Monday, December 28, 2009


"And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."
Tucked in this Old Testament prophecy are four throne names of the promised Messiah. Each reference consists of two elements; titles not like other normal OT names.

Where Counselor points to the Messiah as a king who determines and carries out a program of action, Wonderful Counselor portrays the coming Son of David as One who carries out a royal program that will cause all the world to marvel. In the name Mighty God, Jesus' divine power as a warrior is stressed. As Everlasting Father, He is revealed as an enduring, compassionate provider and protector. As Prince of Peace, the promised Savior's rule brings wholeness and well-being to individuals and to society.

What a magnificent promise! A Savior who is our warrior, provider, and protector; Who makes us whole through His triumph over sin and the devil. This promised victory is for all who believe in Jesus Christ.

But, what does this victory look like in our personal lives; especially where we are surrounded by pain, suffering, and anxiety for the future? Does triumph mean we can be free from the emotional pain that is so often part of us? Does it mean we can be free from the things that cause us fear and anxiety?

Holocaust survivor Corrie Ten Boom stated in one of her writings that victory is taking "that step" in faith to face and move in the midst of the things that frighten us. Victory is not allowing the things that frighten us to immobilize us and keep us where we are. Instead, victory is believing that Christ has already broken the power these things have on us. It's moving ahead in the midst of them.

As we leave our Christmas celebrations behind and move into the New Year, my hope is that we hold on to the promise of Jesus' birth. The Son of God didn't come to establish a nostalgic, family-oriented, commercially successful holiday. The angel told Joseph, "She will give birth to a son and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." (Matthew 1:21)

We can face and move within the situations that frighten us because when Jesus overcame the sins of this world, He included the fear and anxiety we have for a particular situation. Victory is knowing that Christ is right there with us in our anxiety and then moving us beyond the things that cause us to fear. Our situation may not change. But, knowing that Christ has already defeated the situation and that He is with us makes the difference.

As you live out each of your todays of 2010, I pray you experience victory in Jesus our Savior. Without Christ, we can do nothing. With Him, He does immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine. (Ephesians 3:14-21)

Blessings for a victorious new year, dear friend!
Faithfully Following

Monday, December 21, 2009

Another opening! Another show!

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.
Luke 2:8 (NIV)

With minimal fuss and minor commotion, 2009 played out the most recent scene in the story of the Schulte nomads.

Early in the year, my husband and I gathered our belongings, left Missouri, and headed to Pennsylvania. Our daughter stayed behind at the university she attends to continue her studies. We are thrilled to spend more time with our son as we now live just three hours from him.

Some 2,000 years ago, another real-life drama unfolded on the quiet hillsides of Judea. The fanfare and grandeur of that evening's event, however, caused a lot of excitement and to-do!

The region that surrounds Bethlehem is an area associated with shepherding since the earliest days of recorded history. Simple, pious shepherds live in the fields with a life weighed down by loneliness, danger, and poverty. They keep steadfast watch over their sheep throughout the long, cold night hours. With relentless courage, they guard and defend their flocks from wolves, foxes, and thieves common in the land.

Because of their proximity to the temple in Jerusalem, these Judean shepherds are very possibly responsible for delivering healthy, unblemished lambs to be offered on the altar of sacrifice for the atonement of sin. Ironically, their profession brands these men "ceremonially unclean"; and they, themselves, are excluded from the temple.

Perhaps the biggest irony of all, however, is that as these shepherds care for the very sheep intended for the daily temple sacrifice, unbeknownst to them the perfect, spotless Lamb of God lies in a manger a short distance away.

Abruptly, the stillness of the silent night shatters! In the air over the shepherds' heads as coming immediately from heaven, there suddenly appears an angel of the Lord with a Divine message. "Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord," the messenger solemnly declares. Perfectly on cue, the thick, velvet curtain of the black sky draws open revealing the brightness of the Lord's "Shekinah" glory! A multitude of the heavenly host appears with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." (Luke 2)

Sure of what they see, certain of what they hear, the shepherds are not satisfied with spectator roles. They quickly get into the act and hurry off to find Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who is lying in the manger.

When they see the child, though, they see nothing in Him that should induce them to believe that He is the Christ the Lord. Yet, the circumstances are irrefutable. How mean soever they are, the shepherds believe the sign that the angel gave them. They are abundantly satisfied; and they spread the word concerning what was told them, both by the angels and by Joseph and Mary. This child is the Savior, the Christ the Lord! In Him there is peace on earth. In humility, the shepherds return to their work, glorifying and praising God for what they heard and what they saw.

I've heard it said that we are defined not by what happens to us, but by how we respond to what happens to us. With hearts bursting with joy, the shepherds' response was first to worship and, second, to tell what they had seen.

As I share these thoughts with you--2,000 years after the announcement of the Son of God was delivered to poor, forgotten shepherds--I pray each of us actively joins the celebration of the Lamb that continues today. For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

Merry Christmas, my friend, to you and yours.
Faithfully Following

Monday, December 14, 2009


But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear."
Isaiah 59:2 (NIV)

I did it again! I let something my husband said escalate, turning me into a selfish, "you hurt my feelings" nincompoop. It wasn't that he yelled, insulted, or called me horrible names. All the same, my ego took over and I got mad.

It was late afternoon when we decided to rearrange furniture--something most married folks probably shouldn't do in the first place. On his knees, my husband pushed a mammoth-sized television set, inch by inch, across the family room floor to a third location. I knew he was tired, not to mention had rug burns on his knees. With little compassion, I pressed, "It needs to go back more into the corner."

I can't recall his exact response, but his annoyed tone matched my frustrated attitude. In fitting kindergarten-ish, "I'm taking my ball and going home" style, I glared at him; and without a word, stomped out of the room.

The evening could have been pleasant for the two of us as our children were out with friends. But, I chose to grunt in response to his attempts at a conversation, slam pots and pans as I prepared dinner, and display the most disgruntled expression I could muster. Later, I sealed our evening's fate with what every decent marriage counselor cautions against--I went to bed angry.

It was the dead of night when I awoke to an unmistakable nudge. Hearing the familiar, steady snoring sound coming from the opposite side of the bed, I realized my husband hadn't poked me. No. It was my heart. I knew better than to ignore the prod and quietly slid my legs over the edge of the mattress, making my way to my "quiet place."

Sitting in the darkness of the early morning hours, a gentle voice in my heart probed, "Anything you'd like to share?" With a sigh I responded, "Yes, Lord. I'm so dumb. I let a ridiculous little comment get to me. I got angry. I became mean. But, you know what? I'm frustrated at how I keep making the same mistake. Quite frankly, I'm rather tired of confessing this sin."

Immediately, a disturbing silence seemed to engulf my entire being.

In that deafening sound of nothingness, my thoughts took me to the Old Testament accounts of Cain and of King David. Turning on a lamp, I reached for my Bible, flipped the pages to Genesis 4, and read, "And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him." Turning the pages further to 2 Samuel 11, I read King David's instructions, "Put Uriah in the front line where the fighting is fiercest. Then withdraw from him so he will be struck down and die."

Both accounts record grievous, sinful acts. Both men suffer consequences from their actions. Yet, where David is ultimately restored in his relationship with God, Cain is banished. Why is David forgiven and Cain not?

The answer lies in their repentance. David confesses, "I have sinned against the LORD." Cain doesn't. In his pride, Cain is unwilling to admit his sin. What's more, in his rebellion against God, he is removed from God's presence.

As I sat in the quiet of the night, I relived three distressing events involving personal separation. Twenty heart-wrenching minutes when the whereabouts of our then four-year old son were unknown. The clanking sound of metal hitting metal as doors close and an ambulance drives away with our young daughter inside, who had fallen from a horse. My ears straining for the sound of an opening garage door as my uncharacteristically late husband is long overdue returning home from work.

Separation. As these episodes raced through my mind, they stirred up the pain I felt being separated from those I hold dear and the joy I experienced being reunited.

What dread an alienated Cain must have endured as he "went out from the LORD's presence." What amazing delight a restored David experienced as he wrote, "Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him." (Psalm 32)

Sin separates. Repentance reunites. As for me, I never want to be outside our loving God's presence. With humility, I immediately confessed to God my ugliness, mean-spirited attitude, and arrogant heart. In the morning, I also asked my husband for his forgiveness; who in turn, asked me to forgive him for his actions. What a wonderful restoration of relationships!

Dear friend, are you experiencing separation because of unconfessed sin? If so, our gracious, Heavenly Father loves you with an everlasting love. He longs for you to come into His warm embrace and delight in the joy of confession and forgiveness of sins. Won't you come today?

Blessings, dear friend.
Faithfully Following

Friday, December 11, 2009


A special welcome to each of you who found your way here through my Girlfriends in God devotion "Caution."

Sharon, Mary, and Gwen are wonderful friends; and I'm thrilled you stopped in Nomad Wife for a visit. Please drop by anytime.

Merry Christmas!

Blessings, dear friend.
Faithfully Following

Monday, December 7, 2009

Christmas wonderings

"Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God."
John 1:12 (NIV)

Like a pendulum swinging back and forth, my family's wanderings have taken me to and fro across the United States; Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Colorado, North Carolina, Michigan, back to Missouri, and now, back to Pennsylvania. During this time of year, however, my wonderings transport me back to a time more than 2,000 years ago and to a fresh perspective into the events that forever altered the world.

In Windows on Christmas, Bill Crowder shares a view of wonder. He writes of the rather haunting Appalachia song "I Wonder as I Wander" and its attempt to express how difficult it is for our human hearts to understand what God chose to do, and why He chose to do it.

I wonder as I wander out under the sky, how Jesus, the Savior, did come for us to die. For poor ornery people like you and like I, I wonder as I wander out under the sky.

Wonder. I can't think of a better word to describe a miracle. Have you noticed, however, how wonder just isn't all that wonder-ful these days? From a plain white bread to Wonder undergarments to gadgets like a Wonder Weave Hairstyle Tool, somehow these things don't seem to fit the use of a word that means "surprise, astonishment, awe, amazement, admiration."

In the New Testament book of Luke, chapters 1 and 2, the gospel writer discloses a perspective of wonder. He strives to help us share in Mary's amazement at being chosen to give birth to the Christ-child, her sense of awe of her miraculous pregnancy, and an overwhelming love as she holds her child for the first time.

Can you imagine anything in Mary's young life that could have prepared her for all of this? From what we know, Mary was a normal first-century Jewish girl from an ordinary family living in an ordinary small town. Yet with wonder and obedience, she embraces the extraordinary implications of God's extraordinary plan.

Scripture doesn't record the words of Joseph, the carpenter of Nazareth, husband of Mary, and earthly father of Jesus. In fact, through a simple, quiet beauty of an obedient heart, Joseph works behind the scenes and almost appears invisible in the drama of Christ's birth. I wonder at how many times he stood at the crossroads of a choice between self-protection and obedience. Mary's pregnancy. Ending their betrothal. The journey to Bethlehem for a government census. Jesus' birth. Shepherds and magi bowing before a baby. The family's escape to Egypt from Herod's threats.

Facing choice after choice, Joseph's obedience teaches us that trust and obedience are inseparable. Without first trusting God, we will never surrender our choices and destinies to His purposes. If we don't obey God, we'll never see the great and humbling things He wishes to accomplish in and through our lives.

For Mary and Joseph there was wonder in these events. The wonder of who Christ is and why He came, however, are only the beginning. John 1:12 records God's promise that makes it possible for us to know Him, to find forgiveness for all our wrongdoings, to receive more than eternal life--the privilege and wonder of becoming part of His family!

Friend, I pray you discover the wonder of Christmas. May you see the marvelous reality that Christmas is not a season at all. It is a gift expressing the extent to which our loving God was willing to go to make us His own.

Merry Christmas!

Blessings, dear friend.
Faithfully Following