Christmas Time: A Psalm by Quinn Graham

As we approach Christmas, may we all remember the true meaning and celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.  Quinn Graham, Will Graham’s son and Billy Graham’s great-grandson, has written a special  psalm to share. This one, entitled “Christmas Time” paints a beautiful picture of Christmas.

Christmas Time

Christmas time

The best time of the year

Wake up early and see the gifts

The fireplace roars with heat                                             

Watch the snow slowly fall to the ground

Hot cocoa gets passed around

Everyone is warm and snuggles

Everyone opens up their gifts

Gleaming smiles always on their faces

Soon a Bible gets pulled out

Everyone is silent as the father reads the Christmas story

With all the gifts unwrapped, and the hot cocoa all gone, they head off

They head off to Church, for Christmas is the day that Jesus was born

They worship and sing hymns throughout the service

As they day gets dark and as the noises quiet down

The family gathers around with friends and family to eat a feast that the Lord has provided

The Lord is good, always, and He will always provide

He gave us His Son whom He sent down for us this day

Thank you for all that You have done Lord


Click here for a schedule of seminar, concerts, and retreats at The Cove in beautiful Asheville, NC.

Are you a Christian church or non-profit ministry looking for a place to hold your conference, retreat or ministry event?  Click here for more information on holding your event at The Cove.

Visit the Chatlos Memorial Chapel, Visitors Center, and Ruth’s Prayer GardenClick here for directions and operating hours. Tours are free.

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KENDRA GRAHAM: ONLINE BIBLE STUDY

“For unto you is born this day, in the City of David, a Savior which is Christ the Lord.  And this shall be a sign unto you; you shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”  (Luke 2:11-12, KJV)

What Does it Say?

TO YOU is born this day, in the city of David, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. This a sign to YOU; YOU shall find the babe in swaddling clothes, in a manger.

What Does it Mean?

Last week I received an invitation to the White House Christmas party. It was super exciting, the chance of a lifetime! I had never been in the White House! I had been by it, I had taken pictures of it, and I had even gone to the “White House Gift Shop” across the street from it…. but never inside!

How does one get a chance to attend the White House Christmas Party?  First of all, I needed to be invited (odds are this is the only and last time I will be invited)…  Second, I needed to accept the invitation and go through the list with the social secretary in the White House of what to bring, how to dress, and what not to bring.  I needed to know my arrival and departure time as well as parking information and what entrance I should walk through.

Once I arrived at the White House, I had to produce two forms of ID.  I went through three checkpoints. I went through a metal detector.  My bag was x-rayed twice.  If I exited, I would not be allowed back inside.  WOW.  What a process!  When GOD came to earth, should He not at the very least have done what the president does to stay safe? Shouldn’t God have had a screening process?

This is why I LOVE these verses so much!

First of all… Christ’s birth issued an invitation:

For unto YOU…

The gift is for you, and the gift is also offered for me. It’s personal.  God has always been personal, from the first day, when He walked with Adam in the cool of the evening (see Genesis 3), to when God’s presence was in the pillar of cloud by day and pillar of fire by night (see Exodus 13:21), to when Jesus was born in Bethlehem and walked the shores of Galilee and taught, to today as He lives in the hearts and souls of men and women. His Word is just as alive and active (see Hebrews 4:12) today as always.

The name of God, Jehovah, means the All-Existent One (the One who has always been) but more intimately it connotes the meaning, the One Who Wants to be Known.  God wants to be known by us, personally, so He came and lived among us, with skin on, and His name is Jesus.

Why would God come to live among us?  God created man and woman with His hands, and gave each of us a soul designed to walk with God, know God and need God.  We don’t like to need God, but it is just a fact of creation.  We are created with a God-shaped soul. The problem occurs when we see that the character of God is holy and perfect and we are not (Romans 3:23).  God cannot refuse His own character; He cannot make any exceptions for unholy men and women to come into His presence, yet we were created to walk with, to know and to need God.

GOD so loved the world that He GAVE HIS only SON.
(John 3:16)

God was the only One who could fix the problem, so He came Himself, refusing to trust you and me to any other person, place or thing.  God would come with skin on and live that holy and perfect life, then pay the debt that unholiness demands—which is a blood debt—on the cross.  God Himself would pour out His wrath on His own Son, in order to spare you and me.  God Himself made it possible to invite us to walk with Him and know Him, because we are desperate and need Him (see Romans 5:9-10).

God came down to you and to me and was born in Bethlehem—in a barn, with no amenities, no cleanliness, no state of the art fetal monitoring system, no NICU doctor on standby, no nursing staff to make sure His Apgar score was reasonable, no one to clear His lungs and dry Him off according to hospital policy. Jesus came not to be flashy or to to wield His power over Caesar Augustus.  Jesus came to be found by everyone.

I love how the words that were spoken that night were to shepherds.  Shepherds who would not have had business or formal attire to wear to the celebration.

I love how God was so very clear with the shepherds… they were invited personally, and God was going to be clear about where to go to find Him.

God with us, Emmanuel, did not want to remain a mystery for eternity. His birth was not meant to confuse us or send us on some hypothetical goose chase.  God came to be found. He came to be found by each shepherd that night and by you and me today. The angels did not exclude any of the shepherds in that field; all were invited corporately, but the decision to come would be personal.  Tim could not go for James, and Nicholas could not go for Sam, each of them would have to decide whether or not to make that journey to the place where He could be found.

I love how the barn is not an intimidating place. The place that God with skin on could be found was accessible to each shepherd—no shower or change of clothes needed… and bring the sheep, too! Don’t delay! Come now, just as you are.

GOD refused to be out of reach of the very people He came to save.  The elite business man and owner of the barn could come to where Jesus was, as well as the outcast and the shepherd.  No one is forbidden to approach a manger. No one is out of place or under-dressed.  There is no secret service to escort you out if your two forms of ID are not acceptable.  You can stay as long as you like and come back as often as you can.

Jeremiah 23:13 is just as true today as it was before the birth of Jesus: “You will seek me and find Me when you seek with all your heart” (NIV)

An invitation to the White House is great, but an invitation to the very throne room and presence of the Wonderful Counselor, Almighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of peace… now that is really something!

Jesus is right here, within reach; we just need to come and accept His invitation. The invitation is for all, just as you are. No need to fix, clean or straighten up before you come, or you will never come.  The decision is personal. Will you accept this invitation, this Christmas, to know the One who gave up heaven so that you and I can begin to know Jehovah—the One who has always been, Who desires to be known by His handmade creation. The choice is yours.

What Does it Mean to Me?

What decision have you made about the invitation that is extended to you this day, a Savior which is Christ the Lord?

LIVE IT OUT

Today, I will take time to remember the true meaning of Christmas and reflect on that day that I accepted His invitation.

Today, if you have never accepted that personal invitation to come to Jesus, will you accept it now with a simple prayer?

Dear Lord Jesus,
You left heaven to come so that I can walk with You and know You, because I need You.  Your Word says “God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, so that whoever believes in Him, will have eternal life” (John 3:16). I am accepting Your invitation today, now. Come and be my Savior, this day. Teach me to walk with You from this moment on. Amen.

 Merry Christmas!


Kendra Graham is  offering a free Women’s Bible Study at The Cove starting Jan. 8th. The study will also be live-streamed through social media. To view a snippet of the study entitled #I Am Enough, click here. 

To register for this study, please visit this link.


Click here for a schedule of seminar, concerts, and retreats at The Cove in beautiful Asheville, NC.

Are you a Christian church or non-profit ministry looking for a place to hold your conference, retreat or ministry event?  Click here for more information on holding your event at The Cove.

Visit the Chatlos Memorial Chapel, Visitors Center, and Ruth’s Prayer GardenClick here for directions and operating hours. Tours are free.

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Weekly Bible Verse: Jeremiah 23: 5-6

Our weekly Bible verse comes from Jeremiah 23: 5-6 (ESV)

Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’’


Click here for a schedule of seminar, concerts, and retreats at The Cove in beautiful Asheville, NC.

Are you a Christian church or non-profit ministry looking for a place to hold your conference, retreat or ministry event?  Click here for more information on holding your event at The Cove.

Visit the Chatlos Memorial Chapel, Visitors Center, and Ruth’s Prayer GardenClick here for directions and operating hours. Tours are free.

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Christmas at The Cove with Phillips Craig and Dean

We had two beautiful Christmas at The Cove evenings with special musical guest Phillips Craig and Dean.

Both nights were sold out and guests had a wonderful time. Prior to the concert, guests enjoyed a chef-prepared dinner overlooking the beautiful snow-capped Blue Ridge Mountains.

The sleigh in front of the Training Center has been a popular photo spot for couples.

 Truly a night to remember celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

 


Click here for a schedule of seminar, concerts, and retreats at The Cove in beautiful Asheville, NC.

Are you a Christian church or non-profit ministry looking for a place to hold your conference, retreat or ministry event?  Click here for more information on holding your event at The Cove.

Visit the Chatlos Memorial Chapel, Visitors Center, and Ruth’s Prayer GardenClick here for directions and operating hours. Tours are free.

 

Weekly Bible Verse: 1 Timothy 1:15-17

Our Weekly Bible Verse is: 1 Timothy 1: 15-17 (NIV)
Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. 
But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen


Click here for a schedule of seminar, concerts, and retreats at The Cove in beautiful Asheville, NC.

Are you a Christian church or non-profit ministry looking for a place to hold your conference, retreat or ministry event?  Click here for more information on holding your event at The Cove.

Visit the Chatlos Memorial Chapel, Visitors Center, and Ruth’s Prayer GardenClick here for directions and operating hours. Tours are free.

 

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Christmas at The Cove: SeniorSalt Carol Sing

One of the more popular of our Christmas at The Cove events is the SeniorSalt Carol Sing. Guests receive a warm welcome from our wonderful staff and have some time to rest by the beautiful fireplace and grab a cup of coffee before the program begins.

Guests enjoy a morning of singing traditional carols, interspersed with uplifting Scripture readings and stories.

A delicious buffet-style lunch follows each program.  Around the beautiful wooden tables in Training Center dining room, guests can relax, get to know one another and enjoy a wonderful time of fellowship. Great food, good conversation and a gorgeous view combine to make it a meal to remember!

After lunch, guests often make a stop at Ruth’s Attic Bookstore at The Cove. It’s a great place to purchase beautiful Christmas ornaments and gifts!

For more information on our Christmas at The Cove events, visit www.thecove.org. We would love for you to share your Christmas season with us.


Click here for a schedule of seminar, concerts, and retreats at The Cove in beautiful Asheville, NC.

Are you a Christian church or non-profit ministry looking for a place to hold your conference, retreat or ministry event?  Click here for more information on holding your event at The Cove.

Visit the Chatlos Memorial Chapel, Visitors Center, and Ruth’s Prayer GardenClick here for directions and operating hours. Tours are free.

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Weekly Bible Verse: Galatians 4:4-5

Our weekly Bible verse comes from Galatians 4:4-5: 

But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons” (KJV)

As we enter into this Christmas season, let us remember the most important gift that God gave each one of us-Jesus. Our redeemer, our healer, and our Salvation .


Click here for a schedule of seminar, concerts, and retreats at The Cove in beautiful Asheville, NC.

Are you a Christian church or non-profit ministry looking for a place to hold your conference, retreat or ministry event?  Click here for more information on holding your event at The Cove.

Visit the Chatlos Memorial Chapel, Visitors Center, and Ruth’s Prayer GardenClick here for directions and operating hours. Tours are free.

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Prayer Note: December

“Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His presence continually” (1 Chronicles 16:11, NASB).

Finding Meaning in the Mess

Anyone who has watched a young child open Christmas gifts knows the aftermath of messiness. As they rip the paper, bows, and boxes with their tiny hands, strips of paper and shreds of cardboard go flying through the air. Despite the joy and excitement of the frequent squeals of delight, the fact remains that Christmas is rather messy. But when you stop and think about it, the very first Christmas (the birth of Jesus Christ) was similarly very messy. There was nothing glamorous, pretty, or restful about His arrival in Bethlehem. From a smelly barn to a damp and musty bed of hay, Jesus entered this world already despised and rejected. Plus, there was the additional messiness of the difficult journey that Mary endured while nine months pregnant: “So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child” (Luke 2:4-5, NIV).

Making the 80-mile journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem for census registration was no easy feat, especially since it had to be done by foot or by donkey. Everything about the journey preceding the time of Jesus’ birth was just downright difficult.

Praises in the Pain

But in the midst of this mess came the Christ child and a band of angels singing and shouting praises to God for His goodness, kindness, and mercy. In other words, amidst the less than ideal conditions, God’s people found a moment of pure delight. And isn’t that image of praise amidst the problems a powerful reminder and model of our approach to times of intimacy and prayer with the Savior?

Let’s just face facts. Our lives are often very messy. We face the fear and worry of illness, separation, pain, and loneliness. We confront seasons in which our natural inclination is to run far away from the messiness of divorce, death, depression, unemployment, rebellion, and addiction, because facing the pain is too much to bear. In these difficult days, it rarely feels like Christmas or a time of praise. But it is in these seasons of deepest doubt, fear, and worry that God reminds us that He hears our weeping. “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18 NIV).

Consider the following promises of God’s compassion: “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4, NIV). “I cried out to Him with my mouth; his praise was on my tongue. If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and has heard my prayer. Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me” (Psalm 66:17-20, NIV). “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16, NIV).

Continuous Praises

If you stop and think about it, the one thing missing from the Biblical account of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem is a string of complaints. Instead of bemoaning the ugliness and harshness of travel, homelessness, and a make-shift delivery room in an animal’s trough, Mary and Joseph and the Magi found sweet praise in the pain of this messy first Christmas celebration. From the earliest days of her pregnancy, Mary took the time to sing praises before her King, elevating the majesty of God during moments of prayer and reflection (see Luke 1 – the Magnificat).

A Christmas Challenge

Perhaps this Christmas finds you in a mess. Perhaps everything about life is currently very ugly, painful, and dreadful, and the last thing you want to do is praise the One who made you. It’s difficult in seasons of hurt to find a voice of praise and contentment. It’s hard to pray when we are pained. But never forget that our God does His best work in our messes. Jesus’ life was surrounded by a lot of mess, but the messiness of this world’s rejection gave us eternal salvation. Even when the last thing you feel like doing this Christmas is praying, look up to the heavens and begin to sing praise. Call out the name of Jesus over and over until you find rest in His arms. Never forget that our Messiah holds us most tightly in our messes, because He loves us too much to ever let us go.

Written by: Lori Brown, staff at The Cove


Click here for a schedule of seminar, concerts, and retreats at The Cove in beautiful Asheville, NC.

Are you a Christian church or non-profit ministry looking for a place to hold your conference, retreat or ministry event?  Click here for more information on holding your event at The Cove.

Visit the Chatlos Memorial Chapel, Visitors Center, and Ruth’s Prayer GardenClick here for directions and operating hours. Tours are free.

 

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Christmas at The Cove

Christmas at The Cove is officially here as we celebrate Jesus’ birth.

Elegantly decorated trees fill the halls with Christmas splendor and a beautiful nativity rests as the focal point in the Training Center.

From the moment that you enter the doors, you’ll enjoy the warmth of the fireplaces and the aroma of festive and delicious chef-prepared meals served in our dining room.

As guests enter the Training Center, the sleigh makes for a perfect photo opportunity.

The majestic wreath above the fireplace is one of our guests’ favorites.

This past week, we opened our Christmas at The Cove season with the inspiring and seasonal music by Christian artists: Annie Moses Band and Sisters. We have an incredible line-up of artists this  Christmas, and we invite you celebrate Jesus’ birth with us. For more information on our upcoming guests for Christmas at The Cove, click here.


Click here for a schedule of seminar, concerts, and retreats at The Cove in beautiful Asheville, NC.

Are you a Christian church or non-profit ministry looking for a place to hold your conference, retreat or ministry event?  Click here for more information on holding your event at The Cove.

Visit the Chatlos Memorial Chapel, Visitors Center, and Ruth’s Prayer GardenClick here for directions and operating hours. Tours are free.

Follow us on social media. click map

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KENDRA GRAHAM: ONLINE BIBLE STUDY

God led the people around by the way of the wilderness.
(Exodus 13:18, NASB)

What Does it Say?

God led the people by way of wilderness

What Does it Mean?

This may seem like a weird topic for a blog at Christmas time, but this blog has been in the desert since last March!  I believe that together we are going to stay in this desert as long as God keeps us here.  Christmas in the desert may not be such a bad thing.

Surviving the Fire Swamp

Have you ever seen the movie, The Princess Bride?  It is one of my favorites. In the movie, Princess Buttercup is promised to marry Prince Humperdink, but Prince Humperdink is not her true love.  Buttercup’s true love is a poor farm boy named Wesley. As the heroic Wesley arrives to save Buttercup from the clutches of Humperdink, the Prince’s soldiers are in hot pursuit. Wesley takes Buttercup and runs towards the Fire Swamp, laughing as he looks back.

“Ha! Your pig fiancée is too late!” he says.  “We will soon be safe in the Fire Swamp!”

Alarmed at that statement, Buttercup replies, We will never survive!

To which Wesley responds, “Nonsense! You’re only saying that, because no one ever has before!”

The Egyptians and the Israelites viewed the wilderness like Buttercup viewed the Fire Swamp.  The wilderness was a place of chaos—a place of death, banishment and punishment. The wilderness was not a place of ease and safety, and it made no sense why God would lead His people into a place of hardship like this. Did He not know that for the Israelites the last hundred years or so in Egypt had been absolutely unbearable?  Didn’t He realize that this mass of people coming out of Egypt were hurting and broken?  Was God going to finish the job in a place of desolation so that there would be no trace of His people left on the face of the earth?  Why?

Changing Our Focus

I sometimes think that it’s easy for me to focus on the wilderness.  I mean the hardship there is staring me straight in the face.  Let’s not live in denial about this; let’s call it what it is.  I am not going to jump for joy when God says, “Kendra, for you I have a howling wasteland, a wilderness that you get to go and live in!” I am not cheering and saying, “Yay! HURRAH!”  I am probably saying, “Well, that figures.  God hates me.”  Look, I’m being honest; it’s just the truth of the matter.  I might as well not lie about it.  Just the word, “wilderness” seems barren, harsh, and like it goes on literally FOREVER. Wilderness? “Yippee….” (Eye roll emoji).

What if instead of focusing on the destination, we focused on the journey?  What if we focused on the first part of that verse?  “God led the people.

Well, I don’t like it.  I don’t like that God is leading me to a place to die. That almost makes it worse,  doesn’t it?

The Presence of the Shepherd

Does it really make things worse?  Or does it change everything?  God’s name is Jehovah Raah, which means “shepherd.”  A shepherd leads from the front, he doesn’t prod from behind.  A shepherd does not leave the sheep to be slaughtered or killed, but protects the sheep from all harm. The shepherd does not starve the sheep to death but finds enough food to provide the needed nourishment to continue. The shepherd does not leave the sheep, the shepherd leads the sheep. The Good Shepherd gives His life for the sheep (John 10:11, NKJV).

You are not alone, even in the wilderness.  The presence of God Himself changes everything.  If all you have is God in the wilderness, and His name is Shepherd, Provider, Faithful, Deliverer, Conqueror and King, then nothing else is needed.  God is #ENOUGH.  Perhaps we have been led into the wilderness to learn this very thing.

He Keeps His Promises

Spurgeon told the story of an old saint who lay on her deathbed and declared that Jesus would never forsake her, because He promised to be with her wherever He led her. Someone asked her, “But suppose that He did not keep His promise and you were to be lost forever?”

She answered, “Then He would be the greater loser than I.  It is true I would lose my soul, but God would lose all His honor and glory if it were not true.”

If God went to such extremes to #deliver each and every one of us from the grip of Egypt, only to allow us to die as He led us into the wilderness, then God would lose His name, His character, and His perseverance in completing every work that He undertakes.

For the Sake of His Name

God leads you and me to where He is. This season of Christmas is not the easiest season for many of us. Many of us feel we have been led to the wilderness to die a slow death alone and abandoned. That is not true. Claim the name of God in the wilderness, in the midst of the barren and empty place you find yourself, and just see if the fact of the presence of God does not change everything. For the sake of His name, He will lead you through.

Nevertheless He saved them for the sake of His name,
that He might make His power known.
(Psalm 106:8, NASB)

 For the sake of You name, O LORD, revive me.
In Your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble
.
(Psalm 143:11, NASB)

“For My own sake, for my own sake, I will act;
For how can My name be profaned?
And My glory I will not give to another.”
(Isaiah 48:11, NASB)

What Does it Mean to Me?

Why has God led you to where you are?

When were you in a wilderness and saw God’s presence provided in a very real and tangible way?

If you are in the wilderness now, how will you seek to see the name of God proven today?  Are you even willing to look for His presence?

God promises in Jeremiah 29:13 that if we seek Him with our whole hearts we will find Him. What have you given the power to hold you back from seeking God in your wilderness?  Anger? Bitterness? Frustration? Depression? Despair?

LIVE IT OUT

Today, Oh LORD, give me the strength and desire to seek You, and the perseverance to continue to seek until I find Your presence and Your glory, here in this place.

God’s presence changes everything!

The blog of the Billy Graham Training Center at the Cove