All posts by notesfromthecove

PRAYER NOTE: FEBRUARY 2018

We hope 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 share these with you at the beginning of each month in hopes that you, too, will be encouraged.

Prayer Note(3)

FEAR OF MISSING OUT

It drives advertising and marketing strategies, affects online and retail sales, and dominates many of our decisions, large and small. It can influence what we order in a restaurant, whether or not we’ll attend a party, or where we’ll buy our next house. It can drive parents to overschedule their children, college students to abandon their studies, and spouses to dissolve their marriages. From career choices to social media usage, both major and minor decisions can be affected by this little four-letter acronym: FOMO.

An abbreviation for “fear of missing out,” FOMO describes the phenomenon of anxiety that results when we fear we might not be included in an exciting or enjoyable activity that others are experiencing. The phrase was coined in the early 21st century and is used mainly with regard to feelings brought on by the images of happy perfection we see on social media. At one time or another, we’ve all fallen victim to FOMO.

Most of us understand the positive and negative affects Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have had on our culture and collective psyche. While the upside includes increased connectedness and opportunities for online social interaction and networking, the downside can include feelings of inadequacy, anxiety and depression. To many of us, FOMO seems an unfortunate yet unintended consequence of today’s constant connectivity.

FOMO ISN’T NEW

Fear of missing out existed long before the internet. In fact, FOMO has been influencing our emotions and decisions since Satan tempted Eve in the garden. Worried that God was withholding something good, Eve fell for Satan’s lie and ate the forbidden fruit. (You can read the whole account in Genesis 2:15-3:24.) From that day on, we’ve all been subject to the negative effects of FOMO. Cain killed his brother Abel…David killed Bathsheba’s husband Uriah…lots of other people killed lots of other people out of an unhealthy and ungodly fear of missing out. And it’s a pretty safe assumption that even Solomon—the wisest man in the word—was a victim of FOMO, since the Bible tells us he had 700 wives! (See 1 Kings 11: 1-4.)

THE GOOD KIND OF FOMO

The Bible contains numerous accounts of individuals who experienced fear of missing out. Jacob, out of fear of missing out, deceived his father and stole his brother Esau’s birthright, cheating him out of his inheritance as the firstborn.  After learning that Esau was angry enough to kill him, Jacob fled from Canaan in fear for his life. Genesis 32 gives us the picture of Jacob’s return after 20 long, eventful years. Longing to see his elderly father, Jacob is arriving under the shadow of dread—fearful that big brother Esau may still be nursing a grudge. After dividing up his flocks and herds and sending a huge peace offering of livestock ahead of him to Esau, the Bible tells us that Jacob “arose that night and took his two wives, his two female servants and his eleven sons, and crossed over the ford of Jabbok. He took them, sent them over the brook, and sent over what he had. Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day” (Genesis 32:22-24, NKJV).

Author and preacher Ray Stedman explains what came of this long night of wrestling:

“Many messages that I have read on this account have commented on the fact that Jacob was mighty in prayer because he wrestled with God all night long and thus prevailed. But I have already indicated that it is not true that Jacob wrestled with God. It is God who wrestled with Jacob, trying to break down his stubborn self-reliance, his feeling that it all depends on him, that he has got to do it or else it is not going to get done, that God is really going to do nothing in the situation.

Furthermore, Jacob did not prevail over God by wrestling. The moment of prevailing comes when his hip is broken, when he is absolutely helpless and can do nothing but hang on. That is when he prevailed with God. That is what this account is teaching us. God responds to that sense of human helplessness. This is also what Paul is teaching us in Second Corinthians, when he says, ‘His strength is made perfect in my weakness, for out of weakness am I made strong,’ (2 Corinthians 12:9).” (RayStedman.org)

The good kind of FOMO results when we have an encounter with God that makes us understand our own weakness and reveals to us more of His greatness. Jacob, who had spent his life trying to manipulate circumstances to his favor, finally began to understand more of who God was. God won the wrestling match and Jacob came away with a permanent limp; a greater vision of God; and a new name: Israel.

In the New Testament, Luke 19:1-10 gives us the account of Zacchaeus, a wealthy but vertically-challenged tax collector who wanted to see Jesus. Since this white-collar criminal regularly cheated and stole from those with whom he had financial dealings, it’s no wonder that no one in the crowd was willing to step aside and allow him to stand close enough to see.

Zacchaeus, however, was determined not to miss out. Unable to push his way through the crowds, the diminutive money-man found a sycamore tree and climbed it to get a better view.

His persistence paid off, as Jesus looked up and announced, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.”  Zacchaeus need not have worried. Verse 10 tells us that “the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Jesus would have found him, sycamore tree or not!

The good kind of FOMO is the kind that drives us to search for Jesus. The kind that makes us hit our knees, knowing that we need an encounter with God. The good kind of FOMO is a God-given, grace-filled discontentedness with the spiritual status quo. Far from materialistic envy, it’s a recognition of our own spiritual poverty and a desire to experience “the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints” (see Ephesians 1:18).

FEBRUARY FOMO

The best thing we can do is to begin February with a healthy dose of good FOMO—hitting our knees and seeking God as we never have before. We are honored to serve in a place where others come to seek Him, yet we can easily take for granted the privilege that is ours. Let’s praise God for the opportunity to serve him here, and let’s determine not to miss out on His blessing by trying to work in our own strength. God has called us to this ministry, and He will equip us with what we need to serve Him. The good kind of FOMO is the kind that God places deep within our hearts—the hunger for more of Him.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:11-13, NKJV).

Keep praying and seeking!

—Donna Riesen

“Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His presence continually. ”
(1 Chronicles 16:11, NASB)


We appreciate you joining us in prayer for the following event that will take place on The Cove property during the month of February.

FEBRUARY CALL TO PRAYER

Women’s Bible Study, Morning
Tuesday mornings through February 27

Women’s Bible Study, Evening 
Tuesday evenings through February 20

An Evening at The Cove with Jason Crabb
February 18
(Emcee: Bill Wolfe)

Thank you for praying!

 

KENDRA GRAHAM’S ONLINE BIBLE STUDY – MARK 5:6-7

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” box in the upper left-hand corner of our blog. It’s free and you’ll receive these posts straight into your email inbox.

Kendra Graham notes from Mark 5:6-7

Mark 5:6-7

 “Seeing Jesus from a distance, he ran up and bowed down before Him” (Mark 5:6, NASB)  “and crying out with a loud voice, he said, ‘What do I have to do with You, Jesus Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God, do not torment me!’” (Mark 5:7, NKJV)

 What Does it Say?      

Seeing Jesus from distance, he ran up, bowed before Him.

Crying out with loud voice: “What do I have to do with You, Jesus, Son of Most High God? I implore You by God, do not torment me.”

Step 2

What Does it Mean?

Here, Jesus and the disciples are on “the other side.”  As we discussed at length last week, the disciples—the talmidin—would have never gone to the other side, ever.  Focused on obeying God and staying out of the world, the disciples had no room for the mess that was Rome.

This man who lives among the tombs, naked and crazed, is a very good example of why they stay away from the other side. This man is a Gentile (unclean), naked (unclean), has all sorts of wounds oozing blood (unclean), and doesn’t just touch dead things, but LIVES with the dead (SUPER DUPER UNCLEAN).

Yet Jesus is driven to this man… a man who is an absolute mess. Jesus sees beyond the physical, beyond what is obvious, beyond the persona that is put out for everyone to see and to fear. In Roman society that places high value on beauty and accomplishment, there is no one worth less than this man—yet Jesus sees him as worthy—so much so that He has crossed the angry sea to get to him.

Overcome by demons, the man is driven by the demons that reside within him. Yet verse 5 says, “Seeing Jesus from a distance, he ran up to Him.” Isn’t that something? The demons know that they are in submission to Jesus! They know they must bow down in the presence of the Son of the Most High God; BUT the demons think they have a plan to beat God at His own game.

That is the arrogance of the enemy.

 What business do we have with each other, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?” The demons here are claiming that they have legally and legitimately stolen this “other side,” and, specifically, this man. The enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10); that is their plan, and has always been their plan.

“This side”—this Roman side—sees Caesar as god. “This side” has no room for Jesus! “Go back to Your other side, Jesus!” The demons understand the power of the name of Jesus, so they are literally saying here, “GO!  In the name of Jesus, leave me and everyone over here alone!”  Casting out Jesus in the name of Jesus?  That is #BOLD.  The demons understand who Jesus is. Oh, that we would!

Notice what the demons do not say in this passage: They do not say, “In the power of Neptune,” nor do they call on the name of Zeus, Apollo or Mars. The demons know that every single god that is worshipped on this other side is powerless. It’s only the name of Jesus.

Only the name of Jesus offends. Our world and today’s culture are no different. The world and its culture actually legitimize the name of Jesus by running so hard from it. “There is no other name given under heaven whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

Now Jesus binds the demons by His Word, sending them to the bottom of the sea and healing the mind of this man.

How many of us have been here, where this man is?

Maybe we are not streaking through the streets, cutting ourselves with sharp stones or living in a graveyard, but we are no better off. We hurt. We suffer. We shriek out in response to the pain in our souls night and day… but the nights… oh the nights are so long. We have been kept from our purpose.  Our lives have been stolen from us, and life has destroyed our fire. Some of us feel that we deserve the lot we have, because of the choices and decisions we have made. We continue to hurt ourselves, because we believe this is as good as it gets for us. I have been here. I have, in my anger, hurt and despair felt lost and forgotten by God and driven by bitterness and anger.

BUT! Praise God! Jesus has come “to seek and to save those who are lost.” (Luke 19:10) God Himself has come to that “other side” where we’ve been hiding. Where we have been hoping on one hand God would just leave us alone to die, but on the other hand praying that someone would see and care. See here, God cares! God cares so much that He came Himself—not trusting you to another—to free you, to #deliver you. We often come at Jesus just like Legion did in this story, with fists flying and speech reeling. But GOD sees beyond our pain, beyond the legions of deep, deep hurt, and He speaks HIS Word.

The very name of God is the only name that saves (Acts 4:12); yet so often we prefer to use that name against Him, just like Legion did here. BUT Jesus comes anyway, to speak the power of Truth over us, the power of Truth found in the Word of God.

You were meant for more than this. Are you tired of being bound?  Are you willing to be set free?  He came to preach the GOOD NEWS! “To release the captives and set free those who are oppressed” (Isaiah 61:1-2).  Come… come to Jesus in your pain, mess and hurt.  The choice is yours.

What Does it Mean to me?

What legion of emotions and circumstances have you bound?

When did you come to Jesus and how were you #delivered?

Everyone follows someone or something. Who or what are you following? What visceral response do you have at the name of Jesus?

LIVE IT OUT

In humility, not arrogance, I bend my knee to Jesus. I will get into the Word of God and determine to believe Truth.

P.S. Ladies, our in-person Winter Women’s Bible Study at The Cove is now underway, and it’s not too late to join us!  Let’s get together Tuesday evenings in January and February and dig into the Word of God.  Register online today.

Can’t make it in person?  We’ll be streaming LIVE each Tuesday evening on Periscope, via Twitter, where you can watch from the comfort of your own home.

Cove Bible Verse for the Week of January 29th

Thankful we have been given Holy scriptures to meditate on each and every day!

This week’s verse is John 21:25.

Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.


Click here for a schedule of seminar, concerts, and retreats at The Cove in beautiful Asheville, NC.

Are you a Christian church or non-profit ministry looking for a place to hold your conference, retreat or ministry event?  Click here for more information on holding your event at The Cove.

Visit the Chatlos Memorial Chapel, Visitors Center, and Ruth’s Prayer Garden. Click here for directions and operating hours. Tours are free.

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Saturday Snapshot — A Psalm About God’s Purpose For You

Twelve-year-old Quinn Graham (Billy Graham’s great-grandson) is at it again.  Now a published author (Quinn’s Book of Psalms was published in December 2017 and gifted by him to his parents for Christmas), he’s kicking off the new year with a psalm titled, God’s Purpose For You.

Won’t it be interesting to see how God continues to use Quinn’s gifts in the years to come!

Print the psalm now.

In case you were wondering, Quinn does give you permission to print and share as God leads you.

To read more of Quinn’s psalms, click here.

Have a blessed weekend, friends!

Burned Out? A Message from Will Graham

If you take a real assessment of your life and ministry today, how does it look?

Perhaps you haven’t seen the fruits of your labor that you’d hoped for or expected. Maybe you’re resentful of others around you who don’t seem to be carrying their own weight in the ministry. It could be that your team is great and you’re seeing a harvest, but you’ve been going non-stop as far back as you can remember and you’re just burned out.

If you’re struggling, you can probably empathize a bit with the church in Ephesus, to whom God speaks in Revelation 2:1-7. The early believers there worked hard in the ministry, and they were good at it. They were tireless, discerning and persevering. Even in the face of hardships and persecution the church continued to serve those in need.

The problem was that they labored so hard in ministry that they lost their focus and the source of their motivation. The church had forsaken its first love. They were too wrapped up in the process of doing God’s work to make time for God Himself.

We’re called to so much more, however, than just “staying busy for Jesus.” If this struggle is all too familiar in your life and ministry, look specifically at the first half of verse 5, which gives us three key steps to return to the correct path:

“Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first.” Revelation 2:5a, ESV

First, believers in the church at Ephesus are commanded to remember back to when they had first encountered the Living God and were bursting with excitement. Just as marriages can become mundane if we forget that original passion and don’t make an effort to keep it burning, so it can be with God. We can go through the motions and do the work but not remember the desire we once had for Him.

Second, repent. It feels odd to say we need to repent for doing ministry, but according to the passage, it had reached the point where the people of the church were ministering with the wrong spirit and motivation. The issue was bad enough that God called them to repentance.

Finally, “do the things you did at first.” Or, as I would put it, renew your relationship with Him. Spend time in prayer and in the Bible. If we give God the best of our time, and focus that time on building our relationship with Him, I believe we will quickly remember and reconnect with our “first love.”

My friends, if you’re feeling burned out, it doesn’t have to be this way. Remember, repent, and renew. God will lead you and your ministry from there and use you in ways you cannot even begin to imagine.

Blessings,

Will Graham
Cove Executive Director


Click here to join Will Graham at The Cove August 10-12.

If you’re at the point of burnout and need to reconnect with God, consider coming to The Cove for a Personal Spiritual Retreat.
Click here for more information.

Kendra Graham’s Online Bible Study – Mark 4:38-40

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” box in the upper left-hand corner of our blog. It’s free and you’ll receive these posts straight into your email inbox.

Mark 4:38-40

(38) He Himself was in the stern asleep on the cushion; and they awoke Him and said, Rabbi, do You not care that we are perishing?” (39) And being aroused, He rebuked the wind and said to the sea,HUSH, be still.” And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm.  (40) And He said to them, “Why are  you so timid? How is it that you have no faith?”

What Does it Say?

  1. He Himself was in the stern asleep; they awoke Him. “Rabbi! Do You not care we are perishing?”
  2. Being aroused, He rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “HUSH!” The wind died, became calm.
  3. Why are you so timid? How is it you have no faith?

What Does it Mean?

Last week at The Cove’s Bible study we learned extensively what it was to be a Rabbi and what it meant to be a talmid—a disciple who learns from the Rabbi. Talmidin do not want to know what the Rabbi knows, talmadin want to be what the Rabbi is.  When the talmid is done with his training, the Rabbi will then turn to him and say, “As much as it is possible, you are like me; so GO! And seek out other talmid to be like you; and as they follow you, they will follow me, because you are like me!”

Jesus chose  twelve disciples—twelve talmidin—who left everything to follow Him. They were to follow the Rabbi—to go where the Rabbi went, to eat what He ate, say what He said, and do what He did.  The talmadin were not at luxury to challenge the Rabbi or to change course from the Rabbi. The title of Rabbi meant so much more than just “teacher.”

Rabbi Jesus in verse 35 tells His talmidin “Let’s go to the other side!”  They had just sat through a day of extensive teaching and were probably ready to enjoy a late lunch and to bed down for the night. Jesus was not done.

That phrase “the other side” sounds innocent enough, doesn’t it? Well, it was a bombshell to those talmadin. Most of them were experienced fishermen, so navigating across the 3-mile Sea of Galilee was not going to be the issue… the issue was that they despised everything about the “other side.” The other side was—well, “the other side”—the Roman side… the side that worshipped Caesar as god. They offered food to idols and incense to false gods. They ate… pigs! The other side and their customs were hated by God, so they were hated by the talmidin. Now, Rabbi Jesus is saying to go over there? Who was this Jesus?

These talmidin more than anything wanted to honor God and serve Him, YHWH—a name they would not even utter because it was so holy. Now they were to go over to the other side?  Into the filth?  Into the chaos?  Into the mess?  Were they not to “Be holy as I AM holy?”  Was Rabbi Jesus asking them to do something that went against God’s commands?  Yes, this was what they believed: Jesus was wrong. The problem was… Rabbi Jesus was just that: Rabbi; and if He was Rabbi, then they were to follow, to obey.  Do you feel the tension?

We so often read these stories and miss the conflict because we know their ending. But let’s pause in the middle of this account and feel this tension.  Feel the doubt.  Feel the enormity of the decision that lies before them.  Can you relate to this in the least?  Have you ever questioned God and where He was leading you? It made NO SENSE! It actually went against everything you said you would ever do?!  I can feel it. I question God all the time, unfortunately.

The disciples got into the boat and began the journey over to the other side. Immediately the wind and waves tried to kill them. The disciples did all they could do to save themselves; they bailed water, they worked hard and then harder.  They worked to the point of exhaustion; and where was Jesus?  He was asleep. Exhausted from the day of teaching. Jesus was sleeping in the stern, which is where the boat is steered from. Funny, isn’t it? If they wanted to change course, they would have had to physically move Jesus out of the way, because the steering column is in the stern.

The talmidin had exhausted all their sailing skills. They were at the point of death. SO THEN they woke up Jesus…. their last option. Honestly, I think they woke Jesus up to give Him a bucket so He could help with the bailing of water.

Don’t you care that we are going to die?” The Rabbi was supposed to care completely for the talmidin, so they were accusing Jesus of sleeping on the job. I don’t think they woke Jesus up with the expectation that He would hush the storm; I think they woke Him up to help them in their efforts. Why do I think that?  Because that is what I do.

I think the talmidin were thinking how wrong the Rabbi was in asking them to go to the other side, and they didn’t want to outright say that. “Look! Rabbi! We are following YOUR orders… look where we are! We are going to die!”  At that moment the disciples doubted everything Jesus had said.  They doubted who Jesus was. Jesus was in front of their face and they doubted?! Again, sounds exactly like me.

Jesus stood up and said, “HUSH!” and the wind which was the cause of the waves stopped.  The waves became perfectly still. The talmidin asked, “Who is This?”

The talmidin were men of the Book… they KNEW God’s Word—most of them knew it word for word. The word Jesus used, “HUSH,” was a big deal.  YHWH “hushes” the sea… and calms the storm…. and when His own cry out to Him, He answers. If God hushes the sea… is Jesus God with skin on?! Ahhhh, now that is the question each of us from the disciples on have to answer, isn’t it?

Rabbi Jesus was relentless for the other side, but He was also relentless for His own talmidin to believe Him. God has not changed. He is still doing the same thing today.

God will often call us to places beyond our logic, beyond our desire, and beyond our ability, so that He can show us that He is God—more than that, so that each of us will proclaim, “Oh God, you are my God” (Psalm 63:1).

What Does it Mean to Me?

When has God called us to a place beyond ourselves?  Beyond where we wanted to go?  Beyond where we could go on our own?

What adversity have you encountered in the process of being a talmid and following the Rabbi?

When have we doubted that God really cares about our well-being?  When has God provided a way for you when there was no way?

LIVE IT OUT.

Today, I will choose to be a disciple of the Book.  Today I will follow the Rabbi where He leads and go to those to whom He leads me.

 

Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and He brought them out of their distress.  He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were HUSHEDThey were glad when it grew calm, and He guided them to their desired haven.   (Psalm 107:28-30)

– Kendra


P.S. Ladies, you can still join us for our Winter Women’s Bible Study at The Cove!  We meet each Tuesday evening through February 20th.  Register online today.

Can’t make it in person?  We’ll be streaming LIVE each Tuesday evening on Periscope, via Twitter, where you can watch from the comfort of your own home.

Cove Bible Verse for the Week of January 22nd

Let’s keep on pointing to Jesus!

This week’s verse is John 3:30.

He must increase, but I must decrease.


Click here for a schedule of seminar, concerts, and retreats at The Cove in beautiful Asheville, NC.

Are you a Christian church or non-profit ministry looking for a place to hold your conference, retreat or ministry event?  Click here for more information on holding your event at The Cove.

Visit the Chatlos Memorial Chapel, Visitors Center, and Ruth’s Prayer Garden. Click here for directions and operating hours. Tours are free.

Follow us on social media. click map

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Kendra Graham’s Online Bible Study — Mark 10:47-48

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” box in the upper left-hand corner of our blog. It’s free and you’ll receive these posts straight into your email inbox.

Kendra Graham notes from Mark 10:48

Many were sternly telling him to be quiet, but he kept on all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

THE FACTS:

Many were sternly telling him to be quiet; he kept on more. Son of David have mercy on me.

Step 2

THE LESSONS:

Bartimaeus was blind, so he lived a life of begging for scraps to stay alive. One day Bartimaeus (we’ll just call him “Bart”) heard with his ears that Jesus was walking through Jericho. There sat Bart, begging at the back gate as people left the city on their way to Passover in Jerusalem.  Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem as well—to the Last Supper and to Lazarus, who had been dead a few days.

Suddenly Bart began to yell, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” (Mark 10:47). The crowd did not like this, because they could not hear the teaching of Jesus; all they could hear was the shrieking of an unimportant, forgettable blind man.  Oh how they wished Bart would pipe down!  They pressured him to stop; he did not.  The crowd continued all the more to pressure Bart to quiet, but he refused.

What was blind Bart saying? I argue the reason Jesus even went through Jericho—and not around the Jericho bypass (especially with Passover looming)—was because blind Bart was the message. Jesus went through Jericho for two reasons: First, to gather a crowd to hear Bart’s message; and second, to heal Bart.  Bart was saying, “Jesus, Son of David.”  This was a BIG deal.  Bart was telling the Jewish crowd on their way to Passover that Jesus was the Messiah. This very statement would be what the Sanhedrin would use to crucify Jesus in the next week or so.  This was a BOLD message, and Bart was preaching this message in his darkness.  The crowd bullied him to stop. Yet Jesus didn’t stop Bart’s message, nor did He stop the crowd from pressuring him. Did you ever think about that?  Jesus allowed Bart to be bullied into shutting his mouth. What would Bart do?  Why would Jesus allow that?

Last week we noted that when God delivered Israel out from under the thumb of Pharaoh, He led them to the desert. Why?  Deuteronomy 8:2 gives us the reason: “To test them to see what was in their hearts.”  So God would know what was in their hearts?  NO—so that Israel would know what was in their hearts. Marah—bitterness—was in their hearts, and God needed to deal with it. What was in Bart’s heart? A message of hope.

Have mercy on me!”  Bart had the hope of healing because he knew who Jesus was.  Even if Bart had not been healed, it would not have changed the fact that Jesus is Messiah.  Even if Jesus ignored him, even if Jesus walked by or would not defend him in a crowd that was yelling at him, Bart’s message did not waver and did not change.

What would make your message waver and change? Bart would preach Jesus Messiah.  Bart was the message. Perhaps Bart begged often in the courts of Jericho’s synagogue, hearing the teachings of the Torah and scrolls of the prophets.  With his keen sense of hearing, Bart connected the dots of Messiah better than those who had seen Jesus do countless miracles.

Bart, being blind, knew his own desperation and need for Jesus. When Jesus walked by, Bart’s message could not be taken from him. In his darkness, in his blindness, in his pain, Bart preached until he was heard.  Tested in his heart, and in spite of being ignored by Jesus and bullied by the crowd, Bart continued to preach Jesus Messiah.  He continued to plead for mercy until he received it.

Jesus stopped (verse 49).  Bart’s faith stopped Jesus in His tracks.

Then Jesus, through the crowd beckoned Bart to him.  Cruel?  Seriously.  Think about it.  The crowd is mad and annoyed at Bart.  Jesus is not right beside him, obviously, because He “beckons” him to come (49).  Bart is blind, and Jesus is asking him to weave through a crowd?

I love that it doesn’t matter to Bart.  BOLD Bart gets up, leaves everything he owns in the world, and takes that first step.  I’ll bet there was help after that first step was taken.  It’s the first one that seems so daunting, so impossible–so cruel even.  But God will make a way when there is no way.  Bart believed this.  Jesus did not promise Bart healing; Jesus only called to him.  Yet Bart left everything just to be in the presence of Messiah, knowing Jesus would take care of the rest.  What faith!  Blindness in the end is not what Bart is known for; we remember him today for his  BOLD belief.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO ME?

When have we been tested to know what is in our hearts? Did we press into belief, or raise our fists in “Marah”?

What has caused our message of Jesus to waver and change? Culture? Pressure for tolerance? Scientific data?

How is our belief known to the world around us?

LIVE IT OUT:

Lord, open my ears to hear your message of Truth to me, then open my mouth to make known with BOLDNESS the mystery of the Gospel.  (Ephesians 6:19, NASB)

– Kendra

P.S. Ladies, our in-person Winter Women’s Bible Study at The Cove is now underway, and it’s not too late to join us!  Let’s get together Tuesday evenings in January and February and dig into the Word of God.  Register online today.

Can’t make it in person?  We’ll be streaming LIVE each Tuesday evening on Periscope, via Twitter, where you can watch from the comfort of your own home.

Cove Bible Verse for the Week of January 15th

Make sure your path is illuminated by staying in God’s word.

This week’s verse is Psalm 119:105.

Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path.


Click here for a schedule of seminar, concerts, and retreats at The Cove in beautiful Asheville, NC.

Are you a Christian church or non-profit ministry looking for a place to hold your conference, retreat or ministry event?  Click here for more information on holding your event at The Cove.

Visit the Chatlos Memorial Chapel, Visitors Center, and Ruth’s Prayer Garden. Click here for directions and operating hours. Tours are free.

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Saturday Snapshot — Safety First!

We take safety serious around here and our annual staff Safety Training meeting is anything but boring! This year our Property Services Manager and his team went with a NASCAR theme!

Just look at the creativity used to share important safety information with our staff and volunteers! Flags, tires, sound effects, outfits–the works!

Jane Derrick began her 22nd year of teaching Women’s Bible Study at The Cove this week.  She asked who had been coming the entire 22 years and a few hands popped up across the packed auditorium.  That’s dedication–on both parts!  Jane is teaching on the Beatitudes this year.

Kendra Graham opened her first night of Women’s Bible Study with a call to the ladies (and a few gents) to live life boldly as so many in the Bible modeled for us.

If you’re wondering what all that is on the stage in front of the podium, it’s a bunch of Lindor chocolate truffles.  You don’t think Kendra would start an evening Bible study without chocolate, did you?!

At the end of the evening, Kendra asked everyone in attendance if they were ALL IN.  If so, as a symbolic gesture, each person could sign their name on an #ALLIN canvas.

If you’d like to join Kendra’s evening study on Tuesday nights from the comfort of your own home, you can tune in by clicking here around 7:15pm ET each Tuesday evening.  The videos are available for viewing later, too.


And let us leave you with this pretty scene on a rainy and overcast morning this week.  God loves to grace us with beauty around every corner, doesn’t He?!

Have a blessed weekend, friends!