Category Archives: Seminars

Information about upcoming seminars.

A Personal Invitation from Anne Graham Lotz


A Personal Invitation from Anne: 

As we watch events unfolding in our nation, both Rachel-Ruth (my youngest daughter) and I are deeply burdened for Christian families. Like you, we are observing an all-out assault of the enemy on our homes, resulting in a breakdown that seems to bear the bitter fruit of the next generation walking away from the faith.

I want to personally invite you to join a special live stream of a seminar I’m leading from the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove: “Leaving a Godly Legacy in an Ungodly World

Click here to get live & on demand access to our three-day (August 23-25) seminar.

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 Garden. Click here for directions and operating hours. Tours are free.

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Prayer Note(3)


A survey of the book of Acts reminds us of the importance of prayer in the early days of the church. In fact, the church was birthed in prayer. Try to imagine yourself as part of the gathering of believers in that first “Upper Room Prayer Vigil.”  In obedience to Christ’s command to “stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49, ESV), they had gathered in Jerusalem to “stay and pray.”

And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James.   All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.  (Acts 1:13-15, ESV)


Acts 2:1 tells us that at the moment of the coming of the Holy Spirit on that day of Pentecost, “They were all with one accord in one place.”

In his commentary on the book of Acts, Matthew Henry explains how prayer played a part in bringing this group of disparate individuals into that peaceful state of unity:

“And here they were with one accord. We cannot forget how often, while their Master was with them, there were strifes among them, who should be the greatest; but now all these strifes were at an end, we hear no more of them. What they had received already of the Holy Ghost, when Christ breathed on them, had in a good measure rectified the mistakes upon which those contests were grounded, and had disposed them to holy love. They had prayed more together of late than usual (Acts 1:14), and this made them love one another better.”

As that relatively small group of believers gathered, they were empowered by the Holy Spirit to proclaim the gospel with boldness. The practice of prayer was a regular occurrence in those early days. God’s Word was proclaimed, the church grew, and the prayer-circle expanded: “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:42, ESV).  Christ’s church was built on the rock-solid foundation of the gospel and God’s gracious response to the prayers of His people.


During His brief time of earthly ministry, the Lord Jesus had shown by example the importance of spending time in prayer and communion with the Father (see Matthew 14:23, Luke 9:28, and Mark 1:35), and as they sought to obey Christ’s final command to “go into all the world and preach the Gospel” (Mark 16:15, NASB), these early believers followed His example and gathered often to pray.

Yet even in its infancy, the newborn church experienced its share of growing pains. Despite the prayers, conflicts arose and there was “trouble in the nursery.” Today’s church nursery scuffles usually involve a toddler hoarding animal crackers or snatching a toy, but back then the dispute was over the daily distribution of bread:

Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distributionAnd the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, ‘It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables.Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this dutyBut we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.’ And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of AntiochThese they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them.  And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith” (Acts 6:1-7, ESV).

This passage highlights for us the apostles’ wisdom in leading the infant church. They understood the importance of caring for the physical needs of their flock, yet they would not allow it to take priority over the spiritual feeding of souls. Their recommendation to appoint “men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom” (6:3) to serve tables and oversee food distribution is proof that the leaders of the early church clearly understood their own apostolic calling: to pray and to preach.


Fast-forward to today. Regardless of membership roles, music style, or the number of likes on a Facebook page, Christ’s church is still being built by praying and proclaiming. This same principle applies to us as Cove staff. As we seek to serve God by welcoming His people and proclaiming His Word, we know our efforts will only be effective if they are preceded by prayer.


Two job fair events were recently held at The Cove, and we praise God for the tremendous response. We as Cove staff prayed often prior to and during these events, and we continue to pray as our leadership proceeds with applicant interviews and hiring decisions. Please join us in asking the Lord to bring just the right people to serve Him at The Cove. Although we are in need of additional staff, our first priority is to seek God’s face for wisdom, guidance and provision. If you serve in an area with open positions, your workload may be heavy. Remember the psalmist’s instruction to “cast your burden on the Lord and He will sustain you” (Psalm 55:22, NASB), and continue to remain faithful in your work and in your prayers. As our founder Billy Graham once said, “You cannot afford to be too busy to pray.”

Keep praying and seeking!

—Donna Riesen

We appreciate you joining us in prayer for the following events that will take place on The Cove property during the month of May.


Jim Henry — May 1-3
(Emcee: John Parrish; Worship Leader: John Chisum; Pastor-in-Residence: Kevin Wimbish)
Pastor Renewal Retreat— Jesus: The Joy of the Journey

 SeniorCelebration: Don Wilton with the Burchfield Brothers — May 7-9
(Emcee/Worship Leader: Tom Bledsoe; Musicians: John Innes, Burchfield Brothers; Pastor-in-Residence: John Parrish)
Living it Up (1 Peter)

 Ron Hutchcraft — May 9-11
(Emcee: Michael Everhart; Worship Leader: Mark Christian; Pastor-in-Residence: David Taylor)
Uncommon Courage: Joshua’s Five Bold Choices for Our Uncharted Times

An Evening at The Cove with Veritas — May 11
(Emcee: Michelle Bachelor)

Chip Ingram — May 25-27
(Emcee: Bill Wolfe; Worship Leader: Michael O’Brien; Pastors-in-Residence: John Parrish and David Taylor)
Military Marriage Retreat — God’s Blueprint for a Great Marriage

 Ed Stetzer — May 30-June 1
(Emcee: Glynn Bachelor; Worship Leader: John Elliott; Pastor-in-Residence: Preston Parrish)
Pastor Renewal Retreat— Leading as Agents of Gospel Transformation

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.

PRAYER NOTE: October 2017

We hope you will enjoy our “Prayer Note”—an internal communication here at The Cove, created each month to remind and encourage our staff to pray. We share these with you at the beginning of each month in hopes that you, too, will be encouraged.

Prayer Note(3)

“Who’s In Charge Here?”

I recently overheard the following conversation in a church sanctuary after the Sunday morning service:

“So how are the plans for the church barbeque/outreach going?”

“Pretty well, but I’ve looked over the sign-up sheet and there are still a few blanks. Why don’t you try calling some of these people? You were an army colonel—I’ll bet you could get ‘em to sign up! I imagine people were scared when they saw you coming—afraid they’d get yelled at!”

“I didn’t really have to yell. I just told them what to do and they did it.”

The soft-spoken colonel’s matter-of-fact reply reminded me of the New Testament story of the Roman centurion who came to request Jesus’ intervention on behalf of his paralyzed servant (see Matthew 8:5–13).  When the Lord offered to go to the centurion’s home to heal the servant, the centurion replied, “‘Lord, I am not worthy for You to come under my roof, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come!and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this!and he does it’” (Matthew 8:8-9, NASB).

What happened next is astonishing.

Matthew tells us that when Jesus heard the centurion’s statement of faith, “He marveled, and said to those who were following, ‘Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in IsraelI say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heavenbut the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ And Jesus said to the centurion, ‘Go; it shall be done for you as you have believed.’ And the servant was healed that very moment” (Matthew 8:10-13, NASB).

With mass shootings, hurricanes, fires, earthquakes, cultural and political turmoil, and a volatile world stage, the past month has left many reeling, with some wondering “Who’s in charge here?”  In a chaotic world that sometimes seems to be spinning out of control, the faith-filled centurion can teach us some valuable lessons about prayer.

As a commander of 100 soldiers in the Roman army, this man held a position of importance, yet he recognized that his authority only went so far. He had heard enough about Jesus to understand that He possessed not only authority but power. While the Scribes and Pharisees—the religious leaders of the Jews—remained spiritually blind, this Gentile military officer’s eyes were opened to see and understand Christ’s divine power to heal.

Do we remember who’s in charge when we pray? Our faith will be strengthened when we remind ourselves that we are communicating with the all-powerful, omnipotent God, coming to Him in the name of His Son Jesus, who said, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18, NASB).

Be it Harvey, Irma, Maria or some yet-to-be-named storm, a hurricane does not have authority over us. Fires, earthquakes or other natural disasters cannot touch us without His permission. While the Bible teaches us to be subject to rulers and those who are in authority (see Titus 3:1), political leaders do not have ultimate power over us—God does. Cancer is not in charge—Christ is. Even death has no dominion over us if we know the one who defeated the grave through His death and resurrection (see John 11:25).

Who’s in charge here? God is. While we can come boldly to Him with our requests, as children approach a loving father (see Hebrews 4:16 and Galatians 4:6), we need not instruct God on how to act or advise Him on the best strategy to employ. Like the Centurion, we can simply recognize His power, state our need and trust Him to work.

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13, NKJV).

—Donna Riesen

We appreciate you joining us in prayer for the following events taking place on The Cove property during the month of October.

Oh come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.   (Psalm 95:6, NKJV)


Jim Henry – October 9-11
Pastor Renewal Retreat — Trophies That Won’t Fade

Allistair Begg with World Medical Mission— October 13-15
Prescription for Renewal and Missionary Medicine Seminar (October 12-13)

Kay Arthur and David Arthur — October 25-27
The Freedom and Power of Keeping in Step With the Spirit

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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Prayer Note: September 2017

We hope you will enjoy our “Prayer Note”—an internal communication here at The Cove, created each month to remind and encourage our staff to pray. We share these with you at the beginning of each month in hopes that you, too, will be encouraged.

Prayer Note(3)
“It cost Christ and all of his followers sharp showers and hot sweats, [before they made it] to the top of the mountain; but still our soft nature would have heaven coming to our bedside while we are sleeping, and lying down with us so that we might go to heaven in warm clothes.”   —Samuel Rutherford

view from the overlook May 2017


In May of this year, we were pleased to welcome Chip Ingram and over 200 military service personnel and spouses for a Military Marriage Retreat at The Cove. Aside from Chip’s powerful Bible teaching and practical insights on marriage and family life, there was a fun and light-hearted “first” at this weekend retreat. On Saturday (the day before the retreat ended), participants were invited to compete in the “Race to the Top,” making a challenging 4-mile hike to the top of the Cove Overlook.

Awards were given to the winners in the male and female categories, and we enjoyed hearing stories and viewing social media posts from those who completed the race.

Another Military Marriage Retreat will be held this month (September 8-10). Rev. Tommy Nelson will teach on “The Art of Living Well in Marriage,” and the couples will again be invited to compete in another “Race to the Top.”


There are two “official winners” in the strenuous event; yet the real reward for completing the race is given freely to everyone who makes it to the top of the precipice: a breathtaking view of God’s creative work. If you’ve ever made the trek to the Overlook, you know. The Cove’s lush, green canopy of trees stretches out below, while the towering white steeple of Chatlos Memorial Chapel points heavenward as a testimony to grace.  Above and beyond rise the misty blue, green and gray shades of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The panorama is definitely worth the hike!

Of those fearless warriors who accomplish the feat, many pause not only to catch their breath, but also to sit and pray, hearts quiet before their Creator, in awe of the majesty and beauty of His creation.


It might seem easier to pray in a picturesque setting like the Overlook, gazing out over the world from a higher vantage point; yet the majority of our prayers are prayed at street-level, trying to escape the distractions of everyday life and the temptations of our daily struggle with self and sin. In our real-life “Race to the Top,” we may often feel we take one step forward and slide two steps back.

Even on the mountain-top, it may seem as if our problems, distractions and failures have followed us up the slope—or maybe even beaten us to the top—meeting us there with accusations of guilt. “What do you think you’re doing, kneeling atop this mountain? You’re in no condition to pray! Just take a look at this long list of sins you’ve committed and important tasks you’ve left undone. Why, if I unrolled the whole thing it would stretch all the way back down to the valley.”

So much for Overlook prayers. But before getting up from your knees and giving up—before you start down the path of prayerlessness, remember the hope-filled words of the psalmist David. “I will lift up my eyes to the hills—from whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord Who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:1-2, NKJV).

Not only does our salvation, our life and our very breath come from God, but our ability to pray is a gracious gift from Him as well. As Billy Graham once said, “God Himself is the power that makes prayer work.”

The location doesn’t matter—whether you’re voicing a prayer from the scenic vantage-point of the Overlook or seeking the Lord with your head leaning over a mop bucket, He’s ready to hear. Whether you’ve had a victorious week of seeing God at work and sensing His presence or a week of failures and straying from His will, He’s ready to forgive.  Because Christ’s blood cleanses our sin when we confess it (1 John 1:7) and His Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness and makes intercession for us (Romans 8:26), God stands ready to hear our prayer. Like the “Race to the Top” of the Cove Overlook, the journey to persevering prayer is worth the effort.

Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving” (Colossians 4:2, NKJV).

During the month of September, pray especially for the military couples who attend the retreat. Pray for healing of relationships, rest for war-weary hearts and minds, and victory over battles with sin and temptation.  We are honored to serve these couples who have sacrificed so much to preserve and defend our freedom. Now let’s be faithful to pray for them.

Run with patience the race that is set before you” (Hebrews 12:1, NKJV).

—Donna Riesen

We appreciate you joining us in prayer for the following events taking place on The Cove property during the month of September.

Oh come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.   (Psalm 95:6, NKJV)


Erwin Lutzer — September 5-7
The Mysteries of God: Drawing Near to the God We Love, Fear, and Struggle to Understand

An Evening at The Cove with Travis Cottrell — September 7
An evening of fellowship, delicious food and uplifting music!

Tommy Nelson — September 8-10
Military Marriage Retreat — The Art of Living Well in Marriage

Chip Ingram — September 15-17
The Real God: How He Longs for You to See Him

SeniorCelebration: James Merritt with Sisters — September 18-20
Out of Options? Relying on God in Desperate Times

Please join our brothers and sisters in Texas in prayer today.  Sunday, Sept. 3, has been proclaimed a Day of Prayer in Texas by Governor Abbott. 

When Those Who Should, Don’t…

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You’d be amazed at what you can learn at The Cove!

Those who attended the July 17-21 Intensive Bible Training with Michael Card discovered some astonishing insights from God’s Word. Delving into the Scriptures, Michael led participants into a deeper understanding of Jesus through an in-depth study of “Luke: The Gospel of Amazement.”

Here are a few insights from Michael’s teaching on one of the major themes of Luke’s gospel:

“When Those Who Should, Don’t…”

As Luke went about the task of collecting eyewitness accounts of the life of Jesus, he noticed a pattern emerging. Time and time again, religious leaders—supposedly spiritual men, people who should have understood what Jesus’ ministry was about—were simply unable to comprehend the Rabbi from Nazareth. On the other hand, simple, run-of-the-mill people (most of them women) were able to almost immediately grasp the gift of grace that Jesus was offering them.

Eventually, the sheer weight of examples caused Luke to develop these stories into a literary theme which, for the lack of a better term, I call “when those who should, don’t and those who shouldn’t, do.”

Excerpt from the seminar presentation notes of Michael Card.

• Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist,
and Mary. Luke 1:5-56 (67ff)

Zechariah, a priest serving in the Holy Place in the Temple, is given a promise directly from the mouth of the angel Gabriel and yet, does not believe.

While Mary, a simple young girl from the backwater town of Nazareth, hears Gabriel and immediately responds by submitting herself as a “slave of the Master.”

• The Centurion and the Jews. Luke 7:1-10

The Jewish friends of the pagan soldier come to Jesus, insisting that he “deserves” Jesus’ attention.

While the Roman Centurion sends word, “…I do not deserve.” Nevertheless, he still asks for Jesus’ gift of healing for his slave. His faith amazes Jesus.

• Simon the Pharisee and the “sinful” woman. Luke 7:36-50

Simon, a Pharisee who has invited Jesus for meal fellowship, inwardly judges both Jesus as well as the sinful woman who has crashed the party.

While the woman who was a “sinner” weeps over the feet of Jesus and dries them with her hair. Jesus responds to Simon, “Do you see this woman?” because Simon has only viewed her as one of his categories.

• The Good Samaritan. Luke 10:25-37

So pervasive is this literary theme that it even makes it into the parables of Jesus. Here the priest and Levite pass by the wounded traveler, while the Samaritan goes far out of his way to help.

• The parable of the lost son. Luke 15:11-32

The younger son, who has wasted his father’s inheritance limps home and asks to become a servant.

While the older brother scorns the father’s forgiveness and complains that he is really a slave.

• The tax collector and the Pharisee. Luke 18:9-14

The religious Pharisee “prays about himself” before God and goes home unjustified.

While, unthinkably, the tax collector seems to understand the grace and forgiveness of God when he merely blurts out “have mercy…”

• The rich young ruler and Zacchaeus. Luke 18:18ff, 19:1-10

The young man cannot give up his possessions.

While Zacchaeus, the tax collector, repents and pays restoration.

• The rich men and the poor widow.  Luke 21:1-4

The poor widow put more into the treasury than the rich men.

• The Crucifixion. Luke 23:35, 47

The religious leaders mock Jesus on the cross.

While the thief and the Roman soldier protest His innocence.

• The 11 and “the women.” Luke 24:8-12

After the resurrection, the women come to the eleven, believing Jesus has been raised from the dead.

While the disciples think they are merely “delirious.”

Our next Intensive Bible Training seminar is scheduled for August 28-September 1.  Register now and enjoy the insightful teaching of Dr. R.T. Kendall as he speaks on “Experiencing the Presence of God.”

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Saturday Snapshot — Summer in the Mountains

Summer has brought longer days and shorter nights, warmer air, afternoon showers, and beautiful fireflies to the mountains of North Carolina.

BGTC front gate area July 14 2017

The chapel nestled in the lush, green woods…

chapel nestled in the woods July 2017

Last weekend, Darren Thomas led a seminar titled, “Jesus, Don’t You Care?”  Darren spoke about how worrying puts us in places that God never intended for us.

In  the picture below, he’s illustrating the umbrella of faith.  We must cast our cares on the Lord and trust Him with the outcomes.  The umbrella of faith is a protective covering for us.

Darren explained that when we worry, it’s like walking around in fear without the umbrella of faith.

By the way, before opening the umbrella inside the auditorium, he assured everyone, that the Bible does not tell us anywhere that it’s bad luck to do so.  : )

DT umbrella of faith July 2017

This week Dr. Woodrow Kroll led a 5-day Intensive Bible Training seminar.  This is a picture of him with Betty, who has attended his seminars for 21 of the 23 years he’s been teaching at The Cove. That’s one committed student!

Betty and Dr Kroll Her 20 or 21 visit of his 23 July 2017

What’s summer like in your neck of the woods?

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 Garden.  Click here for directions and operating hours. Tours are free.

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Spend a Week of Intense Bible Study at The Cove This Summer

08_TC Aerial_Green_800 px for blogThis summer, The Cove is offering five Intensive Bible Training Seminars, designed to take an in-depth and comprehensive approach to understanding a specific topic or section of the Bible. 

Instead of the typical 3-day seminar, these offer a 5-day format,  allowing you time to really dig into God’s Word.  Open to anyone, these seminars are led by seminary-level instructors.

As you are making summer plans, we hope you will consider setting aside time to grow in your relationship with God right here at The Cove in Asheville, North Carolina.

2017 Intensive Bible Training Seminars

(To register or get more information, click on one of the speaker names below or call 1-800-950-2092.)

Intensive Bible Training: Reveling in Grace: The Gospel of Freedom
with Mark Yarbrough,  June 19-23, 2017

NOTE: This seminar is available for seminary credit (graduate level) and CEU credit (for teacher certification) through Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS). Financial assistance is offered to currently enrolled DTS students, displaying financial need, who desire to attend this seminar.

Intensive Bible Training: God’s Grand Plan for the Nations
with Walter C. Kaiser, Jr.,  June 26- 30, 2017
Intensive Bible Training: The Most Unique Person Who Ever Lived
with Woodrow Kroll,  July 10-14, 2017
Intensive Bible Training:Luke – The Gospel of Amazement
with Michael Card, July 17-21, 2017

NOTE:  Join Michael for An Evening at The Cove (dinner & concert)on Sunday, July 16 .  Click here for details.

Intensive Bible Training: Experiencing the Presence of God
with R.T. Kendall, August 28-September 1, 2017

For a list of all upcoming events at The Cove, click here.

Want to get away with God, but can't(2)
Click here for more information.