Author Archives: Principles for Life

Missionary Update from Papua New Guinea

 

And then there were three….

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As the Goheens and we have prayed and evaluated the church planting work ahead of us, our own capabilities and weaknesses, and the future needs of the future Kaje church… we have felt the need to add on another family to our team.  So after months of prayer and emails we finally had two weeks of long discussions about theology, church planting strategy, philosophy of ministry, parenting, gifting and abilities, personalities and more (Basically speed dating), and now we are excited to introduce you to the newest members of our team! The picture below is the Meyer family (not to be mistaken with the Myers family).  They are Christopher, Lillie, Linda, and Silas.  They are Germans, but we try not to hold that against them :).  We love them and can’t wait to get them moved into Kaje so they can begin learning the Kaje Language and culture.  Be praying for them as they prepare to begin purchasing solar equipment, lumber milling equipment, plywood for floors, screen for windows, corrugated roofing iron, water filtration, water storage tank or bladder, pipes, a stove etc.  They have a lot of planning and transition ahead of them!

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Meeting Solo…

After an hour flight over dense jungle the chopper finally set down in our village of Andarum.  With the rotors still turning, we stepped out of the chopper into the blazing sun and were met by almost the entirety of our village and then some.  The Kaje have been waiting eagerly for over 3 months to meet Solo.  And as hundreds of smiling faces and hands reached out for him, I surveyed the crowd and saw people with skaby skin, pink swollen eyes, dirty hands, and snotty faces.  And knowing these poor people have little to no concept of germs and sickness…. I felt emotions rise up within me to guard and protect Solo’s fragile life from them… But what could I do? Run him up into our house and hide him from them?  Imagine what that would communicate.  Jen and I talked about it before we arrived, but in that moment we had to choose again to trust God with Solo’s health as he was introduced to the Kaje people for the 1st time.  Pray for us as we continue to choose to trust God with Solo’s health in an area with malaria, tuberculosis, skin diseases, and more.  In this way we show our love for the Kaje people as they love on Solo. And they can’t get enough of him!

Here are some question we were asked by the Kaje upon our arrival:
Does he nurse like our babies?
Does he cry like our babies?
Does he poop and pee like our babies?
Can he Speak?
Does he understand your language?

 

bPlease Pray For Us As:

  • We are having our first literacy class’s graduation in a week.
  • Class 2 of literacy starts up two days later with 16 new students.
  • Abby prepares a post literacy class to encourage the 1st16 students to keep growing in their ability to read and write.
  • A Bible translation consultant is coming in on July 6th to check the comprehensions and accuracy of the Bible portions Taylor has been faithfully translating these last months without us.
  • The Meyer family is coming in for a few days on July 13thto be introduced to the Kaje and to begin planning how and where to build their house.
  • Continue trusting Jesus for the health of baby Solomon.

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A Daughter’s Take on Faith and Suffering

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Now that I’m free to share, I’m going to write more openly about what my family has been going through.

My father, who has been battling Parkinson’s, spinal stenosis, and Type 2 diabetes, has yet another burden to add to his list. We found out he has an incurable form of Leukemia. (You can read the longer details here. https://principlesforlife.org/…/principlesforlifeministries/)

We are not unfamiliar with grief and fear, as the last 2 years have been horrific roller coaster rides of watching every aspect of my parents’ lives change due to both gradual and sudden health concerns. It’s a strange place to be, to know they are in such a state to die any minute but that they could also go on living for years.

The reason I want to be honest about it is because we all, essentially, have to live in that same state: knowing any minute it will all be taken away. I just get to feel it thrown in my face a little more poignantly than some, on a regular – sometimes weekly – basis.

The main concern I have is not that the world understand how hard our lives have been the last several years. Life is hard. My concern is that people understand why so many of my posts and so many of my updates go back to Jesus, God, and my thanks for Him.

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Whether you know this or not, I’ve had a lot to complain about. In many ways, my life has sucked. Not much about my days that makes me stand up and cheer. I get to watch two of my favorite people that I depend on the most for love, support, care, guidance, and hope walk through lives of hopelessness that just keep getting worse.

So how come I filter everything (as best I can) through a faith-based filter? And how come I have faith in a good God who is in control of everything when I look around at the universe that is truly filled with so much self-centeredness, indulgent pride, disinterest in the cause of the needy, that is violent and rageful even in the name of peace? Passive and compromising, intellectually engaged and often heart empty? A place where people are destroyed in the name of defending a cause, where love is so absent from so many of the things we strive for and seek to attain?

All of the above horrors? Those are WHY I believe in that God. The death we all await, and fear and dread? That is WHY I know there is a God in Heaven. Our moral compass that drives you and me to do both wonderful and HORRIBLE things in the name of the things we love, it’s embedded in our hearts. And if a greater God than us didn’t, hadn’t created us with souls that knew THIS PLACE ISN’T RIGHT we wouldn’t know, in our souls, that we were made for something better. We wouldn’t keep striving. We couldn’t claim that there is a right and there is a wrong if we didn’t know it deep down that there IS something called GOOD. We’ve all just distorted it to fit a particular mold, and, in essence, we’ve screwed it up.

But my hope, my belief in God, it shows me how there is a plan for redemption. It shows what a life COULD be. It shows me how I want to be and who I want to become. It provides a webbing and brings a framework to the senseless lives we live, seeking in agony a meaningful existence in a world we know will just someday end for us. Because we believe in a Higher Purpose, even when we say we don’t.

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Apart from Christ, I would be nothing. It’s a life and a world I could do without. But unless I have hope of an eternal promise that finally brings fruition to everything I’ve fought for and believed in, in everything I do, WHAT WAS THE POINT? If I can see with my soul’s eye everything my heart wants and desires, all the good God intends for all those of us whom He loves, I can see why all this horrible, terrible mess of this life actually makes sense. It can even show me how and why God has used my parents’ suffering and helplessness for so much good.

It means that the fear, the misery, the agony, as well as the desire to just give up and get out of this place filled with the previews of what Hell is going to be actually keep my feet planted here as long as I can, so I can share the hope we all need. Without God, there truly is no hope. And I’ve seen it. I know it. And for as long as I have to stay here in this godless life of pain and suffering and evil, I will seek after God and impart His goodness into the lives I know. And I’ll do that fearlessly, because God is the only thing we don’t have to be afraid of in this life if we can and will receive His love and gift.

I love each of you. Without hesitation, and ENDLESSLY. Because Jesus first loved me.

Becca

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Romans 5:18-21 (NLT) Yes, Adam’s one sin brings condemnation for everyone, but Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone. Because one person disobeyed God, many became sinners. But because one other person obeyed God, many will be made righteous.

God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant. So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/…)

Gary Requests Prayer

Dear Friends,
This is Cheryl writing.  We are in need of prayer support right now!  Yesterday was a difficult day as we received some very unwelcome news from Gary’s oncologist.  As you know, if you had a chance to read Gary’s recent message, the doctor had told our whole family who gathered in his office to hear the results of Gary’s bone marrow biopsy, that Gary did NOT have leukemia or some other blood disease.  We were ecstatic!
Well….. yesterday late afternoon, the same doctor called and said that a final test came back showing mutations in the genes in his blood cells. Long story short, Gary DOES have CMML (Chronic myelomonocytic leukemia), a type of leukemia that has no cure.  Evidently it is in the beginning stages and the only treatments are not curative but can help the symptoms.
This doctor is leaving his practice to go into research. So Gary will have blood work every two months to follow the disease and will be seeing a new doctor in four months.  We had never heard of this disease and are trying to educate ourselves via the Internet.
We KNOW God is still just as FAITHFUL and PRECIOUS and LOVING and ALL-WISE as He always is.  We are just trying to process the human emotions that come with hearing great news (we thought) to hearing that there is a disease present with lots of unknowns.  We love you and thank you for caring about us!!!!!
Gary adds, “I am calming myself with the words of Job who said, ‘The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.’ Our lives are not our own. Jesus made that clear from the moment we began to follow Him. So no complaints here. But surprises are often hard to deal with, especially when you want to live long and minister to family and friends.
Speaking of that, I intend on continuing this blog. However, with very low energy, I may have to keep it to one or two posting per week. Pray for God’s wisdom and strength in all that we do. Remember, I am still battling type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s Disease, and spinal stenosis.
In Christ’s Love,
Gary and Cheryl Schwarz

“NIC AT NIGHT” (Part 4)

(For a written copy of this lesson, click WRITTEN. To listen to the recorded message,  click SPOKEN)

  1. The Spirit’s Conversion

The first clue Jesus gives him is in verse 5: “Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’”

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Spirit, of course, refers to the Holy Spirit. But what does it mean to “born of water”? Some say it refers to baptism. But how can that be true? Baptism does not save us. Baptism is a testimony that we’ve already been born from above. Others say it refers to the waters of birth. But that can’t be right either. First century Jews weren’t yet aware of the role amniotic fluid plays in the birth of a child. Nor did Nicodemus need to be told that he had to be born the first time before he could be born a second time.

So what was Jesus referring to? Remember Nicodemus was an Old Testament scholar whose mind would have immediately tracked with Jesus, taking him to passages like Ezekiel 36 where God promised His people, “I will…sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleanness…and I will give you a new heart and…put my Spirit within you and make you walk in My statutes and be careful to obey My rules.”

 

Jesus was referring to the New Covenant that was about to come true in His blood, a promise Nicodemus had known since boyhood. But like all the religious leaders of Israel, he was an apostate Jew who, because he hadn’t experienced the miracle of new life, gave up on God’s promise. And once you do that, what do you do next?

You reject what the Bible says about sin. After all, we are all “good kids” with good hearts, aren’t we? The answer is no! The truth is there’s not one good person among us. But once you admit that, that we all deserve eternal punishment in hell, how do you cope with the fear of judgment to come? The answer is: You ask God for the gift of faith to trust in His promise of new life and forgiveness!

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The second clue is in verse 8 where Jesus adds, “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

Have you ever done that? Stood outside surrounded by the beauty of God’s creation and heard His wind roaring through the trees? I did that the other night. I was watering the flowers when I suddenly heard and then felt a cool breeze blowing past me. I thought, “What a perfect way to describe the power and refreshment of the Holy Spirit!” I didn’t know where it came from or where it was going. Nor could I control it! Ever tried to get the wind to blow when you want to fly a kite? But I could feel the results of it!

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And you can also see the results when the Holy Spirit touches someone’s life because what happens? Just as the dead man heard Jesus say, “Lazarus, come forth!” you come alive in your spirit.

I shall never forget how it happened to me. I was sitting in a college classroom thinking about things I had read in the Bible, when I suddenly sensed a voice saying to me – not audibly, but just as real – “Gary, believe!” And for the first time in my life, I did. I believe in the Lordship of Jesus, His death for my sins on the cross, and His mighty resurrection from the dead. And in that very moment, my spirit, which was dead, suddenly came to life, and I’ve been following Christ ever since.

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But what about Nicodemus? Was he ever born from above? John doesn’t say. Nicodemus fades from the scene midway through this chapter, and we don’t hear from him again until chapter 7 where his colleagues on the Council decide that Jesus has to go. But he takes issue with them on a point of Law. John 7:50, “Nicodemus, who had gone to Him before and was one of them, said to them, ‘Does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing and learning what He does?’” So he hasn’t taken a public stand for Him yet, but I’m feeling better about him. Aren’t you?

The last we read of him is John 19:38 following the crucifixion. He and a rich friend named Joseph of Arimathea summon up the courage to ask Pilate for the body of Jesus, so they can prepare it for burial and lay it in a new tomb that belongs to Joseph. Now I’m starting to love this guy due to  his loyalty and love for Jesus! But that’s all the Bible says about him.

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Thankfully, church tradition fills in the rest of the details. It reports, for example, that Nicodemus was the only person who stood up for Jesus at His trial, that he was baptized after the Resurrection by Peter and John, and that his preaching of Christ was so powerful that the Sanhedrin he served removed him from his position as teacher, confiscated his property, banished him from Israel, and subjected his wife and children to abject poverty.

His daughter was so poor it was said she had to dig through the dung piles to find a few pieces of grain to eat. A rabbi saw her doing so and took pity on her. “Who are you?” he asked. “I am the daughter of Nicodemus.” “Whatever happened to him?” he asked. “He became a follower of Jesus and was banished from Israel.” So the rabbi refused to help her.

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As for Nicodemus himself, he became one of the first martyrs of the church, beaten to death by a mob for preaching in the name of Jesus. This is the true story of Nic at night. He had everything and gave up everything to gain what the world cannot take away. So even though John doesn’t give us all the details, we have our answer: His sins were washed away and he was given new life from above. For so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.