Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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Dannah Gresh: These days we hear a lot about death, which leaves us with a choice to make. Donna Avant explains.

Donna Avant: If we choose to, we have hope. We must not only live that hope, we’ve got to every day practically live out that hope.

Dannah: This is the Revive Our Hearts podcast with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, co-author of You Can Trust God to Write Your Story, for May 19, 2021. I’m Dannah Gresh.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Death isn’t something we like talking about, but if we’re honest, we do think about it. I know a lot of moms are afraid of losing a child to death. Over the past year or so, the constant news about the pandemic has kept the topic uppermost in our minds. In fact, I think it would be safe to say that most of us know someone who has died as a result of COVID.

And as we get older, we start to think about it more, to wonder when and how we’ll die. In fact, when Robert was diagnosed with cancer just a little over a year ago, I can tell you we had some conversations and thinking about, Would this be his time? Would we soon be planning a funeral?

Well, yesterday on Revive Our Hearts, John and Donna Avant spoke with Erin Davis about how Christians can grow in our understanding of death. And beyond that, they reminded us of the hope that we have because of the resurrection of Jesus who defeated death.

It’s a sobering topic, but it was a super-encouraging program. So if you missed it, I hope you’ll find it in your podcast feed or

John and Donna help head up many of the outreach efforts of Life Action Ministries, and before that John served as a pastor for many years. So they have a lot of experience comforting the grieving and spurring others on to trust the Lord when it comes to matters of life and death.

Today we’re going to listen to part two of this conversation on how we can hope in the face of death. Here’s Erin Davis along with John and Donna Avant.

Erin Davis: Welcome John and Donna Avant.

Donna: We’re so glad to be here.

John Avant: Yes we are.

Erin: Well, Donna, death can be a painful topic. It can be hard to talk about, even harder to live through. Before we really jump, I’d love it if you would just pray for the woman listening on the other side of this broadcast, that the Lord would really speak to her, comfort her as she’s listening.

Donna: Father, we just come to You, and we thank You that we have Your Word, and it speaks to us strongly about this topic of death and dying. And, Father, we don’t have to try harder to not be afraid. We don’t have to look to anything else but You, Your Spirit, and the Word to find comfort and peace.

Father, I pray as we talk about this, that this would not be fearful, but that it would bring hope and joy and peace and a practicality on: How do we live our life and not live in fear when it comes to death and dying? In Your precious name we pray, amen.

Erin: Amen!

Well, I want us to jump into 1 Corinthians 15. This whole chapter is about the resurrection—and I don’t want to talk about death without talking about the resurrection. I think the Corinthians must have had some questions about death, because Paul writes a lot about it.

So, Donna, would you read us 1 Corinthians 15:54–55?


When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with the immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, where is your victory? Where, O death, where is your sting?" The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the Law; but thanks be to God, who has given us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, [I’m going to go on to 58.]

Erin: Good! We need the “therefore.”

Donna: Therefore—that connection word! 

Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain (vv. 54–58 NASB).

Erin: I love that you kept reading. You know this trick: What is the therefore there for?

What do you think the connecting points are between death and victory, which, frankly seems like strange bedfellows, and standing firm?

Donna: I think it’s such a connection. I love that we saw this, because death is and can be scary, but it’s not the final word. The most important thing about not fearing death is living our life.

I love that Paul tells the Corinthian Church: stand firm. Don’t let anything move you. Politics, the pandemic, the violence going on—don’t let anything move you. Remember why I [God] have placed you on this planet, and always give yourself fully to what I’ve called you to.

And to me, that’s practical. We can talk theology, we can talk thoughts, but practically, Paul is saying: Stop! Jesus has conquered death. I want you to live your life, and I want you to know that what you’re doing in Jesus’ name is not in vain. Don’t be moved. Keep on going. Get out of bed every day. Look to Me, and take one step in serving Me.

Erin: I need that reminder every day. I think we all do.

Donna: We do.

Erin: John, you’ve been a pastor for many years. I’m going to ask you to think like a pastor for a minute because I take my hard questions about Scripture to my pastor. I’m taking this one to you. This verse says, “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” as if, “Oh, it’s gone!” Where has it gone?

But there’s so much death. When I go to church on Sunday mornings right now, I hang my head when we get to the prayer list because there are so many sick saints. There are so many funerals.

And it doesn’t seem to me like, “O, death, where is your sting? O, death, where is your victory?” It feels to me like death stings. Death’s winning.

So what is this passage saying to us?

John: Yes. Well, it’s important that he’s not saying that death is no more or that death is gone. That is yet to come. But he actually, theologically, answers the question for us in verse 56. He says the sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.

And so when we think about what we believe, if we don’t believe this, then nothing we’re talking about really is valid for our listeners. If we don’t believe that Jesus is the only way to life after death, and life now before death even, then none of this matters.

But if that is all true, what we believe, then Jesus has taken away what actually gives death its sting.

If you’re listening and for some reason you’re not a Christian, you don’t believe in Jesus, how would you feel about death if you knew with 1,000% certainty that the second you breathed your last breath you would enter into the greatest moment you could ever imagine, and you can’t imagine it. It’s 1,000 times greater than you would ever imagine it. It’s not that time goes on forever—we might get bored then—it’s that there is no time.

If you knew that was going to happen, that you would never weep again, that there would be nothing that would ever cause you tears again. But you would have life forever, full of purpose and mission and passion and joy. Then death would be real, but it wouldn’t have much of a sting. And this Scripture says that that has happened, that that sting has been taken away.

Now, what’s really cool is we don’t have to say, “Wouldn’t that be nice if we could really live that way!” That’s the way God’s people, at their best, have lived throughout history.

And something that shocks people, and it’s been a part of my doctrinal study, and it seems now some of those things didn’t seem to matter much when I studied then, but now it seems pretty cool. We studied the global pandemics. We were studying the great spiritual movements and the great spiritual awakenings and the growth of Christianity itself.

And what we found was the two greatest periods of growth, the growth of Christianity, have been during and just after global pandemics. We won the Roman Empire through global pandemics. How is that possible? Well, we have the writings that show us exactly what was happening.

During one of the early pandemics, 5,000 a day were dying in Rome. I’m not even going into the details of the disease. We have no idea what it was. It appeared to have been some sort of an airborne Ebola—that’s what scientists think—but it was horrific. It made the Coronavirus look like a sneeze. It was horrible, horrible, horrible.

And Dionysius, the lead pastor of North Africa, declared a festival. Let me read it in his own words. He said, 

Other people would not think this a time of festival.

 You think?!—those are my words, not his! You think? What is he talking about—a party? 5,000 a day are dying! He said, 

Even so, so far from being a time of distress, this is a time for us of unimaginable joy. Many terrible things have happened to us even before this. First we were set upon and surrounded by persecutors and murders. Yet we were the only ones to have a festival even then. Every spot where we were attacked became for us a place of celebration whether field, desert, ship, or prison. So yet again, we find our joy and the peace which Christ has given to us alone.

And so what believers were saying is, “This is our chance. This is our opportunity. There’s no way to be joyful in the midst of death unless this is real what we believe that Jesus has come, and He’s conquered death, and that the sting is gone.”

So they went out, and they ministered to the sick. They adopted orphans whom the Romans had thrown into the gutters to die. They cared for their own. If I had time, I could read paragraph after paragraph of Dionysius and Cyprian and others writing about how they loved and cared for hurting people.

Cyprian said, 

It’s not enough that we did it for each other. Anybody would do that for those you love. But because of the Spirit of God in us, we did it for those who hated us and persecuted us.

Now, there’s the sting of death gone. That is real for us today if we’ll be the Church, if we’ll live as, not as observers of Jesus, but as followers of Jesus. We have the same power in this culture of death.

Erin: I have to tell you, I’ve been grieved. I’m not pointing fingers. I’m as much a part of it as anybody else. But I’ve been grieved that those of us who are in Christ have talked about the COVID Pandemic the same way those who are not in Christ have—with no more hope, no less fear, no more action. (I’m inspired by stories of our brothers and sisters who have done it better.) But I think it’s probably because we still feel the sting of death, or we think we still feel the sting of death.

John: Yes. One of my big concerns about COVID has been the “safety-first” culture that has developed in the Church. Now, listen, I’m not getting into politics or who’s right or wrong about all of this—in fact that seems to me to have been a colossal waste of time for God’s people. But we can’t follow Jesus if safety is our first priority. Absolutely, we should do our best to be safe and protect ourselves and others, but Jesus called us to take up a cross and follow Him. And there are no safe crosses.

So I think we have, in many ways, simply acted like and reflected like the world’s thinking: “How are we going to be safe? How are we going to keep others safe?” That’s an important question, but it’s not the ultimate question. The ultimate question should be: “We have a King. This is His kingdom. He’s not out of control. So how do we follow our King right now? He is out seeking to save the lost. How do we join Him in that in these moments?”

So our approach to death, to COVID, has to be no less than the New Testament heart of the Church, which is always missional, always going after Jesus. Whatever happens, the gospel and the kingdom has to be first.

That’s been true overseas in the persecuted Church, in the Church in the midst of revival today. We’re in great need of that, especially in the Church of America. It seems like we’ve lost a little bit.

Donna: What John is talking about was really brought to life to me about three years ago, right before we came on staff at Life Action. We had gone overseas to meet with a group of believers who had gone from one country into another. They’d come over a border to go into this country to have a retreat. This country wasn’t as strict on their religious beliefs and stuff.

So this group of believers came over. I was with the women, and the women laughed, had a lot of joy. But when I started hearing their stories, I couldn’t make a connection, because every single one of these women had lost somebody that they had loved to terrorism—a brother, a father, an uncle. Some male relative of theirs had been killed at the hand of terrorists for their faith—simply for their faith.

And when I asked them, I said through the interpreter, “You don’t have to go back. You could probably stay in this country as refugees. Why would you go back?”

Their answer to me was just astounding: “Miss Donna, how can we not go back? There are people there that we need to shepherd, people who have just come to know Christ that we must disciple. There are people every day coming to know Christ.”

They were going back knowing there would be more death. In this country, believers haven’t lived like that. They truly have a great theology of death, and they lived out their theology in their actions. It just amazed me to see their joy and their peace and their love. Now, every once in a while I would see tears, but you would never characterize them as living in anxiety and depression and sadness.

Erin: That’s people for whom they understand that death has lost its sting.

You know, it’s not just Christians who die. Everybody dies. And it’s not just Christians who have a set of beliefs or thinking about death. There are other faiths who think death operates a certain way or the afterlife operates a certain way.

There are people who think, When I die, I just cease to exist. Now, that doesn’t sound very happy, but it isn’t associated with punishment.

There other people who think differently than we do about death. What is unique to the Christ follower about our understanding of death, Donna?

Donna: We have hope. All through God’s Word He says there is hope.

In 1 Thessalonians 4, Paul is saying, “I want you to not be ignorant, brothers. I want you to understand what death is about. And there is hope that comes.” (see v. 13)

I think we have the hope that knowing we will spend eternity with our heavenly Father. And I think we must not only live that hope but every day to see what Jesus really is in our lives. I think that’s the problem. We’ve got to every day, practically live out that hope.

John: I also think grace is a huge distinctive for us in our faith. Every other religion, basically, their belief in the afterlife is determined by what they do. Our theology of death becomes a theology of resurrection that is determined by what He does. And, man, that is the giant, giant distinctive.

Lots of religions say, “You’re going to have a good life, when you die, in heaven.” That’s not unusual. But then they all say, “But you better do this and this and keep these rules.” But ours says, “No. The sting of the law is that we can’t keep it. We can’t do it.”

Erin: You would and should be afraid of death if it’s up to us.

John: Exactly! And so grace, grace, grace—you have to put grace all over everything with our theology of death and resurrection, or it’s not a Christian view.

Erin: But I think if we’re going to have a whole conversation about death and the sting of death, there is a sting of death for those who are outside of Christ.

John: Yes.

Erin: And it’s a terrible sting. It’s not a bee sting. It’s a terrible sting of death. And that needs to be a part of our theology of death.

I have a really good friend. She’s a wonderful mom. She loves the Lord. She’s in ministry. She said to me recently, “I just realized I never taught my kids about hell. I just never taught them about it. It was uncomfortable. We talked about heaven a lot. We talked about Jesus a lot. We talked about the Bible a lot. But I just never talked to them about it because it was uncomfortable.”

I think that can speak as much to our theology of death as some of these other things that we’re talking about. Right?

John: Yes. And interestingly enough, in that part of the world, when they would have thought of the worst thing, they wouldn’t have thought of a bee. To this day, in that part of the world, they have the yellow fat-tailed scorpion. That’s what it’s called. And if it stings you, you will very possibly die. It was terrifying that the sting of that was creating anxiety and fear and terror. You couldn’t sleep outside at night without the thought that you could very well die in your sleep.

For us, the sting of anxiety, uncertainty, of all of it, and, again, of having to work our way to heaven, which we know instinctively we can’t do . . . that sting can never hurt us. That’s very distinctive in the Christian faith.

Erin: Donna, there’s a passage in 1 Thessalonians where Paul, again, gives us so much good theology of death. He urges Christ followers not to grieve in the same way as those who don’t have hope. He doesn’t say, “Don’t grieve.” We’re going to grieve. Life is very painful. But he’s saying, “People of God, don’t grieve in the same way as those who don’t have the hope of Christ.”

So I want to know, I need to know, what does hope-filled grief look like?

Donna: I think hope-filled grief looks like my friend Cindy who lost her son when he was sixteen. He was killed in a terrible car accident. Cindy walks her faith in such a remarkable way. She lives out her faith by loving on people who have lost children.

She talks about her son as if she will see him again. She knows she will see him again. She uses the sadness and the grief that she experienced to enable others to know Jesus and to realize that there is hope.

To lose a child probably, I think, is one of the hardest things a mother can even imagine. And yet, here is a mother that has used a terrible thing in her life to bring so many people to know Christ, to walk in a hope-filled life. It’s just remarkable. When I think of that picture, that’s what I think of.

Erin: Have you seen her shed tears over that lost boy?

Donna: Oh, yes. Yes. She will talk about him. I love to listen to her talk about him because I get to know him, because I did not know him. But to see her walk out her faith is just a remarkable thing.

But, yes, there will be tears. Tears aren’t a sin. Tears without hope, that’s a sad thing. It’s like you said: A person that has no hope, that is a sad thing.

John: These are our mentors in many ways. Gary Witherall. His wife was murdered by Al-Qaeda, his first wife. He was talking about the fact that he has never stopped grieving. He said, 

I think American Christianity has a real problem in thinking that the goal is to stop grieving, the goal is to fix the pain. When we do that, we miss what God is trying to teach us in the midst of it. For instance, the highest form of praise is lament. When we’re praising Him in our grief, there is much deeper praise.

That’s had me thinking quite a bit. Gary and Cynthia, his current wife, children, incredible ministry . . . if you just met Gary, you’d think, “This is the most joyful person you’ve ever met.” But he said, 

I grieve every day. I live every day with the crushing pain of a murdered wife. But that is God as well. God is in that. He’s not trying to end that in this life. He’s in it, and He wants me to meet Him in it and walk with Him in it. When I walk with Jesus in the pain, that’s when I’m truly walking with Jesus because He bore pain. So why would we want everything to be fixed when there’s something even better than that?

I think, to answer your question, too, specifically: What does this hope-filled grieving look like? One of our favorite stories just happened very recently. We were finishing a Life Action conference in a church in Louisiana. God had just moved in such a beautiful, wonderful way.

There was a woman who came to speak to me. She was, like, “I want to see revival. I want to see God move in power. I can’t wait to see what God’s going to do in this church.” She was so excited, so moved. And then she walked away.

The pastor was standing there with me. I looked at him, and he’s got big tears in his eyes. And he said, “I need to tell you something about that woman.”

I said, “What?”

He said, “I’m going straight from here to do the funeral of her son.”

I was just stunned. Now, there is a woman who is grieving with hope and grieving with joy.

Erin: That’s a picture of hope-filled grief for sure.

Well, before we say goodbye, I want to get practical. In the Scripture, King Solomon said, “It’s better to go to a house of mourning than a house of feasting” (Eccl. 7:2). Going to more funerals than festivals—that’s certainly sobering. But other than just going to a bunch of funerals, are there some practical ways that we live out, we walk out this right theology of life, death, resurrection, hope that we’ve been talking about together?

Donna: I think that’s one of the things that’s bothered me the most during the pandemic. I want to do something. I want to have my life be lived out, representing faith and representing life. And yet, during the pandemic, we’re all so cloistered.

One of the prayers that I had during this time to keep me focused was, “Lord, just use me somehow. I just want to see You at work.”

I’ll never forget . . . one day I prayed that in the morning, and I was making some phone calls to deal with a bill situation. You know, nobody likes to deal with that.

Erin: I don’t.

Donna: I got a hold of this lady on the phone and was talking to her. And all of a sudden I could tell she was tearing up. And I said, “Ma’am, are you okay?”

She just goes in and she begins to cry and to tell me about this situation with her kindergartener. I heard the Lord say, “Stop. Pray for her.” And I just said, “Ma’am, I don’t know what your faith is, but I’m a follower of Jesus Christ. Could I pray for you?” 

And she said, “Oh, please do!” And I prayed over her.

I got off, and I said, “Lord, if that’s all I did today was pray for somebody . . .”

I think a couple of things that the Lord has shown me the last year big time is to listen to people. If I see somebody emotional, if I see somebody sad, stop and say, “Are you okay?” And to listen. Just listen to their story. I think that is a huge thing. “What is your story? What’s going on in your life?”

Number two is to say, “May I pray over you?” Whether they’re a believer or not, to pray over them. One of the things I regret that day was, I didn’t get any follow-up contact information from her and then follow up.

But I think, practically, look to see where God’s at work. That’s the saying that we’ve heard from Henry Blackaby from years ago. Look to see where God’s at work and join Him.

And I think in the pandemic, if every day, whenever we get up, “Lord, show Me where You’re at work today and how I can join You.”

Erin: Well, He’s a work in people’s fear of death. There’s opportunity there.

Donna: That’s exactly right.

Erin: And what you were saying, John, we have this belief that grief is something that we’re supposed to get through. If I don’t expedite other people’s grief, that’s speaking something about my theology of life and death. It’s not something I want to shove them through quickly or rush them past or make them get over and put on a happy face. Then I’m believing that they can be sad in this life but still have hope. I don’t have to feel as threatened by it.

I do think we’re in a moment where we have an opportunity to be like those brothers and sisters of ours in South Africa. I saw it recently. You all have told some beautiful stories. This is a woman in my own church.

She’s in her early twenties. She’s a beautiful college student, and she has a tumor in her brain—literally, an agent of death at work in her brain. She leads worship in our church. And she sings with her whole heart. If you get a chance to talk to her, she’s going to want to talk about what God is doing and how God is at work. If you ask her how you can pray for her, she’ll tell you, “Pray that Christ be glorified by the agent of death in my brain.”

She’s so inspiring to me. She’s so ministering to me. Like, what is this moment for me to seize this opportunity, where there is so much death and people are so afraid, to point people to Jesus?

I don’t have a tumor in my brain (that I know of), but I do want to seize this moment. What are some ways that we can step into this moment and point people to Jesus in the culture of death?

John: I think one of the real missing verses when it comes to death and dying and how we live in these moments, especially in a missional way that makes a difference, is Isaiah chapter 6, verse 1. It simply says, “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord.”

Most people would go on to the rest of that very cool chapter, but, man, we miss the real meaning of it if we do, because Uzziah was the greatest king since Solomon. Uzziah reigned fifty-two years, and the country was so prosperous. Everything was great until Uzziah’s sin entered in—pride, arrogance. God struck him with leprosy, and he died.

And Isaiah says, “It was that year that I saw the Lord.” But the rest of the nation was coming apart at the seams. Everyone else ran out of the temple and away from the Lord, and Isaiah ran to Him, and He encountered Him in this powerful, powerful way.

As a result of that encounter, he heard the voice of the Triune God saying, “Who will go for Us? Who’s going to go for the Father, Son,m and Holy Spirit?”

And he said, “Me! I’ll do it! I’ll do it!”

And the Lord said, “Well, understand, 90% of the people will not listen to you.” And they didn’t.

The rest of his life was marked by suffering, by rejection, by fearful conditions, and then death and dying. History says he preached his last message and gave the invitation, and they came forward and cut him in half, literally. He was an abject failure who died a horrific death. That was Isaiah’s life.

Today, we can’t imagine a Christmas without Isaiah, an Easter without reading about the One who bore our sins and suffered for us. Nobody views Isaiah as a failure. And the fact that he died horrifically, it’s not bothering him much now. He lived a missional life as a prophet of God that most of us would not choose. And yet, his is one of the most valuable, meaningful, profitable lives ever lived out in history.

So our question has to be: In these kinds of times, in a culture of death and dying all around us, which way will we run?

If we run to the Lord, we will always be a minority, but we will see Him, and we’ll hear His invitation as well.

Erin: I want to end our conversation about death with hope because we have to end our conversation about death with hope. That’s what this is really about. So, I’m going to close us with Isaiah 25, verse 8: “He will swallow up death forever;and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces,and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth,for the Lord has spoken.”

Dannah: What an encouraging reminder from Erin Davis who is reading from Isaiah chapter 25, verse 8. Erin was joined in the studio by John and Donna Avant. The Scriptures they shared yesterday and today—oh, so encouraging. They help buoy our hearts when we face the fear of death.

If you’d like to review those Bible passages, you can read the transcripts of this series on the Revive Our Hearts app or on our website

Nancy: Maybe you can make it your goal to commit those verses to memory as a way to remind yourself that God is providentially, sovereignly in control, and we don’t have to fear death.

The practical counsel you’ve heard today is brought to you by those who support Revive Our Hearts. We’re a listener-supported ministry, and there are two main ways that we depend on you to help us out.

First, we need your prayers. Even if you can’t make a financial gift, you can pray. Pray for wisdom. Pray for God’s provision. Pray that He would use this ministry to advance His kingdom as we seek to call women everywhere every day to greater freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ.

And second, we depend on donations from listeners like you. This month we’ll be closing our books on another year of ministry and looking ahead to what God has in store for us in the next twelve months. So we’re trusting Him to provide us a substantial amount here at the end of our fiscal year.

I want to say a huge thank you to each person who’s already given towards this month’s need. If this ministry has been a blessing to you, has encouraged you in your walk with the Lord, this would be a great time for you to send a gift to help support this ministry.

If the Lord is prompting you to make a donation, just go to, or you can call us at 1–800–569–5959.

Thank you so much for praying, and thank you so much for giving. Your prayers and your financial support are making an eternal difference in the lives of women around the world.

Dannah: Well, tomorrow we’ll focus in on one particular area where the fear of death often affects women. Laura Booz will share a poignant story of the pain and grief associated with miscarriage. It’s a touching story of how we can find hope even beside the grave of a tiny, precious baby. I hope you’ll be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Pointing you to hope-filled grief, Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.

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About the Teacher

Erin Davis

Erin Davis

Erin Davis is an author, blogger, and speaker who loves to see women of all ages run to the deep well of God’s Word. She is the author of many books and Bible studies including: 7 Feasts, Connected, Beautiful Encounters, and the My Name Is Erin series. She serves on the ministry team of Revive Our Hearts. When she’s not writing, you can find Erin chasing chickens and children on her small farm in the Midwest.

About the Guest

John and Donna Avant

John and Donna Avant

John earned his undergraduate degree from Baylor University and earned his M.Div. and Ph.D. at Southwestern Seminary. It was while he was earning his Ph.D. at Southwestern that he learned about spiritual awakening and revival. He has a deep love and compassion for people and believes that the only hope for our nation is to experience a mighty movement of God. John is committed to communicating God’s Word so that others may experience how to live real life in Christ in today’s culture. His heart is to equip the church to lead and impact every sphere of influence. Currently, John serves as the president of the Life Action Division of Life Action Ministries.

John and Donna met at Baylor University and were married in 1980. They have three adult children and five grandchildren. They currently live in Knoxville, TN. On his day off, you might find John hiking the mountains with Donna, scuba diving, or playing golf. At night, you will always find him with a book in his hand.