Tag Archives: Christian Conference Center

Insight Into an ‘Intense’ Week at The Cove

Mark Yarbrough, Vice President for Communications, Associate Academic Dean, and Assistant Professor of Bible Exposition at Dallas Theological Seminary, will be leading an Intensive Bible Training seminar (IBT) at the Cove on June 18-22.  As some of you may have questions on what this seminar may include, we thought we would share a very helpful response from Mark to a potential participant.  (Don’t forget to see what Howard Hendricks has to say about Mark at the bottom of this post!)       

Letter from Tammy to Mark Yarbrough: 
Hi Mark.  I am considering attending your training intensive at The Cove (It may be full by now but I haven’t checked.) and a question.  I have been a student and teacher of the Word for many years and am looking for something to refresh and encourage me and take me deeper.  I live in Kansas City Mo, so travel to The Cove is a financial investment as well as a spiritual one, and I wanted to make sure this was the right intensive for me.  It it for more of a “Beginner” Bible student, or deeper study for those more familiar with the Word?  Thank you for your time. — Tammy

Response from Mark Yarbrough to Tammy:
Greetings from Dallas. Thank you so very much for taking the time to write.  

I’m glad you are considering the intensive training at the Cove. I hope my comments below give clarity to your questions and assist you in the decision making process. I’ll join you in prayer in that regard. I’ll trust with you that the Lord will make clear what you should do.

In describing what you are looking for…you have used words that are near and dear to my heart: “refresh”,  “encourage”, and “deeper.” That is precisely what we are after.

In many ways, the refreshment comes through the Word, the physical environment at the Cove, and the incredible staff that is present to assist your every need. I minister/speak at many places…and the ministry philosophy at the Cove is second to none. The staff is absolutely incredible, and the very design of the week is intent on pulling us out of our normal hustle and bustle…and focusing our attention to the living Word. The physical environment and beautiful surroundings even direct our attention to the Lord. It is amazing how the Lord can speak when we slow down to listen! I know that is true in my life. Fellowship is also a key ingredient to refreshment. The entire team is available to help–including a resident “pastor” for someone who desires to talk to and pray with someone else. Also, the intensive week-long sessions are generally, and purposefully, smaller in number (as opposed to larger seminars that may have several hundred). The “intensive seminars” are designed so that someone feels the individual attention so that they do indeed get “refreshed.” That also happens as we interact with one another. Fellowship is a blessing! 

In regard to “encouragement” and “deeper”– our sessions are “intense,” but not to the point of overwhelming. I firmly believe that the material covered, and the way it is presented, is applicable for all: for those who are earlier in their walk…but also for those who are grounded in the Word and who want to be challenged to step beyond their current position. Last year, we ran this same general session and we had in attendance those who were early in their understanding of the Word and those, such as yourself, who were competent Bible teachers. We cover some challenging areas: biblical studies and methodology (hermeneutics), evaluation of biblical genres (narrative, poetry, parables, preformed material, etc.), the process of correlation (developing principle statements and themes), and the validity of application. I really believe that there is something for everyone in the study, and that the student knows the depth to which the study needs to move them. I’m a classroom handout nut (!), and I enjoy passing along recommendations for books, studies, etc. We have lots of Q and A. I enjoy a lively, interactive classroom setting that keeps us moving…and moves us to be students of the Word. So, I think you will be challenged to go deeper! If that is what you are looking for, I believe this is it.

I hope that gives a little insight into the week. If you feel you desire more information, I’d be happy to share some more insight.

I also know my friends at the Cove would be thrilled to answer any questions you may have over the schedule for the week.

I hope to see you in June!

Blessings in Christ,
Mark Yarbrough

Endorsement from Howard Hendricks:
“We are living in a time when a working knowledge of the Bible is vital for our spiritual health.  Personally, I miss deeply my visit to The Cove and the opportunity to teach the Word of God, but fortunately, God has provided one of my young associates, a capable Dallas Seminary professor, Mark Yarbrough, a man of considerable giftedness biblically and technologically.  I recommend him to you for your enjoyment and serious biblical study.”

Howard G. Hendricks
Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Christian Education and Leadership Dallas Theological Seminary

Click here to register for Mark’s Intensive Bible Training on June 18-22 at The Cove in Asheville, NC.  You may also call 1-800-950-2092.

Kendra’s Bible Study…Joshua 9:7-15

Welcome to Kendra Graham’s online Bible study.  This is a place where women can come together and share their 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!

Kendra suggests you use the following process when studying Scripture.  We have included an example of this process from John 1:1.

Step 1:  Pray
Step 2: Read God’s Word (look at the passage)
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  
Step 3: What Does God’s Word Say? (list the facts)
1 In the beginning the Word was with God and was God.
Step 4: What Does God’s Word Mean? (learn the lessons)
1 God‘s Word is not just ancient philosophy, it is eternal Truth.
Step 5: What Does God’s Word Mean to Me? (listen to his voice)
1 How do I view the Bible?

Kendra Graham NOTES from Joshua 9:7-15 

What does it Say? FACTS:

7: Israel said to the Hivites: Perhaps you are living within our land how shall we make a covenant with you?

8: a. BUT they said to Joshua, “We are your servants.”

     b. Joshua said to them: “Who are you and where do you come from?”

9-10: They said, “Your servants have come from a far country because of the fame of your God; we heard the report of all He did in Egypt, and to the kings beyond the Jordan.

11: So our elders and inhabitants spoke: Take provisions  for the journey and go and meet them and say, we are your servants, make a covenant with us.”

12: This our bread was warm when we took it for provisions on the day we left to come to you, but now is dry and crumbled

13: These wineskins were new behold they are torn, our clothes, our sandals worn out because of the very long journey

14: SO the men of Israel took some of their provisions and did not ask for the counsel of the LORD. 

15: And Joshua made peace with w/ them, a covenant, to let them live, and the leaders swore an oath to them. 

What does it mean? Lessons:

7. The Israelites, I think had a feeling, had questions in their gut, who these guys really were…..  they pressed them for an answer…. who are you… really?  Israel knew that God said not to make a covenant with anyone within the land, they knew the rules, but their eyes were seeing something very believable, their ears were hearing something very believable.  Discernment is something given by God and must be sought out from God. Our senses and emotions will betray us.

8. a. BUT they said to Joshua…. notice they did not answer the question…. where is Gibbs from NCIS on this one? Or “The Closer” right?  Flattery and compliments from the enemy.  Notice the enemy answers Joshua, not the leaders who asked the question, looking for who the softy is perhaps?  I wouldn’t think it would be Joshua.  They are trying to divide the leader from his counsel.  The enemy loves to divide and conquer, be alert.  Often times the enemy will tell you exactly what you want to hear.

b. Joshua presses for an answer to the leaders’ question, who are you?  Stand your ground.  Be firm.  Don’t be deceived.  Seek discernment from the One who gives wisdom upon request.

9-10:  There is STILL no answer to the question.  A far country is not WHAT country.  Notice now they brought up Egypt and the kings beyond the Jordan, but cleverly left out the most recent victories, so again as to “verify” their story.  They were sure to comment on how “far” the fame of the LORD had reached.  People are clever… the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked who can know it? Jeremiah 17:9  Be careful of the flattery of others.

11:  The Gibeonites had no wish to fight Israel, they were just wanting a promise that they would not be destroyed, and they would be more than happy to be their servants, their slaves.  Be careful what you promise and to whom. Your word is your bond.  Your word reflects on the God you serve.  Be careful. Be careful. Be careful.

12-13. Be careful, what things appear to be, are not always what they are in reality.  Only God can give insight, so ask Him who gives wisdom liberally!  When someone is pushing me to believe something…. especially when they want me to believe it NOW and ACT NOW, and SIGN NOW, be wary.

14:  They believed their eyes, ears and touch.  Things are not always what they seem.  Times when we don’t think we need to seek counsel of the LORD are probably the very times we most need to seek the counsel of the LORD.

15:  Be careful of the promises I make.  Covenants should not be taken lightly.  My word is my bond, so be careful what situations and  people I bond myself to.

What does it mean to me?

7: Am I quick to believe all I see and hear, or am I seeking God on all things, even when the answer seems obvious to me, right in front of my eyes?

8: a. Am I quick to believe flattery and words that tickle my ears and ego?  Am I alert to the tactics of the enemy?  When has the enemy used the tactic “divide and conquer” in my life?  Was it successful?  Did I learn from that?  Was I bamboozled or wise?

8: b. Am I in prayer for discernment?  Am I quick to believe what I hear so I won’t have to press in any longer?  I hate confrontation, but am I willing to hold strong and face up or am I quick to crumble and just believe what I hear because it is easier?

9-10:  When have I been moved by the flattery of someone else to do something I normally would not do?  Have I used flattery to get my way?  Is that right?

11: Do I flippantly make promises with people or am I careful and prayerfully consider the covenants I make?  Is my word my bond, or an avenue to get what I want?

12-13: Am I quick to believe what I see?  Do I rely on my own senses to make decisions or do I prayerfully consider all things?

14: In whom do I trust? Myself? Circumstances?  Or am I constantly seeking God’s counsel?  Am I quickly making decisions, or patiently seeking and waiting for God’s answers? 

15: Have I impatiently made promises to do things, and be places that I never consulted God about?  Everything seemed right on the surface, but after I was committed I knew it wasn’t right?  Am I impulsive in my decisions?

LIVE IT OUT:

Take everything to God in prayer.  Wait for God to clearly reveal His wisdom on the matter then have the guts to follow through with His leading.

Homework for next week: Joshua 9: 16-21

Share with us your lesson(s) and applications and what they mean to you. 
Do you know someone that might be blessed by joining our study?  Please share this blog link with them.

GUEST POST: God’s Example…

By Neil Anderson

In the vast ocean of eternity there was a tidal wave of time that began with the incarnation of Christ and ended with His crucifixion. God stepped out of eternity into time in order that we might step out of time into eternity. His example set the bar so high that human achievement is beyond our grasp. The incarnation was the sternest possible rebuke to our pride. We cannot fully comprehend the example of Christ who “emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men” (Phil. 2:7). He went from the highest state of being to the lowest state of human existence, becoming a helpless infant born in a manger to humble parents with no social status. For you and I to become a slug doesn’t come close to approximating the descent. “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

Our Lord’s time came to an abrupt end at the crucifixion, which was the sternest possible rebuke to our selfish nature. “We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1 Jn. 3:16). Can you imagine what life on earth would be like if we all believed the Apostle Paul and lived according to Philippians 2: 3-5:    

“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”  

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus.

Neil Anderson’s seminar titled The Core of Christianity takes place on July 13-15 at The Cove in Asheville, NC.  To register click here or call 1-800-950-2092.

Neil Anderson is the founder and president emeritus of Freedom in Christ Ministries, a best-selling author, and former pastor and aerospace engineer. He was formerly chairman of the Practical Theology Department at Talbot School of Theology at Biola University in the USA. He holds five degrees from Talbot, Pepperdine University and Arizona State University. For more information on Freedom in Christ Ministries, visit http://www.ficm.org/

Will Graham Keeping Vision of ‘Granddaddy’

By Trevor Freeze

As Will Graham travels the globe preaching the Gospel, he loves the ability to stay in touch with the latest technology, but as new director of The Billy Graham Training Center, nothing can replace digging into the Word of God.

In a world ruled by technology, it’s the perfect getaway.

The mountaintop retreat known as The Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove is one of those rare places you can go and completely disconnect from life.

And reconnect with God.

Somewhere in that tension where the speed of technology meets the screeching halt of unwinding is the challenge that’s in front of its new director, Will Graham — grandson of The Cove’s founders, Billy and Ruth Graham.

“It was always (Billy Graham’s) vision to be a place to get away and get into God’s Word,” Will Graham said to a roomful of local and Christian media outlets recently. “I want to continue what my granddaddy started. And use technology to further that.”

Currently, the Billy Graham Training Center in Asheville, N.C., — founded in 1988 — has extended its reach by streaming sessions live videos over the Internet to a worldwide audience. The Cove’s website is cutting edge with virtual tours, interactive floor plans and Googlemap plug-ins.

And the Cove experience has also gotten a little techy as visitors can use GPS units to find one of 315 prayer pillars, which are scattered around the 1,200-acre campus.

Flanked with an iPad and iPhone and a well-worn black leather Bible, Will Graham is armed and ready for whatever life brings his way.

He’ll be the first to tell you he’s not an Apple pitchman — quickly interjecting “I wish I had bought their stock” — but he’s seen the power of new innovations while traveling the world preaching the Gospel.

Keeping in touch with his wife Kendra and his three kids — CJ, Rachel and Quinn — has never been so easy, even when he’s delivering the Good News on the other side of the globe. “I don’t know who the man was who invited Skype, but it’s amazing,” Graham said.

Throw in updates on Twitter, Facetime and Apple TV… “I can send them a picture — hey, look kids, I’m riding on a kangaroo,” Graham quips. “You can take a picture with your phone and it shows up on your TV at home.”

And in no time, Graham is back at home, playing Wii with his son or watching the stars with his daughter’s new telescope. Graham recently returned from preaching to nearly 10,000 at Celebrations — his version of a Billy Graham Crusade — on back-to-back weekends in Texas. Before that he was sharing Christ in the Seven Sister States of India. Next month, he’ll be evangelizing in Australia.

It’s hard for Graham not to feel homesick.

“I tell you, I love being around my wife,” Graham said about the hardest part of being an international evangelist. “If I put God first when I’m gone for two weeks or three weeks, I believe God is going to make that one week I’m home feel like a month.”

And when he’s home, he regularly visits his famous “granddaddy” just up the road, at his Montreat, N.C., home often times on Sunday after attending the early service.

“By the time I get there, I can usually sit with him and watch his pastor on TV,” said Will Graham, son of Franklin Graham, the president and CEO of both the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse.

Growing up, Graham remembers aspiring to follow in the evangelistic footsteps of his father and grandfather: “I wanted to be someone who flew around and told people about Jesus.”

And now that he’s doing just that at age 37, he still looks for advice on how to effectively minister the Gospel.

His “granddaddy” has dispensed a few pearls of wisdom over the years, including the three most important parts of ministry —”pray, pray and pray” — along with his biggest regret: “I wish I would’ve taken less speaking engagements. And studied the Bible more.”

There is an unusual mix of familiarity and reverence when Will Graham talks about his grandfather.

“People tell me, ‘You sound like your granddaddy,’ ” said Graham, featured in last month’s People magazine article. “I don’t try to sound like my granddaddy, but when you grow up 60 miles apart in the same neck of the woods, you end up sounding alike.”

The obvious comparison is that both are evangelists, but many see similarities in the heart they have for people. Before joining The Cove as assistant director, Graham was a pastor for six years at Wakefield Baptist Church in Wake Forest, N.C.

“I love my granddaddy,” Graham said. “Anytime I can be associated with him in the same sentence, it’s an honor.”

Will Graham will hold a special seminar called “When the Shadows Speak” June 29-July 1.  Space is still available – click here and reserve yours today. 

 

Women’s Day Away at The Cove…

By Joy Allmond

On April 19, women from all over the region will descend on the quiet, peaceful grounds of The Cove, in Asheville, NC.

During this one-day seminar, they will hear from Bible teacher and author Lisa Harper, who will bring truth from the gospels and lessons from recent life experiences to convey the liberating power of a relationship with Jesus.

“I love that kind of intensive Bible study. I’m excited to go pretty deep in short amount of time. Plus, I’m pretty biased about The Cove,” she said with a grin.

Stumbling Into Grace is the title of Harper’s most recent book. Over the past few years, she has gone through a series of challenges and disappointments—including the death of a parent, the loss of a friendship and a health scare. She explained that this book (and this Cove seminar) is the result of a hybrid of her journals and what the Lord was showing her through her study of Scripture through those times.

“We tend to not talk about certain things in ‘sanitized’ church settings. I’ve experienced a ton of loss over years. And, there are so many things, like what I’ve faced and what others face that can’t be tied up with a neat application bow,” she said.

“It is so cool that the emotions that every woman faces runs parallel with what Jesus said in the gospels. So, during my own healing time, it was a natural for me to write this message because of what Jesus was teaching me.”

Harper is passionate about helping other women discover that they don’t need to “have it all together” for Jesus to love them. As she quoted Brennan Manning,  “Jesus loves us as we are, not as we should be.”

She wants them to see that Jesus is more accessible though failures, disappointments and hurts. As she puts it, “There is sanctity in scars.”

She wants others to understand that Jesus is the hero of the Bible, not us. She wants women not to glory in sin, but glory in the redemption of Jesus.

During her day at The Cove, one of the passages she will explore with the guests is the story of the man at Bethesda—a paralytic who had been visiting for 38 years, in hope of healing.

“Jesus asked him, ‘Do you want to get well?’ Well, he’s a paralytic, so of course he wants to get well. He acknowledges that he can’t drag himself to the water. Then, Jesus tells him get up and walk, she recalled. “Like this man, I want us to recognize that life is hard, but we were made for more than this. Jesus came to restore.”

As for her day at The Cove with the women who join her, she wants to see them begin to understand God’s delight in them, and for healing to take place.

“There are woman bound by shame and by a lack of real intimacy with Jesus. I pray that this day will be a turning point in a new direction for them.”

Ladies, there is still time to plan on joining Lisa!  Click here for more details!

Join Us Online Tonight!

Tonight, you can tune in at 7:15pm ET for the first session of Brooklyn Tabernacle Pastor, Jim Cymbala’s seminar, Ministering Christ to Others…for FREE!
The great need in the world today is ministry that’s anointed by the Holy Spirit, centered on God’s Word, and filled with love. Discover how the Holy Spirit, the Word, and God’s people as loving vessels are the solutions for the challenges facing the church. You’ll take home fresh inspiration to share Christ with others while acknowledging your dependence on Him.

Please share this great opportunity with friends and family.
Click here to watch online.

Kendra’s Bible Study: Joshua 8: 9-17

Welcome to Kendra Graham’s online Bible study.  This is a place where women can come together and share their 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!

Kendra suggests you use the following process when studying Scripture.  We have included an example of this process from John 1:1.

Step 1:  Pray
Step 2: Read God’s Word (look at the passage)
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  
Step 3: What Does God’s Word Say? (list the facts)
1 In the beginning the Word was with God and was God.
Step 4: What Does God’s Word Mean? (learn the lessons)
1 God‘s Word is not just ancient philosophy, it is eternal Truth.
Step 5: What Does God’s Word Mean to Me? (listen to his voice)
1 How do I view the Bible?

Kendra Graham NOTES from Joshua 8:9-17

FACTS from verses 11-13
11. All the people of war came before the city and camped. 
12. He took 5,000 men and set them in ambush.
13. Joshua spent the night in the valley.

LESSONS from verses 11:13: 
Sometimes God’s plan leads to an offensive attack at the doorstep of our enemies.

God’s plan involves my active obedience and it will probably take an insane amount of   courage that will strengthen my faith in the end.  It is never easy.  There is always a gap between what I can do and what God must do…. that gap will demand courage and will produce faith in my life.  

APPLICATION from verses 11:13:
Would I rather live in a defensive mode or offensive?  Am I willing to go on the offensive against the enemy?  Are there places and things if God calls me to do them that I just won’t do? “I’ll go there, but I won’t go there”?

Do I trust God if He asks me to place myself in a position of vulnerability in front of friend or foe? Or do I demand from God a place to play it safe and a constant “comfort zone”?

Will I press in to what God is asking of me, or get out?  Was I thinking this would be easier than it really is?

FACTS from verses 14-17
14.The king saw it, rose and went to meet Israel in battle. 15. Israel pretended to be beaten and fled. 16.All the people pursued and were drawn away from the city. 17. They left the city unguarded

LESSONS from verses 14-17
14. Often the ENEMY will use the EXACT SAME strategy against me until it doesn’t work anymore.
15. GOD uses a NEW strategy with His people, Trust God with His plan and the results.
16- 17. The enemy is often times bold in their pride and arrogance, James 4:6 “God is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble.” The enemy will over-reach due to their arrogance.

APPLICATION from verses 14-17:
What strategy for defeat has the enemy used on me time and time again and has found victory in my defeat?

Have I asked God what His plan is, His new strategy for the enemies defeat and His victory in my past or present circumstances?  Am I willing to “do all”  according to God’s plan even if I don’t like it, or it’s not easy, or it doesn’t make any sense?

When do I think the arrogant enemy just prospers and prospers thinking that God does not see it?  Do I take God at His Word and trust that He is in control?

Homework for next week: Joshua 8: 18-23, 29

Share with us your lesson(s) and what it means to you. 
Do you know someone that might be blessed by joining our study?  Please share this blog link with them.    

GUEST POST: What a Church Needs in Times of Change

By Reggie McNeal

Things were on fire—well, not literally, but in terms of church conflict, things were heating up.  FAST!  I had been called in to present a leadership workshop about the future, but when I got to the church, it was too obvious that talking about the future would be a waste of energy, because the collision of the past and present was creating too much smoke to see clearly into a new chapter.

I was too late to the scene really, because the smoldering embers of discontent had erupted in the preceding weeks and there was just too much trash around by then waiting to combust. The result? A fired pastor, a congregation in turmoil, and a steady advance to the PAST.  Setting up for the same scenario again in the future.

So, what was the problem here?  A moral failure?  Absolutely not.  Poor vision for the future?  Actually, what was being proposed was spot on.  Was there a lack of talent on the team?  Nope. The players were seasoned veterans.

The cause of the conflagration was one of the most common accelerants determined to be the problem in these cases: blown change leadership

In this particular instance, no one had warned of the impending disaster. Leaders mis-read the situation. Some actions were too fast; others, too slow.  The bottom line: unavoidable conflict and there is always tension when dis-stasis occurs during change escalated into avoidable staff and leadership disruptions.

So, how could the unnecessary fall-out have been avoided? By addressing two areas that church leaders are often inadequately prepared to deal with: better change management and transition leadership. While spiritual forces are always at play in these situations, more often the dynamics revolve around psychological and emotional forces.  People act like people everywhere and respond to change and transition at church like they do in every other arena. Learning how to deal with these powerful forces is Change Leadership 101.

On May 23-24 I will be leading a Church Staff Retreat at the Cove. The focus of these two days will be equipping you and your leadership team with information and insight for giving leadership during times of great change and transition.  The workshop will help you know some of the major shifts that are creating the need for change as well as arm you with strategies for dealing with each stage of transition. 

Good leaders and good ideas are too precious not to be protected against going down in flames during the change process.  These two days at the Cove should provide you with great insurance.

Please share this information with the pastors in your area. 

Reggie McNeal’s Church Staff Retreat titled Charting New Territory: How to Lead Others in Times of Change takes place on May 23-24 at The Cove in Asheville, NC.  To register click here or call 1-800-950-2092.

Reggie McNeal is an accomplished author, a founding pastor, and the missional leadership specialist for Leadership Network. He has spent more than a decade as a denominational executive and leadership development coach and has taught as adjunct faculty for Fuller Theological Seminary, Southwestern Baptist Seminary, and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.

GUEST POST: Reflections of a Quickly Beating Heart

By Mike Blackaby

I’ve always hated hospitals. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad they exist, and we would be in trouble without them. But there is just not much I enjoy about the whole hospital experience. In particular, I have always been terrified of needles.

Several years ago, I was rushed to the emergency room due to some frightening physical symptoms. Waiting in the ER provided me with numerous reasons to be miserable, including the unknown state of my health, the groaning mystery patient veiled behind the curtain beside me, and the backless lavender dress they had given me in exchange for my dignity. I could hardly move because various monitors were attached to me, dripping and beeping and hissing ominously.  Needless to say, my spirits were low. Very low.

But then, two BEAUTIFUL nurses entered the room. Suddenly the sun broke through the clouds and the birds began to sing! Surely these maidens were here to comfort me. One of them was already reaching for my hand. Oh, Sweet Mercy! But my bliss was short-lived, as I realized that she was holding a colossal needle! It looked like a tool of medieval warfare. Just before plunging the point deep into my flesh, she paused to ask a question.

“You aren’t afraid of needles are you?” 

“Of course not!” I replied blithely. It was a bald face lie. “What’s the holdup? Let’s get this show on the road!” To my dismay, both nurses burst into laughter, but not the “you-are-so-brave-and-handsome-you-make-us-giddy” kind of giggle.  Between fits of chortle, one of them said, “You can’t lie while you’re hooked up to a heart monitor!” I followed her eyes to the machine beside my bed and watched as my heartbeat recorded about 100 beats per second! My heart was giving away my secret!

That was not the first time my heart has ratted me out, nor will it be the last. Trials have a way of revealing our true character. When life gets scary, we may try to portray all the correct Christian responses: courage, faith, compassion, or whatever the situation calls for. But the Bible says that what is really in our heart will inevitably come to light and reveal our true character.

 My heart aches for my generation. So many young people grow up in church, only to turn away from God by the time they graduate high school. Why is this? Perhaps adulthood presents them with some challenges they are spiritually ill-equipped to handle. When life gets hard, Sunday School answers will not help someone who does not have a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ. Right now, there is a generation of Millennials being reared in Christian homes, but many of them go out into the world and crumble under the weight of the secular philosophies they encounter. These young people may be heavily ‘churched’, nurtured, well-dressed, talented and educated (and those things are all great) but the most important investment, one that often gets neglected along the way, is developing a Christ-like heart.

When the hard times come, our hearts are laid bare before God and we see who we really are. My prayer for my generation is that we will take time to invest in our hearts. If we fail to do this, we are in trouble. How about you? What does your heart reveal?

“As in water face reflects face, so a man’s heart reveals the man.”  Proverbs 27:19

Mike Blackaby will be joining his grandfather, Henry, and his father Richard, at The Cove on April 20-22.  Their seminar is titled:  “Experiencing God Through the Generations.” We encourage you to bring multiple generations from your family.  There is a special rate of $129 for youth ages 15-21 when attending this seminar with parents or grandparents.  Click here to register and for more details.

Mike is the minister of single adults at First Baptist Church, Jonesboro, Georgia. He is the oldest grandson of Henry and Marilynn Blackaby. Mike is a graduate of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is passionate about music, hockey, and anything to do with Star Wars! He and his brother Daniel have written, When Worlds Collide. Mike is a popular speaker to youth and young adult conferences. Check out his blog at http://mikeblackaby.wordpress.com.