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Published on June 20, 2013, by Rich Johnson

“We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.”

2 Corinthians 4:7-10 NLT

 

Fragile? Yes.  Broken?  No.  Troubles?  Yes, but not crushed.  Sometimes perplexed?  Yes, but not to the point of despair?  We get knocked down, but we get back up and realize we’re not destroyed.  Through our suffering we realize our bodies (of clay) continue to share in the death of Jesus, so that the life in Jesus will also be seen in our bodies!  Robin and I sat up on our sofa for several hours the other night, holding hands, worshipping the Lord through soft piano music  and crying out to Him.  We have come to realize, that in ourselves we are oh, so weak!  We shared about the days gone by and the hundreds of memories we have of ministry moments, places we’ve been blessed to go, and the matchless grace of Jesus.  We did not focus at all on what we don’t have, but only on the wonderful blessings God has brought into our lives through so many wonderful people.  We’ve seen countless people come to know Christ, and have spoken to and counseled many.  We’ve been honored and privileged to serve Him in full-time pastoral ministry, and as I reflected on this alone, I had to go back to my boyhood days when I would sit and watch a Billy Graham Crusade and sense the Spirit of God tugging on my heart back then.  I didn’t make the connection then, but I knew there was something far different going on in my heart that I could not explain.  Oh, yes these jars of clay have been blessed and through much along the way in just a few short years, and now we’ve come to this place suffering.  Even in this suffering we know Jesus is alive in our sufferings!  He will ultimately bring  us to the place of completeness when we cross from this life to heaven.  But while we’re here we carry these wonderful treasures around in us!  What a joy this is!  It truly is a key in finding joy in whatsoever state we find ourselves in here.  Pure joy.  Joy in Him.  

Health Update:

Robin’s fever has subsided to normal levels once again through the miracle of prayer and antibiotics.  She still continues to battle pain on a daily basis, while weakness, shortness of breath and other symptoms take a toll on her.  

For me, it’ much of the same symptoms.  Pain as I eat (everything) fatigue and more bleeding in the past couple of days.  The  tumors in my digestive tract have apparently become agitated and the blood vessels are finicky.  These types of vessels are erratic and can be close to the surface, thereby causing bleeding in an instant.  If they continue, I may be looking at another transfusion in not too distant future.

 

We are blessed to have my brother Mark, sister Laurette and our nephew Josh with us for a few days.  It’s always a great time with lots of fun when they come around, and we’re grateful they’re here.  

 

In just a few days (June 24), Robin will be blessed with another birthday, and we are so happy to celebrate this day, as it’s been a struggle to get to this one!  He truly has  our days numbered !

 

BooK Update:

Drumroll please… Our much anticipated book, “Through the Valley”  is finally available and being printed in soft cover, hardcover and will be available in e-book format in several weeks.  This is so exciting for us.  Not because it’s our book of our journey, but because we get to tell of His goodness throughout our journey and draw others to Him!  It’s been so long, and now you get to read the story.  If you would like to pre-order your copy, you may do so by going to the book widget on our blog, pay for your book through our secure payment system, and we’ll ship it to you the  first week of July!  Those of you who were promised a book when you helped us with the Kickstarter program will be getting your copy then as well.  If you know of someone struggling with sickness, disease or any other “valley” experience life can bring, you might consider blessing them with a copy as well.  We have prayed that  this book would encourage and  lead people to Christ who may be going through difficult times.  

Robin and I want to thank you for your continued support and love to us, and we continue to be all God wants us to be while in the body.  Please don’t stop praying as we face uncertain days!  

 

In His Love,

Rich and Robin

 

 
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Published on June 16, 2013, by Rich Johnson

“There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!”  

Romans 5:3-5 MSG

 

The circle seems to be getting smaller.  Daily activities are becoming more of a challenge, and the length of days without being completely obliterated are becoming shorter for us both.  We are facing new physical challenges as these diseases take a toll on our physical bodies.  Today was a bit of a setback for Robin, as she has spiked a temperature and has me concerned, that perhaps she’s fighting another stent infection.   I called in the hospice nurse today to evaluate her, but the high fever started after she was gone about two hours or so.  I informed them by phone of the infection history she’s had in the past, and they will confer with our doctor in the morning to see what if anything further can be done except antibiotics at this point.  She started taking a powerful antibiotic this afternoon.    I can only hope it’s not another blood infection.  This would not be good, for I don’t know a new one would be an option.  

I have been feeling tired and still having quite a bit of pain with nearly everything I eat at this juncture.  My nurse practitioner called from our gastroenterologist’s office this past week to check on me, and basically told me what I can expect from here on out (because I asked).  She said I would become more obstructed in my bowels until I begin to not be able to hold anything down.  My stomach would become distended (more than it is already!), and the pain would become excruciating.  Good News!  Not!  At that point, a stent could be  an option, but there are no guarantees with these types of stents, because they tend to migrate (move).   My current symptoms tell her I am already partially obstructed, thus I have to be very watchful.  I can also feel it all, and it’s getting more painful. 

Hey, we’re hemmed in with so much right now, and it seems to be getting tighter with each new day, but “We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles,…”  We refuse to fold, bend , bow or break!  We’ve come too far to turn back now,Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!”  He continues to bless us and pour into our lives, in spite of this physical stuff!  The very worst thing that can happen, is for both of us to go home, and that’s not a bad plan at all!  Oh, I know our families would incur the grief of it all and I’m not minimizing that, but we look forward to going home!  I live every day with my Robin and see, firsthand all of the agony, fevers, chills, sleeplessness and pain she endures on a daily basis.  She sees mine.  We live with it.  It’s been a long, arduous journey, and we’re getting weary of all this, and we know it not the end for us but just the beginning!  

 

Please pray…

Pray for strength.  Pray for wisdom to make right decisions.  Pray for our families as they, too endure the anguish of a long journey.  Pray for peace and comfort as our days get shorter.  I despise seeing Robin in pain for any length of time, and she’s having more and more.  She needs a release from the pain.  Most people wouldn’t know she is, because she just doesn’t show it well. Thanks for your prayers! 

 

Book Update:

Our Book, “Through the Valley” is now in the printing process!  Woo hoo!  It should be available within about three weeks in e-book, softcover and hardback forms.  I will announce a launch date very soon!  

May all your “hemmed in” areas of your lives produce exactly what God intends, ”troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next.”

We Love You!

Rich and Robin 

 

 
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Published on June 8, 2013, by Rich Johnson

 ”Look to yourselves (take care) that you may not lose (throw away or destroy) all that we and you have labored for, but that you may [persevere until you] win and receive back a perfect reward [in full].”

 2 John 1:8  AMP

 

All night I wrestled.  I wrestled with my physical issues, and I wrestled with what the Lord was saying to me through the Spirit.  I cannot recount one night (or day) when one word kept coming at me like it was the only word in the english language…Persevere.  Every time I rolled over or opened my eyes…Persevere.  Keep going.  Don’t quit.  Just a little farther to go and then…full reward.  Robin and I have labored as many of you have throughout the years.  I’ve known some of you to pastor long and hard, and although vocational ministry is rewarding, it is one of the most difficult jobs in the world.  Namely, because we deal in spiritual matters concerning people, and many times the minister stands in the gap between heaven and hell and fights for the souls of men through prayer, counsel and godly leadership.  This in itself causes the enemy  of our souls to get a bit angry, for he too is fighting for those same souls.  When you couple all of this with physical issues life can get weary.  Robin and I obviously aren’t full time ministers now, but we are still ministering to so many through our testimony, and we are keenly aware, that so many around us are watching our response to the difficulties we are now facing in these crucial times in our lives as we near the finish line.  We must persevere to the end.  And at this particular juncture in our physical battles, it’s not easy to remain steadfast and persevere.  These are the moments in the race, when you’ve run twenty five miles and the last mile is in view, in fact, you can see the finish line banner up ahead, but it hurts. Your lungs burn, your muscles feel like they are on fire and your feet feel like one hundred pound weights.  You must go on and finish well, for if you do, a reward of wonderful completion and the prize awaits you.  Your mind begins to play tricks on you and tells you, “Stop and rest here.  You’ve run enough.  Is it worth it?”  That’s when we must overcome those thoughts and feelings and get up, and press on to the end.  Persevere!  It’s worth it!  You won’t realize how much it’s worth until you cross the finish line.  Persevere!  Are you hurting?  Keep going.  Exhausted from the run?  Don’t even entertain quitting.  You’ve come too far to sit down now and lose.

I know that for me, barring a miracle, I have far less days in front of me than behind me now (especially with hospice on the scene).  So it is not an option for me to do anything but to persevere as never before in my life.  The same holds true for Robin.  Friend, the same holds true for you!  No one ever said being a Christ follower would be a cakewalk, but Jesus did tell us the reward is great for those who overcome!  Persevere!  ”Look to yourselves (take care) that you may not lose (throw away or destroy) all that we and you have labored for, but that you may [persevere until you] win and receive back a perfect reward [in full].”

 

Health Update:

We are still both about the same in our physical battles with our pain issues.  We both have good days and  bad days.  We take advantage of the good days and try to get out and enjoy our families and time with friends.  It seems the bad days are beginning to take more time from us now but we just keep going if we can.  I am having ongoing pain in my digestive tract, and stomach and Robin’s abdominal pain is still plaguing  her on a daily, almost hour by hour basis.

 

Praise Report!

I posted last time about our Marketing need for our book, and I received a call the next day from a friend who said they would underwrite the cost of the Marketing Package!  Praise God!  This will have a far reaching ability to move our book into the hands of so many who just need a word of encouragement or to ultimately come to know Christ!  Robin and I are eternally grateful for this, as we know our legacy will live on for His honor and glory long after we’re gone.  

 

Prayer Request:

As the days continue to march ahead, we know we must make sure our affairs are in order (all of us should).  But as we do, we don’t want our children to  be burdened with final arrangements, services, etc.  We’ve recently been working on these things, and our children have been involved in helping in these details.  It’s hard for them (and us) to be contemplating losing both parents at young ages.  (Yes, I’m still young!  Don’t laugh!)  So, would you please uphold our children and their families up to the Lord on a daily basis?  Please remember, Rich III, Jason and Heather in your prayers.  They need strength, wisdom and comfort that only the God of all comfort can give.  Thanks so very much!

 

Special note:

Robin is coming up on her well… a birthday the 24th of this month.  If you desire to send her a card, I’m sure she would be most appreciative of your thoughtfulness.   Our address is:  1203 E. Fieldstone Dr.  Ozark, MO 65721  

 

Persevering to the End,

Rich and Robin