PRAYER NOTE: FEBRUARY

We hope that you will enjoy our “prayer note” — an internal communication, here at The Cove, created each month to remind and encourage our staff to pray.  We will share these with you at the beginning of each month in hopes that, you too, will be encouraged.

Prayer Note(3)

By Donna Riesen

Pray without ceasing. (1 Thessalonians 5:17, NKJV)

We made it through! Although much of the snow has melted, images remain frozen in our memories…we, the survivors of “The Blizzard of 2016.”

The huge winter storm affected the entire eastern third of our nation and disrupted the lives of more than 100 million people. Aside from the usual snow-day inconveniences of school closings and grocery stores emptied of milk and bread, there were serious and deadly consequences resulting from this massive weather system. At present, the total number of deaths attributed to the storm stands at 55. At any given moment during the storm or in its immediate aftermath, a look at online news feeds and TV newscasts revealed a study in contrasts.

One minute we viewed pics of adorable snow-suit clad children sledding with dad; next, we heard accounts of horrific traffic fatalities as semi-trucks lost control on icy highways. We grinned as we watched a Giant Panda delightedly frolicking in the powdery snow…but grins faded as we heard the tragic report of a mother and toddler who perished in their idling car—deaths blamed on carbon monoxide poisoning as a result of the vehicle’s clogged tailpipe. Our hearts broke as we learned the child’s father had been just outside, shoveling to free the car of snow.

In an odd confluence of events, we saw simultaneously the breathtaking beauty of a world covered in glistening white…”Yaaay, God!”…and the heartrending tragedy of death and destruction…”Why, God?” The varied images of the blizzard brought it into focus again: The human condition exists in a kaleidoscopic jumble of joy and pain, laughter and tears, hope and despair. At any moment, you may have a relative suffering from cancer and another celebrating the birth of their first child. On any given Sunday, your pastor may be preaching to a business professional who just received a promotion, and another who never found work after last year’s layoff.

The Old Testament records the account of Job, who after learning of the loss of his cattle, servants and even his own sons, held tight to his faith as he issued this challenge to his wife, Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity? (Job 2:10, NKJV).

As the account of this faithful man’s suffering continues, we see him begin to question God. Yet among the many lessons the book of Job teaches us, one of the most important is this: God is big enough to handle our questions. In Job chapter 38, God lays out some questions of His own, all designed to lift Job’s eyes away from his current dire situation and up to the omnipotent, sovereign God who created and sustained him. Among the many revealing questionsGod asked Job is this: “Have you entered the storehouses of the snow or seen the storehouses of the hail?” (Job 38:22, NIV).

Rather than providing a detailed meteorological map and a lesson on low pressure systems and atmospheric phenomena, God gave Job a vivid mental image of the true Source of blizzard conditions. When we’re hit with a storm of trouble and “Yaay, God!” changes to “Why, God?”, we’re tempted to ask, “Who’s minding the storehouse?” The God who’s big enough to handle our questions answers, “I AM.” There are other biblical references to God’s storehouses. The psalmist David reminds us, “He makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth; He sends lightning with the rain and bring out the wind from His storehouses.” (Psalm 135:7, NIV).

In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gave us this reassurance: “Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds?” (Luke 12:24, NIV)

After confronting the Israelites with their sins of apathy, unfaithfulness and corruption, the prophet Malachi delivers God’s message of hope, promising blessing to His children if they will turn back to Him in repentance and obedience:

“’Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,’ says the Lord Almighty,’and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.’” (Malachi 3:10).

On any given day in 2016, we will minister to a wide range of people at The Cove. When this year’s seminar season begins on February 12 with the Chip Ingram Military Marriage Retreat, some of the military personnel who attend will have just returned home from a long deployment. No doubt there will be couples whose marriage is near breaking from the strain of long periods of separation and stress. Others may be visiting The Cove simply as a relaxing getaway and a means of celebrating and strengthening an already strong marital bond. Newlyweds and seasoned marriage partners will be in attendance—each person as individual as a snowflake. How can we adequately minister to the heart of each participant? We can’t, but God can! Pray that He will throw open the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing on these men and women. Pray that God will open their hearts to each other and to Him.

The February 24-26 Leadership Renewal Retreat with Jim Henry will bring pastors from various denominations and varied situations. One pastor and spouse may arrive with joy and excitement, happy to be attending the retreat and anticipating some well-deserved downtime. Another pastoral couple may come with heavy hearts, seeking respite from a troubled ministry that is strained to the breaking point. Each retreat participant will arrive with a different set of needs and expectations, but all will be knocking at the door of the same Storehouse. Pray that the blessings of refreshment, renewal and encouragement will be poured out upon these faithful servants. Praise God, He hears our prayers, and His storehouse is never empty.

_______________________________________________________________________

Join us in praying for the following events in February:

FEBRUARY 2016 EVENTS
(For more information or to register, click on the links below.)

Women’s Bible Study with Jane Derrick — Morning:
January 12-February 23
Love that Makes A Difference

Women’s Bible Study with Kendra Graham — Evening:
January 12-February 23
Portrait of a Disciple

Military Marriage Retreat:
Experiencing God’s Best for Your Marriage
with Chip Ingram — February 12-14

An Evening at The Cove (dinner, concert, and meet & greet) with Brandon Heath — February 14 (lodging also available)

Leadership Renewal RetreatFree to Lead: Encouraging the Shepherd with Jim Henry — February 24-26
NOTE: This retreat is free to qualifying pastors and their spouses.

We appreciate your prayers.  God bless you!

Saturday Snapshot — More SNOW!!

You may have seen last week’s snow post, but wait until you see how beautiful it was when we got MORE snow!  It was serene and absolutely beautiful.

Enjoy the photos and see if you recognize the man shoveling snow at the end of this post.

BGTC front gate sign with snow
Welcome to The Cove!
chandelier with snow in background
Bringing the outdoors in.
IMG_9671
These rocking chairs look inviting no matter what season we’re in!
IMG_9679
Early bird gets the…
IMG_9665
Snowy white chapel.

 

IMG_9673
View from above the overlook.
Wil Graham shoveling snow Jan 2016
Leader with a servant heart, Will Graham, lends a hand in making our sidewalks safe.

 

IMG_9651
Why not make a snow angel at work! Angie, our Guest Services Coordinator, knows how to have a good time!

Come see us! Click here to visit our website.

 

 

Pastor Saeed Abedini Finds Rest at The Cove

Many of you have asked how Pastor Saeed Abedini is since his release from imprisonment in Iran.  It has been a pleasure to host him here at The Cove for a much needed time of rest and a chance to reconnect with family.

While here, Saeed told Franklin Graham that “he is not angry and he is not bitter about his imprisonment—but he is tremendously thankful for his freedom and to be back in the United States.”

Greata Van Susteren traveled to Asheville to interview Pastor Abedini in our beautiful chapel.

Pastor Abedini chapel interview jan 25 2016

Click here for more behind-the-scenes photos.

To view the video interview click here.

We appreciate your continued prayers for Pastor Abedini and his family in the coming weeks and months.

_____________________________________________________

For a full schedule of seminars, retreats, and concerts at The Cove, click here.

Kendra Graham’s Online Bible Study – Ephesians 6 and Mark 5

Kendra Blog Title

Welcome to Kendra Graham’s Online Bible Study! This is a place where we can come together and share in our journey towards Scriptural truths and spiritual maturity. We pray this will be a safe, respectful, resourceful place to come and discuss God’s Word…to discover What it says…What it means…and What it means to you!

Make sure you don’t miss a post, just enter your email in the “Subscribe Via Email” in the upper left hand corner of our blog. It’s free and you’ll receive these post straight into your email inbox.

Kendra Graham notes from Ephesians 6:14b + Mark 5:27-29

Ephesians 6:14b …having put on the breastplate of righteousness.

Mark 5:27-29  After hearing about Jesus, she came up in the crowd behind Him and touched His cloak. (28) For she thought “If I just touch His garments, I will get well.”  Immediately the flow of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction.

Step 1

THE FACTS:
Ephesians 6:14b: Put on the breastplate of righteousness.
Mark 27: After hearing about Jesus, she came, in the crowd behind Him, touched His cloak.
Mark 28: “If I touch His garments I will be well.”
Mark 29: Immediately the flow of her blood dried.

Step 2

THE LESSONS:

Having “put on” the breastplate of righteousness… there is an action verb here… the word “put on” in the Greek is the word, “endyo” which means: to reach to put on, to sink into. When I read this verse and the definition of endyo, I immediately thought of the woman who was covered in issues in Mark 5:25-34.  This woman had an issue of blood for 12 years that she could not fix.  This woman tried everything she could to fix her issue, every doctor, every remedy and instead of getting better, she got worse.  In the society of the day, this woman would have been isolated from family, deemed unclean and uninvited to attend church, functions, parties or fellowships.   The issue this woman had would have left her ashamed, destitute, desperate, and deserted.

Then… she hears about Jesus! Jesus is said to be the Messiah! God with skin on!  He was within her reach.

Jesus within reach! Hmmmm so…. would you have run out to find Him?  We love to say the Sunday School answer… “Of course! Jesus is there!! Lucky her!”  Really?  Often times my reaction when things are bad… when my life is covered with issues that continue to get worse no matter how hard I try, is to be kind of mad at God… fold my arms, sigh, and say, “Oh, Jesus is here is He?  Well, do I have a bone to pick with Him!” We don’t run out to find Him, nope, we sit, arms folded in our pride, and demand He comes to us and give us an explanation for all the mess.  If we are being honest…

This woman… low on iron… exhausted… hurting… desperate… decides to fight the crowd, she is determined to go in spite of have very valid reasons to stay home. The customs of the day were such that every person she touched or that touched her, would become unclean, so going out into a mob… probably could have gotten her stoned to death… if people knew her issues.  This woman being weak and tired could be trampled to death, not having the strength to fight to get to Jesus… I mean that is what it would take.  To get to Jesus would take everything she had.

See this here… don’t miss it… determined and driven against a physical crowd and an emotional crowd keeping her down, telling her she is filthy and unclean and undeserving, yet she fights. This woman will reach for that righteousness, that cleanliness of Jesus if it is the last thing she does.  This woman is on the ground crawling… how do I know that?  She reaches for the hem of His garment, not the lapel.

This woman is very aware of her status, she comes in absolute humility. No demands, no fist flying in the face of Jesus, no anger or bitterness, just desperation.  Feel this here, press into this crowd, feel the feet stepping on her hands as the crowd is electric with anticipation of Jesus being there… feel her garments being stepped on, dirt being kicked in her face, maybe even an unsuspecting sandal in the face.  This woman coming to Jesus, invisible in a crowd of people, no one knowing what she is going through… can you relate?  This woman refuses to give up until she sees it! There it is!  The tip of the tassel on the hem of His garment! It’s Jesus!

Jesus knew she was there… she was the one lost sheep in the crowd of sheep that day. That crowd could have been created just for her… would  she be desperate enough to press in here? Against the odds?  Jesus was pleading, seeking, calling, stirring… desperate to save… she was the reason He came.

This woman…think about it… was willing to make Jesus unclean! Jesus unclean!  What do you think about that?  That is what it takes to be healed.  That which has covered our hands and made us unclean, we must give to Jesus.  This is the reason Jesus came.  Jesus would choose to hemorrhage Himself, blood flowing from His veins even to death, since that is what it would cost Him to make her clean… yet He stays within reach!  I love this!  Did Jesus kick the hem of His garment her direction?  Can you see it?  Can you see the love in His eyes he has for this woman, scraped, battered and bruised…. by more than just the crowd… to see how intent she is on getting to His presence?  Can you hear in His heart, Jesus pleading, “REACH!  Come on woman…. R-E-A-C-H! You can make it!  Reach, and I will put on my righteousness all over you!  Covered… CLEAN!”

The woman reached as far as her fingertips could go and she held on to Jesus, and immediately let go of all the issues that plagued her.

Healing is found in the presence of Jesus. If you are willing to fight the crowd of emotions like anger, bitterness, judgment, unforgiveness, and misery… if you can reach with all that is in you to make Jesus unclean with all your issues, He will cover you in His grace, mercy and righteousness.

The breastplate covers your vitals… your issues will kill you, unless they are covered with the very righteousness of God. No one can reach for you, you must reach with your own hand.

Come… do not delay. Get into the Word of God today because you were created to walk with Him, know Him and you desperately need Him whether you see it or not.  Jesus died to give you victory through this valley, but you will have to reach for it.

4

APPLY IT: 

Are you desperate enough to come to Jesus… or do you prefer to coddle your pride and the million reasons you should stay away?   Will you reach for your therapist, a friend to pander to your way of thinking, continue to try to atone for your own issues–to no avail–or will you reach for Jesus?  Will you stay in His presence holding on to the hem of His garment as long as it takes to be well even if being well doesn’t look like you have demanded?

3

LIVE IT OUT:

Today, I will reach for His presence, fighting the sleep I would rather have. I will choose God’s Word and His presence before the busyness of life awaiting me this day demands my attention.

HOMEWORK: John 15:1-8

NOTE: If you are unable to attend Kendra’s winter Bible study at The Cove  in person (January 12 – February 16, 2016), we will continue the online study as well, using lessons shared during the LIVE study.  We are also streaming the study LIVE via Periscope.  You can catch the replays here.

Not sure how to use Periscope? 
1.
You must first sign up for Twitter (it’s free).  Click here for step-by-step instructions.
2. Then you sign up for Periscope (it’s free).  Click here for step-by-step instructions.

You don’t have to have Periscope to watch the replays.  You can just click on the links below.

Click here to watch Week One’s study with a special performance by artist Jared Emerson.

Watch Week Two’s message on TRUTH here.

Watch Week Three Message here.  Kendra shines a Light on the woman with issues.

Kendra Graham’s Online Bible Study: Ephesians 6:14b

Kendra Blog Title

Welcome to Kendra Graham’s Online Bible Study! This is a place where we can come together and share in our journey towards Scriptural truths and spiritual maturity. We pray this will be a safe, respectful, resourceful place to come and discuss God’s Word…to discover What it says…What it means…and What it means to you!

Make sure you don’t miss a post, just enter your email in the “Subscribe Via Email” in the upper left hand corner of our blog. It’s free and you’ll receive these post straight into your email inbox.

Kendra Graham notes from Ephesians 6:14b
“Having girded your loins with Truth.”

Step 1

THE FACTS:  “Having girded your loins with Truth.”

Step 2

THE LESSONS:

“My name is Katniss Everdeen… I am from district 12… I participated in the Hunger Games… twice… and survived. I was rescued.  Peeta… Peeta has been captured with the other victors and is being held in the Capitol under the power of President Snow.”

This is how the movie Mockingjay 1 starts out.  Katniss is hiding in a dark place with her hands over her hears whispering to herself, reminding herself of what is true and what is not.  Katniss and Peeta, for the rest of their lives will, every day, ask each other if what they are believing is true or false.

Oswald Chambers said, “Believing the Truth is a sheer act of the will, because nothing in us craves the Truth.”

Frederich Nietzche said regarding the truth, “People don’t want to hear the Truth, because they do not want their illusions destroyed.”

The Truth, when spoken in society, often does not receive the welcome ooohs and awes of the crowd.  The Truth… the Truth is something we work to suppress, whether it be a truth about us we don’t want surfacing, or a Truth about the company we work for, or anyone else that is dear to us.

In this verse in Ephesians 6, Paul tells us that we need to have our loins girded with Truth of God’s Word.  Paul is saying that before we do anything, we need to set ourselves to wrap Truth around our most inward parts.  The word “gird” here in the Greek is the word “perizonnymi” which means to “hem in,” to tuck in firmly around.  I like that visual.  Hem ourselves in so that everywhere we look, everywhere we go, we are faced with the Truth of God’s Word first and foremost.

If we hem ourselves in with the Truth, then the lies and deceptions society tries to feed us will become really clear.  We don’t like to be hemmed in though right!?  We are Americans!  WE have a right to be free!  We need space to roam and chase the American dream!  The Truth is… all of us are hemmed in.  What are we hemmed in by… now that is a question that each of us need to ask.

We were created by God to follow someone or something…. the Truth is… we were created by God with a God shaped soul to walk with Him, know Him, because we are created to need Him: Truth.

The Truth is…  God loves us so much that He came Himself, not trusting us to another, so that we could know the Truth, and the Truth, though hemmed in by it, would set us free (John 8:32).  The Truth is: we are set free by the Truth when we set ourselves to believe it!

In John 8, Jesus said He is the Light of the world.  Jesus came to be the Light, to show us He is the Way, the Truth and LIFE (John 14:6).  I love this!  What is the purpose of light?  The purpose of light is to show us the TRUTH of what is there, in the dark.  The light doesn’t lie about what it shows, it just shows the fact of what is.  Jesus came to show us that we don’t have it all together like we wish we did.  The light shows us that we have been living a rat race in the dark chained up to everything on the canvas of our lives that we don’t want anyone to see… so God, came personally, not trusting you to another, to set you free by the Truth of His Word.

The world has set itself to discard, extinguish, hide and kill the Truth of who Jesus is, and the Truth of what you mean to Him.  The interesting thing about the Truth is this… it will always surface.  The Truth is, you are loved more than anything by the God who knit you together in your mother’s womb.  The Truth is:  IF you seek God with you whole heart, He promises you WILL find Him (Jeremiah 29:13).  The Truth is, you will never be more satisfied, more content, more fulfilled than when you are doing that which you were created to do, which is: Walk with God on a daily basis through this thing called life…TRUTH.

HOLD on to the TRUTH.  Jesus said, I AM the way, the TRUTH and the Life NO ONE comes to the Father BUT through Me.” John 14:6. Wrap yourself in Truth today.

4

APPLY IT:  Who or what am I following? Have I set myself to believing the TRUTH?  Who do I say jesus is?

3

LIVE IT OUT:  Today…. I will set myself to believing the Truth of God’s Word, and begin the process of hemming myself in by the Truth. Today, I will walk with God.

_________________________________________________________________________

JOIN US FOR KENDRA’S FREE WOMEN’S BIBLE STUDY AT THE COVE, BEGINNING JANUARY 12, 2016.  (Also available LIVE on Periscope…see below.)

If you can attend in-person, we’d love to see you.  To register for her Tuesday evening study (January 12 – February 16, 2016), call 1-800-950-2092.

NOTE: If you are unable to attend in person, we will continue the online study as well, using lessons shared during the LIVE study.  We are also streaming the study LIVE via Periscope.  You can catch the replays here.

The blog of the Billy Graham Training Center at the Cove