Delightful and Disturbing


The gospel is delightful and disturbing, simple and profound, free and costly, affirming and unsettling, tender and tough, beautiful and offensive, winsome and shocking, comforting and frightening, liberating and binding, wonderful and dangerous, marvelous and mysterious. Leonard Sweet put it well: “Truth is not found in the mediocrity of the middle but in the paradoxical harmony of a double-edged sword.”

–Jurgen O. Schulz

Mercy and Morality


There is a tendency to think that the ardent freeness of grace should not be diminished or clouded by ethical demands. This is contrary to the logic of the gospel of Christ. The most striking thing about our Lord, as Lewis comments, is the union of great ferocity with extreme tenderness. We should not separate mercy and morality, or disconnect justification from sanctification. Both need to be stressed side by side in creative tension. It has been pointed out that “the essence of orthodoxy is paradoxy.” We cannot overstate the vast abundance of grace or the strong demands it makes upon us.

We are now called to wear the regal robe that was purchased with blood and custom-made by God. It is our high privilege. We can relax within the luxurious folds of this magnificent garment. When our conduct is out of character for a member of heaven’s kingdom, we must not throw off the royal robe. We should throw off the unrighteous behavior. We are learning to live in a new way. We are learning to enjoy the gift that was fashioned for us before the foundation of the world.

–Jurgen Schulz
What Jesus Wished People Knew About God

Guercino, Return of the Prodigal Son

The Good News about Wrath

rayo 2

It is no mistake to say that the love of God and the wrath of God amount to the same thing, described from different points of view. Both constitute an emphatic “No!” to that which endangers His creation. God’s evil-eradicating, death-destroying wrath is indispensable to the well-being of the universe. It is not a counterpoint to His love but a vital expression of it.

Croatian theologian Miroslav Volf comments: “Though I used to complain about the indecency of the idea of God’s wrath, I came to think that I would have to rebel against a God who wasn’t wrathful at the sight of the world’s evil. God isn’t wrathful in spite of being love. God is wrathful because God is love.”

“To be truly good one has to be
outraged by evil and implacably
hostile to injustice.”
–Rebecca M. Pippert

The wrath of God is His firm opposition to all that is crooked, broken, oppressive, unjust, and evil. He loves people too much to allow them to be destroyed by sin. His deep hatred of sin is a reflection of the greatness of His love. He will go to any length, pay any price, and make any sacrifice to free people from this toxic poison of the soul.

This is the unmistakable message of the cross. The horrific death of Christ at Calvary reveals the intensity of God’s purpose to annihilate sin and rescue sinners. The Biblical record says that Jesus is “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn. 1:29).

In his article “Prayer: Rebellion against the Status Quo,” David Wells contends that we have sadly lost our anger, but fortunately God has not lost His. “The wrath of God is His opposition to what is wrong … [it] seeks the triumph of truth and the banishment of Evil.” It is God declaring: “No, not in my universe!”

It would be appalling if the Divine Lord flew into a rage without warning. But it would be equally appalling if He never got angry. The evil of this world is damnable, sickening, horrendous. Someone needs to put a stop to it.

Someone will.

The wrath of God turns out to be very good news. This love-inspired hostility to all things hateful and harmful gives hope to a world afflicted by the curse of sin.

“It is not evil that will have the last word,
but good; not sorrow, but joy;
not hate, but love.”
–R. J. Campbell

This is cause indeed for celebration.

–Jurgen O. Schulz
What Jesus Wished People Knew About God

Preposterous Grace

0042 copy

Grace is the word that sums up the heart-grabbing essence of the gospel. And the illustration that stands head and shoulders above the rest is found in Jesus’ prodigal parable.

The rascal who did everything possible to break the heart of his father deserves flogging—but the red carpet is rolled out for him. Extravagant privileges are heaped upon him in what looks like a lottery win. The father can’t find enough gifts to shower on the boy.

Admittedly, it’s unwarranted. It’s ludicrous.

The kid is clobbered by kindness. It’s the scandalous peripety of grace.

Grace is divine prodigality gone wild. It is ridiculous generosity, reckless open-handedness, audacious extravagance. It is goodness on steroids.

Grace shows flagrant disregard for moderation, fairness, or bookkeeping. It dishes out in outrageous excess to those who don’t have it together and have nothing to give in return.

Michael Spencer put it like this: “Real grace is simply inexplicable, inappropriate, out of the box, out of bounds, offensive, excessive, too much, given to the wrong people and all those things.”

Grace completely abolishes any idea of merit. It floods the undeserving with blessing. Grace is love shown to the unlovely, favor bestowed upon the unworthy. It is indiscriminating, uncoerced, and delightfully gratuitous.

It doesn’t keep score.

–Jurgen Schulz
What Jesus Wished People Knew About God


A fresh look at Jesus’ most famous story


It finally happened! The book, “What Jesus Wished People Knew About God” has been launched and is now available on Amazon, Kobo, Chapters, Barnes & Noble, Apple ibooks, etc.

This book takes a close look at the stunning portrait Jesus painted of His Father in His famous Parable of the Prodigal Son. Jesus’ parable is loaded with spiritual dynamite that could seriously alter your concept of God. It may rearrange your theology. It may make your heart skip a beat. It may lead you to experience the extravagant embrace of the Father and bring you to a freedom and joy you have never known.

Find a comfortable spot, put your religious preconceptions on hold, and prepare for a heart-stopping journey into the heart of God.

Freedom to serve

hands raised 12 copy

This verse has long fascinated me. “O Lord, truly I am Your servant . . . You have loosed my bonds” (Psa. 116:16). The psalmist makes a intriguing connection between bondage and freedom. He claims to be a “servant” yet “loosed.” Is this not the beautiful paradox of the Christian? Loosed, but bound. Free, but still a captive. Released to be ruled by Love. The glorious liberty of slavery to grace!

–Jurgen O. Schulz

The best is yet to come


“You have kept the good wine until now” (Jn. 2:10).

In this world the best comes first. The wonder of childhood vanishes before the harsh realities of adulthood. The vigor of youth gives way to the feebleness of old age. Sin’s pleasure is followed by regret and remorse, dreams turn into illusions, and hope frequently gets reduced to cynicism. In a very short time the latest cutting edge innovation becomes outdated and obsolete.

We live on a planet where magnificence
quickly turns to monotony.

In Christ it works the other way. The best comes last. His love gets sweeter, his grace grows richer, his presence more comforting. The road that starts narrow keeps getting wider, the good news of the gospel continually shines brighter. The end is better than the beginning.

And when we finally get to the other side, we will discover that everything is more wonderful than we ever dreamed—and it will keep on getting better! In Christ we are involved in an everlasting process of going higher, an unending experience of “grace upon grace,” an eternal increase of goodness.

The phrase: “It doesn’t get any better than this”—is not applicable in God’s kingdom. However good it gets—the best wine is yet to come.

–Jurgen Schulz

Photo: Marek Jedzer

The glorious paradox of grace

Freedom 4
Truly I am your servant, Lord . . .
you have freed me from my chains.
–Psalm 116:16 NIV

Here is a fascinating combination!

Freed—but serving.

Loosed—but bound.

Liberty and servitude. How can we put these two opposites together?

The Gospel joins them in a glorious paradox.


Our chains have been broken, but our hearts are captured by Calvary love. Our bonds have been loosed, but we willingly become bondservants of our Redeemer.

Grace emancipates and captivates.

Charles Wesley said it so well:
          My chains fell off, my heart was free,
          I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

Absolute autonomy quickly leads to new tyrannies. It doesn’t take long for total freedom to turn into servitude to new masters and new vices.


“Liberty too can corrupt, and absolute liberty can corrupt absolutely,” wrote Getrude Himmelfarb.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer underscored this truth: “The demand for absolute liberty brings men to the depths of slavery.”

It is only as the Son makes us free that we shall be free indeed. It is in surrender to Christ that we find freedom. Gripped by grace our hearts take flight. Low at his feet we stand tall. Under His lordship we find liberty.


It is in belonging to Him that we find ourselves.
It is in obeying Him that we are set free.

Blessed contradiction!

The glorious liberty of slavery to grace!

–Jurgen O. Schulz

Published in: on 01/03/2013 at 20:47  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , ,

DID EVER . . . ?


Did ever one so high come so low?
Did ever one so great become so small?
Did ever one so strong become so vulnerable?
Did ever one so awesome become so unassuming?
Did ever one so glorious become so humble?
Did ever one so divine become so human?
Did ever one so mighty become so weak?

Did ever one so rich become so poor?
Did ever one so majestic become so meek?
Did ever one so holy become so approachable?
Did ever one so wonderful become so unpretentious?
Did ever one so sublime become so accessible?
Did ever one so far removed come so near?
Did ever one so good become so dear?

“…Is not this the Christ?” (John 4:24)

–Jurgen Schulz

A tangible marker

There are times when a stake needs to be driven into the ground to establish a fact, to make a statement. It becomes a tangible marker that clarifies an issue—that ends discussion. It makes the verbal visible. It is something we can point to and come back to.

When the Maker of the planet
purposed to confirm to us
the reality of His unrelenting love,
He was kind enough to place
the matter beyond dispute.

An enormous wooden stake was hammered into the soil. It was driven home so forcefully that the whole universe felt the impact. He made His point painfully clear. It left no room for doubt.

And it had the unmistakable resemblance to a Roman cross.

–Jurgen Schulz

Down-to-earth spirituality

Our God is a down-to-earth deity.


The Word became flesh. The very stuff our bodies are made of. He became “human”—a term which derives from the root “humus,” meaning earth. This was the raw material our Creator used to make us. “The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground…” (Gn. 2:7)

The staggering miracle of the Incarnation means that not only is man made of dust—but now God is too! Deity took on “humus.” This is the ultimate circuit blower! God didn’t just visit our race; he became a part of it!

“Theos” and “anthropos”
were organically joined.

A member of the Trinity now has skin color, eye color, hair color and fingerprints. He has immersed himself in the physical realities of human existence, and his favorite self-description became: “Son of Man.”

Martin Luther rightly stated, “The mystery of the humanity of Christ, that he sunk himself into our flesh, is beyond all human understanding.”

J. B. Phillips concludes that we need “to be shocked afresh by the audacious central Fact—that, as a sober matter of history, God became one of us.”

The foundational article of the Christian faith—”The Word became flesh”—is a bombshell for the Gnostic who affirms that the material world is illusory and evil. It also overturns the tables on Christians who subscribe to a world-denying spirituality.

The Incarnation forces us all to rethink our ideas
about nature and matter and the physical world.
It totally shipwrecks our dualistic separation
of “sacred” and “secular.”

This God become “humus” grew, breathed, walked, ate, drank, worked and wept. He enjoyed taking walks, working with wood, eating dried figs, basking in sunshine, cooking breakfast on the beach and laughing with friends. In the words of one writer, “Jesus . . . seemed as comfortable at a party as He was in the Temple.” The Creator, who at the beginning of time looked upon his creation and declared it to be good, now tasted, touched, smelled and felt its goodness.

“Time was when you could despise the body and love God, or despise God and love the body. One could be an ascetic or a hedonist.” says theologian Peter J. Leithart. “Then God got Himself a body . . . the incarnation made the ancient choice of ascetic or hedonist impossible. Since the incarnation the only choices are to love the body and God, or to despise both.”

It is often heard in wedding ceremonies that, by His presence in the wedding at Cana of Galilee, Christ blessed and sanctified marriage. However, a wedding was not the only place he showed up. He toiled at a carpenter’s bench, strolled through markets and meadows, went boating on a lake, enjoyed meals in friends homes and hiked up mountains. The unavoidable conclusion is this—Christ sanctified every sphere of human activity.

Jesus of Nazareth
is our most compelling evidence
that “spiritual” and “material”
cannot be separated,
that supernatural and natural
belong together.

In one of his poems, William Wordsworth speaks of “the light of common day,” to which G. K. Chesterton reacted angrily and in effect said, “Don’t you dare call it common—that’s blasphemous!” A similar rebuke was given to the apostle Peter, “What God has cleansed you must not call common.”

A Gnostic view of spirituality has led many to believe that only that which is explicitly “Christian” is truly glorifying to God. Taken to its logical conclusion, this would mean that true holiness requires one to wear Christian shoes, eat Christian food, sleep in a Christian bed, listen to Christian music, drive a Christian car and breathe Christian air. Obviously this is absolutely absurd! And such thinking is inconceivable for anyone who seriously believes in the Incarnation.

The fact that Holiness took on humanity forces us to reconstruct our understanding of “spiritual.”

No longer can we view the secular as unsacred. No field of human endeavor is out of bounds. “For everything belongs to you—be it Paul or Apollos or Peter, the world or life or death, things present or future—everything belongs to you; and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God” (1 Cor. 3:22,23).

“Everything belongs to you” moves the goalposts of spirituality to the ends of the earth! It’s all encompassing. The only thing to avoid is that which contradicts who we are in Christ. The rest is ours!

We can honor our Creator, not only in prayer and worship, but also in farming, medicine, business, music, landscaping and computer programming. Through work we enrich one another and cultivate and care for the created world that God made, sustains and loves.

A musician serves God by composing great music, and not just by writing songs about Jesus. An architect honors his Maker by bringing beauty and excellence into his work, and not solely by designing cathedrals. Human activities do not require a Bible verse added on to make them valid.

When asked whether the world needs more Christian writers, C. S. Lewis replied, “No, we need more writers who are Christian.”

We can cook, paint, dance, write novels, compose music, fly kites and grow orchids to the glory of God. The duties and delights of daily human life are not obstacles, but opportunities for spirituality. In Christ the joys, pains, pleasures and struggles of earthly living are the very context of godly living and worship. We are not called to take flight into some spiritual stratosphere of mystical experience. We are called to live in a physical body in a physical world—to the glory of God.

“Christianity,” affirms Brian Zahnd,
“is a flesh and blood faith.”

It is perfectly fine to have a human body. As a matter of fact, God now possesses one Himself—and will do so forever.

The God of heaven is deeply involved in gritty activities such as creation, incarnation, redemption, resurrection and re-creation. Evidently matter matters. And when He writes the last chapter, it will not be about an eternal, ethereal, disembodied existence. It will be about new heavens and a new earth where we will live in perfected, human bodies in a physical, renewed world.

We are called to deny sin—not life.

Christian spirituality is not an other-worldly affair. It is about becoming truly human—like Jesus. It entails embracing the miracle of God’s real presence in our life and in our world. It involves celebrating sunsets, roses, coffee, family and all of God’s good gifts with gratitude and joy.

The reformer, John Calvin stated, “There is not
one blade of grass, there is no color in this world
that is not intended to make us rejoice.”

So slow down. Stop. Look. And, like Moses, take off your shoes because holy is all around us in the common stuff of everyday life. Spirituality is a down-to-earth matter.

If God truly became “humos”—how could it be otherwise?

–Jurgen Schulz

Trinitarian-Shaped Spirituality

Our walk with God is shaped by our view of God. A non-trinitarian understanding of God leads to a spirituality fundamentally different from that which results from believing in a self-giving, self-sacrificing God who exists in a community of oneness. Theology radically impacts behaviour.

If absoluteness, power and transcendence are the essential characteristics of God, then performance, not relationships, becomes the main issue. The Solitary Sovereign looks for obedience, not intimacy; he seeks compliance, not community. Faithfulness entails keeping the rules and maintaining proper behaviour. It is not surprising that a non-trinitarian view of God typically leads to a legalistic obsession with externals, proper formulas, and “getting it right.” We end up with a kingdom of “correctness.”

“Unity without multiplicity 
is the route to tyranny.” 
–Blaise Pascal

A very different spirituality develops from a belief in relational God who exists as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in the divine community of love. He is the Three-in-One God who said, “It is not good that the man should be alone” (Gn. 2:18). He is the Father who races to embrace and kiss his returning prodigal son, and throws a party to celebrate his homecoming (Lk. 15) He is the God who sent His Son and poured out His Spirit to redeem and include sinners in the eternal joy of the triune fellowship of love. Community, mutuality and love are at the core of who He is. And we should not expect His blueprint for us to be otherwise.

Trinitarian spirituality responds to the unconditional love of God—the staggering fact that we are loved with the same love the Father has for his Son. It dares to believe that at the centre of all things is a Fountain of Triune Love. It involves possessing “eternal life”—which is knowing the Father and the Son (Jn. 17:3), and actually becoming “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Pet. 1:4). Faithfulness to the Triune God entails much more than behaviour modification; it means living within His loving embrace. It means knowing that growth and change happen inside the embrace—not as a condition for receiving it. And in this trinitarian atmosphere of grace and goodness we are increasingly prompted to move in the direction of wholeness, holiness, obedience and service.

“Your image of God 
is the single-most important
element of your spiritual journey.”
–Graham Cooke

If the God we worship is the Solitary One who reigns in sovereign aloneness, we will arrive at a spirituality built on fear not love, on performance, not fellowship. It will be all about correct belief and behaviour—and make sure you get it right! If, on the other hand, we worship a Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who live in the togetherness of their mutual delight, passion and goodness, a very different spirituality emerges. We can learn to be vulnerable and authentic, to value relationships and beauty, to love, serve and give, to live with gratefulness and joy. We can stumble and fail and know we are still accepted. We have become amazed participants in God’s abounding triune love that will not let us go.

The contrast between the two spiritualities is stark.

John Wesley declared that the Trinity is a truth of crucial importance that “lies at the heart of all vital religion.” Robert W. Jenson stated, “The Western Church must either renew its trinitarian consciousness or experience increasing impotence and confusion.” German theologian, Jürgen Moltmann, insists that the renewal of Christianity must find its source in the doctrine of the Trinity.

A trinitarian-shaped spirituality is not only Biblical—it’s transformational.

The believer in Christ has been brought into the Triune circle of life and glory. Could anything be more wonderful than that?

–Jurgen Schulz

People become like their God

“Show me your gods and I will show you your people.” This adage holds true. If our concept of God is that of a Solitary Divine Dictator, it follows that we will be suspicious, critical, harsh, cold and condemning. Strong on “truth” and short on love. Joyless members of the righteous remnant. We unconsciously reflect the character of the Divine Being we believe in.

Not exactly inviting when your God is like Caesar.

If, on the other hand, we have been caught up in the self-giving love of the Triune God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit; if we have tasted and seen the unspeakable goodness and grace of the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, how can we not be humble, grateful, and generous?

We will reflect the overflowing kindness and magnanimity of our God.

Forgiven people forgive; welcomed people welcome others; the recipients of grace bestow grace. Their failures have been overwhelmed by mercy—and they can now act accordingly. Those who have been drawn into the abounding life of the Triune God find themselves spreading kindness and goodness and joy.

They have been blessed and can afford to bless others—even the ones who are not very agreeable, or doctrinally correct. They don’t need to zero in on other’s errors, because their heavenly Father doesn’t. They can be generous with words, attitudes and resources, because they have come to know a God of unstoppable goodness. They can value relationships, because that is what the Three-in-One God is all about. They can love the lost in all their lostness, because that’s the kind of love heaven lavishes on sinners.

People become like their God.

And if that is the case, you will want to make sure you’ve got the right God—the Triune God who lives in the Eternal Dance of glory, goodness and grace. The God of Calvary love. The God Christ came to reveal.

There is one way of knowing what He is really like—look at Jesus. Look at the cross. Only the Son knows the Father, and those to whom the Son makes Him known.

He is a God who lays down his life for others. That is what actually goes on inside the Trinity! Self-sacrificing love. One author described Him as a Supreme Being of “fathomless unselfishness.” The cross was not an accident. It is what this Triune Community is all about. It is what the Bible means when it says, “God is love.” What an amazing Deity He turns out to be!

And to believe in Him is to become like Him.

A belief in the Divine Dictator tends to produce mean-spirited people. And there’s no reason to become a part of that crowd—because that god doesn’t exist.

Moreover, it is highly desirable to pattern one’s life after the true God, who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He looks exactly like Jesus—and we have never ever seen anyone as wonderful as Him!

–Jurgen Schulz

What difference would it make?

Travel back in your mind before the beginning of time, before creation, and imagine a God who is NOT a Trinity. A solitary, all-powerful, self-sufficient Supreme Being. He relates to no one, answers to no one, speaks to no one. He is independent and alone. His thoughts do not go beyond himself, because he is all there is. He knows nothing of relationships, dialogue, togetherness, fellowship, love, friendship, serving or giving. Never does he have to practice consideration, patience, respect, generosity, self sacrifice, compassion, or kindness. He takes no one else into account, because no one else is there. His existence revolves entirely around himself.

If such a God where to create a universe, why would he do so? And what would it be like? What would he expect from us, his creatures?

Would he make a world of people where it’s all about family, community, and relationships? Would he come up with the idea of creating something called marriage where two lives merge and live together in love? Highly improbable. Would he give us the capacity for humor and enjoyment and laughter? Would he establish love as the supreme virtue? Not likely. Would it ever occur to him to become human and to share his glory with us? It probably wouldn’t cross his mind.

If the Solitary Deity should create us it would be to obtain service and worship. He is king and we are the servants; he is great and we are small. Our duty is to carry out his orders. It’s all about his supremacy and our subservience. When he shows up, we bow down. When he commands, we act accordingly. Such a God is to be feared, revered and obeyed. That’s the kind of universe we would expect from the Unaccompanied Monarch who reigns on high.

But, what if this God were actually a Trinity? A community of love and goodness and creativity and joy? What if he were a Triune God—a Father and Son who love each other with eternal passion in the abounding fellowship of the Spirit? We would then expect his creative activity to be entirely different. We would then envisage a world where people experience the joys of marriage and family and friendship, and where love is valued as supreme. A realm where there is joy and goodness and beauty and wonder. A planet of sunsets, butterflies, waterfalls, roses and hummingbirds.

Such a God would create people in his image in order to lavish upon them his love and goodness. And it would not be surprising that, if things went awry, he would respond in mercy and compassion, and, if necessary, act sacrificially to rescue his creation. We could also imagine this Divine Community of love to go even a step further, and invite humans to be part of his family as sons and daughters.

A very different scenario develops when we have a God who is a Trinity instead of a Celestial Caesar. The universe would be diametrically different if we had the one instead of the other. The Trinity turns out to be more than just another item in the creed. It radically transforms absolutely everything.

The Solitary Deity ends up looking a whole lot like the Allah, who rewards killers and terrorists with heaven. The Triune God ends up looking like Jesus giving his life for his enemies on a cross.

Slight difference.

–Jurgen Schulz

Published in: on 05/03/2012 at 13:14  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

The matrix of everything

The Triune God lives in an incomparable celebration of eternal joy. The Father, Son and Spirit have a rich and overflowing life with or without us. They did not decide to create us for their benefit, but for ours—because that is how God lives. That is how God LOVES!

The Father lives for the Son and the Son lives for the Father, and they share all things together in the Spirit. Not self centered, but other centered. Totally other centered—because that is the essential meaning of “God is love.” And this is what “Trinity” is all about. The Three-in-One God is a fountain of blessing and joy and goodness that spills over, that gives and gives and gives. This is who our Creator is, and this is why he creates.

C. S. Lewis pointed out: “We were made, not primarily that we may love God (though we were made for that too), but that God may love us.”

In so doing, He brings glory to His Name, which means—displaying the wonders of his grace. This is God’s highest glory—his goodness, love and grace. What an awesome and astounding God he is! This overflowing love is what prompted him to create—and to redeem. He is intent upon bringing others into the Triune celebration of eternal joy.

–Jurgen Schulz

Deluge of goodness

Within God wells up an outgoing, boundless tsunami of goodness. There is an unstoppable expansiveness about it. Father, Son and Holy Spirit shared and rejoiced in it together before time began. Their delight in extending and pouring out goodness moved them to create a world that would be flooded in its fullness as the waters covers the sea.

The sending of the incarnate Son of God gives even greater testimony to its abounding reality. His ghastly death on a cross is the ultimate display of this irrepressible, overflowing goodness that overcomes all obstacles. Its generous magnanimity is relentless and inexhaustible.

“God delights to communicate
and spread his goodness,”
stated 17th century
Richard Stibbes.

We have been created and redeemed to be overwhelmed by this torrent of divine beneficence, and it will be the cause of unending, ever growing celebration.

Our enjoyment of this deluge of goodness is never going to stop or diminish. We are destined to be eternally engulfed—so hang on to your hat.

–Jurgen Schulz

Unstoppable goodness

Heaven is the pervading active presence of the Triune God. Because God is love, in heaven love flows like a mighty river and everyone will be swept up by the force and delight of its self giving passion. Because God is joy, in heaven no one is sour and somber; the atmosphere is alive with humour and laughter and enjoyment. Because God is holy, nothing will ever diminish or tarnish the unstoppable force of everlasting goodness and beauty.

–Jurgen Schulz

Published in: on 09/14/2011 at 0:35  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , ,

Called into the grace of God

How easy it is to think that the Christian life is all about cleaning up our act and making our life count for God. It seems right. It sounds good. It even sounds Biblical . . . until we run into the words of Paul in Galatians 1:6. “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you into the grace of God.”

Notice, we are called not into performance
but into a position of favour with the Most High.

Not into activism but into God’s gracious embrace. And ultimately it is there that our lives are changed and become fruitful for God. The good news is that God did not call us because he had some important tasks for us to do for Him. He did not have a shortage on hired help. He called us because he had some important things He wanted to do for us. C. S. Lewis said, “In God there is no hunger that needs to be filled, only plenteousness that desires to give.” He pursued us in order to love us freely and fully. We were called “into the grace of God.” What an awesome place to be! That’s the Good News—and everything else flows out of that.

–Jurgen Schulz

Published in: on 07/09/2011 at 17:08  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , ,

Boasting in the Lord

“My soul shall make its boast in the Lord; the humble shall hear of it and be glad.” (Psa. 34:2)

I used to make my boast in knowing the Scriptures. When someone asked where a Bible verse was found, I could usually tell him where to find it. With someone like me around, who needs a concordance? I prided myself on my knowledge of the Holy Book; it made me believe I had become quite spiritual. Now I realize that what really matters is not knowing the written Word, but knowing the living Word. Christ said, “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me” (Jn. 5:39). Knowing the book of the Lord is not the same thing as know the Lord of the book. NOW I MAKE MY BOAST IN THE LORD.

I used to make my boast in how well I was doing in the Christian life. I set high standards, defended them ardently, and sought to practice them. It gave me satisfaction to think that I was a notch above many other Christians who didn’t hold to those standards, or even know about them. I even felt proud about my humility! How hard it was to realize that my critical and unloving attitudes were worse sins than the ones I looked down on others for. I was condemning splinters while carrying a log. My spirituality turned out to be a sham. NOW I MAKE MY BOAST IN THE LORD.

I used to make my boast in how well I was doing in the area of spiritual disciplines. I applied myself diligently to Bible study, prayer, worship and other devotional exercises, feeling sure that I was scoring high with these benchmarks of spirituality. It was hard for me to comprehend that you don’t get points for doing these things. They were simply a means of seeking God. I had gloried in the wrong things. NOW I MAKE MY BOAST IN THE LORD.

I used to make my boast in not having committed some of the scandalous sins that others had fallen into. It gave me a sense of moral superiority to think I had managed to avoid sliding into those ditches. I now see that in my heart there is the potential of committing any one of those sins. If I have not done so, it is not because of me; it is because of Him. NOW I MAKE MY BOAST IN THE LORD.

I used to make my boast in being part of a movement that sought to function on the basis of New Testament Church principles. I felt that we were doing things right. It took me a long time to realize that our calling was not simply to do things right, but to manifest Christ, and in that area, we were a long way from being where we should be. Following a pattern can make you proud; following a Person will keep you humble.  NOW I MAKE MY BOAST IN THE LORD.

I used to make my boast in my sound doctrinal positions. I was confident I had chapter and verse for my theological views. How well I could debate the finer points of Biblical minutiae! My theological orthodoxy gave me a sense of superiority over those who were not similarly enlightened. However, Scripture states: “If anyone thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know” (I Cor. 8:2). I reluctantly had to learn that I fell into the category of those who know nothing. My “conceit of certainty” waned as I came to understand that at best “we see through a glass, darkly” (1 Cor. 13:12). I was left with little reason to boast in my knowledge. NOW I MAKE MY BOAST IN THE LORD.

I used to make my boast in having successfully avoided the many errors that abound on the evangelical landscape. As I saw others swept away by the latest unbalanced teaching, it was easy for me to be critical of them. How deplorable that others were so lacking in spiritual discernment! How few there were who were standing strong for the truth of God! However, my condescending attitude took a beating when I ran into Philippians 2:3: “but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.” What made me think I could have the truth of Christ, while woefully lacking the mind of Christ? My boasting was vain. NOW I MAKE MY BOAST IN THE LORD.

I used to make my boast in my track record in serving God. My years of sharing my faith, ministering the Word, and serving others gave me a sense of spiritual achievement. I felt that I was making valuable contributions to the work of God. I had yet to learn what Paul had learned: “I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (I Cor. 15:10). Now I realize, that if a branch bears fruit, it’s all thanks to the vine. The Lord stated: “Without me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).  That was an important lesson to learn. NOW I MAKE MY BOAST IN THE LORD.

I used to make my boast in my performance in many different areas. I am beginning to understand that none of these things are cause for self congratulation; they are only cause for gratitude. The apostle Paul posed these convicting questions: “For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?” (1 Cor. 4:7 NKJV) I am learning there is only one reason to boast. NOW I MAKE MY BOAST IN THE LORD.

“Thus says the Lord: ‘Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in his might, nor let the rich man glory in his riches; But let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord…'” (Jer. 9:23,24)

“But God forbid that I should glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ…” (Gal. 6:14).

(The author of the forgoing is a missionary who is strongly tempted to boast in having written such an outstanding article.)

On the Rock

When someone has something of which he can be entirely sure, he can afford to be humble. He doesn’t need to react to every contrary opinion. He can relax. It is those who are uncertain at the center who are always defensive and intolerant. They must shore up their position, because it can’t stand on its own. They must attack opposing views, because otherwise the weakness of their own position is likely to be noticed. Their ideas need to be propped up by a noisy campaign, because otherwise they are likely to topple.

The one who has his feet firmly planted
on the Rock of Ages does not worry about
every little approaching wave.

He stands at a place of unmovable certainty. He will not be moved.

-Jurgen Schulz
(with due respect to E. Stanley Jones)


Published in: on 03/14/2011 at 12:22  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , ,
%d bloggers like this: