Tag Archives: Thanksgiving

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

A Thanksgiving Message from Will Graham

Blog Title Being Thankful In Dark Days

By Will Graham, Cove Executive Director

As we’re coming up to the Thanksgiving holiday, it’s important to stop for a moment and consider all of the many blessings that we have. It’s easy to do most of the time. We’re thankful for the roof over our heads (unless we don’t have one). We’re thankful for our jobs (unless we’re one of millions who are unemployed). We’re thankful for our families (though many are struggling as they watch a loved one deal with a debilitating or deadly disease).

So, maybe it’s not always so easy to give thanks. Maybe it’s easier to huddle in the corner and look hopelessly on as the world seems to be falling apart all around us. We’re witnessing very serious and troubling conflicts and upheaval on a daily basis.

Things don’t look great at home either. Our chaplains who work in areas that have been impacted by major tragedies (floods, tornadoes and the like) report that up to 70 percent of those to whom they minister were already facing some sort of “storm” in their life prior to the natural disaster.

Truthfully, it may be easier to focus on all the hurt and pain in the world than it is to focus on being thankful. It’s easy to be discouraged. Undoubtedly, many of you are dealing with very deep and personal pain as you read this.

Of course, as Christians we understand that there’s more to the story. My grandfather, Billy Graham – who turned 98-years-old this month – once wrote: “We’re living in a time of spiritual darkness and political upheaval. Only the forward-looking Christian remains sincerely optimistic and joyful, knowing that Christ will win in the end and ‘if we endure, we will also reign with him.’ (2 Timothy 2:12)”

If we can be thankful about only one thing in this world, it’s that we know the One who is in control; the Rock to whom we cling.

That’s what sets us apart, isn’t it? That’s why we can be thankful in a world of turmoil. That’s what gives us encouragement when the never-ending procession of talking heads in the 24-hour news cycle tell us how bad everything is.

And that’s why we need to be sharing this hope at every turn, knowing that everyone else needs it just as badly as we do.

In this dark world, we do have hope, we do have reason to be thankful, and we do have a calling to share that hope with others. Be praying for those you know who need to hear this message, and – when God gives you the opportunity – share it.

And then, my friends, when God answers your prayers and you see a harvest, that’s something to truly be thankful for.

Bless you!

Saturday Snapshot

The Cove turkeys have a good life.  There is no hunting allowed on our property and we offer plenty of opportunities for spiritual enrichment.  We caught this feathered friend meditating on Ephesians 3:20.

Turkey meditating on Ephesians 3 20

If you’ve found yourself with leftover turkey from Thanksgiving, we’re bringing back an oldie but goodie recipe from The Cove kitchen.  Hope you enjoy!

Black Bean and Turkey Chili

Serves: 4-6

Ingredients:
1 lb black beans
2 diced yellow onions
2 diced red bell Pepper
1 diced green bell pepper
2 – 3 lbs shredded turkey (you can use as more or less depending on the amount you have leftover)
32 fl oz. beef stock
4 tbsp chili powder
2 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp paprika
2 tbsp minced garlic
3 bay leaves
1 lb fresh diced tomatoes
Salt and black pepper to taste

Directions:
1. In stock pot, sauté onions until caramelized
2. Add and sauté peppers and garlic
3. Add beans, beef stock, diced tomatoes, and turkey and stir.
4. Add chili powder, cumin, paprika, bay leaves and simmer for 1 hour.
5. Add additional seasoning to preferred taste
6. Enjoy a nice bowl of turkey chili on a nice cool fall day!

Will Graham: A Reflection on Thanksgiving

By Will Graham, Cove Executive Director

As I reflect on Thanksgiving this year, I think one of the things I’m most thankful for is that I grew up in a home with a mom and a dad who love the Lord, taught me His ways, and ultimately led me to Christ. They raised me with a godly example of what it means to be a Christian in this world. I’m thankful for my wife, who stands beside me and joins me in doing the same for our children.

Wil and Kendra Graham and family pic 2013
Will and Kendra Graham and their three children.

I’m sure that many of you reading this feel the same way about your parents, and I’m grateful that you had that opportunity.

 

Maybe you didn’t have that blessing. I’ve known countless people in my life who came from a family that was struggling and broken, but who ultimately found the truth and hope of a heavenly Father who loved them far more than any earthly parent could.

 

Whatever your background, I would encourage you to be the best example of Christ’s love that you can possibly be for your family.

 

We live in dark and painful times. We see horrifying things happening around the world, particularly in Syria and the Middle East. Here in the United States, sin is celebrated and we’ve seemingly given over the moral authority of the family to the entertainment industry.

 

More than ever before, it’s important that parents and grandparents stand up and lead their families in godly ways. We need to put Christ and the Word of God at the center of our homes. We can’t neglect the importance of raising our children in a church where they can be nourished and encouraged in their growth.

 

Will Graham Childhood Photo with Billy and Franklin small
Franklin, Will, and Billy Graham.

We need to have the type of discipline that says it’s not okay to do whatever you want, whenever you want, while maintaining the unconditional love that acknowledges we’re each broken humans on a journey.

 

Psalm 127:3 says, “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.” (ESV)

 

Do you recognize your child (or grandchild) as a heritage – a gift – from the Lord? Are you raising and loving them in such a way? Please make this a priority. Their eternity may depend on it.

 

As you sit down with your family this Thanksgiving, count your blessings, thank God for them, and pass them on to the next generation!

Will Graham

 

A Word of Thanks From Will Graham

Dear Friends,

We have much to be thankful for this year at the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove. We’ve been blessed beyond measure, and we are grateful to God and to each of you for that.

Autum shot 2

Over the past several months at The Cove, we’ve had outstanding speakers who have shared with us clear and inspiring truths from the Word of God. Attendees at the seminars have commented to us that they felt the presence of God in this place, and their faith was deepened and enriched through the teaching here. They’ve left feeling more equipped than ever to walk in righteousness and reach those around them who need to hear of the hope of the Savior.

This is exactly what my grandparents, Billy and Ruth Graham, envisioned when they built this beautiful place, and I know that my grandfather is moved when he hears of what is happening here.

In addition to the seminars, we’ve had several concerts with nationally-known musicians who take time out of their busy schedules to stop in for an intimate performance at The Cove. Thousands have taken advantage of these events – called An Evening at The Cove.

One of the most moving events that has taken place this year was the National Law Enforcement Retreat in October, sponsored by the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team. Police officers from the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom took time away from their very stressful duties to learn how to deal with the emotional and spiritual challenges they and their families endure on a daily basis. This was a wonderful time of ministry. Men and women who have seen and lived through things most of us could never even imagine, were able to let their guard down and pray, worship and heal together. Marriages were reconciled and families strengthened.

As we approach the end of November, we’re now looking forward to one of the prettiest times of the year: Christmas at The Cove. We hope you’ll have an opportunity to visit us in the coming days to see the beautiful decorations and take in some of the exciting events and sing-alongs on the schedule in the waning weeks of 2014.

cove creche
The beautiful creche at The Cove.

My friends, at Thanksgiving, I’m so thankful for you. Each of us who have the blessing of working at The Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove realizes every day the importance of your prayers and support. None of what I’ve just mentioned would be possible without you and God’s blessings. We are eternally grateful.

May you and yours have a happy Thanksgiving and a blessed Christmas!

Will Graham
Executive Director, The Cove

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A Psalm for Thanksgiving Bible Study by Kendra Graham

Psalm 100

Shout for joy to the LORD all the earth.
Worship the LORD with gladness; came before Him with joyful songs.
KNOW that the LORD is God.  It is He who made us, and we are His, we are HIs people, the sheep of His pasture.
Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name.
For the LORD is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.

——————————–
Kendra suggests you use the following 3-question Bible Study process when studying Scripture.  We have included an example of this process using 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?
——————————–
Psalm 100

What Does it Say?

1. Shout for joy to the LORD

2. Worship the LORD with gladness, come before Him with joyful songs.

3. Know that the LORD is God.  He made us.  We are His people.

4. Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks and praise His name

5. For the LORD is good and His steadfast love endures forever. His faithfulness continues to all generations.

What Does it Mean? Lessons

1. In the presence of God, we can shout for joy because He is LORD… He is in charge.  Regardless of my personal situation, regardless of what I have and am going through, there is pure JOY in the FACT that we worship the LORD who is on the throne!  In spite of rulers who are on the different thrones of this world, in our country, or in other countries, it is the LORD who moves the hearts’ of kings.  We serve a God who is not aloof, ignorant or out of touch!  Praise! Praise! Praise! (Psalm 65)

2. Just the fact that we serve a God who beckons us to come into His presence, that should give us cause to sing.

3. God has made us to personally know Him.  What kind of awesome God is that?  My God cares personally about you and personally about me, and He wants us to know personally who He is, not just about Him.  God knows our struggles and what brings us joy, and it matters to Him, His people mean everything to Him.

4. Come today in the presence of God with true thanksgiving.  You can’t say the word “thanks-giving” without the word “giving”….. some of us may feel we have nothing left to give, and yet, here, God wants us to give thanks?  A true “sacrifice of praise” as spoken of in Hebrews 13:15.  Praising may be just that for you, a sacrifice at this time…. hard, difficult, painful, but as we put the world on pause, just for a few minutes here, and we focus on a God who loves you and loves me more than anything…. a God who loved us so much that He took His very wrath out upon Himself in Jesus, because He so desperately wants us to love and know Him (John 3:16), can we for just a minute, sacrifice our hurts, sacrifice our pain, to a God who understands and cares where we are coming from, having experienced it personally Himself….  can we truly give Him a sacrifice of praise this thanksgiving?   May we praise His name purely because we serve a God who’s name is beyond comprehension.

5. A friend my stop loving you.  A spouse may decide to leave you.  Your child may walk away from you.  A boss may fire you.  Countless people may come and go in and out of your life, but God says that His love for His people endures forever, and His faithfulness to them will continue through all generations! God has not dropped the ball or changed His mind with our generation. God loves His people and is big enough to reign every going on in the world, and personal enough to care about your hair that is on (or off) your head (Matthew 10:30), and He even saves the tears you cry (Psalm 50:8).  You matter to God Almighty even if you don’t think you matter to one person in the world, you MATTER to God, and He proved it when He came as Jesus, to shout to the world HE IS HERE, HE IS IN CHARGE and HE LOVES YOU!  For God so loved the world that He GAVE His only Son, that WHO EVER believes in Jesus will not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16.  Believe God this Thanksgiving.  Believe it. Hold on the TRUTH (Psalm 119:160, John 17:17, John 8:36), in this ever changing world when you can’t tell fact from fiction. The LORD is without change (Malachi 3:6).  The LORD means what He says, and Jesus died to prove His Word to you.  You are loved by God Almighty, and that love endures for you to ALL generations, faithfully!

What Does it Mean to Me?  Personal Application

1. What causes me to doubt God is on the throne?  When has God comforted me with the fact that He is in charge?

2. When have I sung purely for the fact that God loves to hear the praise of His people in His presence?

3. Know.  A lot of times we know in our heads these verses, and what God’s Word says, but has there been a time when God has so inscribed His Word in your heart that you will never forget it because you know it?  When has God been personally proven faithful to you, so that you just don’t “know” it on the surface, but you know, that you know, that you know, that your redeemer lives?  Do you know that the LORD is God deep in your knower?

4. What aspect of God’s name brings me thanks and praise?  I praise You, Jesus, my LORD, because You are faithful.  I praise you Jesus, because You are Savior.  I praise You Jesus, because You are deliverer….

5. Is it hard to believe God loves me, personally with a love that endures and won’t fail or stop? When have I doubted God’s love for me?  Did I realize the depth of God’s love for His people?  Is there a time when I asked Jesus to forgive me and to make things right between me and this God who loves me so?  When I realize that God loves me in Word AND Deed through Jesus, How can I stop from singing His praise?  He is the LORD!  Amen and amen.

Happy, grateful, praise filled Thanksgiving to you. — Kendra Graham

 

 

5 Quotes From Billy Graham on Being Thankful

As we approach the week of Thanksgiving, many of us eagerly anticipate spending time with family, walking in the Autumn leaves, delicious food, a day or two off work, and yes, even FOOTBALL!  As Christians, we have something especially wonderful to be thankful for…God! 


Read on as Billy Graham shares his thoughts on thankfulness.

“A spirit of thankfulness is one of the most distinctive marks of a Christian whose heart is attuned to the Lord.  Thank God in the midst of trials and every persecution.”  

“When thanksgiving is filled with true meaning and is not just the formality of a polite “thank you,” it is the recognition of dependence.”

 “Grumbling and gratitude are, for the child of God, in conflict.  Be grateful and you won’t grumble.  Grumble and you won’t be grateful.”

“Why should we give God thanks? Because everything we have comes from God.”

What are you thankful for today?