Prayer Note: December 2017

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 Title Image

The Unlikely Arrival of a Savior

An Inconvenient Law

And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city” (Luke 2:1-3, NKJV).

It was a tough job keeping up with all of Rome’s subjects throughout the known world; so the emperor made a decree—a law which proved inconvenient for many as they were required to travel great distances to their ancestral homes to register. Yet that same law—that inconvenient requirement sent down from the world’s highest seat of power—was simply the means God used to fulfill one of the ancient prophecies of the coming of His Son. “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting” (Micah 5:2, NKJV).

The Savior whose birth we celebrate is the Son of God, the second member of the Trinity, eternally existing, not bound by time; yet “it came to pass” because of Him!  As we turn the calendar page to the month of December and face an already jam-packed schedule, we can pray a prayer of thanks that whatever comes to pass will be only what He has allowed. Even inconveniences may be priceless gifts that arrive wrapped in brown paper.

A Scandalous Story

Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child”  (Luke 2:4-5, NKJV).

If you’ve recently turned off the evening news in favor of watching a Christmas movie, you’re probably not alone. At this point we’ve all had our fill of scandals. Yet as we open the Bible and read the numerous accounts of shocking betrayals and shamelessly deceptive relationships we’re reminded that scandals are not new. There were even whispers and rumors surrounding Jesus’ birth, and these seemingly shameful circumstances of His conception were later used to mock and discredit Him by those who felt threatened by Him (see John 6:42, 8:41). Yet the fact remains that God in His wisdom chose to place His sinless Son in the womb of an unmarried young virgin. Christ’s virgin birth, prophesied hundreds of years before it occurred, was a sign of His undeniable divinity. Why is the miracle of Jesus’ virgin birth important? As Billy Graham has said, “It tells us that Jesus was indeed the divine Son of God, sent from Heaven to save us from our sins.”

An Overbooked Inn

So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:6-7, NKJV).

We’ve heard the story a hundred times, yet the words “no room for them in the inn” still cause us to shake our heads in bewilderment. The divine Son of God, creator of the world, comes to be born in a body of flesh and finds no room? The “No Vacancy” sign reminds us that from His first earthly breath Jesus showed us His humility, identifying with us in our humanity. Rejection. Homelessness. Poverty. He experienced it all (see Philippians 2:5-8 and Hebrews 4:15).

A Fragile Peace

Then the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!’”
(Luke 2:10-14, NKJV)

Jesus may have been born during the time of peace known as the Pax Romana, yet the peace in Israel was one of heavy-handed domination by Rome. And although the vast empire was seemingly free from war, the fallen human race was still at war with itself due to the effects of sin. On the night the angels sang their majestic worship song to the audience of astonished shepherds, the world around them was filled with prejudice, oppression, abuse of power and religious hypocrisy.

The days we live in are much the same.  Nuclear missile tests…terror threats…political scandals…racial and cultural divides. Peace on earth? Goodwill toward men? Take a quick glance at social media and you’ll find proof of an alarming lack of goodwill. Seething anger often simmers just below the surface, regularly boiling over and finding outlet in cruel and abrasive words sent via an innocuously named social media phenomenon known as a “Tweet.”

Yet despite the lack of peace and good will, despite news reports of tragedies and scandals, despite illness, exhaustion and overcrowded schedules, we celebrate. Emmanuel has come.

A Timeless Truth

Every December we do it again. We pray that He would make the story come alive in our hearts. We pray that He would again fill us with a sense of mystery and wonder as we read the familiar words that tell us of His incarnation.

Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us” (Matthew 1:23, KJV).

Emmanuel…God with Us. With us in our brokenness—the same brokenness that broke His heart as He wept at the tomb of Lazarus.

With us in our woundedness and lack of peace—the same woundedness that caused His wounds.  “But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5, ESV).

Every December we close our eyes and pray for fresh tears as we hear the familiar story. Each Christmas we pray for fresh joy as we celebrate the advent of Emmanuel…God with Us. This is the Redeemer we celebrate. This is the God who hears us as we pray. This is the Savior who is with us as we serve.  Oh come, let us adore Him!

—Donna Riesen

We appreciate you joining us in prayer for the following events taking place on The Cove property during the month of November.

Oh come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.   (Psalm 95:6, NKJV)


Christmas at The Cove with Point of Grace — November 30, December 1 & 2

SeniorSalt Impact Carol Sings — December 4, 11 & 12

Christmas at The Cove with Mark Schultz — December 7

Christmas at The Cove with Veritas — December 8

Christmas at The Cove with Michael O’Brien — December 9

Women’s Christmas Luncheon with Lori Frank — December 10
The Glory of Christmas

 Christmas at The Cove with Phillips, Craig & Dean — December 12 & 14 

Kendra Graham’s Online Bible Study — Romans 9:12, 17

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!

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Kendra Graham notes from Romans 9:12, 17

It was said to her, “The older will serve the younger.”

For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I raised you up to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the earth.”


The older will serve the younger.

For THIS purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, that My name proclaimed throughout the earth.

Step 2


Welcome to Herod’s Judea!  Well, that is what Herod the Great would have liked everyone to say from his time on earth until the end of time.  Herod had an eye for architecture and could be described with ease as a master builder.  Herod, like many of the Roman rulers, had a problem with extreme arrogance and desire for power, prestige, and significance.

Herod was not a Roman Caesar but was given a decent chunk of the Roman empire to rule and reign over.  Herod was going to press as close to that line where Octavian (Caesar Augustus) walked as he could without being labeled a threat by the empire. Herod wanted to be remembered until the end of days as one of the greatest of all time.  Truth be told, most people when asked about who “Herod the Great” was would probably mention something about killing baby boys during the time of Christ.

The Herodium is located 7 miles south of Jerusalem and 3 miles southeast of Bethlehem.

Herodium on map

The Herodium rises out of the Judean desert like a volcano.  This fortress, and others built by Herod, were built due to Herod’s paranoia of the Jews.  Herod was never worried about his throne being taken away by Caesar, but Herod never trusted the subjects he ruled over.  The towers in Jerusalem, for instance, were strategically placed so that he could monitor those inside the walls, not those who could come from the outside.

Herodium ruins (3) for blog

Herod was an Edomite, a direct descendant of Esau (the older brother).  Herod was also a ruler of Israel, the descendants of Jacob (the older ruling over the younger).  Isn’t that interesting?  Out of all the people that could have ruled over Judea at that specific time when Jesus the Messiah was born,  was an Edomite.

Scholars think that the place the wise men came to inquire of Herod could have easily been at the Herodium due to its proximity to Bethlehem. The star the wise men were following could have taken them towards Bethlehem; as they approached and caught sight of  this massive castle-like structure rising out of the desert, it surely must have caught their attention. This structure breathed power and prestige–a place fit for the King of kings.  Who else would be able to create an oasis out of an empty desert?  It makes sense that when Herod (the older, from Esau) heard the news of Jesus (the younger, from Jacob) being a king, it fed his paranoia.  The Word of God, the Truth, will always prevail.  I think Herod deep in his heart knew that but would fight against it until the day he died. Much like many of us today.

The dichotomy between wealth and power according to the world’s standards and God’s standards are seen when we compare Jesus and Herod.  Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the city of David.  Jesus was not born in a prestigious man-made fortress, on top of the world so all could see, but Jesus was born in one of the thousands of shepherds caves carved out by the hand of God.

Herod the Great jockeyed for position in the Roman Empire to satisfy his thirst for power and prestige to be recognized as a deity.  Herod had no regard for human life but killed anyone who would threaten his throne.

Jesus, in humility, walked with God daily and was compelled towards men and women, (His handmade creation). Everything Jesus did was focused to show the power and glory of God as He proclaimed God’s name throughout the earth.  Jesus left this world without building one structure that we know of.  Jesus left nothing that we can say with certainty was owned by Him.  Jesus lived to give His life on a cross, bearing complete shame so that we can live life and live it abundantly (John 10).  Jesus gave all He had away, even to His last breath, yet the impact He has had, has far outweighed Herod who tried so hard to build lasting impact. Jesus lived a life of faith in God, showing us God’s Word and character can be trusted.

Herod chose to put his trust in bricks and mortar so that his legacy would live on throughout the ages.

The older will serve the younger. The Truth of God’s Word was bitter to Herod, not that he even knew or wanted to know it.  Herod listened to the traveling wise men and anger and jealousy grew in his heart.  Herod wanted Jesus and everyone else to bow to him, to worship him, to legitimize him as ruler, and if not, he would be sure that the traitor who challenged his throne was killed.  The kill order went out and all the baby boys 2 years and under were slaughtered so that Herod could maintain his crown.  Herod thought he held all the cards, but in a moment, in a cave, in the town of Bethlehem, just 3 miles away, Jesus changed the timeline of human history. BC became AD in a moment.  Now that is power.  Herod could not touch Jesus.  Jesus is God with skin on, and the younger ruled over the older, whether Herod realized it or not.

The Bible says in Philippians 2:9-11, “For this reason, God highly exalted Him (Jesus), and gave Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Everyone, even Herod the Great, will bow to Jesus.  The older will serve the younger.  God’s Word is True.  We may not like it, it may leave a bad taste in our mouth, it may anger us to no end, but it does not change the Truth of who Jesus is.  We all must make a decision about who Jesus is.  Herod chose to trust in his bricks and mortar.  Jesus is still making a living worldwide impact today, and where is Herod?  Herod’s masterpieces are just that, in ruin pieces.  Choose you this day whom you will serve (Joshua 24).

We are created for impact.  We are each created with individual fingerprints to leave God’s unique imprint on the world around us.  It isn’t about me or you–it’s always been about Jesus.


Who do you say Jesus is?

Will you set down your own ideas of grandeur and impact and be willing to bend your knee to a God who is so relentless for you, He died for you?

How will you today, in the things you do and the things you say, allow God to demonstrate His power and His name through you?


Today, ask God how He wants to show you who He is.

Jesus, today I confess with my mouth that You are Lord, not me.  I confess that You died and rose again so that I can live that abundant life You have set aside for me.  Teach me Your Word and show me what it means to follow You.

– Kendra

P.S. Ladies, registration is open for my 2018 Women’s Bible Study at The Cove.  Let’s get together seven 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.

Watch the 2018 Women’s Bible Study video here:


This week’s verse is brought to you by Dennis, a previous dining room Line Attendant and Chapel volunteer here at The Cove. His verse is Proverbs 3:6.

 In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.

Dennis_Line Attendent

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.

Click here for a schedule of seminar, concerts, and retreats at The Cove in beautiful Asheville, NC. 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 — Hanging Beauty and Our New Parking Lot Greeter

We pray you had a blessed Thanksgiving, friends.  What was one thing you found yourself thanking God for most this year?  Tell us in the comments below.

Our staff worked hard last week getting The Cove set up for Christmas.  We’ll share later, but just take a look at this magnificent piece designed to hang above our dessert table in the dining room!

new Christmas decoration over the dessert table in dining room 2017

And this fine fella was the staff parking lot greeter one afternoon last week.  Look at that bright, shiny coat! Beautiful!

bear in parking lot November 2017

May you feel the Lord’s precious presence today in a mighty way!

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A Thanksgiving Message from Will Graham

Will Graham Guest Post

By Will Graham, Cove Executive Director

I really do appreciate Thanksgiving. What’s not to like? You get to enjoy time with family, a day full of football, and—of course—food. More than just food, it’s good food. And there’s often a lot of it.

It’s true that many of us will be feasting on significant portions of tasty treats on Thanksgiving, but as we look ahead to this wonderful time of year, I’d like to focus on a different type of hunger.

While food that nourishes our body is good, it is nowhere near as eternally important as that which nourishes the soul. We need something that will feed the spiritual hunger that is within us.

My grandfather, Billy Graham, often said that there’s a “God-shaped hole” inside each of us. It’s that space that many people try to fill with wealth, possessions, sex, drugs, alcohol, work or relationships.

The problem is, the things of this world are fleeting, they’re broken, and they’ll eventually let you down. Money and belongings can be ripped away from you in a moment. Relationships falter. Drugs and alcohol wear off and leave you right back where you were, or worse.

There’s a beautiful passage in the book of Psalms that I’ve grown to love. “For He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness” (Psalm 107:9, NKJV).

It’s such a simple sentence, but it encompasses all that mankind has been seeking for millennia. It is God who fills us up. He is the One who refreshes our soul and dwells in our innermost self, meeting those needs and desires that seem to be so elusive. We hunger for Him, and He alone satisfies.

Let me ask you this: What are you filled with today? Are you consumed with bitterness and anger? Do you feel like you’ve gotten a raw deal in life? Are you chasing the things of this world to fill an emptiness in your soul? Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired?

If so, I’d encourage you to seek God and the goodness that He brings. Rather than being consumed with the temporary and broken, you could be filled with the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

Draw close to God, let Him satisfy your longing and hungry soul, and you’ll truly have something to be thankful for this year!

Bless you,
Will Graham


This week’s verse is brought to you by Neeley, an event planner for the Guest Groups that hold their events here at The Cove. Her verse is Psalm 18:1-2.

I love you, O Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
    my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
    my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

Neely_Event Coordinator

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.

Click here for a schedule of seminar, concerts, and retreats at The Cove in beautiful Asheville, NC. 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 — It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

And so it begins…

This weekend is our last seminar for 2017, so next week all hands will be on deck to get our property all dressed up for our Christmas at The Cove events.

Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at the Christmas decorating process here at The Cove.

A lot of the pre-decorating takes place in a meeting room that we turn into a staging area.

Christmas decoration setup room 2017

Christmas decorating Nov 2017 wreath

Christmas decorating Nov 2017 the work begins
Many of our decorations are custom created every year.

decoration set up area 2017 Christmas

These two are looking very official, don’t you think?

knutcracker Christmas 2017
And speaking of Christmas, we’ve been busy all week as an Operation Christmas Child shoebox drop-off location.  Join us in prayer that this truck will continue to be filled with boxes over the weekend.  If you’d like to stop by this weekend or Monday with your shoeboxes, we’d love to see you!

OCC boxes in truck

The 106.9 The Light crew was on-site, here at The Cove, receiving shoeboxes and giving out free CDs on Friday afternoon.  The hearts of these people are so beautiful! Did you know that you can listen to the station from home? Click here to listen.

1069 for OCC drop off

These ladies were enjoying a little rockin’ and mountain air before the Joe Stowell seminar began on Friday night.

on deck before seminar Nov 17 2017

We wish you a blessed weekend, friends!

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Recipes From The Cove Kitchen: Warm Pumpkin Cake

Recipes from The Cove kitchen logoWarm Pumpkin Cake
Warm Pumpkin Cake

makes 9″x13″


20 ounces pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cup sugar
12 ounces evaporated milk
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/3 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
1 box yellow cake mix
8 ounces butter, melted
1 cup chopped pecans


Heat oven to 350°F.

Whisk together pumpkin, sugar, milk, spices, salt, and eggs.

Pour into a greased 9”x13” pan.

Sprinkle cake mix over the top. Scatter pecans over cake mix and pat down very lightly.

Drizzle with melted butter.

Bake for 30-40 min.

Serve warm.

Print this recipe.

Get more recipes from The Cove kitchen.

Enjoy delicious recipes like this on your next stay at The Cove. See a full list of upcoming events at The Cove, or contact our Guest Group department to hold your group retreat at The Cove.


This week’s verse is brought to you by Rita, the dining room coordinator here at The Cove. Her verse is Isaiah 40:31.

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary;  and they shall walk, and not faint. 

Rita_Dining Room Manager

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.

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

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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Bring Your Shoeboxes to The Cove for OCC National Collection Week


OCC Promo

It’s that time of year again to pack your shoebox(es) for Operation Christmas Child! 

A project of Samaritan’s Purse, OCC’s mission is to provide local partners around the world with shoeboxes filled with small toys, hygiene items, and school supplies as a means of reaching out to children in their own communities with the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Just like years past, The Cove will once again be a drop-off location for your shoeboxes during the National Collection Week, November 13-20, 2017.

We’re located at 1 Porter’s Cove Road, Asheville, NC (Just off of I-40, exit 55).

Learn how to pack a shoebox here, and come drop it off at The Cove during the following hours:

  • 9:00am-5:00pm ET Monday, November 13 through
    Friday, November 17
  • 12:00pm-5:00pm ET on Saturday, November 18
  • 1:00pm-6:00pm ET on Sunday November 19
  • 9:00am-8:00pm ET on Monday, November 20

Radio station 106.9 The Light will be at The Cove drop-off location on Friday, November 17 from 2:00pm – 6:00pm. They will be giving out free Christmas CDs to the first 25 families to bring shoeboxes.

We look forward to seeing you!

Watch this video to learn more about OCC and the amazing impact they have on children across the globe.

The blog of the Billy Graham Training Center at the Cove