Author: Neil Schultz

I help church leaders and their spouses become resilient and healthy in their lives, families and ministries.
What Should Come From The Torture of Xu Shuangfu

What Should Come From The Torture of Xu Shuangfu

This comes from Voice of the Martyrs, dated 29 March 2006. Please pray for our brothers and sisters in China!

CAA (China Aid Association) learned 24 house-church leaders are still missing following a police raid on a house-church leader’s meeting in Henan province. According to an eyewitness report, at noon on March 13th, a number of public security officials raided a house-church meeting at Wen county, Henan province. Eighty Chinese house-church leaders from different counties of Henan province were attending a co-workers’ meeting. All of the leaders were then taken into custody after the police searched their bodies and confiscated the cash on them.

While 36 from Wen county were released within 24 hours, 24 of those from other counties are still missing. None of their whereabouts are known. Last week CAA also released a Defense Statement prepared by the defense lawyers of a controversial religious group leader, Xu Shuangfu.

Xu Shuangfu stated he had sustained an extortion of confession by severe torture, including denial of sleep for long periods and pouring hot pepper, gasoline and ginger juice into his nostrils. He was hung for long periods with his armed stretched and bound, shocked with electricity applied to copper wires bound around his extremities and hit with clubs on a helmet worn on his head. After seven days and nights of severe torture, he finally confessed to the unsubstantiated charges of authorizing the killing of members of the Eastern Lightning sect.

Pray the 24 Christians still in custody will know the comfort of Jesus’ presence. Pray they will be released soon. Pray Xu Shuangfu will remember the apostle Peter and know Jesus’ love and forgiveness.

Obsession with Elmo Shoes

Obsession with Elmo Shoes

My family and I went to Kohl’s (an American clothing store) today to look for shoes to buy. As is our custom, we went to the “Clearance” aisle and found a really cool pair of toddler Elmo Shoes on sale for 70% off the already marked down price. It was $5.39! That’s a great deal! The shoes are one size too big for our 21 month old, but they will fit great in another month or two. I was so proud of our cute little guy for finding them.

He gets a bit obsessed with his shoes. I think he’ll make a great Shoe Collector one day. While my bride and I were in the store looking at shoes for me, he sat on the floor just holding his Elmo shoes and playing around with other Elmo shoes just like them. As we were planning to leave the store, we told him we would buy the shoes. When we asked for them so I could carry them out, he flipped. In a moment of red-faced frustration, he let out self-centered bellow and moan because we had taken away his shoes out of his hands. He didn’t know that we were going to bless him by buying them for him!

How much does this reflect you and me?

When we want something and then realize we have to wait for it, sometimes our ability to be patient is low. We Americans want it, and we want it NOW. Sadly, I behave this way many times as well. God seems to allow for us to own this thing, but we may have to wait to buy it until it’s in our budget to do so, or for some other circumstance to pass before we have the freedom to get it.

God loves us. He wants us to be like His Son the Lord Jesus Christ in everything. He wants to bless us because of our moving in that direction. But we want what we want in OUR timing, and forget that about God. All we can see is our Elmo shoes and can’t see into the near future.

Oh, I seem to remember a Psalm telling us to “Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD” (Psalm 27:14 NIV).

Tom & Jerry Helps Man to Road of Faith

Tom & Jerry Helps Man to Road of Faith

Cartoons . . . Cartoons were a staple of my generation’s childhood. Twenty-five years ago, when a boy would wake up on a Saturday morning, he was enticed to go into the kitchen, pour a bowl of his favorite cereal and then sit down in solitude while everyone else was still asleep in front of the family television set in the living room, where his favorite Saturday morning cartoons were on. Characters frantically chased each other with weapons, a rabbit-crazed hunter chasing an obnoxious bunny with his hunting rifle, and my favorite was one that starred a particularly blue cat named Tom, and a brown mouse named Jerry.

One particular episode is especially memorable. Tom (the cat) was chasing Jerry (the mouse) and something happened where they were both killed. Jerry, who was always assumed to be the innocent and “good” one of the duo, went to heaven on an exceedingly long escalator, where he appeared before the “pearly gates” and entered heaven with angel’s wings and a harp, where he enjoyed everlasting bliss by floating on a cloud and playing his given instrument. Tom on the other hand, who was the mischievous and deviant one, yet usually the sucker, was sent to a flame-infested hell, where he was tortured and tormented by red-bodied demons with pitchforks, horns and nasty teeth. Tom experienced pain and fear while being dunked in a cauldron of hot fire.

Quite an image, isn’t it? The portrayal of both places, although not entirely accurate on either side, is striking. Cartoons aside, Heaven and Hell are very real places, where which a person, when they die, will enter either of the two. The question quickly becomes, “since there’s a heaven and a hell, and I’m going to die one day and go to one of them, how can I get to heaven and not hell?”

The most important thing in this life is what or whom you choose to believe in. The only way to get to heaven is by believing in the Lord Jesus Christ as the only way to get there. He said it Himself, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father (gets to heaven) except through me” (John 14:6). The truth about Him is that He is God, came down from heaven as a baby, lived a sinless and perfect life, and then died on a cross for our sins and rose to life from the dead three days later. What allows a person to go to heaven is by believing (putting their faith and trust) in Jesus Christ, that He died on the cross for our sins and rose again. That’s it! He paid the punishment due to us from our sins! Being a good person or doing good deeds has nothing to do with us getting to heaven, it is by faith alone in Christ alone (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Tom and Jerry, once they died, were right back in full health during the next episode, as if nothing had ever happened to them. That kind of life is great for a cartoon, but is totally unrealistic for a human being. Once you die, friend, that’s it. There are no more episodes, no more re-runs. Suppose once you finish reading this, you decide to go home. Once you enter your car, turn the ignition on and enter the freeway. A large Semi-truck didn’t see you merging and runs into your vehicle from behind, snapping your neck. You die instantly. My friend, if this happens to you, would you know for sure that you would go to heaven? And how would you know?

As much as we would like to think that life is a cartoon… unfortunately, it is not. What we need is real life, and Jesus Christ gives us just that, eternal Life. What will you do with Him today?

So… Think You’re a Good Person?

So… Think You’re a Good Person?

“Every way of a man is right in his own eyes,
but the LORD weighs the heart.” ~ Proverbs 21:2

Most everyone I talk to who are not church-going people, have this basic belief about themselves, which says, “I am a good person.” They justify themselves (which means to declare ones self as being ‘righteous’) and therefore get themselves off the hook with God. Since that has happened in their own minds, they then have no need to read the Bible, get connected to a local group of Christ-followers, or begin following Christ themselves. Of course they wouldn’t need to! They are good people! They have no need for forgiveness, no need for other people, no need for God to change them for the better, no need for Jesus Christ, who died for their sins and rose from the dead!

Can you think of anyone else in history who said “I am a good person” and therefore had no need to follow Christ?

You know, Adolf Hitler believed he was justified in his actions against his own people. He believed he was saving Germany in the 1930’s and 1940’s from Jewry and therefore doing the world a favor by exterminating them. In his last political testament, written 29 April 1945 shortly before he committed suicide, he wrote:

“In these three decades love and loyalty to my people have guided all my thoughts, actions and my life. They gave me the strength to make the most difficult decisions ever to confront mortal man. In these three decades I have spent my strength and my health…

…I have left no one in doubt that if the people of Europe are once more treated as mere blocks of shares in the hands of these international money and finance conspirators, then the sole responsibility for the massacre must be borne by the true culprits: the Jews. Nor have I left anyone in doubt that this time millions of European children of Aryan descent will starve to death, millions of men will die in battle, and hundreds of thousands of women and children will be burned or bombed to death in our cities without the true culprits being held to account, albeit more humanely.”

Take a look at this picture on the right, which was created in the late 1930’s. The words on the bottom read: “Germany Lives!” Hitler was proclaiming himself to be Germany’s Messiah. Notice the dove at the top? Christians for two millenia have used the dove as a symbol of the Holy Spirit and of peace. Notice the masses who are backing their Leader, whose steely eyes are set on the goal of liberating his people and country.

You need to understand that even this guy justified himself and said he was a “good person.” Do you think you are this good? Can you honestly say to God’s face that you are good enough to get to heaven and take part in His eternal life?

As human beings, we can be pretty prideful and stubborn. How audacious of us to say that we, in and of ourselves, are somehow “good enough for God” just by default; just by being alive; just because, “Hey, I don’t kill anyone or want to hurt anyone.” Ouch. There’s a rough eternity waiting for you if this is what you truly believe.

“Goodness” can only come from One source. This doesn’t happen because you are a good person who does anything to gain God’s favor. No human being is good enough on our own to do that (Romans 3:10-23). The Lord Jesus Christ can make a person “good,” and thereby allowing that person access to eternal life, what we know of as heaven. When He died, He gave His life as a “ransom for many” (Matt 20:28). If you trust on His death and resurrection to be a substitute for your death (separation from God in eternal punishment), then this makes you truly a good person, as you have become a new person (2 Corinthians 5:17), one that is capable of entering eternity with God’s favor.

So… think you’re a good person (on your own capabilities)? So did Adolf Hitler. Look at the end result.

"Innocence Maintained" by Jewel

"Innocence Maintained" by Jewel

Have you ever listened to Jewel, a singer in her young 30’s who is a Dylan-esque pop folk singer who was once so poor she lived in her car? In a pathos marinated voice, Jewel belts out bluesy songs that burn about the injustice, futility, and despair of life. Her lyrics, while not coming from an overtly Christian perspective, still touch something deep inside of many people. She sings:

We are given to a god to put our faith therein
But to be forgiven, we must first believe in sin
We’ve made houses for hatred. It’s time we made a place

Where people’s souls may be seen and made safe.*

Many of us struggle with these same questions, don’t we?

Do you know anyone with these thoughts?

In your opinion, what would that place look and feel like if people who called themselves ‘Christians’ (myself included), actually encouraged people’s souls to “be seen and made safe?”

*Jewel Kilcher, “Innocence Maintained,” WB Music Corp./Wiggly Tooth Music, ASCAP, 1996.

Blogging in China

Blogging in China

Here in San Diego, CA, we have a talk radio station on 89.5 FM, which I was listening to while driving to the grocery store yesterday afternoon after work. The talk show I was listening to was about the increasing popularity of blogging in China.

One single woman in her 20’s said she enjoys blogging about her favorite subject–herself. She is an only child and has little concern for anything beyond herself.

Another gentleman, a journalist, has loftier goals of getting political views across to the masses. Unfortunately, his blog was removed by Microsoft in conjunction with international law, referring to a clause regarding not communicating political views which conflict with current government. This man is outraged because the internet is difficult to police, however, Microsoft seems to be able to do just that.

There are 111 million Chinese bloggers today, according to this news report, and the numbers continue to rise. This is quite an extensive medium to get ideas across to an enormous audience.

Our world is definitely in the Information Age. As more people espouse ideas and communicate across geo-political barriers, more opportunities for chaos OR for unconditional love to occur will increase. My hope in having this blog is to communicate ideas that will nourish the soul of the reader, and help them understand who Jesus Christ really is. In the process, perhaps you will get to know me better as well.

I hope to begin more outreach to Chinese bloggers, that you may see the true freedom that is in Jesus Christ and trust in His forgiveness of sin. May you begin to follow His love and calling in your unique life.

Those of you reading this… will you help me reach the bloggers in China?

Thank you!

Would You Like to Meet Jesus?

Would You Like to Meet Jesus?

Have you ever met Joshua from the small town of Nazareth? The Western world knows Him as ‘Jesus,’ primarily because His name in Greek is ‘Iesous. In Latin, it’s Jesu. In anglicized Chinese, it’s Yesu. Either way you call it, He’s God in a human body. The only One to escape human mythology. He was and is the real deal.

Have you met Him?

Would you like to?

Wouldn’t you like to have a discussion with Jesus as exciting as this one to right?

Attractional or Missional: You Can’t Have it Both Ways

Attractional or Missional: You Can’t Have it Both Ways

In what Alan Hirsch and Michael Frost call in their book, The Shaping of Things to Come, to the Attractional Church, “evangelism becomes about inviting people to meetings.”

This limits our vision for what God can do both in time and in space, doesn’t it? But “Jesus didn’t say, ‘sit in your church and wait for people to come to you.’ ”

Even when traditional churches set out to be evangelistic, Frost and Hirsch suggest that church planting generally involves planting Sunday services rather than real Christian communities.

The Missional church, on the other hand “does not seek to attract people to it. It seeps into the cracks and crevices of a society in order to be Christ to those who don’t know him yet.”

It does this through what are called proximity spaces, shared projects, and commercial enterprises. Proximity spaces are “places or events where Christians and not-yet-Christians can interact meaningfully with each other.”

“They are definitely not churches. Examples of proximity spaces include art workshops, pubs and cafes where Christians form part of the regular clientele. Shared projects are activities of genuine interest to the wider community, which meet a need and provide an opportunity for Christians and not-yet-Christians to meet in a natural situation. Commercial enterprises are real businesses, run by Christians for the wider community, but which are not overtly evangelistic. Examples included a shoe shop in San Francisco and a pub in Barnsley. The point of all of these activities is to find neutral ground where the Church can intentionally meet with the wider world.

This does not mean that the Church merely becomes a social club. Bible teaching and worship are still very much part of the life of the church (though perhaps not done in traditional ways), as is mutual commitment and accountability” (

Oh God, please cause me and my family to be missional in every venture we seek to be involved in for Your glory!