case scenario 3.5 degrees spike that climate change activists talk about today. Sea levels rose 400 feet, as compared to the one-to-two feet being worried about today. And when was the last time anyone saw a mammoth or sabre-tooth cat strolling down Sunset Boulevard?

Talk about the Anthropocene combines disdain for our species with an almost comically-inflated view of our power over the rest of creation.

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BreakPoint – Christian Health-Sharing: Putting ‘Affordable’ in Health Care

It’s been nearly six years since the “Affordable Care Act” became law, and for millions, the law mandating that we buy health insurance has made it anything but “affordable.” No wonder Congress recently passed yet another bill to repeal the ACA, though of course, the President vetoed it.

According to the annual Kaiser Family Foundation report, average annual family premiums for employer-based health insurance have risen by $4,865 since 2008. That’s a tough pill for many of us to swallow, especially given that when President Obama sold us the Affordable Care Act, he repeatedly promised to lower premiums by $2,500. And no, many folks didn’t get to keep their doctor either.

This year’s premium increases are even worse. The organization Freedom Partners notes, “In most states, health insurance premiums on the individual marketplace are rising by double digits.”

Now some people, particularly the poor, have benefited from Obamacare coverage, primarily by the expansion of Medicaid and guaranteed coverage for pre-existing conditions; but many other folks have been hurt badly by skyrocketing costs and broken promises. So where is that good news that I mentioned at the beginning of this commentary?

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BreakPoint – Death Stars and Déjà Vu: Hollywood is out of Ideas

2015 was an important year for a lot of reasons, but for the nerd community, one of the biggest milestones came on October 21—the day Marty McFly from “Back to the Future” arrived in a time-traveling DeLorean from 1985. Most of the film’s predictions didn’t pan out. Even though the Chicago Cubs came close to the World Series.

But when Marty McFly stumbled into an advertisement for “Jaws 19,” his sojourn in 2015 came eerily close to ours. As Ross Douthat points out in The New York Times, the fact that the top-earning flick of last year was the seventh installment in a saga that was already classic in Marty’s time says a lot about the state of Hollywood.

Consider that “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” dethroned a fourth “Jurassic Park” film at the box office and comes from a director who just rebooted Gene Roddenberry’s “Star Trek.” All of this in a cinematic climate dominated by recycled Marvel and DC comics personalities from the 1950s to 70s.

Continue reading BreakPoint – Death Stars and Déjà Vu: Hollywood is out of Ideas

BreakPoint – Powerball and the Moral Deficit: Bad Odds for the Poor

America is in the midst of Powerball fever. And it’s not hard to see why. The potential value of a winning ticket went from $40 million in November, to $800 million last Saturday night, to an estimated $1.3 billion as I record.

In interviews everywhere, people are fantasizing about what they would do with all that money. Many are admitting to buying tickets in bulk. Though in one a refreshing change of pace, a woman at a supermarket told a colleague that she wasn’t playing because, “No one needs that kind of money.”

Well, she’s definitely in the minority. People are lining up to buy, despite the fact that the chances of winning are astronomical: one in 292 million. In miles, that’s more than three times the distance between the Earth and the Sun, what astronomers call an astronomical unit or AU.

Now, if all that was happening was a bunch of people throwing away a couple of bucks on astronomically-long odds, it wouldn’t warrant comment. But that’s not the only thing going on here. As ESPN’s Tony Kornheiser recently said on his radio show, it’s clear that “the lure of easy money affects the segment of the population you wish it [that] it didn’t affect.”

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BreakPoint – A Possible Breakup: The Anglican Church Disagrees over Same-Sex Marriage

According to Wikipedia, the Anglican Communion, which consists of the Church of England and those churches in other countries that are in full communion with it, has 80 million members.

Statistically-speaking, the name “Anglican,” as in “England,” is a misnomer. It should be more properly named the “African Communion.” As historian Philip Jenkins has noted, the typical Anglican is not a middle-to-upper-class Englishman, but instead, a poor African woman.

Demographic diversity poses no threat to the Anglican Communion. On the contrary, it has revitalized Anglicanism even as membership and participation has declined precipitously in England and North America. What poses a major threat, however, is theological diversity, a.k.a., apostasy and heresy, courtesy of the American Episcopal Church.

A recent story in Britain’s Daily Mail told readers that Church leaders from Africa and Asia, led by Bishops from Nigeria, Kenya, and Uganda, “are threatening to walk out of a crucial meeting chaired by the Archbishop of Canterbury unless American bishops drop their support for gay marriage.”

Continue reading BreakPoint – A Possible Breakup: The Anglican Church Disagrees over Same-Sex Marriage

BreakPoint – Why We Pray: A Serious Answer for a Serious Question

Last week, Eric Metaxas told you about our brand new resource, “21 Days of Prayer for Life,” which will help you pray for all of the victims of abortion and for the protection of innocent life. It’s a free downloadable guide available at BreakPoint.org.

As you might imagine, Eric and I sometimes hear from critics. So, when I tweeted about this beautiful resource, I quickly got this reply from a skeptic: “What is the purpose of this prayer? Is your god not bothered until he gets sufficient prayers clocked up?” It was a snarky way of asking, “Why pray at all?”

Now, I rarely respond to sarcastic questions like this on Twitter. Those who ask rarely want answers, and even if they did, it would require more than 140 characters.

But to be clear, I don’t fault the skeptic for asking this question. Frankly, the whole idea of prayer can sound crazy, especially to skeptics. After all, if God is all-knowing, why am I asking for something? If He’s sovereign, isn’t He just going to do what He wants to do anyway? And if God is all-loving, shouldn’t He do good things without needing to be asked? If we’re honest, many Christians have asked similar—though less snarky—questions about prayer ourselves. I know I have! And my kids do too.

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BreakPoint – Is Football Too Violent for Christians to Support?

Thirteen years ago, Dr. Bennet Omalu, a pathologist working at the Alleghany County Coroner’s office in Pittsburgh, performed an autopsy on one of the Steel City’s greatest sports heroes: Steeler Hall of Famer “Iron” Mike Webster.

What the Nigerian physician found shocked him. Webster’s teeth had rotted away and he had resorted to using Super Glue to try to reattach them. His remains looked and smelled like he had been living in his car, which he had.

Omalu began wondering how a man so celebrated in life wound up dying as he did. The answer to that question is a story of courage, perseverance and more than a little faith. And it’s depicted brilliantly in the new film “Concussion” starring Will Smith.

Omalu examined Webster’s brain, which showed no readily visible signs of trauma. But further tests, which Omalu paid for out of his own pocket, revealed “brown and red splotches” all over his brain. These splotches, called “Tau proteins,” are also found in the brains of those suffering from Alzheimer’s and senile dementia. They’re described as being “kind of like sludge, clogging up the works, killing cells in regions responsible for mood, emotions, and executive functioning.”

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BreakPoint – The President and Gun Control: is There a Christian Perspective?

On Tuesday, an emotional President Obama announced a series of executive actions to, in his words, “do something to try to prevent the next” mass shooting. “We can,” the President told a cheering White House audience, “reduce gun violence a whole lot more” through “common-sense gun control measures.”

Among the measures outlined by the President are increased background checks for gun purchasers, additional licensing requirements for certain gun sellers, gun safety research, and funding for mental health care.

The President took specific aim at Republicans, urging Americans to “demand a Congress brave enough to stand up to the gun lobby’s lies.”

The political response was, pardon the pun, fast and furious. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said “the President has never respected the right to safe and legal gun ownership” and that the President “does not trump the Second Amendment.”

Other critics pointed out that the President’s actions would do little if anything to reduce gun violence or prevent another San Bernardino or Sandy Hook.

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BreakPoint – Praying for Life: Invoking God’s Mercy to End Abortion

January 22nd is the 43rd anniversary of the worst Supreme Court decision in our nation’s history. With Roe v. Wade, seven robed men gave America some of the most permissive abortion-on-demand laws in the world. Since that time, nearly 60 million unborn children have been killed in the womb.

This month, January, is the month so many American Christians memorialize the unborn through Sanctity of Life Sunday (this year on January 17), and the March for Life on the National Mall in Washington DC on January 22nd. And the day before the March, John Stonestreet and I will be speaking at two events: the Anglicans for Life conference and the Evangelicals for Life conference, co-hosted by Focus on the Family and the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. As you may know, John and I are very passionate about this issue. My wife runs a pregnancy care center here in New York City, and John’s mother ran one in Virginia.

Now, if you can join us in Washington DC, please do! But if you can’t, you can still be a part of the most significant cause of our day: the cause for life. How? Well, The Colson Center has prepared a free downloadable booklet called: 21 Days of Prayer for Life. We want to see millions of Christians appeal together to heaven to end this grave evil.

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BreakPoint – God’s Promise to All Peoples: Celebrating the Epiphany

Every year, PNC Wealth Management calculates the cost of the gifts mentioned in the song “The 12 Days of Christmas.” From a bill of $12,623 in 1984—the first year of the survey—Christmas has gotten increasingly costly, totaling more than $34,000 this year. If you were to pay for each gift every time it’s mentioned in the song, you’d be more than $155,000 poorer. Who knew that labor costs for “10 Lords a-Leaping” would be so high? Not included in their estimate, apparently, is the price of therapy to help you get the song out of your head.

Even without “The 12 Days of Christmas” ringing in their ears many people are ready to be done with Christmas by the day after. But to end Christmas too soon neglects one of the most important elements of the Christmas story.

In some churches, the Christmas season on the church calendar begins on Christmas Day and runs for twelve days, ending on January 5th. January 6—tomorrow—brings both the final story of Christmas and launches a new liturgical season, Epiphany.

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BreakPoint – Soul Mates: Bad Theology, False Expectations, and Deep Disappointment

 

Ronald Reagan once quipped that the trouble with his political opponents, “is not that they are ignorant. It’s just that they know so much that isn’t so.”

Well, I’ve had a bee in my bonnet for years over something that far too many of my fellow Christians believe in that just isn’t so. I speak, gentle listener, of the whole “soul mate” nonsense, especially when it comes to finding a husband or wife.

Let me be perfectly clear: No matter how many ads for Christian dating services you hear or trendy books you read, we simply don’t have “soul mates,” at least as our confused culture understands that term. Does this surprise you? It shouldn’t. Look for that concept, by the way, in the Bible, and the only thing you can find remotely close to it is the fierce friendship of David and Jonathan. “Jonathan made a covenant with David,” Scripture says, “because he loved him as his own soul.”

Now those are soul mates, friends. But the Bible knows nothing of romantic “soul mates.” This concept is more New Age than Christian. The Huffington Post gives nine signs that you’ve found your soul mate, the first one being: “You communicate without speaking.” Okay. One New Age website, however, gives three signs you’ve “definitely” found your soul mate: “You just connect without trying,” “Your level of communication is unmatched,” and “You create your own world together.”

That’s cute, it’s nice, maybe it’s even romantic . . . but it’s certainly not biblical.

Continue reading BreakPoint – Soul Mates: Bad Theology, False Expectations, and Deep Disappointment