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

An angel named Amy—-#28 of the 30 day challenge to blog

•November 2, 2015 • 1 Comment

My wife is my best friend. I’m not trying to kiss ass or sound cliche, but that’s the blunt honest truth. She knows the whole me, the gross, the beauty that sometimes only God and her have eyes to see. Sure there are days she puts up with my shit, but to simply say, “she puts up with me” is a fantastic understatement. She prays for me, loves me, is kind when I’m not so much, she serves me when I’m lazy, and frankly to put it the best way I can a couple years ago I was working with a friend who he and I lost touch for 10 years and got to meet and become friends with Amy…he grabbed my attention and looked at me square in the eyes and said…”never let her go…you’ll never do better than her”…and he’s right I never will..and not because I’m lacking, even though I am, but because there simply isn’t any better than her. She’s not perfect…but as Robin Williams said to Matt Damon’s character in Good Will hunting…”The question isn’t and shouldn’t be finding a perfect woman, but it’s… is she perfect for you.” And Amy is perfect for me, and most days flat out perfect. I definitely married up. It doesn’t mean though she doesn’t hurt me and I don’t hurt her. We are both deeply flawed humans that are filled with sin, both the un-righteous kind and the self-righteous kind. And we hurt each other in both of those ways.

I run into people who say they have a list of what they want their mate to be one day…Amy had one. But I didn’t, I only had one quality I was seeking, and I prayed for it constantly. I’m lucky enough to say that God answered my prayer. And some days when I’m lost in my sin, and I’m running from God like a a crazy person…I’ve sometimes regretted that prayer…but I simply prayed “God whomever I end up with I want that person to love Jesus more than me…and more than themselves”…It’s not a great thing, matter of fact it’s an embarrassing thing, but throughout my short life before I met Amy I had a few serious relationships , but I dated quite often…but there was something missing…at least what I knew I was looking for…and it doesn’t mean that they weren’t wonderful people…but again they just weren’t perfect for me.

A few years ago I was really inadvertently hurt by something a friend from college said…this friend from college was talking to some old college friends and said, “Who in the world would marry David…and hows the marriage going…it can’t be good…because David is…well David is crazy.” That stung. But I would be lying if I didn’t say I get it…I am crazy. And I guess the truth is, Amy is just as crazy as me. But I guess people that don’t fit into the box of what people think they should be will always seem crazy to themselves …

I often am so humbled that I get this fantastic life where Amy and I are on this crazy adventure of living by faith…faith to get our bills paid…faith to make another movie…faith to share the gospel through unconventional ways…and I turn to her sometimes and go…”Babe, I love you, and I love Lucy…and I can stop right now…and just go get some 9-5 job..” And even though it’s painful at times…she looks at me and says…”No. You can’t. You have to keep going. Don’t give up. Don’t give up on your dreams, and the dreams that God has given you. You just have to keep going. I know you. You’ll be miserable if you do anything less.”

Trust me. I have a few friends, and I know that none of their wives are as crazy as mine. None would or will let them get away with being a crazy person like I am.

The reality is both of my last movies, “Ragamuffin” and “Brennan” wouldn’t have happened without her. I remember five years ago, right after I got the rights to make the movie about Rich Mulins…I had the opportunity to go talk to an investor in Minnesota. We were flat broke, and I mean no money type of flat broke….and the plane ticket that I was going to have to buy was an amount that we didn’t even have in our bank account…and I said…”Babe, can I buy this plane ticket on our credit card” And she said…”Well, do you think this will turn into something…” And I said…”I have no idea…maybe not…but if I don’t go…I’ll never know.” And she simply said…”Then, go.”

When we were dating things weren’t always easy…mainly that was because I was just getting my movie career going…and I was making two movies back to back…and we barely saw each other…and then a friend and pastor with more wisdom than me said…”Invite her into what you are doing”…that’s it. Simple enough. And during Ragamuffin I knew I was going to be so slammed…and so I had her run the ship…while I was directing…and she kicked ass…I mean everyone loved Amy…everyone. Not me so much, but they loved her. It was like going to war, and I knew she had my back. Some days few words were spoken to each other…as we both got only 2-3 hours of sleep at night, but as we layed passed out in whatever crappy hotel we were in that night. Just her holding my hand was enough to know I could get through the next day. She was and is my angel.

After the Rich Mullins movie…when I began to make the movie about Brennan Manning…I can’t under-exagerate enough how many times I quit. So many days and times I said…”I’m done”…I made Ragamuffin. And I only really have one thing to say…and that is Jesus loves you…and I said it…I don’t need to do it again…and the look on her face was one of support and disappointment. And she always had my back…but often times I’ve known which way God is leading me by the look in my wife eyes…I can’t even describe it except to say…she, even if she doesn’t realize it or not, is more intune with what God is up to than I am.

I remember about this time last year I was really, really, really done with the movie. For a good two months there was no looking back. I was finished. And she went on some retreat, and taught some stuff using some of Brennan Manning’s teaching…and when she got back she said…”Honey, you have to make this movie…You just have to…” And I told her…”I know what’s happening, the same thing happens to me when I read Brennan Manning…I get all ramped up…and energized…and fall more in love with God…that’s what’s happening…” And she said, “Well, yes…but still…you have to make this movie.”

For the millionth time I quit the movie. And she was especially sad, but I still had her full support…and then 3 days later, an anonymous person that I didn’t know emailed me and gave us enough funding to make the movie. And you can’t make a movie without money, it’s true…but I can’t make a movie without Amy. It would be impossible if she wasn’t as crazy as I am allowing me to do what I do…

But beyond movies, she loves me. She loves me like Jesus loves me. It’s sometimes filled with compassion, and sometimes truth. Truth I don’t want to hear, and sometimes it can downright piss me off, not because she’s wrong, but because sometimes truth hurts.

Cheesy I know, but like Jack Nicholson said in “As good as it gets”…”She makes me want to be a better man.” Much like Jack in that movie, I can be tempremental. I have mood swings. I can disappear in my imagination for sometimes hours at a time, writing, creating, dreaming…it may sound romantic, but I assure you when you are on the other end of it…it’s not. Yeah, cool stuff comes out of the day dreaming like stories, and movies, but it’s a bit painful when you’re trying to spend quality time with your husband. It’s not all it’s cracked up to be. But still…she loves me. Like an angel would, with unceasing grace.

We both struggle with grace, but in polar opposite ways. She wrestles to understand it, while I can manipulate it to abuse it. But there is a beautiful story that took her both courage and grace, and without her heroism, I don’t know that we would have ever gotten married.

A few months before we got married, it was like we experienced a machine gun of horse shit from a lot of the people in her life. People she loved. People she looked up to. It was a mixture of gossip, exaggeration, slander, and truth about how she was going to marry a sinner. I was hurt by these things, but these weren’t my friends, these were hers…I can only imagine what she was going through. Often I was so perplexed going…”but these guys and gals know the gospel right”…Where is the benevolence in their stature as they present these accusations…and even if every ounce was true without exaggeration or speculation…where’s the grace….or like a loving friend who has the discernment of Abba God…where is the question I presented in my last blog of…”What’s going on in his heart”…Again so much folly is found in the Christian faith by judging a book by it’s cover…thank God the scriptures tell us that God looks at the inside and not the outside…and even though Amy was in a tornado of almost everyone in her life, except a special few…she like King David…had a heart like his…a heart after God’s own heart…and she wasn’t as concerned with what most in her life, at the time, were concerned with…she was concerned with…what’s on the inside…on the inside of my heart…she wasn’t looking at my Christian Resume…(Thank God!)…she wasn’t weighing my vices versus my virtues…or who knows…maybe she did at times…but all I know at the end…Grace won. And she married me. Like Sylvester Stallone said in the movie Rocky…”She married a bum like me”. It’s funny how when the rubber meets the road…how we can panic and start making charts, and excel sheet programs when we make decisions…instead of decisions in light of the gospel of Jesus, and decisions filled with grace…we all struggle with that if we are honest…but I was lucky enough that seven years ago….she was less like the Christians she was surrounded with…and more like the Jesus that lived in her heart. While we all struggle to understand grace, I think she understood it more than those that surrounded her at the time.

Things haven’t always been easy, and sometimes they have been down right hard. Trust me, I’m no peach. My so called college friends were right…I am crazy…and not always in the cool ways…sometime in the horrifically sinful ways. But luckily Amy is filled with compassion, and grace, and loves me most days more than I love myself.

I could write books and books and books about the ways she loved me, and loves me so well. But there is a vivid image that pops out that happened recently that paints a clear picture of how she loves me so well…remember when I started this blog how there was a problem with my depression medication…and I was off of it for almost a week…and there were very scary severe side-effects? Well, at it’s worse I was crying, panicking, and laying on our bed…laying still…yet in my head and body I had the very real feeling that I was falling out of a building. It was unsettling to say the least. And if I can be child-like, it was just flat out scary and I at times that week would curl up in a ball and just cry…and yell out for it to stop. It sucked, but you know one of my most treasured memories comes from that week. And it was my beautiful bride St. Amy…she was right there…even when I felt like I was falling out of a building to my death…I knew I really wasn’t because she was right there with me. And the only thing that calmed me down was to look in her eyes.

Truly she has been Jesus more to me than any other person in my life. For that is God isn’t it. For in life we will have times that resemble honeymoon bliss…and others that feel like we are falling to our death from a high-rise building…but Jesus is there…and if we merely open our eyes…and look into his…we will find a furious love…that will give us a peace that isn’t our own.

Amy,

Thank you for being Jesus to me. For loving me so well. And thank you or being crazy. Crazy enough to marry a crazy person like me. I love you …”always have…always will.”

David Leo Schultz

Replacing Optimism with Faith—#27 of the 30 day challenge to blog

•November 1, 2015 • Leave a Comment

I remember about two or three years after college, I stumbled back into my college town to say hi to a few folks. There was a couple people I knew there still so I thought I’d walk around campus and say hello. One old college acquaintance asked me to go to grab a slice of pizza. Even though this guy and I weren’t real close friends, I thought he was a nice dude, and I rarely turn down pizza unless I’ve had it for the last seven meals…which has happened.

This guy and I were sitting there and catching up. I can’t really remember the context of the conversation, but I can safely assume that I was sharing some of my depression shit with this “friend”…and he stopped me mid conversation and said, “You know David, Christians shouldn’t get sad.”

It took me everything I had to not throw this guy out the window. He’s not the only idiot out there, i’ve heard very famous pastors say something similar from their pulpits. I’d hate for them to have to read their bible one day, because then they might have to say the word “oops”…and come and apologize to the rest of us who know that life isn’t a bunch of cotton candy or a 24/7 Disneyland experience. And what type of theological explaining away do they do with the simple yet dramatically profound verse that says “Jesus wept.”

Before I start ranting and raving about how much bullshit this is, and start pounding my fists about God’s love, can I explain a theory about how guys like this and even pastors get to this place where they interpret life and even the scriptures to the point where they could say something as atrocious as this….Here’s the answer: Pride. I think there is spiritual pride which I talk often about with the religious ragamuffins vs. the poor in spirit ragamuffins…but in this case I’m talking about emotional pride. “What’s wrong with so and so …they get sad a lot…don’t they know Jesus…why aren’t they living in the freedom, and joy, and peace, and new life God has given them”…Let me tell you why dip shit…because I’m human. Because my life is a tad different from yours. Because I’m not perfect. Because the transformational experience of being “seized by the power of God’s affection” didn’t turn me into an angel and into a goodie-two-shoes but just opened my heart to the reality that God’s love isn’t a fairy tale, that such a thing as unconditional love is out there and his name is Jesus. Because I take my eyes off the cross and onto myself, because faith didn’t erase the puddle of disbelief, but has simply given me the courage and the strength to hop over it. Simply put, because I’m not God… that’s why I can still get sad, and do you know what I see in the scriptures…God get’s sad too, and heart broken for we are made in his image, and so I conclude while yes He is Absolutely Other, it doesn’t appear he is an Appliance, void of feeling or passion, but quite the opposite…because he’s not human his feeling and passion goes infinitely deeper than ours…I have no proof of this, but this is mere speculation, but those who do and will reject God’s loving grace and salvation…out of God’s incredibly wild love…I imagine him weeping into eternity for his lost sheep, children, prodigal and self-righteous sons & daughters that ultimately have chosen their wills instead of his…the God I’ve come to know will have a broken heart, a heart not fully mended for eternity…that’s why I tend to not get too wrapped up in heavy theological stuff like Calvinism vs. Arminianism…not that I don’t have a preference or speculation, and haven’t dabbled in both from time to time…but again…I think they are trying to explain an unexplainable God..but hey whatever helps you sleep at night I guess…but I like putting my trust in a God I can’t grasp or explain away with theology…or as my one friend Sam Howard put it…”i have a hard time putting my trust in a God I understand”….

I think this…I do believe in a heaven and in a hell…and I do believe Jesus is the only way…and how he accomplished his fathers will and saving all of us ragamuffins was through the cross…and whether you believe in he chooses you or you choose him…whether you believe if you don’t pray the sinners prayer before you die you go to hell…or you believe in second chances…I’m convinced of this…God knows you…and what you really want…he knows your heart of hearts…and he knows the unspoken and spoken crevices of your words intimately…so he knows and will know for all eternity what you really want…and those that will make hell their home….are the ones that want to be there, for they are the ones that want their will above God’s…or a more human way to put it…they can have God…or have themselves…and they choose themselves. So however it happens…At this point someone will usually go, how can a loving and living God allow someone to go to hell…well, have you ever loved a family member that no matter how much you loved them, and forgave them, and gave them a million second chances just continued to shit on you and hurt you and choose their selfishness versus loving you….do you remember what it was like to love someone and they just don’t love you back…people ask that question are forgetting something that we see in every day life and that’s this…”you can’t force someone to love you”…it has to be on their own…so I don’t think that sentence is so much accurate or even found in scripture in it’s exact rhetoric of “God sending you to hell” as much as it is you walking their yourself, because you would rather have you than God…you just don’t love him, and you can’t force to love something you just don’t love….and yet there’s something beautiful that happens to the heart when it trusts that it is loved…love begets love…and I think we all were made to be loved by the loving and living God so if we are brave enough to sit at the fire of his feet and feel the warmth of his love…a believe it’s in that place that faith is born…a faith that believes that God has genuine affection for him or her…

I’m just throwing this out there, positive and optimistic people annoy me. They bother me greatly. And yet I do believe there is something to having the wisdom to focus on things that are positive versus negative. And there is something that rings true and feels healthy to the idea of having a “Glass is half full type of mentality”…and yet why when I meet someone who has blind optimism why do I just feel like I want to punch them in the face? I’m not really a positive and optimistic person…I tend to bounce between being a realist or at worst a skeptic…but to me it seems that to clothe yourselves with a night and day type of optimism requires a bit of ignorance to the pains and sorrows of life…and without even knowing can actually make you un-loving, and bar you from simply having empathy for the folks in your life that are thirsty for it.

But again, there is a wisdom and beauty laced into optimism that makes it attractive. I think if you strip optimism of the best that it has to offer, and kill what irritates not only me…but all of mankind (beside other optimistic people)…than what you will have left is : faith.

It takes faith to see the best in a situation, and to trust that God is good whether the sun is out, or rain is falling. It takes faith to extract the joy in a bad situation. It even requires loads of faith to get out of bed the day after you had a loved one die. To me optimism is the immature version of what is found in faith. Faith allows you to be hopeful without being hurtful by a lack of humanness and empathy for your fellow man.

Well, as Forrest Gump once said, “That’s all I have to say about that.”

David Leo Schultz

Hallow—ed be thy name—-#26 of the 30 day challenge to blog

•October 31, 2015 • Leave a Comment

I am writing this on Halloween day, and I can barely contain my excitement as I get to dress my little love Lucy up…we were gonna do a bumble bee, but she hates things on her head…and I mean hates it. We’ve gone through two different costumes, and if we put something on her head…she turns into a monster. A cute, silly monster, but also…It’s terrifying. So we are going with Tinker Bell, I think.

I’d like to do a little something different today on Halloween, but before I do let me tell you I’m not a crusty old Christian, who has nothing better to do than bitch how people shouldn’t celebrate Halloween. I think that’s bullshit on a stick. I think some Christians must have made up a verse in the Bible and wrote it in themselves…”Now that you are a Christian you must now become a party pooper…quote Judas Iscariot”…I dunno…even right now there’s gonna be some sad panda christian that’s like…hey don’t be mean to me just because I feel convicted about not blah blah blah…well you know what I’m not with people pleasing Christians…there are giant waves of bullshit constantly coming from the Christian crowd that like’s to fucking rain on people’s parade…there’s not a really nice way to put it…so I’d like to be one voice, and I’d hope you join me fellow brothers & sisters in Jesus to stand up and call bullshit on what needs to be called bullshit on. Honestly some Christians are so wound up, and have such large sticks up their ass what they need to do is not pray more, or read their bible more…but has the late great Richard Pryor once said…”Have a coke and a smile and shut fuck up.”

Some of you must be thinking, Schultz must be depressed, or mad, or sad with all this flippant talk…I assure you. I am in a fine mood. You may review my very first blog on cussing if you wish on the first day of this blog challenge. And if you still find it offensive…No one asked you to read it, and now you may stop. Let’s stop making people into what we wish they would be. Into how they should dress, into how they should walk, into how they should talk…and to how they should have a party, or celebrate a holiday…so many Christians I know just flat out have it backwards…the whole idea of God sanctifying us comes from the inside outward, not the other way around…and everyone is on different journey’s, and even to add to the confusion pot…we who love Jesus, who earnestly seek him…come to different theological and especially philosophical resolutions that outwardly effect how we live every day life…and for the Christian instead of having a inward heart of humility and servanthood…the Christian marches around like a moral police cop telling everyone to shape up or ship out…And this is how I feel…one who loves Jesus…but has in all honestly come to many different conclusions on some of the non-essentials of the faith, like liberties that involve smoking, drinking, cussing etc…versus essentials like the cross, Jesus being the only way to God…you know…things like that. And that’s how I feel…now can you see why the world, so many people that are just humans trying to figure out life think we Christians are a bunch of assholes? So I’m gonna join that crowd and hear the cry of their heart…and call bullshit on what needs to be called bullshit from Christians! Why? So when someone who doesn’t know Jesus says…”Hey, but I thought you were a Chrisitan…why are saying what you’re saying? Than I can go…”I wanted to be louder with the asshole christians…louder with my love than they are with their hate for one reason and only one reason…to let you know that their attitudes and approaches…from the big things like walking around with signs that say “God hates” to the little stuff saying you can party hardy with Jack-o-lanterns and candy…they do not represent the heart of God…the heart of God shouts I love you my child, that is why I sent my child to die for you…and I want to adopt you, and clobber you with my love on a daily basis…if you’ll let me.”

Sorry for the derailment. Moving forward I’d like to share an excerpt from my friend and fellow Ragamuffin Shane Claiborne

“Before there was “Halloween”, there was “All Hallows’ Eve” — and All Saints Day. For hundreds of years, before jack-o-lanterns and zombies and candy corn, Christians around the world have remembered the dead, the saints, the cloud of witnesses that have gone before us. Halloween comes from the same root word as “hallowed” or “halo”, meaning holy. This weekend liturgical Christians around the world honor “all saints day” by reciting the names of the holy saints of God throughout the centuries.”

Here’s where I’m at on the whole deal. Both. To allienate ourselves from culture for the sake of the past makes as much sense as me selling my car and buy a horse and proclaiming “This is what we did hundreds of years ago!!!!”

And yet, there’s a certain level of pride and ignorance that goes into forgetting your past, or cutting off your historical roots. For example…if someone asks me…”Where did your last name Schultz come from?” And I simply respond “Who gives a shit!”

But there’s so much beauty to the history of my name. Like the fact it was changed as my Lithuanian Jewish ancestors came through Ellis Island…and whoever the what couldn’t understand Von Stoltz…and they changed it to Schultz…And because of that one person’s penmanship…it’s my last name to this day.

So when it comes to Halloween, let’s be like our ancient Christian ancestors and not fear death, but celebrate it with our neighbors and partake in the play of make believe …and yet let’s remember that this Holiday is built on the foundation of another one called, “All Saints Day”.

Here’s my list of saints that are among the living dead, for as a Christian, I believe in the communion of the saints. Here’s a small list that have impacted me, both directly or just through the scriptures, but after I give my loved ones hugs and kisses on the other side…I plan on hunting these folks down to simply say “Thank you.”

The saints also known as the living dead in my heart:

-Roanna Jane Caldwell

-James K. English

-Rich Mullins

-Brennan Manning

-St. Francis of Assisi

-C.S. Lewis

-G.K. Chesterton

-Mother Teresa

-Catherine of Sienna

-Brother Lawrence

-St. Paul

-King David

-John

-Gary Rowe

-Debbie Mullins

I love you saints. I say I love you to those I know, and those I don’t. For both have had a huge impact on me. Happy Halloween. Thank you all for being the hands and feet of Christ whether it be through flesh and bone, or through the scriptures or history books. I look forward to seeing you on the other side, and saying “Thank you.”

David Leo Schultz

From aspirations to what really matters—#25 of the 30 day challenge to blog

•October 30, 2015 • Leave a Comment

I’ve often joked that the 13 year old version of myself might kick my ass if he saw me now. Many things have changed from 13 to 35. Many things that I like. I used to be a flirt-a-holic, and now I’m a one woman man to my beautiful bride Amy. I used to cry myself to sleep because of depression, and now I pray myself to sleep because of depression. My home used to be a home of sadness and fear, and now my home is one of joy and love and peace.

But there was a trait I used to have that I loved, that has become a distant memory most days, and that is I used to be so obsessed with Jesus, that I had no other dreams because he was my dream. I had no career aspirations because I just wanted to preach the gospel. The gospel of His grace. I never cared about a career. Never. But something happened that ruined that: my twenties.

My twenties helped me forget about what really mattered, and the reckless abandon that I once had for Jesus faded into the past…Remember the old 80’s movie with Jennifer Connoly and David Bowie…”Labryinth”…do you remember how she was just trying to find the baby…but she wen’t into a false reality that looked like her bedroom…and the goblin was trying to distract her with items from her room (her past) that didn’t really matter…and when she came to her senses she kept saying…”this is junk…all this is …is pure junk”.

That’s what’s been happening in the last few weeks. I’ve been waking up to the reality of my life and looking around my metaphorical room and going all this stuff that I’ve been chasing after, and holding like trophies in my room …is pure junk.

In my twenties I slowly, but surely I went from all that matters is Jesus, to I need to make money. And I need to be liked. And I need to be thought well of. And I need to be admired. And I need to be thought of as “doing well” , and…and…and….and…what became a small snow ball rolling down a molehill, became an avalanche tumbling down Mt. Everest. Like a madman obsessed with insanity, I became obsessed with “making it” as an actor. To put it bluntly, making it as an actor became my idol. It became the god that I worshiped. It became the king on the throne of my heart instead of Christ. I remember the day after I worked with my comedy hero Chevy Chase. I woke up that morning and went…”That was is it?” The euphoric feeling didn’t last longer than 24 hours.

Sure, that wasn’t my theological perspective. I had a missional objective when it came to “being in the world, but not of the world”…but that’s not really what was, and has been going on in my heart. I just wanted to be on SNL, or have a sitcom, or get a great agent, or become a working actor. But sometimes God doesn’t give you what you want, sometimes he gives you something better. But, even if he did, or was willing to…my heart is “prone to wander”…and still does from time to time…and I can want things, things that don’t really matter above Jesus. My twenties weren’t non stop grossness of the heart…I’d have moments of “all I care about Jesus and nothing else” …but they were the equivalent of being in the pitch black night…and then lighting would strike…and for that short 30 seconds I could see clearly…and than I would go back to being blind. I was in the shackles of the heart most of the time. And if I’m honest, I still like to wear those shackles, and I still like to worship those idols…even if I know with my heart, that they are empty and meaningless…my heart doesn’t know…or rather should I say…doesn’t care.

One of my friends was a new dad…and I saw him talking to his boy after he was mis-behaving…and I loved what he did…he got on his knee…and versus just spanking him…or scolding him…he asked him a question…and it’s stuck with me all these years….he simply asked…”What’s going on in your heart?”  That’s why I love that Christianity isn’t a one time decision, but an every day decision…because the Psalms talk about how wicked the heart is…and even though I’m born again, I still have this metaphorically dead flesh that I carry around, and will until I die…it’s not an excuse as much as it is a reality…I have two hearts…one that loves Jesus…and one that doesn’t…one that want’s my will…and one that wants His will…one that loves his self more than all else and everyone else…and one that forget’s his self because he’s so head over heels in love with God and ragamuffins….On a daily basis I’m finding I need to Psalm 46:10…I need to be still and know that he is God…and in the stillness by faith hear my loving Abba God say….”What’s going on in your heart my beloved”…

Maybe you’ve heard me say or heard Matt Chandler say, “Pay attention to what stirs your affections for Christ.” I like this, and quote it quite often…but I’d also say…Pay attention to what draws your affections away from Christ.

You know how Christ said, “If your hand is causing you to sin, cut it off”…well, I personally have always hated that verse…because even though I make fun of bible literalists…It’s hard for me to not be one myself…I think I was born with all the protestant and catholic guilt this world has to offer…and when I come across versus like that I’ll bang my head against a wall…usually until I can hear God’s loving voice instead of a religious one…but very recently that happened…as I was pondering on this verse what hit me was…”Oh, a hand is a good thing…not a bad thing…it’s something God created us with…even in his image…” And yet even if  good things are causing you to sin…might as well cut it off…So pay attention…yes pay attention to what robs you (speaking to myself) of your attention to Christ…and for me that is career…Maybe it’s why as a 13 year old I just never cared, and in my child like faith I knew that…but as I got older I just forgot…and didn’t want to be left out of the crowd of my fellow 25 year old men…who were getting jobs, raises, houses, cars, bank accounts, retirement plans, and security…again not bad things…but for me when I get caught up with all that…I loose sight of something that’s more important than all of that…Jesus…and I’m genuinely challenged with this…do I believe him or not…because he said…he’d always take care of me…I’d always have food and shelter…

It’s easy to hide under the umbrella of good things, and hide what false worship is going on in your heart. We, men, can hide under how it is a holy thing to provide for our families…but is that what is going on in our heart? If so …great, wonderful…but what if it’s something else…what if it’s “I want to be well thought of”…or “I want that job, and I don’t want frank to get it”…or whatever…

Most people I know, especially the Christians I know…get so caught up with how well or how not well their life is going on the outside…all the exterior stuff..and I go…well don’t read the bible or what God has to say will scare the shit out of you…because when I read God’s love letter (the bible) to myself…I read about a God that only really cares about what is going on …on the inside…his mission is to draw you near to him, and form your heart into his heart…and I have come to think that he will destroy your life if he has to…to accomplish his will…but isn’t it a better thing in the end?

I rarely live in the present moment, so much so I don’t even know where the last decade went. I slightly remember being 25, and now I’m married and got a kid. It feels like it all just happened over night.

My wife deserves better than me, she deserves the best, but regardless she’s stuck with me. But I kinda think I shocked her yesterday. We are in Santa Barbara for my job…and we took a break for a few hours…so I could take Amy & our daughter Lucy to the zoo….often when my wife looks at me and asks me what are you thinking? I’ll respond and say…”work…writing something in my head…or depression of some sort”…but this time I just responded…”i’m just trying to not think…I’m just trying to enjoy this moment.”

Brennan Manning’s example of this is from the story of the strawberry:

A monk, who was being chased by a tiger… raced to the edge of a cliff, glanced back, and saw the growling tiger about to spring. The monk spotted a rope dangling over the edge of the cliff. He grabbed it and began shimmying down the side of the cliff out of the clutches of the tiger. Whew! Narrow escape. The monk then looked down and saw a quarry of jagged rocks five hundred feet below. He looked up and saw the tiger poised atop the cliff with bared claws. Just then, two mice began to nibble at the rope. What to do?

The monk saw a strawberry within arm’s reach, growing out of the face of the cliff. He plucked it, ate it, and exclaimed, “Yum! That’s the best strawberry I’ve ever tasted in my entire life.” If he had been preoccupied with the rock below (the future) or the tiger above (the past), he would have missed the strawberry God was giving him in the present moment.

Life is difficult, and the honest truth is I’m often the one that makes it difficult by not trusting in Jesus. I don’t mean with my salvation, or in his general goodness, but with my every moment. I feel if I’m brave enough to trust him with my life, I will become more present in every moment that he has given me. If you’ve been reading any of my earlier writings (blogs) it kinda goes back to the whole Rich Mullins line of “forget yourself, you’ll have more fun”.

So do you know what trusting Jesus looked like yesterday. It looked like not worrying about what Job I’m going to do after I am done with my next movie Brennan. It meant not worrying about how post-production is going on the movie Brennan. It meant not worrying even about my spiritual maturity or growth as a Christian. Trusting Jesus for me yesterday, meant…I’m gonna look at my beautiful wife’s smile as she held our daughter Lucy. It meant holding my wife’s hand, and really enjoy it. Really feeling the warmth and love of her five fingers interlocking mine. It meant watching with closer precision as my daughter looked at an elephant and pointed. It meant looking at my child’s eyes as she looked at mine, and not checking my email on my phone.

I’m finding that to trust Jesus, to radically become who Christ wants me to be in any given moment, is to enjoy the strawberries, the smiles, the hugs, the kisses, the cool breeze on your face, the sand under your feet, the ice cream on your tongue…

Yes there’s deeper ways to trust Jesus, like declaring what Paul did, “I must decrease, while Christ must increase”…or melting down the golden idols of the heart…or cutting off the good things if they are causing you to sin…but what I’m finding is that if I am present, and pay attention to the things that really matter in life, like my lovely bride Amy and my silly daughter Lucy…and becoming so entrapped with enjoying them…I won’t even remember my worry-wart tendencies…and the more practice I have at being in the now…the more I actually will be…I’m convinced these are the lessons and disciplines we need as a follower and disciple of Jesus…just as much as the “big ones” if you will…because it’s these small lessons…the small moments of our life…that far outweigh in so many ways the other ones. Mainly because it’s the small moments of my life are the ones that take up the most realestate of my life’s journey. And yours.

So pray for me, if you have a second, because I tend to worship shit that doesn’t matter like my life’s career, or I like to sin by worrying about how I’m going to provide for my family…10 years from now. Yes, C.S. Lewis said, “it’s our Christian duty to plan for tomorrow.” And the scriptures talk about how awful you are if you don’t provide for you family…but I’m not talking about planning or providing…I’m talking about not using “Planning” or “providing” as mere excuses to not trust Jesus.

Trusting him in sickness and in health.

Trusting him in riches and in poverty.

Trusting him whether I have been loyal or not.

Sounds like wedding vows doesn’t it…but isn’t that what the Christian marriage is supposed to be…a mere symbol of Jesus the bridegroom marrying the church. It has to be since on the other side there will be no more marriage, but just all of us married to God. One big family in the community of those who acknowledge their need of the love of our Abba.

Abba God, 

Save me from the past and the future moments that want to rob my affection from you. And thank you for what you have given me in the present moment. May I enjoy the hell out of them and each moment, and in living in the now you shape my heart…a heart that trusts you…because no matter what happens in the future …you will be there too, just like you are here …in the now.

Trying to enjoy the strawberries,

David Leo Schultz

5 Ragamuffins, 2 vans, and the summer of 2001—#24 of the 30 day challenge to blog

•October 29, 2015 • Leave a Comment

“Along the highway I meet others who are a companion for a time, since we are going in the same direction. When one of us takes an exit, without a word a wave or a farewell, we part company never to see each other again. At times, however in some rare gratuitous moments on the road I meet someone and experience what can only be described as a moment of mutual recognition. With the passing of time, I develop a friendship with that person…”

-Brennan Manning—Ruthless Trust

I have been blessed with many rich experiences in my life. Once a friend in college was looking through one of my photo albums collected from my life’s adventures, and he turned to me with a dazed look and said…”You’ve already had an incredible life…more than most would experience in a life time.” That was a humbling dart he unknowingly threw into my chest, as I am one who tends to gravitate towards the town of melancholy. I have been truly been blessed with many adventures, and great friendships, but sometimes in your life you experience something so simple and profound that even when you are in the middle of it, it is pure grace, if you can stop and go…this is something so incredible, that I already know this will be one of the best, beautiful, most cherished moments of my life.

For me, that was the summer of 2001.

My group, “The Color Green” had been doing some comedy that year, but that summer we had the opportunity to be sponsored by our college and we were given a 15 passenger van to tour the united states with, and one emergency cell phone in a box. None of us had cell phones yet. That wasn’t common place for everyone to have a cell phone until 2002, at least in Indiana. We laughed at the idea of needing an “emergency phone”…but we eventually did need it, and of course, it didn’t work. This was merely the icing on the cake, as when I showed up to pick up the van I was informed by our supervisor and representative at the school that half our summer wasn’t booked. I was pissed. Because if they would have given me some advance warning I could have had the whole summer booked. Luckily, I made a few phone calls, and a few friends helped out, and the rest of our summer filled out with little difficulty. But the lady in charge of us was a pill. I still don’t know why she didn’t like us…but we rubbed her the wrong way, and she wasn’t very pleasant to us. I think it had something to do with the fact that her boss was my friend, and she was letting us do some of our own gigs outside of the schools normal jurisdiction…and we got some special treatment… Her boss was my admissions counselor, and friend…and the summer before she was like a mom to our group…so when we had enough of this lady’s shit…I called my friend…and within an hour she called the camp we were at crying, and apologized. I always wondered what that conversation was like, and why she was crying…like did my friend, her boss slowly open her door and go..”Oh, hell no…those are my boys!” Who knows…but it was a beautiful moment of victory. We were just lucky our friend had a special affection for rough around the edges ragamuffin-types…But even though that lady was a jerk, we probably shouldn’t have gone 10,000 miles without an oil change, and smashed dirt and skittles into the carpet…but that’s what happened…

The Green Van

At least to a few gigs on the second half of the summer, I also drove my green dodge caravan, that was plastered with bumper stickers. That summer being over 14 years ago a lot of the moments have faded. But I remember 4 very vivid memories in that van that summer. One, was I hadn’t slept in like 48 hours…but we had to get to this show or this camp…so I was popping NO-DOZ…and I couldn’t tell you what I said…but I preached a back to back sermon for two hours straight, while St. Shawn Chadwell had to endure every moment of it. He still jokes with me saying, “Stay off the No-Doz Dave, no one wants to hear you preach!” The second memory, I remember was when we were at a last week of camp that summer…I had convinced myself that I was going to follow the footsteps of Brennan Manning, and become a Vagabond Evangelist…and I was going to live in my Van…so I made the back of that thing in my living room…and for a brief moment I was totally happy and at peace that …that is what I should do with the rest of my life. Especially after the summer I just had. Third, was when I was leaving a camp in North Eastern Tennessee, I remember being at a stop light, and seeing one of my friends that I had made that summer at the camp. We smiled, and waved at each other. And I can’t describe exactly why that moment meant so much to me, but I just felt just peace and happiness…in the midst of living an adventure…we obviously weren’t cowboys swooping into a town to save the day, but yet like the catch phrase from the movie blues brothers…we thought we were “On a mission from God”…we were a bit romantics…and a bit crazy and wild…but we were convinced that all that mattered was the furious love of God…and we felt like cowboys coming into to herald and highlight the most important truth that anyone could ever hear: Jesus loves you. And so when I waved goodbye and I saw their face, and almost as if they were saying “Thank you “ in their eyes…and maybe more who knows…but I did feel like a cowboy riding off into the sunset. Silly, I know. But I miss those days. Those days of adventure, feeling like I’m truly on a mission from God. And lastly, there was a brief moment at that end of that summer that I thought I was going to move to north eastern tennessee and not go back to Indiana…and when I asked my cousin John if I could live at his house he said…”Sure, but you have to take off every single bumper sticker off your green van.” I did as he requested, and was slightly bummed when I decided to go back to Indiana after all.

The White Van

It’s odd to have an affection for a 15 passenger van, but that’s what I have even to this day. Even when I’m on a road trip, and I see one barreling down the highway, it transports me back to that summer. The summer when a van became more than a van, when it became a home. A home to a bunch of riff-rafts. It would come to contain a summer filled with laughter, inside jokes, deep meaningful conversations, cigarette smoke, and it would transform from a van to  a vehicle that would take us on an adventure into the very heart of God, and we would be swallowed up by his humbling love. I’m not exaggerating, or trying to spew out poetry out of boredom, but what I experienced that summer still haunts me to  this very day. I remember towards the end of the summer, after we had experienced what we had…I remember laying down in one of the back seats…and we saw a very specific cloud formation of the cross hanging above us as we traveled down the road. I think St. Justin pointed it out, and we all became silent, which was rare for us, and I was laying upside down just staring up and through the window. I still remember thinking what I would often think as a kid who would go to a week of camp…”I never want this to end.” Many memories I can’t share here because they involve the humor of college age kids, not to say that our humor has changed, but…well…you get it…and, frankly, if you don’t…you never would anyway…Somehow it became the tradition to leave without saying goodbye whenever possible. You know the ghost exit, or Irish exit…and there were a few memories I had after we’d sneak out of the camp early late at night…driving in the highway with these hooligans thinking, pondering, and just simply in awe at the week that we just had experienced.

5 Ragamuffins

Their names were Randy, Justin, Shawn, & PC. At the beginning of the summer they were just my friends, but by the end of the summer they would become my brothers. St. PC was the most academic among us, he would study his ass off, and would continue to as the years would pass by. He loved coffee, and to journal. And, even though he doesn’t do it anymore, one of our favorite things to do was to watch him eat his fries first, and then his BBQ burger. We were fascinated with knowing why in the hell would he do that? Every freaking time? There were moments that summer we all teased each other about, and even 14 years later we still do. For example, late at night somewhere in Tennessee they woke me up and we all ate at a late night diner…and not being very hungry…I just got a “Honey Bun”…and for some reason the server asked me if I wanted butter on it…and for some reason I said yes…they all looked at me in disgust…and have ever since…Well one time we all walked up PC working out…and by working out he was weight lifting with a rock. And just like the four of them can’t walk by a Honey Bun in a gas station without chuckling to themselves…the four of us can’t do the same without rocks. We all have our things. For Justin it is the Snack Shack at a camp, because he made out with the Snack Shack girl, for Shawn it’s Wendy’s Cheeseburgers, and for Randy it’s cigarette smoke. He would complain about Justin and I smoking in the Van…because it gave him diarhea …so when he would fall asleep we would blow cigarette smoke in his face. But St. PC said something to me that summer that has stuck with me and haunted me and probably will continue to for the rest of my life…He said, “We’re going around preaching a gospel that we are still trying to learn.”

And I still am.

St. Shawn was the funniest one among us. We all knew it. My favorite memory with shawn that summer a funny one. I think it was one of the first  or second shows of the summer…I show up to this camp in Tennessee and a few old friends found me and threw me in the lake. There was only one problem we had a show in 10 minutes. So, sopping wet, I rushed to our van grabbed some dry clothes from my suitcase…when I was changing I realized I didn’t have underwear…”No big deal…I’ll just go comando”” Well Shawn and I were performing with the guys…and at one point I was acting like an eagle…and I jumped on Shawn’s back…well right in that moment I felt my whole crotch in my jeans rip in half…and not a little hole…Yeah, you guessed it. I looked up and the first two rows of this camp…13 year old girls…Oh, shit…so I whispered in my Shawn’s ear…dude I ripped my pants, my whole crotch is hanging out…walk behind the stage…he did and when he let me down…well you’ve never seen that guy laugh harder. He may of fell over laughing…Well as they say…”The show must go own”…so I literally grabbed a long sleeve flannel shirt that I found back stage…and perfuming the rest of the show wearing a shirt like an apron. St. Shawn didn’t just have the biggest sense of humor amongst us…he also had the biggest heart. While all of us had moments of self-sacrifice, and talking to some of the least of these at these camps…for St. Shawn it was a full time job. He loved these little ragamuffin kids. And everybody was drawn to Shawn. And why wouldn’t they be, of all the people I’ve ever known, he’s the one that came the closest to actually being like Jesus.

St. Justin & St. Randy you know, you’ve heard me talk about in these earlier blogs, but it would be these two that I’d have the most contact with in the decade to come. All three of us gravitate towards the dark night of the soul, and both have been there for me through thick and thin. They are the first two I call when my depression reaches a level that scares even me. They are the first I call with good news and are the first I call when I just need a friend to talk to. One of my favorite memories about St. Randy comes not from the summer of 2001…but would come about 7 years later…I was making a movie that ended up having some cool comedy dudes like Chris Kattan, and Fred Willard from all the Christopher Guest movies which we loved…and Randy was coming out to visit me …and I said “Randy if you come on Wednesday you can meet Chris & Fred”…and Randy’s reply is one that I will never forget…”He said…when won’t they be there…I’m coming to see you Dave…not them…” It was beyond refreshing…I don’t think I had a friend in my life at that time who would have said that…they all would have wanted to be there to meet Chris & Fred…but not Randy…Randy was there for me. And as the years would tumble by…he always would be there for me. But for some reason or maybe for no reason at all….in the last year, all five of us are on this Facebook message thread…and while I don’t comment everyday …someone does…and I love it…in a weird way way it’s comforting…it’s comforting knowing that my brothers are close by. And I’ll save you the suspense…what do we talking about? Nothing mature I assure you…but camaraderie and friendship defies the boundaries of maturity, and I’d don’t really second guess it…I stopped trying to change my friends a long time ago…like Rich Mullins said in his song Brothers Keeper…

My friends ain’t the way I wish they were
They are just the way they are

And I will be my brother’s keeper

Not the one who judges him

I won’t despise him for his weakness

I won’t regard him for his strength

I won’t take away his freedom

I will help him learn to stand

A summer filled with memories & the haunting presence of God’s love

I could fill up hundreds of pages with all the memories of the summer of 2001, but there are two memories that still haunt me on a regular basis. Much like seeing a ghost or a UFO…even if no one ever believes you…”You know what you saw.”

One night in Mississippi at a camp, called Camp Dixon…we did are ritual of meeting before, talking about the show order, and prayer…then we’d go behind stage…and did what we did before every show…put on our wigs, costumes, and look at each other and quote a line from the movie Braveheart…”Well, we didn’t get dressed up for nothing…” Why was this our ritual…because I think we all believed what I believed even though none of us said it out loud…I think we all thought…”We’re on a mission from God”…But on this particular evening…we all had maybe a heavy heart, or had a strange feeling…the consensus was that “Maybe God wanted to do something different tonight”…None of us understood why, or could explain or even articulate what we were feeling…but we, along with our mentor and good friend Rick Wise…we all agreed….let’s scratch the show order, go out there and have no rules, and just let God do whatever God wants to do…you ever had a church or chapel service like that before…me either…and I never did again…but I’ll tell you this…God showed up.

I can’t describe it, I can’t describe any of it…except within a few minutes a room filled with roughly 100 were all weeping. No acting, no explanations, no show…we just simply prayed…”God we don’t know what you want to do …but we just want you to do whatever you want to do…” I remember walking back stage and seeing my brother St. PC laying prostrate behind the stage crying like a baby. Pc never struck me as the teary eyed type. I too was crying like a baby. We hugged, and sobbed together. I’m sure there were 100 different reasons and agendas that the Holy Spirit had in each of our lives that night, but they all had a common theme form the conversations we had post that chapel service…and that was…”The Love of God isn’t a fairy tale.”

The last story that I’d like to share continues to haunt me…I didn’t see it or experience it myself…but we were performing at a camp in Ohio…and St. Shawn and St. Randy…I believe they were the ones to witness it…but it was an all ages camp…and this little 6 year old girl was sobbing out of control after the service…out of control…and her camp counselor went up to her and said…”What the mater?” And the little girl said…”I had no idea…” The camp counselor said “What do you mean? You had no idea what, honey?” And the six year old girl said, “ I had no idea God could love me that much!”

It was a summer of adventure, community, and five ragamuffins having the feeling that we were on a mission from God…we were vagabonds going around preaching a gospel we were still trying to learn…and that summer was the closest I ever got to, what I always have felt and still do feel, that that summer was what the church should be like and could be like…if we were brave enough to take off our masks…be real…and just let God show up and do his thing…the summer ended in a waffle house. We had breakfast one last time near my Grandma’s house on the east side of Indianapolis…and when that breakfast was over and those ragamuffins left, and I was sitting there drinking my coffee, and I just thought…”It will never get better than that.” And I was right, that summer has never been topped, for one reason above all others and it’s this..through Randy, Shawn, Justin, & PC…my fellow ragamuffins and color green brothers…I experienced something I can’t explain…I experienced the love of God…and because of them I, like the 6 year old girl, continue to be haunted by the reality and continue to exclaim to everyone…”I had no idea God could love me that much.”

thank you St. Shawn, St. PC, St. Justin, & St. Randy for teaching about God and loving me like Jesus.

David Leo Schultz

How do I sin less?—#23 of the 30 day challenge to blog 

•October 28, 2015 • Leave a Comment

You may not believe this, but there was a brief time I used to think cussing was a sin. While I no longer believe in fairy tales, or folk lore in the Christian faith. There was a practical lesson I learned though, that has filtered deep into my heart. I once went to a mentor and said, “How do I cuss less?” And he said, you’re asking the wrong question….He said, “Be with God…abide in him…and the more you are abiding in him… what will fall off will fall off”…man, I loved that. As it turns out so many things did fall off, but cussing wasn’t one of them.

So, how do we sin less? I’d first encourage you to stop asking that question. The scripture that comes to mind have nothing to do with lists, but have everything to do with Jesus. John 15:4…Jesus said, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.”

That’s the recipe. That’s the list. That’s the point. So tear up your Christian “to-do” list, and just be with Jesus. And let me give you some bad news. Let’s say you are good…let’s say you’re list is working for you to “sin less”…and yet it has nothing really to do with Jesus, or intimacy, and ultimately he isn’t the WHY of your good…but you are. All of your good, is no good at all. All of your trophies of morality are hollow and empty, and not worth the ten cents you could get by selling it in a yard sale. And if we go back to the definition of sin, it’s “missing the mark”…and if the why behind your good…is about you, and not a loving response to the love of God in your life…than it may be moral, it may be clean, it may have the appearance of obedience…but, trust me folks, you’re missing the point, and your good works are missing the mark, which is sin.

You may be bearing fruit, but is it born out of you being connected to the vine, or is it merely a carbon copy of what appears to be holy. Does it now make sense why we have so many “holy” sinners that fill our churches across our land hiding in plain sight?

So don’t fret if you’ve been tossed out of church, abandoned by judgmental Christians, or branded with the scarlet letter A, or the scarlet letter of any sin you can think of…because while it’s true you do have sin, so do they. And while your, and my sin, may be obvious to everyone…don’t be fooled by the sin of the self-righteouss…it’s a fake. It’s only a sad imitation of the real thing.

So what is the real thing? In my opinion, it’s the by-product, the delicious fruit that falls off the tree of a ravenous love affair with a Holy God who is wildly in love with you. But here is the deal, the fruit becomes inconsequential to the Christian who is living in response and out of his or her love affair with God. Why inconsequential? Because the fruit is mere sawdust compared to the vine. The vine, the bread of life, the way, the truth…God himself is so much sweeter than any fruit that could fall of the tree of your life.

You wanting to sin less is not a bad thing. It may be a very moral and noble thing, but I’ll warn you…it can be a dangerous thing…especially if you have a proclivity towards self-righteousness…and while I’m not encouraging anyone to live in rebellion to God…I am encouraging you with this…Want God, more than you want to not sin.

That’s what I like about sinners, versus the religious. They want their life, their sin, and themselves more than Jesus…but they don’t pretend otherwise. And, yes, my heart breaks for anyone who doesn’t know that a life of faith in Christ can bring them the fruit of God himself, that is filled with his joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, grace, & furious unconditional love…I like that they don’t pretend otherwise. And dare I say, they may be one step ahead to finding the truth, than the millions lost by the drunkenness of their own self-righteousness, who are so drunk they have no idea they are a religious alcoholic…and can’t admit that they have a problem. Sure, they can recognize the stentch of the sinner who still has vodka on their breath, and can spot throw-up on their shirt…but they can’t smell their own pride, or see the grossness of their own condemnation for others.

As Tim Keller said, in regards to the passage of scripture about the story of two lost sons (the prodigal son) in Luke’s gospel chapter 15 verse 11…”The younger son was lost in his badness…and the elder son was lost in his goodness.”

Both are lost. Both are sinning. But one just doesn’t think he is….

So my fellow ragamuffins…and I’m talking to the ragamuffins who are the younger son…and the ragamuffins that don’t know they are ragamuffins…the elder son…listen up, and listen well…God loves you younger brother and sisters… not because you sin…and not because you think you don’t have sin, but really do…but God loves you because he is wild about you. And I know I sound repetitive, and redundant, and maybe a peace and love hippie, and mushy gushy guru about all this love of God stuff….but I think this, and it’s a hill I’m willing to die on…I think the greatest reality in the entire universe is found in the evidence found on the Cross of Christ, and it’s a vicious love, and an eternal sacrificial gut wrenching love, that God was willing to surrender his own son to the cross, because of his love for you…and I”m not talking about a group of people…I’m talking about you…yes YOU..the one reading this right now…

In that moment where God the father who is present in the analogy that Jesus is giving in the gospel of Luke chapter 15…when “The son was still a far way off …the Father saw him, was filled to compassion, and ran to him…”

So while you are asking, how do I not sin…God is ravenously running towards you with a might and a power that you can’t even fathom…because he loves you so much…and wants to be with you so much…that he died to make it happen…literally.

So as my brother and fellow ragamuffin Brennan Manning once said, “Don’t wait till you get your act together, come…” Don’t wait till you get your ducks in a row…don’t wait to clean up your act…don’t wait till you read your bible more often, or have a more discipline prayer life…don’t wait till you sin less, or obey more…come to your Abba Father, who is running full speed ahead because you have finally learned that repentance isn’t “a destination…is’t a direction”…and it’s charted course is into the arms of God…so keep looking up…and watch…much like the younger son…you won’t even get out your apology before God the father, your loving Abba clobbers you with hugs and kisses.

Feel the warmth and embrace of your loving Father’s compassion for you. Live in it, and stay a while…stay as long as you can…know that Christianity isn’t a one time decision…it’s an every day decision. It wasn’t an event, no matter how convinced you are because you have the recorded date of when you prayed the sinners prayer in your bible. I’m to the point in my walk with Jesus…when people say…”you know I don’t know when or how I ever came to know Christ…or when I got saved or born again…” I just say…”who cares.”…You either know him, or you don’t. You either believe him, and his love and what he did for you on the cross or you don’t. Tear the dates, and trophies proving to everybody that you are a christian off your wall, and strike them from your memory I say…and instead abide in him…because if you do…as Jesus said…he will abide in you.

David Leo Schultz