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God’s Free Gift: An Easter Message from Will Graham

By Will Graham

jesus_resurrectionThe Easter Sunrise Service has always been one of my favorite services to preach. There’s something so special and unique about gathering to worship the risen Savior on Easter morning. It’s a time when we can focus most on the sacrifice and glorious resurrection of Jesus, which gives us hope and removes the sting of death. I love it!

I remember several years ago when I was in college and dating the beautiful woman who would one day be my bride, Kendra. I took her with me to visit my grandfather, Billy Graham, for Easter in Montreat, N.C.

On our way back to Liberty University that afternoon, we drove up to Boone, N.C., to see my parents. We pulled into a little gas station on the south side of U.S. Route 70 to fuel up and be on our way. I vividly remember standing in line while the people in front of me made friendly conversation with the clerk behind the counter.

“Nothing’s free anymore!” the man chuckled as he handed over the money to pay for his gasoline purchase.

At that moment God told me to speak. My heart cried out to share the Gospel with these people: “Yes, God’s gift of Salvation is free! That’s what Easter is all about! God paid the debt for you through His Son, Jesus!”

My friends, that’s what I should have said.

Sadly, I kept that proclamation to myself. I regret it to this day. God gave me the words to say and wanted me to share His hope on that glorious Easter day with people who likely needed to hear it, but I disobeyed him and kept it silently in my heart. Frankly, I chickened out.

I made a covenant with God that day that if I ever felt Him speaking through me again, I would share it boldly and not hold back. Who knows? Sharing the words He gives us may be the difference between someone spending an eternity in Heaven or in Hell; the difference between a life of hope and a life of discouragement and despair.

As we celebrate Christ’s resurrection this year, I encourage you to listen to God as He speaks to you, and be His mouthpiece as He speaks through you. Easter is what it’s all about, and we need to take every opportunity available to us to share His saving message!

 Has God laid on your heart the names of friends and loved ones who need to know Him?  Visit www.MyHopeWithBillyGraham.org to learn how you and your church can be a part of a major nationwide proclamation of the Gospel culminating this November. Join the movement today!

My Hope America Training in Asheville

My Hope America with Billy GrahamBilly Graham is calling Christians in western North Carolina to pray and prepare for My Hope America, a new nationwide evangelistic outreach, which will include an all new message from Graham in November 2013—the month he turns 95. My Hope America with Billy Graham is designed to help people share the Gospel in a comfortable environment with family, friends and neighbors.

“Already we have begun connecting with pastors, churches and individual Christians urging them to get involved,” said Preston Parrish, vice president of My Hope America with Billy Graham. “We’re asking them to start praying. As they do that they’ll find that God will give them unexpected opportunities to demonstrate His love and to share how He has changed their personal lives.”

On Tuesday March 26, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association will host an informational meeting at The Cove. The event consists of a vision session, where participants can learn more about the project and receive key materials, and a discipleship overview, helping them learn how to make the most of this opportunity in their churches and community, which has been used for more than 60 years as part of the Billy Graham Crusades.

The event will be held at The Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove, 1 Porters Cove Road (Exit 55 off I-40), Asheville, N.C., from 9 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. on Tuesday March 26. The session is free; however, participants are required to RSVP by calling 1-877-7MY-HOPE or clicking here to RSVP online, as space is limited.

My Hope America encourages participants to open their doors and lives to people they already know—engaging in meaningful conversation and connections as a catalyst for sharing the hope and love found in a relationship with Jesus Christ. While one-on-one conversations will be the root of this relationship evangelism outreach, messages used in reinforcing the Gospel will be available in a wide range of formats including TV, radio, DVD and Internet.

In 2002, the My Hope program began when Franklin Graham asked the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association to take the Gospel country by country around the world where his father, Billy Graham, could no longer physically travel. It began in four countries in Central America. Ten years and 57 countries later, My Hope America has now become a movement spreading across the United States into cities and towns, churches and homes of Christians who have a desire to share their faith with others in their lives.

For more information on the My Hope America with Billy Graham, including additional meeting dates, news articles and evangelism resources, visit www.MyHopewithBillyGraham.org.

Grieving: When a Child Goes to Heaven

What do you do when your precious five-year-old daughter suddenly dies from a severe asthma attack? 

Pastor Levi Lusko and his wife, Jennie, after leaving the hospital where there beloved daughter Lenya Avery had just been declared dead, walked back through the hospital doors and invited the attending physicians, nurses and EMTs to their church’s Christmas service–only 4 days away.  Through tears, Levi told them, “If you come to the service, I will preach it.” 

And he did.  He preached it. 

Levi says, “It’s what Lenya would have wanted.”   

In the midst of pain, confusion, frustration and unfathomable sorrow, Levi, told the congregation during that Christmas Eve service, “Lenya is alive this moment, more alive than she has ever been.  She is on a distant shore with Christ!”

Levi and Jennie visited The Cove last week and shared their hearts with our staff during morning devotions.  Lenya Avery had gone to Heaven only two short months earlier.  

What did we hear that day? 

We heard that the Luskos love God, they trust God, and they trust God’s plan. 


We also heard:

There will be tearsIt is ok to be real with your feelings, your emotions.  It is important to mourn because it shows the world how much you loved the one who is no longer here, and the world watches how “we” get through the tough times. 

See the invisible. You must intentionally choose to see with eyes of faith.  Intend to see what is ‘not seen’. 

Don’t wait until the storm to make the wise preparations.  We need to train for the trials we are not yet in.  When you start ‘killin’ it’ for God (doing His will) you will have trials.  Now is the time for preparation.  You don’t train for a marathon once it begins! 

Set your mind on things above.  God trusts us with trials.  He will use them for His treasure.  He has plans for every single piece. 

Levi shared the good that has come from Lenya’s death, “People have made professions of faith because of her death.  Fathers are training and teaching their children differently because they realize that time is short.” 

Are you prepared for the next storm in your life? 

There are two things you can count on:
1. Storms will come.
2. God will be there. 

Please join us as we lift the Luskos in prayer during this sorrowful time. 

Click here to view Lenya’s Celebration of Life page.

Update (December 20, 2014): Click here to read Levi’s heart on the one-year anniversary of Lenya’s homegoing.

Click here if you would like to learn more about Pastor Levi Lusko’s multi-site church, Fresh Life, in Montana. 

Farewell to a Faithful Servant of Christ

Dr. Howard Hendricks, longtime faculty member at Dallas Theological Seminary and prolific Christian author, passed away today. 

Hendricks played an important role in the development of The Cove in Asheville, NC.  In the early stages, he met with Jerry Miller, longtime executive director of The Cove, who tells us, “during the hours of discussion, Howie [Hendricks] laid the foundation for what a training center should be, reinforcing what God had laid on Billy Graham’s heart – that The Cove would train people in God’s Word to win others for Christ. The only textbook for such a place would be the Bible.”

In addition to his leadership in the area of program development, Hendricks was a frequent speaker. His last seminar at the Cove was in 2010. He was a noted and gifted Bible teacher who loved God and loved spending time in His Word.  Cove Program Manager, John Parrish, remembers Dr. Hendricks as a man with a great sense of humor. “Howard, would use his sense of humor to open you up to what he was about to teach.” Parrish quotes him as saying, “When Satan fell from Heaven, he fell into the choir loft!” 

Long time Cove guest services employee, Heather Waldorf tells us, “Howard Hendricks was by far one of my favorite speakers at The Cove…He was a brilliant teacher, always relevant in his message, a kind hearted and gentle man of God for whom I have always had GREAT respect.”

Dr. Hendricks left an indelible impression on The Cove and our staff and we will forever be grateful for his friendship and his ministry.  We pray for God’s peace in the hearts of Dr. Hendricks’ family during this sorrowful time.   

Watch here as Will Graham, Cove Executive Director, presents Dr. Hendricks with a letter from his Grandfather, Billy Graham. 

Click here for a beautiful tribute to Dr. Hendricks from The Dallas Theological Seminary. 

Agape Love…

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Agape

Greek word for love

A selfless, unconditional, often self-sacrificing love…

The supreme example of agape was God’s sacrifice and Jesus’ death on the cross for us…

True agape love is active

The Holy Spirit continually pours agape love out to us…

The proof of your love is how you treat others…

How can you show agape love today?

Does Your Love Language Apply to Your Relationship With God?

Does our love language apply to our relationship with God?

Yes, it does! 

Gary Chapman, author of #1 NY Times Bestseller The 5 Love Languages, explains how here.

Don’t know what your love language is?  Not to worry, click here to take a simple test.    

Gary Chapman will be leading a Military Marriage Retreat at The Cove on June 27-29, 2014.  It’s free too!  Registration does not open until October of 2013.  Click here for information on Cove military scholarships.       

George Beverly Shea Turns 104 Today!

Join us in wishing George Beverly Shea a happy 104th birthday! 

For the past 60+ years, Bev Shea and Cliff Barrows have been the core of the musical team for Rev. Billy Graham’s Crusade ministry.

“I’ve been listening to Bev Shea sing for more than 50 years, and I would still rather hear him sing than anyone else I know.” — Billy Graham

Grammy award winning Bev Shea, has made a handful of appearances alongside his good friend, Cliff Barrows, during  SeniorCelebrations here at The Cove over the last several years.

When the two old friends get together, tales will be told and songs will be sung.  It is a delight to witness their walk down memory lane!

Watch this never before seen footage of Bev Shea and Cliff Barrows as they reminisce and sing during a 2011 SeniorCelebration at The Cove.

Join Cliff Barrows and Friends at The Cove in an upcoming SeniorCelebration. Click here or call 1-800-950-2092 for more information and to register.

Kendra Graham Bible Study…Joshua 8:1-10

Welcome to Kendra Graham’s online Bible study.  This is a place where we can come together and share in our journey towards Scriptural truths and spiritual maturity.  We pray this will be a safe, respectful, resourceful place to come and discuss God’s Word…to discover What it says…What it means…and What it means to you!

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

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

Kendra Graham NOTES from Joshua 8: 1-10 

WHAT DOES IT SAY?  THE FACTS ONLY PLEASE
In this step you need to list the outstanding facts of the passage.  DON’T get caught up in the details, just list the facts.  Do not paraphrase.  Use the actual words of the passage.  This is God’s Word, a lot of times this step seems tedious to some, but I urge you, as we read, and say and write God’s Word, it begins to sink deep into our hearts.  If you just pick one fact out of the verse, write it down and meditate on it.

1a.  The LORD said, Do not fear or be dismayed.
1b. Take all the people of war with you.
1c. Go to Ai.
1d. I have given: the king of Ai, his people & land.
2a. Do to Ai & its king like Jericho, only take spoil & cattle.
2.b. Set an ambush for the city.
3. So J
oshua rose with all the people of war to go to Ai.
4
. He commanded, “Ambush the city, be ready”.
5
. They will come out after us, so we will flee.
6-7. Rise from your ambush. When you seize the city, set it on fire according to the Word of the LORD.
9-10. So Joshua spent the night there, rose early, mustered the people and went to Ai. 

WHAT DOES IT MEAN? THE LESSONS
Look for a lesson to learn from each fact.  What are the people doing that they should be doing?  What are the people doing that they shouldn’t be doing?
Is there a command to follow?  A promise to claim?  A warning to heed? An example to follow?  Meditate on these.  Ask God what lesson it is that He wants you to hear or learn.

1a.  God RENEWS our confidence in Him w/ the promises in His Word.
1b. God kindly RESTORES the ENTIRE nation, my past sin does not disqualify me for present service to the King of kings.
1c. God REDEEMS my past often times by wanting to replace THAT PLACE that has a testimony of failure with a testimony of His victory! (It HAD to be Ai before they moved on, or that past would beat them down time after time after time… festering in the back of their heads and hearts burdening them with shame…).
1c. God REMINDS His people that His plan and calling on their life has not changed in the least, and reminds ALL of them His promise still stands…. His promises have no expiration regardless of my actions.
2a.  God does NOT hold my past against me! Regardless of my past failure, my present obedience will end in BLESSING.  This time they get a material blessing too! Often times God wants to bless me, but I turn it down knowing I don’t deserve it.
2b.  God gives Joshua the plan.  Trust in God to lead you where and how you need to be led…. not necessarily where I want to be led.  God will always reveal His plan.  I need to be careful to do all (Joshua 1:8).
3.  God uses everyone to obtain the victory.  It is not up to one part of the body of Christ, but the body of Christ as a WHOLE.  YOUR PERSONAL OBEDIENCE MATTERS!
4. God’s instructions are clear. Don’t change them or add to them.
5. Joshua follows God’s plan for an ambush. Don’t try to use another plan or way than the one God reveals.
6-7. Wait… hold in position until it is time to go! HAVE PATIENCE in my holding pattern!8. Be careful to listen to and obey because it is the Word of the LORD… truly truly.
9-10:  When God asks me to do something, don’t delegate it out.  Rise early to obey.  ‘Lead by deeds not words’ (George Washington)

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO ME? NOW APPLY IT…. TODAY.
Take the lessons you learned and put them into the form of a personal question that you would ask your spouse, or a friend or your son or daughter.
As you write the questions, listen for God to communicate to you through His Word.
*Do not rush.  Do not write things down just to have something on paper, this step takes more time that you may think.   This is where Scripture meditation becomes real, this is where you begin to hear that still small voice speak to you, and place His finger in your life and begin to direct your paths…. this day, and the next, and the next.  Do you trust Him enough to put into place that which He is moving you to?

1a.Am I allowing God’s Word to give me confidence or do I tend to believe others and the words going around in my head instead?
1b. Have I settled to believe the lie that God cannot do anything with me because my life was or is a mess?
1c.  Do I know the promises God has spoken over ME?
2a. Do I think God is always trying to find new ways to beat me down with consequences over my past?  Do I have the courage and humility it will take for me to 1. obey God, and then 2. accept His blessing!?
2b.  Am I willing to ask God what His plan for me is?  Or do I just want Him to bless my plans for me?
3.  How and where is God calling me to obedience?  Do I realize my obedience matters A LOT to God and is a BIG DEAL???
4. Do I beg God for direction only when I get it I beg for another set of instructions that I am more comfortable with?
5.
Do I tend to make God’s plans more palatable to coincide with my own idea of common sense?  If I sprinkle my plans… with God’s plans… hmmm?
6-7. Why is it so hard to WAIT on God’s timing?
8. Am I careful with the instructions God has given me, and am I careful to do all He is asked, NOTHING MORE (We LOVE to do more… makes us look better, in our eyes, right? and careful not to pick and choose the things I like).
9-10.  Is it time that I acted on those things I have claimed for so long to believe?

LIVE IT OUT.
Look over all your facts, lessons and applications for a given passage.
Is there a main theme to them?  Does one verse stand out over the rest for some reason??Hold yourself accountable to LIVE OUT in your daily life that which God impresses upon your heart.  Write it out, sign it, date it and claim the transforming power of God’s Word and His presence in your life.
OBEY.  LET GOD DEAL WITH THE THINGS IN MY LIFE HE NEEDS TO DEAL WITH TO BRING ME INTO A RESTORED PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM.  PRESS IN.  FACE IT. REFUSE TO RUN. God’s plans are right.

HOMEWORK:  Do the Three Questions on Acts 16:22-32  OR EXTRA CREDIT: 16:6-40!

Get stuck?  www.annegrahamlotz.com  and Anne will walk through the Three Questions with you and help you along!