Tag Archives: John Piper

When Your Beloved Pet is Diagnosed with Cancer…

Friends! It’s been several sad weeks here in the Hoagland household. Our beloved Gracie, our wire-haired fox terrier who was only 7 1/2 years old, got sick on Christmas Day and got worse and worse, week after week, until we discovered she had liver cancer and lymphoma. Only five days after that hard-to-believe diagnosis, we knew “it was time.” Beyond awful.

I know many of you have been thru’ this. One of our dear couple friends dropped off a new-to-us children’s book you need to know about: It’s called Dog Heaven by Cynthia Rylant.

The book is super sweet and we will enjoy sharing it with our grandchildren later while it helped comfort us immediately.  Additionally wonderful, our six children commissioned a super talented local artist to create a watercolor of our Gracie. What a keepsake.

Special thanks go to Taylor Grimm! Find her on Instagram at: Taylor_Leigh_Grimm

Since we’ve been empty nesters, Gracie has been our little shadow, going everywhere with us, especially my better half. We logged miles and miles a day walking with her, she chased a thousand and one squirrels, and was quite the mole hunter and conqueror.

Claire “calms” Gracie before bedtime…

Gracie perches over Poppy’s shoulder while he reads to Claire Bear.

Gracie’s favorite hangout, by the fire…

The Great Squirrel Hunter…

Thankfully, I remembered an invaluable resource we read years ago in book club: Heaven by Randy Alcorn. It’s a tome, and is seminary-worthy. Even tho’ we read it over the summer to discuss once we resumed in the fall, it was a little more than we bargained for.

We howled when the children’s version came out about the time of our meeting. However, the adult version is truly a resource readers can consult over and over for just about any topic you’d be interested in. (Try 12 sections, 46 chapters!)

Yes, there’s a chapter called, Will Animals, Including Our Pet’s, Live Again? You can bet I went to grab the book and reread this chapter.

Let’s read the first paragraph (Ch 40):

“Christ proclaims from his throne on the New Earth: ‘Behold I am making all things new’ (Revelation 21:5 ESV). It’s not just people who will be renewed but also the earth and ‘all things’ in it. Do ‘all things’ include animals? Yes. Horses, cats, dogs, deer, dolphins, and squirrels—as well as the inanimate creation—will be beneficiaries of Christ’s death and resurrection.”

Two well-known authors are also quoted in this chapter. First, let’s hear from Joni Erickson Tada from her book on Heaven:

And you all will LOVE to read this poem from none other than John Piper:

Randy Alcorn’s chapter on pets also includes answers to:

“How closely are animals tied to our resurrection?”

“Will extinct animals live on the new earth?”

“Will our pets be restored on the new earth?”

“Is it wrong to grieve a pet’s death?”

“What future is God planning for animals?”

“Might some animals talk?”

You can tell these are deep questions, Likewise goes the rest of the book. You’ll get to see and read Scripture after Scripture on animals (in this particular chapter) and see the wonder and the love the Lord gives us through our pets, ultimately created for God’s glory.

Already John and I’ve been asked the big question, “So, will you get another dog?”  To which, for today, I’ll answer “no.” We wish (!!!) to hold off until our future grandchildren arrive (two grandsons super soon, Lord willing!) and we see how much time we’d have to raise a puppy!?!

Meanwhile to those of you who’ve survived losing a pet, we’re with you. Gracie’s our third terrier and it gets much more difficult each time.

So, as Bob Hope would sing, Gracie, “Thanks for the memories…”

‘Til next time!


Filed under Book Reviews, Family, Grief, Life Lessons

Let’s Add a Side of Grace for Thanksgiving…(With help from author David Mathis—Part 2 of 2)

Friends!  Allow me to let you in on a little secret…Sometimes it’s the little things that help you persevere.  This one little gift helped me thru’ those challenging years of hosting Thanksgiving.

The gift?  The giver shall go unnamed, but I must share:

Believe it or not, in this pic I was attempting a new chili recipe, claiming to be “hot and spicy”.  Yes, well, it was sooo spicy we decided it was better off in the trash can than in a tupperware container for further punishment tomorrow.

Just let the apron’s petite phrase sink in for a minute.  I howl every time I read it, much less when I’m bold enough to wear it. It’s these little things that push us onward to maintain our sanity.

This week we’re having our close friends over for a Friendsgiving Feast.  We’re all super excited and no bad attitudes are in the forecast.  We’re all in fun seasons, some of us are becoming grandparents, some of the guys are retiring, and we wonder where the years have gone.

You can bet I’ll be sportin’ the apron.  The girls are all better cooks than I am, but it’s really not the food that’s so important, it’s our time together. 

Because of our growing families, finding time like this can be challenging.  We will savor every second. This will be a good warm-up for when we are with our families Thanksgiving Week.

For those of you who have extended family rolling in, maybe you’re a hair uneasy.  There’s that relative who crunches celery forty-seven times before picking up another stalk. (Not that I’ve ever counted.) Or maybe the grandmother who means well, but who says without fail, “Oh, you’ll be wanting to put more lipstick on.” Or my favorite, “I remember when…fill-in-the-blank.” And you want to crawl under the table.

Last week we got a good dose of grace to add to our Thanksgiving meal from Kyle Idleman. This week I’d like to share tidbits from a book our son, Gordy, told me about. It’s by David Mathis and is called Habits of Grace—Enjoying Jesus through the Spiritual Disciplines.

This book is so meaty, you’ll want to chew on it slowly.  It’s a resource I know I’ll return to often. Trust me, you’ll want to do the same.

David is an executive director at www.desiringGod.org, an adjunct professor with Bethlehem College and Seminary, and pastor for Cities Church in Minneapolis, MN. A pleasant addition to the book is the Foreword by John Piper.

Divided into three parts, we readers are taught how to:

Hear His Voice (The Word)

Have His Ear (Prayer) and

Belong to His Body (Fellowship)

I got a little tickled at Part 4, “The Coda” which includes The Commission, The Dollar, and the Clock, followed by the Epilogue entitled, “Communing with Christ on a Crazy Day.”  David keeps it real by recognizing some may have a newborn at home in which case finding time to practice these habits of grace may be next to impossible.  He offers additional ideas to grab snippets of grace, all of which make us all easier to live with. NOTE TO SELF…Ahemmmmm…

David’s habits of grace he teaches us readers are the best resource for us to live out 2 Peter 3:18, so that we may:

In the Intro’, David suggests an interesting concept, a la Zacchaeus, who positioned himself up in a tree along Jesus’ path, which transformed into a lovely path of grace. Jonathan Edwards said, “endeavor to promote spiritual appetites by laying yourself in the way of allurement.”

David explains:

(Thence these paths are ways of placing ourselves in the “way of allurement”, and that is a very good place to be…)

In other words, Bible study with friends is one of the best outlets to equip you, as well as a superb habit to get into, aiding you to grab onto God’s grace right in His path.

While there are twenty-one chapters in the book, chapters five and six are some of my favorites:  “Memorize the Mind of God” and “Resolve to be a Lifelong Learner”. They’re overflowing with excellent ideas.

David is a list person and a creative one at that.  A couple of examples from these two chapters, so as not to spoil the education for yourself, include: 5 Tips for Bible Memory, 10 Gospel Verses to Keep Warm, 12 Gospel Passages to Soak In and 5 Principles for Lifelong Learning. Those four sections alone could occupy your time for quite a while!  This is just a mere sampling.

While some of us groan at the thought of Scripture memorization, my guess is the same goes for the topic of fasting.  Yes, David touches on both topics, but I’m happy to report he offers different avenues to explore in both arenas which may change your mind, including benefits to further sway you.

David covers all bases, including another activity some of you love and some of you just can’t quite jump in, that of journaling.  He’s so persuasive:  “What if journaling wasn’t simply about recording the past, but preparing for the future? And what if, because of God’s grace in our past and his promises for our future, journaling were about deepening your joy in the present?”

Finally, don’t miss the chapter on “The Clock”—you’ll uncover some excellent “fruitful time management lessons” worth their weight in gold.  All of the chapters and vast amounts of grace habits would be beneficial to any reader, young or old, man or woman.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough—not just during our Thanksgiving season, but for the entire year.  There’s a study guide to go along with it as well which would make for a superb Bible study if you’re on the hunt for one.

Meanwhile, remember to mentally add that “side” of grace to your plate during Thanksgiving and smile.  (Grit your teeth if you have to!)

I pray you and your family have a most blessed, Happy Thanksgiving!

‘Til next time!



Comments Off on Let’s Add a Side of Grace for Thanksgiving…(With help from author David Mathis—Part 2 of 2)

Filed under Book Reviews

WORSHIP: A Window and a Weapon…Back-to-School Survival Tips for Us Adults (Part 2 of 4)

Anyone been in a “mood” lately? Seems Back-to-School-Scurry wreaks havoc with all of us, even if we don’t have a student to dress, drop off, or pick up. Remember the saying, “If Mamma Ain’t Happy, Ain’t Nobody Happy?” September simply screams for survival tactics.

Last week we focused on PRAYER with some survival ideas for you, your student, their teacher, and your family.

This week we’ll camp on something that can turn our moods around in a second: listening to music. Worship music has the power to turn all of our attitudes around.

Worship #2Recently, while watching a video of Matt Redman leading worship at the Passion Conference this year, I was struck by his vision of worship. He said, “Worship is like two things:

#1: It’s a WINDOW, that enables us to see God.


And #2: it’s a WEAPON which wards off the enemy.”

coat of arms medieval knight shield and crossed swords isolated

Consider these valuable visuals… I predict we all will have better attitudes, be better equipped and perhaps be a tad easier to get along with when we intentionally worship!!!

Before we get to a couple of songs, you MUST know God orchestrated quite a God-incident. Last Friday, I learned from my sister-in-law that her son-in-law, Chris Byrley, would be preaching at Throne of Grace Community Church. (www.throneofgracecc.org )

Naturally we wanted to go hear him. What do you s’pose his topic was? Yep: WORSHIP. “Worship and Beholding the Glory of God” from Isaiah 6:1-8. Do you love that? (I’ve had my four survival tips for y’all for September lined up for weeks. Worship being this very week’s topic!!!)

Chris delivered a superb sermon, walking us thru’ each verse, enlightening us on his well-chosen points which we could ALL relate to. He asked, “Do we truly behold God’s Glory or do we allow it to become too familiar, mundane, routine?” We were all nodding our heads…”Yes, we’ve all snuffed out the fire in our worship.”

Chris dubbed the below passage as “Biblical Lasik”….giving us better vision to behold the Lord of Hosts, who defines “Holy, Holy, Holy.”


In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty;
    the whole earth is full of his glory.”

At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.

“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”

6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”

And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”  Isaiah 6:1-8

One of many pearls Chris offered comes from John Piper:

“The fuel of worship is a true vision of the greatness of God;

the fire that makes the fuel burn white hot is the quickening of the Holy Spirit;

the furnace made alive and warm by

the flame of truth is our renewed spirit;

and the resulting heat of our affections is
Fire flames on black background background
powerful worship,
pushing its’ way out in
                                                     bowed heads,
                                                               lifted hands, and
                                                                                     obedient lives.”

I’d like to share with you just two of my favorite worship songs, along with some of the lyrics. They instantaneously bring a healing balm to our fragile hearts. My prayer is you’ll have a refreshed and renewed attitude after reading (and hopefully singing) these:

The first song is Come As You Are sung by David Crowder.

Read slowly and savor the lyrics to Come As You Are – (My comments are in parentheses.)

Come out of sadness
From wherever you’ve been
Come broken hearted
Let rescue begin (Don’t we ALL want to be rescued???)

Come find your mercy
Oh sinner come kneel
Earth has no sorrow
That heaven can’t heal

Earth has no sorrow
That Heaven can’t heal (There is NOTHING Heaven can’t heal. Don’t miss this repeated phrase!)

So lay down your burdens (Lay them down and LEAVE them at the Cross.)
Lay down your shame
All who are broken
Lift up your face (Yes, we can lift up our face no matter the situation.)

Oh Wanderer come home (Pray for all our prodigals to COME HOME.)
You’re not too far
Lay down your hurt
Lay down your heart
Come as you are
Come as you are (My favorite part! Come as you are…..

There’s hope for the hopeless (Hope!!! Don’t we ALL want hope??? Need hope???)

And all those who’ve strayed
Come sit at the table
Come taste the grace

There’s rest for the weary
Rest that endures (Rest for the weary that ENDURES!!!)

Earth has no sorrow
That heaven can’t cure”

The YouTube version with the lyrics is wonderful:

The second song is Oh God How I Need You sung by Matt Maher. This song kills me every single time. Read thru’ and savor these lyrics. (Again, I’ll comment in parentheses.)

“Lord, I come, I confess
Bowing here, I find my REST
Without You, I fall apart (We must recognize we do truly fall apart without Him.)
You’re the One that guides my heart


Lord, I NEED You
Oh, I need You
EVERY HOUR I need You (Every hour, every minute, every second we need Him.)
My one defense
My righteousness

Oh, God how I NEED You

Where sin runs deep
Your grace is more (Grace is more!)
Where grace is found, is where You are

Where You are, Lord I am free
Holiness is Christ in me

Yes, where You are, Lord I am free (Don’t miss this! We are FREE!!!)
Holiness is Christ in me

*(Refrain—see above)

Teach my song to rise to You
When temptation comes my way
And when I cannot stand I’ll fall on You
Jesus, You’re my hope and stay” (Yes, Jesus is our hope and stay. Amen.)

* (Refrain)

Now listen to it on YouTube:

Keep in mind these are just two of a multitude of worship songs to turn your mood around, helping you survive this back-to-school September. If you’re more prone to enjoy hymns (I love both contemporary and traditional), grab a copy of Rob Morgan’s Then Sings My Soul.


This past March, I did a three-part post on worship. (Yeah, sorta obsessed, but in a good way!!??!!) For more ideas on worship, please visit these LINKS:
Power Up Your Mornings with Worship”,
and “Transform Your Morning and Your Mood in Less than Ten Minutes”,
and “Mr. Music Please….Why We Mustn’t Argue Over Musical Styles of Worship”….

Now go hum a few bars….

Revel in God’s Glory.

Stay right here for the next two weeks when you’ll hear from some STELLAR authors on their take for two more tips on surviving September!

‘Til next time!


Filed under Book Reviews, Friends, Music, Scripture

Houston, We Have an Answer…Women of Faith’s Unwrap the Bible Conference Equips, Empowers and Encourages 11,000 Women!!! (Part One of Three)

“Ladies and Gentleman, this is your captain from the flight deck.  We’ve been cleared for landing in Houston.  Skies are fair, winds are light, and the local temperature is seventytwo degrees.”

Dashing off the plane, straight to our rental car, printed MapQuest in hand, (Lord have mercy on my co-piloting skills), my very brave friend hopped in the driver’s seat.  Deep breath and a sincere prayer to get us to our hotel, we were off.

Fearful Freeway Fretter that I am, you’ll be relieved to know my friend navigated those roads, dodging daredevil drivers, getting us to our hotel in no time. At one point, two lanes exited left, two lanes exited right and our one middle lane was exactly, and miraculously (!!!) where we needed to be.

Traffic jam in Los Angeles

You may be wondering how this all transpired:  My dear friend, mentor, and therapist (!!!), Liz Curtis Higgs, rang me up recently to tell me about a new, never-before-offered Women of Faith (WOF) conference.  WOF would be having five fabulous Bible teachers equip attendees to “Unwrap the Bible”.

Checkout the line-up:  Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, Sheila Walsh, Lisa Harper and Christine Caine.  Worship would be led by beautiful and super uber-talented Kari Jobe.

Liz, who is also a speaker for Women of Faith, wanted to go and support her Christian sisters and soak in the teaching for a change, being poured into, in lieu of also being on the line-up, pouring out.  After filling me in on the details, Liz said, “Would you like to go with me?”  My goodness gracious, would I ever!!!  (That was the invite of all invites, huh?!!!)

On Saturday, Liz and I found a great backdrop for a pic:

Eliz and Liz 2014

We flew down on Friday, February 21st, and back home late Saturday night the 22nd.  Our hotel was close to Lakewood Church, where the conference was held.  Eleven thousand women, plus a few brave men (including our pastor, Dave Stone and his wife, Beth) attended.


Parking was interesting.  Friday night, we wound up underground in one of the many garages.  I had to write down the color code, floor number, garage name, etc. just so we could find our way back.  Leaving a trail of bread crumbs, had we had a spare loaf (!!!) did cross our minds.

Being in the church/arena was wild.  I bet many of you have seen it on TV before.  It didn’t seem as big in real-life, altho’ eleven thousand women can make some noise!  Stop and think about 11,000 women opening God’s Word together.  Slice of Heaven…

Pictured left to right:    Victoria Osteen, Beth Moore, Liz Curtis Higgs, & Priscilla Shirer

Pictured left to right: Victoria Osteen, Beth Moore, Liz Curtis Higgs, & Priscilla Shirer

This picture was taken backstage Friday night.  Victoria opened the conference with a prayer and Beth was the first to teach.

You gotta know the bathrooms quit working Friday night due to a water main break in that area of Houston.  A  wee challenge.  (Pitiful pun intended.) Liz and I were beyond relieved to discover our hotel’s water was on and working upon our arrival that night!

Let’s get to the Bible teaching…

First up:  Beth Moore.  Each of the five teachers chose a woman from the Bible to teach on. Beth chose Hagar.  She was convinced Abraham’s wife, Sarai, must have had a case of spiritual amnesia since she orchestrated his having a child with Hagar.

Beth Moore Teaching

Beth walked us thru’ Genesis, Chapter 16, where Hagar flees after having had enough flack from Sarai, whom Beth dubs “Miss Mess”.  Hagar flees into the wilderness with her son and the Angel of the Lord finds them.  He asks her two questions we must ask ourselves in verse 8:  “Where have you come from and where are you going?”  Excellent points to ponder.

Strategic Journey

Beth further encouraged us by pointing out Hagar’s response to the Angel of the Lord.  In vs. 13, “She called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, You-Are-the-God-Who-Sees; Yes!  He saw me; and then I saw him!”  (ESV and MSG) No matter what season we’re in, God sees and hears each and every one of us.

Beth added, “There’s new grace in a new place for each and every one of us.”  Next time you wonder where you’re going, marinate on new grace in a new place…Isn’t that comforting?

One of Beth’s sweet staffers wrote an excellent post about this conference on the Living Proof blog, from February 26th.  Go to www.lproof.org and checkout the post as well as a cool pic of the church.

Next up was Lisa Harper.  She taught on “A Woman with a Disabling Spirit”, found in Luke 13: 10-17.  The woman was “so twisted and bent over with arthritis that she couldn’t even look up.  She had been afflicted with this for eighteen years.”  (MSG)

Lisa pointed out that while this woman had a physical disability, many times we are crippled or bent over with a mental one, or two, or twelve. She said, “Our view, when bent, is very limited.  We must be careful to not swallow the lies of the enemy.”

believing,trust in God, belief in the power of the lord and Jesu

Lisa pleaded with us, “Girls, Jesus does not want us to live a bent-over life.  He calls us to Him, as He did to this woman in Scripture, calling us to stand. “ We must make up our minds to stand tall and to stand firm.

Equipping us with numerous Scriptures, little did Lisa know three of them are my jump-off-the-page favorites:

2 Corinthians 1:24 – “Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, because it is by faith you stand firm.” (NIV)

Ephesians 6:13-15 – “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to standStand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.”  (NIV)

1 Peter 5:8-10 – “Be alert and of sober mind.  Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.  And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. “ (NIV)

Lisa’s empowering lesson reminds me of a book  which could apply to all of these teachers and to all of us. (A must-read for surviving the Christian life.) When the five teachers were brought together in a panel discussion led by Sheila Walsh, they were all asked how they have their quiet time as well as which book or books have helped them along the way.  I couldn’t write fast enough.  (I’ll share their answers with you in next week’s post.)

The book which they could deftly add a sequel to, is also from a panel discussion with six courageous contributors, each with decades of experience in walking with Jesus.  The book?   Stand: A Call for the Endurance of the Saints by John Piper and Justin Taylor.


The contributors?  Randy Alcorn, Jerry Bridges, John McArthur, John Piper, Helen Roseveare and Justin Taylor.  Each wrote a chapter in the book and their two-cents’ worth will blow you away.

All eleven of these great Bible teachers and writers say the same thing:  “The Lord is more precious to me the older I get.”   This was a quote from John Piper’s eighty-six year old Father.  Justin Taylor says, “One of the purposes of this book is to encourage you and equip you to truthfully write such a sentence—and mean it—in the final season of your life.”

Helen Roseveare admitted she’d like to change the subtitle of the book from “A Call for the Endurance of the Saints” to “A Call for the Perseverance of the Saints” creating the mental picture to “steadily go on, refusing to give up, no matter what comes.”

Each of the women in the Bible the WOF speakers chose do exactly this, all the while standing firm.  Join me next week  in Part 2, when we pick up with invaluable information from the girls’ panel discussion as well as pearls from Priscilla.  Part 3 will conclude with favorite quotes from Sheila and Christine, as well as tidbits from our lunch with an amazing bunch of women.  Tuck your toes under the table, as all these gals pack a punch!

Friday night’s farewell, led by Kari’s worship, had us using the flashlight app on our phones:

Arena with flashlights

Meanwhile, enjoy some fabulous music– from worship leader, Kari Jobe!  (www.karijobe.com )

‘Til next time!


Filed under Conferences, Friends, Travel

God Sees You When You Escape from a Monastery (Part 3 of 4: Do You Know Where God Is?)

The woefully weary minister reluctantly met with his doctor.  Guessing the doctor’s diagnosis,  his ears began shutting down.  Never mind his heart had shut down months before…

“Wayne, are you listening, buddy?”

An almost undetectable nod followed.

“This is in your best interest.  Best interest for your church.  Best interest for you and your health.  Best interest for your marriage.  Your church, can survive without you for a few months.”

“But who will take my place?  Who else knows how to run our church like me?  Who cares as much as I do?”  The all-about-me questions spewed forth like rain.

Doc answered sharply, “If you want to avoid a nervous breakdown, and you are very close to it right now, you must take a season to refill and recharge.  A sabbatical is no longer a suggestion.  This is mandatory.”

Wayne soon found himself registered for a retreat at a monastery.  As he drove up the long, winding hill, two and a half hours in the middle of nowhere, doubts hovered.  He forced himself to park his car.


He walked into the entryway.  Discovering several monks, he asked them where to register.  Funny, they didn’t answer him.  They didn’t talk at all.  Not one word.  One monk pointed to paper, the other to a map.  No talking.

Once in his cabin, Wayne also realized there were no phones, no TV, no wifi…Therefore, no checking email, no receiving texts, no voicemail, etc.  Only silence.

The monks did make some noise twice a day:  At five o’clock in the morning, they could be heard in the Chapel, singing psalms in Gregorian chants.  At five o’clock in the evening, they could be heard singing vespers.

The only time they used their voices, they were praising the Lord.  (Think about that for a minute…That very point stopped me cold.)

Day, after painful day while in the monastery, time crawled. Worse: No caffeine could be found anywhere.  By day three, Wayne’s eyes had been opened, but the pain was almost unbearable.

He was beginning to hear from God.  God was giving him a message. And he was slowly writing it down.

Yet, discontentment still gnawed at Wayne’s soul.  “If only I could escape, just for a few minutes…I’ve had enough of this place!” he told himself.

Mountains travel

Realizing the monks would be distracted while singing, Wayne made his escape during their praise time. He jumped in his car, and quickly drove to an internet café.  Ordering the biggest cup of coffee they had (!), he fired up his laptop, and placed a call to a friend.

Whispering, he informed his friend, “I’ve just escaped from the monastery!”

Can you imagine receiving such a phone call?  Can you hear God chuckling over Wayne’s efforts?

Yes, God saw Wayne escape from that monastery. And in His faithfulness, He softened Wayne’s heart, and taught him some lessons, we too, can learn.

After loading up on some of “the world” at the internet café, Wayne did in fact return to the monastery.  He finished out the week and savored the quiet.  Savored the sabbatical.  Studied God’s Word.  Filled legal pads.

Handwriting with broken pencil point on yellow pad

My husband, John, and I were blessed to hear Pastor Wayne Cordeiro, from New Hope Church in Hawaii (www.enewhope.org ), speak at the North American Christian Convention (NACC) a couple of weeks ago.  We could not take notes fast enough.  Very engaging, (the escape story was shared during his workshop) Wayne taught us how to care for our souls.

Wayne confessed to enduring “profound burnout, to the point of clinical depression.”   Years prior, he’d started a church which led to numerous church plants.  He wrote book, after book, after book.  He helped start a Bible college. He had a leadership role in every single endeavor he’d begun, squelching any ounce of free time.

He drew a huge picture of a cup.  Its’ contents were nearly at the top.  His point was, “We must be intentional about what fills our cup and what drains our cup.”

Cup with Levels

“If you keep draining your cup, physical consequences will take their toll on your body”:  an anxiety breakdown leads to an emotional breakdown which can lead to a full-blown nervous breakdown.

Wayne continued:  “Worse, these breakdowns eat up margin in our schedules.”  (Click here for more on Margins. If you want to read more from this 4-part series, click: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 4)  One thing Wayne  learned to do is before he ever writes down an event or commitment on his calendar, he builds in the rests first.  MARGIN…White space in your calendar, rest notes in music, room to breathe…


Music sheet


He reminded us that God will hold us accountable for what He’s gifted us specifically to do.  It equates to five percent of your life.  He said that eighty-five percent of what you do, anybody can do.  Ten percent of what you can do, someone can do with some training.

This leaves five percent of what you, and only you can do.  Therefore, concentrate on the last five percent.  This is where the health of your soul is.  Don’t miss what God has for you.

Wayne shared several lessons he learned from his week at the monastery.  (You can hear him, or see him, depending on your preference, by going to www.catapes.com. Christian Audio Tapes is the company who made cd’s and DVD’s from the NACC.)  I’ll share three of these with you.

First was the five percent lesson.  Wayne added an exercise for us to do, suggesting we do this with our spouses.  (It can have positive results for your marriage as well.) Make a list of what fills your cup and what drains your cup.

His examples of what fills his cup are: water sports on the ocean, reading, riding horses, riding his motorcycle, and Bible study. (Let’s hope the Bible study comes before the motorcycle riding.  I’m just sayin’…) Filling vs. draining equals your passions vs. your “I-dread-this” list…


John and I had a hey day with this little exercise.  The next morning he scooped up our perpetual-puppy, Gracie, and said, “Gracie FILLS my cup!”  To which I retorted, “Wonderful!  Gracie DRAINS my cup!”  Get the picture from that very bad example?!!!

Remember John Piper telling us we can’t be gloomy and glorify God at the same time?  See…”God is on the Golf Course…”    Same idea.

My favorite lesson Wayne taught us is:  Refuel daily.  Be disciplined in your devotions and Bible study/reading.

He added, “By diligent daily reading, you get to know the characters in the Bible.  There’s not one scenario you’re going thru’ or will go thru’ that one of the characters in the Bible hasn’t gone thru’ already.” They’ll become your friends, divine mentors, if you will.

Divine mentor

They leave you “crumbs” to find which are the key to your sanity.   Wayne built this case beautifully and ended it with:  “If you never visit them (the characters in the Bible), how can they possibly help you?”  (Go to:  www.lifejournal.cc  for help with daily devotions.)

Hebrews 4:12 reinforces this point:  “But the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword. It penetrates even to dividing soul and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

Finally, Wayne cited the second chapter of Mark,  where Jesus heals the paralyzed man.  He pointed out that the man had four friends to take him to Jesus.    Carol Kent calls these “stretcher bearers” and expounds on this concept in her compelling  book, When I Lay My Isaac Down.

When I Lay My Isaac Down

Wayne implored, “We must have friends who will take us to Jesus.” Friends who’ll take us out of harmful situations and place us in safe respites.  “No matter how sick you are, figuratively or literally, you must have friends who will care for you.  Close friends recognize your needs.”

Don’t “go it alone”…because God sees you, whether you’re escaping from a monastery (!), or just about your daily to-do’s.

Psalm 73:23 is a good reminder:  And, “yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand.”

‘Til next time!

(This week’s post is dedicated to Pastor Wayne Cordeiro.  What a bummer to “have to” minister in Hawaii!  Kidding…Thanks for coming to Louisville and teaching us from your heart.   Thrilled you discovered fried green tomatoes!!! Your honesty and lessons you learned during the hard times are pure pearls for us to live by.  Blessings to you and your family and your ministry!)



Filed under Book Reviews, Conferences, Life Lessons, Margin

God is on the Golf Course…(Part 2 of 4: Do You Know Where God Is?)

One sultry summer evening, a room full of hopeful parents gathered…

“Okay, folks! Listen up!  Here’s the schedule of our team’s matches and tournaments.  You’ll also see dates where it’s your turn to bring Gatorades, water, snacks, etc.

…Additionally, you’ll need to get a Parks’ Pass for your son.  Make sure the uniform shirts fit.  Someone please coordinate carpools for the ones who aren’t old enough to drive to these courses…”

The Golf Coach rattled on and on, and on, the information overflowing somewhere, no longer connecting in our brains, evaporating outside of them…

Remember the snake in Disney’s cartoon movie, The Jungle Book?  He had those scary, hypnotic, swirling eyes?  Such was the glazed-over look for us Moms of these boys on Christian Academy of Louisville’s High School Golf Team. The Dads were excited.  We Moms were already mentally managing schedules. Frantically filling in our calendars, thinking, “Oh boy….here we go…”


Golf season is fun, just busy.  Hard to adjust from a slow summer’s pace, to a several-match-per-week-during-the-school-year schedule. Especially if you have more than one child, you’re presented with more hurdles to jump.

Most sports are gearin’ up this time of year.  (This applies to you football and soccer moms, and any-other-team-sport or vocation mom.)  If you’ve got that schedule or schedules in hand, I’m praying right now you’ll have one of your best seasons yet.


Allow me to share with you a lesson I learned a few years ago:

God is on the golf course, (football or soccer field) and anywhere else you lookBut, you must look.

Walk with me for a few holes on Iroquois’ course…

Better than scorin’ an eagle on the golf course, several years ago God orchestrated a meeting of someone who’s become a dear friend and mentor in Phoenix, Arizona named Naomi Rhode.  Wise woman.

Gwen Paten, Jane Chilton, Elizabeth Hoagland, Naomi Rhode and her daughter Katherine Magnuson

Gwen Paten, Jane Chilton, Elizabeth Hoagland, Naomi Rhode and her daughter Katherine Magnuson

In one of her visits to Louisville, over lunch one day, Naomi could tell I was beyond frazzled.  She assessed my emotional health as if she could see into my soul.  She could tell I was simply going thru’ the motions, in a fog, and not enjoying much of anything.

This could parallel a slice into the woods. (Hunting for wayward golf balls is not a talent of this Golf  Mom.)

Getting me “out of the woods”, Naomi gave me a prescription.  “Read this book.  Do what it says.  Call me when you’re finished.”

The book?  Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ by John Piper.  It’s a small, almost pocket-sized paperback book, easily tote-able wherever you go.


Think an “even par” for a final score and you’ve got the essence of this book.  Think “seven under”, or “a miracle” (!), and you’ve now grasped and absorbed the aim of the book.

John Piper says, “The question I’m trying to answer is ‘Who is Jesus Christ’? “Seeing and savoring Jesus Christ is the most important seeing and savoring you will ever do.”

The aim of the book:  “…is that you see Him as solid truth and savor Him with great joy.”

Piper helps us see with the eyes of our hearts, with spiritual eyes.  Additionally, he helps us savor Jesus Christ as the treasure He is, one whom we cherish, admire, and prize.

Chest of treasure

All ten chapters are full of Scripture, pointing us to seeing and savoring Christ. Throughout the book, you’ll see how Piper, thru’ God’s Word, teaches and transforms us the readers, with Jesus as our role model.

My favorite chapter is called, “The Indestructible Joy—The Gladness of Christ”.  Jesus tell us, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:11 and 17:13)

Piper also has a sense of humor:  “It is not glorious to be gloomy.”  You’re not spreadin’ joy if you look like you have a weather system hovering over your head.


One of Piper’s best, most often seen quotes is:  “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.”  That fateful day at the lunch table with Naomi, it’s an easy guess I was gloomy, not glorifying the Lord in any way, shape, or fashion.

Piper adds Hebrews 12:2, “For the joy that was set before him he endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”  Therefore, joy in suffering…

The Apostle Paul tells us how“You become imitators…of the Lord, for you have received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit.” (I Thessalonians 1:6)


I’ve since given this book to countless friends.  It’s well worth your time. My copy actually has some of our middle son’s, Gordy’s, golf scores in it from that day I traipsed over the course at Iroquois, and later several other courses.

John Piper taught me to savor the fairways, the greens, the trees, and the time with Gordy, watching him master the game of golf.  Rather than groaning, which I confess I did more than once, God opened my eyes to my surroundings, and His presence, all thanks to Naomi’s wise counsel and Piper’s insight of seeing and savoring Christ.


Do I sometimes forget God’s always with us?  (Notice the bracelets the girls are wearing in the picture near the beginning with Naomi.  They’re engraved with  Matthew 28:20:  “And lo, I am with you always…”) Not to mention forgetting His many blessings He’s showered me and my family with?  Absolutely. But because of God’s grace and mercy, He keeps pursuing us.

One more favorite aspect of Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ is a prayer at the end of each chapter.  Here are a few pearls from the chapter on indestructible joy:

“Father, it is a great comfort to us that you and your Son are never glib and never gloomy.  We stand in wonder that the light of Jesus’ joy makes a rainbow in the tears on his face.  We want to be strong and unshakable in the joy of our faith.  O God, fulfill in us the purpose of your Son in promising that his joy would be in us and that our joy would be full.  Make the fruit of the Spirit—joy—flourish in our lives.  Waken our slumbering souls from the sleep of listlessness.  Take away the lukewarmness of our hearts.  Fan the flame of zeal for the glory of your name.  May Christ so dwell in our hearts with his indestructible joy that day by day we are conformed more and more to his glad image.  And so may we be a place of refuge and eternal refreshment for a hopeless, joy-seeking world of people who do not know they are starved for the glory of the gladness of God in Jesus Christ.  In His name we pray, amen.”   (You can learn more about John Piper by visiting his website at:  www.desiringgod.org )

 May we find God on the golf course, or any other sport or vocation your child may be practicing for,or if your children are out of the nest, may you find Him with you throughout your day,  along with JOY in Jesus Christ.

 ‘Til next time!

(This post has a two-fold dedication:  First, to our middle son, Gordy.  He’s still a great golfer today.  He’s all grown up, living in Lexington, working in commercial real estate, for Block and Lot Real Estate.  www.balrealestate.com He has the patience of Job which is what makes him such a great golfer.  He loves the Lord and spreads the Gospel wherever he goes.  Dad and I are so proud of you, Gordy!  God Bless you. See you soon!

Eliz and Gordy

Second:  To my dear friend and mentor, Naomi Rhode, whom I don’t see often enough, but in whom I find great joy.  I’m forever indebted, as are so many of us, for your dedicated, devoted, discipling discernment which you share with effervescent JOY!!!  Hurry back to Louisville!!!


Filed under Book Reviews, Family, Friends, Life Lessons, Scripture