Disclaimer: Articles and links, as well as the source articles linked to, do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ConnectingwithYou! Our thanks mainly to Dan Wooding and ASSIST News Service link: www.assistnews.net (and to other news sources)
MOUNT HERMON, CA
Peanuts movie: Good grief…plus fun…in 3D!
Rusty Wright, Special to ASSIST, suggests… Fasten your seat belts, Peanuts fans. It’s a wild ride as the beloved comic strip characters hit the big screen in 3D. Charles Schulz‘s whole gang’s in this one.
Will Snoopy shoot down the Red Baron? Will Charlie Brown introduce himself to the Little Red-Haired girl? Will Lucy pull the football? You’ll have to see for yourself. But it’s fun. Lots of fun.‘Psychiatrist’ Lucy advises Charlie Brown, everybody’s favourite beagle that winners impress people. The perpetual underdog and his dog embark on an epic quest, seeking the courage to dream big: ‘I’m going to change who I am and become a winner.’
Why so popular?
Why is Peanuts so popular? Since 1950 its simple, lovable characters portray dilemmas, emotions and dreams most of us have experienced…or want to…or hope we never will. Who hasn’t felt uncertain or insecure about love, friendship, or personal shortcomings?
Snoopy the fighter pilot (tm and © Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved.)
We all know bossy know-it-alls (Lucy), loyal companions (Snoopy), ‘A-Dork-Able’ nerds (Marcie), and soft-spoken sages (Linus). We see ourselves, our friends, our adversaries in these characters – foibles, flaws, faith and virtue – and we smile with emotional connection.
Character and faith
Moral character and spiritual themes have been common in Peanuts. By one reckoning, religion figured in ten percent of the 18,000 strips. Rev. Robert Short‘s 1965 book, The Gospel According to Peanuts interpreted Peanuts strips as contemporary Christian parables. The allusions are plentiful.
‘The rain falls on the just and the unjust,’ Charlie Brown tells Linus in a pouring storm, quoting the Gospel of Matthew. Linus reminds Lucy that in Genesis, God promised Noah a global flood would never again happen, calming her anxieties.
And, of course, A Charlie Brown Christmas is a seasonal television classic. Amid holiday glitter and commercialism, an exasperated Charlie Brown exclaims, ‘Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?!’
Linus reminds Charlie Brown – and the world – what an angel told some shepherds: ‘For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you: You shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.’
CBS execs worried about including the statements from the Gospel of Luke in the 1965 television production, but Schulz insisted and the words remained.
Schulz had his spiritual ups and downs. But this heritage lives on in his art. The Peanuts Movie includes a nod to the spiritual flavour of his legacy, plus excellent life lessons on character (compassion, honesty, self-sacrifice, and more). Delightful family entertainment. Links: www.PeanutsMovie.com
Rusty Wright is an award-winning author, lecturer and syndicated columnist who has spoken on six continents. He also trains professionals in effective communication. Link: www.RustyWright.com
Muslim beats his new- Christian wife until one day he woke up paralysed and afraid
Mark Ellis shares a great story of God’s love and grace …
‘Gulzhan’ was studying the Bible with a Christian worker when, one day, Jesus met her in a dream. After this dramatic encounter, she surrendered herself to Jesus as Saviour and Lord and was born again.
Word of her decision spread rapidly throughout the village, where Islam is deeply entrenched in people’s minds. Soon Gulzhan faced stiff resistance from her neighbours, according to a report by Frontiers.
After the winter arrived, the cold weather drove villagers off the streets and into their homes. Now Gulzhan had to meet the disapproval of her neighbours when she went out to the market.
Persecuted by her husband
But the worst of the persecution came from her husband, ‘Elemes’. He was upset by Gulzhan’s new faith and his anger reached the boiling point. Whenever he saw his wife reading the Bible, he beat her, pulled her by the hair across the floor while he yelled curses at her and insulted the name of Jesus.
One day, as Gulzhan was reading God’s word and singing praise songs, Elemes kicked her out of the house and into the snow. He locked her out and left her in the cold without any shoes or coat.
Amazingly, she continued to praise Jesus throughout this freezing ordeal.
‘God had so filled my heart with his Spirit and joy,’ Gulzhan told Frontiers, ‘that I simply continued singing and didn’t feel the cold as I searched out a place to stay.’
Elemes eventually let his wife back into the house, but his anger and the beatings continued. Gulzhan stood strong, trusting in the knowledge that God had accepted her even if her husband did not. She continued to read the Bible daily and experienced strength, sustenance, and courage in the face of much pressure.
After a year of this unrelenting persecution, something strange happened to Elemes. He woke up suddenly in the middle of the night with a stark realisation. ‘I can’t move!’ he screamed. Paralysis had overtaken his body.
Damascus Road-type dream, holy fear, repentance and a miracle
Elemes suffered with this new reality, and after a few days, God filled his heart with a holy fear.
A few nights after the paralysis set in, God revealed to Elemes in a dream that his paralysis was because he had been speaking against Jesus. Like Saul of Tarsus blinded on the Damascus road, Jesus suddenly had his full attention.
Within a week, Elemes repented of his hard heart and cruel behaviour and asked his wife to bring others from her small fellowship of believers to pray for him.
As the small group of believers gathered around Elemes to pray, they felt God’s presence, but his healing wasn’t immediate. Slowly God restored his upper body and Elemes now has full use of his arms.
Now his wife’s strongest support!
Meanwhile, Elemes’ anger and hatred have been transformed. After reflecting on all of the dramatic changes and events that had transpired, he decided to follow Jesus himself!
He has become his wife’s strongest ally in the gospel, and he has also become a steadfast disciple of his Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
• Pray for this couple, that their radical faith in the Saviour would draw many in this hostile village to him.
• Pray too for Frontiers whose missions’ activity states: ‘There are 1,108 Muslim people groups who don’t know Jesus Christ. By partnering with churches and passionate people, our hope is that by 2025 that number will have fallen to zero. It’s audacious, but it’s attainable with your help.’
Mark Ellis is a seasoned ASSIST senior correspondent (www.assistnews.net) and founder of the acclaimed www.Godreports.com
LAKE FOREST, CA
Christmas reading: Mary – My Journey from Bethlehem to Calvary
ASSIST’s founder and director Dan Wooding, tells the story of Jesus’ mother through her own eyes and from her point of view, giving insight into her life with her beloved son from birth to death and resurrection. Comprised of 365 verses from scripture and more than 70,000 words, the book is a faithful adaptation of the story of Jesus’ life told from the perspective of Mary.
Imagine you are a young and poor girl in love, living in Nazareth, looking forward to marriage, when suddenly your life is changed forever when you are told that you are to become the mother of the greatest person in history, the Messiah – Jesus Christ, and yet you are a virgin.
This novel by a veteran author, broadcaster, and journalist tells the amazing story of Mary, and gives real insights into her life with her beloved son, from his childhood, his growing years, his ministry, his terrible death upon the cross, which she witnessed, his resurrection, and finally, his ascension to sit at the right hand of his father in heaven. It is an epic story, based on the Bible, about an extraordinary mother who was described by God as ‘highly favoured’ among women.
The author says: ‘I wrote this book because I couldn’t find a one that has told the story the story of Jesus Christ through the eyes of Mary, I believe this book will educate readers that God can and will use anyone from any background.’
He adds, ‘The story traces their time in Egypt, the death of Herod, and the ministry of Jesus right up to her terrible death on the cross and then his resurrection.’ Link: http://marythebook.com
Wayne Swift comments: For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time. (See Hebrews 10:10NLT).
Christmas is a time of great celebration
Nation-wide people rejoice, often because it signals the end of their work year, sometimes because it means they have holidays and occasionally because they get to see family who live in remote places.
Children are taught from a young age that Christmas is a time of gift giving. The bonus for them is the fact that they do most of the receiving!
Retailers head into the Christmas season hopeful for bumper sales. Sadly, many parents have to balance their desire to give great gifts and the reality of their finances. Too often, their Christmas binge ends up in months of stress before recovering financially.
Christmas for me?
There’s a melancholy feeling.
The joy of all the things above mixed with the reality that while I celebrate the birth of Christ, that baby grew into a man who gave his life for mine. I rejoice this Christmas for the new life I have received because of the sacrifice that was made on my behalf.
I extend blessings and pray for all Christians as we celebrate Christmas together. May we take every opportunity to share the good news while also enjoying the other benefits of this celebratory season.
But let’s not only celebrate Christmas … let’s believe for an extraordinary 2016 that includes many new decisions to follow Christ.
Wayne Swift is National Leader, Apostolic Church Australia and pastors The Church@1330, Scoresby, Victoria. Links: Wayne.Swift@1330.com.au / Church: www.the-church.org.au
25 Things I Want my Kids to Know About Christmas
Debbie Holloway shares…
Rachel Marie Martin (http://findingjoy.net/25-things-kids-to-know-about-christmas) has written up a list that includes:
1. In our house, Christmas is about Jesus. That first. The rest follows.
2. The stuff goes away. Relationships do not.
9. The number of presents received does not matter.
14. Even if life isn’t perfect there still can be beautiful and joyful moments.
15. Give to others first. And giving back isn’t just a December thing – make it a year-long thing.
21. You won’t get everything you want. Be grateful for what you are blessed to receive.
In the accompanying blog post, she muses…‘It’s not about stuff. When we lose focus then this Christmas season has the potential to become this crazy hectic want to pull our hair out month where we breathe the sigh of relief that it is January. And you know what else? Remember number fourteen – even if life isn’t perfect or what you expect or all of that – there can still be good and joy. It’s the little things. Look for the joy, the good, the wonder, and all of that first.’
Crosswalk contributor Janet Thompson expressed similar sentiments in an article about Thanksgiving and Black Friday: ‘One of Satan’s greatest temptations is the lure of materialism: acquiring. Many will try to turn Thanksgiving into giving thanks for such a great deal or justify being good stewards of their money.’
After giving some suggestions on how handle the holiday shopping insanity, she finishes by saying, ‘Enjoy and be content with what the Lord has given you this Thanksgiving. Be generous with your time, pray for wisdom and discernment in your acquisitions, and above all, share with everyone you meet the greatest “deal” of all time – eternal life through believing in Jesus Christ, the Son of God.’
What do you want your kids to know about Christmas? Are you living a life more focused on materialism and consumerism, or on building family traditions centred on the birth of Christ?
Debbie Holloway is the Family Life Editor for Crosswalk.com
Norman and Margaret Moss email this encouragement …
When I (Norman) was a child a bomb fell on the house across the road from us. The elderly lady lying in her bed was only saved because the roof remained propped up on the wardrobe, although the bedroom wall was ripped out.
I always pictured myself in the Anderson shelter at the time of the blast, but for the first time last week it suddenly dawned on me that my parents carried me in their arms to the air raid shelter after the bomb had fallen. So if the bomb had hit our house you would probably not be reading this letter!
An anxious world today
We live in troubled times, and can only say to an anxious world, ‘The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.’
But beyond the troubles we see in our world, Christians must be aware there is another major battle going on and it is relevant to the day in which we live.
It is the battle in the mind and heart!
Power of God within to overcome
We were meditating on 2 Corinthians 10:4-5… ‘The weapons we fight with… have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.’
Paul then writes that using this divine power leads to effective expansion of gospel proclamation…’the authority the Lord gave us for building you up… the field God has assigned to us, a field that reaches even to you…our area of activity among you will greatly expand so that we can preach the gospel in the regions beyond you.’
We felt the Lord was challenging today’s church to:
‘Take my weapons and use them, for they are like no other. They have my divine power to demolish strongholds and arguments and pretensions and thoughts and to bring them under my Lordship. I give you authority for building up my people and strengthening and empowering them.
‘Be watchful and prayerful over the field I have assigned to you. As Phineas intervened and stood in the breach, be good interventionists. And as you do so I will expand and enlarge your fields of authority and my kingdom will be increased. Do not fear but wield my weapons that I give to you skillfully.
‘You have weapons. Not the drones, missiles, bombs, shells, rifles, of this world, but (and you must believe this) mightier weapons. See what my Son achieved in the hearts of men by dying on the cross. Where are those who opposed him now? They were not overthrown by force of arms, but by the power of the cross and by the testimony of martyrs who loved not their own lives unto death.
‘Nor should you covet weapons of intellectual skill and natural ability. Love breaks down strongholds. Testimony defeats arguments. Intimacy with me captivates thoughts. Faith and a close walk with me bring authority, and obedience is rewarded with greater areas of opportunity.
‘Above all my written word, and the living presence of my Holy Spirit within your heart, my powerful name, my Lordship, these blessings increase and enlarge your sphere of spiritual authority. For although the natural talents have their place, it is the spiritual gifts that prevail.’
God’s words matter
2 Corinthians 10:3 (Mge) reminds of the state of today’s world and what our attitude should be…’The world is unprincipled. It’s dog-eat-dog out there! The world doesn’t fight fair. But we don’t live or fight our battles that way – never have and never will.’
Many today feel that there are no answers but we must remind ourselves of verse 18: ‘What you say about yourself means nothing in God’s work. It’s what God says about you that makes the difference.’
Yes, times are troublesome but may we take the word of God’s good news of hope and peace in Jesus to many this Christmas.
Norman and Margaret Moss pastored Queen’s Road Baptist Church, Wimbledon for over 30 years, experiencing charismatic renewal since the 1960s and bringing the church into significant growth in the 1970s. Now travelling widely around the UK and overseas, their desire is to encourage ministers, churches and groups – regardless of size – who are hungry for more of the Holy Spirit. Link: CNMoss@btinternet.com