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Mark Schultz

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March Newsletter-Beginning

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According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated (Greek word: not a question of who are the objects of the predestination, but what they are predestined to.) us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will… (Eph 1:4-5)

Over the past few months I’ve written on prayer, miracles, revelation, repentance and Jesus the Christ. This month I’d like to take up something that’s implied in all those letters but perhaps not detailed as I hope this letter to be. This month, let’s talk ‘beginning’. I have two motivations for that. One is encouraging and the other might, as they used to say, set a few people’s teeth on edge. Both points of view are meant to be encouraging but sometimes people get a bit beside themselves with words you choose to describe something that might not have been discussed much before. One has to do with the Father, Son, Spirit and the other is about Adam. Let me begin with the ‘beginning’, Father, Son and Spirit.

…for He hath said, I will never leave you, nor forsake you. (Heb. 13:5)

Let me see if my assumption above is true first. At mention of the beginning, most Christians (and I did this for most of my adult life) think of the Garden of Eden and the Creation of the Cosmos. It’s so logical to begin there because of Adam and Eve, the bliss of the Garden and God mingling with His creatures and the first humans, humans created in His image. Then that really nasty thing happened– Adam and Eve believed a lie! That lie was the poison of the Tree of Good and Evil. It wasn’t robbing banks, war, drugs, etc. that changed that garden, the change was a separation that came between Adam/Eve and the Father of Creation. It wasn’t even a separation that was initiated in the mind of God, it was a separation that originated in the heart of Adam/Eve. The Father didn’t leave the garden; it was His creatures that hid in the bushes. When God asked, ‘Adam, where are you?’ He wasn’t asking because He couldn’t find Adam/Eve, not because they had the perfect hiding place (we know that’s not possible, right?). It was rhetorical in the sense that The Father was asking Adam where his head was, what was Adam thinking that would cause him to play hide and seek, why were they separating themselves from The Father. Adam was being prompted to think about the lie that he and Eve had just bought that God could not stand the sight of them. Instead of God retreating away from His creature, He moved in closer to Adam and Eve; instead of being angry, the Heart of our Father moved to embrace rather than to harm.

Now, I said all that to contrast it with another beginning, an illustration of the heart of God even before creation. It was a time when nothing existed except God (Three in One). There was a time when all three were face to face in relationship to one another and that was the extent of their Love. In Genesis 1 we’re to notice that these three gathered together with a purpose to create another object of Love, Humankind. It’s hard to imagine but the Universe, for all its size and all its wonder, exists inside what we know to be God. God does not exist in the Universe, He’s bigger than that. The Universe has a beginning, God does not. That’s a pretty big God for sure and One that upholds that Universe and in fact all humanity together. Without Him nothing exists, apart from Him nothing exists. (Col. 1-16-17) That’s my point in this letter, I want to encourage you that He really, really, really means it when He says He will not leave us, will never separate Himself from us. He has come to live within our hearts, to be alive in our hearts, as weird as that might sound. Whether we feel like that or not doesn’t make it real or not; it’s real period! On the good days and on the not so good days, yes even on the terrible days, God is the God Emmanuel (God with Us). It’s the old, ‘He said it I believe it’.

(Here’s the part that rattles cages a bit.) As I mentioned earlier, nothing exists apart from Him. He is present and the Trinity of God has sent a Son and a Holy Spirit to reveal His desire to be Father to us. That was the revelation of Jesus to the world, that the God that had been identified thousands of years before was a God that was Father all along. The sole purpose and the only reason for Creation was to introduce a creature that could respond to the great desire of the Father, Son and Spirit to have fellowship. All of creation signals that desire. Nothing stands by itself, and despite attempts to convince ourselves of the opposite, no man will ever be an island. Nothing exists without relationship to something else. In the Imagination of God, in His Wisdom, in His Method, God told this creation Truth in something called an atom. Atoms make up all matter. Each atom is made up of protons, electrons and neutrons with positive and negative relationships to one another. Protons and neutrons are made up of quarks and each proton and neutron is made up of three quarks, in the proton’s case, a negative and two positives. Quarks are held together by gluons! That’s as small as science can take us at this point. The atom is 1 million times smaller than a human hair and a proton is 100,000 times smaller than the atom. That’s primal creation. (Science doesn’t prove there’s no God, science confirms a glorious God. Man is the interpreter of science and the spirit of Anti-Christ uses it to rebel against God.) The very bottom of creation is built and related on a common theme of relationship to one another. If you want to study a tiger you wouldn’t take him out of his eco-system to understand the essence of the creature. To know everything about him you’d have to study him in the jungle in which he lives, the creatures around him, the atmosphere in which he exists. One of the problems in our secular culture is that we think you can understand human beings by studying them apart from the complexity of their environment. If you take a child or an adult out of its ‘jungle’ you don’t see the relationships that make up human experience. You’re influenced by your parents, the culture, brothers and sisters, cousins, neighbors, community, politics, economic status, educational influences and many more. No man is an island! Relationships are natural and unavoidable, and were always meant to be. We are designed for relationship from the smallest particle to the complexity of human life. Being made to experience relationship is exactly as the Designer designed. The Gospel is about Father, Son and Spirit calling out to every human being: Come step into the ultimate relationship. Be one with Us. Let me Love you as I have Loved the Son. That’s the Will of God, that’s what’s in the heart of God. His will is that none would perish but all would choose Life, Life as the Father would have it for us.

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom 8:38-39)

The Lamb of God was slain before the foundation of the world. That must mean before Adam, Father, Son and Spirit were all in agreement, all in One accord, to do what was necessary to make a way to create a Way for Them and you to be together. The word atonement used in Old and New Testament teaching is associated with ‘at-one-ment’. Their desire was to be united with Adam and on down the human creation chain. That’s why Jesus is the Way, the only Way…a perfect invitation to fellowship with Father, Son and Spirit. In Romans 3:35 His propitiation is described as having taken place for us. The essence of that word is to have raised us up, chosen us, been merciful to us. Again, only the Son knows the Father, only the Father knows the Son and the Spirit. Jesus post-resurrection came to convince us of God’s desire to be with us. The original Lie that was peddled in Eden was that God’s most passionate desire was to separate Himself from us, when in reality God has sent Son and Spirit to woo us to join Them in the Life of God. The knocking on the door of Revelation 3 is addressed to the churches and courts us to open the door to His Life that we might acknowledge Him as the leader of our lives. Let this scripture be true and believe: At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. (John 14:20) The Gospel is God’s Message to teach us we were made for that kind of relationship with Him.




February Newsletter- Inferior Living

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We’ve just stepped into a new era, the election has come and gone, inauguration has taken place.  Elections are what man does to man.  They don’t really hold the power of what The Father has done or does for man.  In the Kingdom that Jesus established, believers live in a circle within a circle separated by their simple faith in the middle of a world of trouble.  None of this surprises God, not even our choices to look the other way, away from Him.  He doesn’t need to re-invent the future, doesn’t have to come up with plan B.  He has prepared a way to live that’s allowed for the ‘miss’ that culture makes and has purposely set aside a place for His children to experience and trust in, a Kingdom if you will, inside the kingdoms of men.

From the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, the Father’s Kingdom has always been misunderstood. Religious men, then and now, expected an earthly kingdom to ring in a new earth order and establishment of God’s rule.  The Jews did that back in the beginning; we still do that today.  After all, Israel wanted a king, what they got was a Christ.

For the most part, we’re living just like we want, generally doing as we wish. Oh, we might complain about our lot in life but we do very little to change where we’re at.  Most of the time, we’re not actually experiencing the kind of life that’s just been unpredictably dropped upon us, but more realistically, we’re experiencing the reasonable consequences of our own decisions. Are there really very many surprises here?  Generally the world over, we seldom really ask the question of whether Jesus was who he said he was, did what he said he did.  Is his story just a nice story or does it have the power to affect our lives, affect the world we live in?

I believe much of what we spend our time on is simply us being distracted away from God the Father, a Father who has a desire to gather us. Instead we scurry around in a culture that divides us feb1from Him. The works of anti-Christ masters the trivial with his sleight of hand, preoccupies us, woos us away from asking questions about Christ.  We spend generation after generation on questions that separate us from knowing God. In effect, we strangle on a gnat, missing the larger issue.  For example, right now, in this country and by much of the world’s standards, our big problem is what restroom to use, the men’s or women’s.  Seems we’re to buy into the idea that whether we are a man or a woman is determined by what’s between our ears!  We spend hours defending something that in all reality needs no defense.  Those kind of silly suggestions destroy our intellect, waste our time.  Is there any real argument there!  I remember a statement by the late Bill Gillham in his book Lifetime Guarantee, ‘Setting in a garage doesn’t make you a car.’  Raising those kinds of issues (and there are thousands more) takes time out of the time we should be learning about Him and converts our days to talking about the irrational.  Lifestyles promoted by a heartless and selfish powerful elite, elites promoting ‘Wisdomless’ (Godless) thoughts.  Unfortunately, that morphs until culture accepts the unbelievable as the preferred.  Life, as the Father would have it for us, is no longer precious. That’s inferior living!  The world’s motive for living is determined solely by the power of the wealthy, powerful and amoral.  We take instruction from Hollywood as though those folks have a corner on intellect.  The world today looks more like Germany of 1941 than the America founded on Christian principles over just 200 years ago.

Inferior living is about doing it our way, about asking the wrong questions and getting the wrong answers.  Inferior living is about throwing out the Wisdom of God and idolizing the wisdom of man.  Our cry for ‘progress’ around the world readily embraces the idea of throwing out all the past, when much of what is being thrown away are things that worked for us, made this country different from all the world and got us through some pretty mean and troubled times.

Earl Hamner, creator of The Waltons television program, once stated it like this.  ‘…the people who nurtured us and who passed on to us the notions that there was dignity in work, satisfaction in having a job and doing it well, that we can and must be self-reliant and resourceful, that our country’s laws are to be obeyed, that we have a right to practice the religion of our choice, the belief that our parents and grandparents not only deserve respect, but are to be treasured for the rituals and stories and rules of conduct that we all need to know and to pass on to our children if we are to call ourselves civilized…we would be foolish to deny that drugs and crime and scandal have taken their toll on us.  But I believe that there is still more Judeo-Christianity than crime, more virtue than violence, that there is more hope than heroin and more virtue than violence and more good than evil.’

Seems we’ve lost our root-core: Faith in Father-Son-Spirit. Jesus taught of little faith, but he didn’t do so referencing to an amount of Faith large or small.   ‘Little Faith’ was a word Jesus himself (and only used by him) made up out of the language and referred specifically to anxiety, fear, doubt or forgetfulness.  When he said it in Luke’s Gospel, he was referring to the characteristic of those present, referring to the creature they were.  He wasn’t making a statement begging for their improvement but stating a fact about the kind of nature they had and we have; we’re creatures of little faith!  Creatures easily persuaded away from the Wisdom of God.

The good news is the Father’s Kingdom (simply any place that He is present) has been set before us to trust, given for us to step into and rest our hearts.  That Kingdom came when the Christ came.  Jesus taught of a time when man’s solutions would sound good, they would even give the appearance of Wisdom by embracing compassionate language, but their hearts would be far from God.

Feb2It’s always been True, just hard for us to get into our heads, that chariots and horses (man’s solutions) are not and were never intended to be trusted. (Isaiah 31:1, Psalm 20:7)  Christ established Truth and contrasted it with a counterfeit life, an inferior life.  Counterfeits resemble and persuade away from Truth but they cannot correctly interpret Truth.  Has God not spoken?  Has He not, in His Wisdom, given a caution about a way that seems right to men but the end is calamity!  That Kingdom is not one that’s necessarily observed in the political tapestry of the world’s cultures.  It’s not a Kingdom that can be measured by what we have, what we wear, what we do, but one that is evidenced by Grace and Peace in the Spirit of God.  We need no Savior if we, the creature, can make this work in our own efforts alone.  Christ builds His church and builds it right in the middle of the rubble of the wasteland of the culture’s best efforts.

Inferior living is living in opposition to the Kingdom that Jesus shares with us. He had a simple formula for seeing the Kingdom of God (it’s not meat nor drink, but righteousness, and peace and joy in the Spirit of God…Romans 14:17).  Seek first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness and everything else will be added. (Matthew 6:33)  Seek the Kingdom of His Peace and Joy and all things will come into purpose.  Jesus has placed a Kingdom within a kingdom, ours is to discern which to distribute into our daily lives.   Inferior living leaves us where we are, stepping into His circle of belief moves us into the very Kingdom of God.  His Kingdom, living His way, prepares for us a place of Rest in the shadow of the Most High in the middle of the world’s desert.

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