Category Archives: Guest Posts

Shoulder to Shoulder: Singleness after Widowhood

Our blog post comes from one of our staff members at The Cove. Patty Nicholas has worked at The Cove for 15 years as a Guest Services Event Coordinator.  Patty lost her husband seven years ago to a heart attack. She lost her father two days later to a rare illness. Through her grief journey, God has given her a voice now  to help others. 

Shoulder to Shoulder : Singleness After Widowhood.

“Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusteth in God, and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day (1 Timothy 5:5, KJV). 

I recently read a statistic which stated that in the United States alone, 700,000 women become widows every year. Another statistic stated that one in five women will be widowed by the time they are fifty-six. These figures are shocking . . . and then it happens to you.

Nearly seven years ago, I became a number when I lost my husband. How does one move from being married for almost twenty years to suddenly single in the blink of an eye? Just like any other emergency, if you have some advance preparation, you are able to handle the situation. I already had a strong relationship with God.
I found this passage in 1 Timothy 5 both comforting and true.
It was true. I was desolate. Loss of income, loss of friends, and in loss of direction for my life thrust me into a very dark and dry season. It was also true, that when felt as if I had lost everything, I still had the Lord. He was my oasis in the desert.

It was comforting to know that God could fill that void in my heart. I reached out to Him in prayer and supplication, I found I could trust Him for everything.

You don’t have to be widowed, single, or even desolate to reach out to God. However, there is a unique relationship with a person on their own. When you have nothing else and God is all there is, you realize God is all you need.

How prepared are you for an emotional emergency?

Has there been a desolate time in your life when God showed you He could be all you needed?

If you are not widowed or single yourself, is there someone that you know who can use an encouraging word?

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

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.

Visit the Chatlos Memorial Chapel, Visitors Center, and Ruth’s Prayer GardenClick here for directions and operating hours. Tours are free.

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Preparing Your Heart for Prayer


Preparing Your Heart For Prayer and Following in His Footsteps
By: Donna Riesen

“Sometimes I’m asked to list the most important steps in preparing for an evangelistic mission, and my reply is always the same: prayer…prayer…prayer.” —Billy Graham


The Apostle Paul often used the “walk” metaphor in his letters to the churches. In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul explained that as believers, “we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10, NASB).

In chapter four, the apostle described what that walk should look like: “Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, 3 being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1-3, NASB).


In the opening verses of Ephesians five, Paul stresses the importance of walking in love, giving us the picture of a young child walking beside his father and trying to imitate his walk. “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; 2 and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma” (Ephesians 5:1-2, NASB).

While we will never reach our Heavenly Father’s standard of perfection in our own strength, we are told to be imitators of God and to walk as Christ walked. If we have repented of our sin and accepted Christ’s offer of forgiveness through His blood, we are transformed, reborn and adopted into God’s family. Through the power of the Holy Spirit and the leading of God’s Word, we can choose to walk in a way that shows others the family resemblance. Loving others with a selfless, sacrificial love will point them to Christ, who made the ultimate sacrifice to bring us to God.


In his letter to the Colossians, Paul commends the believers and expresses thanks to God for their faith in Christ Jesus and their love for all the saints. Paul’s love for them is evident as he assures them of his unceasing prayers:

“For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light” (Colossians 1:9-12, NASB).

The roads at The Cove are in great shape, ready to receive vehicles filled with individuals who will come here seeking a closer walk with God. Our peaceful walking trails await those who need a quiet place to meet with Him amid the beauty of His creation. So what’s our job now as “road workers”? As Cove staff, we have various job descriptions and To-Do lists, but there’s one thing we’re all called to do before every seminar or event: we pray.

It is both our privilege and our responsibility to pray for each other and for those who will come to The Cove. The physical tasks we perform on a daily basis while serving here will have no lasting spiritual impact unless they are carried out in love and bathed in prayer. Acknowledging that only the Holy Spirit can truly open a heart, we do our best to prepare a safe, comfortable, welcoming environment free of distractions which might take attention away from the truth of God’s Word. As we seek to “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord,” faithfully and prayerfully carrying out the tasks He has called us to, we help to clear the way for the Lord to work.

Let’s commit being faithful in prayer. Consider praying the words of Colossians 1:9-12 for your co-workers, loved ones, and for all those who will visit The Cove in the month of July.

Keep praying and seeking!

Join us in prayer for the following upcoming events:

Alex McFarland — July 16-18 (Emcee: Glynn Bachelor; Worship Leader: Johnny Prettyman; Pastor-in-Residence: Kevin Wimbish) Amos: The Principles of Revival and the Pathway to Spiritual Awakening

Guided Personal Spiritual Retreat — July 16-19 (Facilitator: John Parrish)

Tony Evans — July 19-21 (Emcee: Ron Whittemore; Worship Leader: Johnny Prettyman; Pastor-in-Residence: Jim Brackett) Kingdom Disciples: Heaven’s Representatives on Earth

An Evening at The Cove with Michael Card — July 22 (Emcee: Michelle Bachelor)

Michael Card — July 23-27 (Emcee: Ron Whittemore; Worship Leader: Michael Card; Pastor-in-Residence: David Taylor) Intensive Bible Training — Follow Me

Darren Thomas — July 27-29 (Emcee: Glynn Bachelor; Worship Leader: Michael O’Brien; Pastor-in-Residence: John Parrish) Restore My Soul

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Ten Life-Changing Lessons Billy Graham Taught Ron Hutchcraft

Today we are sharing a reflection from The Cove speaker Ron Hutchcraft on life lessons Billy Graham taught him over the years.

By: Ron Hutchcraft

I was privileged to touch just the edges of Billy Graham’s life. He touched mine all the way to its core. There are many who knew him intimately. What he taught me often came just by watching his life. And sometimes through connections at Billy Graham events where I had the opportunity to speak over the years.

But the Jesus-power and Jesus-presence reflected in Billy Graham’s life radiated far and wide. I probably learned more about a Christ-honoring life from him than any other single person I’ve known. Sometimes you have to see it to be it. In Billy Graham, I got to see it.

Billy Graham has left some priceless lessons as a legacy in my life. By embodying some powerful principles of a Christ-honoring life.

  1. Never encumber the Gospel.

Serving as chairman of the 1991 Northern New Jersey Crusade, I saw reporters relentlessly trying to get a Billy Graham quote on the hot button issues of the day. He never would go there. In one press conference, pursued by politically divisive issues, he smiled and said, “Back home in the mountains, we have lot of kinds of birds. But I’ve noticed one thing about all of them—they all have a right wing and a left wing. And it takes both left and right for them to fly.” A knowing smile. Then back to Jesus.

You could not get Billy off on a detour—not political, not theological, not religious, not cultural. Appropriately, this evangelist, who had once wanted to be a baseball player, always kept his eye on the ball. The Gospel. Unedited. Unencumbered. Uncompromised.

  1. Be all about Jesus.

It didn’t matter where you put him—a Larry King interview, The Tonight Show, a press conference, commenting on a natural disaster, speaking to the nation after the attacks of September 11, 2001. With wit and charm and warmth, Billy Graham would always bring it back to Jesus and His cross. Because that’s the only message that can enable a person to “cross over from death to life” (John 5:24). And because we are called to “make the most of every opportunity” (Ephesians 5:16) to tell about Jesus.

  1. Always make it about others, not about you.

Any time I was with Billy Graham personally, he just wanted to talk about me, never about himself. He was that way with everyone. No sense of self-importance. He embodied how to “in humility consider others better than yourselves” and how to “do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit” (Philippians 2:3).

  1. Never steal the glory.

“I am the Lord; that is My name! I will not give my glory to another” (Isaiah 42:8). I sometimes joked that Billy must not have gotten the memo about how important he was. He just always seemed amazed that God was using him. The word you keep hearing from people who knew him intimately or just casually is: “humble.” He really was. In a world obsessed with celebrity and stars, Billy Graham refused to be one.

  1. Never compromise your integrity.

It was a stroke of godly brilliance that motivated Billy Graham and his key leaders to commit to what they called their “Modesto Manifesto.” Prayerfully developed in a motel room early in their ministry, it committed them to the high road in everything from how they handled money to avoiding even the appearance of inappropriate behavior with the opposite sex. And for more than half a century, “the integrity of the upright” guided them (Proverbs 11:3). When the wife of a dear friend came to pick him up at the airport, he politely declined because of their rule to never be alone with a woman. Again and again, journalists tried to find financial wrongdoing in Billy Graham’s ministry. Again and again, all they could find was an evangelist who would not get in a position where it would even be possible for him to be out of bounds financially.

  1. Never be afraid to use new things to tell the old, old story.

When radio was new, Billy Graham grabbed it as a Gospel multiplier. When TV was young, Billy Graham began televised crusades. Internet evangelism—he was there with the Gospel. “That by all possible means I might save some” (1 Corinthians 9:23). When Billy became concerned that they weren’t reaching enough young people, he accepted the counsel of younger staff to move from a conventional “youth night” program to a contemporary music concert. Where Billy Graham would speak for just twenty minutes between the Christian bands. The new format—controversial to some—broke venue attendance records and brought amazing harvests.

Two weeks after their first such “concert for the next generation,” I heard him tell about it to a gathering of some 2,000 evangelists, many of whom were quite conservative in their methodologies. He said: “When the first group was playing, I was in my trailer, listening with the printed lyrics they had provided me. And I said to myself, ‘This may not be my style of music, but I recognize this message. This is the Gospel of Christ I’ve been preaching my whole life!'” Billy Graham wasn’t afraid to change the package to reach more people—so long as the Message was Christ’s unchanging Gospel!

  1. What unites us is far greater than what divides us.

I saw the power of that when Billy Graham convened 10,000 evangelists from 200 countries for Amsterdam 2000. Virtually every language, every culture, every denomination imaginable—together under the banner of our crucified and risen Savior. I doubt any other person on earth would have been able to convene such an historic gathering. But Billy Graham knew it was the cross and the resurrection that was the ground on which all true Christians meet. And that’s the ground where he chose to stand his whole life.

  1. Prayer is the deciding factor in any work for God.

When Billy checked with his Crusade directors for a progress report on an upcoming Crusade, his first question was always the same: “Are they praying?” He told us that the three keys to an effective Crusade were as follows: #1—pray; #2—pray; #3—pray! Sometimes associates wondered why he was taking so long to make a ministry decision. The reason was simple: Billy Graham would pray until he had God’s answer.

  1. Be transparent about your shortcomings.

When his relationship with President Nixon compromised his witness for Christ, he openly confessed his mistake and his commitment to never wander into politics again. In explaining one of his main reasons for building the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove, he expressed his lifetime regret over not having studied the Bible more seriously and deeply when he was younger. We respected him even more because of a humility that wasn’t afraid to say, “I was wrong.”

  1. Share Christ boldly, but always with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15).

At a time when Jesus’ followers are often perceived to be angry and condemning, Billy Graham leaves us a model that builds bridges, not walls. However lost, however hostile a person might be, he always treated them with dignity and respect. And that is probably why so many people from so many backgrounds respected him. And listened to his eternity-deciding Message.

A man who has been one of the most powerful men in Washington shared his memory of meeting Billy Graham. As a young man, this man’s job was to guide Mr. Graham through the passageways of the state Capitol and to the inauguration at which Billy was to speak. It was only a few minutes. Seemingly, nothing very special. But this young leader, who would come to great political power, said: “I know I was just with a human being. But I felt like I was in the presence of the Eternal.”

What more could any follower of Jesus ask than that? To walk so close to Jesus that, when people have been with us, they feel like they’ve been with Him.

Yes, Billy Graham talked with presidents. More importantly, he walked with Jesus. And brought countless millions with Him.

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for this life well-lived. From whom we still have so much to learn.

And as we remember Billy Graham’s life, it’s important that we take a moment to look at the impact of our own life. Not on multitudes, but on the people in our personal world.

Because our mission from Jesus is the same as Billy’s—to be “Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us” (2 Corinthians 5:20).

And our message is the same. God loves you. So much that He sent His Son to do the dying for our sin.

We all know someone who doesn’t know our Jesus. For them, you are God’s chosen messenger. In these turbulent, divisive, disturbing times, you have the Anchor someone close to you desperately needs.

And the life and death of God’s best-known messenger of His love is opening doors and hearts for you to tell them about your Jesus.

This is a moment of opportunity, my brother or sister! Opportunity to help change someone’s eternal destination.

If you’re ever going to tell them about your Jesus, do it now.

Ron Hutchcraft will be speaking at The Cove May  9th-11th. Click Here to Register

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

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.

Visit the Chatlos Memorial Chapel, Visitors Center, and Ruth’s Prayer GardenClick here for directions and operating hours. Tours are free.



Burned Out? A Message from Will Graham

If you take a real assessment of your life and ministry today, how does it look?

Perhaps you haven’t seen the fruits of your labor that you’d hoped for or expected. Maybe you’re resentful of others around you who don’t seem to be carrying their own weight in the ministry. It could be that your team is great and you’re seeing a harvest, but you’ve been going non-stop as far back as you can remember and you’re just burned out.

If you’re struggling, you can probably empathize a bit with the church in Ephesus, to whom God speaks in Revelation 2:1-7. The early believers there worked hard in the ministry, and they were good at it. They were tireless, discerning and persevering. Even in the face of hardships and persecution the church continued to serve those in need.

The problem was that they labored so hard in ministry that they lost their focus and the source of their motivation. The church had forsaken its first love. They were too wrapped up in the process of doing God’s work to make time for God Himself.

We’re called to so much more, however, than just “staying busy for Jesus.” If this struggle is all too familiar in your life and ministry, look specifically at the first half of verse 5, which gives us three key steps to return to the correct path:

“Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first.” Revelation 2:5a, ESV

First, believers in the church at Ephesus are commanded to remember back to when they had first encountered the Living God and were bursting with excitement. Just as marriages can become mundane if we forget that original passion and don’t make an effort to keep it burning, so it can be with God. We can go through the motions and do the work but not remember the desire we once had for Him.

Second, repent. It feels odd to say we need to repent for doing ministry, but according to the passage, it had reached the point where the people of the church were ministering with the wrong spirit and motivation. The issue was bad enough that God called them to repentance.

Finally, “do the things you did at first.” Or, as I would put it, renew your relationship with Him. Spend time in prayer and in the Bible. If we give God the best of our time, and focus that time on building our relationship with Him, I believe we will quickly remember and reconnect with our “first love.”

My friends, if you’re feeling burned out, it doesn’t have to be this way. Remember, repent, and renew. God will lead you and your ministry from there and use you in ways you cannot even begin to imagine.


Will Graham
Cove Executive Director

Click here to join Will Graham at The Cove August 10-12.

If you’re at the point of burnout and need to reconnect with God, consider coming to The Cove for a Personal Spiritual Retreat.
Click here for more information.

Kingdom Impact: A Message From Will Graham

Will Graham Guest Post(1)

The man behind the wheel was an alcoholic. His marriage was broken. He was angry and bitter, and he didn’t mind one bit showing his disdain to the people who climbed into his vehicle.

The year was 1959, and Ron Baker was one of many Australian bus drivers who had been hired to transport people to and from my grandfather’s Crusade at the Sydney Showground. Night after night he put up with his riders singing hymns and worshiping. He’d drop them and sit in his seat stewing until the doors opened and his bus filled again with jovial people who were excited about what God was doing in their city.

Mr. Baker’s wife attended the Crusade and she committed her life to Christ. The following week, Mr. Baker found himself in the same stadium to which he had begrudgingly brought others. When the invitation was given, Mr. Baker walked forward.

God radically transformed Mr. Baker’s life following his salvation. He gave up those things that were poisoning his body, mind and marriage. He pursued theological education and became ordained.

As I contemplate the story of Ron Baker, I’m left with three thoughts.

1)      There are a lot of Ron Bakers out there. We pass by them every day; people who are hurting and broken, and probably know it. Their addictions control them, their marriages are fractured, and their hearts are far from God. In Mr. Baker’s case, he flat-out hated Christians, yet deep down he was searching for hope. Once he found it, it changed his life and eternity.

2)      As I approach an evangelistic outreach, I often pray that God would raise up “the next Billy Graham” from the people who respond to the invitation. I pray for the person that would reach the world with the Gospel. Mr. Baker, however, is proof that even if a person doesn’t reach millions, they can and do influence others, passionately sharing the Gospel to those around them.

3)      Evangelism is vertical. Mr. Baker and his wife made individual decisions for Christ, reconciled their marriage, and began living for Him. Their children were then raised in a Christian home and went into ministry. Mr. Baker’s grandchildren were raised by godly parents and began relationships with Jesus. Entire generations can be impacted when people turn to Christ.

It’s easy to think that a heart is too callous to be pierced by the Holy Spirit. We may believe that our neighbor, our co-worker, or the bus driver for that matter, could never find hope in Christ or be used by God to reach others. The story of Ron Baker, however, shows that God can reach and use anybody. We just have to do our part in sharing the Good News with them.


Will Graham, Cove Executive Director

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

Reaching The Next Generation: A Message From Will Graham

mi-pham-151954 sm girl with Bible sm blogThe stats are alarming and discouraging. According to a Barna report from 2016, “Nearly six in ten (59%) young people who grow up in Christian churches end up walking away, and the unchurched segment among Millennials has increased in the last decade from 44% to 52%.”

It is incredibly important to engage with young people today in a way that encourages a real, authentic and life-changing relationship with Christ. It’s possibly more important than ever!

What’s the answer to these problems? It’s more than simply dragging your child to church until they’re old enough to run the other way.

It begins first with living the life you want your child to live. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (ESV). Parents, I would encourage you to take this to heart and invite Jesus into your life and home. Make sure your faith is more than lip service. Allow Him to direct what you see, hear, discuss, and pray as you go through your day. Love your child with the grace-filled love of Christ.

Second, disciple the children in your care—both at home and in the church—and encourage them as they learn and grow in the faith.Deuteronomy 6:7 says, “You shall teach them (the words of the Lord) diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise” (ESV).

You only have a limited amount of time with your children before they are sent out into the world. Never miss the opportunity to impart Scripture and sear the Word of God on their hearts.

Similarly, pastors and youth workers, Sunday morning or Wednesday night might be the only time some of your young people are exposed to the Gospel. When church or youth group is over, they may go back to very difficult lives in homes where the name of Christ is never spoken. Disciple your youth. Feed them a healthy diet of truth from the Scripture, tackle the tough issues, and mentor them as much as you can in the limited time you have.

Finally, if the children and young people in your life have not yet made a decision for Christ, pray and watch for opportunities to present the Gospel. 1 Peter 3:15 says, “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (ESV). As you pray, God will soften their hearts, break down barriers, and open doors for you. I truly believe it.

My friends, the Gospel is for every generation. Live a godly life, disciple your child, and reach the young people around you with the Gospel. Every day your youth are going into an incredible Mission Field. Equip them to shine the light of Jesus. There’s too much at stake to let this moment slip by!

Will Graham

Just Announced:

Sportscaster James Brown (J.B.), know for hosting The NFL Today on CBS Sports and Thursday Night Football on CBS Sports and NFL Network, and previously FOX network’s NFL pregame show, Fox NFL Sunday will be speaking at a two-day men’s event at The Cove on June 15-16, 2018.

What a great opportunity for you (if you are male) or someone you love to take their son, father, cousin, brother or men’s group from church.  Register now.

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Will Graham: Lessons from a Selfless Servant

By Will Graham, Cove Executive Director

I first met Michael Ruheta in Kisumu, Kenya, in 2013. I was there to hold an evangelistic outreach, and Michael was one of two men who came from Arusha, Tanzania, to observe the Celebration and extend an invitation for me to hold a similar outreach in their city.

Michael was one of those guys who had an infectiously-positive attitude, and a smile that radiated love and joy.

He became one of our local coordinators for the Tanzania Celebration, and wholeheartedly and passionately guided the efforts that ultimately resulted in thousands hearing the Good News of Jesus Christ. Michael recognized that time was short and eternity was at stake, and he did everything he could to ensure that as many as possible heard of the death-conquering love and sacrifice of Jesus.

In fact, more than 1,700 made a commitment to Christ, thanks in no small part to Michael’s efforts for the Kingdom.

Sadly, he was not there physically to see the fruit of his labors.

In April of this year, just two months shy of the Celebration, Michael was tragically killed in a car accident. He was riding in a public transportation van that was in a horrific accident. He was the only fatality. Michael, the devoted and selfless servant of the Lord, left behind a beautiful wife and four sweet children.

Will meeting with Mr. Ruherta’s widow for July 28 2015 post
Will meeting with Mr. Ruherta’s widow.

I’m sharing the story of Michael Ruheta for a few reasons.

First, I want you to know his name. This man who gave so much and served so diligently deserves to be remembered.

Second, I want to point out that time is short. We do not know the number of days we have left on this earth, and we need to make every moment count for the sake of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ. You cannot go back and reclaim lost time, and so much of our time is spent on things that are irrelevant in the scope of eternity.

Michael had an urgency to share the Gospel message, and he used the days that he had (so few, in our earthly view) to preach the hope of Christ. He made use of the days he had.

Finally, Michael’s life shows that we may not get to see the harvest. I know that he was looking forward to seeing his countrymen respond to the hope that can only be found in Christ. He desired that deeply, and worked hard for it. But God called him home before he had the opportunity.

We need to understand that in sharing the Gospel, we may not see the immediate fruits of our labor either. One plants, one waters, and one harvests. You may be the person who plants the seed by first sharing the hope of Christ. You may be the one funding missions overseas who will never actually have the front-row view of the crowds streaming forward.

Whatever role God has for you, do it wholeheartedly and trust that – whether you’re there to see it or not – He is at work through you.

Michael’s life and testimony were shared at his funeral; a testament to his love for Jesus and passion to see Him shared and glorified. Because of this, even after his death, many gave their lives to Christ.

Can we say the same in our lives? Are we living every day like it may be our last and eternity is at stake? Are we seeking glory for ourselves, or are we selflessly proclaiming Christ regardless of the outcome?

Michael is an inspiration and challenge to me, in his life and in his death. I hope you can say the same, and will make every moment today count for Christ.

Andrew Peterson to Perform at The Cove

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By Donna Riesen

Father’s Day is fast approaching, and today we are thanking the Lord for the blessing of fathers. In addition to the treasured gift of life, a good father will give his child a myriad of other valuable gifts over the course of a lifetime: love, wisdom, guidance, discipline, and an appreciation for the varied applications of duct tape. When we pause to think about it, some of us would love to give back a few of the things we’ve inherited from our fathers: a lead foot, a stubborn streak, male-pattern baldness or the tendency to snore!

Whether we were raised in a godly Christian home or brought up by unbelieving parents, each of us possess the same inherent human nature and propensity towards sin that our father inherited from his father and his father’s father before him. What an amazing gift of love our heavenly father gave us when He sent His own Son to redeem us from sin and bring us into His family, giving us “an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading (1 Peter 1:4).” If you have been blessed with the gift of a Christian father who points you to Jesus and lives life as a godly example for you to follow, then you have much to celebrate, on Father’s Day and every day.

Gifted musician and lyricist Andrew Peterson beautifully celebrates the joys of family and gives voice to many of the deep emotions that accompany marriage, parenthood and family life at its core. The son of a pastor, Peterson spent his early childhood years in the rural farmland of Illinois before his family relocated to Florida when Andrew was seven.

In the song “All the Way Home,” he testifies to the blessing of being raised in a Christian home: “Well, they may not have walked on water, but I know that their house stood firm. All the way home they followed the tracks that the saints have trod. By the grace of God they walked in the rain of His mercy, let it soak them down to the bone. And they splashed in its puddles and danced in its streams as they’d go. And oh, they walked in the rain of His mercy…when they sat in their home, when they walked along the road, when they slept and when they rose.”*

In the song, “Tools,” Peterson recalls the memory of being invited to enter his grandfather’s shed to take his choice from among the selection of old tools. “You sent me to the shed with all the tools. I remember how you said that I could take what I could use. I got a hammer and a ratchet set. A hundred tools I ain’t used yet. They’re rusty, but they work as good as new. Tools.” The lyrics then turn to reflect the singer’s gratitude for the heritage of wisdom and faith passed down from his grandfather:  “When my daddy was a baby, oh you gave him to the Lord. And the faith you handed down has somehow stuck around. And love has called you home again to roam again no more. You sent me to the shed with all the tools. I remember how you said that I could take what I could use. Faith and Love and Hope are what I carried home. They’re rusty but they work as good as new. Tools.”*

Peterson’s latest recording, After All These Years: A Collection (Centricity Music), is a twenty-song retrospective that features four new songs and re-recordings of several old favorites. The title track, “After All These Years,” is a new song, and as Andrew explains, it is a song of gratitude. “I felt compelled to open this collection with an Ebenezer stone. I like the idea of having to sing a song that reminds me of God’s provision at every concert for the next year or two.”

God has provided a gift for the body of Christ through the insightful lyrics and musical artistry of Andrew Peterson. From songs that capture the deep woundedness and struggle of life in a fallen world to songs of hope and anticipation of the new world to come, his music gives voice to the heart cry of God’s family.

Perhaps the most heartwarming depiction of the joys of earthly family and fatherhood comes in Peterson’s song, “Family Man.” Enjoy this early father’s day gift…

Join us June 20, 2015 for An Evening at The Cove with Andrew Peterson.  This special night will include dinner and a concert, followed by a meet-and-greet opportunity with Andrew.  Father’s Day is June 21, so consider blessing your dad with the gift of Evening at The Cove tickets.  Dad, bring your son–children as young as nine may attend!

Overnight lodging is available at applicable rates and includes breakfast the following morning.

Click here for more information.

Andrew Peterson


“All The Way Home” from the album Carried Along (2000).
“Tools” from the album Love and Thunder (2003).

Will Graham to Preach the Gospel in China

By Will Graham
Executive Director, The Cove

In 1916, a young American doctor named L. Nelson Bell and his wife arrived in what is now known as Huai’an, China.  He would spend the next 25 years as a Presbyterian medical missionary, raising his family in the medical compound and offering healing of both the body and soul. He’d tend to people’s wounds, while never neglecting to also share the hope of Jesus.

Over the course of their quarter-century in China, the Bells would bear four children: Rosa, Virginia, Clayton, and my grandmother, Ruth.

Bell family China small
The Bell family in China

My great-grandfather spent years sowing the seeds of the Gospel in China, but – frankly – did not get the opportunity to see much of a harvest.  Despite his years in missionary service there, precious few found their eternal hope in Jesus through his efforts.

However, his sacrificial work cultivated the ground and he is still warmly remembered in that city.  Many in Huai’an still consider my grandmother, who was born there, to be Chinese; to be family.

Billy and Ruth Graham in front of her childhood home in Huai an China
Billy and Ruth Graham in front of her childhood home in Huai’an, China.

My great-grandparents and my grandmother are all in Heaven now, but they would be thrilled to know that I will be returning to Huai’an next week, not just to visit the place of my grandmother’s birth, but to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

In addition, I’ll also hold a pair of Gospel celebrations in the city of Wuxi.

The Christian faith is growing quickly now in China, and doors are opening for the Gospel.  I’m visiting at the invitation of the Jiangsu Province Christian Council with the approval of the Chinese government.  They’ve been very hospitable, kind and easy to work with.

I anticipate that this trip will be a blessing, but also a very emotional time.  To visit a grandparent’s place of birth in a foreign land is an amazing opportunity as it is, but to carry on the legacy of my family is an even greater honor.  My great-grandparents and my grandmother loved – dearly loved – the people of China, and now I will be able to share with them how they can find their hope and purpose in Jesus.

Please pray with me that the work begun by my great-grandparents nearly 100 years ago would bear amazing fruit over the coming days.  Pray that the children and grandchildren of those same people to whom my great-grandfather ministered would hear clearly the call of the Holy Spirit on their lives.  Above all, pray that Jesus Christ would glorified and many would surrender to Him!

You can find Will Graham on the following social networks: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.