Where’s Martin Luther when you need him?

•December 14, 2015 • Leave a Comment

I may not have many pastor friends left after they read this. But to quote Bruce Willis in Die Hard 2….”I got enough friends.”
Before I begin, let me say I love the church. I think God invented the church. Not man. I know many pastors, deacons, loyal lay folk…and almost tears come to my eyes when I think of this highly imperfect, but astonishingly group of beautiful people. I also know some monsters, but I digress…

When it comes to the Church many have thrown the baby out with the bath water on this issue. And some…well some just don’t know any better. Complaining against the church, is nothing more than complaining against people, and ultimately yourself. Which, don’t get me wrong, I will do in this post. But more than that …I think the Church has created, and ignored a dysfunction and a virus in our DNA if you will…and when we see a mass exodus across the board…what do we do…we write blogs, or preach sermons, or write articles…trying to figure out and analyze what’s wrong with “them” versus ….maybe, dare I say, a more humble approach…”what’s wrong with us.”

Some of the most famous pastors of the day, even question if we are truly a Christian if we have disassociated ourselves with the church. Oh, man I really struggle with that position. Even if they may be right. I think one of the reasons I struggle with that, is it is another argument and position that lays on top of a big pile of arguments and positions against people who have walked away or organically just want nothing to do with the church…and I sigh…because I just think that position inherently lacks grace and compassion, and frankly turns a blind eye to the house burning down around them.

I myself struggle deeply with the organization and infastructure called church…even though that’s not really the “church” if you will…but a thing the church does…or the way the church operates etc…I’ve gotten to the point where I hate, even if it’s me asking, the question…”How did you like church today?”

What?

If I…and you answer that…or if that is a common place question…I think we need to realize in your church and in mine…there is something radically wrong.

Okay, where are you going with this Schultz?

I’ll give you an example…do you go to a hospital….and ask…How was it? Well, I give the doctor a 9, the surgery a 10, and the jello a 3….No one asks “How did you like a hospital?”…but it’s the place you go when you are sick…or you have an emergency…maybe if we are looking for a primary physician …we will have a list of questions…but not in an emergency…you bet if you need a doctor…and in a hurry…you and I both are going to get our ass to the closest hospital we can….and why?

Because without thinking…without second guessing…we know that …that’s the place we need to go when we need help.

Man I wish that’s how my soul felt about the church…but sadly, it’s not. And I’m not talking about a theological position here…I’m just talking bluntly…that’s not how I feel…now that doesn’t take away from my theological position about the church…but when I think of church…I think…well in terms of entertainment…

Now while you may think that’s typical, and if you have been in a Christian church for more than five minutes…you may have even heard a sermon about not going to church and being a consumer, but a giver etc. etc…yes the same church’s that have light shows, sound checks, and a concert feel to their worship services, celebrity pastors with book deals, and a wanna be starbucks in their lobby…

When I was a kid, I remember thinking the old people in my baptist church were really stuck up when more, as it was called, “contemporary” music started seeping into the church…I thought…”what old foggies…worried about clapping…guitar playing and the like…”…Now I’m the old foggie…and I’m wondering if maybe they had a wisdom and a healthy fear that we should have all have…they maybe knew something that the rest of us “young-ens” wanted to ignore…and that is…beware of turning a meeting time of the body of Christ into entertainment…Sure they weren’t all saying that…some of them weren’t complaining because they were wise…but because the way they do things…and are used to things…their own traditions became their own idol…but some were wise…we just didn’t want to listen…and most denominations within protestant Christianity didn’t become immune….some of the more liturgical ones battled it quite nicely….how i wish we were all more catholic…

speaking of it’s been interesting…I know many catholics & protestants that love Jesus…and I know many in both that just love the way they do things….and don’t really get it…there is beauty in all denominations…but neither camp define who really knows Jesus…or who just pretends like they do…nether camp is immune to the positive or the negative.

You may or may not be picking up on my point…and may still be wondering what I am getting at…and wandering around waiting for me to get to the point…here’s the point. There are two sides to this…one side is that the group that has thrown the baby out with the bath water…those who claim to be a Christian but want nothing to do with the church…or at least are taking an undisclosed amount of time off from the church…or have never had a faith in Jesus connected to the church…and want nothing to do with it….this group…yes this group needs to learn that the church is the body of christ…and we need each other if we can’t become fully who we are intended to be in Christ…a genuine “little christ” without the church…we need to partake in the sacraments…and need elders & teachers…we need others to serve and love…we need to be humble and submit…and we need to not deprive others of who God created us to be to mirror Christ to….but some frankly don’t know any better…some have never known…some just don’t get it…and some have been so abused and discounted by religious fakers…they are confused…some don’t care…some aren’t wise enough…some aren’t smart enough etc…etc…etc…

Here’s the other side’s…typical point of view…”So?”….they need to grow up and get with the program…don’t they know their not really Christ followers if they don’t partake ….don’t they get it…they can’t really be a Christian without the church…they need to grow up…they need to tie their shoes…pull up their pants…and get their act together…and get with the program…they need to learn…and get wise….it’s their problem…and not ours….

This is where I do a face palm.

And this is where I cry…

And this is where I wish we were all in one corrupt church together…corrupt because it’s filled with us…with sinners…& screw ups….so a wild man man could come and nail a 95 Theses on the front door…

I can’t help but wonder, and dream, if all this discontentment and mass exodus that is happening with the church despite some thriving and growing church’s …is actually from God himself. Not that God doesn’t want people in the church…right?

Except when the reformations was starting to happen…do we think God was cool with the church selling indulgences? or Pluralism…or …or …or all the other crap that was going on with the church in 1517? Maybe not…maybe he wasn’t okay with the corruption…and maybe…just maybe he not only discontentment to grow within the church…but who knows…maybe he even caused it…

Who know’s…maybe it’s time for a new reformation?

Why? What’s all wrong with the church? How much time do you got? More than you’re willing to give. I guarantee.

Can you imagine…a church really known as a place of love, healing, and place where you could get help…like a hospital? Yeah it happens here and there…and maybe more than just here and there…but it’s certainly not our reputation…

Can you imagine walking into a place and yelling…”I need help I’m addicted to this sin…or this one…and I just need Jesus…without people looking at you like you had a big scarlet letter_______(pick the letter of your sin here)….and why would’ t they be looking at you weird? …..because Church has become the hospital of the soul….where else would you go for help….?

Can you imagine if the church wasn’t known for entertainment but for charity & love?

Can you imagine if there were no famous people in the church? Like name a famous doctor ….that doesn’t have a TV show? Right….so imagine the church was filled with a staff who wasn’t famous…because they were too busy helping people…instead of interviews…

Look, I knock at that part…even though I get it…the more well known…the more we can help spread for the gospel…blah blah blah…but just….what if…what if it all changed? What if …I don’t know…what if we didn’t need anybody else famous in the church…besides Jesus….

What if we were more compassionate with all of those people who have walked away from the church…or don’t want to come…instead of blasting from a loud speaker how wrong they are?

What if we did away with the 1-2 hour service every Sunday…and it became…I don’t know…something else instead…like a hospital for sinners…where people could receive more love…and less entertainment?

What if the discontentment that everyone is feeling about the church is really coming from God?

We know from the scriptures that the enemy of the religious, and the pharisitical spirit will always be around but what if the church became hostile against this attitude much like Jesus was…instead of bowing to it because they feel like they need their tithe?

What if we stopped preaching self-help gushy feel good messages…and actually talked about Jesus, and why we need him?

What if the church was more understanding of why people didn’t want to be a part of it? Like I wonder if church attendance dipped during the crusades…probably…and probably people were still like…they need to get their act together and come to church…it’s their problem…wanna be a part of the solution? than change it from the inside!

What if God is trying to kill off an old way of thinking, to make room for a healthy way of thinking about the church?

What if it’s time for something new?

Who knows…I’m just as confused as the next guy…and am no one to have authority on the subject…but I can’t help but wonder if all this fuss and discontentment about the church isn’t all that bad…but maybe even needed…maybe things really do need to change….What if we didn’t go to church because “we should”…What would it take for us to want to go to church again….I honestly don’t know…What if we started over? Like why did we have church in first place?…I think it’s because Jesus was at the center…and it’s where one could go to find life…kinda like a hospital.

Right now instead of changing …they are praying for us…instead of looking at themselves as the problem…they are blogging about us….instead of getting rid of what doesn’t belong in the church…they are writing books about us…the broken vessels…the ones that know they need Jesus & the church…but are fed up…and sick…hurt…and disillusioned by hypocrisy…of which we know we are also guilty…hence why we need Jesus…, but were still sick of the falsehood…those of us that are confused….and know they need to be healthy…but also want the church to be healthy as well…or at least on the journey together…I mean any relationship takes “two” right….so maybe we need to come back together…and get healthy together…we can hope and pray for that to happen right…those who have stuck with church and in their pride…making themselves believe that their not part of the problem…except in some vague, general way…but not really believing their the problem….and then there’s us…those who feel shipwrecked by a religious infrastructure, and often filled with pharisees who are never called out…while the obvious sinners are crushed by their legalism and judgement…can we come together…and admit that we are both a part of the problem…and will they see their our discontentment isn’t just spiritual immaturity…but maybe there is some truth in the middle of their pain…just like there’s stuff we need to learn and change in…there’s stuff they need to learn and change in?

Man…wouldn’t that be beautiful? Maybe it will happen. Maybe we can come together…and in holy community surrounded around Jesus…we could together be the church and make it a place known truly as a place of love, compassion, truth, and grace…and place all about Jesus…and a hospital for sinners…maybe it will happen that way…a harmonious joining of the elder and younger brother from Luke 15…maybe…

or maybe it will take another madman to nail a 95 theses on the door of a church…again.

David Leo Schultz

A friend without a voice

•December 11, 2015 • 2 Comments

 

Last week was one for the history books. It was all in once filled with joy, celebration, tears & heartache. The week began with my team and I preparing for screening our movie “Brennan” for the very first time, which was a very vulnerable experience. The first time we screened my last movie, I was sitting between two wonderful women. My beautiful wife Amy Lynn Schultz, and my sweet cousin Anna Hocker Evans. And, I suppose I’m one for traditions or superstitions…but deeper than that…as I was surrounded with an practically filled movie theater on a studio lot, filled with cast, crew, friends, and strangers…I picked a seat in which I would feel the most safe…a seat surrounded by my family. So for this movie I chose the same seat. And directly behind me, my best friend in LA, Bj Bales. It’s comforting having, hands down the funniest comedian on the planet laugh at your jokes. While my nerves were sky rocketing, and my hands were sweating..I felt protected. The night ended with hugs, pictures, memories, drinks, and celebrating. I got home and ended the night perfectly, falling asleep on the couch talking with my wife…she’s my rock. I love that no matter if it’s a good day, or a bad day…it is always a good day when I get to go home to her and my blue eyed bundle of joy, my daughter Lucy. I fell asleep around 4AM once the adrenaline subsided, and my alarm went off 2 hours later.

Much like a zombie, I sleep-walked my way to the shower, grabbed my bag, and without much of a memory I found myself standing in the TSA security line at LAX. I remember sitting next to my gate waiting to board my plane, and just sitting in silence. It was loud on the outside, and quiet in my soul. Nothing can prepare you for going to visit a dying friend.

I landed in Indianapolis, and got my rental car and next thing I know I found myself on 465 circling the city, making my way to Kyle’s house. I’m directionally impaired and I don’t know how I lived without a smart phone always able to access a GPS type app. But in going to Kyle’s house, what guided me there was a muscle memory knowing exactly where to go. Kyle only lived a few exits away from my childhood home on the circular interstate. When I got to his street, I passed it. I told myself I was hungry, which I was not having eaten that day, but I was more than hungry I wasn’t ready. I was frightened. I was scared that this visit would and will be my last with Kyle. I not only wasn’t ready for it to end, I wasn’t ready for it to begin.

I know that feeling well.

It was the spring of 2009 when I got the call that simply said, “If you would like to see your Grandpa before he dies, you should go now.” Much like this past week, I got a flight, and a rental car…and just spent time with my Grandpa. I heard about his time serving in WW2, devoured old family photo albums, heard about his wielding business, and how much he loved his family. I always filled my time with him about asking questions about Judaism, and our family lineage. He was a towering, strong and gentle giant. Even in his frail state wisdom and strength poured from his eyes, and compassion from his smile. I remember the day I left. I walked out his door in a retirement community in New Jersey, and I knew in my gut it would be the last time I would see him. I turned to him, not knowing what to say, but just knowing I didn’t want this moment to be our last…he grabbed me by the shoulders, and comforted me saying…”Don’t worry I’m going to beat it.” We both knew he was lying, but it was like my Grandpa to think of others before himself. In in the last moment I had with him, he was simply being a loving Grandpa to his grandson, loving him well.

I walked to my rental car, and watched him wave goodbye. That would be the last time I would ever see my Grandpa Charlie.

I knew the bittersweet pain of that moment, and it was one I was looking to avoid going back to my hoosier roots to see Kyle.

I scarfed down my favorite meal from Steak-N-Shake, and stood in the parking lot only a minute drive from Kyle’s house. I smoked a cigarette, and with each inhale, I also tried to breathe in courage. I don’t think I ever did, but with not wanting to waste another second trapped in fear, i got in the car and drove to his home.

I pulled in his driveway, and pulled in a small graveled patch between the house, and the road…that I had always labeled the “cool parking spot”…growing up it was typically a battle who got to park there…Kyle, or his older brother. And today, the spot was mine. The joy was quickly deflated with the reminder that because of their debilitating disease, neither of them drive anymore, or will again.

I walked in their house, that now is labeled with white printer paper instructing the caretakers which doors to enter, and which not to.

With a few strangers known as hospice caretakers staring blankly at me as I entered the house with familiarity..I blurted out…”I’m Kyle’s friend”…they led me to the back where Kyle was in a small 10×10 bedroom with a hospital bed reclined. Kyle laid there, asleep, with an iPad playing music, a few of his favorite artistic pictures, and photos of his son covered the practically barren walls. A few words were thrown around between me and his caretakers…as I looked at my friend asleep.

After a few minutes I kissed him on the forehead and I left the house, barely able to breathe as I made my way next door to his mom’s house. I think I was so frozen I barely remember what was said, but we hugged, quickly caught up as we went back to Kyle’s room.

He was a wake. His Mom said, “Kyle look who’s here…” His eyes lit up. A huge smile ran across his face. I already knew he couldn’t speak, and was informed that if he said anything at all it would be nothing more than a whisper.

I went to hug my friend’s nearly lifeless body, and something beautiful happened. A moment that I’ll treasure for all of eternity. With his right arm he hugged me. Which by all account’s in this moment was a miracle. Debbie said they had been working with him to move his hands and arms…and this was the first time in a few weeks that he had ever done that. It was one of those hugs, that you never want to end. But like all things, it eventually did.

After a few minutes, I was left alone with Kyle. And he just looked at me, and dazed off into a trans…and back to looking at me. I didn’t know what to say…but maybe something that can only happen with relationships that have earned the right…it seemed we didn’t need words. It seemed with facial expressions, and merely a look we said all that we needed to say.

But he wasn’t going to get off that easy. I do what I do best…I talked. For a reason I can’t quite remember I started talking about photo’s …I don’t have many non digital photos these days…but the ones I do have…are mostly filled with from memories of high school and college…and Kyle was in most of them. I started describing in detail the memories that were attached to each picture I could remember from my collection.

I eventually moved on from the photo’s and started talking about the good ole times. And without promting or warning…Kyle sat up, and in a loud voice he said…”I HAVE PHOTO’S”….and that was it. He laid back down…smiled…and dazed off again. He was like me most of the time…late. But he showed up. He was always loyal that way.

A few hours later we were joined by our college, and forever friends Bryan Bontrager & Matt Gast. We all sat in a collective silence for a bit…and then we did …what we do best…we made fun of each other. We were astonished that even though Kyle is now filled with what can best be described as “delays”…his comedic timing lay perfectly untouched. When one of us joked, he laughed right after the punch-line. We took time making fun of each of other…and he laughed the hardest when Bryan said…”Dave needs to quit making movies, huh Kyle.”…although I do claim the best series of jokes came from me…when I kept apologizing for Matt being there…and maybe the best joke of the weekend came on Saturday Night…when Bryan Bontrager and I walked into the room…and I leaned in to Kyle and said…”Hey man…I’ve got some good news….Matt didn’t come.” He chuckled and smiled.

I wish I could say that the three days we spent with Kyle were all like the first night…where he seemed alive and joyous..but that was simply the best night. The next one followed with hours of Kyle barely being there at all, even if his eyes were open. While the three of us sat there and sipped on a bottle of Coor’s light…he would gaze into his closet and stare at a coat for endless amounts of time. I, and we all, saw the sadness in his eyes. Even if we didn’t talk about it.

The last night…as Klye dozed off it seemed like it was the right time to leave, but as we did…Kyle woke up. What do you do in a moment like that? We had been there for a few hours…but it seems like there’s never enough time spent no matter how much or little to justify leaving…so we walked back and said our proper goodbyes…and I quickly turned back seeing Kyle wide eye’d and alert calmly looking down.

I tried to tell myself this wouldn’t be the last time I will see kyle.

But who know’s…

I don’t know how to end this blog, much like I don’t know how Kyle’s story will end, at least on this side of eternity.

Bryan and I sat and prayed for kyle..at one point we were even praying for him to die…to be out of pain…praying through the tears of anger and frustration of seeing our friend wither away. I’m a bit of a spiritual romantic…and i think I pray for a swift beginning to his new life in eternity, or a miraculous healing as a testament to the presence of the living God…but it doesn’t seem like either of those will be the story. Kyle is living what we all have to I suppose, one day at a time…days that are filled with smiles, jokes, and unimaginable pain. And while we can pray and hope for the suffering to end…sometimes it just doesn’t. It rages on. But I think the Character of Kyle is in the testament of his inner strength continuing on, until there’s nothing left to continue, and it’s us, the weaker ones who pray for a quicker resolve. It’s the courageous ones, the ones who are forged in the fires of life…that say “to hell with that…I’ll keep going…and going…and going…as long as I’m here.”

Even now he’s teaching me maybe the most valuable lesson that life has to offer. Enjoy it. Live it for as long as it lasts…don’t rush it or wish it away…savor every last moment…for even if it is filled with shit, hell, trials, and tribulation…there’s a lot of beauty to be enjoyed a lived…like a smile, laughing a joke, or hugging an old friend.

Thank you Kyle Jennings…for teaching me how to live life…in the last moments of yours.

your forever friend,

David

League Of Cousins

•December 1, 2015 • Leave a Comment

#20 of the 30 day challenge to blog–(I realized i posted this elsewhere…but not here…)

By David Leo Schultz

 

The same green antique sofa chair that would be pressed up against the wall, hugging the blue curtains, and resting right next to the front door in my grandma’s house on 8717 Ivanhoe Street is where I could normally be found every Christmas Eve evening waiting in anticipation for my extended family, especially my cousins to arrive. It was the same green chair that I would wait, sometimes hopelessly for Dad to pull in with his white Toyota Celica …and when I think of that memory, and especially that green chair, I get a great sense of sadness in the pit of my stomach…but it’s funny how an object that can bring you so much grief can also bring yo so much joy. Because when I think of that same green chair, on Christmas Eve evenings…I can’t help but be filled with joyous anticipation and be transported back to memories filled with laughter, card playing, presents, my Grandma’s Christmas sweaters, and especially my cousins.

There were seven of us cousins, and eventually eight. And when I say the term cousin, the word doesn’t really apply. For me they are closer than my aunt’s kids…they are my friends, my family, my brothers and sisters, and in some ways, my heart. Together they all hold a piece of it, and when we all get together no matter what the occasion, it’s no surprise to me that I really come alive, because finally my heart is all in one place.

Sometimes I’ll be having a conversation someone and they will have an odd expression on their face, because they can’t relate to being “close with their cousin”…and some will even say…”I don’t even know my cousins”….but many people express their confusion when I ramble on about this cousin…or that cousin…by saying…”Now, which cousin are we talking about here?” And I just go, “Oh, yeah…I have a lot of cousins.”

I don’t have a cousin that I don’t look up to, even though I’m not the youngest. While my Grandma was my mom in many ways…my cousins were my hero’s. If God didn’t bless me with 7 weirdo’s I don’t know that I would have ever found my voice…not just as a comedian…but even as just plain David. Even now, my eyes are swelling with tears as I think about how much they all mean to me. I’m not even sure they even know the gargantuan impact they had on me.

This is the second year that they have talked me into playing fantasy football with them. And they think I don’t know why they want me to do it…they want to make fun of me….because I know nothing of sports…absolutely nothing. I will root for anything Indiana, of course…Colts, Pacers, IU basketball, and who doesn’t love the movie Hoosiers…and because I’m on Indiana Hoosier myself…I take my doing a commercial with Bobby Knight as a badge of honor…an honor of remembering my roots…Actually it’s not exactly true…it’s more than that they want to make fun of me…it’s that we all have something that continues to unite us after all these years. And the making fun of me thing…but I’ll be the punching bag as long as I get to hear the sound of them laughing. Laughing together.

Even today I could pick each of my cousin’s laugh out of crowd blindfolded. Each one. Carol Joy, Aaron, Amanda, Anna, John, Robyn…I can still remember the feeling of those Christmas Eve celebrations when we’d all sit around in a circle and open presents one by one…and in between always find a reason to make fun of my Grandma…and we’d all laugh…and laugh…and laugh…and Grandma would playfully say…”Oh stop it you assholes”…and then of course this would be followed by blushing, or taking out her false teeth and trying to gross us out…and then we’d go…”Grandma No!!!”

I can’t talk about my cousins, without talking about my Grandma…she had a deep impact on all of our lives…and while I knew that…I don’t think I fully understood until this last May when we all stood in a semi-circle around her freshly buried grave. One by one we went around and told what Grandma meant to each and every one of us. They all made me cry. Put it was funny …it was the smallest things that made me cry the most….like when my cousin John said…”you know I can still remember her number 317-897-0748…” And because John’s story is John’s I won’t share it here…but I will say he had something in common with all of us…we all knew we could count on her…we knew she would always be there…until one day she wasn’t.

As I’ve described in previous pages (blogs) home, with the exception of St. Grandma, wasn’t home. It wasn’t a place of warmth, unconditional love, understanding, humor, compassion, and safety…but my cousins were home. Camp gave me rope to swing to and look forward to …and I would swing from summer to summer to summer to survive. But in between, and in between my Grandma and my cousins I had a home. A home not built of brick and stone, but one of made of flesh and bone. They were truly my home, my heroes, and my saints.

St. Aaron, was cool. Before Aaron I thought cool only existed on television shows and movies. But when I was around Aaron, I witnessed cool in action. He was a towering giant compared to my shy persona as a kid. He wanted to be Michael J. Fox and the president. He was confident, funny, and made being asshole kind of bad ass …it was only frustrating when you’d experience the asshole …like I remember he came up to John and I and said…”you ever played 52 card pick up”…”What? No”…John and I were just excited that Aaron wanted to hang with us…and play with us…and then…yep…you guessed it…a machine gun of cards went all over the living room…as his giant cackling laugh echoed throughout the house as he cool-y walked out of the room. But, damn, he was cool. Last may it was an utter joy to smoke cigarettes and drink his home brewed beer and talk about Grandma and memories. I love my cousin, and he’s still so damn cool. And his lovely bride, Sarah. He got extra cool points marrying her.

St. Carol Joy…Carol was the only one who couldn’t join us at by Grandma’s graveside because she was halfway around the wold. When my life fell apart as a teenager, and the hell of home was at it’s full blown…she gave me the opportunity of a life time. She let me be her roommate in Broad Ripple…on the northside of Indianapolis…She was the oldest saint of the league of cousins…but in the brief time I got to live with Carol…she provided a sense of home and stability …and helped me transition into adulthood with comfort and compassion. I remember I was dating a girl that I shouldn’t have been…and she said…”David just break up with her”…it’s like the clouds parted and she was right…so I did. St. Carol Joy, to me will always be a cousin of joy …her joy, compassion, and smile could and can brighten anyones days…she helped me escape the hell of my childhood and that is a debt that I can never really repay. But I will always have a fondness for the year of 1997-1998. The laughs, the tears, and the deep talks over a glass of wine. She may be in a far off land, but she is never far from my heart.

St. Anna. Anna is beautiful, strong, and a no bull shit type of cousin. She is the saint of boldness, courageousness, and has truly taught be to “be who I am and don’t apologize for it”…I love that. We live in world of constant make believe…we all have on a mask pretending to be somebody we are not, because we fear the judgement or dislike of others. But not Anna. I’ll never forget the year of 1995-1996. She was my best bud that year. She was my hero. As the years would pass by we’d loose a bit of touch, but she was always there for me. Always loyal. There was a time in my life in college when the floor fell out beneath my feet…and I went and hid in her apartment in Broad Ripple for a few days. She was another saint in the league of cousins that taught be to be brave in my pain, and to worry not what others think of you. She eventually landed in Los Angeles, and she let me crash on her couch on a visit to see if the city was for me or not…We both live here now…both have families…and it’s a city that’s hell at times…at least for me…a city where we are all busy being busy…and a city that can be painful…but just knowing I have a hero in this town, makes me a little more brave to bear that pain.

St. Robyn, aka, Bubba…Robyn was the youngest…until my sister Israel came along. But she wouldn’t arrive on the scene until I left for college. I always wished Israel was born much closer to our age, but fate had different plans. Robyn is the sweetest, kindest, person you could ever meet…St. Robyn could make anyone feel better with the simplest of gestures…like a smile, or a joke. I have so many fun memories of card games, movies, and meaningful conversations over the years. Robin has a true relentless compassion to her spirit. I see it in her eyes. She is humble. Maybe a trait easily learned to put others before yourself…because others came before yourself. But I’m so thankful she was last, because she taught us all to love, to be kind, to see the best in people, to not judge, to hear other people’s side of the story.

St. Amanda, aka Lisa Bulkhardt, aka Washoogie, aka my Friday Night Live co-host, C.H.T. co-founder, aka the only person to make me laugh so hard I once had hot chocolate come out of my nose. I may have more inside jokes with Amanda, than I have with any other human being. We both wanted to be actors, but she went out and put in the hard work and actually became one. Even when we’d both have a good idea, she would go out and do it better. She was and is wiser and smarter, more driven than any other human being you could meet. I don’t think she taught me this skill, as much as I sit in awe of it…if she puts her mind to anything…and I mean anything…she can accomplish it. I remember when we were both living a few blocks from each other …and I came into her apartment…and she was checking her email..and I just squeaked out…”Amanda…I think I want to kill myself”…She held me, and cried with me. She loved me so well. There are so many moments that I’ll never forget, so many laughs, so many memories…but I’ll never forget how well she loved me in my toughest moments. I only hope I can love her and her lovely sweetheart wife Amy…as well as they love me. I owe Amanda a larger debt that I could never repay, at least not in this lifetime.

And Last, but not least…St. John Paul Hocker. He is only one month older than me, but he is so much smarter than me. So talented, so determined, he never gives up no matter how hard it gets. He was my best childhood friend, and I thought I would never recover when He and St. Robyn had to move away when I was in the eighth grade…One of my favorite things about St. John is just being around him. He makes me laugh. Hard. He’s so sharp, witty, and sarcastic. He’s going to be richer than the rest of us too…so I’m trying to be extra nice to him…We spent more hours in the movies, and playing ninja turtles at Movies 8 on the east side of Indianapolis  than I could possibly count…We would make each other laugh in hysterics as we would sneak in 2 liter bottles of Pepsi and Mountain Dew, and whole bag of potatoes chips to the movies under our clothes…eventually it got of hand where we were taking in whole duffle bags of food and candy…they were on to us…we spent a few summers working for and cooking for my dad…they were really miserable…specifically working for my dad…but John’s sense of humor in those scenarios…not only made the experience bearable…but flat out hilarious…

I’ve always said and told people that my childhood was horrible and hellish…but as I stood around the graveside of my Grandma this past may…and I looked around at the tear soaked faces of all the saints of my past…there hero’s of my childhood…my cousins…I realized…Yeah, it was tuff, but they sure made it a hell of a lot better, and made it even fun a times, and sometimes more than fun…sometimes I feel that I had the best damn childhood anyone could ever have…because I have six cousins out there who made me brave, confident, cool, sarcastic, funny, hilarious, kind, compassionate, loyal, tender…all that I really have and am I learned from them. And while I may suck and be silent in our fantasy football league, I am a life that will forever be changed because I was in a different league, because I was in the league of cousins. My heroes.

St. Dave with the wave who forgot to shave his wave

The deafening silence of darkness

•November 24, 2015 • 1 Comment

 
Grief woke me up this morning with nothing to do except look at a dark sky, and just wait for the sunrise. I sipped on my coffee and starred into the darkness waiting for the light to come in. That’s how my heart feels right now.

My friend’s dying.

For someone who talks too much, and thinks too much, and does too much. This one thought shut me up for a good amount of time last night.

It’s interesting timing. I’m not one who gives much thought to success, but even though I”m not and never will be famous, successful, or rich…I recognize that for a grandson of a hoosier hillbilly I’m the closest I may ever be to it or ever will be. I receive weekly emails about how my last movie Ragamuffin changed their life. We estimate hundreds of thousands of people have seen the movie. Literally one week from today my movie next movie will be screened for the first time, and we even got some big shot Hollywood folks coming, and today I have a meeting with my manager because I’m pitching my first pilot to a network. They liked it so much they asked me to come back in and pitch it to the whole team…whatever that means.

And yet…my friend is dying.

This morning I read this:

“Grief … gives life a permanently provisional feeling. It doesn’t seem worth starting anything. I can’t settle down. I yawn, I fidget, I smoke too much. Up till this I always had too little time. Now there is nothing but time. Almost pure time, empty successiveness.”
– C.S. Lewis A Grief Observed

I wish I could have a smoke with C.S. Lewis right now.

My wife laughs at me because what I call my office, is more reflective of a redneck’s porch. My desk is a large white cooler. My office chair is one of those types that you’d fold up and take to go camping with you. What do you call it? But I love my office. It looks off into the sky, as we live in a third floor apartment. It’s definitely an Indiana porch…or at least…the part of Indiana that I’m more comfortable in…

And last night, as I sipped my cocktail, and puffed on my djarum cigar …there was an eery silence that was almost deafening. I couldn’t quite describe and may not even be able to now…but I couldn’t tell if what I was feeling was coming from the inside and it was distorting my view of the outside world…or if it was coming from the outside world and distorting my view of my inside world. Either way. I didn’t like it. I like the silence that comes from a good hike in Yosemite, not from the realities of a good friend dying.

With all this razzmatazz that’s happened and is happening in my life…I couldn’t help but go…who gives a shit. Who gives a shit about any of it. And you know what…I think that’s really healthy. Too often I do give a shit…about what is unhealthy. I care very much about what doesn’t matter, and my days, thoughts, and even day dreams are quite often filled with razzmatazz.

What I call razzmatazz, might also be synonymous with “the ugly stuff”, or “the stuff that doesn’t matter”…the hoopla, the powdered sugar, the cherry on top. And yet I think there is something deep in the depravity…deep in the human brokenness that is tightly ingrained in us…that we never really stop craving the shit that doesn’t matter.

As much theology as I have, as much as I read, a much positive thinking I can muster, as much as I can clench my teeth, and roll up my shirt sleeves, and grin and bear it…to avoid the shit that doesn’t matter…it seems almost 30 second later I find myself filling my mind, pursuit, and day dreams with the razzmatazz of life.

Sigh.

I want the death of those things. I want them gone. Permanently. But I have an aching feeling this will always be the case. No matter what state I live in, or what career I have, or who I’m married to, or what group of friends I have…this will be the constant merry-go-round of my inner turmoil. Oh, sure this is where the super Christian might pipe up and go…but Jesus can redeem you…and there can be victory…and your heart can be regenerated…and you can grow in your continuing sanctification ….words. Words. That’s all I hear. They don’t touch or even pierce the realities of the human existence, or at least my human existence. No matter how much I love, or allow myself to be loved. No matter how much I muster or surrender. There’s just shit in my heart that ain’t quite right.

There’s a counting crows song that has a particular lyric that’s always haunted me…”We all want to be rock stars…but yeah…we all got different reasons for that.”

Whether you’re an actor, or a missionary. Whether your an accountant, or a doctor. Whether your a pastor, or the president. Whether you work behind the counter of a 7-eleven, or you collect unemployment…you…me…”we all want to be rock stars.”

I tell my lovely wife often…I’m glad I never became a pastor, or a missionary, or some type of “professional christian type”…because I’d still be me. I’d still be David. I’d still have these same struggles of wanting me above Jesus…only if I was one of those things…a pastor, a missionary, ect…it would be much easier to hide. What on the outside looked very holy like charity, or supplication, or surrender…could be a very seductive mask fooling myself into thinking I was being holy, when I was really dead inside.

So as I drink my coffee, and the sun has fully come up I recognize I’m no longer in darkness, but awake in the light. I still can’t help but feel the haunting feeling of silence. The haunting feeling of knowing…

My friend is dying.

I hate that it takes death to make you realize what really matters in this life. My grandma who was really my mom died on her birthday last April…and I couldn’t help but think…how can I loose two of the most important people of my whole life in the same fucking year? A selfish thought, I know. I can’t seem to escape those. I wish I could like turning off a nozzle. But I can’t seem to turn off a nozzle to my pain either.

I just kept picturing this current movie I made becoming enormously successful, whatever that means…and hundreds of thousands …if not millions of people seeing it…and with each puff of smoke I inhaled I said…”who cares…”

My friend is dying.

I think my friend’s life is a sermon. A sermon that shouts…don’t cry for me. Life life to the fullest, because none of us have that much to begin with. Whether we live to 35 or 85, it all can be reduced to a calculated sum.

In a back hallway we have the first concept poster for “Ragamuffin” hanging on our wall. And I walked back there, and stood there…and looked at the Rich Mullins quote.

“In the end it won’t matter if you have a few scars…it will matter if you didn’t live.”

I started thinking about my friend Kyle’s scars. the scar from his brain surgery. The scars that know one can see. The scars on the inside, that sear his soul. And today I’m thinking about that damn Rich Mullins quote…and how I think it’s true…it doesn’t matter how many scars Kyle’s has on the outside or the inside…all that matter is did he live? And even though I’ve only experienced intermittent chapters of Kyle’s life…I can tell you when we were together…we were really alive, and therefore lived.

I’ll be honest the notion of heaven isn’t giving me a lot of hope throughout all of this. People often say…we’ll he’s going to a good place. You know that doesn’t really make me feel better, maybe it’s helpful for some, so keep on saying it…but not to me. I think the geography of the soul is really pointless, but what does make me feel better …is not where he will be…but who he will be with. And I do believe it will be Jesus. And the same Jesus that he is going to is the same one that sat with me in silence last night as I smoked my cigar, and sipped my cocktail. It’s the same Jesus that held my heart as I brewed my coffee this morning. It’s the same Jesus that every day has to draw my heart back to him so I’m not swallowed up by my own dreams.

Kyle and I once witnessed a true miracle. At a camp one summer, a completely deaf girl…was healed. There was no prayer time, or healing service. It just happened. We couldn’t believe our eyes.

I’ve often wondered as God has chosen to not heal my dying friend, what he’s thought about that memory, or if he’s thought about it at all. I don’t know. But I know saying trivial things like “God has a plan..or knows best” isn’t helpful right now, no matter if it’s true. I don’t think anything makes me feel better except for God. And not because I receive answers from God…because I don’t, but I feel better like I would if I was cold and I put on a jacket. God doesn’t give me answers, but he makes me feel warm. A quote comes to mind…

“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”

-C.S. Lewis

Normally when I feel the way I do …I call up some of my guy friends. In no particular order i usually end up calling Bryan, Matt, Randy, Justin, Todd, Dave, & Liechty. Last week I was driving to work and I called up every single one. Voicemail and voicemail…and then Matt Liechty answered. “What’s up?” he said…and I said…”I just need a friend.” I told him…

I think Kyle’s dying.

And I cried. I think that’s when it really hit me. Sometime last week. My friend Liechty didn’t say anything profound, but what he did was more profound than any words he could have spoken…he listened.

I would have called all my buddies this morning…because I just needed a friend. But it was five in the morning, and still dark. So instead of sharing my grief, I thought I’d write about it.

Whenever I write, I’m writing with the intention or at least the hope to help someone…and sometimes I recognize that’s it’s more helpful for me than for anyone else….

But today I just needed to take a walk so to speak, sip on some coffee, watch the sunrise, cry a little bit, and walk into the darkness of grief and see if I would come out alive.

And I did. So thank you for taking that walk with me today, for those who’ve read my endless wandering and wondering’s.

When it comes to grief, it seems being active is better than being still, or I’ll end up in a coma of self pity or depression.

So what do you do…when nothing seems to matter? Not your dreams, pursuits, or ambitions. Nothing.

I don’t know. I don’t know today, and I probably won’t any time soon.

So…maybe I’ll take another walk tomorrow, or maybe I’ll just call a friend, or better yet maybe I’ll just smoke a cigar and be with Jesus.

David Leo Schultz

Life, also known as a matter of seconds

•November 17, 2015 • 1 Comment

 

My friend lays in a hospital bed in Indianapolis as we speak. Right now none of us know how much longer he’s got. Could be a couple years a best, at worst a couple of seconds.

While the rest of us pop our popcorn, smoke our cigars, check our Facebook status for comments and likes..my friend Kyle lays in a bed in a hospital. Maybe sleeping, maybe thinking, maybe dreaming…At least we hope he’s thinking or dreaming, because the thought of him not is just too heartbreaking to think otherwise.

I once asked my friend Dave Mullins, why is it that we aren’t over and really never will be over loved ones who have passed away…and he wisely responded…”Because it was never intended for us to die. It wasn’t apart of the design.”

Sure scientific observers of life would disagree. But they merely look at the facts, and what can be proven. They ultimately are backed into a corner of the evidence that lays on the outside, and can’t prove what is on the inside. If all life and faith can only be proven through facts and evidence..there would be no proof of love, even. But because faith can open up the doors to what is unseen, we can prove things like love. And maybe if faith can give way to proving love, maybe it can give way to more of the unseen being proven as well.

My friend, like me, is only 35. Think about how fast a year goes. He only has had 35 of them if he were to die before April 18th of next year. That thought alone makes me go…”My God, there has to be more than just this life…there just has to be.”

I once read a book called, “The Journey of Desire” by John Eldridge…and I don’t really remember much of what I read all these years later, except one idea. And it’s stuck with me all this time. He talked about and contemplated about why we have dreams and desires that are unfulfilled in our time here on earth…and he came up with an idea…he said…”well maybe it’s because these dreams and desires were never intended to be fulfilled while we are alive on this side of eternity…but maybe they will be fulfilled on the other side.”

So as much faith as I have that he will be in the embrace of the love of God when he dies…that same faith leads me to hope that he will experience what he never had that I will have. And if not, than better that what I will.

In actuality, the peace that I have about Kyle’s situation makes me believe if we really could know what Kyle’s in store for on the other side of eternity…we would do better to pray for ourselves than for him. I don’t really think that any of us can comprehend what the next chapter will be after death…but I know Kyle and I share the same faith…the faith that says…to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. And I can’t help but imagine and hope…that he’s already been experiencing that…Much like an old fashioned radio coming in and out of frequency he has one foot here…and one foot in the presence of God. Maybe that’s why he’s been here less..and less…because why would you want to be here …if you could be there…But as a result of my faith I have to ask how do I really pray for my friend. Sure, I want him to be healed. Sure I want him to stay on this side of eternity. And this is where the rubber truly meets the road. Is what I want for him …better for me..or better for him? It’s like praying for him to continue to eat flank steak that has been expired for a month rather than wanting him to eat filet mignon from the finest restaurant in the world.

And that may sound like non-sense…and it is…if it’s not true. But if it is…than wanting what’s better for me than for him…is nothing short of selfish.

Much like the thousands that have lost loved ones all over the world this past week…me and those close to Kyle lay in wait…postponing grief until we see what happens. And much like Anne Lamott wrote about concerning the attacks in Paris…

“We know that “Why” is not a useful question; and “Figure it out” is not a good slogan.

We know that the poor, the innocent, babies and the very old, always bear the brunt.

So where do we find grace and light? If you mean right now, the answer is Nowhere.”

Right now, there isn’t a lot of grace and light when I see pictures Kyle laying in a hospital bed with a shitload of wires coming in and out of his body.

And when I think of Jesus, with his mutilated body hanging off the cross…I don’t see a lot of grace & light. There wasn’t a lot of grace & light when they took a shit & piss mop…literally …and dipped it into vinegar and gave it to Jesus to have something to drink. There wasn’t a lot of grace and light when he spent three days of darkness.

Oh sure the really spiritual people right now are going…oh but yeah there is…and was…sure yeah…but even God/Jesus when he hung on the cross yelled out…”My God…My God…why have you forsaken me…” It doesn’t seem like Jesus was feeling the grace and light in the moment…even if the reason of his death was love…as Jesus also said…”no one takes my life from me…but I lay it down and raise it”…

I agree with Anne Lamott…in Paris and all over the world there isn’t a lot if any grace & light…and there sure as hell isn’t in Kyle’s hospital bed in Indianapolis. And there sure wasn’t when Jesus was crying tears of blood and praying to his Father that he wouldn’t have to die…but he also prayed…”But nevertheless let your will be done.”

And so with clenched teeth, and metaphorically tears of blood I pray for the same for Kyle. Even though I hate it. I hate the life he’s had, and the life he’s having right now. And this just flat out sucks. There’s no Bible Verses, or Christian Bumper stickers, or flowery Hallmark cards that will make us…or any of us feel better about it.

There’s always a super christian that has the verse “All things work to the good of those who love him” locked and loaded and ready to fire it at the most possible inappropriate time. Thank you, but no thank you. A- you probably don’t understand that verse yourself…and B) if you would understand then you would get that… all the things working to the good might even involve death, and the very least God destroying our lives…much like God leveling the tower of babel…because the best way to love us is to destroy everything that we’ve been working for or towards. So thank you sweetheart but keep your sloppy spiritual sentimentality to yourself…at least until you understand that verse isn’t actually cheery or sweet…but frightening. Because God’s love is the best thing that life has to offer, but it is also the scariest thing on earth. The scariest thing you can do in faith is to ask the love of God to devour you…the second scariest thing you can do is to pray like Jesus and say “But nevertheless let your will be done.”

You may be getting a taste why I think all the prosperity gospel horse shit that has infiltrated our churches today…makes me want to vomit. The name it and claim it. The toxic poison that says…if you just have enough faith…you’ll be healthy, and rich…and there’s a blessing’s a waiting…just a waitin’ (said in a deep southern accent). Oh, really? Well if I seem to remember for the first followers of Jesus…they had more faith than any of us could have and a million lifetimes…and do you know how it ended for them? Not good. All were murdered, except for one…and he was marooned on an Island while he wrote the book of Revelation.

There is one blessing that I think you can claim, that puts to shame all the other bullshit you and I pray for. And it’s this…The good news of the gospel is this…the best blessing you can get from God in faith is this….what having enough faith will bring you is this….it’s God, himself. It’s been said that “Salvation is accepting the fact that you’re accepted.” That’s the blessing that’s the low hanging fruit no matter who you are or what you’re going through. And it’s low hanging because it’s God who hangs low, and has sacrificed his own Son to give it to you.

The only hope I can find, to get out of bed tomorrow when my own friend can’t get out of his is found only in the love of God through Jesus in what he did on the cross. It’s not pretty. It’s gruesome even, but it’s the truth. A truth that I have discovered in faith. A truth found in the unseen.

So while I live and walk with others in the unknown of our friend Kyle…when we walk through the literal valley of the shadow of death…a valley that knows know grace or light…but pain, anguish, and questions. A place where you cry tears of blood. A place where you wail and scream and yell…”My God…My God why have you forsaken me.” And in that place I do the only thing that I can think to do…and that’s simply…think of the good ole times.

Like when Kyle and I used to have sleep overs at each others’ house and watch Faces of Death. Times when we’d go to camp and make fart noises with Brandon and other friends…for literally hours and hours and hours. The times we’d dress up like chefs and cook chicken. Going to rock concerts and dying our hair blonde via putting too much “sun in” in our hair. Traveling in a van, doing sketch comedy, and preaching the gospel with PC in the summer of 2000. Driving to Doe River Gorge the summer of 98 and rock climbing and doing the zip line into a man made lake. Listening to creedance clearwater revival…until it hit the perfect note and then we’d drive like a bat out of hell to our show. Being two crazy old men in a sketch that only you and I could pull off. No one else came close. You were the first person where I understood there was such a thing as comedic chemistry and possible to have a comedy duo. Going to retreats, camps, and lock-ins. Doing paintball, and drinking mountain dew. Listening to you play the jimbay, and me pretending to. Double dates, road trips, and watching movies. Standing in each others weddings, and having long phone conversations as I drive back and forth across the country.

Kyle I love you and I miss you. And even though you’re still here, you may not be. And if it’s true that you have one foot here, and one foot in eternity…I pray that place is filled with grace & light. A place of laughter.  A place where you can feel the embrace of God and his dangerous love.

A place where they don’t even know what the word “hospital” is.

your friend,

Dave

A final word—#30 of the 30 day challenge to blog

•November 4, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Thank you. I felt it was important to begin with you all knowing that I am grateful to each and everyone of you for taking the time to read a few of these 30 blogs. All five of you. You’re much kinder than I would have been to you…just being honest…I really started out writing because I told my friend that I wondered if I should write a book, and he’s the one that challenged me to start with the 30 day challenge.

I told him that I was hesitant because I didn’t know if it would be helpful for anyone, because I didn’t want to write bullshit. I just wanted to be me. When I decided to talk in this blog, how I just normally talk. With no masks, and no pulling punches…I was chatting with my wife, and I told her my reason was I just wanted to help people. Even if it was just a few. Even if I pissed most people off with my transparency, but was able to help a few riff-raffs it would have been worth it. And there are plenty of voices out there. Pious voices. Voices of teaching. Voices of preaching. Voices of advice, and self-help. Voices of shame, caution, and regret. I don’t even really know what my voice is, or if it’s for me to decide…but I wasn’t so much concerned any of that…I just wanted to be me…which is a sinner that has been seized by the Power of a great affection, and transformed into a saint by the blood of Jesus. It’s not something earned. It’s been something given.

But still what do I have to say? I’m no theologian, and I’m too A.D.D. to be a contemplative. I’m not very good at being good, and therefore no expert on encouraging others to do what I haven’t ever been able to accomplish, and frankly not that interested in. Not that I don’t aspire to obedience and responding to the love of God. But because of the latter I’ve given up on all notions of “being a good Christian”…and as Rich Mullins signed his autographs…I’m just concerned with “Being God’s”.

They say no one should write a book, until they’ve become an expert, and lived long enough to have something to say. I say: bullshit. Everyone has a story. Everyone knows pain. And everyone is different. I once heard a story that an arrogant pastor told one of his pupils that he couldn’t learn anything from anyone under 18. Gross. Lucy, my daughter, hasn’t even reached two, and she teaches me every day.

While I don’t believe in inter-faith worship…I do believe in inter-faith friendships. And while the hill I am willing to die on, is the opposite of pluralism and universalism…and I’ll preach to my dying day that Jesus is the one and the only way…and salvation in this life and the life to come is found in “accepting the fact that you’re accepted”…by God alone…and Grace alone…etc etc…I have learned plenty from those who have chosen to put their faith in something else. For as Tim Keller said, “It’s impossible to not have faith. Even if you’re are an atheist…you don’t know that there isn’t a God…so you have faith that that is true…and live out of that reality.” (or something like that…that’s paraphrased a bit). I have learned from them. I don’t agree with them on everything. But just because you love someone doesn’t mean you have to agree with them.

I said if I ever wrote a book I wanted to read one from someone who doesn’t have all the answers, and doesn’t pretend to be one who does, by having a few points, and then quoting someone else the whole time. I want to read a book not from somebody who has made it, but from someone who is still on the journey.

And that’s all I’ve done the last 30 days. It’s been healing, and hurtful. It’s be fulfilling, and emotionally draining. It’s been helpful to know as my friend St. Jimmy said, “At least you know if you sit down to write…something will come out.” That’s true. Days I’ve been tired, angry, depressed, and lazy. Yet even in the worst of these blogs…there’s been a sentence or two I’ve enjoyed.  That’s mostly why I preach so much, whoever might listen, and I go on and on and on about the love of God…not exclusively because I enjoy it, but more because I need it. So I preach the furious love of God for you…but mainly it’s for me. Because it is faith after all, but in my own journey it’s been faith that’s opened up a door to a deeper reality, or should I say a deeper person…deeper than myself…Jesus. I talk so much about it, preach so much about it, think so much about it…because I never want to become immune to how much I need him and his love.

I will no longer be boring you with posting on my Facebook…but if you’re interested I might occasionally post to : davidleoschultz.wordpress.com…and if you’re not…I don’t blame you. So just in case this is the last thing you ever hear from me, or read by me…let me say this…

Jesus loves you. More than you can possibly imagine. I believe his love is furious, and not because he is, but because there is a fury and a fiery passion to his love. Sure he doesn’t like sin, much like we don’t. Who enjoys hearing about awful things happening to children, or innocent people in far off countries or even next door being murdered. It makes us mad right? Well God too get’s furious, angry, and feels pain that we do these things to each other…but all the anger, fury, and wrath that God has was poured out on his son Jesus for you and the rest of us. Love & grace win. If you let it win…if you let it win in your heart…if you can have the easy and yet mind boggling crazy faith to “accept the fact that you’re accepted.”

I mentioned earlier Lucy has taught me something. More specifically God has taught me something through Lucy. He taught me that he loves me more than I could possibly “intellectualize or imagine.” In the last 16 months, my heart has grown so many sizes, much like the Grinch who stole Christmas, it’s popping out of my chest. All day and night I think about my sweet and beautiful child. When she stubs her toe, or has to get shots, or is sick. I don’t just pat her on the head…I grab her, hold her, squeeze her, and love her with everything I am. And yet I let her have pain in her life, to get shots, because I love her. I don’t giver her everything she wants to play with like knives, or electric sockets…because I love her. I am head over heals about my daughter. As soon as she get’s up I want to smother her with hugs and kisses…and when she goes to bed I want to be the one to hold her and rock her to sleep. And this is how I love Lucy. God being bigger than I am, and deeper than I am, and just Absolutely More than I am…is able to love more…because he is more…and nothing stands in the way of his love…not pain, circumstance, moodiness, or even death. Nothing.

Do you believe this? When you get hurt…do you know that God is not only hoping you feel better, but he is bleeding with you? Do you know he is thinking about you day and night, and never ever stops thinking about you. Do you know God allows pain in your life…because he loves you? Do you know that God hungers and thirsts with affection for you? Do you know that God isn’t like your mom or your dad…and his love is always present, and never based on how good you are or how bad you are? Do you know when you wake up in the morning he wants to smother you with hugs and kisses? Or when you go to bed he wants to be the one to hold you and rock you to sleep?

I hope so. So go and “abide in him and he will abide in you.”

Jesus Christ is crazy about you,

David Leo Schultz

link to blog: davidleoschultz.wordpress.com

Sinners & Saints that are five feet nine inches tall—#29 of the 30 day challenge to blog

•November 2, 2015 • Leave a Comment

5’9’’ might not mean much to you, but to me it’s a term that once meant height, then meant camaraderie. Camaraderie transformed into friendship, and for me thanks to time and circumstances friendship gave way to family.

It was my freshman year, and an army of us freshman were walking from our dorm, Smith Hall, at our college in Anderson University. We looked around and noticed most of us were all 5’9’’, with the exception of literally two. We joked that we should be a gang, and call ourselves 5’9’’. The joke stuck. Way longer than we thought it would, and way way longer than anyone that knew us wanted it to. That pretty much describes the method of our humor: Beating a dead horse. We’d beat the hell out of that joke, till no one was laughing, but us…and eventually we’d stop laughing. But then we would just keep beating that damn horse, until something wonderful and beautiful happened. We’d start laughing again, and harder, and louder. And now those jokes, and little moments are set in stone in the fabric of our little fucked up community of friends. And it’s wonderful, and lovely, and better than all the treasures that this world has to offer. It’s friendship.

There were too many wonderful people in this motley crew to remember in the beginning, but what I do remember is that we were all a part of this beautiful dysfunctional family. There was Micha, Weasel, Liechty, Kyle, Frank, Trent, Robbie, Abe, Jevon, Matt, Bryan, and myself.

We were dumb, arrogant, tough, tender, hysterical, cocky, angry, sarcastic, and stupid. And I loved every minute of it. We were in on the joke, that we loved ourselves, and no one else did. I can still remember someone who didn’t know our little college gang asking one of us, “how tall are you anyway?” And all of us jumping, getting in their face, and yelling in the style of the best Will Ferrel impression…”I am 5’9””…and than another one of us would do the same…and much like the Night of the Roxbury sketch from SNL…we’d surrounded this person yelling things like “Who dares question if I’m 5’9”…I’m five feet nine inches dammit!” And so on…

We came up with this thing where we’d snap…any one of us…and the rest of us would come running from wherever we were…ready to fight. I can still picture one of us making eye contact, whistling, and snapping and all of us dropping our back packs, and books and come running. You may think it’s dumb, but I can’t stop smiling.

One day someone bought us three or four toy’s r us Walkie-Talkies…and we’d hang them on our back packs or belts ready to talk to our fellow five niners at a moments notice…class or no class. It turned into a real thing…we really got pissed at each other if they hogged the walkie-talkie’s too much.

Even now as I think about those guys, a rush of memories, laughter, joy, and tears is ambushing me and there’s so much gratefulness that I feel for these friends that I honestly don’t even know where to begin, or to end. But I can honestly say to my dying day, I’ll be proud to be 5’9’’. And even though with age, and cigarette smoke I may shrink, I’ll always tell anyone that asks, I’m five-nine.

I’ve always been more drawn to sinners than to saints. I just enjoy the realness of it all. And a common thread that I’ve always found in the Christian faith, amongst believers, is that they like to play “make believe” a lot. It’s ironic that I’m an actor, as that I have such a distaste for pretending, but nevertheless I do. Christians rarely tell you what they are really thinking and feeling, because they were raised to be a “good boy or good girl”…prim, proper, and polite. And often when I interact with these type of Christian folk…everything in me wants to say…”Bullshit. Tell me what you’re really thinking.” I can’t fault these people too much, as a lot of them are just really trying to be obedient in their faith…but somewhere along they way they were taught that obedience is coencided with wearing a religious mask, and were taught it’s not okay to be transparent that you’re in a shitty mood, or that you’re addicted to sin…and so you hide…and you pretend…and you as they say…”fake it till you make it.”

So the 5’9” was more my speed. Some of them were Christians, and some weren’t sure, and some were and aren’t now…and some just never knew that Jesus really loved them…and some still don’t…but they had something that always drew me to this riff-raff group that no other “Christian” clique or group had an campus: raw authenticity.

As Brennan Manning’s spiritual mentor Larry Hines once told Brennan:

“Be who you is, because if you ain’t who you is…you is who you ain’t.”

How many Christians have you met, even amongst your family and friends do you walk away from a conversation and go…”But who are you really?”

There was never doubting even for one minute with the 5’9’’…they were who they were, warts and all. And I dug that.

But still being a Christian, going to a Christian school, and being associated with sinners had it’s consequences. Seems like Jesus knew what that felt like. He got the reputation, because he too hung around sinners. But don’t let me fool you. I did my fare share of sinning. Like what you ask? I was in my twenties, and I was in college. What do you think? Don’t take my boldness and vulnerability as a badge of honor about my sin…but what I have learned over the years if I don’t face transparency like a lion, I too can wear a religious mask. And that is the first step to becoming lost in my own self-righteousness.

Since this is a blog, and not a book, I can’t spend all day talking about each 5’9’’ member…but I loved them all. I think fondly about my conversations with Micha about Jesus. He’d also like to talk about he could beat me up…and then I would wrestle him to the ground, until he would say…”never mind…you’re crazy Schultz”…Weasel became an even closer friend after college…allowing me to go to his cabin in the woods to just get away and write…we’ve lost touch over the last few years…but we seemed to enjoy each other even though we were different. He texted me when the Ragamuffin trailer was released with a very kind message. Jevon, was the most religious dude among us, be we didn’t hold that against him. He genuinely loved Jesus, and loved people without judgement, even when he didn’t approve of are some “un-holy” actions…but he was Jesus to me a lot in those years…sometimes even in his quiet way…he was the dad we all needed…a source of stability…St. Kyle you know from my earliest blogs…and than there is Trent…Trent always supported my heart for Jesus…encouraging me and supporting me in whatever ways he could to “keep going” and preaching the gospel. Trent could easily kick my ass, but one time he put his hand on my shoulder, and I flipped him…he was shocked and went…”how the hell did you do that”…He didn’t know about The Kickboxer…Then there was Robbie…Robbie was once in The Color Green for a year…Robbie could easily be a movie star if he wanted to be…he was not only funny…but he was cool…I remember once Robbie said…”They only thing I’m not afraid of…is I’m not afraid of anything…” The group we were surrounded by all laughed…Robbie did not. I remember that moment, and I thought. A lot of us talk about being a “Bad Ass”…Robbie actually is one. My friend Matt Liechty who mostly we just called Liechty…we fought like cat and dogs…but also loved each other like brothers and still do…I don’t really think you can have a genuine friendship with anyone until you go to hell and back with each other. And if you survive it. You’ve got a real friend. In Liechty I have a true friend. He’s the one that gave me the Rich Mullins Interviews that helped me dream up the movie Ragamuffin…and played worship at the Ragamuffin Retreats we put on this past year…but my favorite memory of him playing worship…is when he, Bryan, and Robbie and I were all in The Color Green…Bryan and Liecthy were pretty much the worship band…and Robbie and I are horrible would say…”can we sing with you Liechty?”…And liechty would get so mad!!! Like really mad! Lol! To this Day Liechty has had one of the deepest impact on my walk with Christ. We both love Rich Mullins, Brennan Manning, ragamuffin culture, and cigarettes. Then there was Frank. How do you explain Frank? You know, you can’t, except to say…he’s more comparable to a phenomenon…he’s an unexplainable force. He didn’t have it easy growing up…And he had on a tough exterior. A sometimes wild and crazy exterior…but deep inside Frank was a gentle kid that could love people well, especially his friends. And I’ll be always thankful that I’m one of his. Then there is Abe. Abe and I wouldn’t probably know each other if it wasn’t for this ragamuffin crew that brought us together. But when we’re all together it’s similar to family get together. Laughter, fighting, and tears. Abe is one of those, who I can remember smoking with quite a bit in college. And in the stillness we’d get deep, real quick. It wouldn’t be long conversations, but they would be straight and to the point. The last time we saw each other was our friend Bryan’s wedding. We yet again smoked on the balcony of this hotel…and talked about how lucky we were to have these strong friendships…and how we’d lay down in traffic for each other.

And we would.

My favorite movie is Good will hunting, and when I watch that movie, I think about my friends, the 5’9”…yes because they have short fuses…(they are a little longer now)…and yes because of the humor…and yes because of the tight friendships…but it’s more than that…and honestly I don’t know if everyone has this…and that’s why I feel so fortunate…but the friendships you see in Good Will Hunting are friends that would lay down in traffic for one another. And I have those type of friends. Either that or the type that will push you in front of a movie car because they think it would be funny. Now that I think about it…it could be either one…but it’s still friendships I would trade anyone for.

By our Senior year of College some of us lived in a place called 909 Freemont. And one time, and many times since we all looked around and talked about how one of the things that brought us all together is how so many of us have fucked up lives. Some of our parents didn’t live to see us graduate college, some didn’t survive marriage or cancer, and some were never around, or might as well be dead because that’s how much they wanted to be in our lives.

I remember the first time I got drunk was in the garage behind 909 Freemont in Anderson Indiana. It was August 2001, and I was especially depressed because I was coming off the summer of my life, and brokenhearted for too many reasons to talk about here, or maybe it’s that I just don’t want to revisit some of the pain that I had…that hasn’t fully recovered…and maybe never will…but either the case…some of my friends had it worse than me…and we all looked at each other and said…”let’s go get fucked up”…and that’s exactly what we did. We sat in the garage and drank, and drank, and drank…Me, St. Bryan, and St. Matt…the three of us never laughed harder that night…and never cried harder either. I remember at one point…me going…”I would want to die if I didn’t have you guys”…I just can’t remember if I said it or I felt it…Now keep in mind I never drank, except for turning 21 earlier that summer when St. Justin and the Bartender bought me some drinks…so when I say I had no alcohol tolerance…you better believe it…And in the course of an hour…I had a six pack of honey brown…3 shots of vodka…3 shots of jack…and we each popped a vicadin or two…yeah for a dude that wanted to get drunk of the first time…that did the trick.

I was shit faced. And at that point Matt & Bryan decided they wanted to go to some girls house…and I remember because I was a Christian, and because I went to a Christian school I didn’t want anyone to know I was drunk…so I said…”If I go…do you think they will know”…and they said…”Yeah, dave…they’ll know”…So what did my two best friends do? They left me in that garage. Dicks. I still can remember Bryan’s truck lights fading into the night. Because that’s when the “spins” started. What’s this I thought? It’s like being on a merry-go-round from hell. I fell from the couch to the garage floor and threw up….and it was going to happen again…so I rolled over and threw up again.

Now I’m a baby when I get sick…so my only thought when that was happening was…I need to go take a bath…so I started taking off my clothes and made my way to the bath tub. I eventually made it, turned on the water, and passed out. I woke up! Not knowing how long I had been passed out…I thought I better turn it off or I’ll down.

So I did. Now Bryan and Matt come back, and pull in the drive way. They say…”Where’s Dave?” All they see is a circle of throw up in the garage and my clothes all over the back yard…Bryan, being the saint he is, shoveled my throw-up out of the garage. They begin to make their way through the house, continuing to find articles of my clothing through the house…and then they find me…Butt naked in one inch of water. “Dave why are you in the bath tub with one inch of water?”

Me: I didn’t want to drown.

They wrapped me in a sheet and took me downstairs to my bed. Bryan’s bedroom was next to mine, and our walls were super thin. During the night, here’s what Bryan would hear…Me…like a little baby squeaking out….”Bryan….I don’t feel good….what’s happening to me????”

Bryan: You’re drunk Dave. Go to bed, or don’t, but either way shut up!

The next morning I awoke to Matt standing over my bed.

Matt: Wake up.

Me: Why?

Matt: You’re going to church. That’s your punishment.

And that’s exactly what we did. We sat in that church, and listened about Jesus, when all I could do was think to myself…”So this is what a hangover feels like…now I know.”

It wouldn’t be my last. I could pretend otherwise, but why?

Later that year, I was moving away to do an internship in Mississippi, and as I was packing I saw an envelope on my bed. It just said, “Dave”…by the way I hate when people call me Dave. Except my close friends. I don’t tell people this…I let whoever call me whatever they want. But when a non-friend calls me Dave…I cringe…I’ve always cringed at familiarity when there isn’t actually any…but “Dave” in my heart at least is reserved for true friendship…and so when I actually hear it from a true friend I can odd feel safe. I opened it. It was a card saying “Goodbye” . It was from my friend Bryan.

From everyone else I got a…”See ya” …”Later Schultz”…”See you down the road”…but Bryan was the only one that took the time to write a letter. I wish I could tell you what he wrote…but I barely remember to wear pants let alone keep track of momentos…although I do have a few…But I remember the card talked about our friendship, and faith, and what he saw in me as a Christian…and knowing that Bryan’s faith was teeter-tottering at the time…I remember being so humbled by that card. And so grateful. Grateful that I have a true friendship with Bryan.

St. Matt Gast that has had the shame shampoo for five years because he is cheap and only uses a tiny dab at a time…..in the years to come would be one who stayed in Indianapolis…and because that’s where I’m from…I had more opportunity to see him than any one else from 5’9’’.

Matt and I came up with a tradition 13 years ago, that we still do to this day. We spend Christmas together. We drink. And we smoke. I’m not going to share his story, because it’s his, and not mine to tell, but I’ll say this…we decided to start our own holiday tradition. Matt and I had a lot in common. We both loved Jesus, and yet knew we needed shit loads of grace. Not to use as a license to sin, but when it came to being good at being good…we weren’t very good at it. Matt even to this day, is someone I can call, and say…”Help. I’m not being very good…will you pray for me.”

There’s not a movie I’ve made that I haven’t put Matt & Bryan’s name in it. However subtle it may be. On January 9, 2014 when we premiered “Ragamuffin” in Wichita, Kansas…I was sitting next to my lovely wife Amy, and my best bud Bryan. I waited in anticipation for the line…”Hello this is Bryan Bontrager from Nashville”…I didn’t tell him…and it was awesome watching his mouth drop to the floor…

Life moves on, but sometimes there are friendships that are as lightning in a bottle. And if you can catch one. Never let it go. I’m lucky that I caught more than one.

When it comes to faith. Faith in Jesus. I wish I could say we all made it. That we all made it through the trials, tribulations, and doubts of life. But we didn’t. And I’m still so angry. Not at my friends you see…but often when I would ask my friends why they lost their faith…they would say “Christians”…Does it make a little more sense why I’m so vocal against the religious? You would be too if they were the reason, that your best friends are no longer standing with their faith and trust on the only source of true love found in the universe: Jesus himself.

I get it. Self-righteous Christians are no better or no worse than the Christian that struggles with un-righteousnes. That’s what you’re thinking. And you’re thinking we shouldn’t judge them. And love them too. Yeah, I guess you are right. But I’ll tell you a pattern in the Scriptures…a biblical pattern if you will…with sinners he would often offer friendship & compassion…and with the religious he’d offer them a vocal ass whoopin’ …period. This was the biblical pattern I see in Jesus. With sinners he’d offer love, hugs, and forgiveness…and with religious assholes he’d kick them in the nuts…So I’m just trying to be like Jesus over here. I’m not very good at it though, but I at least wanna get in there and swing the bat.

Can I tell you about a mystery involving Jesus and the 5’9”?

Often I would experience the grace, love, mercy, and compassion that I needed to keep going in life, and in my faith in Christ…and it didn’t come from Bible reading…or church attending…or even the fellowship of other more obedient Christians…but often would come form this group of outlaws, rejects, and misfits known as the 5’9’’…it would happen time and time and time again…I saw and experienced Jesus in all of these guys…and I don’t know if those who don’t believe in Jesus and trust him with their life will ever come home like the prodigal son in Luke 15…but I’ll never stop praying that they do…why? Because I would fucking lay in traffic for all those guys…and as Jesus said…”there is no greater love than someone who would lay down their life for another”…So the least I can do is pray. The very least. I owe my life to these guys. The least I can do is pray that they find true life that is found at the center of true love. A love that knows no “boundary, limit, or breaking point”…and furious, reckless, and patient, tender, loyal, and non-judgmental love. A love that is found at the center of the cross. A love that…well as Rich Mullins said when he was singing about Jesus…”he came to give love a face, and love a name.”

David Leo Schultz

 
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