Tuesday, December 27, 2005

#26 The Final Chapter

#26 The Final Chapter
December 27, 2005

"I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. "He will rule them with an iron scepter." He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS."
(Revelation 19: 11-16)

I follow one of those reading plans. You know the one. Read through the Bible in one year. As Christmas Day dawned, it was time to begin the Book of Revelation. At first there doesn't seem to be a connection, but I actually find it not so ironic or coincidental.

I figured that I'd better get out my Bible commentary and end times books so that I could understand what we believe to be the most difficult book of the Bible. I went through a time about a year ago, when I read and studied everything I could get my hands on about this book and the time of the end. But as I was about to gather my things, I stopped and decided to just read GOD'S word, and ask Him to show me what He wanted to. I want to share with you what He showed me.

We have just spent weeks preparing for Christmas Day. Buying the perfect gift, trimming the tree, baking and entertaining. Love and goodwill abounding - family gatherings, Christmas carols and our problems set aside for just a little while. Hopefully we fit thoughts of Jesus in there somewhere. Assuming that we did, we focused on the birth of our Savior. Emmanuel...God with us. The baby born to a virgin, in a stable - receiving shepherds as visitors. But it's over now. We need to remember that what we celebrated was just the beginning of the story.

We will ring in the new year this coming weekend, and the trees and decorations will come down. Life will be back to normal again and we will experience the dreary days of January and February as we look forward to spring. I pray that we can hold on to some of that Christmas love and cheer as we move forward into 2006. But sadly, most of our 365 days are spent in the everyday stuff of life. The Christmas joy wears off, life happens. So what can we hang onto to keep that hope and joy of Christmas alive? Back to Revelation....I fight the urge to figure it all out. When will it happen....how will it happen? Is it happening now? Figurative or literal? And what does it mean for me?

First, I think it means that I am to read the book of Revelation. Chapter One tells me that I will be blessed if I do. (Revelation 1:3) Who doesn't want to be blessed!! This same verse tells me to take it to heart and believe it, because the time is near.

Second, living in the light of this knowledge, I am to be ready. Jesus will come like a thief and I will again be blessed (boy, I like this blessing stuff) if I stay awake and keep my clothes with me so that I may not go naked and be shamefully exposed." (Revelation 16:15) I must be prepared and be living right!

Third, I am to live by faith that my Bible is true. Like a novel, the final chapter is the culmination of it all. And my Bible tells me that the Babe in the manger lived, died and rose again. He is alive right now and preparing for the final chapter. One day soon, God will say, "That's enough!" and Jesus will mount that white horse and ride for the final victory over death, the devil, hell and the grave. It will be like nothing that has ever been known before. The Babe will be the The King of Kings. The Child lost in the temple will be the Lord of Lords. The meek and gentle Lamb on the cross will ride out victorious as the Lion of the tribe of Judah. And the devil will be thrown into the lake of burning sulfur and he and his minions will be tormented day and night, forever and ever. (Revelation 20:10)

God Himself will live with us and we with Him. The tears I am crying now will be wiped away by Jesus' hand. The loss I experience in the coming year will not even be a memory because there will be no death or mourning. My aching joints and the pain that I see others suffer will be gone -- no pain!! The way things are today will not be -- the old order of things will pass away . (See Revelation 21: 3-4) There will be no evil, no sin, nothing impure, shameful or deceitful. (Revelation 21:27 and 22:15)

Don't be afraid to read Revelation. Don't worry about understanding it all. Drink in the truth of it. Believe it. Be blessed by it. Look forward to it. See the connection? The infant born to be King and reign victorious. The babe-the Alpha. The King - the Omega. The First...the Last. The Beginning...the End. The Hope to hang onto no matter what we will face in 2006 and beyond. The world today appears to be out of control. Satan appears to be in charge. Our lives appear to be going wild at times. But the promise is at the end of the book. The King of Kings is in control. The Lord of Lords is in charge. Right now....not only later...right now!! Our lives may be a wild ride but Jesus says, "I am coming soon." (Revelation 22:7, 12, 20) We don't need to know every detail. We just need to know that truth...we need to know The Truth. Amen, Come Lord Jesus. (Revelation 22:20)

May you have a blessed and prosperous New Year,

Donna Schultz

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

#25 My Christmas Letter

My Christmas Letter
#25 December 20, 2005

"All who see them will acknowledge that they are a people the Lord has blessed." (Isaiah 61: 9b)

Have you ever received one of those Christmas letters? You know the ones I mean. The long, two page documents recounting the events of the past year in a family's life, usually accompanied by a family photo next to a beautiful Christmas tree or outside in the new fallen snow. I know you remember. Dad is the anchor of the family...strong, handsome and so into his children that he won the father of the year award. Successful businessman, soccer coach, all around great guy! Mom, "the glue that holds them together", busy, lovely, nurturing, loving in the face of all adversity. Little Billy, on his way to soccer (or baseball, or basketball, fill in the blank) stardom, an all A student.... And Jenny...budding ballerina....so cute and cuddly. LET'S GET REAL!!!

We would all love to spend a Walton Christmas...or have all of our problems wrapped up in 60 minutes of love like on Seventh Heaven. (Secretly, I want to be Annie Camden). But as someone once said, "It just ain't so!" Why do we feel the need to sugar coat our lives and make it appear that our year held no problems or that we have faced no difficulties? I don't know these answers but I do know that Jesus was true to His promise..."In this world you will have trouble." (John 16: 33) So welcome to MY Christmas letter.

The year 2005 held the loss of wages due and ultimately the loss of work. Bills behind. Struggling to make ends meet. The loss of the family vehicle due to engine failure and no one willing to extend us the credit for another one. Driving a borrowed car. Knowing inside that the Lord had something else for me to do in service to Him, but fighting Him every step of the way for months. One day fighting with God, the next rebuking the enemy...couldn't tell who was speaking to me and telling me it was time to move on. Ending most days feeling like I had been beat up and left for dead. The defining moment came when one of my clients attacked me while I was alone at the ministry office. Decisions to be made. The end of my director role at My Father's Business...the loss of the borrowed vehicle. Chuck taking on even more responsibility than he needed or wanted.

An 18 year old bent on sabotaging his senior year in high school. My oldest daughter moving out of our home to follow a decision that I was totally against. My father being diagnosed with cancer...again...this time of the bladder and prostate. The same father who along with my mother are full of anger and bitterness and will not speak to me...unwilling to restore relationship with me or my family. Struggling with the huge decision to leave the church and friends that we had known for nine years to follow the Lord's leading to a new place and new opportunities. The end of our days at My Father's Business and Grace Community Church. And just recently, the news that Chuck's daughter Elizabeth has leukemia and will be facing a couple of years of treatment, chemotherapy and dramatic life changes. I'm sure there's more...but...that's enough to make my point. I'm starting to feel like the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians Chapter 11...boasting about his sufferings. (See 2 Corinthians 11: 16-33)

So here we are at December 20, 2005. Chuck has a wonderful job that he loves and looks forward to each day. I laughed at the devil the other day because in spite of all of the trials we've faced, they only drove us closer to each other. Our marriage is stronger than it has ever been and I love that man more today than I could ever put into words. No matter what has been thrown at us we have been blessed to have it draw us closer together instead of apart. Our monthly bills are not behind anymore and we are in the process of working on others. God has richly provided for us out of His boundless mercy and graciousness. My son graduated from high school and is growing into a fine, mature, responsible young man who makes me laugh every day. Out of his problems came a closer relationship between mother and son that I wouldn't trade for anything. We have become part of a new fellowship of believers who truly evidence the love of Christ to others. We are home. It is not a perfect group of people...but Jesus IS perfect and His love is manifesting itself and the presence of the Holy Spirit is there. We are being pointed to Christ and Christ alone. God is still permitting me to be an empty vessel for His use in writing "Tuesday's" each week and has given me a big vision for ministry in the future. My daughter is still living away from home, but God has taught me how to love her and let her make her own decisions and He is breaking generational curses of rejecting your children when you don't agree with them.

My dad still has cancer....I still don't have a car....my parents continue to reject me...Lyz still has leukemia. But did you notice something? With each problem has come God's hand making "all things work together for good." (Romans 8:28) My Jesus has been there in each trial, in each heartache and looking back...good has come...I wouldn't change it now. So I trust Him...with my dad, my children, my transportation, my step-daughter. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. If He worked in the other situations in my life...I know He will work in these. If I never had any problems, I'd never know that He could solve them. I'd never know how faithful and loving and kind and gracious and compassionate and patient He is!

So that's my Christmas letter. May I make a suggestion? This week as we concentrate on the birth of our Savior, take some time to think about the past year. Look at the trials and hardships that you have endured. Share them with others instead of trying to make your life look perfect. Magnify God and His presence in your life. Share with others the answers to prayer that you have received. Encourage them with the fact that God was present in your life and that He will do the same for them. Don't be a Walton or a Camden...be you and use your life and experiences to bring Him glory! See what God has done....In the song by Natalie Grant called "Held", she sings..."This is what it means to be held, how it feels when the sacred is torn from your life and you survive. This is how it feels to be loved and to know that the promise was when everything fell..we'd be held." I've been held for the past year....held tightly in my loving Heavenly Father's arms...I will not hide the hardships in my life because the fact that I've survived and prayers have been answered and God has been ever-present in my life and He has used what the enemy meant for evil to bring about good ...gives Him glory and honor and my life can be for the display of His splendor. Those who read my Christmas letter can say, "They are a people the Lord has blessed." (Isaiah 61:9)

Merry Christmas from our family to yours,

Donna Schultz


Tuesday, December 13, 2005

#24 I Wouldn't Change a Thing!

I Wouldn't Change a Thing!
#24 December 13, 2005
"For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." (2 Corinthians 4:17-18)

Twelve ordinary men. Fishermen, like Peter and his brother Andrew. Matthew, a tax collector at Capernaum. James and John. Philip and Bartholomew. Thomas and James the Younger. Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot. Twelve ordinary men. Lives interrupted when they met one man. From all indications this was the man they had been waiting for. This was the man they grew up hearing about. This was the man who would save a nation. Take it by force. This was the man who would set them free.
Question: Can God interrupt your life?

Three years. They heard about love. They heard about forgiveness. People healed. Multitudes fed. He told them that He came to serve...to give His life as a ransom. What sense did that make? They were waiting for Him to take over...they wanted to crown Him King. Instead they watched as He rode into Jerusalem on a colt. A colt??? Should have been on a steed, with a sword....and an army!
Question: What are you expecting?

Waiting ... watching ... hoping each day would be THE DAY. He tells them that He will have to suffer. He must be killed. Impulsive, outspoken Peter says, "Never, Lord! this shall never happen to you!" (Matthew 16: 22) The King replies, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men." (Matthew 16: 23)
Question: Whose "things" are on your mind?

Plots. Tension in the air. A Passover supper. Talk about betrayal and the appointed time being near. Falling asleep in a garden while their King was overwhelmed with sorrow and sweat drops of blood. Jesus arrested. Peter again taking matters into his own hands cutting off a man's ear. Rebuked again..."Put your sword away!" (John 18:11)
Question: What are you fighting against? What are you taking into your own hands?

Crucifixion of their King. Death. Hopes and dreams shattered and buried in a borrowed tomb. Running. Hiding. Fear. It's over.
Question: Where is there no hope and the appearance of death in your life?

Alive. Jesus is alive. "Peace be with you," he says. (Luke 24:36) They can touch Him. They can see His hands and His feet. They watch Him eat a piece of broiled fish. He tells them about forgiveness of sins. He gives them the precious Holy Spirit. He commissions them for greatness in His name. Peter becomes a great orator and addresses crowds with a boldness he had never known before. They perform many miraculous signs and wonders among the people. (Acts 5: 12) They become great writers. Because of their words and the witness of what they saw and heard, we are believers in Jesus Christ today. All of our sins are forgiven, thrown as far away as the east is from the west. We are saved, sanctified, justified (just as if I never sinned) and glorified. We are Heaven bound. We have been set free.
Question: Would you change anything about that?

Right at this very moment you are going through something. And if you aren't, it won't be long before you do. Jesus promised us that "in this world we would have trouble." (John 16:33) He never promised us it would be easy...He just promised that we would never be alone. He has a purpose and a plan for everything that you are going through in your life, whether you can see it or not.

Things aren't always what they seem. Ask Lazarus, Mary and Martha. "Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?" (John 11:40) Ask Joseph. "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." (Genesis 50:20) Ask each one of those twelve ordinary men.

Things aren't always what they seem. "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord." (Isaiah 55:8) The Bible tells us multiple times not to fear. I've heard it said that fear is False Evidence Appearing Real. Things are not always what they seem.

In Philippians, Chapter 2, verse 21 the apostle Paul tells us that everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. "Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face." (1 Corinthians 13: 12) We may be blessed in this life to look back and see why God allowed certain things to happen to us. We may never know or see the reasons until we get to Glory. Only One thing is sure...Jesus Christ, the Lord of Glory knows exactly what He is doing.

Have courage my friend. There is a higher purpose for your problem today. Trust. Things are not always what they seem. "Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." (Hebrews 11:1)

Things are not always what they seem. I stand with those twelve ordinary men and say,
"I wouldn't change a thing!"

Until next week,

Donna Schultz

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

#23 Where is God?

Where is God?
#23 December 6, 2005

"Unless the Lord had given me help, I would soon have dwelt in the silence of death. When I said, "My foot is slipping," your love, O Lord, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul." (Psalm 94: 17-19)

(Today's Tuesday's with Jesus is inspired by the news that my step-daughter, Chuck's daughter, Elizabeth (Lyz), who is 17 years old was diagnosed yesterday with leukemia.).

I didn't understand early yesterday afternoon why I could not write Tuesday's with Jesus. I was experiencing a total mental block...something I haven't experienced before. I have always refused to write out of my own mind and thinking and have depended on God's anointing and His words to me alone. I just couldn't write..couldn't think of an idea...no place to start. Total blank. I determined to keep listening, watching and waiting for a word from God. He graciously heard my cry and let me see and hear the things I am about to share with you.

When the rug is pulled out from under our lives, when we are blind sided by bad news, when life changes in a way that we would never choose...an all too often question that is asked is "Where is God?" This is not only a question asked by those who don't believe in God. For a fleeting moment even believers in our Lord, Jesus Christ can falter and say, "Where is God?" I am here today to tell you just where God is, because I heard Him and I saw Him!!

I saw Him in a poster made by Lyz's friends that had Bible verses written all over it.
I saw Him in the face of a father whose heart was breaking but who was trusting the Lord and leaning on His strength and was pointing those with weaker or no faith to Jesus Christ.
I felt Him in the peace that was there in the hospital room designed and arranged by Him alone.
I saw Him when hands were laid on Lyz in prayer and teenagers who are not even sure about God held hands with us and prayed because they are grasping for Something to hold on to.
I saw Him in the face of Lyz as she laughed, encouraged and comforted those who were there to comfort her.
I saw Him late last night when my 14 year old son and some of Lyz's friends were searching the Bible and IMing each other with verses of encouragement. They didn't turn to anything destructive to ease the pain they were feeling...Hallelujah! They turned to God's word!!

He is there! He is all around us. If you just listen and watch, you will see Him. He is the great I AM! He is not the I WAS or the I WILL BE. He is here now. He is an ever-present help in trouble. He is our refuge and our strength. Our rock, our fortress, our deliverer. He is our peace, because He is the Prince of Peace. He understands our suffering...He suffered so much Himself. He knows what it is like to feel pain, to be afraid, to be abandoned by His friends and rejected by His family. Hanging bloody on Calvary's Cross, He asked His Heavenly Father why He had forsaken Him. He really does understand our questions and sympathize with our weaknesses. Psalm 103:3 says that He heals all your diseases.

There is another voice that will whisper in your ear. The voice of the father of lies. Jesus said that the truth is not in him. He will tell you that all of this is hogwash. He will tell you to rant and rave and to doubt the goodness of God. He will tell you that a good God would never allow this to happen. He will tell you that God has let Lyz slip out of His hand. THE DEVIL IS A LIAR!! We do not deny the reality that this is a horrible experience. We do not deny the reality that it hurts. We can cry, we can be sad. But we cannot allow our tears and sadness to give way to depression, discouragement and hopelessness. We know the Blessed Hope! The one that says, "Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." (Joshua 1:9) The one that says, "I will never leave you or forsake you." (Joshua 1:5) Do you know that the use of the word forsake comes from the Hebrew meaning "to loosen"? God will never loosen His hold on you.

Please forgive our family if we don't act exactly as some may think we should. But we are standing on the Word of God. The goodness of God. The truth, not the lie. The solid Rock..."On Christ the solid Rock I stand. All other ground is sinking sand." We believe the truth of Jeremiah 29:11 that tells us that God has a plan for Lyz's life. We don't know the plan and we certainly don't understand the way He has chosen to get her there, but we are "Trusting in the Lord with all our hearts, leaning not on our own understanding", believing that if we "acknowledge Him in all of our ways, He will direct our paths." (Proverbs 3:5-6)

To believers, I ask that you pray for Lyz. My sentiments are in 2 Corinthians 1:10-11. "On Him we have set our hope that He will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many."

To unbelievers, I urge you to accept Jesus Christ as the Lord of your life. Ask Him into your heart today. I don't know how anyone does life without Him. Believe that He died on the Cross for you and that He rose again from the grave. You can have forgiveness of your sins and abundant, eternal life with Him in Heaven. Repent of your sins, ask Him to forgive you and commit your life to loving and serving Him. Don't live another day without Jesus. One day it will be too late to accept His precious gift to you and you will be tormented forever in Hell. Your problems will not disappear, you will still not understand everything, but you will know the One who will walk through your problems with you and the One who does understand.

Lyz was asked last night by one of her friends why this is happening to her; someone who believes in God. Lyz remembered last week's "Tuesday's" and told her about the sheep whose leg the shepherd broke and how the shepherd will now carry that sheep until it is healed.

To you Lyz, Jesus says, "My precious little sheep. I love you so very much. You are so special to Me. I take great delight in you. I quiet you with my love. I rejoice over you with singing. I love you like no one else ever could. Your leg is broken right now. But that means that I am carrying you close to my heart. My arms are around you every step of the way. I will not drop you or let you go until you are healed. And because we will spend this time together, being so close, you will walk with me, and I with you, all of the days of your life."

Until next week,

Donna Schultz