Tag Archives: Charlie Brown

Night Light for Couples – Noble Character

“A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones.” Proverbs 12:4
A girl named Lucy gained something of a reputation for her deceitful nature. Countless times she persuaded a boy named Charlie Brown to try to kick the football she was holding, and each time she snatched it away just before he could boot it.
In the comic strips or in real life, a deceitful woman is best avoided. Solomon described such a wife as “decay in his bones.” The king must have known many a troublesome woman, for he also declared, “Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife” (Proverbs 21:9). The Bible lists many other examples of women who showed disgraceful behavior, including Eve and Lot’s wife (disobedient), Michal (critical), Jezebel (unscrupulous and violent), Job’s wife (foolish),
Herodias (cruel), and Sapphira (greedy).
Temptation will come to even the most spiritual among us, but the wife who holds fast to her noble character will bring glory to God and blessings to her husband and herself.
Just between us…
(wife) If you were asked to describe my character, would the word noble come to mind? Why or why not?
What is noble character, and how can it bring glory to God? (You might consider some examples of noble women in the Bible—Ruth, Abigail, Mary of Bethany, and Mary, the mother of Jesus.)
How can you and I teach noble character to the next generation?
(wife) Dear Father, help me to receive the teaching of Your Word: It’s noble character—not youth, beauty, charm, or wealth—that will make me a priceless crown to my husband. Help me to be that kind of wife in word and deed. Amen.
From Night Light For Couples, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Good News of Great Joy

 

One of the wonderful aspects of the Christmas season is the celebration of unique and sometimes quirky family “traditions” that make the season special for each one of us. In my family, we had several Christmas television specials that became part of our celebration ritual. One of my favorites was “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” I loved the music by Vince Guaraldi that undergirded the animated characters and plot; I loved the fact that Charlie Brown finds the lowliest Christmas tree for the pageant, and I loved Linus’s gentle, yet poignant reminder of the true meaning of Christmas. I will never forget his slow walk to the center of the stage with thumb in mouth and blanket trailing behind him.

To this day, his recitation from the second chapter of Luke still gives me goose bumps. Tears of joy and beauty easily fill my eyes as I hear his small, childlike voice proclaiming the powerful message of God’s good news for the whole world:

“And the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths, and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom God is pleased’” (Luke 2:8-14).

In recalling Linus’s recitation, I’ve been thinking about the message of good news the angels proclaimed to the shepherds that starry night. I think about what a contrast that message is to our prevailing “bad news” messages today. Random violence, terror, and wars continue; thousands dying of Ebola in West Africa; an increasingly hostile political climate; and news of illness and loss of life among friends and family. It is hard not to feel at times that the world is full of bad news.

As I juxtapose the bad news of our world with Luke’s message of good news, I have to wonder if it’s just wishful thinking. In light of our bad news world, what is good about the good news?

Notably, the angel proclaims that salvation has come in one “born this day in the city of David, who is Messiah.” For those poor shepherds, this was indeed good news! Their deliverer had come to rescue them from Roman oppression, and now all of Israel would be restored under the rule of God’s messiah. But this good news would go beyond the boundaries of ethnic Israel to the whole world. The good news of God’s promised Messiah demonstrates God’s favor towards ‘all people.’ “Glory to God in the highest,” the angel host proclaims, “And on earth peace among men with whom God is pleased.” The Greek word for pleased literally means “to think well of, to approve, or to take delight in or pleasure.” So often, perhaps influenced by bad news all around us, many of us struggle with a foreboding sense that God is angry with us, smoldering with rage and wrath against us. But the angels declare the exact opposite—and this is indeed, good news! God sends Jesus, the Messiah, out of a sense of delight and pleasure with his creation. The Messiah coming as one of us, Immanuel, God with us is the greatest good news we could ever hope to receive. Jesus says in John’s gospel, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only, begotten son; that whosoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

In the face of the bad news of our world and in our lives, the good news of God should resound in our hearts and minds as we enter the Christmas season: God is with us, God is pleased with us, and God loves us! Jesus inaugurates the reign of good news, his shalom, even in the face of bad news. All are invited to share in this good news. The good news of God’s reign exists even in the midst of crisis. The good news of God’s reign offers hope that Immanuel has arrived in Jesus. And even when the news is overwhelmingly bad, the promise resounds: “In the world, you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). This is indeed good news.

Margaret Manning Shull is a member of the speaking and writing team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Bellingham, Washington.

Our Daily Bread — A Better World

Our Daily Bread

1 Peter 2:9-12

[Keep] your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that . . . they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God. —1 Peter 2:12

In one of my favorite Peanuts cartoons featuring Charlie Brown, the always confident Lucy declares, “How could the world be getting worse with me in it? Ever since I was born the world has shown a distinct improvement!”

Of course, Lucy is displaying an unrealistic and elevated opinion of herself, but she makes an interesting point. What if we were to try to make the world a better place by displaying the love of Christ wherever God has placed us?

When Peter wrote to persecuted believers, he advised them to “[keep] your conduct honorable” (1 Peter 2:12) by doing good deeds that will ultimately bring glory to God. In other words, we can make our world a better place through our actions. Think of the difference that Christlike deeds of love, mercy, forgiveness, justice, and peace would make in our world. I’ve always thought that if we lived out this verse, people might say, “Our office is a better place because ______ works here.” Or, “Our neighborhood is a better neighborhood.” Or, “Our school is a better school.”

We can’t change the entire world singlehandedly, but by God’s grace we can let the difference Christ has made in us make a difference in the world around us. —Joe Stowell

Love is giving for the world’s needs,

Love is sharing as the Spirit leads,

Love is caring when the world cries,

Love is compassion with Christlike eyes. —Brandt

Everyone can do something to make the world better—we can let Christ shine through us.

Bible in a year: Judges 7-8; Luke 5:1-16

Insight

Peter wrote to encourage believers in Asia Minor (modern Turkey) who were being persecuted because they were Christians. Verses 11-12 contain the summary application of Peter’s exhortation: Christians are to live honorable and blameless lives and do good works before an unbelieving and hostile world so that those who don’t believe can be won to the Lord. Peter reminded them that they were chosen by God to be His people for this purpose of witnessing and testifying to God’s love (vv.9-10) and were to be ready to share the gospel when the opportunity presented itself (3:15-16). The apostle Paul also exhorted his readers to live godly lives (Rom. 13:12-13; Phil. 2:15; Col. 4:3-6; 1 Thess. 4:12; Titus 2:7-8; 3:8,14).

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Personal Choices

Ravi Z

There are some stories that move us whether we hear them at five or fifty-five. The 1965 release of the first Peanuts movie, A Charlie Brown Christmas, was instantly loved by adults and children alike. But it almost did not make it past the television executives who hated it. The movie was criticized for everything from being too contemporary in music, to being too religious in tone. But audiences everywhere confidently disagreed. Having aired every year since its debut in 1965, it is now the longest-running cartoon special in history.

One of my predictably favorite scenes finds Charlie Brown on a hunt for the perfect “great big, shiny, aluminum tree—maybe even a pink one” as instructed by Lucy for their Christmas pageant. At the tree lot, Charlie Brown walks through row after row of flashing, shiny spectacles of color, trying his best to choose well and please his friends. But then he sees a small, natural tree, nearly overshadowed by the flash and glitter of the rest. It is pitiful and loosing needles, but it is the only real tree on the lot. In a moment of confidence, Charlie Brown chooses the unlikely sapling over all the others (and is thus the target of laughter and mockery by all).

Even as children, we seem to know intuitively that there is something remarkable—perhaps something even sacred—about being selected long before we understand the implications of choice at all. That someone saw anything worth choosing in this sickly little tree is a turn in the plot that quiets us. Charlie Brown claims the unlikely, pathetic tree as his own, and there is a part of us that feels claimed too.

The Christian story of God among the world is filled with the language of claiming and calling, gathering and choosing. Yet, stripped of the story and its characters, these words often offend us. We speak of the injustice of a God who claims anyone, who shows signs of favoritism, or calls anyone particularly. We forget what we felt deeply as children—namely, that being claimed among a group of the prettiest and the smartest and the fastest is not about deserving it at all.

In a country of wealth and grandeur, the people of Israel were slaves who were exploited and abused. They were overshadowed, inconsequential, and cast aside, not unlike the tiny tree in the vast lot of color. But God came near and claimed an unlikely people, picking them up, giving them a name, collecting them like a hen gathers her chicks. The book of Deuteronomy recounts the fledging relationship: “For the LORD’s portion is his people, Jacob his allotted inheritance. In a desert land he found him, in a barren and howling waste. He shielded him and cared for him; he guarded him as the apple of his eye” (32:9-10).

God’s gathering of the Israelites was not based on prerequisites. Yet it was far from passive and unfeeling, emerging from God’s love, mercy, and wisdom. The prophets would later describe it as the selection of a bride for a bridegroom, and Jesus would later describe himself as the bridegroom who came even closer to beckon that bride to his side. God’s own are referred to as the “apple of his eye,” an expression reserved for those who are most endeared to us. The original Hebrew for the expression can be literally translated as “little person of the eye.” The idiom is surprisingly close to the Latin “pupilla,” from which we get the word pupil. The word means “little doll,” and was applied to the dark center of the eye because of the tiny image of oneself that appears when looking into someone’s eyes. In these words, it is if God expresses, “If you get close enough, you will see that it is you who is held in my eyes.” God’s claiming, in other words, is inherently personal; and the story of the Incarnation is further a claim that God would gather every chick, every creature, every soul as a hen would gather her young.

What we often forget is that our own choices are inherently the same. A spirituality based on preference fails to consider the one it rejects, which is particularly ironic when it rejects due to a distaste of exclusivity. If God comes near enough to choose a forgotten nation, to gather the unlikely, to love them out of no merit of their own, and to give them his name regardless, can we not consider this God behind all of the things we have to say about religion and exclusivity? If God comes even nearer, sending a vulnerable son to reach a dejected people, to cleanse them and claim them out of no doing of their own, and to give them his grace regardless, will we not consider the one we reject when we accuse him of injustice, tyranny, or favoritism? For meanwhile, and regardless, the incarnate God of the Christian story continues to give the weak, the unwise, and the forgotten a new place and name: “Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people.”

Jill Carattini is managing editor of A Slice of Infinity at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Good News Bad News

Ravi Z

One of the wonderful aspects of the Christmas season is the celebration of unique and sometimes quirky family traditions that make the season special for each one of us. In my family, we had several Christmas television specials that became part of our celebration ritual. One of my favorites was “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” I loved the music that undergirded the animated characters and plot; I loved the fact that Charlie Brown finds the lowliest Christmas tree for the pageant, and I loved Linus’s gentle, yet poignant reminder of the true meaning of Christmas. I’m sure we all remember his slow walk to the center of the stage with thumb in mouth and blanket trailing behind him.

To this day, his recitation from the second chapter of Luke still gives me goose bumps. Tears of joy and beauty often fill my eyes as I hear his small, childlike voice proclaiming the powerful message of God’s good news:

“And the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths, and lying in a manger.’  And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased’” (Luke 2:8-14).

In recalling Linus’s recitation, I’ve been thinking about the message of good news the angels proclaimed to the shepherds that starry night. I think about what a contrast that message is to our prevailing “bad news” messages today. Wars continue; millions of children are orphaned because of AIDS; political candidates lambaste and defame one another instead of discussing policy agenda and objectives; friends lose loved ones to cancer. We live in a world of bad news.

As I juxtapose the bad news of our world with Luke’s message of good news, I have to wonder if it’s just wishful thinking. In light of our bad news world, what is good about the good news?

First, the angel proclaims that salvation has come in one “born this day in the city of David, who is Messiah.” For those poor shepherds, this was indeed good news! Their deliverer had come to rescue them from Roman oppression, and now all of Israel would be restored under the rule of God’s messiah. Second, the good news of God’s promised Messiah demonstrates God’s favor towards us. “Glory to God in the highest,” the angel host says, “and on earth peace among men with whom God is pleased.” The Greek word for pleased literally means “to think well of, to approve, or to take delight in or pleasure.” So often, perhaps influenced by bad news all around us, many of us struggle with a foreboding sense that God is angry with us, smoldering with rage and wrath against us. But the angels declare the exact opposite—and this is indeed, good news!  God sends Jesus, the Messiah, out of a sense of delight and pleasure with his creation. The Messiah coming as one of us, Immanuel, God with us is the greatest good news we could ever hope to receive. Jesus says in John’s gospel, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only, begotten son; that whosoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

In the face of the bad news of our world and in our lives, the good news of God should resound in our hearts and minds as we enter the Christmas season: God is with us, God is pleased with us, and God loves us! Jesus inaugurates the reign of good news, his shalom, even in the face of bad news. We can embrace the good news of God’s reign even in the midst of crisis. And we can live the good news as we continue to hope in the God who has dwelt among us. “In the world, you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Glory to God in the highest!

Margaret Manning is a member of the speaking and writing team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Seattle, Washington.