Author: Neil Schultz

I help church leaders and their spouses become resilient and healthy in their lives, families and ministries.
What gets Celebrated gets Reproduced

What gets Celebrated gets Reproduced

This is true in our households as well as church. Whatever we celebrate in others gets reproduced.

Remember the last time you praised your child when they were first learning how to walk? Did you clap for them, say “Yay!” with an excited voice?

What about the last time your child obeyed you? Did you encourage and celebrate that?

If you’re a leader, what about the last time someone in your organization did something that which you have been directing or encouraging them to do? Did you celebrate them?

What gets celebrated in your household? your church? your neighborhood? your company?

What Changes Lives?

What Changes Lives?

What changes lives?

Who or what changes lives for the better? As we think of being church leaders, we realize WE aren’t the agents of change.

I heard it said at Exponential 2011, that “Church doesn’t change lives, JESUS changes lives.” I agree. Jesus is the Source of transforming a person from one status to another. he brings the growth.

Another statement said at that conference was “Let’s lower the bar on how we do church, and raise the bar on what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.” The quality of our sharing our spiritual life with others (notice I didn’t just say small groups, Bible studies, or programs) needs to take center stage.

Thank you, Neil Cole. I agree (Great name, by the way).

Here’s my take on what changes lives: Life change happens as a by-product of several factors converging together: relationship, challenge, pain, experiences, but most importantly, LOVE.

The producer/instigator of life change is the Holy Spirit of God. He uses people in various forms (family, friendships, enemies, authors, actors, musicians, coaches, teammates, co-workers, neighbors, etc.) He also uses circumstances, prayer, Bible reading and other disciplines designed to produce what changes lives in us. The Holy Spirit is the agent of change and produces within us what we can’t drudge up ourselves.

May life change happen in me, my family, our church, our community, and our world for Jesus Christ!

Exponential Conference 2011

Exponential Conference 2011

I’m here at the Exponential Conference 2011 in Orlando, FL with my friends from Christ Fellowship and loving every minute of it! Beyond the workshops and main sessions we will be experiencing, I’m grateful and rejoicing in the time we have to reconnect. The only thing that would make this week better is if my family were with me!

Are We a NOUN or an ADJECTIVE?

Are We a NOUN or an ADJECTIVE?

of·fen·sive
noun /əˈfensiv/
offensives, plural
  1. An attacking military campaign
    • – an impending military offensive against the guerrillas
  2. An organized and forceful campaign to achieve something, typically a political or social end
    • – the need to launch an offensive against crime
adjective
  1. Causing someone to feel deeply hurt, upset, or angry
    • – the allegations made are deeply offensive to us
    • offensive language
  2. (of a sight or smell) Disgusting; repulsive
    • – an offensive odor
  3. Actively aggressive; attacking
    • offensive operations against the insurgents
  4. (of a weapon) Meant for use in attack
  5. (in a game) Of or relating to the team or player who is seeking to score
Protesting… The Church Offensive?

Protesting… The Church Offensive?

Ok… Is Christian Protesting such as this, an example of The Church Offensive? Or is it The Offensive Church?

I’d say the latter. Although these brave people are bold and proactively taking action against evil, they are in fact, going about it in ways that not only bring shame upon other Christians, I wonder what God thinks of this style of aggressive evangelism.

Evangelism is sharing the good news the Jesus died for our sins and rose from the dead with a person who does not yet believe in Him. It is most effective when it’s a conversation between two people, and usually not in a shouting match.

Does God “HATE” people who fit into categories outside of a Judeo-Christian morality?

What happened to “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

Take the Offense Without Shame

Take the Offense Without Shame

After Jesus spoke to his disciples about storming the gates of hell, he also gave them a word of caution: “If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory” (Luke 9:26).
Jesus knew that His followers would face ridicule and anger as they tried to confront evil. And His words came as a sharp challenge: no matter how fierce the resistance, His followers should never shrink back and hide their faith in God. His followers weren’t made to “Circle the Wagons.”
Jesus taught with passionate concern, even when bystanders may have thought him a total fool. Jesus continued his short lesson, ‘calling’ (In Greek, literally meaning shouting at the top of his voice; better translated, “Yelling”) to the crowd and his disciples right there in Caesarea Philippi, he challenged everyone within hearing: “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very soul?” (v. 25). This begs a few questions: 
  1. What crowd did He call to himself?
  2.  Could it have been the Pan worshippers? Any crowd from this region would NOT have been religiously Jewish.
  3. Was the last statement aimed at his disciples, who might have been embarrassed at the spectacle Jesus was creating?
In a city filled with false idols, Jesus asked his followers to commit to the one true God. While false gods promised prosperity and happiness, they would ultimately fail to deliver. Jesus didn’t promise an easy life, but He delivered on the promise of salvation—the only kind of prosperity that really matters.
Today, Christians must heed the words of our Rabbi King, especially when we are tempted to hide our faith because of embarrassment or fear. Our world is filled with those who have “gained the world” but lost their souls. If we hide our faith, they may never find the salvation they need.
Jesus’ Challenge

Jesus’ Challenge

Standing near the pagan temples of Caesarea Philippi, Jesus asked his disciples “Who do you say that I am?” Peter, with perhaps the greatest clarity in his life, replied, “You are the Messiah; the Son of the living God” (Matt 16:16). The disciples were probably stirred by the contrast between Jesus, the true and living God, and the false hopes of the pagans who trusted in “dead” gods, whose worship consisted of sacrifices thrown out the back of the Temple of Augustus into the immeasurable water in the Cave of Pan. If the sacrifices disappeared they were accepted.
Jesus continued, “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it” (see Matt. 16:13-20). 
The Catholic tradition has taken Jesus’ pronouncement in Matthew 16:18 to mean that Jesus was declaring that the church was to be built on the authority of Peter and the other disciples. It is true that they led the early church, so this would be a possible interpretation.
The Protestant tradition has taken Jesus’ declaration here to say that His church was to be built upon the confession recognizing Him as the Messiah and the Son of the living God. This is a valid interpretation, as well, and is a practice supported by other scriptures.
With the help of Ray VanderLaan and other Hebrew contextual scholars, a third interpretation is suggested which may be even more powerful as the others, based on the context. It seems clear that Jesus’ words also had symbolic meaning. His church would be built on the “rock” of Caesarea Philippi—a rock literally filled with niches for pagan idols, where ungodly values dominated.
Why would Jesus choose this place, the morally filthiest place within walking distance of His earthly region of ministry?
It is possible that he took his disciples to the most degenerate place possible to say to them “THIS is where I want you to build my church. I want you to walk into the most repugnantly degenerate places, where God is not even known. I want you to go out to places that make Caesarea Philippi look tame, and THAT is where I want you to build my church.” That is exactly what they did. They went to places in Asia Minor and the ends of the earth, where “gods” were worshipped in unspeakably awful manners and where Christians would be persecuted in horrific manner, and they gave their lives doing EXACTLY what they were told to do by their Rabbi.
Gates were defensive structures in the ancient world. By saying that the gates of Hades would not overcome, Jesus suggested that those gates were going to be attacked. 
Standing as they were at a literal “gate of Hades,” the disciples may have been overwhelmed by Jesus’ challenge. They had studied under their rabbi for a couple of years, and now He was commissioning them to a huge task: to attack evil—go on the assault—and to build the church on the very places that were most filled with moral corruption. 
Jesus presented a clear challenge with his words at Caesarea Philippi. He didn’t want His followers hiding from evil: He wanted them to storm the gates of hell. He didn’t want His Church to be characterized by “We Don’t Do That,” but by “ATTACK!”
Ancient Rome – How it Affects You Today

Ancient Rome – How it Affects You Today

Ancient Rome – How it Affects You Today

Ancient Rome: How it Affects You Today by Richard J. Maybury is an easy and excellent primer on the subject of comparing Rome with modern Western civilization. Every once in a great while, a book finally makes sense of current world events. There truly IS “nothing new under the sun.” If you care about the United States of America and where it’s headed, I highly recommend you purchase a copy of this book. First, read it yourself. Next, if you’re married, read it with your spouse. Third, read it AGAIN after you’ve watched/surfed/read the news. You will see just how far reaching the fascist principles of Rome have pervaded through our world. Rome was truly the Phantom Menace, which is still alive and well today.

In our Church Offensive, we must be aware of the current battlefield situation we find ourselves in. “Rome” is not the Enemy. It’s just the context where we find ourselves today. Onward!

Gates of Hell Evangelism

Gates of Hell Evangelism

Gates of Hell Evangelism

Gates of Hell EvangelismJesus talked about the Gates of Hell as something to be assaulted. Read about its misery, as described by Dante Alighieri:

“I am the way into the city of woe.
I am the way to a forsaken people.
I am the way to eternal sorrow.

Sacred justice moved my architect.
I was raised here by divine omnipotence,
Primordial love and ultimate intelligence.

Only those elements time cannot wear
Were made before me, and beyond time I stand.
Abandon all hope ye who enter here.”

Dante’s Inferno

Caesarea Philippi stood only twenty miles or so from the religious communities of Galilee. But their religious practices were light-years apart from those of the nearby Jewish towns.

In Old Testament times, the northeastern area of Israel became a center for Baal worship. In the nearby city of Dan, Israelite king Jeroboam built the high place that angered God and eventually led the Israelites to worship false gods (1 Kings 12:29-31). Eventually, fertility worship of the Baals was replaced with worship of Greek fertility gods.

Caesarea Philippi, which stood in a lush area near the Southern foot of Mount Hermon, became the religious center for worship of the Greek god, Pan. The Greeks named the city Panias in his honor.

Years later, when Romans conquered the territory, Herod Philip rebuilt the city and named it after himself. But Caesarea Philippi continued to focus on worship of Greek gods. In the cliff that stood above the city, local people built shrines and temples to Pan.

Interestingly, Jesus chose to deliver a motivational speech to his disciples at Caesarea Philippi. In that pagan setting, he encouraged his disciples to build a church that would overcome the worst evils.

Evangelism on the frontier of the Gates of Hell is just what Jesus had in mind.  If you need to overcome fear in evangelism, see my previous post.

Let’s Storm This Place Together!

Let’s Storm This Place Together!

I am the way into the city of woe.
I am the way to a forsaken people.
I am the way to eternal sorrow.
Sacred justice moved my architect.
I was raised here by divine omnipotence,
Primordial love and ultimate intelligence.
Only those elements time cannot wear
Were made before me, and beyond time I stand.
Abandon all hope ye who enter here.
 The Gate of Hell, from The Inferno by Dante Alighieri