Rebecca St. James will join us at The Cove on Aug. 11 (you can still get tickets here). In advance of the show, Rebecca wanted to share the video devotional below with our “Notes From The Cove” readers. Here, she talks about the grace and kindness of our God – grace that He provides, not because we deserve it, but because that is who He is.
By Amanda Parrish
In a life often run dry by constant activity, the pressures of decisions, disappointments, anger and regret, many seek a chance to pause and breathe.
Giving participants this chance is part of the heart of The Cove. Challenging guests to relax, refresh and renew while growing and learning is an important part of ministry. This challenge lives within the hearts of staff members and volunteers. Beyond the greeting smiles, lies a heart of more than mere politeness. All incoming groups have been cared for long before entering the gates at the bottom of the mountain. Fully aware of life’s many challenges and difficulties, the staff and volunteers at The Cove commit to praying and providing for guests before their arrival and during their stay.
Nearly every department of The Cove, from office staff to house cleaning, has determined to care not only for the physical needs of the participants, but also the core spiritual needs.
To the approximately 20 housekeepers charged with cleaning the inns and cabins, scrubbing bathrooms and changing sheets is not just a necessary duty. Their goal is to provide a restful environment, relieving the guests of pressures and worries, allowing them the space to hear God.
“We are here to take the cares of the world away so they can focus on the Lord,” Tina McGuinn, who oversees lodging and housekeeping, said. “That’s our dearest ministry.”
Cleaning the sinks and dusting the furniture, these precious women dedicate much of their time praying for the participants. The housekeepers pray for the encouragement, the refreshment and the healing of the guests. They pray the teaching and quiet time will remain with the participants and be incorporated into life as they return home. They pray for an outpouring of joy, peace and rest. Their purpose does not lie solely in cleaning, but ministering in the simplest way. The staff’s desire is to help relieve the pressures of the world, allowing guests to be free to move toward the heart of God.
Deanna Sales, food service coordinator at The Cove, said the dining room staff prays for the guests as well. While greeting participants and serving their tables, the staff pray for the needs of the guests. Familiar with life’s struggles, each staff member can sympathize with the need for refreshment and a friendly, encouraging smile.
Before each meal, the dining room workers gather together, grasp hands and take a moment to share needs. Prayers for the refreshment of each guest entering the dining room, strength for the staff and peace for those “closest to eternity,” fills the small circle before the meal rush begins.
Kay Whithington, volunteer coordinator for the Prayer Intercessors at The Cove, also seeks to minister to guests and staff. “Our hope is to be a source of encouragement,” Whittington said.
This team of volunteers prays consistently for the staff and participants of The Cove. Walking about the grounds, meeting in the chapel and praying about the needs and concerns of all on campus is part of their ministry.
Office staff also grasps the opportunity to pray for the guests. Receiving a list of seminar participant’s names, each member of the staff prays for the group and for the individuals.
The importance of praying and caring resonates with many guests. Some face the difficulties of life and find strength to continue and others worn thin find encouragement to begin again. This is a ministry of caring ingrained into the heart and history of The Cove.
Join us tonight at 7:15 p.m. ET for a free live webcast with Dr. Gary Chapman, best-selling author of The Five Love Languages series. This is the first session of his weekend seminar at The Cove entitled “The Greatest Commandment.” Visit us at www.thecove.org!
Jesus said, “Love God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.” Learn how a vibrant relationship with God enables Him to use you to lead others to Himself.
We hope you can tune in, and share it with your friends!
Don’t miss this opportunity to honor your pastor! Christian Tools of Affirmation (CTA) seeks to honor, affirm and encourage pastors by recognizing their Christ-like sacrificial commitment and dedication to God’s high calling to care for the lives of those they shepherd.
A servant heart demonstrates selfless love and service – motivated by a love for Christ. Nominate your pastor for the “Servant Heart Award.”
Online nominations will be accepted until 6 p.m. EDT on July 29, 2011. The grand prize winner will receive a trip to the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove in Asheville, NC – an opportunity to escape for a spiritual retreat.
Also, a gift will be given to the first 1,000 nominations submitted online! Click here to read the Servant Heart Award rules.
Mark was a successful businessman. He admitted that he was reluctant to call my office. “But I’m desperate,” he said. “My wife told me last week that she does not love me; in fact, she doesn’t even like me and she wants me out of her life. How can that be true?” he continued. “We have a good marriage. I’m a good provider. We have a nice house and three wonderful children. I love Suzanne deeply. I’ve given her everything she wanted. I don’t understand. How can she just throw away seventeen years of marriage? If I were a bad husband, I could understand; but I’m a good husband. I’ve never been unfaithful to her.” Tears are now flowing down Mark’s face. “Besides that,” he said, “we’re Christians and Christians just don’t stop loving each other.”
I spent some time expressing empathy with Mark’s pain and frustration. Then I asked, “Has Suzanne verbalized complaints to you over the past few years?” “She’s always saying that we don’t spend enough time together. My business is very demanding.” “What else has she complained about?” I inquired. “She says we don’t talk. When I get home, I’m tired of talking. I’ve talked all day and I need some down time.” “What else has she complained about?” I asked. “A couple of weeks ago, she said that I loved golf more than I loved her. That’s not true. Golf is one of the ways that I unwind and it’s good for the business.”
It was obvious to me that Suzanne’s primary love language was Quality Time, and Mark had not spoken her language in a long time. I knew that there was no quick fix for Mark’s marriage. I wasn’t even sure that Suzanne was willing to talk about it.
The need to feel loved is our deepest emotional need. When that need is unmet over a period of time, we lose our romantic love feelings for our spouse. Then, their negative behavior patterns begin to annoy us. That is why Suzanne could say, “I don’t love you; I don’t even like you.”
After thirty years of marriage counseling, I am convinced that there are only five basic languages of love. Each person has a primary love language. If you don’t learn how to speak your spouse’s primary love language, he or she will eventually lose their feelings of positive regard toward you and will, in fact, dislike you. If you speak your spouse’s primary love language, you keep emotional love alive in the relationship.
Let me briefly describe each of the five languages.
Number one: Words of Affirmation: using words to affirm your spouse. “You look nice in that outfit;” “Thanks for taking the trash out. I really appreciate all the hard work you do.” “You are the greatest.” The scriptures say “Life and death are in the power of the tongue.” (Proverbs 18:21)
Number two: Gifts. My academic background is anthropology, the study of cultures. We have never discovered a culture in which gift giving is not an expression of love. A gift says “She was thinking about me. Look what she got for me.” Gifts need not be expensive. Haven’t we always said, “It’s the thought that counts”? If Gifts is your spouse’s primary love language, it is not what you give but how often you give that communicates love.
Number Three: Acts of Service. The scriptures admonish that we are to love not only in word but in deed. (I John 3:18) Cooking a meal is an act of service. Washing the car, walking the dog, mowing the grass, doing the laundry, changing the baby, and vacuuming the carpet are all expressions of love.
Number Four: Quality Time. Quality Time means giving your spouse your undivided attention. It is not sitting on the couch watching television. It is sitting on the couch with the TV off, looking at each other; or taking a walk down the road and talking with each other. It may involve a picnic or a weekend away. The important thing is the two of you are sharing life with each other. The next time you are watching television and your spouse walks in the room, put the TV on mute, turn and look at your spouse. Give them your undivided attention and you communicate that they are more important than anything on television. It is a powerful expression of love.
Number Five: Physical Touch. We have long known the emotional power of physical touch. Holding hands; embracing; kissing; sexual intercourse; putting your arm around their shoulder; putting your hand on their leg as you drive down the road; a back rub; or perhaps gently wrestling them to the floor are all expressions of love.
The key to keeping emotional love alive in a marriage is learning to speak each other’s primary love language. So how do you discover your spouse’s love language? Answer the following three questions. “How does my spouse most often express love to me?” If they give you words of affirmation regularly, that may be their love language. They are giving you what they wish you would give them. Number two: “What does your spouse complain about most often?” Our complaints reveal our deepest desires. Suzanne complained, “We don’t ever have time for each other. We don’t talk. You love golf more than you love me.” Quality Time was her primary love language. Number three: “What does your spouse request most often?” If your spouse says “Would you help me make up the bed?” “Would you give the children a bath tonight?” Such requests, if they come regularly indicate his/her primary love language is Acts of Service.
Three things are required if you are to be a successful lover. Number one: Information: What is your spouse’s primary love language? Number two: The will to love. Love is a choice. And Number three: Regular expressions of love, using your spouse’s primary love language.
It took Suzanne nine months of counseling to work through the pain, the hurt, the neglect and the lack of empathy exhibited by Mark. But eventually, their marriage was reborn. “If anyone had told me that I could have love feelings for him again, I would never have believed it,” said Suzanne. “But I do. He’s speaking my language,” she said with a smile on her face. Learn to speak your spouse’s primary love language and you too can live with a smiling mate.
Dr. Chapman will be at The Cove July 29-31. Space is still available. Click here for more information. A free live webcast of the first session will take place on July 29 at 7:15 ET on www.thecove.org.
In Matthew 22:37, Jesus affirms the greatest commandment: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” He continues in verse 39: “And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
Can you love others without loving God first? Dr. Gary Chapman, best-selling author of The Five Love Languages series, will tackle that question at his seminar at The Cove later this month.
Space is still available for “The Greatest Commandment” with Gary Chapman July 29-31. Reserve your place today.
Last night, we kicked off a wonderful time of worship and Bible study at our SeniorCelebration, hosted by Cliff Barrows.
Soul-stirring music from the Smith Family set the stage for the evening, and Mel Blackaby of First Baptist Church in Jonesboro, Ga., led a time of study on the topic of abundant life, using Scripture from John 10:10: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
How do you have abundant life? If you don’t have joy and peace, you may have “religion,” but not a personal relationship with Christ. Abundant life is not about us … it’s about Him. We must give ourselves away.
Jesus did not tell us to go and make “decisions.” He said go and make “disciples.” If our hearts are truly changed, we will experience true joy and excitement at the opportunity to serve Him.
This seminar, which wraps up on Wednesday, promises to be another event where those attending leave challenged and full of Biblical truth to return and make a difference in their home churches. New friendships begin and prayer connections are found with people who have never previously met. Abundant life is not what we receive, but rather what we can give to others.
Will Graham, assistant director for The Cove, recently held a Celebration in Nakura, Kenya, where in preached the Gospel (in the rain) to thousands.
“We had a wonderful time. She had a wonderful time,” Will said. “She was extremely nervous. She hadn’t worked with a translator very much, but she was a huge blessing to the women. She’s a gifted speaker and very good communicator of the Bible.”
Join us tonight, Friday, July 15th at 7:15 ET for a free live webcast from The Cove!
Josh and Sean McDowell will be with us leading a seminar called “Unshakable Truth, Relevant Faith.”
The first session will stream live on www.thecove.org. You can also participate in a live Q&A session.
Don’t miss this great opportunity to experience a session at The Cove from the comforts of your own home.
On Aug. 11, contemporary Christian music artist Rebecca St. James will perform an intimate concert at The Cove. Her latest album, I Will Praise You, is all about the vast “unfathomable love of God.” She’s describes it in detail to The Baptist Standard:
“In this season of new music, God has been reminding me: ‘This is about Jesus. This is about praising him and inviting other people into that journey with you.’ My mission statement and focus is, ‘Get out of the way, Rebecca, and just let people see Jesus.’ It’s all about his glory.”
Hear more of Rebecca’s inspiration:
You can hear Rebecca St. James live at The Cove on Aug. 11. Tickets are still available. Contact us today to reserve your seats.