This Thursday, our friend Matthew West will be joining us for An Evening at The Cove.
Matthew’s latest single, “Strong Enough,” has spent 11 weeks on the Billboard Christian music charts. This song was inspired by a single mom, Tonia, and the story of her daughter, Haleigh, who was home visiting from college when she was in a devastating car accident. After 13 surgeries in three years and being forced to give up her college aspirations, Haleigh was very frustrated.
“The Lord doesn’t put anything on us that he doesn’t think we are strong enough to handle,” Tonia told her daughter. “Oh yeah? Well, he must think I’m pretty FREAKIN’ STRONG!” was Haleigh’s honest reply.
That story led Matthew to pen the song “Strong Enough.” The song ultimately draws its inspiration from Philippians 4:13 and the simple truth that we don’t have to be strong enough. In fact, we are not strong enough … but God is!
In the annals of world history, you won’t find many mentions of a lady named Pearl Goode. She never ran for political office, never commanded troops, and never served as the CEO of a Fortune-500 company.
Pearl Goode was a widowed nurse in her mid-60s, living in Pasadena, Calif., in 1949 when a young evangelist came to hold tent meetings in Los Angeles at the corner of Washington and Hill streets.
The very first night of the Crusade, she watched the fiery preacher Billy Graham and his team share the Gospel. As Pearl later recounted in an interview, “That night God laid those boys on my heart as a burden.”
Pearl then joined the volunteer prayer team for the Greater Los Angeles Crusade and was a part of seeing the campaign extended from three weeks to eight weeks, with people cramming into the tent every night to hear the Good News.
After that early Crusade, Pearl became a prayer warrior for the Crusades, without anybody on my granddaddy’s team even knowing. She would spend her own money to travel by Greyhound bus to wherever they were holding an event, quietly check herself into a motel near the venue, and immediately begin praying. Pearl estimated that she covered 48,000 miles by bus, simply to pray for the Crusades.
Even later in life when Pearl could no longer travel, or when my granddaddy was preaching overseas, she would make it a point to know exactly when he would be preaching, and she would spend those exact hours in prayer.
In an address he gave in 1994, my grandfather said, “She prayed all night many nights, and I could sense the presence and power of that prayer. When she died, I felt it.”
We must never underestimate the power of the prayer that is lifted up by wonderful saints like Pearl all around the world. Prayer – talking to God – is of paramount importance in developing our relationship with our Savior and in building up and supporting others through the work of the Holy Spirit. The great significance of prayer is – I believe – why we see so many calls to prayer in the New Testament*.
But, with everything going on in our world today, and with all of the distractions that life throws at us, how many of us actually make the time to become a prayer warrior like Pearl Goode? She would use her own money to travel to far-away states, only to lock herself in a motel room and pray all night long. What a challenge to the rest of us who can’t find 15 minutes in a day to spend with our Lord!
My granddaddy has told me that one of the few regrets he has in life is that he didn’t pray more. That impacts me deeply because almost every time I walk into his house he’s either praying or reading the Bible. He firmly believes that if he had spent even more time in prayer he could have reached even more people with the Gospel.
Pearl Goode, Billy Graham … you and me. Let’s make today the day we cast off the things of this world and commit to be a prayer warrior!
Will Graham is the third generation of Grahams to proclaim the Gospel under the banner of BGEA. Will has spoken to audiences around the world. He graduated from Liberty University in 1997 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Religion and in 2001 graduated from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary with a Master of Divinity degree. He currently serves as assistant director of the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove in Asheville, N.C.
Matthew West, fresh off his appearance at the recent Will Graham Jersey Shore Celebration in Ocean Grove, NJ, will perform at The Cove on June 23.
The concert will be a mix of older, more familiar songs from the radio, as well as songs from his latest album, The Story of Your Life.
“As a songwriter, every song has a story behind it, and I am excited to play in an intimate setting like the Cove, because I’ll get to dive in to some of the amazing stories that inspired these songs,” he explained.
West’s hopes and prayers for this Evening at The Cove go far beyond music and entertainment. It’s about the most important connection a person could ever make—a connection with God. To register for this event, click here.
Matthew accepted Christ watching a Billy Graham Crusade on television when he was 13. Joy Allmond from BillyGraham.org spent some time with Matthew and discussed his long-standing relationship with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Click here to read the story.
In fact, anytime he can bring his wife with him, like last weekend, he does.
“The setting’s just awesome,” Ingram said.
But to describe it in more detail took a little more thought process.
“It’s excellence without opulence,” Ingram said. “It’s well done but it’s not overdone.”
And what hits Ingram the most is how thoroughly enjoyable his experiences at the Billy Graham Training Center have been.
Year after year after year.
“It really honors God, from the top to the bottom,” he said. “From the person at the door to the the kitchen staff to the maids who pray for the guests when they make their beds, there’s a servant’s attitude here that’s real.”
Ingram gave a “Next Generation” parenting retreat over Memorial Day weekend aimed at those 45 and under called “House or Home” and if the wrap-up testimony time was any indication, this was more than just a three-day seminar where couples walked away with head knowledge.
“God works here,” Ingram said. “Not to be overly mystical or anything, but the hand of God’s favor has been on this man (Billy Graham) and organization.”
Possibly the best part to any weekend get-away, the wondering of what is in store is almost as beneficial as the actual vacation itself.
Well-known pastor and author Chip Ingram spent parts of three days in the mountain tops outside of Asheville, bestowing wisdom to eager parents about, you guessed it, parenting.
And as my wife and I slipped into the dining room and our eyes locked in on the only two remaining seats, that feeling of anticipation quickly slipped into reality, with Gigi Graham welcoming us even before we placed the crisply-designed napkin into our laps.
You know the drill. Where you from? How many kids? What do you do? Pick your three or four of the least-threatening pleasantries and your shallow table conversation can commence.
But not this table. Not this weekend.
The three other couples — from Ohio, Tennessee and South Carolina — didn’t come to play Sunday School. This much was clear.
The conversations were real from the first hellos.
“We’re celebrating our 10th anniversary,” said Lorien Boyer, a graphic designer from Westerville, Ohio. “And I wanted to go on a cruise.”
The glance to her husband was priceless. Except maybe to the husband.
Mark Boyer, manager for an upstart Christian Radio Station Shine (88.9), explains their story slightly different. You see, the Boyers had good friends just outside Columbus, Ohio, also celebrating 10 years of marriage and they had planned taking a cruise together. Until the friends, ever so inconveniently, got pregnant.
That’s when Mark went to the well and scrambled for a suitable Plan B. Honey, how about the Cove? And Chip Ingram?
And hey, it’s on parenting. Memorial Day Weekend. Perfect.
“The first time I threw it out there she was like ‘No, I don’t want to go to a seminar,” said Mark, father to Casey, 2 1/2, and Drew, 14 months. “But when you go to something like this, you know God is going to do something, you just don’t know what.”
Lorien didn’t care for the pep talk. Where’s the Lido Deck? The 30 SPF? The Midnight Buffet?
“I was very disappointed,” Lorien said. “I had never been on a cruise. The Caribbean. Warm Weather. Laying on the beach…
Spoiler alert: Mark talked Lorien into scrapping the cruise idea and the couple made the 8-hour drive to the Billy Graham Training Center this past weekend.
And as much as Lorien doubted Mark, she couldn’t help but stop herself in mid-sentence as the conference was wrapping up and she was saying her goodbyes, exchanging e-mails.
“But this…,” she said, pausing to flash her husband a smile, as they talked about a return trip. “I’m definitely glad we came. It was such a great weekend!”
Trevor Freeze, a writer for billygraham.org, survived the Chip Ingram parenting conference at The Cove. And highly recommends it.
I will tell any couple that the key to navigating those child-rearing years is to make your marriage your number one priority. My wife Teresa and I learned some things (through Scripture and personal experience) that I would like to share with you:
1. Keep cultivating the spiritual side of your marriage.
This doesn’t have to look legalistic or structured, but praying together and sharing your hearts is crucial to the health of your marriage. It looks different ways for different couples. Honestly, corporate devotions don’t work well for us. Instead, my wife and I each have our devotions and get together often and talk about what God is teaching us. This kind of sharing builds a necessary spiritual connection between husbands and wives.
2. Develop companionship.
It’s important to have fun together. This is the kind of thing that keeps the love alive. Youth sports, work and kid demands can very quickly crowd that out.
Of all the years of pastoring large churches, my wife and I spend much of my day off together. We go to lunch, goof off and have fun. Even in our earlier years when we were raising children we would usually have about three hours to ourselves. We’re still doing that after 30 years of marriage.
3. Build a structure for communication.
So, what do I mean by this? Here’s an example:
We, like most people, get paid every two weeks. Neither one of us enjoy doing the bills. So, we have made it a time where we leave the house, get cup of coffee, and write out all of our bills together. That way, we both know where the money goes and we are on the same page about our finances.
We would also spend this structured time to talk about the kids, and how they are doing … phases they were going through. So every two weeks, Teresa and I discussed money, values and kids, so we that didn’t find ourselves confused by going too long without talking about these things. We do these things that keep us on the same page.
4. Spend time with older, more mature couples.
Wherever we’ve lived in the past, we learned to seek out older couples who seemed to have a marriage like we would want to have and/or who have raised godly kids. This doesn’t need to be anything formal or structured, but proactively go after them. Go out to dinner with them.
You know that couple that is 20 years older than you, but seems to have more fun? Find out what they do!
And the couple that has four adult kids that walk with God? Hang out with them and learn what they did.
5. Be united in front of the children.
Throughout my marriage, I would say our biggest arguments were the result of not being on the same page about discipline and consequences. She thought I was too hard on the kids; I thought she was too soft. When she would not follow through with what we agreed upon, it drove me nuts. When I would deliver consequences that she did not agree with, it drove her nuts.
Then we decided that we would agree in private on discipline and consequences so that we could, in public, stand before the kids with a united front.
Chip is coming to The Cove this weekend to teach couples biblical principles of parenting. Space is still available for this specially priced retreat. For more information or to register online, click here. Chip caught up with BillyGraham.org. Click here to read more about “raising up parents” and the upcoming seminar at The Cove.
Chip Ingram is an accomplished author and the senior pastor of Venture Christian Church in Los Gatos, Calif. He is also president and teaching pastor of Living on the Edge, an international discipleship media ministry that provides teaching through radio, TV, and interactive online discipleship pathways. For more information about Chip and Living on the Edge, visit www.livingontheedge.org.
As many of you know, Will Graham, grandson of Billy Graham, is the assistant director here at The Cove. In addition, he travels around the world sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. In fact, please pray for him this weekend, as he is in Ocean Grove, NJ, for the Jersey Shore Will Graham Celebration!
Get to know Will in this video, and learn about his heart for sharing the Gospel.
Last week, our friend George Beverly Shea, who recently celebrated his 102nd birthday, donated his Johannus electronic organ to The Cove.
The organ will reside in the Chatlos Memorial Chapel and will be a treasure for years to come. It wasn’t until after the organ was donated that we realized our existing organ had been struck by lightning and was no longer working. God is good!
At the dedication, Bev gave us an even better gift when he sang a few of his favorite hymns for us while Randall Atcheson played the newly donated instrument.
In February, George Beverly Shea was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award for lifelong artistic contributions to the recording medium by The Recording Academy. Born in 1909, at 102 years of age, he became the oldest artist to ever receive a GRAMMY®, his second, awarded at a special invitation-only ceremony.
On Saturday, May 21, we are excited to welcome singer-songwriter Shaun Groves for An Evening at The Cove!
His 2001 debut “Invitation to Eavesdrop” scored five songs on the charts and a number of Dove Award nominations, including New Artist and Song of the Year for “Welcome Home.” He was soon touring coast-to-coast and around the world with Bebo Norman, Jars of Clay and Michael W. Smith.
Since then, Shaun has traveled with the Christian child development organization Compassion International. He has invested himself entirely in spreading a new message: salvation is not just about being “saved from” something, as he’d learned as a child. It is about being “saved for” something. Very true.
We hope you’ll join us for this special time with Shaun. We know your heart will be touched.
Here’s a video of a performance of his hit song “Welcome Home” on Faith Café.