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Does Earthly Love Continue in Heaven after Death?

Some of you know that Cheryl Lynn, my wife of 46 years, left this world on May 12, 2020, after several years of extreme illness. She is now with Jesus, the One Great Love of her life. I am not jealous for He is the One Great Love of my life too and the One who brought us together 47 years ago on July 4th. But life isn’t the same without her. I miss her like crazy and can’t dwell on that too long without being overcome with sorrow (the crippling kind that pierces your heart with pain making it difficult to live life as you once did.) Romantically, she was my better half and the one true love of my life.

Newlyweds 1974

We didn’t engage in too many public displays of affection, because we were leaders of a youth ministry. But after 46 years of marriage, I don’t know how we could have been any closer. We talked about everything. We spent every minute together that we could, especially after she contracted cancer 10 years ago. She survived the cancer, but she never felt the same. She lived in daily pain and suffered from a litany of afflictions – COPD, UTIs, bowel blockages from the scarring left from the cancer surgery, and a damaged heart valve. We didn’t ignore these issues. We prayed and made dozens of visits to doctors. But none was able to successfully heal her of her suffering.

My Beautiful Bride – Cheryl Bridge

Then in the midst of the Corona pandemic, she was hit with the pain of kidney stones. The surgeon removed them, but the infection led to sepsis, and one week later she died of septic shock. The hardest part for our family was that once admitted to the hospital, none of us could visit her again due to the Covid crisis. Once the medical staff was sure she was dying, I (Gary) was granted access to her room for her last 16 hours, while Heidi, Rebecca, and Benjamin waited in the parking lot and our grandchildren stayed with at home with Aaron. At that point she was unconscious and didn’t know that I was in the room. This was the most painful experience of our lives – suddenly losing the best wife and sweetest mama on earth and not able to say goodbye. Now in Heaven, I’m sure she understands the circumstances. But at the time it broke our hearts to leave her alone in the hospital.

Since then we arranged her burial at Pleasant Home Cemetery, a beautiful resting place 10 minutes from our home, are picking a fitting headstone, and doing all the paperwork from when a loved one dies. Other than that, I haven’t been sure what to do next. Everyone needs a purpose for living. So I’ve been attending Becca’s and Heidi’s churches, praying for the Holy Spirit to show me if there’s a way I can help. I also woke up this morning certain that I’m still called to preach the Gospel. So here I am blogging again, trying to reach the largest audience I can in the time that remains. If you recall, that was Cheryl’s passion. She didn’t want anyone to go to hell, so she talked to everyone, even strangers in the grocery line about their need of Jesus.

Everything else I’m taking one day at a time, asking God to lead me into what he wants me to do. When I first believed in Christ, I had no idea what to do next. I didn’t have a home church. So Cheryl’s dad asked me to visit his church, and I did. I also began to pray for God to lead me to His choice of a wife. Cheryl was away at Bible School at the time, but when she returned that summer we met at a 4th of July picnic to which we were the only singles invited. I was looking for someone sweet, smart, and pretty who loved Jesus. She met every desire I had, and apparently she liked me too. Because when I followed up with a telephone call, she agreed to date me – on one condition: break it off with the other girls I was dating. ” “This is moving fast,” I thought!” But I was happy. For one year later – August 23, 1974 – I married my dearest friend at her father’s church in Tacoma.

Now I’m caught in a similar situation. I’m not looking to get married again. When you’ve had the best, it isn’t fair to look for a replacement. Who could live up to my memories of Cheryl. So what’s next? I have no more wisdom now than when I first began to follow Christ. So I’m doing what I did then – going to church, reading the Bible and praying everyday, encouraging my family, and reaching out to others with the truth of Christ. The hardest part of all this, for which I ask prayer is the loneliness. I know I am not alone – Christ has promised never to leave me nor forsake me, I have two beautiful and loving daughters with great families whom I see two or three times a week, and friends I can call when I need to hear a reassuring voice. But it was God who said, “It is not good for man to be alone.” And for the past 46 years, Cheryl kept me from any feelings of loneliness. But now she’s gone!

Deepest Pain in Life – Lonelinesss

By the way, if you’re feeling alone right now, (maybe you’re widowed or a young person facing a lonely lifetime) write me a note and maybe I can give you hope. And for those of you who, like me, miss Cheryl’s presence in your life, write me a note and tell me why. Because of Covid rules, we weren’t able to hold a public funeral service for her. We had a private service for our immediate family. So now we’re looking ahead to when this epidemic eases and we can hold a memorial service celebrating her life. Until then, please send us email memories that we can read at that time.

Love and thanks to all!

Gary Schwarz and family

Disneyland without Grandchildren

(P. S. Please be patient with me. I’m not yet ready to remove Cheryl’s name or pictures from this blog or the wedding ring from my finger. Thanks for understanding! Two months is too soon to forget her.)

The Glory of Christmas

Have you slowed down enough this holiday season to enjoy the beautiful lights decorating the homes in your neighborhood? We did that the other night, and it was beautiful!

They, of course, pale in comparison to the glory of the lights that God has hung in His sky. The Psalmist says, “The heavens declare the glory of God and the skies proclaim the work of His hands.” Psalm 19:1

But it is impressive to see the extent to which people go to decorate their homes for Christmas!

Then there are others of us, like this homeowner, who’d rather kick back, relax, and watch the football games offered at the holiday season. Amen?

The lights on our houses are our humble attempt to experience the glory of Christmas and celebrate how God in His grace pierced our darkness with His marvelous light. Speaking of Jesus, the Apostle John writes, “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men and the light shines in the darkness and the darkness could not overcome it.” The first hint of that was the appearance of the angels to the shepherds of Bethlehem.

Luke says, “An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear.” Then, having told them about Jesus, it says: “There was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” Luke 2:8-16

Christmas is a time of glory and wonder, the greatest glory a Baby lying in a manger because this Baby was more than a Baby. Colossians 2:9 declares, “In Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form.” Or as John puts it in John 1:14, “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” “The Word became flesh” refers, of course, to Jesus who was with God in the beginning and is Himself God the Son.

The phrase, “made His dwelling among us,” adds to the glory of the God who loves us. It means that the Creator who made all that there is became a man and lived among us. Theologians call this the Incarnation—the act of the Creator taking on human flesh and becoming a man. John says of this miracle, “We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father.” Glory is one of John’s favorite words. He uses it 15 times to describe a visual splendor you can see with your eyes. Seen is the word from which we get our word theater, meaning to gaze upon something with great interest and awe. Put the two together and in John’s mind, there is no sight more glorious than the face of Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians 4:6 agrees—“For God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” That’s our study today–the glory of Christmas seen in the person of Jesus.

1. It was a veiled glory

The Bible says when God took on humanity, He temporarily laid aside His glory, so that no one could look at Him and said, “Hey, that baby looks like God!” The truth is, if you hadn’t known better, you would have assumed that Jesus was just like any other little boy—which is what He intended for if He hadn’t laid aside His glory, He wouldn’t have been able to suffer and die for our sins. Consequently, when Jesus appeared in the synagogue of Nazareth announcing that all of the Messianic prophecies were fulfilled in Him, how did the people react? They said, “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and his brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas? Aren’t his sisters with us? Where did this man get these things?” And
“they took offense at him” because there was nothing impressive about him.

Maybe you’ve had an experience like this. I went to Stadium High School in Tacoma and one of the things I found I was good at was math. I scored over 700 on the SAT in math and thought I was pretty smart until I learned that two guys did even better than I. One of them was named Brian. Brian was also a very good pool player. But other than that, there wasn’t anything outstanding about him. In fact, I thought he was kind of a dweeb, and I didn’t like the way he smirked at me every time he beat me in pool, and he did beat me every time.

So 15 years later when I open the newspaper and read that he’s just been elected Pierce County Auditor and 6 years later, the auditor of our entire state, I couldn’t believe it! Other than being good at math and pool, there wasn’t anything that impressed me about him! But I was wrong! Brian Sonntag was the 5-term Washington State Auditor and received 70% of the vote in his last election.

People had a similar reaction to Jesus. They looked at Him and said, “There’s nothing outstanding about this guy!” So if his glory was veiled, how could John write, “We have seen His glory?” The reason is because His glory was only veiled, not eradicated. In fact, for anyone who was looking, there were unmistakable signs of His glory from birth—the star over Bethlehem guiding the magi to where the King of the Jews was born.

Later, God spoke from Heaven at His baptism declaring, “This is My Beloved Son. In Him I am well pleased.” And there were also miracles—hundreds and thousands of them all pointing to His glory!

But I believe what John really had in mind when he wrote this was the Transfiguration of Christ, when He appeared to Peter, James, and John in all of His power and majesty. How did they react when they saw Him? They fell at His feet in worship, which is the same thing all of humanity will do at the return of Jesus. Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father!

But we mustn’t wait until then to do so because it will be far too late then. The time to come and adore Him is now while you have a chance to turn to Him and follow Him as your Savior. It was a veiled glory and—

2. It will be a shared glory

Why did Jesus take on human flesh, veil His glory, and die on a cross for our sins? Hebrews 2:10 says: “God for whom and through whom everything was made chose to bring many children to glory, and it was only right that He should make Jesus, through His suffering, a perfect leader” to bring us to salvation. The purpose of the Incarnation, Crucifixion, and Resurrection was to turn sinners into God’s children who will share His glory forever. How He’s preparing us for that today we’ll see in a moment.

But the first thing I want to know when going through a trial is how it’s going to end. So let’s take a moment to think about that–the eternal glory Jesus promises to share with us. Did you know that—that one day glory will be as natural to us as trial and temptation are today? What’s going to bring about the change? Jesus is coming again! That’s one of the great motivations for celebrating Christmas. Whenever we remember His first coming, it ought to remind us that He’s coming again!

And when He comes again, His first item of business will be to change these sinful, dying bodies into glorious new bodies like His own—impervious to sin and death, which may not relieve what you’re suffering today but “It will be worth it all when we see Jesus. Life’s trials will seem so small when we see Christ. One glimpse of His dear face, all sorrow will erase, so bravely run the race till we see Christ.” The reason sorrow will cease the moment we see Him is because the face of Jesus is the most glorious sight in the universe, so glorious it’ll change us forever. I John 3 adds:

The fact is: Many of us ambitious and competitive, especially the young men among us, and that’s understandable because that’s what we were designed for. We were designed for glory! But we need to be sure it’s the right kind of glory we’re striving for, and that isn’t first and foremost of all our jobs, our schooling, our good looks, or our success in ministry. Our first ambition, in light of His coming, is to be like Him! That’s the final fact I want to look at together. It was a veiled glory. It will be a shared glory. But even now—

3. It can and should be a transforming glory

As they ask in Celebrate Recovery, what’s the biggest hurt, habit, or hang-up you’re trying to overcome? The Bible says we all stumble in many ways, which means not one of us has it together yet, and the moment you think you do, watch out because you’re headed for a fall!

We all have a ton of work to do in becoming like Jesus, but here’s hope for the battle weary. You can change no matter how many times you’ve failed before and the way to do it is the same method we’ve talking about all morning. Read one more passage before we finish! I know you’ll find it encouraging. The Apostle Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 3:18–

Two things to notice here! First, notice that what changes us now is the same thing that’ll change us then, and that’s by beholding the glory of the Lord. We can’t do that perfectly yet. Paul says it’s like looking in a mirror, and the glass in those ancient mirrors was anything but clear! But that’s OK!

We don’t need a perfect image of Christ to change because, and this is the second thing to notice—it isn’t we who change ourselves; it’s the Spirit who changes us, and He doesn’t need to have a lot to work with because the Spirit is the Lord, and the Lord is very patient with us. He doesn’t expect us to change overnight. The way He changes us is little by little, from glory to glory, until we begin to look like Jesus ourselves. What we have to do is to keep His face ever before us, which means like almost everything else in life, spiritual change is a worship issue. You see, when Jesus comes again, it won’t take any effort to be like Him. All we’ll have to do is look at Him and we’ll be changed. But today it requires a choice.

I’m thinking now of when I first met Cheryl. I was seeing a couple other young women on a casual basis, at least in my mind it was casual. But I’ll never forget the night I told Cheryl about it. She let me know in no uncertain terms that if I had any interest in her, I’d better say goodbye to all other girls right now. And given the glorious treasure I found in Cheryl, it didn’t take me but a moment to make up my mind. After all, when you have a chance at the best, why risk it for something else?

So it is with Jesus! Jesus is a jealous God who will not share our love with anyone. So we have a choice to make, and it should be an easy one because there is no one as glorious as Jesus! Let that be my challenge and invitation to you as I close. Whatever is obscuring your view of Jesus, remove it from your life and make this your Merriest Christmas ever adoring the Only One who can meet all the needs of your heart.

1st Week of Classes with the Kaje, an Unreached people of Papua New Guinea

Students ambushing Jon for the Bible verses from the lesson he just taught.

Jon-Jen Myers August 17 ·  · The first two days of teaching were so awesome and we are so thankful. Words cannot express how amazing it was to see the whole village show up to hear the teaching. What an amazing God we serve! After today’s teaching Nelson told me, “Jon, I am so so happy that God made all these things around us. We have been wrong about how all of these things were created. But now I see that God made them all and he thought of us when he made them.”

5 years later… And the Kaje are finally hearing God’s talk.  God’s Word is penetrating the hearts of the Kaje people!  After 16 days of Bible teaching the Kaje have heard God’s story through Noah.  The entire Village continues to come and listen!  Thank you for all of your prayers!  Here are some of the things they have been saying:

Clemens – “I never new God was the one making trees and garden food grow.  He even makes our hearts beat and gives us life!”

Francisca – “This ground, these trees, animals, these things do not belong to us.  God made them.  They are all his.” 

Konsi – “We have brought shame upon shame on God’s name by attributing his work to animals and spirits.”

Pais – “If God got in a fight with the most powerful spirit here, God would just say, ‘Die.’  And that spirit would be dead.  No contest.”

Moses – “I am so mad at Adam and Eve.  If they were still alive I would beat them up.”

Martin – “When we eat food, it goes in our stomachs and then we poop it out and are hungry again.  God’s talk is not like that.  God’s talk is like food that will stay with us forever. Thank you for coming to teach it to us.”

Martina – “God told Adam clearly not to eat the fruit.  Satan is a liar.  God is not.”

Nelson – “Should I try to find a lamb and sacrifice it to God like Abel? I want him to be happy with me.” 

Francis – “We thought God was happy with us.  We have been so so wrong!  Sin is in us and we have a huge heavy with God because of our ancestor’s Adam and Eve.”

Jino  – “Every time you guys end the lesson I think, ‘No! Where did the time go!  Teach more! It ended to quickly!’”

Bodi – After hearing about God’s future court and the books being written of their sin, Bodi had no words.  After the teaching he just sat there with his head in his hands. 

Michael – “Jon, when Taylor was teaching about the future court and my book, my heart started beating so hard and fast I though I would burst out of my chest!  I think my book is the thickest!”

Kasi – “You guys need to teach all day every day so I can learn how God is going to help me get rid of my sin!”

Martin – “We are such sinners.  It is like we have been storing up fire wood for ourselves for the day of judgement.”

Greg – “I am ready to do whatever God wants me to do to get rid of my sin.”

Ananias – “God saved Noah all the way.  I cannot wait until I hear how God is going to save me all the way.”

Cecilia – “I am going to be like Noah and do whatever God says.  I will not be like the people who did not get in the boat.”

Caspar – “Satan has truly tricked us with his lying talk and hid God’s true talk from us.  But now we are hearing it clearly!”

Ananias – “I have abandoned all of the lying stories Satan gave our ancestors.  I will only hear God’s stories from now on.”

Some of you have been praying for Nggomo who wrote many of the Bible lessons with us before we started teaching.  He told me a few weeks back before the teaching had started, “Jon, if you had not gotten me to come and do this work of writing these Bible lessons with you, I would be in jail right now for life or dead.  Just a few days before you asked me to help you, I had determined in my mind to cut my neighbor’s wife’s head off the next time she was alone.  Thank you for asking me to help you and for teaching me God’s talk.  It has changed my life.” Today he runs a review group of the teaching every evening with his neighbor and his neighbor’s wife.

Be sure to follow us on Facebook for daily updates on the teaching and to see pictures of the people you are praying for!
Watch as some of the Kaje guys who have learned to read and write, ambush Jon for the Bible verses from the lesson he has just taught.
Please Pray:
Would love for you guys to read the parable of the sower in Mark 4 and pray specifically for the Kaje that – Satan would not be successful in taking away God’s Word from them. The Word would take root deeply in them and that they would not fall away due to tribulation or persecution.  The cares of this world, deceitfulness of riches and other things would not make the Word unfruitful in them. The Lord would prepare the hearts of the Kaje to be like the good soil and that the Word would produce fruit 30, 60, and a 100 fold.  Pray for us as a team and families to continue to work in unity with one another and our Lord.  

Jon-Jen Myers August 17 ·  · The first two days of teaching were so awesome and we are so thankful. Words cannot express how amazing it was to see the whole village show up to hear the teaching. What an amazing God we serve! After today’s teaching Nelson told me, “Jon, I am so so happy that God made all these things around us. We have been wrong about how all of these things were created. But now I see that God made them all and he thought of us when he made them.”

Jon-Jen Myers …The Kaje sitting in preparation to hear God’s story from Gen 2:9-25. Thanks for all your faithful prayers and support. These are exciting times!

Abby Goheen adds “God’s Talk Today the Kaje heard about how and why God created Eve. They also heard about the two trees that God placed in the middle of Eden; the tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The people have heard about these trees and have had many wrong ideas.”

Breakthrough for Unreached Pacific Tribe

Papua New Guinea Team - 2018

For the past 4 1/2 years our young missionaries have worked hard to build loving relationships with the Kaje people of Papua New Guinea. They’ve learned  the language, translated the Bible into their mother tongue, and have daily prayed for the Holy Spirit to prepare their hearts to hear God’s story.  That time has finally come.  Jon Myers, our missionary on the ground reports, “On August 15, Thursday morning  we began teaching the Bible. The anticipation and excitement can be felt here. We are so thankful that the Kaje desire to hear God’s truth.” Then he asks, “Please continue to pray with us for these things:

Pray for:
Jon and Taylor as they will be teaching 4 days a week, and while still carrying on with bible translation and lesson writing.
Our families as this time period will be a very busy, stressful, and exciting time.
The health of our families and the Kaje people.
That God’s word would penetrate the Kaje hearts and minds and that they would believe His message and know Jesus as their savior.”

More news to soon follow —