Ephesians 3.20 says that God is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think according to the power at work within us. And today on Focus on the Family, we'll share a story that I think will inspire you to overcome challenges you might have as you experience God's power in your life. Your host is Focus president and author, Jim Daly, and I'm John Fuller. John, in our country today we can find many things that divide us, but perhaps with a little effort we could pay more attention to the things that unite us as Americans. We share so much more in common than we often recognize, which is a shame that we don't concentrate on that from time to time. It's easy to be discouraged by the fighting and the shouting at one another that we see almost on a daily basis.
And then, you know, cable programs just amplify all of that. Today we have such a great inspirational story from a man who has overcome difficult circumstances early in life, and I'm talking about Senator Tim Scott. There is so much we can glean from his experiences about being optimistic and engaging the culture in truth and love. And though we're an imperfect nation, there's still hope, and there's room for redemption at every turn. And that's the message in his book, America, a Redemption Story, Choosing Hope, Creating Unity. And of course we have the book here at Focus on the Family. Just stop by the website or give us a call to learn more. Now I know you're going to be encouraged by this recent conversation with Senator Tim Scott.
He's been in the U.S. Senate since 2013. And, Jim, here's how you began this episode of Focus on the Family, asking him about life in a single-parent household. Let's go back to those early years, what was going on, what was your family like, and how was little Tim thinking back in those days?
Yes, definitely. I'll tell you, one of the things I cover in my book, America, a Redemption Story, is how the seven-year-old me was sitting on the side of the couch with my parents who were about to divorce, and just the pain and the misery that I felt at the time. And it's one of my earliest memories of just trying to figure out what could I give up to keep my family together. What could you do? Boy, how could you relate to that? Like Christmas presents, they're gone.
Birthday, not necessary. If I keep my dad in the house, my mom together, I would have given up anything for that outcome. And it just wasn't possible. I'm not sure what you felt like, Jim, then, but I knew it was my fault. I just didn't know why it was my fault, but I knew it had to be me. And moving to my grandparents' house, moving in with my mother and my brothers, all three of us sharing one room, one bed for a few years, it was a different and difficult time in my life, and one where my self-esteem was dropping precipitously, and my view of the world had changed quickly as a seven-year-old.
Yeah. You know what's interesting with that? I had kind of a different response where you took it on and you felt it, and felt it sounds like a bit of guilt for what was going on.
I kind of was like, why don't these adults know how to act like adults? It was odd. Well, my wife would say it maybe created a little bit of a shell around my heart, though, a little bit of callousness, if I could say it that way. That's interesting.
So I have to struggle with that, like, you know, okay, they own their own decisions, I don't care what they decide. I did become a bit crusty as a kid. I think I would more like to relate like you, like a soft, tender heart. The funny thing is, I wish I had a little more of that citadel around the heart, to be honest with you.
Somewhere in the middle we'd be. Exactly, sincerely, because I think I am a far more sensitive person because I take on the responsibility and the guilt associated with that responsibility of falling short. And one of the things I had to work my way out of as a Christian was going back and understanding what my father, Abba Father, said about me. It's that Ephesians 2 journey of understanding who he says that I am. I've been adopted, according to Galatians 3, I think 29, I've been adopted into a family. And so my birthright and who I am isn't my experiences as a seven-year-old, it's my experiences that started on September 22, 1983. It's that new life that I should be looking at and defining myself from that perspective.
Until then, I didn't have that perspective. And so while I had a very religious life before my 18th birthday, I didn't smoke, didn't drink, didn't hang out. Followed the rules. Exactly, all the rules, right? But that's not Christianity. And frankly, the more I understand about my faith, the more I realize that it's not the rules, it's the love.
It's the story of redemption. I mean boundaries are great, don't get us wrong everybody, but that shouldn't be the motivation. You should follow the boundaries because you love Christ. Exactly, it's as if you love me, you keep my commandments. And frankly, not all that I was not doing was that what the word says you can't do, it's just the way that I had interpreted it. Especially with the interactions with my earthly father and the things that I saw that I didn't want to replicate.
And so there was a lot of forces that were at work in my heart that as I listened to you and the way that you responded to the same situation, I realized that both of us found a way to create a self-protection kind of zone. One of the things in the book you mentioned is the importance of your grandparents, that's awesome. I didn't have that element, we were the family shrub, we didn't have the tree, so we were just the siblings, mom and dad, and dad was gone. But speak to that unbelievable influence that grandparents, your grandparents were, and grandparents generally.
I mean so many grandparents are raising their grandkids now. One of the things, I love the story in my book, America Redemption Story, where I talk about my grandfather standing at the door just making sure that his grandkids were welcomed in. Standing at the door, that's awesome.
He was there and he just opened his arms. He was a big boy to him, he was a big guy. And my grandmother was a short lady, but she was powerful and robust in her faith. And one of the things that I remembered very early on while we lost any semblance of resources, the house was scarce at best, but the love, the abundance of love, the affection.
We were using the stove and the oven to heat the home, but the amount of love made it warm either way. And my grandparents really were the force to be reckoned with. They were the anchor, the glue, the glue for faith. It's the 2 Timothy story, 2 Timothy 1 talks about his spiritual heritage comes through his grandmother and his mother, and my spiritual heritage comes through my grandmother, then my mother. My grandfather literally was a good man and became a Christian later in life, but ultimately faith was seen through her actions, heard in her prayers, and felt through her discipline. And it was really a wonderful combination. Do you think, you know, with that influence, how much of an effect did that have keeping you moving toward God in your teen years and all that?
Because we sometimes, we don't even recognize those influences. Totally. Listen, if there were breadcrumbs left for me, they were my grandmother's. We went to church every Sunday, at least once, maybe twice. Every Wednesday was a necessary part of the week. And prayer and faith was always in the household. Yeah. And so I think you're right. There's no question that the borders or the boundaries of faith that existed from the time I moved in at seven, and frankly, even until I graduated from high school, even though we weren't living with her anymore, it was my grandmother's steadfastness that resonated.
Because we were going to church, whether you wanted to or not, whether you lived there or not, you were coming straight back to church. That's good. You had a mentor, I think you referred to him as John. Is it Moniz? John Moniz. Moniz.
And explain, that's another important thing, especially for us guys who don't have a dad present every day. We were both blessed to have men that came along that showed us the compass. Yes. John's case, who was he and how did he influence you? Yeah, so John Moniz was a Chick-fil-A operator. Okay. That's why I love Chick-fil-A, everybody listening.
I hope you all love Chick-fil-A, too, because I am enamored with it. One of the stories I tell in my book is about the important role that mentors play, and specifically John Moniz, who I met at 15 years old. I was still in search of myself, and John saw something in me that I could not see in myself, and he started teaching me some very valuable lessons about opportunity. He's the guy that taught me that having a job is a good thing, but creating jobs is a better thing.
Wow. He started planting the seeds of entrepreneurship early on. He said, and think about where we are in this country where we're having so many conversations about polarization. We're having a lot of conversations about race, but this is a white guy in the 1980s, no official program, just a guy who saw potential and loved people.
No other reason. He starts teaching me that if you want to be all that you can be, the first most painful step you must take is look in the mirror and take responsibility. You can't blame your mom because she's working long hours, or your dad because he's not around. He says if you're going to maximize your potential, you've got to look in the mirror and blame yourself for where you're not. That was hard for a little while, but he said it with affection. He didn't say it as judgment, he said it as an observation, and it's those words that rang in the back of my head, the echo chamber of my life, was that all things are possible.
It's going to take work, and the circumstances that you find yourself, it's not whether it's fair or not. It's do you want to overcome them? Do you want to live beyond them?
If you do, start with you. Yeah. Let's get back to the book. You, again, when you're a young man, you have an encounter with an orthodontist, which is beautiful, actually. It's a great story. I don't think you're 18, 19?
Yep, 19 years old. Tell us what happened there. And this, again, this is a great James kind of action on the part of the orthodontist to pour into you.
What happened? He did. So, Dr. Monty S. Harrington. I will love that man forever. The S part is good. Absolutely, yes, yes.
He was a great man. So, I'm 19 years old, I'm working in the mall, I walk about a mile and a half to the orthodontist's office, the closest one to the mall, by the way. And I walk into the office.
I have no ability to pay for what I'm getting ready to ask. And I walk up to the counter. Becky's there, a young lady at the counter, and she says, how can I help you? We check in. And Dr. Monty S. Harrington comes out and says, come on back. I came back and looked at my teeth, and I had two front teeth that did not like each other. Right. Literally. One was pointing to the left. My wife shares that. It's a tough one, right?
You've got to get them in alignment. Exactly, exactly. And Dr. Harrington was just so kind. He said, wow, I think I can help you. And I'm like, I bet you can. And so, he said, let me ask you a question, and we're going to go to work right now. He says, how much can you afford? I didn't know whether that was to literally kick me out because I couldn't afford something or what.
And the next question stunned me. He says, well, whatever you say, I will take, but you better pay it. Yeah.
I said, $40 a month. And he said, let's go to work. He literally did what he could immediately and committed me a verbal contract to pay him. Yeah. Not in writing.
Can you imagine a verbal contract for a couple thousand dollars worth of races? I'd like to believe in that, but yeah. My goodness. And so, my life has been blessed with people like Dr. Harrington, who literally saw the opportunity to do something for someone who could not do it for themselves, and he did it. And as a result, my esteem rose. People were investing in you. They were, in a way that I could not myself, but they all required me to do something. And I thank God for that part because the notion of individual responsibility that is woven through my book, America Redemption Story, is a very important key factor to one's own flourishing.
You have to do it for yourself. If you can, you should. If you can't, different conversation.
You know, Tim, let me ask you this. Because you're vibrant, you have a certain aura about you. I could see why people would see you as, wow, this kid's got something.
He's special. Generalize that a bit about how does a person wake up from maybe their poor situation, whatever it might be, and have a smile on their face, which I guarantee you had. I did. And that made a difference. People are willing to help people that are optimistic.
Absolutely. One of the – I did it when I started my first business as well. I went to a bank and literally with a lot of happiness and joy and no money, no credit, asked for a loan. And they said yes. Well, they said yes after they walked me through what it takes to get to yes. So it took a little time. But the truth is I wish we would explain this to our younger people.
Literally all things are possible, not because we said it, but because it is. And second thing is your responsibility comes first. You have to do all that you can, and by doing so with an expectation that others will come and help you where you can't help yourself. That's America, by the way. Every – it's almost every community, every culture in this country.
We have that key ingredient that when you put all your chips on the table, so to speak, even though I don't gamble, literally someone meets you there. And so I think the simple questions – the simple answers are simple. Number one, do all that you can. Number two, do it with the best attitude possible. Zig Ziglar said it a long time ago.
Altitude is determined by attitude. Right. And an attitude of gratitude will take you a long way.
Yeah, it's just so easy to work with people that have that attitude. Let me shift gears a little bit, and this is a broader question about the country we both live in. Certainly. Imperfect, definitely.
We talked about how many people are trying to get in here, though. Absolutely. Even with our imperfection. Yes. If you look back on the racial issues, which have been paramount over the last five, six years with certain things – George Floyd and BLM and all these things that are kind of expressing themselves right now. If you sit on the porch with your grandpa and have that discussion, what he lived through and what you're living through, I would think – but I'm a white guy. Yeah.
I would think you'd say, we've made some progress. Oh, my gosh. One of the things I say in the book is I tell the story about how my grandfather, born in 1921 – he died in 2016 at 94 – in 1921, he literally had to get off the sidewalks when he saw a white person coming and never make eye contact. Yeah. He spent his time at seven, eight, nine, ten years old picking cotton in a cotton field. Right. He lives long enough to watch his grandson pick out a seat in Congress. So in his lifetime, from cotton to Congress in one lifetime. Yeah.
So if you want to know the miracle of America, if you want to understand the evolution of especially the southern heart, look at the life of artist wear. And one of the lessons he taught me very early on was to never become bitter and don't ever allow yourself to be a victim. He said you can be a victim or you can be victorious. You can't be both.
Yeah. And if you become a victim, you've resigned yourself to wait for someone to do something for you or to you. If you're victorious, you look for the paths forward. And without really any expectation that his life was going to change, he knew that it was changing for his children. And because of that, he knew it would change for his grandchildren. So instead of judging America on where we have been, he judged us on where we could be.
Which is so good. Because, again, every nation has its flaws. Absolutely. You know, hopefully we'll begin to realize that bitterness factor that you're talking about. If we could all cooperate better and not be better and move forward, we'd be a better nation even beyond what we are today. Well, I think we are, without question, the land of hope and opportunity. We do need to take responsibility for the challenges that we've had. Yeah. And one of the ways that you look back and say, what is America doing about our original sin? And I think that's a fair question. Right. We should start, of course, with the Civil War, where we fought and lost 600,000 people, 4% of the American men, to set people free. Yeah.
That's a good start. Right. But think about when President Lincoln was pondering his second inaugural address and he was writing down, will the blood taken by the lash or the whip be requited at the tip of a sword? So there's this balance he saw in the universe. And he frankly said, well, the Creator, will God allow this war to tarry? And so we see that there's been a huge price paid for the sin. We look at the 1930s or the Jim Crow South or the 1960s and you see that we wrestle as a messy, I mean, human existence is just messy.
We wrestle with it, but we always come to the conclusion where we get better. And so now we look back, hindsight being 2020, we can look at 2008 with the election of the first African-American president, President Obama. Yeah. You should ask yourself, is America a racist country?
Well, I guess not. You see, 2020, the election of the first African-American vice president, we've had Colin Powell and Secretary Austin leading the most powerful military force in the history of man. You look at American Express and Ken Chenault and African-American leading that business.
We have so many examples of American prosperity and progress. But Jim, one of the challenges that we have, we don't tell the whole story. In today's time, you're either all bad or all good. Right. God forbid. Right.
That you tell both sides of the ledger. Right. That bad that we have seen in this country has been paid for by really powerful and good forces, typically humans, black and white ones, working together for a better America. That's the story of greatness. Yeah, no, I so agree. I'm thinking of Scholz-Nietzen who wrote that, you know, if it were only that easy to gather up all the evil people and put them somewhere. Yes. But the problem is evil cuts through the heart of every human being. No exceptions. I mean, it's kind of a gospel message right there.
It's Jeremiah 17-9. Exactly right. Yes.
I'm so encouraged by the choice movement when it comes to schools. Amen. And we've got Steve Shuck is a good friend here at Colorado Springs. Yes, yes. Chuck Colson, who, the late Chuck Colson was such a great friend of Focus. Of course, Colson Center and prison ministry he started.
Great job. One of the things he said to me is, Jim, we are condemning minority children into a life of poverty because of the schools they have to go to. Yes. These underperforming inner city schools that need to be shaken up, need better teachers. I'm sure there's good teachers in there, but generally they're not producing the product that they need. We call those schools Title I schools.
Yes. And I will say that without any question that not only are we typically condemning them to a life of poverty, we're also increasing the likelihood of incarceration. The average person, 70 percent of those who are incarcerated, I believe the percentage is, can only read at the fourth grade level.
That is a crisis that can be avoided by bringing options into the poor zip codes. I've said it consistently, that a quality education is the closest thing to magic in America. If you have one, you're on the right side of the tracks no matter which side of the tracks you're on. And if you have a bad education, you're on the wrong side of the tracks no matter what you look like. All the data supports that.
One thousand percent. And frankly, it is the great equalizer. We have perhaps a long road to go on fairness in the eyes of some, but the true answer isn't a racial answer. It's an education answer more than it is anything else today in America. Senator, in the closing moments here, I want to ask you about unity because we have so much division in our country. We can become easily frustrated at others who have a different worldview. But you look at 2 Timothy 2.24 where God says through Paul, be patient, enduring evil.
It's becoming more difficult. And I'm challenged by those scriptures, Tim, to be honest with you because you're doing it every day. But how do we love our neighbor, love the Lord, not get hyped up, not get emotional, out of control when it comes to the evening news? As Christians, it's volatile. I feel my blood boiling when I hear some of the stupidity that is going on.
And then I hear that still small voice saying, remember who you are, you're mine. Endure evil patiently. Yeah, that's a great question.
Right, right. One of the things that I close with this in my book, America Redemption Story, is I talk about my last chapter about the importance of looking towards America 2070. It's a long way away. I won't be here.
I'm not sure that I will either. But here's what I will tell you, in order for America to be the nation that we wanted to be in America 2070, we literally have to continue, according to Galatians 6, 7 and verse 9, be patient and in due season you're going to reap an amazing harvest. I don't believe that the scripture you were quoting tells us to sit back and be idle as evil roams the land.
Yeah. John 10 is perhaps a really good scripture for us to remember, that there is a thief that comes to steal, to kill and destroy, but Christ has come that we might have life and have it more abundantly. Think about the actions of Jesus.
He was very active, even in his disagreement. Think about the scene at the temple when he took the whip and cleared it out. Right. So we should not think of ourselves as passive because we're Christians. We should be an active ingredient for good, and when necessary, we should have a confrontation that stops evil from spreading.
I think if we don't remember the words of Thomas Aquinas that really basically says that if you're not angry when things are bad, question yourself. Yeah. No, that's good. My paraphrase.
Yeah. Just yesterday, my son Trent was telling me this. He heard it from Jordan Peterson, who is a very smart man. I don't know that he's a theologian.
So I say this with a word of caution, but he was watching Jordan Peterson, and he said he had made a comment that meek, the meek shall inherit the earth, is about being able to put the sword in the sheath, that you're trained to use it. Right. You can use it. Yes. But that you have the power to restrain yourself from using it.
So that's an interesting way to look at that scripture. It's not about being weak. No.
It's not about being strong if you need to be, but controlling yourself, which is what we're talking about. A hundred percent. Jim, I'm so excited over here. So let me jump into the conversation. It's James 4 10. It's like humble yourselves so you'll be exalted. Those who exalt themselves will be humbled. And so the question is, what's the difference? Well, humility is harnessed power.
If you can. Romans 13 says that there are ministers of the gospel and government given a sword. Well, think about the reason for sword.
Right. But justice is the key. It is not to go after your your arrogant desires because you're strong. You take from the weak.
That's also evil. It says that you were there and given a sword for justice sake. And if we remember that justice is not about me and you alone. Justice is about looking to the future and working our way back and doing what's right according to the gospel. We will have a just America. And a just America is always a strong, powerful America. And I'll end with this. Ronald Reagan says peace through strength. Yeah.
All of those are the same same point in the same thing converges on the same point. And this is great. And what a message you have in America. A redemption story and coming from you who have lived it with your extended family, your grandfather. You know, it's just such a refreshing way to look at the progress that is being made with more progress being required. Absolutely. And it's wonderful to see the hand of the Lord on you. I just I've had a great life and hopefully there's more more fun to have.
I'm sure it will be. Thank you for being with us. Yes, sir. Thank you for having me. God bless. What an upbeat and encouraging and hopeful message, Jim, from a recent conversation you had with Senator Tim Scott here on Focus on the Family. Yeah, John, and more of his story is captured in his book, America, a Redemption Story, Choosing Hope, Creating Unity.
And it'll encourage you and give you great tools for bridging the gaps that can sometimes feel impenetrable in our society. And when you send a gift of any amount, as we often do here at Focus on the Family, if you can send a gift, we'll send you the book as our way of saying thank you for joining the ministry and being part of it. Yeah, support the work of Focus on the Family. Make a donation as you can and ask about that book when you call 800-232-6459.
That's 800, the letter A in the word family, or check the episode notes for the link. And on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for joining us here on Focus on the Family. I'm John Fuller inviting you back as we once more help you and your family thrive in Christ. I was shocked when she gave me the divorce papers. I was so done.
I had reached my breaking point. I was desperate for a shred of hope so I called the Hope Restored team at Focus on the Family. They listened to me and they asked about what was happening in my marriage. They encouraged me and my wife to attend one of their marriage intensives for couples in crisis and they prayed with us. They helped me believe that my marriage could be saved. I agreed to go but was very skeptical that anything could help us.
But the whole environment was so safe and non-judgmental. I felt my heart start to open up as we worked with the counselors. Both of us still have work to do in our marriage but for the first time in a long time we have hope again. Focus on the Family's Hope Restored marriage intensive program has helped thousands of couples who thought that their marriage was over. Find out which program is right for you at HopeRestored.com
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