When Defeat was Defeated

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When Hell’s hatred inspired cruel hands to nail Jesus of Nazareth to a Roman cross—the victim turned everything around and became the Victor.

On that cross death was defeated, the Serpent’s head was crushed, the curse was annulled, sin was overthrown, guilt was eradicated, captives were set free, Hell was humiliated, and Love won.

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Someone said that “a successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him.” Jesus took the cross, the nails, the cruelty, the injustice, the mocking, and hatred—and laid a firm foundation for a new world, a New Creation.

“And through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross” (Col. 1:20).

It doesn’t get any more “successful” that.

–Jurgen O. Schulz

Image: The Cross by Thomas Kinkade

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When Holiness Came Down

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THE BIGGEST AND MOST DECISIVE EVENT that has ever happened or can happen on this planet took place. The Incarnate Creator visited our world—and we rightly sing: “O, Holy Night.” His entrance into time made that night, and in a sense every night, holy. His incursion into the human race underscores the sacredness of every human life. His presence in our world turned a stable into a holy place, and since He walked the soil and breathed the air of our planet, it too has become a holy place. He labored as a carpenter, making work a holy vocation. He finally died on a cross—and transformed that instrument of the curse into something holy.

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When He comes into our lives He fulfills the original design that we should be holy and without blame before Him. And when He finishes doing what He is going to do all things in heaven and earth will be reconciled to God and goodness. He will make every molecule in the universe vibrate in delightful harmony with his holiness. In Christ all things return to wholeness and happiness.

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This is cosmic news—the Good News that will make every planet, every cell, every thing dance with joy at the wonder of it.

Holy moly.

–Jurgen O. Schulz

What makes God glorious?

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“Glory” is a timeworn, many-sided, vaguely understood term of rich significance. Most importantly it has to do with God, the source and sum of it. Glory is what inspires wonder and admiration. It is manifested excellence, the outward display of beauty and goodness, the visible demonstration of greatness.

The glory of God is when
God lets us see what He’s like.

It’s when His wonderfulness goes public, His awesomeness comes into view, His splendor is sighted.

We observe the glory of God in creation—an awe-inspiring, but limited view. We get a close-up view when we contemplate Jesus, the human life of God. The knowledge of the glory of God is seen partially in nature, but fully in the face of Jesus Christ.

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Great are the mysteries of creation. Greater still is the mystery of godliness, when the Architect of the galaxies was manifested in human form. The heavens display the greatness of God’s power. The Word made flesh displays the greatness of His love.

The heavens show us God’s hand;
Jesus shows us His heart.

The heavens declare the glory of God, but Jesus of Nazareth is the glory of God. He is the brightness of God’s glory, the express image of His person.

The heavens declare the glory of God in an impersonal, distant way. Jesus brings the glory of God near in a living, breathing, loving Person.

Jesus is the glory of God made human.

And never was He so glorious as when he became horribly inglorious. It happened on a cross—where the worst and the best, the highest and the lowest collided. The crucifixion of the incarnate God did not extinguish His glory, it expanded it. At Calvary the glory of God blazed forth in volcanic abundance.

It was in the moment of greatest ugliness that His beauty shone most brightly. It was in the place of utmost shame that His splendor burst forth. Violence brought virtue to light, as the crushing of a rose releases its fragrance.

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Glory was nailed to a cross and lifted up for all to see. The veil in the temple was ripped open—God’s glory had been revealed. It was the glory of His irrepressible, self-giving, self-sacrificing, redeeming, restoring love. It was the glory of His grace.

The heavens declare a piece of His glory.
The cross declares it all.

Here is the final unveiling of glory. It is a revelation, an earthquake, a feast, a waterfall, a love story, a symphony, a tsunami, a game changer, a thirst quencher, an explosion of hope, a healing balm for the wounds of our broken and flawed lives.

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“Cross” and “glory” are as far apart as two words can possibly be. They are polar opposites. Crucifixion was not just about torture—it was about shame. It was the ultimate disgrace. For Hebrews it meant being cursed. No one ever dreamed a Roman cross could be glorious.

Until God got on one.

He makes all things glorious.

Even a shameful cross.

Even unworthy sinners.

Such is the greatness of His glory.

–Jurgen O. Schulz

A time to kill

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“For everything there is a season, and a time
for every purpose under heaven
. . . a time to kill” (Ec. 3:1,3).

“Thou shalt not kill” clearly puts murder out of bounds for everyone. It’s Command #6 of the Big Ten.

End of discussion.

However, there is one important exception, and it comes straight from the apostle Paul. “For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live” (Rom. 8:13 NIV).

There’s a death warrant out for the “misdeeds of the body,” and we are authorized—yea, commanded—to kill. Every last one of them is to be put to the sword. We are to listen to no pleas for mercy. Not one is to be spared.

Why such drastic action? Is this not an extreme measure?

The apostle pulls no punches. His argument is simple and strong—if you don’t put them to death, they will put you to death. Somebody is going to die, it’s either you or them. There’s a battle going on. Your life is on the line.

We are to soften the sentence for none of these fiends.

To “live according to the flesh” looks most attractive. Its forbidden pleasures are tantalizing—but make no mistake. They’re out to kill. Your soul is at stake.

Death and life are before you. The Spirit is willing.

You choose.

–Jurgen O. Schulz

Reverence and Rejoicing

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It is fascinating to notice how Scripture often combines “furious opposites.” The psalm, for instance, that says, “The LORD reigns, let the nations tremble” is found right alongside another that declares, “Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth” (Psa. 99:1; 100:1). This God evokes both holy trembling and happy shouting. He inspires dread and delight (Psa. 2:11). In his presence we are constrained not only to bow down but also to dance, to be awestruck and joy-filled. It makes for a great mix. Here is worship that motivates holiness and happiness. It frees us from the extremes of frivolity and frigidity, of emotionalism and formalism. Neither reverence or rejoicing should be absent. A fascinating and powerful combination.

–Jurgen O. Schulz

When God comes in

8fec65aa copyLord, come into my heart. It’s hard for me to get the door open very far, but if at the Incarnation you managed to squeeze into an embryo, perhaps you could make it into my heart too—even if I only manage to crack it open a bit.

Sorry about the clutter inside. There are things that shouldn’t be here, but come to think of it, the first place you came to wasn’t exactly a clean scrubbed hospital room—it was a barn. That being the case, perhaps you would venture to enter my heart too.

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I have been told that sin is something you do not look upon or come close to. However, if a bad smelling cow shed was your place of your birth, there’s probably no place you wouldn’t come if invited. That’s a relief.

As a matter of fact, you seem to make a point of coming to where things are not as they should be. You walked and talked and ate with fallen, failing people; it appears that sin doesn’t keep you away.

And interestingly, when you come, sin decides it’s time to leave. It flees like darkness before the light. It melts like wax on a candle.

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Thanks for coming into my heart. I know there’s still a lot of stuff that needs to go, but because you are here, I have a feeling it’s not going to stick around for long.

And not only that, but your presence causes everything that is wholesome and true and lovely to flourish and grow. When you are around goodness goes viral.

It makes me wonder why anyone would ever keep you out.

–Jurgen O. Schulz

When God got immersed in our mess

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“And the Word became flesh
and dwelt among us…”
(John 1:14)

The Incarnation means a card-carrying member of the Holy Trinity is now part of the human race. He bridged the uncrossable divide between Creator and creation, between Divinity and humanity. He became our blood relative, our next of kin.

A member of the Godhead has a body
of flesh and blood—He is one of us.

Literally.

Not for a few years, but forever.

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God and man are now inseparably connected. The Lord of the universe has become a part of our story.

And a part of our predicament. He has thrown in his lot with us.

He has joined our ranks
to such a degree that our dilemma
has become His dilemma.
Our misfortune has become His.

He got embroiled in our brokenness—more than any self-respecting God ever should have.

Immersed in our mess.

He was not about to abandon his fellow humans to their plight. He got involved. He shouldered our cause. We are no longer alone in our distress.

We have a Redeemer.

–Jurgen O. Schulz

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