GUEST POST: A Ministry of Presence

By Jack Munday, Director of the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team

Dealing with tragedy often leaves people feeling overwhelmed and helpless. What do you say to a loved one who found out that she has cancer? Or to a friend who just lost his parents in a tragic accident? As you wrestle with the realities of life and death, what can you do to bring the smallest amount of comfort into an unbearable situation?

Many, if not all, of you reading this are going through a life-changing hardship, or know someone who is. When the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team, a nationwide network of chaplains trained in crisis-response, deploys into an area impacted by a man-made or natural disaster, we often find that up to 70 percent of the people with whom we interact were already in the midst of a personal tragedy in their lives before the large-scale disaster struck.

When personal disasters occur, there are multiple needs that must be met. There are the obvious physical needs, such as financial assistance, medical care, rides to the hospital and pharmacy, and others. Beyond that, however, exist the emotional and spiritual needs that often receive less attention.

What do you do if a friend or loved one’s world just changed forever? Perhaps the most important thing to offer is what we call a “ministry of presence.” Simply being there for your friend can mean more to them than you may ever know. It seems that many of us have a built-in fear of getting too close to sorrow, so our first inclination is to run from the pain. We’ll say, “I’m praying for you,” as we run out the side door. We treat our friends, with whom we were laughing and shopping two weeks ago, like we want nothing to do with them.

Jack Munday
Billy Graham Rapid Response Team Director Jack Munday ministers with victims of all kinds of disasters, both natural and man-made.

The emotional toll of that, especially in addition to the physical circumstances of whatever they are going through, is enormously destructive. That’s why it is so important to be there for your friend. What should you say? Consider this: maybe you don’t need to say anything!  Many of you know the biblical story of Job, a wealthy man who lost nearly everything he had – his possessions, his family and his health. Three friends came to mourn with him, and the Bible tells us: “Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.” (Job 2:13, NIV) They didn’t have to say a word; they just sat with him as friends. In fact, everybody was a lot better off when the friends weren’t speaking!

Very few people who are going through a tragedy feel like listening to a sermon. What they do want is the chance to share their story and the concerns of their heart. Ask questions that give them that opportunity. We have found that asking “How are you holding up?” is a much better option than asking “How are you doing?” If you ask “How are you doing?” many will reply “fine,” even though we all know they aren’t. Or, in more extreme circumstances, they may angrily retort, “How do you think I’m doing!?” Asking “How are you holding up?” acknowledges that they are going through a hard time and opens the door for an honest answer.

I would also encourage you to not discard the spiritual as you minister to the emotional needs of your friend. As we travel through despair and trial, it’s important to know God is greater than our current pain and sorrow.

Two verses that offer a great amount of hope are Jeremiah 29:11, which reads, “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” (NIV) Also, Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, whohave been called according to his purpose.” (NIV) God is very much able to take the broken pieces of our lives and make something good out of them, though we may never know this side of Heaven what that is.

The cornerstone of the Christian faith is the wondrous truth that God, rather than remaining distant and aloof from our suffering, sent His one and only Son Jesus Christ into this world as a “Man of sorrows who was acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3). After dying on the cross for our sins, Christ – through His resurrection from the grave – made it possible for us to have hope that endures for eternity.

Whether you are supporting someone who is dealing with tragedy, or if you yourself are the one walking through this valley, lean on God, not on your own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5). And please remember that through it all, often the best thing you can do is simply be available to offer love, respect, support and encouragement … without ever saying a word!

If you are interested in learning more, The Cove is offering a leadership training seminar entitled “Sharing Hope in Crisis” on February 25. This program will equip you to give effective emotional and spiritual care to people experiencing tragedy and crisis. Designed for use in daily life and ministry, as well as community or regional catastrophic situations, it will introduce you to the work of RRT and is a requirement to be an RRT chaplain. Click here to learn more.

Jack Munday is the director of the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team, a nationwide network of crisis-trained chaplains who are prepared to deploy into manmade and natural disasters to minister to the emotional and spiritual needs of survivors. He is also a senior chaplain with the International Fellowship of Chaplains and a chaplain with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department. Jack lives in Charlotte, N.C., with his wife of more than 40 years, Bonnie.

Ladies, Join Us for Bible Study

Beginning next week, there are two weekly opportunities to participate in a free women’s Bible study at The Cove in Asheville, NC. On Tuesday mornings at 9:45 a.m., join Jane Derrick for a study through the book of Acts. On Tuesday evenings at 6:30 p.m., Kendra Graham will guide participants in a Bible study on the life of Joshua.

If you are able to participant, we are sure you will sense God’s presence in the majestic setting of The Cove and during meaningful times of worship and Bible teaching. There will be small group opportunities to connect with new and old friends.

At the morning study each week(starting Jan. 10), an optional ($10) lunch will be available by reservation.  Reservations for lunch must be made by noon on the Friday prior to the Bible Study. Please note meal tickets are non-refundable.

For more information, or to register, call (800) 950-2092 or visit www.thecove.org. We hope to see you there!

A Fresh Start

Photo from Flickr by alkruse24.

With each New Year, we have the opportunity to wipe the slate clean…to get a fresh start. Most people take this opportunity to make New Year’s resolutions, which might include a new diet, starting an exercise program, spending more quality time with family, saving money or reaching a particular goal at work. Whatever the resolution, turning the calendar to “January 1” provides the added motivation we sometimes need to begin again.

There’s a great article from Anne Graham Lotz on BillyGraham.org on the topic of beginning again. In all of human history, few names are greater than that of Abraham. Yet his life was marked by failure. The reason we associate Abraham with faith and friendship with God is that when he failed, he didn’t quit. He began again.

If your goal in 2012 is beginning again in your relationship with God, we want to help. We have a number of resources on our website at www.thecove.org/resources. You can also visit the “Spiritual Growth” section of BillyGraham.org.

Or, if you prefer to just get some time away on your own, check out our Personal Spiritual Retreats. These are self-directed opportunities for an individual or a couple to refocus on growing their relationship with God in the beauty and peaceful quiet of The Cove in Asheville, NC.

For more information, please visit www.TheCove.org or contact our reservations department at (800) 950-2092. Special rates are available for those in full-time Christian ministry.

Whatever you do, we pray that for you, 2012 will be a year that you strive to know God better and help others know Him.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2

Free Marriage Seminar at The Cove for Active Duty Military

This is just a small way we can say thanks to our brave men and women in uniform. Active duty military personnel and their spouses are invited to a FREE Military Marriage Seminar Feb. 10-12. Participants will see the biblical perspective on marriage with application for the unique experiences of military life. Renowned Bible teacher Michael Easley will be the key speaker, but we’ll have other special guests including Captain Jim Kinney, retired after 26 years in the Navy; Sara Horn, founder of Wives of Faith; and Cindy Easley, nationally known marriage speaker.

Also note that you can come early for some extra time to relax and enjoy the beauty and serenity of The Cove or stay over for An Evening at The Cove with Sara Groves and enjoy dinner and a concert—either way, it’s our treat, and another way of expressing our thanks.
*Please note: if both “Come Early” and “Stay Over” options are chosen, applicable charges will apply for one event.

Space is very limited, so if you or someone you know is interested, act quickly! You will need to complete a short application for the military scholarship and fax it to (828) 771-4808 or mail it to:

The Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove
Attention Military Awards Committee
P.O. Box 19223
Asheville, NC 28815

UPDATE: On-site lodging for this event is full, however our staff can assist you with nearby hotel accommodations at a discounted rate. Call us at (800) 950-2092 for more information.

Recipe from The Cove’s Kitchen: A side dish to share

Recipe from The Cove’s Kitchen: Pea Salad


You asked for it, you got it!  Pea salad is a favorite of many of our guests. Perhaps this dish will find a place at your table. If so, let us know how it turns out!

Yield: 1½ lb  ●  Portion Size: 4 oz  ●  Portions: 6

Ingredients:

9 oz          green peas
½ Cup    dry roasted peanuts
6 oz          shredded cheddar cheese
¼ Cup     red onion minced
1 Cup       mayonnaise
2 Tbsn     heavy cream
2 Tbsn     buttermilk
4 Tbsn     cider vinegar
1 tsp         granulated sugar
To taste   Salt & Pepper

Procedure:

Blend to combine for dressing: 
Mayonnaise
Cream
Buttermilk
Vinegar
Salt & Pepper

Toss to combine:
Peas
Peanuts
Cheese
Onion

Mix the dressing with the other ingredients and refrigerate overnight.

Serve and enjoy!

Click here for a printable recipe.

Want to taste the food at The Cove for yourself?  Come see us!
Visit our website, www.thecove.org, to see a list of events.

GUEST POST: What Does it Mean To Me?

By Kendra Graham

Have you ever walked out of church, away from Bible study, or gotten up from your quiet time and wondered, “So, what does that mean to me?”  I found myself asking this question time and time again. I loved the Lord, and I spent daily time in devotions, whether it was reading a passage of Scripture, doing a Bible study book on my own, or reading something like Our Daily Bread or Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest. But, I still felt like something was missing.

Shortly after I was married to my husband Will, I was introduced to his Aunt Anne [Graham Lotz]. Anne had just come out with her first published video series, “Vision of His Glory,” a study on Revelation. I was intrigued.  Anne taught a method called the three questions: What does it say? What does it mean? and What does it mean to me?

It was that last question in the series that caught my attention, and deep inside my soul I screamed, “Yes! This is what I have been waiting for!”

Anne taught me how to study God’s Word without using every commentary aid on the market, and it made all the difference in the world!  My daily quiet times became the most anticipated part of my day! I was now able to open God’s Word, read it and listen for God to speak to me! God’s Word began to transform my life like never before. The hunger in my soul was being satisfied, yet at the same time I just wanted more and more. And, more there is, everyday…. just enough to get me through until the next time we meet in the stillness of my morning.

I have always respected God’s Word with the utmost respect, but now, God’s Word has become precious in the indescribable ways. Come to the upcoming Bible study on Joshua, allow me to teach you the treasure of these three questions, and hear God speak personally to you.

Click here to learn more or to register for the Bible study.

GUEST POST: A Life Guided and Cared for by God

By Jane Derrick

I will lead a free women’s Bible study at The Cove on Tuesday mornings Jan. 10 through March 20. As we study the book of Acts, we will be amazed at how powerfully and lovingly God guided and cared for the early followers of Christ. Each week, we will seek to encourage one another and to grow in our awareness of God’s presence and help in our lives.

Watch this video invitation we recorded with more information. I hope you will join us … and invite your friends!

Click here to learn more or to register for the Bible study.

GUEST POST: Seeking Jesus Like the Magi

By Kendra Graham

On Sunday after the Ladies Luncheon event, as I walked out of the auditorium at the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove, I was left with the magnificence of God’s Christmas gift.  My cousin, Rachel-Ruth Wright, was invited to come to The Cove to share God’s Word, and that she did!

Matthew 2:1-11 speaks of God’s precious gift of Jesus to a sinful world.  Matthew 2:2 says, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews, for we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him!”

Rachel-Ruth Bell Wright shares from God's Word at the Ladies Christmas Luncheon on Dec. 4.

Rachel-Ruth shared how Heaven was opened up for the shepherds on the night when Jesus was born and invited them to the manger of the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. But that same night, a star appeared in the east to the Magi, who were looking in the night sky. When they saw the star, they packed their bags and followed it mile after mile to where Jesus was.

How great a Savior, who comes to His chosen people, the Jews, AND to the Gentiles!  Jesus is for the whole world. “For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes on Him SHALL be saved (John 3:16)” Jesus was born!

Rachel-Ruth reminded us that in a world that was unsteady, an economy ready to bust, oppression at its highest peak, Jesus came. Jesus who will shepherd His people (Matthew 2:6). Jesus loves us and cares enough to lead us, protect us and tenderly care for us as we maneuver through life.

Rachel-Ruth reminded us how the Magi sought the Child until they found Him, and when they found Him, they worshipped Him and fell down at His feet (Matthew 2: 9-11).  God’s Word promises us when we seek we will find – if we seek with our whole hearts (Jeremiah 29:13). Rachel Ruth asked if this Christmas was the Christmas God has whispered in your ear, “You have sought Me, and found me. Come today.” Today is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2).

Ten women asked Jesus to forgive them of their sins! What a glorious day, to see God work in the lives of His people. Like the Magi, who went back to their homes a different way, these ten women went back to their homes, not a different way, but entirely different indeed. These ten women are eternally changed by the love of God revealed at Christmas. Praise God for His indescribable gift of Jesus (2 Corinthians 9:15).

Today, maybe you have been seeking like the Magi from the east. Maybe you have come a long way, through pain, suffering, times of heat and cold, but today, as you have read the message Rachel-Ruth gave at The Cove, maybe you are hearing God whisper in your ear, “Here I Am! You have found all you have been seeking!” Jesus is everything.

God promises in His Word “If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness!” (John 1:9).  Will you ask Jesus to forgive you, and to clean your heart this day? There is no greater gift you could lay at the feet of Jesus than your sin that He died to cover. What say you?

Kendra Graham is the wife of Will Graham, assistant director of The Cove and associate evangelist for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Kendra leads a free weekly women’s Bible study at The Cove January 10 – February 21, 2012. Click here to learn more or to register.

Mark your calendars for next year’s Ladies Luncheon: Dec. 9, 2012. Click here for more information or to register.

 

2012 Preview

It’s already December! For most of us, it’s the busiest time of year. At The Cove, in addition to all of our Christmas at The Cove activities, we are ramping up for 2012. We have a tentative schedule available, so we hope you will take a look and make plans to come see us next year.

Here are a few highlights of what we are planning:

-Jim Cymbala: “Ministering Christ to Others” (concluding session with Will Graham), March 28–30
-Henry, Richard & Mike Blackaby: “Experiencing God Through the Generations,” April 20–22
-Chip Ingram: “Unstuck: How Christ Moves Us Beyond a Painful Past,” May 25–27
-Sean McDowell and Alex McFarland: “Questions Every Christian Should Know How to Answer,” July 27–29
-Stormie Omartian: “The Power of a Praying Life,” September 4–6
-Anne Graham Lotz: “Pursuing More of Jesus,” November 9–11

For our regional friends, mark your calendars for our FREE Women’s Bible Studies, January through March. And, our annual open house will by May 12.

Of course, we’ll also have our Senior events and Evening at The Cove concerts throughout the year, plus a few other things we’ll announce soon. Stay tuned!

 

The blog of the Billy Graham Training Center at the Cove