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Remembering Ruth Bell Graham

Ruth Graham holding glasses
Today would have been Billy Graham’s wife, Ruth Bell Graham’s, 93
rd birthday.   

Ruth went to heaven on June 14, 2007. 

Join us as we celebrate and remember the beautiful life and legacy of this great woman of faith.  A woman who loved people and loved Jesus! 

Watch here as Fernando Ortega sings Give Me JesusThis performance was produced for The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association as a tribute to Ruth.

Fernando Ortega will be performing at The Cove on Sunday November 17, 2013.  Click here for details and to register. 


whyWhether it is the death of a loved one, a devastating storm, a bombing or a terrible illness, we often find ourselves asking why.

In the following poem by Ruth Bell Graham, she addresses the “whys” in her life.

I lay my “whys”

before Your Cross

in worship kneeling,

my mind too numb

for thought,

my heart beyond

all feeling.


And worshiping,

realize that I

in knowing You

don’t need a “why.”


— From Ruth Bell Graham’s poetry collection, Sitting By My Laughing Fire.

Discouraged in Your Faith?

Do you feel like you may have lost the passion you once had for Christ?

Whether we want to admit it or not, at some point–maybe right now for you, we as Christians can lose the excitement we once had for Christ. 

We are not alone in this.  Even Charles Spurgeon and Martin Luther struggled with discouragement, despite their great faith. 

Steve Brown, while teaching at The Cove last week, took a moment to share some words of encouragement for those who may be experiencing this now.

Watch here

Over 1,600 Visit The Cove Open House

By Kristy Etheridge

“It’s like you’re in a different world.”

That’s how Andrea Walton described her first visit to The Cove.

“You can feel the Spirit of Christ here and the love of Christ,” said her husband, Eric. “The whole atmosphere just has the peace of Jesus that passes all understanding.”

beautiful dayThat peace is exactly what Billy and Ruth Graham hoped their 1,200-acre mountain retreat would exude when the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association purchased the property in 1972. Now home of the Billy Graham Training Center, two inns, Camp Cedar Cliff, and the William F. Chatlos Memorial Chapel, The Cove welcomes weary travelers from all over the world, offering a time of spiritual renewal for God’s people.

Eric and Andrea Walton are from Gastonia, N.C., about 100 miles east of The Cove, which is located in Asheville’s Blue Ridge Mountains. They had heard about the retreat center for years but never made the drive until Saturday.

“We always wanted to come,” said Andrea Walton. “We heard about the open house on 106.9 and we said, ‘Let’s go!’ ”

As the Walton family headed west Saturday morning for the annual open house, Jim and Judy Hastings were driving south. The couple lives in Johnson City, Tenn., about 70 miles north of The Cove.

“Our Sunday school class has been talking about visiting The Cove for years and finally decided to do it,” said Judy Hastings. “We decided to just get a van and ride over.”

visitors enjoying the CoveAs the couple sat in the shade on a pair of wooden rocking chairs, they took in the breathtaking mountain views from the back deck of the Billy Graham Training Center.

“It’s beautiful up here,” said Judy Hastings. “The view. The peace and quiet.”

“I’m just very touched to be here,” said Jim Hastings. “I don’t have enough time and enough words to talk about the meaning.”

Jim and Judy Hastings are longtime admirers of Billy Graham. Even though they, like most of the visitors who stop by The Cove, have never met Mr. Graham, they felt especially close to the 94-year-old evangelist, knowing they were spending time in a place very dear to his and his late wife’s hearts.

Inside the BGTCThe annual open house is a chance for people like the Hastings family to check out The Cove for free, without taking part in a seminar, a concert, or an overnight stay. But many of the visitors who walk through the doors for the open house end up back at The Cove for one of its many year-round events.

“A lot of people think this place is just for pastors,” said Jill Gottenstrater, promotions manager for the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove. “It’s not. It’s for anyone who wants to come and grow and study the Word of God.”

Those who spend a day or a weekend at The Cove walk away refreshed. Something about the quiet woods, the mountain air, and the welcome lack of televisions on the property helps visitors grow closer to their Creator.

“People say you can feel the presence of God when you drive through the gates,” said Gottenstrater.

Saturday, 1,667 people had the chance to experience that presence, as they toured the grounds, including the chapel and the training center. Camp Cedar Cliff was also open, and hundreds of families spent the day horseback riding, rock climbing, practicing archery, watching performances, and eating a hot dog lunch together—all free to the public.

family fun“I loved it,” said 8-year-old Owen Ragusa from Travelers Rest, S.C., who visited Camp Cedar Cliff with his twin brother, Ethan.

Owen and Ethan especially enjoyed the rock climbing wall and the chance to ride a horse—an experience that was larger than life.

“The horse was big, and its name was Red,” said Ethan. “I felt like I was on a third story building.”

The boys’ mom, Cindy Ragusa, enjoyed the day of free activities with her sons—a perfect way to spend Mother’s Day weekend.

“It’s nice to be in an environment like this,” said Ragusa. “You don’t find this very often. It’s very family friendly. Most of all, it’s a Christ-filled place. It’s a place to come and your kids will be safe.”

During the open house, guests had a chance to tour the studios of 106.9 The Light, see a tribute to the late George Beverly Shea inside the chapel, and walk through a Samaritan’s Purse disaster relief truck.

Many visitors also stopped by the My Hope table to learn about a special Billy Graham Crusade taking place in living rooms around the country this November. My Hope America with Billy Graham is a nationwide Christian outreach that will help believers present the Gospel to their friends and families through a video message that intertwines Mr. Graham’s preaching with current stories of men and women who have made the decision to follow Christ.

Throw in some free frozen yogurt cones, and there was quite a lot to cram into the five-hour open house. Gottenstrater hopes getting a taste of The Cove will make visitors want to come back for more.

“We don’t want The Cove to be the best kept little secret, so it’s a nice opportunity for people to just experience The Cove,” said Gottenstrater.

That’s exactly what Eric and Andrea Walton did, and they hope to come back again soon.

“We thought we knew about it before, but now we really know.”

Want to find out more about what’s happening at The Cove?  Visit their website at

Ruth Bell Graham: Prayer of a Mother for Her Children

Ruth Bell Graham with children in 1958 Montreat
Franklin, Bunny, Anne, Gigi, and Ruth with baby Ned – at home in Montreat, N.C. (1958)

Jesus, good Shepherd, they are not mine but Yours,
for I am not mine but Yours.
I am Yours, Lord, and they are Yours,
because by Your wisdom You have created
both them and me,
and by Your death You have redeemed us.
So we are Yours, good Lord, we are Yours,
whom You have made with such wisdom
and bought so dearly.
Then if You commend them to me, Lord,
You do not therefore desert me or them.
You commend them to me:
I commend myself and them to You.
Yours is the flock, Lord, and Yours is the shepherd.
Be Shepherd of both Your flock and shepherd.

You have made an ignorant mother,
a blind leader, an erring ruler:
teach the mother You have established,
guide the leader You have appointed,
govern the ruler You have approved.

I beg You,
teach me what I am to teach,
lead me in the way that I am to lead,
rule me so that I may rule others.
Or rather, teach them, and me through them,
lead them, and me with them,
rule them, and me among them.

Anselm (1033 – 1099), Archbishop of Canterbury, translated by Sister Benedicta Ward, S.L.G. Adapted for mothers by Ruth Bell Graham.


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The word “sanctification” comes from the Greek word which means “to be separate” or “set apart for a purpose. 

Paul speaks of the believer as having been “sanctified by the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:16).  He wrote to the Corinthians saying that they, having been sanctified, are called to be saints (1 Corinthians 1:2). 

We Christians are to be “progressively sanctified” or “made righteous” in holiness as we daily abide in Christ – and obey His Word. 

Abiding and obedience are the keys to a successful Spirit-dominated life. 

We are as much sanctified as we are possessed by the Holy Spirit.  It is never a question of how much you and I have of the Spirit, but how much He has of us. 

The Scriptures teach that “sanctification” has three parts to it.

1.  The moment you receive Christ there is an immediate sanctification.

2.  As we progress in the Christian life there is a “progressive sanctification.”

3.  When we go to heaven there will be total and “complete” sanctification, which is called “glorification.”

Whether we realize it or not we are growing spiritually through the conflicts, turbulence, troubles, temptations, testings, and so on that afflict all Christians slowly or rapidly.  But there is coming a day when all of this will be past, and we will be completely sanctified, We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is” (1 John 3:2).

— Amen

Excerpt from Billy Graham’s book The Holy Spirit You can find an extensive collection of Mr. Graham’s books available for purchase in Ruth’s Attic Bookstore at The Cove.  Call 1-800-950-2092. 

Phil Wickham’s New Outlook on Life

By Kristy Etheridge

Phil WickhamBetween recording a new album and raising a toddler, worship leader/songwriter Phil Wickham’s life is a flurry of activity, and it’s about to get even more exciting.
Wickham’s wife is pregnant with the couple’s second daughter, due in July.

“It’s going to be a crazy couple of years,” said Wickham on having two children under the age of two. “We’re hoping they’ll be really close friends.”

The Humbling Side of Fatherhood

The 29-year-old musician — who is clearly head-over-heels for his 18-month-old daughter, Penelope — can’t even imagine what it’ll be like to welcome a second little girl into his life. He just knows it’s going to be a whole different world.

“I can’t wait to experience it,” said Wickham, who admits fatherhood can be a humbling experience.

“You don’t have any pride left when you’re sitting at a table in a restaurant, and your kid barfs, and you’re under the table cleaning it up.”

Sure, there are awkward moments, but in the next breath, Wickham explains that they’re absolutely worth it.

“I’ve just so fallen in love with this girl,” he said. “Your life is no longer about you. It’s about training and loving and meeting the needs of this little person.”

While parenthood may not be an overt theme in Wickham’s music, he says being a dad is something that has subtly infused itself into his songwriting.

“I haven’t literally written about it,” said Wickham, “but there’s a whole new lens added to everything. A whole new lens to look at the world. It’s hard to express how much it changes the way I even view myself, because it’s amazing. You see God in this different way, and it’s so humbling. It’s so humbling to have a kid.”

Testimony of Grace

Wickham is preparing to release a new record called “The Ascension,” which may come out in late summer/early fall. The album shares its name with the title track, based on the book of Psalms.

“Some of the psalms are called “Psalms of Ascent,” said Wickham. “People would sing as they went up to Jerusalem to the house of the Lord. They’d be singing these songs to kind of prepare their hearts for the presence of God.”

Wickham says the idea of running into the Lord’s presence is a recurring theme in the record, the majority of which he penned himself.

Even though he hasn’t yet reached his thirties, Wickham has already been writing music for many years. Raised in the Church with worship leader parents, Wickham dedicated his life to the Lord as a sixth grader.

“I remember being a 12-year-old kid, and I wanted to officially say, ‘God, I just want to follow you.’’’

Through the years, as he heard others’ dramatic testimonies of coming to the Lord, Wickham admits he sometimes felt a pang of envy that his own story wasn’t more dramatic.

“It’s not a life and death story,” said Wickham. “I’d hear these guys have these crazy testimonies of almost dying, and crazy stuff.”
It took a little time, but the Lord helped him recognize the quiet beauty of his own, unique story.

“I think it’s such a testimony of grace in a different way—how God kept my heart pure before Him.”

Bring Your Singing Voice

Soon, Wickham will bring his mellow, worshipful music to The Cove in Asheville, N.C. He’s the featured artist for “An Evening at The Cove” May 11, the same day of The Cove’s annual Open House event.

Wickham visited The Cove once before but has never performed there.

“It’s going to be awesome,” he said. “I loved it up there the last time I went. It’s so beautiful.”

The mountain retreat is run by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Wickham says Billy Graham is someone he looks up to and respects for the positive influence he’s had on so many.

“It’s crazy — in one man’s life you just follow these trails of fruit and significance,” he said of Mr. Graham’s legacy.

Wickham’s performance at The Cove will be an acoustic one, featuring bits and pieces from half a dozen albums such as Cannons, Singalong, and Heaven and Earth.

“I try to keep it as intimate as possible,” said Wickham. “I love when I have just me and an acoustic guitar on stage. There’s more room to get to know each other and have community and hang out.”

Wickham says the evening will be “low key,” but the audience should be ready to worship and praise the Lord together.

“Come with your singing voice ready.”

For tickets or more info about the Phil Wickham concert event or other Evening at the Cove dates, click here or call 1-800-950-2092.

My Fondest Memories of “Uncle Bev”

By Will Graham

This week we lost a dear friend and member of our organization, George Beverly Shea, whom I’ve had the great pleasure and honor of knowing my entire life.

“Uncle Bev” may not have been a relative, but I consider him a part of my family. He always treated me like a grandson. Of course, this humble man of God treated everyone with whom he interacted in his 104 years on this earth the same way and left us all better for knowing him.

Some of my fondest memories of “Uncle Bev” are of visiting him in his home, where he would play the organ and sing many of his favorite hymns for me. Those are memories that I’ll cherish and carry with me.

He was also so gracious to join me in two of my very first outreaches – in Gastonia, N.C., and Paducah, Ky. – as I was starting out as a young evangelist. To stand beside the man who paved the way for my grandfather through music for so many decades was extremely humbling. And just like with my grandfather and with my father, I had the privilege to sing with him the song, “This Little Light of Mine.” The Grahams are not known for their singing abilities, so Cliff Barrows and Bev Shea would sing the beautiful song and when it came to the part, “Hide it under a bushel?” I would then yell out “NO!” That was my only part, but what a joy and a tremendous memory.

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I ask you join me in praying for Bev’s wife, Karlene, his children, Ron and Elaine, and their families.

We’ll all miss him greatly, but can smile as we think of him sitting at our Savior’s feet singing “I’d Rather Have Jesus.”