Thanksgiving and the Pilgrims (Part 2) – Squanto

If ever there was a reason to believe the God has a plan for individuals, you can see this in the life of a Native American named Squanto.

As winter of 1621 was fading, and spring arriving, an Indian named Samoset entered the Plymouth colony peacefully.

Samoset was from an Indian tribe in present day Maine.  He loved to travel, so he had picked up on the English language in his travels.  The next week, Samoset brought another English-speaking Indian named Squanto.   William Bradford (governor of the Plymouth Colony) called Squatno: “a special instrument sent of God for their good, beyond their expectation.”

Squanto’s story is an amazing story of tragedy, injustice, then redemption.  After being captured in North America, Squanto had spent nine years in England.  John Smith returned him to the new world, but he was captured and sold into slavery.  Some local friars in North Africa bought Squanto, introduced him to Christianity.  Squanto left the monastery and returned to London where he found a  captain who agreed to take him to the new world.

When the ship arrived in present-day Maine, they picked up an Indian named Samoset.   Six months before the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth, Squanto arrived in that area.   He discovered every single person from his tribe had been wiped out.   He eventually joined another tribe (Wampanoag tribe, with Massasoit as the chief).

Squanto must have felt his purpose for life was over.   However, God had a plan!

The Pilgrims landed in a place where the closest Indian tribe was the Wampanoag, which was probably the only Indian tribe on the northeast coast of America that would have welcomed the white men as friends.   With Chief Massasoit’s approval, Squanto stayed with the Pilgrims.

Squanto taught the Pilgrims how to fish for eels with their feet and hands.   It was April, so it was corn-planting season.   Squanto taught the Pilgrims how to plant corn (using fish as fertilizer).   Squanto warned them to guard against wolves, who would eat the fish that were decomposing as fertilizer
By summer, 20 acres of corn was flourishing.  Squanto also taught them to stalk deer, plant pumpkins, refine maple syrup from maple trees , and discern what herbs and berries were useful.  Beyond immediate survival, Squanto taught the Pilgrims the value of the beaver pelt.  The beaver pelt became the economic engine that helped the Pilgrims prosper.

By April 1621, Captain Jones of the Mayflower begged the Pilgrims to return to England, for he was fearful of their survival.  None took him up on the offer.  Through the help of a Native American named Squanto, they had learned how to survive.

I am sure that Squanto thought he had no reason to live after losing his people.  But, God had prepared Squanto and a group of people known as the Pilgrims to intersect at the right time.  God had a plan!

Remember this Thanksgiving that God has a plan for you.  In the middle of adversity and tragedy, He still has a plan bigger than what you can see.  The story of Thanksgiving reminds us that we are part of His plan, and it’s bigger than we realize!


* This is a re-post from November 19, 2011

Information taken from: Marshall, Peter, and David Manuel. The Light and the Glory. Old Tappan, N.J.: Revell, 1977.

Thanksgiving and the Pilgrims (Part 1) – The First Winter

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because it hasn’t been sabotaged completely by consumerism and secularism.   Still, we can easily forget the sacrifice and the challenges the Pilgrims endured in order to create this new society we now enjoy (The above picture is a painting of the Mayflower in Plymouth harbor).

Here’s some facts from the first winter (1620-1621):

The Pilgrims left England August 5, 1620.

After one ship malfunctioned, and others changed their mind, 102 Pilgrims crowded on one ship, the Mayflower.

After several delays in England, they had 7 weeks of difficult sailing.

November 9, 1620 they first spotted land, which is now Cape Cod[1]

The exploration crew found abandoned corn (even though they had never eaten corn before).  This corn would sustain them that first winter.[2] God had providentially provided this corn to help the Pilgrims survive.

Facing a long, cold New England winter, their bodies were depleted from the long ship ride.  Scurvy and pneumonia began to set in among the colony.

Six died in December.  Eight in January.  Seventeen in February.  In one part of February, there were 2 to 3 dying a day.  At one point only 5 men were able to care for the sick.

They would bury the dead at night, so the spying Indians who were hostile wouldn’t see their decreasing ranks.

In March, 13 died.

When the worst was over, 47 had died, almost half the original number[3].

The winter of 1620-1621 almost ended the dream of a new society, but by God’s grace and the determination of these amazing pioneers, the Plymouth Colony prevailed.

This Thanksgiving, remember the origins of this holiday.   The story of Thanksgiving is more than a simplistic pause to say “thanks.” Thanksgiving is a story of survival, provision, destiny, loss, grace and miracles.    It’s still our story, and its unfolding in our lives.   Remember the Pilgrims, and reflect on God’s plan for your life too.

* Note:  This is a re-post from November 18, 2010

[1] Marshall, Peter, and David Manuel. The Light and the Glory. Old Tappan, N.J.: Revell, 1977, 115-119.

[2] Marshall, 122.

[3] Marshall, 126-127.

Thanksgiving 8 Days Early

We will have a Church Thanksgiving Dinner beginning at 6:00 p.m. for our mid-week service.  We will still have youth service and children’s ministry beginning at 6:30 p.m., but the adults will continue to fellowship during the normally scheduled service time.

If your last name is A-S, bring a side dish to share.  If your last name is T-Z bring a dessert or bread to share.

This will be a special time to share a meal and connect with one another.

Intend Conference

On Tuesday and Wednesday (November 15 & 16), Pastor David and I will be attending the Intend Conference in Murfeesboro, TN.   Alan Jackson leads one of the least promoted mega-churches in the nation in World Outreach Church – and its right here in Middle Tennessee!   I’ve admired this church for years, and I’m looking forward to learning growth principals from Jackson and his staff.  There is always more to learn!

Weekend Review – November 14


1. I loved the focus during our service Sunday.  We didn’t get distracted with issues of the church organization, but focused on worship, communion and teaching.

2. I was inspired by the team that canvassed for the Thanksgiving Blessing.   So glad for people who do the “share his love” part of Know His Love, Share His Love.  The Thanksgiving Blessing will happen this Saturday at 9:00 a.m. at the Goodwill Parking lot  in Hendersonville.

3. I enjoyed seeing Vanderbilt beat Oregon in their home opener in men’s basketball.  I never dreamed they would lose to Cleveland St. on Sunday, so I’m glad I skipped that game.

4. We enjoyed time with our extended family Sunday afternoon as we celebrated my 2 year old nephew’s birthday.   Such a nice afternoon of fellowship and relaxation.

5.  Speaking of activity, I’ve been thrilled to see the increased fellowship in our lobby since we’ve added the new furniture.   We’ve created a much better atmosphere for fellowship and we’ll continue to work to improve the atmosphere of the lobby.

5. If you see activity at the church on Sunday nights when there is nothing scheduled, your probable seeing Grace Church.   This church plant meets across the highway from us at the movie theatre, and they are led be a group of great guys.

Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial

On November 13, 1982, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was dedicated in Washington, D.C.   This place of remembrance is a beautiful architectural accomplishment with a powerful message.  I’ve visited the memorial several times, and have been deeply touched each time.

It’s difficult to romanticize war when you see the black cut-stone masonry wall, with the names of 58,261 fallen soldiers carved into its face.[1]

The Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial was designed by Maya Lin.  In 1981, at age 21 and while still an undergraduate, Lin won a public design competition for the memorial, beating out 1,441 other competition submissions.[2]    She created a masterpiece that is now an American treasure.

[1] “Facts and Figures”.Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund. Retrieved January 3, 2009.


I have loved preparing for my current series called Legends.   On Sunday (November 13) I am teaching on Abraham.  The biography of Abraham is dripping with grace.  Abraham wasn’t perfect, but he was used in an incredible way.   If God used Abraham, He will use you.

Join me at either 9:00 a.m. or 10:45 a.m. to be inspired and encouraged by this message.

“It’s Friday, Friday” (for the rest of 2011)

Many of you know that I am pretty disciplined about taking a day off each week as my Sabbath.   For the last six years, that day has been Monday.   CIL has been wonderful at recognizing this aspect of my schedule.

For a variety of reasons, I am going to experiment with taking Friday as my Sabbath instead of Monday for the rest of 2011.

So, if you have resisted contacting me for church issues on Monday, have at it the rest of this year.    Let’s see how this works for the church and my personal life.