From the staff at The Cove, we’d like to wish all of you and your families a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
When you enter through the gates at The Cove and make your way up the mountain, you are coming for a seminar, a church retreat, a senior or women’s event, a personal spiritual retreat, a concert, a luncheon, a meeting, or as a visitor at our Chapel and Visitor’s center.
But, we also know you are coming for your own reasons: a need, a hope, a prayer, or an answer to God’s calling. You are coming to be with God, and we are here to set the table for that meeting with Him. It is our hope and prayer that you are blessed with renewal, refreshment and inspiration from your time spent here.
Now, isn’t it just like God to bless US, through you! We, the Cove employees and volunteers, are in fact, blessed by you. We are thankful for you.
From a light-hearted conversation to a heartfelt sharing of a testimony… a smile, handshake or hug as you walk by or an opportunity to pray with/for you. We have the opportunity to do what God has called us to do – to serve you, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Thank you, and thanks be to God.
As I reflect back on the past year, there is so much for which I am very thankful. I’ve been blessed with opportunities around the world to share the love and hope of Jesus Christ over the past several months, from Canada to Kenya, the Jersey Shore to the Philippines. I’ve seen miracles take place this year as I’ve watched people place their eternal faith in the hands of Christ.
Yet, as I ponder the amazing love of the Lord, it strikes me that so often we view our salvation as commonplace. We have received this unbelievable gift, and rather than bursting with thankfulness and jumping with joy we tuck it into the back of the dresser like a pair of socks.
Let’s take a moment to focus on the topic of thankfulness. Luke—the physician—recorded this event in the life of Jesus, showing why we ought to be thankful.
Found in Luke 17:11–19, this is the story of Jesus healing ten lepers. Once they were healed, the ten men ran off excited. But only one came back to praise God for what had happened. Just as these men were physically healed of their leprosy, we receive salvation (or spiritual healing) from Jesus that warrants our gratitude.
First, we can be thankful that Jesus came to us (vv. 11–13). The text says that Jesus went through Samaria and Galilee, both of which were made up of people stigmatized by society. Samaritans were considered unclean people. Galileans were misfits and rogues, and yet Jesus made the effort to go to them. They did not have to go to Jesus. Similarly, God came down from heaven some 2,000 years ago in order to redeem mankind.
Second, we need to also be thankful because Jesus hears our cries (v. 14). The text says the men yelled out to Jesus because they were lepers, and the law required them to stay at a distance in order to prevent infecting others. But Jesus stopped and answered their cry for help. This is significant. These men realized their own situation—that they were very sick and they could not help themselves. If they could have, they would have already done so. They realized that only Jesus could help them and so they cried out to Him. Likewise, when we cry out to Christ for our salvation, it is because we understand that we are unable to save ourselves. We are spiritual lepers in need of healing.
Finally, we need to be thankful that Jesus can cleanse us and make us whole (v. 14). Jesus told the men to go show themselves to the priests, and on the way, the men were healed. They exercised faith in Jesus—they believed He could heal them—and showed obedience as they did exactly what Jesus commanded them to do. Only Jesus has the ability to forgive sin and cleanse us spiritually, as He cleansed the lepers physically.
We should be thankful that we serve a God who can heal, cleanse and save – physically and spiritually – and who comes to us and invites us into communion with Him. When we give thanks to God, He is honored and glorified (vv. 15-19). The Bible says that only one man came back to thank Jesus, and when he did, he was honoring God.
We’re entering the holiday season and things will begin to get hectic, but I encourage you to be sure that you aren’t like the other nine. Please take the time to come back to God and thank Him for what He has done for you. He came down, He heard your cry, and He answered it by healing your soul. My friends, we have every reason to be thankful!
This week is National Collection Week for Operation Christmas Child! If you live in the Asheville area, or you are coming for an event, you can bring your shoebox gifts to The Cove! That’s right, The Cove is a relay drop-off location this year. Just pack your shoebox gift (click here for some great gift ideas!) and bring it by anytime between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Nov. 14-21.
Here’s some more information about Operation Christmas Child – it’s the world’s largest Christmas project and a part of the international Christian relief and evangelism organization Samaritan’s Purse. Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has delivered more than 77 million gift-filled shoe boxes to needy children in more than 130 countries. For more information, visit www.samaritanspurse.org/occ.
This Veterans Day, we want to say thank you to all of our military personnel, both past and present, who have served our country to protect the freedoms we all enjoy. We love you, and we pray that this Veterans Day you will know how much we appreciate your service.
At The Cove, one way we show our appreciation is through our scholarship program for active-duty military. We are pleased to offer full scholarships for active-duty military personnel and their spouses to attend a seminar here at The Cove. Come renew your spirit through encouragement and sound biblical teaching from respected Christian speakers.
Here’s what some recent attendees have said about their trips to The Cove:
“My wife and I wanted you to know how much we enjoyed our Personal Spiritual Retreat at The Cove. Like most military couples with children, we spend most of our days moving in opposite directions. During our 3 days at The Cove, we were able to read, pray and talk together more than we have in a very long time. The friendly staff and the quiet, peaceful surroundings made our time extra special as we grew closer to each other and closer to God. Because of your generosity, our marriage is stronger and our family has been blessed. Thank you so much for presenting us with such a wonderful gift.” — MSG Joseph Laskowski
“My hope in these days is in the Lord and the personal spiritual retreat reminded me of the lasting hope we have in Christ regardless of what happens around us. I preached this weekend with renewed passion. Thanks to those who gave so that I might stay at the Cove and be spiritually refreshed and deeply encouraged.” — LTC Ken Sorenson
“From the bottom of my heart, I would like to extend my highest gratitude of appreciation for providing such a wonderful weekend at The Cove in Asheville, NC; with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. We had an absolutely wonderful time at The Cove, as their hospitality and accommodations were extremely superb and unmatched.” — Maj. Ross Lightsey, Sr.
If you are on active military service or serve as a current military chaplain with the North American Mission Board, please call us at (800) 950-2092, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday to learn more.
If you are not in the military, but you would like to show your support, you can give to our scholarship fund to help make this program possible. We can’t do it without your help! Contact Anna Contoleon at The Cove (828) 298-2092.
Today is Billy Graham’s birthday! As he turns 93 today, he shares his hopes, struggles and prayers, and his gratitude for each of you.
From Billy Graham:
Through the miracle of technology, God is graciously allowing me to proclaim the Good News in several countries this year—three of them where I never had the opportunity to lead a Crusade.
As I turn 93, I am thankful to the Lord that not long before my birthday, I was able to complete a book I’ve been working on for some time. The book is called Nearing Home, and it’s about how to prepare for and face the challenges of growing old, and how to finish well. I’ve written down lessons and insights I wish I had learned earlier in life, because I have come to realize that although I know how to die, no one ever taught me how to grow old.
Even as I look forward to seeing Jesus Christ face to face, and to being reunited with Ruth, my parents, and a host of friends who have now gone on before me, God continues to give me time on earth. My failing eyesight keeps me from reading as I once did, and my physical stamina is low, but I have more time to pray. I talk to the Lord about the needs of family and friends, and about the work of evangelism that God has called us to at BGEA.
Read the complete letter here. To send personal greetings to Billy Graham, post comments on his Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ReverendBillyGraham or on Twitter using the hashtag #happybdaybillygraham.
Have you heard? The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association has launched – for the first time – an online audio archive of Billy Graham’s sermons. The searchable database, which you can find at www.billygraham.org/audioarchives, contains 1,673 messages spanning the more than six decades of Mr. Graham’s worldwide ministry.
You can search the database by topic, date or location. This project is unique in that such a large amount of data is being shared with the public in one location. Previously, one would have to request hard files, transcripts or rely on outside sources to find Billy Graham messages for use. Audio can be streamed, but not downloaded. We hope you are as uplifted by these messages as we are.
This month (and through the rest of the year), we have some great helpers with us at The Cove. They arrived in recreational vehicles, but they got right down to business!
*This post is from Jane Slocomb of the SOWER Ministry
Who are the SOWERs – the new volunteers at The Cove? SOWERs, or “Servants on Wheels Ever Ready,” are a group of approximately 750 couples who desire to serve Christ by serving others.
We are born-again Christians who have recreational vehicles (RVs), are self-supporting and are retired or semi-retired. We delight in serving the Lord by using our various skills and God-given gifts to perform volunteer work. We enjoy the RV lifestyle and the adventure of traveling throughout the United States and North America. Some of us are full-time RVers, while others maintain homes and travel periodically to work on various projects.
The SOWER Ministry provides volunteer help to non-profit Christian ministries. We assist Christian churches, camps, conference centers, orphanages, schools, colleges, missionary retreat centers and training facilities, refuges for neglected or abused children, and recovery homes for adults and other ministries through the organized teamwork of volunteers.
We are primarily a physical labor ministry. For most projects, the men are involved with the construction or remodeling of structures and associated utilities, repair of vehicles, and landscaping, using their various skills of carpentry, electrical, plumbing, roofing, masonry, mechanics, etc. Women help with office work, tutoring, sewing, painting, kitchen work, cleaning and more. SOWER men work approximately six hours per day and the women work three hours each day, four days per week.
This is our first project at The Cove. We are delighted to be here and have been enjoying the wonderful staff who have made us feel so much a part of the ministry. If you have been over to the maintenance area you have seen a bit of construction going on. The first project the men have been doing is the construction of the RV sites for future SOWERS. The women have been working at the Administrative Building helping the staff with various projects.
Being a SOWER is not all work. At every project, we meet old friends and new friends. There are social celebrations, getting together with other SOWER groups that are close by and lots of fellowship. We enjoy special ongoing relationships as we connect and reconnect with each other over the years. Each new relationship is a precious jewel in our hearts. So many times we receive such rich blessings from the project that the little we are able to give seems quite secondary. That is the case here at The Cove.
If you would like to learn more about the SOWER Ministry, visit www.sowerministry.org.
We are very excited about the buzz surrounding Billy Graham’s new book – his 30th. The book, officially debuting on Oct. 18, is called Nearing Home: Life, Faith and Finishing Well. It contains personal autobiographical reflections from Billy Graham on how he has come to view old age, including the realization that the time to prepare for one’s senior years is now.
Learn more about the book from his son Franklin and his long-time colleague Larry Ross in this article on BillyGraham.org. You can find excerpts from the book on the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association website, as well.
That’s right. Skip Heitzig, pastor of 14,000-member Calvary of Albuquerque, was with us here at The Cove. And, we learned that when he’s not preaching, teaching, writing or ministering to thousands through his multimedia ministry, he enjoys playing his ukulele.
An old familiar song…
“Holy Holy Holy”
Something else you might not know about Skip. As a teenager, he got caught up in drugs and ventured into the occult. But God reached him one day in 1973 as he was watching a Billy Graham crusade on TV. The Gospel message penetrated his soul and he knelt and prayed to receive Christ. To God be the glory!