True Freedom

By Will Graham

I believe that most of us who have placed our faith in Jesus would agree that we have found the cure for the heart problem that ails the world. We’ve experienced the peace that passes all understanding, while every day we watch others sinking in despair with their hearts far from God. Sadly, it’s rare when we actually seize the opportunity to toss a rope to the man or woman beside us who is drowning in their hopelessness.

I was recently reminded why it is so important to not miss these chances to reach others when God offers you the opportunity. I was speaking at a weekend Celebration in Terrell, Texas, just east of Dallas. My good friend and ministry partner Todd Pierce, a rodeo cowboy, came down from Idaho to share his testimony from the stage of what Christ has done in his life.

On Saturday, the second of the three days of the event, Todd was preparing to come over to the Performing Arts Center where the Celebration was being held. As he pulled up to a stop light, he saw a man by the side of the road asking for spare change. God moved in Todd’s heart, and Todd pulled his car off to the shoulder of the road and waved the man over.

Todd invited him to the Celebration, and – after hearing what the man had to say about “those Christians” – convinced him to come along. The man quickly went off to find his brothers, and the three of them returned and climbed into the back of Todd’s car.

I had no idea that any of this was taking place while I was backstage preparing to preach on youth night. That evening, when I offered the invitation for the young people in the crowd to make a commitment to Jesus, I quickly noticed the full head of gray hair making its way down to the front.

One of the three men that Todd had picked up – nicknamed “Freebird” after the Lynyrd Skynyrd song – heard the Gospel and, there in the Terrell ISD Performing Arts Center, prayed to accept Christ as his Lord and Savior.

Afterwards he told Todd, “They call me ‘Freebird,’ but I’ve never felt free in my life until tonight.” He couldn’t believe that people loved him and hugged him even though he was wearing dirty clothes and hadn’t showered.

The next morning, as our team met for devotions in the local Holiday Inn, we rejoiced at the work that God had done in Freebird’s life. We were grateful that Todd responded when he felt God calling him to pull the car to the side of the road.

As we closed our time together, we received word that Freebird was on his way to the hotel. He had decided that – having made a commitment to follow Christ – he wanted to be baptized as well! That morning, along with Todd and our emcee Mark Christian, I had the amazing blessing of helping to baptize Freebird in the Holiday Inn swimming pool.

When we asked Freebird – whose real name we learned was Fred – if he was going to come to Sunday afternoon’s final Celebration service, he declined. “No, I’m leaving right now to head home to Alabama,” he said.  “I called my wife and told her we’re kicking this alcohol thing, and we’re getting our marriage right.”

My friends, people need the Lord! Do you have an urgency in your spirit to share Him with others? Do you want to see people find true freedom in Christ? Do you believe that eternity is at stake?

When the Holy Spirit nudged Todd to stop alongside the road, he could have easily said, “I’m going to share my faith with thousands of people this weekend. I’m doing my part. I don’t need to do this too!” And when the man by the side of the road started bad-mouthing Christians, Todd could have driven away. But, of course, he didn’t do either of those things. Because of that, Freebird’s eternity – as well as his marriage and his life here on earth – has forever changed.

How often do we watch our co-workers, family, friends, and neighbors – even the man asking for extra change on the street corner – struggle through life without sharing with them that they can have true hope for eternity? We’re always too busy, or too timid, or – frankly – too jaded to share the love and peace we’ve found. Don’t miss those opportunities!

I pray that I never forget what Freebird taught me, and I pray that you too will be challenged to truly see that people need the Lord. 

Kendra’s Bible Study…Joshua 10:20-27

Welcome to Kendra Graham’s online Bible study.  This is a place where we can come together and share tin he 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 10:20-27 

What does it say? THE FACTS

20.   When Joshua and Israel finished slaying them and the survivors who remained entered the fortified cities,
21.   all the people returned to camp in peace, no one uttered a word against Israel
22.  “Open the mouth of the cave, and bring the five kings out”
23.   They did so: The king of Jerusalem, Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish & Eglon
24.   Joshua called for all men of Israel, and said to the chiefs who had gone w/ him”Put your feet on the necks of these kings” So they came near and put their feet on their necks
25.  Joshua said, “Do not be afraid or dismayed, be strong and of a good courage, for thus the LORD will do to all your enemies.
26.  Afterward Joshua struck, killed them and hanged them on 5 trees until evening.
27.  So it was at the going down of the sun Joshua commanded & they took them down, cast them into the cave where they had been hidden and laid large stones against the cave’s mouth

What does it Mean? THE LESSONS 

20-21: When the power of God has been revealed (to believers as well as non-believers) there is nothing to say that we could possible add.  (EVERY knee will bow, every tongue will confess that Jesus is LORD!)
22-24: These kings went against God and His people with all they had, it is hard sometimes for us to wrap our brains around an all merciful God and an all righteous and just God, we like to focus on the mercy, don’t we?  There is a time for EVERYONE to receive God’s grace and God’s mercy, and that time is NOW! NOW is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2)! If you have ears to hear, HEAR!  Because there is a day coming, when time will run out…. your decision is NOW.  The Canaanites and Amorites, and all the other “ites” had year after year, decade after decade to repent, and stop the wickedness (Genesis 15:6)…. until God said enough is enough and their wickedness was complete, and God went before Israel like a consuming fire and destroyed these nations that were mightier than Israel.  Did God give Israel the land because they were so good?  No, God gave Israel the land because Canaan was so wicked, and because of the Righteousness of God’s character, not the righteousness of Israel’s character (Deuteronomy 9). God loved the people of Canaan, and was patient and long suffering waiting for them to come to repentance. In Romans 1 Paul talks about not having an excuse, because if you see one sunrise you should know there is a God, but the people of the land became more depraved, and deepened in their wickedness, and the result, the consequence of sin is always death.  Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death.”  God means what He says.  Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned BUT the GIFT of God is eternal life!.”  Yes, there is hope!!! The GIFT of God is eternal life, a life raft! Well what is the gift of God? Is it possible for you and I to attain this gift? YES! John 3:16, “For God so LOVED the world that He GAVE His only Son (Jesus) that whosoever BELIEVES in Him will have everlasting life!” The gift of God is Jesus! Romans 10:9 “If you confess with your mouth the LORD Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved!” 2 Peter 3:9, “The LORD is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward YOU, not wishing for ANY to PERISH but ALL to come to repentance”


25: Joshua remembers what God has said in His Word, and encourages the nation.  God is faithful to His Word, and Joshua is living by it.  The things God calls us to do are hard, we will be tempted to run, hide and be discouraged.   I must remind myself who God is, not who I am.
26-27:  The very thing these kings thought would be their shelter was their grave.  Be careful what I put my faith in, if it is anything other than Jesus, I will come up short.  The stones piled up in front of this cave, this grave, are a good warning to you and me… don’t delay in repentance to God! John 14:6, “I (Jesus) AM the Way, the Truth and the LIFE no one can come to God, but through Me.”

What Does it Mean to Me? THE APPLICATIONS

20-21:  When have I seen God work in mighty ways and been speechless about what He has done, either for me or someone else? (If the answer for this question is never… read the stories of Hudson Taylor, Amy Slessor, Bill Bright, Jim Cymbala) there are countless others on the testimony of God’s amazing power that will leave you and I speechless!
22-24: Has there been a time in my life when I have personally repented of my sin and asked for the forgiveness of God that is available because of Jesus?  Or am I living my life in direct opposition to God, thinking I have plenty of time to make things right before the end?  Do I realize and know that God loves me and His plan for me is not destruction and punishment, but love and acceptance if I will just humble myself before Him?  Do I need to stop here and NOW and ask God to forgive me?
25:  Am I in God’s Word enough to remember His promises and challenges to me?  Do I believe God is who He says He is and will do what He says He will do?
26-27: Who or what do I put my faith in to provide for my safety, my needs my assurance for the future?  A job? A spouse? A talent? My charity? The good stuff I do? Only Jesus is our assurance!

Read Verses 28-43 (Joshua chapter 10), focus doing the 3 questions on verses 40-43. 

Share with us your lesson(s) and applications and what they mean to you.
Do you know someone that might be blessed by joining our study? Please share this blog link with them.

The Power of Prayer and Surrender

God is always at work in our lives.  Do we see it…in good times and bad? Do we take time to thank our Creator for the blessings of each and every day?  Do we praise Him in all circumstances?  Do we surrender everything to Him?  A couple from Kernersville, NC knows a thing or two about surrender and the power of prayer.  May this beautiful story will be an encouragement to you today. 

By George L. Matthews

About 3 years ago, I developed a tremor in my right hand that was diagnosed as benign essential tremors.  

As the tremor worsened and other symptoms began to manifest, my wife, Dianne, asked her neurologist at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center for a neurology referral for me.  

He suggested Dr. Haq, in the neurology department there but told her he might be hard to see since his appointments were scheduled months in advance.  

When Dianne called to see about scheduling an appointment, she was told there had been a cancellation – the very next morning, at 8 am, “Could we be there?”  Is anything too hard for our God?   

Over the next few months, as I underwent numerous tests, my symptoms worsened.  Tests indicated polyneuropathy.  We thought I had spinocerebellar ataxia, but the tests were all negative.   Only one test was confirmed positive, that for paraneoplastic syndrome.  But we had no idea why this syndrome was present.  

In February, I began having difficulty walking.  In 3 weeks time, I was able to walk only with the assistance of lofstrand crutches. 

Every step was an effort.  

My entire body seemed to convulse when I tried to stand.  

The once self-sufficient, independent man that I had always been was reduced to needing help just getting out of bed.  

It was during this time God began dealing with me regarding my absolute surrender to Him as Lord of my life.  

I knew He was Savior, but did I trust Him to be Lord?  

It was easy to say yes to that question when all was well.  

But now, could I accept what He had allowed into my life with thanksgiving (I Thessalonians 5:18)?  When I finally realized that even in the darkest places, He was Lord, I felt that “peace that passes all understanding”.  

I knew that He had a purpose for this and I could trust Him.

Dr. Haq had decided that even though we still did not have a definitive diagnosis for my convulsive movements, he would admit me for a week of steroid treatments.  

I would enter the hospital on June 11.  Dianne had already booked a weekend seminar for us at The Cove for June 8-10 to hear Dr. Ken Boa. 

How amazing that God orchestrated our time at The Cove the weekend before my hospitalization!  

When we arrived for registration at The Cove, we signed up for the Interactive Sessions that were a part of the Seminar event.  

I was assigned with a fabulous group of men, and Dianne with a great group of women.  We were loved upon, encouraged, prayed for.  We were sought out by a couple who had used a recent hospitalization to witness to the hospital staff, and encouraged me to do the same. They shared Bible verses with us.  

We recognized that God had sent all these people to us this very weekend for a special purpose.  The staff at The Cove was so kind and helpful, and we knew they were also praying for us.  We were encouraged by Dr. Boa’s teaching.  

We left The Cove on Sunday knowing we were firmly secure in God’s hand, that He was in control, and we need not fear.  

On June 11, we arrived at the hospital to find out the treatment plan had changed over the weekend.  

One of the physicians Dr. Haq had conferred with had found an article that suggested IVIG treatments.  They started the first treatment Monday evening.  

By midweek, I began standing and taking steps without my crutches.  

By Thursday, I was making laps around the neurology department.  

As I walked, I shared with the staff of God’s goodness; I handed out tracts to those who asked how I could be so joyous.  God provided many opportunities for me to share His love during my stay.  

Then, on Friday I walked out of the hospital without my crutches.  

Am I cured?  We don’t know.  

The doctors were amazed at how well the treatment worked but can’t give a prognosis since they don’t have a definite diagnosis.  

But this we do know, “we are fearfully and wonderfully made” and the Creator God does know.  

It is in His hands and whatever He chooses to send, we accept.  He knows what is best for us.  He knew that until I was unable to manage on my own, I had reserved a part of me that was not completely surrendered to Him.  

I am grateful for this time of illness, for I saw not only physical healing, but spiritual healing as well. 

I felt the amazing power of prayer.  

I saw how God’s timing was woven throughout the events of the past months.  

I had great physicians, great medical staff to administer the treatment, all orchestrated by Him.  But more importantly, we had a lot of people praying for us…our church, our family, and our friends.  

How awesome is our God who walks with us, hears our cry for help, and sends people to walk through our valleys with us!!  

And answers prayer!

Great Opportunity for Ministry Teams


You and your ministry team are personally invited to one of our most exciting opportunities at The Cove this year.

August 9-10, Michael Catt, senior pastor at Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia, will be leading a Church Staff Retreat titled You Can’t Have a Vision If Your Head
Is in a Box.  As you may know, Michael is the co-founder of Sherwood Pictures and has produced influential Christian movies such as Courageous, Fireproof, and Facing the Giants.

This two-day retreat includes plenary sessions and Q&A with Michael as well as time to meet together with your team for planning, interaction, and reflection.  Join him as he shares insights on how to discover and unleash God-given, Spirit-inspired creativity that can transform your ministry and impact your community for Christ.

On behalf of the entire team at The Cove, we hope you will give us the opportunity to serve you here.  May God richly bless you.


Franklin Graham
Billy Graham Evangelistic Association

To register or for more information on this Church Staff Retreat, click here or call 1-800-950-2092.

Kendra’s Bible Study…Joshua 10: 15-19

Welcome to Kendra Graham’s online Bible study.  This is a place where you can come together and share your 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
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 10:15-19

FACTS: What Does it Say?
15: Israel returned to camp at Gilgal
16: These 5 kings fled and hid in the cave at Makkedah
17: It was told Joshua these 5 kings were found hidden in the
18: Roll large stones against the mouth of the cave and guard
19: do not stay there yourselves; pursue your enemies and attack
in the rear, do not allow them to enter their cities for the LORD has delivered

LESSONS: What Does it Mean?

15. It’s good to gather together and asses the situation get feedback  and get back to  work
16. the “fearless” leaders of these cities, so  ready to destroy Israel off the face of the earth find themselves cowards  hiding in a cave.  In times of crises our true character comes out
17. You  can’t hide from God
18-19: Do not be distracted from the task at hand even if you  capture a high value target.  Stay focused on the task at hand.  Pursue those enemies.  Often times I give up the fight when God has called me to complete it.  I may say, “Ah, I have done most of it, I’m out” Do not allow the enemy to re-group, finish the task completely.

APPLICATION: What Does it Mean to me?

15. Do I realize we are in this fight together as Christians? Are we listening to one another  and getting back to work together with a common goal?
16. In  times of crises in my life, what was or is being revealed about my character?  Am I strong and courageous in the LORD, or weak and cowardly? Crises reveals my belief, what has crises revealed regarding my belief?  Has my belief and faith been proven or run from?
17. What causes me to question God sees me?
18-19: Am I living in disobedience because I have been distracted from what God has  called me to do? How have I been distracted from the task at hand?  Have I completed things “mostly” but I don’t want to put the finishing touch on it because…..? Too much
effort? Time? I’m not “feeling” it any longer?  I would rather……?  This distraction over here is more “me” and makes more sense?

Share with us your lesson(s) and applications and what they mean to you.

Do you know someone that might be blessed by joining our study? Please share this blog link with them.

Homework for July 3 discussion: Joshua 10: 20-27

A Tribute to Ruth Bell Graham from Her Grandson Will

Will Graham, Executive Director at The Cove, the son of Franklin and Jane Graham and the grandson of Ruth and Billy Graham, penned this tribute to the enduring love between his grandparents. Five years after Ruth’s passing on June 14, 2007, we join Will in remembering this godly woman’s legacy.

It’s such a gift to have grandparents who impart profound truth without even trying, living in such a way that the lessons are impossible to ignore.

by Will Graham

“I always thought it would get easier with time, but it hasn’t. I miss her more now than
ever,” my grandfather, Billy Graham, shared as he talked about my grandmother, Ruth, who passed away in 2007. His booming voice, heard by millions around the world on TV, radio, and in person, now escapes as little more than a whisper.

Daddy Bill loves Tai Tai (the affectionate nicknames that we grandkids have for them). I guess one should probably say “loved” since she is no longer living here on earth, but that wouldn’t be accurate. He loves her with a love that cannot be destroyed by the physical separation of mortal death.

For more than 60 years as he traveled the world sharing a message of hope to the masses, she was his strength and inspiration on the home front, a practical joker who could make a princess and a beggar feel equally comfortable in the same room. He would refer to her as the greatest Christian he had ever known and comment that she knew the Bible far better than he did. She helped to prepare and equip him to go out and accomplish what he was called to do.

In my grandparent’s home, my grandmother—who had suffered years of declining health—had a room where she spent much of her time. It was where she slept and where she  studied the Bible. Several translations were spread across a large desk, all featuring big margins for taking notes. This room was also where she ultimately slipped into eternity.

My grandfather still stops as he makes his way past to look into her room, as though he might find her sitting up in bed with the mischievous grin and quick-witted comments that she carried until her final day on earth.

As he looks into that room, my grandfather still sees a simple woven wreath of Jerusalem thorns hanging on the wall amidst family photos. Directly across from it is the bed where my grandmother courageously faced the debilitating pain that followed her for years.

She would never complain about the pain, though you would occasionally see her bright eyes wince and her teeth grit. Rather than lamenting, she would point up to those thorns, similar to the sharp, long blades that were formed into the crown that Jesus wore at His crucifixion. “If He endured so much for me,” she would say, “I have nothing to complain about.”

It’s such a gift to have grandparents who impart profound truth without even trying, living in such a way that the lessons are impossible to ignore. Daddy Bill and Tai Tai have taught me so much about life, love and even pain and death, and I will be forever thankful for both of them.

Will Graham will be speaking at The Cove on June 29-July 1 in a seminar titled, When The Shadows Speak.  You can register by calling 1-800-950-2092 or visit our website by clicking here.

Billy Graham on Prayer

Billy Graham

Prayer is not using God; it is more often to get us in a position where God can use us.

I watched the deckhands on the great liner United States as they docked that ship in New York Harbor.

First, they threw out a rope to the men on the dock.

Then, inside the boat the great motors went to work and pulled on the great cable.

But of course the pier wasn’t pulled out to the ship; the ship was moved snugly up to the pier.

Prayer is the rope that pulls God and man together.

But it doesn’t pull God down to us; it pulls us up to Him.

Five Father’s Day Gifts

Father’s Day is just around the corner…

It doesn’t matter if your Dad is 35 or 75, there are certain gifts that have timeless appeal and will always be remembered.

Here are five priceless Father’s Day gift ideas, where you can’t go wrong…


1. A hand-written card
2. Another tie.  Seriously. One day these can be made in to a tie quilt!
3. A golf club.  Can a man ever have enough golf clubs??
4. Breakfast in bed
5. A gift certificate to The Cove

Call The Cove today at 1-800-950-2092 to give a gift with eternal impact.

Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.  James 1:17

The blog of the Billy Graham Training Center at the Cove