And not just survive
SITUATION: As most of you know I have been battling some serious health issues the last few years and back in February spent 23 days in the hospital. I almost didn’t make it then but by God’s mercy and grace he spared me. My lungs were severely scarred from pneumonia and my pulmonary fibrosis was worsened. The pulmonary fibrosis is thought to be a result of my time in the military. Especially during the Dessert Shield/Storm in Iraq and Kuwait.
Pulmonary Fibrosis is an irreversible lung disease where the lungs have been scarred due to sickness and other factors from a persons life. As time goes on the scarring increases.
Last week I went in for my six month check up. My lungs have healed quite significantly but I still suffer trying to catch my breath when doing things even as simple as taking a shower, getting dressed, or going for a walk. I can now sit around the house without wearing oxygen but still need to use if for exertion and sleep. The doctor says that is good because in the not to far distant future that won’t be the case.
All of this along with my PTSD issues which cause panic attacks and my balance issues due to dizzy spells makes each day difficult.
PROGNOSIS: One of the things my doctor talked to me about was the long term. Most people with this disease live 3-5 years after diagnosis. She has had patients live as long as 15 years. Because my health is relatively good and the fact that my body seems to heal and fight sickness off well she thinks I could make it around 8 years or longer if I take my meds, exercise regularly, and follow instructions. Personally my goal is more like fifteen to twenty. I would really like to see Gabriel, 12 years old, and Henry my 9 month old grandson graduate high school. I don’t control this though, that is up to God.
HOPE AND PRAYER: My hope and prayer is this. That I would finish strong. We all know that the Bible says, Psalm 136:19 (CSB) “Your eyes saw me when I was formless; all my days were written in your book and planned before a single one of them began.” So, it is not for me to determine how long this physical suffering will last.
I would like to impact as many people for Jesus in the time I have left as possible through how I handle this time of suffering. God will give me the strength by His sovereign grace. That has always been how I have lived my life even though many times I failed due to a weak faith.
This is not to be a time of sadness but a time of joy.I have had an incredible life. There is nothing I look back on and regret. “Joyful Persistence” will continue to be my cry. Please pray that Godwill continue to provide strength, hope, and courage that I may live in a way that honors Him. That I will be bold to speak when opportunity presents itself.
I will continue to pray that God will honor you with grace and peace knowing that He is sovereignly in control of all things to the end of the earth.
Remember: “Life is hard. God is good. Glory is coming!”
I LOVE YOU ALL VERY MUCH!
No man shall ever behold the glory of Christ by sight in heaven who does not, in some measure, behold it by faith in this world. . . . On Christ’s glory, I would fix all my thoughts and desires, and the more I see of the glory of Christ, the more the painted beauties of this world will wither in my eyes and I will be more and more crucified to this world. —John Owen
Sometimes I feel like a refugee. Loneliness is a constant on this deserted island called earth. Then I look out at creation and remember God is with me. My strength and my shield. My peace and my comfort. My joy and my salvation. My anchor that holds firmly in the tumultuous sea of life.
A refugee is someone that flees for refuge, safety, or protection. We all seek refuge from someone or something at times in our lives. Things happen that give us recourse for aid, relief, or escape. It is a constant for some to need shelter, safety, and protection from danger or trouble.
For the Christian this lifestyle is the daily battle against death, life, angels, rulers, things present, things to come, powers, height, depth, and anything else in all creation that could separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. None of these things can penetrate the refuge that God provides us through faith in Jesus Christ.
Tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, or sword cannot separate us from the love of Christ. We are never left alone. Never left to the wiles of our strength. God promises us refuge. All we have to do is seek Him out. He is right next to us even when we think we are fighting our own battles.
As believers we have a steadfast anchor that holds our soul in His hands. Our hope and anchor is in the person and saving work of Jesus Christ. An anchor provides stability and hope provides security and stability for the soul. We have assurance that the anchor will hold. Jesus has opened the curtain to the inner place and we are now permitted to draw near for He has become a high priest for us.
As Christians we are all refugees in this time we’re living. This is not our home. God is preparing a place for us where we will live in the eternal refuge of His love. Draw near to Him and He will draw near to you.
We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. —Hebrews 6:19-20
LOOKING TO JESUS
Looking to Jesus
Staring at His gaze
He always does amaze
Exposing His beauty
Throughout the universe
Enticing our voices
To continually converse
Looking to Jesus
The one who has made
All that we enjoy
Through the price that He paid
Dying He shared
For those impaired
His life He gave
For sinners to save
Looking to Jesus
He’s there up above
Always concise and marrowy
providing His love
Heaven is glancing
Down on us now
Not looking beyond
Or leaving us proud
Looking to Jesus
Provider of joy
Even while suffering
His grace we employ
His hand gives comfort
Upon our frail life
While we fight through our struggles
Our guilt and our strife
Looking to Jesus
In all that we do
Reminded that living
Is not our pursuit
Life is a journey
Of sharing our faith
Believing is trusting
His forgiveness embraced
Looking to Jesus
He always is truth
We eat of His fruit
Love, joy, peace and such
Always abundantly giving us much
Thankful we come
And bow at His feet
By Timothy W. Ketcham
August 9, 2019
God sovereignly orders all of our affairs. AMEN!!
Ecclesiastes 3:9-15 (ESV)
What gain has the worker from his toil? I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God's gift to man.
I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him. That which is, already has been; that which is to be, already has been; and God seeks what has been driven away.
God limits our ability to understand this short and fragile human life. Rather than becoming bitter, upset, and irrational because of this fact we should enjoy the gifts that God has given us. The sovereignty of God is meant to bring us to humble reverence and awe of Him.
As I sit and ponder life it is with great joy that I thank God for all that He has done. Everything I have experienced is because of Him. Everything! Health, family, home, friends, enemies, pleasure, food, fun, pain, death, heat, cold, fall, winter, spring, summer, mountain splendor, desert beauty, wind, rain, snow, hail, flooding, drought, blizzards, lightning, sun, moon, stars, wildlife, insects, reptiles, lakes, rivers, dogs, cats, good, bad, evil, sadness. All because of Him.
Because of Him I have been able to enjoy life. I have greatly enjoyed His Word, the Bible. I have found great joy in reading it, meditating on it, studying it, preaching it, teaching it, praying it, sharing it, and especially seeing it change the lives of others. Prayer it has proven to be the greatest support in time of need. Remembering His word and the lessons it provides. Looking into Jesus eyes and recalling when I accepted Him as my Savior because He willing died on the cross for my sins.
Because of Him I have found great joy in sports. Cheering on the Boston Red Sox for 43 years. Loving soccer before it was even considered a sport in the USA. Go Wolverhampton Wolves!!! Formula 1 racing, rowing, college basketball, rugby, golf, horse shoes, skiing, kayaking, and my favorite sport of all, people watching. Try it some time and you will discover it really is quite sporting and can give you some of the best laughs you will ever have.
The Lord had done great things for us; we were joyful. —Psalm 126:3
But the thing I have enjoyed the most in life is nature and animals. Nothing seems to calm me more or help me focus on God more than just going for a good walk by the river, or hike in the mountains, or even a slow walk through the zoo enjoying and thinking about how amazing it is that our God could create all this and for our enjoyment. To watch an eagle fly, the waters flow, the snow melt, the rain fall, mountain goats graze, buffalo roam, elk bugle, fish swim, bees buzz, lambs and calves playing, flowers bloom. These things remind me and refocus me on God and provide me with great joy. The creator of all.
Take some time today to just ponder your life. Think about how God has given you great joy. What pushes you back into His arms? My prayer is that it is the Bible, prayer, and fellowship along with whatever else He uses to help you focus on Him.
Would you please share with me what that is? I would find great joy and encouragement through that.
Have you ever considered how much time you spend just thinking? I know, dumb question because we are actually thinking 24 hours per day. Our brains never shut off. They are thinking and processing when we are awake and when we are asleep we are unconsciously still thinking through things.
Consider though how much time you just sit, stare blankly into oblivion, and think? I would challenge that it is more than you THINK. For most of us it is at least a few hours per day. Sometimes added up in minutes and sometimes in large chunks of time.
Also consider what it is you are thinking about. Much of our thinking is worry and problem solving. Thinking about things that God has already taken care of. How much of our time is simply spent contemplating God and His Word? Thinking about how He continually watches over us and meets our every need and works out every circumstance.
What should we be thinking? We should be thinking about things that will fill our minds with things that inspire us to worship God and serve others. Or as Paul puts it in Philippians 4:8.
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8 (ESV)
Here we are given six qualities on how and what to think:
Honorable=noble or respected
Just=giving people what they deserve
Pure=holy in relation to God
You see friends when we think on these things in this way we gain perspective that the world cannot comprehend or grasp hold of. We begin to see life from a different point of view responding to events and circumstances with renewed joy knowing that God is sovereignly in control. Look what Paul says in verse 9.
“What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:9 (ESV)
Practice these things. Practice thinking like God’s Word says. Its hard work but with practice becomes easier. What will the result of this practice be? Look at the end of verse 9, “the God of peace will be with you.” No longer will you just experience the peace of God but the God of peace will be with you. Its easy to have peace buts it is power to have God.
THINK ON THESE THINGS AND THE GOD OF PEACE WILL BE WITH YOU!!
“When we all get to heaven. What a day of rejoicing that will be.” E. E. Hewitt (1898)
Contemplating heaven can be a joyful experience. When considering heaven our thoughts often turn to a family reunion type atmosphere. A time when we will be reunited with loved ones and friends that have traveled before us.
Please consider what I often think about when focusing on the glory of heaven and being there with Jesus. I believe our thoughts will be focused on God the Father and Jesus our Savior. I believe that our loved ones and friends will actually be the farthest things from our minds.
You see I believe we will be worshipping Jesus, humbly bowing at His feet, and we will be totally focused on Him. Why? Because it is only by what He has done that we can even enjoy the glory of God.
“I heard every creature in heaven, on earth, under the earth, on the sea, and everything in them say,
Blessing and honor and glory and power be to the one seated on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever!”
Revelation 5:13 (CSB)
We will each be offering a fourfold doxology, blessing, honor, glory and might, to God and to the Lamb. Or as Philippians 2:9-11 puts it,
“For this reason God highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow —in heaven and on earth and under the earth —and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. “
Philippians 2:9-11 (CSB)
Every knee will be bowed and every tongue will be confessing Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. We won’t be running around seeking loved ones and friends. We won’t be lining up to ask all the questions we have. We won’t be worried about what tomorrow will hold. We won’t be considering which mansion is ours or what street will live on. No, We will be praising our God with blessing, honor, glory, and might.
We have to start living in the reality of God’s Word. Taking it seriously and believing what it says as pure, undefined truth. Stop chasing silly myths and made up thoughts of what we will be doing in heaven. We will be praising and worshiping our Savior.
Holy God you are the one
Who this morning rose the sun
Holy God you are the reason
We arise and celebrate the season
Holy god you are the protector
That always provides us an intercessor
Holy God you are the fountain
Sending us living water from the mountain
Holy God you are the face
That provides us with never ending grace
Holy God you are the forgiver
With grace upon grace flowing like a river
Holy God you are the one who saves
By your son Jesus whom you freely gave
Holy God you are to come and take us home
Where on glory’s streets we will with you roam
“Blessed are the poor in spirit. . . . Blessed are those who mourn. . . . Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake. . . . Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you.” Matthew 5:3-4, 10-11
Every day I am blessed. Not necessarily by physical provision, which is so overly abundant and often times burdensome, but by something that is much deeper and rewarding. You see earthly blessings are only temporary: they can all be taken away in an instant.
Job’s blessings all disappeared in one fateful day. We often have similar things happen in our lives that we view as blessings and then they are suddenly stripped away. Marriages dissolve, children rebel, health suddenly spirals downward, families fall apart, financial woes, shattered dreams.
It is in the midst of these painful events that even greater blessing comes. God blesses us with the richest blessings we could ever imagine. Stronger faith, deeper love, and a more intimate walk in His presence. You see when tragedy and trials strike we are grounded in our faith in ways that prosperity and abundance could never help us.
Don’t think I am crazy. Trials and tragedy are not blessings in themselves, but they are channels to blessing. Blessing is firmly established in Scripture. The Greek word translated blessed is makarioi, meaning to be fully satisfied. It refers to those receiving God’s favor. And that favor is not based on our circumstances.
Scripture clearly shows us that blessing is anything that God gives us that makes us fully satisfied in Him. Anything that draws us closer to Him, closer to Jesus. It is anything that causes us to release the temporary and grasp more tightly the eternal. In my life I have found that it is the trials, struggles, disappointments, and unfulfilled longings that enable me to do that.
Consider the following verses:
“Blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” Luke 11:28
“Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven.” Romans 4:7
“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial.” James 1:12
“Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on. . . . Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” Revelation 14:13, 19:9