Our week started with a Pastor Renewal Retreat featuring the ministry of Pastor Jim Cymbala.
Pastor Cymbala was born in Brooklyn, New York, and serves as the lead pastor of The Brooklyn Tabernacle. Because of the challenges God has brought him through over the years, Pastor Cymbala is an amazing speaker for other ministers to hear. So many pastors today can relate to those same challenges.
When Jim and his wife started in ministry, they found a congregation of less than 20 people meeting in a rundown building located in an impoverished part of downtown Brooklyn. Over the years God has shown his faithfulness to them and their congregation in many incredible ways. Pastor Cymbala believes that churches are built on prayer! Brooklyn Tabernacle’s present campus includes a large renovated theater in downtown Brooklyn where thousands of people come each week to hear the Good News of Jesus.
Jim is the author of several books, including Fresh Wind Fresh Fire, which was named Christian book of the year. His wife, Carol, directs the six-time Grammy Award Winning Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir whose music has blessed people around the world.
Cove Pastor Renewal Retreats include free meals and lodging (based on availability) for those actively serving in pastoral ministry. Each retreat provides the opportunity to interact with peers and receive insight, instruction, and best practices from experienced Christian leaders. We are pleased to offer these retreats as an opportunity for pastors and their spouses to be refreshed in the Word and have some time to rest.
Of their retreat experience this weekend one pastor and his wife wrote, “We had an amazing time at The Cove with Pastor Jim Cymbala. God has a way of using servants who have a passion to share the Word to lift and edify others. We are filled-up and encouraged.” We were sold out at this weekend’s retreat, but we do have many more coming up! We encourage you to let your pastor know about these retreats! We hold them during the week so that pastors will still be free for their church’s weekend services. It will be a blessing to your pastor and their spouse.
We hope you will enjoy our “Prayer Note”—an internal communication here at The Cove, created each month to remind and encourage our staff to pray. We share these with you at the beginning of each month in hopes that you, too, will be encouraged.
FEAR OF MISSING OUT
It drives advertising and marketing strategies, affects online and retail sales, and dominates many of our decisions, large and small. It can influence what we order in a restaurant, whether or not we’ll attend a party, or where we’ll buy our next house. It can drive parents to overschedule their children, college students to abandon their studies, and spouses to dissolve their marriages. From career choices to social media usage, both major and minor decisions can be affected by this little four-letter acronym: FOMO.
An abbreviation for “fear of missing out,” FOMO describes the phenomenon of anxiety that results when we fear we might not be included in an exciting or enjoyable activity that others are experiencing. The phrase was coined in the early 21st century and is used mainly with regard to feelings brought on by the images of happy perfection we see on social media. At one time or another, we’ve all fallen victim to FOMO.
Most of us understand the positive and negative affects Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have had on our culture and collective psyche. While the upside includes increased connectedness and opportunities for online social interaction and networking, the downside can include feelings of inadequacy, anxiety and depression. To many of us, FOMO seems an unfortunate yet unintended consequence of today’s constant connectivity.
FOMO ISN’T NEW
Fear of missing out existed long before the internet. In fact, FOMO has been influencing our emotions and decisions since Satan tempted Eve in the garden. Worried that God was withholding something good, Eve fell for Satan’s lie and ate the forbidden fruit. (You can read the whole account in Genesis 2:15-3:24.) From that day on, we’ve all been subject to the negative effects of FOMO. Cain killed his brother Abel…David killed Bathsheba’s husband Uriah…lots of other people killed lots of other people out of an unhealthy and ungodly fear of missing out. And it’s a pretty safe assumption that even Solomon—the wisest man in the word—was a victim of FOMO, since the Bible tells us he had 700 wives! (See 1 Kings 11: 1-4.)
THE GOOD KIND OF FOMO
The Bible contains numerous accounts of individuals who experienced fear of missing out. Jacob, out of fear of missing out, deceived his father and stole his brother Esau’s birthright, cheating him out of his inheritance as the firstborn. After learning that Esau was angry enough to kill him, Jacob fled from Canaan in fear for his life. Genesis 32 gives us the picture of Jacob’s return after 20 long, eventful years. Longing to see his elderly father, Jacob is arriving under the shadow of dread—fearful that big brother Esau may still be nursing a grudge. After dividing up his flocks and herds and sending a huge peace offering of livestock ahead of him to Esau, the Bible tells us that Jacob “arose that night and took his two wives, his two female servants and his eleven sons, and crossed over the ford of Jabbok. He took them, sent them over the brook, and sent over what he had. Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day” (Genesis 32:22-24, NKJV).
Author and preacher Ray Stedman explains what came of this long night of wrestling:
“Many messages that I have read on this account have commented on the fact that Jacob was mighty in prayer because he wrestled with God all night long and thus prevailed. But I have already indicated that it is not true that Jacob wrestled with God. It is God who wrestled with Jacob, trying to break down his stubborn self-reliance, his feeling that it all depends on him, that he has got to do it or else it is not going to get done, that God is really going to do nothing in the situation.
Furthermore, Jacob did not prevail over God by wrestling. The moment of prevailing comes when his hip is broken, when he is absolutely helpless and can do nothing but hang on. That is when he prevailed with God. That is what this account is teaching us. God responds to that sense of human helplessness. This is also what Paul is teaching us in Second Corinthians, when he says, ‘His strength is made perfect in my weakness, for out of weakness am I made strong,’ (2 Corinthians 12:9).” (RayStedman.org)
The good kind of FOMO results when we have an encounter with God that makes us understand our own weakness and reveals to us more of His greatness. Jacob, who had spent his life trying to manipulate circumstances to his favor, finally began to understand more of who God was. God won the wrestling match and Jacob came away with a permanent limp; a greater vision of God; and a new name: Israel.
In the New Testament, Luke 19:1-10 gives us the account of Zacchaeus, a wealthy but vertically-challenged tax collector who wanted to see Jesus. Since this white-collar criminal regularly cheated and stole from those with whom he had financial dealings, it’s no wonder that no one in the crowd was willing to step aside and allow him to stand close enough to see.
Zacchaeus, however, was determined not to miss out. Unable to push his way through the crowds, the diminutive money-man found a sycamore tree and climbed it to get a better view.
His persistence paid off, as Jesus looked up and announced, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” Zacchaeus need not have worried. Verse 10 tells us that “the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Jesus would have found him, sycamore tree or not!
The good kind of FOMO is the kind that drives us to search for Jesus. The kind that makes us hit our knees, knowing that we need an encounter with God. The good kind of FOMO is a God-given, grace-filled discontentedness with the spiritual status quo. Far from materialistic envy, it’s a recognition of our own spiritual poverty and a desire to experience “the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints” (see Ephesians 1:18).
The best thing we can do is to begin February with a healthy dose of goodFOMO—hitting our knees and seeking God as we never have before. We are honored to serve in a place where others come to seek Him, yet we can easily take for granted the privilege that is ours. Let’s praise God for the opportunity to serve him here, and let’s determine not to miss out on His blessing by trying to work in our own strength. God has called us to this ministry, and He will equip us with what we need to serve Him. The good kind of FOMO is the kind that God places deep within our hearts—the hunger for more of Him.
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:11-13, NKJV).
Keep praying and seeking!
“Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His presence continually. ”
(1 Chronicles 16:11, NASB)
We appreciate you joining us in prayer for the following event that will take place on The Cove property during the month of February.
Many of the participants for last weekend’s Military Marriage Retreat sure did! Anytime we have active-duty military men and women on property, hiking or running to the overlook is a popular option during free time, so this year we thought we’d make an official race of it–complete with prize packs for the winners!
Our Race to the Topchallenge started from the trail entrance near Chatlos Memorial Chapel and ended at the top of The Cove overlook–a nearly 4-mile uphill trek!
Each participant timed themselves (the honor system seemed appropriate with our honorable military participants) and completed the challenge during their free time. Some woke up early and headed up at sunrise, while others ventured up in the afternoon.
Finish times ranged from 41 minutes and 12 seconds to over 2 hours. As you can imagine, it wasn’t a feat for the faint of heart, but 39 people finished the race.
Here are some of the racers:
We think the view from the top, as well as the journey along the way, was a fun experience for all.
And the winners were…
Congratulations to the winners, as well as to all the participants. Racing to the overlook here at The Cove is certainly no easy feat!
There was more than a race going on over the weekend…118 military couples were enlightened by powerful Bible teaching from Chip Ingram, and led in worship by Marty Goetz.
The next Military Marriage Retreat at The Cove will be held September 8-10, 2017. Tommy Nelson will be speaking on the topic of Living Well in Your Marriage. The retreat is free (includes program, meals and lodging) to active-duty, Guard, and Reserve service-members, so please help spread the word.
We hope you will enjoy our “Prayer Note” — an internal communicationhere at The Cove, created each month to remind and encourage our staff to pray. We share these with you at the beginning of each month in hopes that you, too, will be encouraged.
By Donna Riesen
GOD IS WORKING!
Nothing encourages us to remain faithful in prayer like a good long look at an Ebenezer—a visible memorial to the Lord’s faithfulness. Whether it’s a page from an old prayer journal, a note we’ve written in the margin of a Bible, or a blog post from a fellow believer, we’re encouraged as we remind ourselves of God’s goodness in our own lives, and our faith is strengthened as we hear the testimonies of how He has worked in the lives of others.
We’re nearly halfway through the year 2017, and, depending upon your role as Cove staff, you’ve made beds, changed lightbulbs, prepared meals, answered phones, mown grass, typed schedules, copied handouts, etc. Looking back, we know we’ve provided clean and comfortable rooms, delicious meals and a quiet, peaceful atmosphere conducive to the study of God’s Word. We’ve distributed notebooks and we’ve welcomed godly speakers who are widely known for their love of God and for their knowledge of the Scriptures. We’ve shown hospitality in the name of Christ. Yet the greatest thing that has happened at The Cove in 2017 is that each time His Word has been proclaimed, God has shown up.
1 Samuel 6-7 records Israel’s defeat in battle and the subsequent capture of the Ark of the Covenant by the Philistines. Later, after the Philistines returned the Ark, the prophet Samuel urged the people toward repentance and renewal of the covenant. When the people heeded his words and assembled to worship, the Philistines heard of the gathering and began to worry that the Israelites might be planning a revolt.
“So the children of Israel said to Samuel, ‘Do not cease to cry out to the Lord our God for us, that He may save us from the hand of the Philistines.’ And Samuel took a suckling lamb and offered it as a whole burnt offering to the Lord. Then Samuel cried out to the Lord for Israel, and the Lord answered him. Now as Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel. But the Lord thundered with a loud thunder upon the Philistines that day, and so confused them that they were overcome before Israel. And the men of Israel went out of Mizpah and pursued the Philistines, and drove them back as far as below Beth Car. Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen, and called its name Ebenezer, saying, ‘Thus far the Lord has helped us.’” (1 Samuel 7:8-12, NKJV)
THUS FAR THE LORD HAS HELPED US
At the conclusion of each Cove seminar, evaluation forms are collected and records are kept and tallied. As we review comments from recent evaluations, we see an archive of God’s faithfulness. Each bundle of evaluations contains helpful information about how we can improve our programs, yet it represents much more than statistical data—each bundle contains a record of changed lives, healed hearts and answered prayers. “Thus far the Lord has helped us.” While some of the questions on these forms may seem routine (such as inquiries about our guests’ satisfaction with the level of service and the comfort of the rooms), there are also questions about the spiritual impact of the visit. Here are a few comments by our guests about significant spiritual decisions they’ve made while here at The Cove…
WOMEN’S BIBLE STUDY — “I was not only reassured of my faith, but [also] encouraged to live under His wings!”
“This study has given me hope and courage in my walk with Jesus. It comes at the perfect time as I have some important life decisions to make. So, so grateful!”
“I’ve committed to spiritual growth and to be brave and trusting of God’s will like Esther. I’m moving forward in God’s healing for me so that in due time I can serve Him better and lead others to Christ.”
DON WILTON PASTORS’ INSTITUTE —
“I’m recommitted to the task/ministry that the Lord has called me to do.”
“I’ve made a greater commitment to work on my marriage relationship. I needed this time so much!”
“I’ve resigned myself to rest in God’s sovereignty in my life/ministry. Trusting God for all His provisions in my life.”
“I’m rededicated to my calling as pastor.”
JOHN COOK MILITARY MARRIAGE RETREAT —
“My husband and I clarified our calling and were able to pray about God’s will for our future. It was a sweet, peaceful time with God.”
“We brought God into our marriage.”
“This retreat strengthened our choice to fully reconcile and take divorce off the table.”
“We’ve realized that no matter how big our problem, no matter the hurt, He is our healer and what He has joined let no man or Satan tear apart.”
RAY BENTLEY PASTOR RENEWAL RETREAT—
“I found hope where I had none.”
“I had lost focus of my work as a pastor. I am once again focused on God and have a cleared mind and soul, seeing once again God’s call on my life.”
RON HUTCHCRAFT SEMINAR —
“It renewed my faith in God doing the impossible regarding our unsaved loved ones.”
“My mom is dying and is not saved. I have been encouraged in this dark time of my life to look through despair to see His glory.”
PETE BRISCOE SENIOR CELEBRATION —
“I’ve resolved to speak truth and love into the lives of my children and grandchildren.”
RACHAEL CRABB SEMINAR —
“Initially I thought the reason I came to this conference was for my spiritual growth. However, God dealt with me with forgiving my siblings.”
“I felt the Lord gave me a whole new beginning with Him. I feel cleansed, forgiven, loved and accepted.”
HENRY, RICHARD AND MIKE BLACKABY SEMINAR —
“I have been praying for a deeper prayer life and to know what to do with my life. I received wisdom about both.”
“I realized that God knows where I am and that hardship doesn’t mean God is finished with me.”
Thank you for your faithfulness in praying for The Cove. Praise God, He hears and answers!
“Thus far the Lord has helped us.”
1 Samuel 7:12, NKJV
We appreciate you joining us in prayer for the following events taking place on The Cove property during the month of June.
We hope you will enjoy our “Prayer Note” — an internal communicationhere at The Cove, created each month to remind and encourage our staff to pray. We share these with you at the beginning of each month in hopes that you, too, will be encouraged.
By Donna Riesen
WHEN YOU DON’T KNOW HOW TO PRAY
“In the end we shall find every promise of God perfectly fulfilled. Then why should we not let our hearts rest in peace about everything that happens? Nothing can happen that can break a single one of these precious promises. There is no promise of an easy passage, but there are promises for every day of the voyage. Each day, let us take one promise for our own, live on it, test it and prove it—and thank God for it.” —Amy Carmichael
Earlier this year I sat at a small table in a fast-food restaurant, waiting for my husband to return with our quick lunch of burgers and fries. We were on the return leg of a 9-hour journey, halfway home after having made an emergency trip to Florida to visit an aging parent who was dealing with his own serious health issues while caring for a spouse who suffered from dementia.
Gazing out the large plate-glass window opposite my table, I prayed silently for their increasingly desperate situation, asking God to intervene and bring healing, wisdom and provision. For the hundredth time, I confessed to the Lord that I didn’t really know what to pray. No sooner had I said amen than I lapsed into my fallback mode of worry and anxiety, staring absently out the window while trying to figure out how to solve this impossibly tangled situation. There were serious medical issues, financial constraints, family dynamics, and logistical issues to consider. Even nutrition was a concern. While Meals on Wheels was available, I worried they might not be willing to call to request delivery as often as it was needed.
As I sat drowning in my sea of worry, the scene taking place outside the window gradually came into focus: A huge flock of birds was descending upon the gas station opposite the restaurant. The sheer number of birds initially caught my eye; then I discovered what had drawn them. A box-truck carrying crates of a popular snack chip had pulled up alongside the pump, and the driver had thrown open the back doors and was generously distributing “Meals on Wheels” to the delight of this cluster of hungry birds! I sat in amazement, watching this parable unfold in what seemed like slow-motion. The driver flung out his arms, liberally distributing provision for the flock, “over and abundantly, above all [they] could ask or think” with their tiny bird brains.
Meanwhile, my bird brain finally got it! As I “considered the birds,” the Holy Spirit brought to my mind the words of Jesus in His Sermon on the Mount:
“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?
“Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” [Matthew 6:25-26, NKJV]
Praise God for the way He speaks so gently to us, feeding us with the manna of His Word and nourishing our spirit to strengthen and sustain us. He heard my prayer and patiently guided me away from my worries and back to His Word and His promises.
As I write this months later, I continue to struggle with the tendency toward worry. Yet I look back on the intervening days in amazement, having seen my Heavenly Father provide, uphold and sustain my earthly father. My dad is now at the beginning stages of grieving the loss of a spouse. For long days he sat in a small room of a nursing home, gently watching over his wife as she succumbed to the debilitating disease of dementia. The window near her bed revealed two bird feeders, often frequented by tiny, brightly-hued finches and brilliant-red cardinals. Outside the back door of the facility, a brightly painted birdhouse held three small eggs which hatched just days before my stepmother died. We watched as mama and papa bird made frequent trips to feed and care for their little ones. Each time I visited I prayed the Lord would use those birds to remind Dad of His promises.
Billy Graham has said, “The best way to pray is to open the Bible and pray Scripture back to the Lord, claiming His promises and asking that He strengthen and guide [us] in obeying His Word.”
I pray that God will encourage you today, in whatever situation you are walking through. If you don’t know how to pray, open your Bible and ask Him to speak His Words of comfort, strength and truth into your heart. Then hold tight to His promise, knowing He is holding you as you continue your journey.
“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16, ESV).
We appreciate you joining us in prayer for the following events taking place on The Cove property during the month of May:
We hope that you will enjoy our “prayer note” — an internal communication, here at The Cove, created each month to remind and encourage our staff to pray. We will share these with you at the beginning of each month in hopes that, you too, will be encouraged.
By Donna Riesen
Have you opened your windows yet? The warm spring days we’ve been enjoying here in Western North Carolina call for open windows and long walks in the fresh air. For many of us, the dark, closed-in feeling that brought on cabin fever in February is eclipsed in April by the hopeful signs of spring, bringing renewed energy and a desire to start fresh on the inside and out.
Thus signals the annual return of a longstanding tradition: Spring Cleaning. We scrub and polish and dust and shine until every surface sparkles. By the time the overhaul is complete, only a few errant dust particles remain suspended in the bright beams of sunlight streaming through freshly cleaned windows.
Some years are different, though. However noble our housecleaning goals may be, sometimes a busy schedule overrides Spring Cleaning. That’s where practical shortcuts can come in handy.
Since I’m pressed for time this year, scented candles and plug-in air fresheners will have to do the trick. With such enticing names as “Gorgeous Day,” “Lilac Loveliness,” “Ocean Breeze” and “Sundrenched Linen,” I’m having a difficult time choosing; however, anything’s better than what I have at home: “Midwinter Dust.”
When necessary, this shortcut approach can come in handy. After all, we all enjoy taking a whiff of a pleasant aroma.
Did you know that our prayers are a pleasant aroma to God?
“Let my prayer be counted as incense before You, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice (Psalm 141:2, ESV).”
“And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people (Revelation 4:8, NIV).
Author Elisabeth Elliot explains, “In these verses, our prayers are described as being “like incense” to God. All of our prayers are included, from the most eloquent ones to the most inarticulate groanings. What is incense good for? It appears to serve no practical purpose at all, and its smoke and fragrance soon dissipate. Our prayers are like that, because they seem to accomplish little and they soon vanish, but God likes the smell of them.” (Elliot, Elisabeth. Be Still My Soul. Grand Rapids, MI.: Revell, 2003.)
What makes our prayers smell sweet to God?
Prayer Offered in the Name of Jesus — “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name (Hebrews 13:15).” The book of Hebrews describes how Christ came as the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies of a coming Messiah. His perfect atoning sacrifice on the cross put an end to the need for the Old Testament system of sacrifices, as His death and resurrection opened the way into the very presence of God (see Hebrews 9:13-10:23). The book of Ephesians calls this amazing act of love “a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:2, ESV). We can pray because Jesus opened the way!
Prayer of Repentance — After the prophet Nathan confronted King David with his sins of adultery with Bathsheba and themurder of her husband, Uriah, David acknowledged his sin and repented with deep humility. Psalm 51 records his prayer for God’s mercy, forgiveness and cleansing. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise (Psalm 51:17, NIV).”
Prayer of Faith—“And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him (Hebrews 11:6, ESV).” Our Father is pleased when His children trust Him. “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him (1 John 5:14-15, ESV).”
Prayer of Humility/Surrender—Jesus offers the supreme example of this type of prayer, as we hear Him pray the ultimateprayer of surrender in the Garden of Golgotha the night before His crucifixion. “And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying ‘My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.’” (Matthew 26:39, ESV).
Prayer for God’s Glory to be Displayed —“Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and perform your vows to the Most High, and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me (Psalm 50:14-15, NIV).” Elijah prayed thistype of prayer as he stood on Mount Carmel and faced the prophets of Baal. “And it came to pass, at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near and said, ‘Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that You are God in Israel and I am Your servant, and that I have done all these things at Your word. Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that You are the Lord God, and that You have turned their hearts back to You again’ (1 Kings 18:36, NKJV).”
Prayer of Thanksgiving and Praise — God loves to hear us praise Him! “The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!” (Psalm 50:23, ESV).
Need a break from Spring Cleaning? Take a deep breath and breathe out a prayer!
Welcome to Kendra Graham’s Online Bible Study! This is a place where we can come together and share in our 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!
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Kendra Graham notes from Joshua 3:15 – 16a
WHAT DOES IT SAY? THE FACTS ONLY PLEASE. In this step you need to list the outstanding facts of the passage. DON’T get caught up in the details, just list the facts. Do not paraphrase. Use the actual words of the passage. This is God’s Word, a lot of times this step seems tedious to some, but I urge you, as we read, and say and write God’s Word, it begins to sink deep into our hearts. If you just pick one fact out of the verse, write it down and meditate on it.
FACTS: Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the arc reached the Jordan, and their feet touched the water’s edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing. Joshua 3:15 – 16a
WHAT DOES IT MEAN? THE LESSONS. Look for a lesson to learn from each fact. What are the people doing that they should be doing? What are the people doing that they shouldn’t be doing?
Is there a command to follow? A promise to claim? A warning to heed? An example to follow?
Faith is hard.
Crawford Lorrits out of Fellowship Bible Church in Alpharetta Georgia always says this, “Faith is verb even when it’s a noun.”
Faith is always moving, doing, or waiting… not just talking about it, being academic in your Bible studies, and answering all the right questions in your workbook. Faith is the 18” journey down from your head to your heart. Faith is every day, living according to those beliefs you’ve said you believed for years.
Faith is never easy.
Sure, I have miracles in my life where God called me to do something, and I did it with my knees shaking and heart beating rapidly out of control, only to look back and see the awesome hand of God…. but each and every time it is always a conscious decision that I have to make. I wish having faith was easier. God always calls us to impossible things, where we show up and bring what we have, but if God doesn’t come through then we will be sunk.
My usual prayer in times like this is, “God DO SOMETHING! If You change my situation, I WILL BELIEVE I PROMISE!” God’s usual answer in times like this: “Kendra! YOU BELIEVE in ME FIRST and see how I change your situation.” I ALWAYS want God to act first. Well… God has acted first! God has come to live among us, not trusting us to another, and His name is Jesus. Jesus lived a perfect life, then took the penalty for my sin and your sin, upon the cross, and then 3 days later rose from the grave, so that we could walk with Him, and know Him because we were created to need Him, especially in impossible situations!
God has acted first. I want God, however, to act in a certain way for ME NOW. If God doesn’t do what I want Him to, then all of a sudden He hates me and He is being the stubborn one! We always want God to do more, or do different–I know I do! I want God to put the tangible in my hand now, so I know I have it, then I will do what He asks, however, if you think about it, there is absolutely no faith in that! Give it to me, then I will have faith? Have faith in what? It’s already received, no faith needed!
Waiting for God to act FIRST is UNBELIEF. Ouch.
Belief is holding on, when everyone and everything else around us says to let go and run the other way! Belief is this: “Fine, I will step into that Jordan River at flood stage because YOU, God, have asked me to, and if I die, I die, but trust You!”
Then the priests STEPPED…. The water did not part until they STEPPED… verb… (If I was one of those priests I totally would have thought God hated me for sure, and what did I ever do to make Him so angry! Forget woman’s lib in this case! Men, you can carry that ark!) God delivered the priests. God calls us to do those impossible things that only He can do.
We love to preach, “Believe in God!” to so many people throughout our lives, yet when it comes down to having to hold on and step into an impossible situation in our own lives, God’s Word is all of a sudden a lie, and God owes me first.
I taught Bible studies and went to Bible studies for years before I literally had to set my heart to believe all those promises, and hold on to the character of God I knew about so well in my head. I would preach to people, “God can put the broken pieces of your life back together! Praise Him in it!” It was not until I wanted to curse God in the pieces of my life did I see how hard that really is. It wasn’t until my life was the one in pieces did I know the Master Artist, Jesus, really will create beauty from ashes.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO ME NOW? APPLY IT…. TODAY. Take the lessons you learned and put them into the form of a personal question that you would ask your spouse, or a friend or your son or daughter.
As you write the questions, listen for God to communicate to you through His Word.
*Do not rush. Do not write things down just to have something on paper, this step takes more time that you may think. This is where Scripture meditation becomes real, this is where you begin to hear that still small voice speak to you, and place His finger in your life and begin to direct your paths…. this day, and the next, and the next. Do you trust Him enough to put into place that which He is moving you to?
Where is God calling us to have faith? In our jobs, marriages, homes, schools, churches? IS faith a verb for us, or a noun? Would we rather wait for God to work, then we will believe, or will we believe what God has said and who God is and walk in that faith?
LIVE IT OUT! Hold yourself accountable to LIVE OUT in your daily life that which God impresses upon your heart. Write it out, sign it, date it and claim the transforming power of God’s Word and His presence in your life.
Today, live this day praising the God of the impossible! Step out onto the waters that He has called you to with confidence. Stop shaking our fists at who we wish or think God to be, and START getting in His Word to see who God says He really is!
Homework: Pick a verse or a few verses and use the three-question method to see what the lessons are, how they apply to your life, and how you can live it out.
JOIN US FOR OUR FREE WOMEN’S BIBLE STUDY AT THE COVE, BEGINNING JANUARY 12, 2016.
If you can attend in-person, we’d love to see you. Click on one of the links below to register.
If you’d like to register for Kendra’s Tuesday evening study (January 12 – February 16, 2016), click here.
NOTE: If you are unable to attend in person, we will continue the online study as well, using lessons shared during the LIVE study.
Register for Kendra’s Tuesday evening study here or by calling 1-800-950-2092..
If you’d like to register for Jane Derrick’s Tuesday morning study (January 12 – February 23, 2016), click here.
Autumn is just around the corner and Asheville, North Carolina is one of the most beautiful sites to behold during “leaf” season. We hope you will come enjoy God’s colorful display and His sweet presence here at The Cove.
Check out our schedule for the month of October below. As you can see several of our events have sold out, so if you see something that interests you, we encourage you to reserve your seat right away.
Click here to see the available October Personal Spiritual Retreat dates or call 1-800-950-2092.
Click on each of the links below for more information and to register.
We couldn’t close the month of August out before sharing something that has been in the works for the last few months…
Here’s a hint…
♪♪ Joy to the world! The Lord is come. Let earth receive her King! ♪
We know, summer is still here, and Fall is knocking on the door, but we’ve been busy working on Christmas decorations at The Cove!
Why so soon? Because our handcrafted decorations take hours and hours to create. We have a very talented woman on our staff named Angie, that is visionary, creator, and team leader for all our Christmas (and other) decorations. Angie doesn’t just go out and buy decorations and ornaments, as you will see, she uses her God-given gifts to design and create beautiful things.
Here is one of the pieces that she dreamed up and created for Christmas 2015…
This 12-foot handcrafted cross is made from grape and wisteria vines that Angie and another Cove employee, Susie, harvested off our mountain. It took them 2.5 hours to gather all the vines! We’ve included a picture of Angie wrangling the vines below.
At the time this picture of the cross was taken, there were still more lights to be added and a couple other final tweaks.
During the Christmas season, the cross will adorn the large stone wall in the Training Center dining room.
Here’s a picture of Angie gathering vines:
Want to see the cross, as well as the other amazing handcrafted decorations and ornaments that Angie and her team are working on? Join us for one of our Christmas events in December and see them in person.
Click here for a listing of our Christmas at The Cove dinner and concert events. Click here for a listing of our SeniorSalt Carol Sings.
Have you handcrafted any Christmas ornaments or decorations over the years? We’d love to hear what you’ve created. Tell us in the comments below.
The blog of the Billy Graham Training Center at the Cove