10-Year Anniversary: Cove or Cruise?

By Trevor Freeze


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.

Introduction time.

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.

The Boyers

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.

GUEST POST: Keeping Your Marriage the Priority: 5 Tips for Navigating the Child-Rearing Years

By Chip Ingram

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

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.

Will Graham: The Call

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.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FZ4H0NZ2yzw&w=460&h=292]

Bev Shea: Giving the Gift of Music to The Cove

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!

George Beverly Shea donated his electronic organ to The Cove.

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.

Bev listens as Randall Atcheson plays the new organ at The Cove
George Beverly Shea
George Beverly Shea sings at the dedication of the new organ at The Cove

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.

The Cove Welcomes Shaun Groves

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.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p3lv1hsiRUo&w=460&h=375]

Tickets for this event are $50 and include dinner. Concert-only tickets are available for $28, and overnight lodging is also available. To register, click here.

God Rocks the Rebel

Next weekend, we are excited to welcome our friends Pedro Garcia and Levi Lusko to The Cove for a very special seminar called “God Rocks the Rebel.”

Here’s a sneak peek of Levi Lusko speaking on the topic.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3r2ZZmoECBQ&w=460&h=375]

From their exploding churches in Miami and Montana, Pedro and Levi are seeing God bring revival to many in their generation. In this seminar May 19-21, participants will study – through the book of Jonah – the process God employs to sanctify His wayward children for use in ministry.

Pedro Garcia is senior pastor of Calvary Chapel Kendall, one of the fastest-growing churches in Miami. Pedro’s enthusiastic love for the Lord and the lost is contagious. He teaches verse-by-verse through the Word of God, resulting in lives that are impacted, built up, and equipped to do the work of ministry. His humorous, passionate and contemporary style connects with a wide audience without compromising the truth of the scriptures. He currently serves on several Boards of Directors including Samaritan’s Purse with Franklin Graham. Visit the Calvary Chapel Kendall website, Pastor Pedro’s blog, or follow him on Twitter.

Levi Lusko was invited by Skip Hetizig to serve as youth pastor at Calvary of Albuquerque, one of the largest churches in the state of New Mexico. In 2004, Levi began the O2 Experience, a high-energy event geared at reaching young people with the message of sexual purity and the gospel. In addition, he has spoken at churches, concerts and evangelistic outreaches all over the country. Levi has served as host for Greg Laurie’s Harvest Crusades, and has recently worked with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association as a creative consultant. He is the Senior Pastor of Fresh Life Church, a church he planted, in Kalispell, Montana. His teaching style is real, relevant, and raw. Visit the Fresh Life Church website, Levi’s blog, or follow him on Twitter.

“God Rocks the Rebel” is a Next Generation Retreat, an event specifically designed for those 45 and under and offer modern worship, discussions with the speakers and optional recreational activities. Next Generation Retreats are offered at a special price. Register today to reserve your spot.

A Conversation with Kendra Graham

For Mother’s Day, our friends from BillyGraham.org recently caught up with Kendra Graham—wife of Will Graham—about the importance of a mother teaching her children the ways of God through His Word. Here’s a glimpse of that conversation.

How do you believe a mom should prepare herself to be a godly influence on her children?

For me, it has definitely been my daily quiet time with the Lord. Nobody knows better what your day is going to entail than God almighty. It’s the key to doing anything well.

How would you describe the importance of having a godly mom in a home?

I try to be a godly mom. It’s so hard. It seems as soon as you’re finished with your quiet time, you’re yelling at your kids! Something I can say from experience is that I watched my mom when she was raising us. I can look back and see how her days were bathed in prayer and how she was there for me. My mom’s mother, my grandmother, didn’t get saved until her death bed. So, I believed that impressed on my mom more of a passion to guide her children in the ways of God, keeping them in His Word. I have so much respect for my mom—she could have perpetuated cycle of sin, but God broke it with her. She stressed the importance of hiding God’s Word in our hearts, and had us memorizing Scripture from a very early age. Now, years later, those verses are still with me. I can see that my mom has helped me be a better mom by being a strong foundation for me. I hope and pray I can be that for my kids. I suppose it’s hard to really know until they grow up!

What are some of the ways you pray for your children?

I pray that they grow to love the Lord more every day and honor and serve Him. That He will be the main focus in life. That He will put a hedge of protection over them. That He will bring godly role models in their lives. The list is so long! God has entrusted these three lives to me. I can win the whole world for Christ, but that won’t matter if I’m neglecting the souls of my children. I pray that I never miss them through over involvement. I pray for myself as a mom—that I can focus on that of which God has entrusted to me.

For the complete interview, click here.

Kendra Graham has been married to Will for 13 years. Together, they have three children: Christine Jane (“CJ”), Rachel Austin and William Franklin V (“Quinn”).

Night of Worship

**UPDATE** The Asheville Night of Worship event on Saturday evening is full. We hope you can join us for the Open House from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

This Saturday, we are looking forward to our 4th annual Open House at The Cove! And, our friends at Camp Cedar Cliff and 106.9 The Light are excited as well. We hope you will join us during the day (10 a.m. to 3 p.m.), but, if you can’t, you can be a part of the Asheville Night of Worship at 7:30 p.m. It’s free, but there are only a few seats remaining, so registration is recommended to guarantee your spot.

Robert Williams from Seacoast Church Asheville will be the musical director for the evening, and Seacoast will also be the house band. And, Nate Huff of Highland Christian Church will join us in leading worship. Will Graham will give an inspirational message.

Call us at (800) 950-2092 to reserve your seat!

Stop By and Say Hello!

What are you doing on May 7? If you are in the area, you should stop by The Cove. We are hosting our annual open house community event, along with our friends from Camp Cedar Cliff and 106.9 The Light.

Come experience the beauty of The Cove and enjoy a day of activities for the whole family. At the Chatlos Memorial Chapel, you can view a special exhibit honoring legendary gospel singer George Beverly Shea, who at 102 years old, recently received a Lifetime Achievement GRAMMY!

Camp Cedar Cliff will offer a taste of summer camp with fun activities – including archery, a bounce castle and other inflatables, as well as a climbing wall, double zipline, face-painting, and horse rides – and a free hotdog lunch. Illusionist Bill Grimsley will perform from noon to 1 p.m.

Our friends at 106.9 The Light will open up their studios for tours. Listeners will be able to meet their favorite on-air personalities!

Samaritan’s Purse will have one of its Disaster Relief trucks available for tours. Visit www.samaritanspurse.org.

And, you want to hear the best part? It’s all free!

On Saturday evening, area worship leaders and musicians will offer “Asheville NOW (Night of Worship)” – a free community concert event at The Cove, beginning at 7:30 p.m. While it’s free, registration for this event is recommended as space is limited. Before the concert, you can enjoy a gourmet meal. (The cost for this option is $20). Click here to register for Asheville NOW.

Lessons from a Criminal

An Easter Message from Will Graham

As we enter the Easter season, we can learn several lessons from the criminal who hung alongside Jesus, says Will Graham in this timely message.

The cross means different things to different people. For some it’s just a pretty piece of jewelry. To others it is a decoration for their home. To Christians it is a symbol of the sacrificial love of Christ and His conquering of the grave.

However, to criminals under Roman rule in the first century, and those who witnessed the punishment, the cross was a symbol of torture, cruelty, death and humiliation.

As we enter the Easter season, we can learn from a man on a cross. This individual’s name is only known to God. We find this man – a criminal sentenced to death – hanging beside Jesus in Luke 23:39-43.

The first lesson that we learn is that he had a correct view of reality (vv. 40-41) and a correct view of himself. He saw himself as a criminal who was rightly condemned for the deeds he had committed. He correctly realized that he deserved death. Further, he had a correct view of Jesus. He recognized Jesus as the spotless Lamb of God and he testified to this while hanging on the cross. He knew he was a sinner, and Jesus was innocent.

The second lesson that we learn is that this criminal had a correct view of life after death. Though he was sentenced to death and hanging to life by a thread, he believed that his soul would continue to live after he died. Many people today live as if this life is all there is, but the Bible says that your soul lives forever and that it will abide in one of two places—heaven or hell. (Matthew 10:28, Luke 12:5, John 3:1-21)

Finally, we see that this criminal had a correct view of salvation (v. 42). He saw himself as totally helpless. He could do nothing to improve his odds in life or save himself. He was now bound to death and could not escape. Yet he cries out to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” He wanted to offer the last thing he had to give (his soul) to Jesus. He realized that Jesus was the Son of God and that he wanted to be a part of Christ’s Kingdom.

The criminal on the cross: he knew who he was and who Jesus was, he knew that his soul would continue after he died, and he knew that Jesus was the Savior. He could do nothing but cry out to Jesus and place his faith in Him for his salvation. To which Jesus replied, “Today you will be with me in paradise.”

Have you seen the world through the eyes of this condemned criminal? Do you understand your need for the Savior, and—more importantly—have you cried out to Him for your salvation?

If not, the Easter season is as good a time as any to surrender your life to Christ. If you have made that decision, I encourage you to not miss the opportunities God puts in front of you to share that same hope with those around you. Jesus saved the criminal on the cross, and He desires to save each of us as well.

Will Graham

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.

The blog of the Billy Graham Training Center at the Cove