23 January 2009

What Phil is doing

by Dan Phillips
— Be sure to read the UPDATE at the bottom of the post —
Phil said we could share with you:

Earlier this week Phil and Darlene went to be with Phil's parents in Oklahoma. His mother had been suffering from increasing pain, and was taken to the emergency room. They discovered cancer. It is in an advanced stage.

So Phil and family are caring for her, and seeing to it that she is kept comfortable and given all the loving care she needs as she prepares to depart and be with Christ, which is far better (Philippians 1:23). Donna knows the Lord, and is ready and eager to see His face. God's word is sustaining Phil. He is realizing the bittersweet nature of death for the Christian, how it can be that the death of His own is precious in the Lord's eyes (Psalm 116:15), and yet death is the "last enemy" (1 Corinthians 15:26). He wrote, "In the midst of this experience, I understand perfectly how death can be such a terrible enemy, and yet at the same time be precious for believers." Only God's word can give that insight and hope.

Frank and I had the great joy and privilege of meeting Phil's parents, Ray and Donna, when we joined him for the Founder's Conference in 2007. They spoiled us absolutely shamefully, fed us like sultans, treated us far better than we — total strangers — deserved, and were a sheer pleasure to be around. We saw instantly where Phil got his quick wit and sense of humor. Dear, good people.

I know he and Darlene — and Ray and Donna — will appreciate the prayers of their Christian family.

UPDATE: Phil just let me know that Donna Johnson now rejoices and beholds the face of her Savior, never again to know sorrow, or pain, or tears. Pray for her husband, and all those touched by her joyous heart, and now deprived of her for a time. We miss her, and we do grieve; but we do "not grieve as others do who have no hope" (1 Thessalonians 4:13).

Pastor Chris Anderson touched me abidingly in the way he spoke of a dear friend who was taken by cancer nearly two years ago, and I now say it of Donna Johnson: she battled cancer, valiantly and selflessly. This morning, Donna Johnson won the battle: the cancer is dead and Donna Johnson is alive forever, in the presence of the Lord whom she loved, proclaimed and served. She enjoyed gazing on Christ from afar, and now she is doing so face to face. Victory!


candy said...

The loss of my mother is still deep within...my husband and I will pray for you, Phil and Darlene. What a joy that you know that she will be with Jesus.

Thanks for sharing Dan.

FX Turk said...

This week is the first time I have had the sense to realize that I have fewer days left than I have already lived, and it has made me more grateful for the great bounty which God has given me of which, frankly, I deserve none.

Donna Johnson is a jewel; Dan's tribute to her hospitality, while ebullient, can't capture the real love she obviously was expressing while we were her guests. You had to be there.

When you pray about this today, thank God for his generousity for giving us Donna Johnson. Whether you know it or not, we would all be much less without her.

James Scott Bell said...


DJP said...

Absolutely right, Frank.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing Dan. Praying...

wordsmith said...

Those of us who have lost a parent due to cancer understand the emotions and mixed feelings that Phil no doubt is experiencing. We'll be praying for the Johnsons as they go through this period of mourning.

donsands said...

As ugly as death is, when we know our loved one's name is written in the book of Life, there's the underlying beauty of Christ's presence that our loved one will behold, and His presence is even here to comfort His beloved ones.

"Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!"

I'll be praying for Phil and his Dad, and family.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"This morning, Donna Johnson won the battle: the cancer is dead and Donna Johnson is alive forever, in the presence of the Lord whom she loved, proclaimed and served. She enjoyed gazing on Christ from afar, and now she is doing so face to face. Victory!"


Andrew said...

Our prayers are with Phil and his family during this time.

Kay said...

I just shared this with my eldest, who only discovered the facts about death this December just gone. The first thing she asked me was 'Did she love and trust Jesus?'. I'm so pleased I was able to say yes, and that my daughter has gone off to pray thankfully about another life well lived for Him.

Thoughts and prayers from all of us here.

Deb_B said...

We shall keep Phil and his family, most especially his father, near today in our thoughts and prayers.

Thank you for letting us know.

Matt Gumm said...

I read this excerpt from Richard Baxter at the funeral service for my grandpa a couple of weeks ago. Although it sounds like Mrs. Johnson wasn't "unserviceable" by any means, hopefully it still applies.

Yet your grief for the death of friends must be very different both in degree and kind.
1. For ungodly friends, you must grieve for their own sakes, because if they died such, they are lost for ever.
2. For your godly friends, you must mourn for the sake of yourselves and others, because God has removed such as were blessings to those about them.
3. For choice magistrates, and ministers, and other instruments of public good, your sorrow must be greater, because of the common loss and the judgment thereby inflicted on the world.
4. For old, tried Christians that have overcome the world and lived so long till age and weakness make them almost unserviceable to the church, and who groan to be unburdened and to be with Christ, your sorrow should be least and your joy and thanks for their happiness should be greatest.

Praying for you and your family, Phil.

Rob Peck said...

It is so beautiful to have hope. Phil I will be praying for you and your family. Praise God that we can rejoice in a time like this. Praise God for Christian parents and family. Gives me a renewed burden for my lost family too.

Peace and blessings

CR said...

Frank: When you pray about this today, thank God for his generousity for giving us Donna Johnson.

Will do.

JohnBrianMck said...

Thank you for the post. I rejoice and sorrow with the family.

Colloquist said...

Praising God for Donna and for her victory over cancer - and holding Ray and Phil and family before our Lord. Blessed assurance!

Like others have said here, cancer has taken too many of my beloved. May the Lord wrap Ray, Phil and all who mourn her loss in His comfort and peace.

Anonymous said...

Echoing my cousin Rabbit, we are praising God for Donna and all the women (and men) like her who are a testament to the sovereign grace of God.

May His steadfast faithfulness be a comfort to all the Johnson family as it has been to ours.

SolaMommy said...


Terry Rayburn said...

Wonderful testimony.

Praying for God's peace and comfort in this time of sweet sorrow.

WeightWatcherGoneKeto said...

It has been 25 years that we lost our mother to cancer, and I miss her now as much as I did 6 months after her death, when I was told I was pregnant. She would not be there with me to share in the glorious event and I did weep.
I recently became a grandmother and again, the pain and sting of not sharing this event with her hurts.
However, she is rejoicing in Heaven with our amazing Lord and Savior.
Mom, I miss you and will join you soon in glorifying our Lord in Heaven together.
Socorro Alaniz, praying for our Brother Phil and family.

Carl said...

Dear Phil,

My prayers and thoughts are with you and your family as you go through this. If it is any consolation I feel I know somewhat of what you are experiencing. It was only a little over 3 years ago in January of 2006 when my Daddy passed away of cancer. We had seen him only a few weeks prior feeling fine but soon afterwards started having problems which the Doctors couldn't diagnose. By the time they found out it was cancer it had already spread and they determined it was a very agressive form they could do nothing about. Two days after the diagnosis he died at home. I managed to be able to get there the day before he died and God blessed me by making him lucid (he was on full morphine for the pain and was drifting in and out of conciousness as well as halucinations) so I got to tell him I loved him and would miss him and he told me he loved me as well. Daddy never liked people making a fuss over him and he always like helping people so for his final wish, his body was donated to science and there was no funeral nor memorial service held. In some ways that's bittersweet for me. It felt like I had no closure and have no gravesite or memorial of which to remember but on the other hand I am proud that Daddy thought about others even unto death. I have since come to the realization that a funeral and memorials are just materials things while the memories I have are more lasting and are also God's blessing.

Phil, I want you to know that I feel for you and wish you and your family all the best and will be praying for you. May God bless.

Demian Farnworth said...

Thank you so much for sharing that. I lost my father to cancer and a step father to a rock climbing accident. In both cases I was with each man when they died. I have to say I was privileged. It was bitter, no doubt, but sweet at the same time. Thank you for your great words. I love to read your writing. It inspires me.

Marie said...

So sorry for your loss, Phil. Dan, thanks for the reminder and the eternal perspective. Praying for the Johnson family's peace.

Rachael Starke said...

I have yet to lose a parent, but I lost a dear spiritual father and mentor to cancer ten years ago. When I saw him for the last time several months before he died, I was devastated by what cancer had done to his body, and yet so struck by how serene and beautiful the countenance inside it was as he waited with such joy to see Jesus. It was such a helpful reminder that this earthly body truly does not define what we are, and it is a blessing to be freed of it.

The other thing that stays with me to this day is that the moment my friend entered Jesus' presence, he had the answer to every question I, and even he, had about what Jesus is like. Each time after his homegoing I would have a question about God or his church and then remember that he wasn't here anymore to help me, I was struck with a tremendous pang of envy, that he knew the answer, and that he couldn't tell me. It gave me one more reason to long to be in heaven. It truly is far better.

Praying for your and your family, Phil, and praising God for her legacy, which includes a son who does so much for God's Kingdom, including all the writing and fellowship we enjoy here.

Chad V. said...

Sorry to hear of your loss Phil. We are more than conquerors in Christ. Death, where is thy victory?

Stefan Ewing said...

Matt Gumm's quote from Richard Baxter reminded me of something:

Senior believers are God's greatest blessing upon the church. I'm sure Donna was a blessing to everyone she knew throughout the course of her earthly life.

Grace and peace to Phil, his father, and their families and friends.

Pedro said...

Praying for Phil and Family.
Soli Deo Gloria.

J. Ed Komoszewski said...

May he who raised our Lord Jesus from the dead strengthen, comfort, and encourage the family during this bitter-sweet time.

Aaron said...

Death is'nt hard on the beliver who dies it's hard on the people who are left behind. I know whne I grandmother died I was not sad for her in theleast she wenttogodbe with The Lord soI was not sad to see herpass sure ithurtsyou want yourlovedoneback butthat's just the mourning process. To know that theoneyouloved is at peace and with Godis a greater comfert thne I could ever imagine.

DJP said...

Rachael...praising God for her legacy, which includes a son who does so much for God's Kingdom, including all the writing and fellowship we enjoy here

I was just thinking along those lines on my lunchtime walk, Rachael. If I died seeing in my sons the caliber of a Phil Johnson, that would add to the joy I'd take with me.

Ron (aka RealityCheck) said...

My mother died just a few years ago. She was not only a great mom but my best friend. She was right at the end of cancer treatment when her weakened immune system allowed an infection to ultimately take her life. Just as our hopes were coming up, they were smashed. I miss her everyday and the only thing that makes her loss tolerable is that I know she is with Jesus and that some day I will be as well. I’m sorry for your loss, but thank God your mom was saved! I’ll be praying for you and your family.

"She enjoyed gazing on Christ from afar, and now she is doing so face to face"

Face to face... wow... just imagine!

GrammaMack said...

Mourning and rejoicing with you.

Kim from Hiraeth said...

My thoughts and prayers are with the whole family today.

Unknown said...

Praying for the Johnson family.

Anonymous said...

Praying for Phil and family. I understand, as my dad died unexpectedly a little over a year ago.

SK said...

My prayers are with you and your family, Phil.

Mike Westfall said...

Condolences to, and prayers for the Johnson family.

Rebecca Stark said...

Praying for you both, Phil and Darlene, as you go through the next days and do all that arranging stuff.

I'm glad that she didn't have to suffer long. And glad that you'll get to see her in heaven.

But sorry, too, for your loss.

threegirldad said...

May God in His mercy continue to comfort you and hold you up.

Carl said...

All of these uplifting reminders of the promise of God gave me a thought. I hope it's not taken as being flippant but I was wondering...when we are in Christ's presense and He with us after we leave this world, I wonder if He will be participating in activities with us we found enjoyable on Earth. Like fishing or bike riding or flag football. Or will it be solemn, somber and elegant like a lot of visual paintings, etc. show? Please forgive me for bringing this up but it's a thought I have from time to time and the wonderful comments here brought it to my mind again. The Scriptures give some description in Revelation of what it will be like but not great details of activities other than there will be no death, no sorrow, etc. So I figure it is possible that a lot of joyful activities would be enjoyed there, too.

If I offend for bringing this up, please forgive me.

Anonymous said...


I would say the most joyful activity we can undertake is to give God glory. In Revelation, it has us singing to the Savior...have you ever been "in the moment", singing a great hymn of praise (an old one!) with a congregation that just LOVES Christ? You just don't want it to end? Like...you could stay right there, say, forever? Just think, that feeling on this fallen world - now, take that and - glory!!! - think of being in front of the King of Kings...right there!...and singing directly to Him!

Enough for me...but I bet there's even more!

Why don't people want this? Surely they just don't understand...

Eddie Eddings said...

I am praying also. You have a great many who love you and will support you and your family at this time with their prayers.

Carl said...

bigbridge, I'm sure you're right, I guess my limited brain just cannot fully comprehend something that wondrous.

lee n. field said...

You're not alone.

My own mother died a bit over a year ago, after a swift decline due to a chronic condition. And now nothing's the same again.

"Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power"

Solameanie said...

We are praying for Phil and his family. Praise God for the certainty of the Resurrection.

JustJan said...

Praying for family and friends. Thanks for sharing this.

Boerseuntjie said...

Beloved family in the grace of our LORD Christ Jesus;

Your pain is ours, your confidence secured in Him, whom we trust and our Hope is established for eterinty in the Sinless Presence and Glory of our Almighty High YAHWEH.

Looking forward to perfected sinless fellowship with you all in the Kingdom of Zion.

May your strength be renewed and your tears be connected intamately with the joy of our Great Victorious King and High Priest,

With much love, condolences and hopeful joy in prayers,

Nathan W. Bingham said...

Phil, you and your family are in our prayers.

Anonymous said...


Like so many others, I am thankful for the impact a woman I have never yet met has had on me as I've read your words on my screen.

I'm so sorry for your loss and at the same time, thankful that you will be reunited with her one day. I wish everyone had that hope.

In Our Saviour's blessed name.


Susan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Susan said...

Prayed for you, Phil and Darlene. Also prayed for Phil's dad.

Victory indeed for Donna. I thank the Lord that He took her relatively quickly so that she didn't "oversuffer" from the physical pain. And yes, she'll never have to worry about cancer ever again!!! :)

Phil, may the Lord continuously uphold and succor you, your dad, Darlene, and the rest of your family during this difficult time.

Jeff said...

Phil, I am praying for you. My own mother is about to behold her Savior's face. She is in the hospital now after suffering a heart attack and a stroke. My heart has been thinking of Heaven and the goodness of our Father in Heaven. My love for God has grown a hundred fold in this period. My mother was been disabled since 1993 due to aneurysm. I think she has had two or three brain surgeries. A stroke in 01. I have learned much from both parents. From my dad his faithfulness in poor health to my mother, all the while he continued to be a faithful pastor to the sheep place in his care.

Gilbert said...


My condolences and my prayers are with you and your family, and my praise is to Jesus for a mom who gave her life to His service. But I rejoice that her story has indeed ended in victory!

Gilbert said...

After I posted the previous, I thought of this. In all of this, Phil, in your sorrow and joy, the following is most certainly true.


Oh the deep, deep love.
The love of Jesus;
The deep, deep love.

O the deep, deep love of Jesus,
Vast, unmeasured, boundless, free!
Rolling as a mighty ocean,
In its fullness over me;
Underneath me, all around me,
Is the current of Thy love;
Leading onward, leading homeward,
To my glorious rest above.

Oh the deep, deep love.
The love of Jesus;
The deep, deep love.

O the deep, deep love of Jesus,
Love of ev'ry love the best!
Tis an ocean vast of blessing,
Tis a haven sweet of rest.
O the deep, deep love of Jesus,
Tis a heav'n of heav'ns to me;
And it lifts me up to glory,
For it lifts me up to Thee.

Oh the deep, deep love.
The love of Jesus;
The deep, deep love.

Penned by Samuel Francis;
Music by Thomas Williams in 1890.

Anonymous said...

My prayers are with you all tonight.



Kent Brandenburg said...

Sorry about your mom, Phil. If it were my mom, I would be very sad about that. I'm glad to hear she's saved. Amen for that. Nothing better.

Anonymous said...

Phil, you and your family are in my prayers here in Romania. God bless you!

Janet said...

Thinking of you and praying.

I'm sorry for your loss but rejoicing in her gain.


candy said...

We have been praying for comfort. God bless.

Steve Scott said...

May God give you comfort... and especially a time of fond memories.

John Owen Butler said...

Phil, I share that grief with you; my mother lost her battle with cancer this week and gained the nearer presence of our Lord Jesus. God gave great unction as I preached Christ's resurrection (and ours in Him), this past Thursday. May He give you that peace that passes all understanding, and give you grace upon grace.

Your brother in His triumphs and praises, and His tender mecies,

John Owen Butler

Bruce Mills said...

Praying for you, your dad, and all your family...

Connie said...

My deepest sympathy, Phil.

Timotheos said...

My prayers are with you, at this time.

Jay said...

Praise the Lord - Death has lost it's sting.

I will be praying for Phil and family at this tremendously difficult time.

Camp Director said...

Deepest sympathy and condolences on the loss of your mother.

Rick Potter said...

Our prayers will be continual and fervent for your family. This is so close to our hearts due to recent events. Thank you for everything you do and have done!

Rick & Pep