Tag Archives: Prayer


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.

Prayer Note(3)


There’s been quite a commotion taking place outside our office window this week, as we’ve watched a live performance of Angry Birds take place every day. A brilliant red cardinal has apparently taken over the tree just outside the window, and he is passionate about protecting his territory. Several times throughout the day we’ve seen him fly in with eyes blazing and feathers ruffled. The real ruckus begins when he sees his own reflection in the window. He spreads his wings wide and flings himself toward the imagined intruder, tapping repeatedly with his sharp beak. His outbursts had lessened by Thursday afternoon; we believe overcast skies may have dimmed the reflection and calmed his frazzled bird-nerves.

Like this agitated cardinal, have you ever been guilty of fighting a fake fear? If we’re honest, most of us could confess to conjuring up imaginary catastrophes that haven’t yet occurred and then watching them grow in intensity as our worried mind grows more fretful by the minute.

Though we’ve all fallen victim to imagined fears, we also know there are times in life when we are confronted with very real situations in which the normal human response is one of fear. Illnesses come, banks fail, floods rise and tragedies occur. And yet our Heavenly Father tells us to “Fear not.”

A new route to work now finds me navigating the twists and turns of a winding mountain interstate that’s a popular route for truckers. When possible, I try to steer clear of them and give them plenty of space. One afternoon as I traveled home from work on this winding route, I came around a wide curve only to find myself facing the huge metal grill at the front of a semi-truck cab. The cab was suspended at the back of a tow-truck, but for an adrenaline triggering split-second, I was gripped with the sensation of an oncoming head-on collision with a gigantic beast of a vehicle. As the adrenaline rush melted, I relaxed and broke into a grin as I realized my “brush with death” had been an optical illusion.

A cardinal fears the intrusion of a rival bird into his territory.  A human being fears death. His own reflection poses no real danger to a bird; yet death is the ultimate danger to be feared by all.  It is natural for human beings to fear the prospect of death; but for the believer in Christ, death is simply the entrance into the presence of the Lord.

The New Testament book of John paints the poignant picture of Martha as she grieves the death of her beloved brother and Jesus’ friend, Lazarus. Yet perhaps even more painful than the loss of her brother was the heart-rending perception that Jesus couldn’t be trusted. Martha was fearing that this great teacher who had healed countless others had let her down—had failed to show up as healer when His own dear friend, her brother, was at death’s door. As Jesus arrived on the scene three days after Lazarus’ death, a heartbroken Martha went out to meet Him. Her emotions raw, she blurted out the truth of her wounded heart: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:21, NKJV).  Martha had faced the fear of loss as she watched the life of her brother slip away; yet she was now dealing with the perceived fear that she had misjudged Jesus. Even while she clung to the Old Testament promise of a coming resurrection and the hope of seeing her brother again, she remained gripped by the fear that Jesus had failed her and forsaken her.

When Jesus responded, “Your brother will rise again,” Martha gave the dutiful theological reply, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” (John 11:24, NKJV)

Christ’s next words would reveal His identity, power and promise to Martha and to believers down through the ages: “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26, NKJV).

With her brother still cold in the grave, Martha responded with a rock-solid declaration of faith. “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world” (John 11:27, NKJV).

Verses 28 through 44 tell the rest of the timeless story. Martha’s sister, Mary, fell at His feet weeping, echoing the earlier words of Martha: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Moved with compassion, Jesus asked to be taken to the tomb. We see the depth of His compassion in the Bible’s shortest verse. Packed with meaning and emotion, it reads simply, “Jesus wept.”

Jesus knows our hearts. He knows the feeling of our infirmities (Hebrews 4:15, KJV). After the raising of Lazarus and the display of His power over death, he would later go to the cross, where He would utter the cry, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46).

Real or imagined, there is no fear the believer will encounter that our Savior has not faced and conquered. Because of His sacrificial death on the cross, we need never fear separation from God, though at times His face may seem hidden and His voice silent. Even death itself cannot touch us; because of Christ’s resurrection and victory over the grave, we merely pass through its shadow as we enter eternity with Him.

In his book Facing Death, Billy Graham related the experience of Donald Grey Barnhouse, a well-known preacher and theologian in the first half of the 20th century. Barnhouse’s first wife died of cancer, leaving him with three children all under 12. The day of the funeral, Barnhouse and the children were driving to the service when a large truck passed them, casting a noticeable shadow across their car. Turning to his oldest daughter, who was staring sadly out the window, Barnhouse asked, “Tell me, sweetheart, would you rather be run over by that truck or its shadow? Looking curiously at her father, she replied, “By the shadow, I guess. It can’t hurt you.” Speaking to all his children, he said, “Your mother has not been overridden by death, but by the shadow of death. That is nothing to fear.”

What a beautiful illustration of the psalmist David’s words, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. For Thou art with me. Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23: 4, KJV).

Through Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, He conquered death and the grave. Although the shadow of death may bring the chill of fear, we have the promise of eternal life in heaven with Him.

Our God is such a kind and merciful God! He knows that we are subject to worry, anxiety and fear. He commands us to “fear not,” yet He also “remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103:14, NKJV) and has graciously given us numerous verses in His Word telling us to “fear not” or to “be not afraid.”  His Word is packed with promises of His presence, protection and power. That means whether our fear is real or imagined, there is a promise for us to claim.

The next time you get your feathers ruffled and begin to feel agitated, anxious or fearful, pour out your heart to the one who says, “ ‘Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand’ “ (Isaiah 41:10, NASB).  Grab hold of His hand and His promise, and hang on!

—Donna Riesen

We appreciate you joining us in prayer for the following events that will take place on The Cove property during the month of June.



An Evening at The Cove with Brandon Heath — June 14
(Emcee: Michelle Bachelor)

James Brown — June 15-16
(Emcee: Bill Wolfe; Worship Leader: Michael O’Brien)
Men’s Event—
Break the Huddle and Run the Play: Are We Running the Plays God Has Called for Us?

Walter C. Kaiser, Jr. — June 18-22
(Emcee: Michael Everhart; Worship Leader: Michael O’Brien; Pastor-in-Residence: John Parrish)
Intensive Bible Training—
The Majesty of God in the Midst of Suffering: Studies in the Book of Job

SeniorSalt Impact Hymn Sing — June 25
(Emcee/Worship Leader: Ron Whittemore)

Mark Yarbrough — June 25-29
(Emcee: Glynn Bachelor; Worship Leaders: Richie & Gina Kingsmore; Pastor-in-Residence: John Parrish)
Intensive Bible Training—
What Does Jesus Think? Having the Mind of Christ



Prayer Note(3)


A survey of the book of Acts reminds us of the importance of prayer in the early days of the church. In fact, the church was birthed in prayer. Try to imagine yourself as part of the gathering of believers in that first “Upper Room Prayer Vigil.”  In obedience to Christ’s command to “stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49, ESV), they had gathered in Jerusalem to “stay and pray.”

And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James.   All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.  (Acts 1:13-15, ESV)


Acts 2:1 tells us that at the moment of the coming of the Holy Spirit on that day of Pentecost, “They were all with one accord in one place.”

In his commentary on the book of Acts, Matthew Henry explains how prayer played a part in bringing this group of disparate individuals into that peaceful state of unity:

“And here they were with one accord. We cannot forget how often, while their Master was with them, there were strifes among them, who should be the greatest; but now all these strifes were at an end, we hear no more of them. What they had received already of the Holy Ghost, when Christ breathed on them, had in a good measure rectified the mistakes upon which those contests were grounded, and had disposed them to holy love. They had prayed more together of late than usual (Acts 1:14), and this made them love one another better.”

As that relatively small group of believers gathered, they were empowered by the Holy Spirit to proclaim the gospel with boldness. The practice of prayer was a regular occurrence in those early days. God’s Word was proclaimed, the church grew, and the prayer-circle expanded: “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:42, ESV).  Christ’s church was built on the rock-solid foundation of the gospel and God’s gracious response to the prayers of His people.


During His brief time of earthly ministry, the Lord Jesus had shown by example the importance of spending time in prayer and communion with the Father (see Matthew 14:23, Luke 9:28, and Mark 1:35), and as they sought to obey Christ’s final command to “go into all the world and preach the Gospel” (Mark 16:15, NASB), these early believers followed His example and gathered often to pray.

Yet even in its infancy, the newborn church experienced its share of growing pains. Despite the prayers, conflicts arose and there was “trouble in the nursery.” Today’s church nursery scuffles usually involve a toddler hoarding animal crackers or snatching a toy, but back then the dispute was over the daily distribution of bread:

Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distributionAnd the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, ‘It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables.Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this dutyBut we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.’ And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of AntiochThese they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them.  And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith” (Acts 6:1-7, ESV).

This passage highlights for us the apostles’ wisdom in leading the infant church. They understood the importance of caring for the physical needs of their flock, yet they would not allow it to take priority over the spiritual feeding of souls. Their recommendation to appoint “men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom” (6:3) to serve tables and oversee food distribution is proof that the leaders of the early church clearly understood their own apostolic calling: to pray and to preach.


Fast-forward to today. Regardless of membership roles, music style, or the number of likes on a Facebook page, Christ’s church is still being built by praying and proclaiming. This same principle applies to us as Cove staff. As we seek to serve God by welcoming His people and proclaiming His Word, we know our efforts will only be effective if they are preceded by prayer.


Two job fair events were recently held at The Cove, and we praise God for the tremendous response. We as Cove staff prayed often prior to and during these events, and we continue to pray as our leadership proceeds with applicant interviews and hiring decisions. Please join us in asking the Lord to bring just the right people to serve Him at The Cove. Although we are in need of additional staff, our first priority is to seek God’s face for wisdom, guidance and provision. If you serve in an area with open positions, your workload may be heavy. Remember the psalmist’s instruction to “cast your burden on the Lord and He will sustain you” (Psalm 55:22, NASB), and continue to remain faithful in your work and in your prayers. As our founder Billy Graham once said, “You cannot afford to be too busy to pray.”

Keep praying and seeking!

—Donna Riesen

We appreciate you joining us in prayer for the following events that will take place on The Cove property during the month of May.


Jim Henry — May 1-3
(Emcee: John Parrish; Worship Leader: John Chisum; Pastor-in-Residence: Kevin Wimbish)
Pastor Renewal Retreat— Jesus: The Joy of the Journey

 SeniorCelebration: Don Wilton with the Burchfield Brothers — May 7-9
(Emcee/Worship Leader: Tom Bledsoe; Musicians: John Innes, Burchfield Brothers; Pastor-in-Residence: John Parrish)
Living it Up (1 Peter)

 Ron Hutchcraft — May 9-11
(Emcee: Michael Everhart; Worship Leader: Mark Christian; Pastor-in-Residence: David Taylor)
Uncommon Courage: Joshua’s Five Bold Choices for Our Uncharted Times

An Evening at The Cove with Veritas — May 11
(Emcee: Michelle Bachelor)

Chip Ingram — May 25-27
(Emcee: Bill Wolfe; Worship Leader: Michael O’Brien; Pastors-in-Residence: John Parrish and David Taylor)
Military Marriage Retreat — God’s Blueprint for a Great Marriage

 Ed Stetzer — May 30-June 1
(Emcee: Glynn Bachelor; Worship Leader: John Elliott; Pastor-in-Residence: Preston Parrish)
Pastor Renewal Retreat— Leading as Agents of Gospel Transformation

Kendra Graham Online Bible Study – Judges

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!Make sure you don’t miss a post, just enter your email in the “Subscribe Via Email” box in the upper left-hand corner of our blog. It’s free and you’ll receive these posts straight into your email inbox.


So Israel was greatly impoverished because of the Midianites, and the children of Israel cried out to the LORD” (Judges 6:6, NKJV).

What does it Say?

Israel was greatly impoverished and cried out to the LORD

What Does it Mean?

We don’t need God … well, until we need God. We hate that God allows hardship.  If God really loved us then He would give us everything we wanted—when we wanted it—and would not allow any difficulty or struggle to come into our lives.  God would not allow us to hit rock bottom, that’s for sure!  Isn’t that what we think a loving God would be like?  When life hits us hard and knocks the wind out of us, we do not question our love for God—we question His love for us.

In verse one of this chapter, we read, … the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD.”  Israel decided against following God’s laws, choosing instead to follow their own hearts.  God’s chosen people believed that they knew best, and that they no longer needed God.

The Israelites started out focused on God; and as they walked with God, He allowed them to prosper. Somewhere in the midst of prosperity, however, they forgot God. Israel decided to live life the way they wanted to; they did not want to be strapped down to God’s Word and obedience to Him.  And the Scriptures tell us that Israel’s God—refusing to force obedience—allowed His people to walk away from His protective hand. God allowed the Midianites to ruin and ransack the land.  The first few verses of this chapter reveal how the Midianites were like locusts on the land—everything that had been full became empty, and the land was left barren.  The livestock and crops were taken.  The children of Israel were living in caves and dens, full of fear that the Midianites would come back and take their lives.  The lives of God’s people had not just fallen apart—they were completely dismantled.  God’s people had lost everything.  The people were greatly impoverished.

How long did it take for God’s people to come back to God? Was it right away?  Did they return before they wandered too far from God?  Did they quickly see how God loved them, instantly understanding that walking with God and following His laws was for their protection not for harm?  Sadly, no.  Israel was no different than we are.  We walk away from God. We demand God leave us alone; and then when He does, our lives really fall apart and our fists fly as we blame God for everything . In our pride and stubbornness we determine we will “show God,” so we fight and fight and fight the Midianites until we are utterly exhausted. If we’re honest, it is not Midian we are so upset with—we’re angry with God for being so far away from our terrible plight.

Meanwhile, God has not gone anywhere. It was not God who walked away.  God is still where He can be found (Deuteronomy 4:29, Isaiah 55:6), but we refuse with all that is in us to go back to Him.  So we continue to live in our pride, digging a hole deeper and deeper until we are greatly impoverished physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally.  Here, in this passage in Judges, Israel fought Midian and lived in their own stubbornness for seven years. Yet God is patient and has eternity to wait.

Israel did not turn and cry out to God until they had lost everything.  They lost their land, their prosperity, their food, their homes…their pride.  Did you know that it is impossible for a prideful, arrogant person to “cry out to the LORD”?  Prayer takes humility.  Prayer takes an attitude of “I need You, God because I can’t without You.”

Seven years of hardship.  Seven years of pain.  Seven years of loss.  Seven years of bitterness towards God for allowing Midian to do such atrocities.  Seven years of living in their pride, even in the midst of humiliating circumstances.  Seven long years of trying to show God they could fix it without Him.

But God loves us enough to wait. We have such a misunderstanding of God’s love, don’t we?  When I read this passage I could not help but think of the prodigal son.  The Father allowed the son to leave, and then he waited.  Love waits.  It waits until we are done.  God’s love kept Him waiting for His people, and that same love keeps Him waiting for you and me. God has not gone anywhere. God is found in His Word, and in His Word you and I will find that God is love. He loves for His children to cry out to Him. When we cry out to God, we find Him waiting with arms open wide—not condemning us, but loving us.

You and I were created to walk with God—to know Him and to need Him. As we walk with God and cling to His promises day by day, we will not find our lives to be problem free and full of material wealth, yet we will live a life full of God.  God’s purpose and personal plan for each of us is to live a life full with Him!  In the midst of hardship we can have peace, patience, and perseverance (John 16:33, 2 Corinthians 4:8).  In the midst of prosperity we can have a thankfulness for God’s generosity and presence (Psalm 127, James 1:17).  The key to a life of purpose is God Himself.  Cry out to God today and begin anew to walk with Him.

What Does it Mean to Me?

What causes you to cry out to the LORD?

When was a time you walked with the LORD faithfully, but then fell away?

What will it take for you once again to walk with the God you were created to walk with?


LORD, today as I cry out to You, help me to come back to You. Teach me Your Word.  Walk with me once again as this new day starts.


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: April 2018

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.

Prayer Note(3)


“…in Jesus’ name, amen.” We often end our prayers in this way—probably more times than we can count. But what do we do after our petitions have been made and our prayers ended? After saying amen, have you ever raised your head, risen from your knees and stooped right back down to pick up your burden?

The little girl stood with tiny feet planted in the cool, wet sand. A strong, salty breeze blew and the hot sun warmed her skin. Not yet old enough to comprehend the immensity of the vast ocean before her, she busied herself with the task of collecting water in her little red pail. With patient determination she squatted low and tipped the bucket down to allow the incoming wave to fill it. Then, squealing with excitement, up she jumped, grinning as she ran, cool seawater splashing over the sides of the bucket as she scampered across the sandy shore. Her parents watched, amused at the seriousness with which their little one viewed this endeavor. The tiny water-bearer grinned up at them as she dumped the seawater into the hole she’d dug earlier. She watched with a mixture of fascination and exasperation as the thirsty ground drank up most of her offering. Then, shrugging her shoulders she rose and ran back down to the shoreline for another fill-up. With sober determination she knelt and tipped the bucket down to allow the next wave to fill it. Satisfied, she lifted her head, scanning the huge incoming waves with wide eyes and an expression of surprise. “Mama,” she cried, “it just keeps on coming!” Then she lifted her half-filled bucket and began making her way back across the sandy beach…

How often my prayer life resembles the activity of this industrious child on her first trip to the beach. I bow my head and dutifully tilt my bucket of need, prepared to catch the incoming flow of blessings I’ve requested of my Father on behalf of myself and those I love. After pouring out praise and petitions, I rise and think the ‘task’ of prayer is complete. Another item checked off my list. Yet often the depth of need seems to remain or grow bigger. Worry and anxiety return to keep me company. I’ve poured out my bucket of prayers, yet the burden still weighs heavy and the depth of my need increases.


What if, instead of keeping my head lowered and my eyes on my tiny bucket, I simply lifted my eyes to survey the vast ocean of grace and goodness in front of me?

What if when we prayed, we paused with each request to consider Who it is we are coming to? How might our prayers change if we began to try to comprehend just a fraction of the limitless sea of sufficiency we have in Christ? Would it help us to pray without ceasing if we paused to remind ourselves that His mercies never cease?  (See 1 Thessalonians 5:17 and Lamentations 3:22.)

“Lord, there’s a big decision I have to make—please give me wisdom. Your Word says that You Yourself are the embodiment of Wisdom, and that in You ‘are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge’ (Colossians 2:3, NKJV). You’ve told me to ask for wisdom when I need it (see James 1:5), so I’m asking now. Thank You for hearing and answering, Lord!”

“Jesus, I’ve blown it again. I’ve failed You and fallen into the same hateful sin. I confess it before You and ask You to forgive me. You are the Savior who died to pay the penalty for my sin, and You are my Redeemer and Deliverer. (See Colossians 1:13-14.) Thank You that nothing in all creation can separate me from Your love.” (See Romans 8:38-39.)

“God, I’m facing a huge task and I’m in need of strength. Your Word tells me that You are my ‘refuge and fortress’ (Psalm 91:2, ESV).  You are omnipotent—all-powerful, and You give strength to the weary and power to the weak. (See Isaiah 40:29.)  I need Your strength and power today, and I’m trusting You for it. Thank you.”

“Lord Jesus, these waves of grief and loss washing over me threaten to knock me off my feet. The Scriptures tell me that you were ‘a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief’ (Isaiah 53:3, NKJV) and that You are ‘near to the broken-hearted’ (Psalm 34:18, ESV). Please help me as I bring these pieces of my shattered heart to You. Let me rest in You, trusting You to hold me and bring comfort, courage and healing.”

“Heavenly Father, the need I’m faced with appears huge—insurmountable—like a towering mountain casting a great shadow over me. Yet I thank You that I can ‘seek refuge in the shadow of Your wings’ (Psalm 57:1, HCSB).  Help me to remember that You are the all-sufficient Creator who holds all things together. (See Colossians 1:16-17.) As I lift my eyes to the hills, help me to remember that my help comes from You, the Maker of heaven and earth. (See Psalm 121:1-3.)”

As we pray for the seminars and events that will take place at The Cove this month, let’s search the Scriptures, claim God’s promises, and pause to remember just Who it is we are talking to.

“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father,  from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
(Ephesians 3:14-19 NKJV)

Keep praying and seeking!

—Donna Riesen

We appreciate you joining us in prayer for the following events taking place on The Cove property during the month of April:

Jan Harrison — April 8
(Emcee: Michelle Bachelor; Worship Leader: Shannon Wexelberg)
Women’s Spring Luncheon —
Life After the Storm: God Will Carry You Through

SeniorSalt Impact Hymn Sing — April 9
(Emcee/Worship Leader: Ron Whittemore)

Jim Cymbala — April 10-11
(Emcee: Glynn Bachelor; Worship Leader: Shannon Wexelberg)
Pastor Renewal Retreat—
Breakthrough Ministry: Lessons From the Book of Acts

Guided Personal Spiritual Retreat — April 16-19
(Facilitator: John Parrish)

An Evening at The Cove with David Phelps — April 19
(Emcee: Michelle Bachelor)



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.

Prayer Note(3)


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.


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 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 good FOMO—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!

—Donna Riesen

“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.


Women’s Bible Study, Morning
Tuesday mornings through February 27

Women’s Bible Study, Evening 
Tuesday evenings through February 20

An Evening at The Cove with Jason Crabb
February 18
(Emcee: Bill Wolfe)

Thank you for praying!


PRAYER NOTE: October 2017

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.

Prayer Note(3)

“Who’s In Charge Here?”

I recently overheard the following conversation in a church sanctuary after the Sunday morning service:

“So how are the plans for the church barbeque/outreach going?”

“Pretty well, but I’ve looked over the sign-up sheet and there are still a few blanks. Why don’t you try calling some of these people? You were an army colonel—I’ll bet you could get ‘em to sign up! I imagine people were scared when they saw you coming—afraid they’d get yelled at!”

“I didn’t really have to yell. I just told them what to do and they did it.”

The soft-spoken colonel’s matter-of-fact reply reminded me of the New Testament story of the Roman centurion who came to request Jesus’ intervention on behalf of his paralyzed servant (see Matthew 8:5–13).  When the Lord offered to go to the centurion’s home to heal the servant, the centurion replied, “‘Lord, I am not worthy for You to come under my roof, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come!and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this!and he does it’” (Matthew 8:8-9, NASB).

What happened next is astonishing.

Matthew tells us that when Jesus heard the centurion’s statement of faith, “He marveled, and said to those who were following, ‘Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in IsraelI say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heavenbut the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ And Jesus said to the centurion, ‘Go; it shall be done for you as you have believed.’ And the servant was healed that very moment” (Matthew 8:10-13, NASB).

With mass shootings, hurricanes, fires, earthquakes, cultural and political turmoil, and a volatile world stage, the past month has left many reeling, with some wondering “Who’s in charge here?”  In a chaotic world that sometimes seems to be spinning out of control, the faith-filled centurion can teach us some valuable lessons about prayer.

As a commander of 100 soldiers in the Roman army, this man held a position of importance, yet he recognized that his authority only went so far. He had heard enough about Jesus to understand that He possessed not only authority but power. While the Scribes and Pharisees—the religious leaders of the Jews—remained spiritually blind, this Gentile military officer’s eyes were opened to see and understand Christ’s divine power to heal.

Do we remember who’s in charge when we pray? Our faith will be strengthened when we remind ourselves that we are communicating with the all-powerful, omnipotent God, coming to Him in the name of His Son Jesus, who said, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18, NASB).

Be it Harvey, Irma, Maria or some yet-to-be-named storm, a hurricane does not have authority over us. Fires, earthquakes or other natural disasters cannot touch us without His permission. While the Bible teaches us to be subject to rulers and those who are in authority (see Titus 3:1), political leaders do not have ultimate power over us—God does. Cancer is not in charge—Christ is. Even death has no dominion over us if we know the one who defeated the grave through His death and resurrection (see John 11:25).

Who’s in charge here? God is. While we can come boldly to Him with our requests, as children approach a loving father (see Hebrews 4:16 and Galatians 4:6), we need not instruct God on how to act or advise Him on the best strategy to employ. Like the Centurion, we can simply recognize His power, state our need and trust Him to work.

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13, NKJV).

—Donna Riesen

We appreciate you joining us in prayer for the following events taking place on The Cove property during the month of October.

Oh come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.   (Psalm 95:6, NKJV)


Jim Henry – October 9-11
Pastor Renewal Retreat — Trophies That Won’t Fade

Allistair Begg with World Medical Mission— October 13-15
Prescription for Renewal and Missionary Medicine Seminar (October 12-13)

Kay Arthur and David Arthur — October 25-27
The Freedom and Power of Keeping in Step With the Spirit

Prayer Note: September 2017

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.

Prayer Note(3)
“It cost Christ and all of his followers sharp showers and hot sweats, [before they made it] to the top of the mountain; but still our soft nature would have heaven coming to our bedside while we are sleeping, and lying down with us so that we might go to heaven in warm clothes.”   —Samuel Rutherford

view from the overlook May 2017


In May of this year, we were pleased to welcome Chip Ingram and over 200 military service personnel and spouses for a Military Marriage Retreat at The Cove. Aside from Chip’s powerful Bible teaching and practical insights on marriage and family life, there was a fun and light-hearted “first” at this weekend retreat. On Saturday (the day before the retreat ended), participants were invited to compete in the “Race to the Top,” making a challenging 4-mile hike to the top of the Cove Overlook.

Awards were given to the winners in the male and female categories, and we enjoyed hearing stories and viewing social media posts from those who completed the race.

Another Military Marriage Retreat will be held this month (September 8-10). Rev. Tommy Nelson will teach on “The Art of Living Well in Marriage,” and the couples will again be invited to compete in another “Race to the Top.”


There are two “official winners” in the strenuous event; yet the real reward for completing the race is given freely to everyone who makes it to the top of the precipice: a breathtaking view of God’s creative work. If you’ve ever made the trek to the Overlook, you know. The Cove’s lush, green canopy of trees stretches out below, while the towering white steeple of Chatlos Memorial Chapel points heavenward as a testimony to grace.  Above and beyond rise the misty blue, green and gray shades of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The panorama is definitely worth the hike!

Of those fearless warriors who accomplish the feat, many pause not only to catch their breath, but also to sit and pray, hearts quiet before their Creator, in awe of the majesty and beauty of His creation.


It might seem easier to pray in a picturesque setting like the Overlook, gazing out over the world from a higher vantage point; yet the majority of our prayers are prayed at street-level, trying to escape the distractions of everyday life and the temptations of our daily struggle with self and sin. In our real-life “Race to the Top,” we may often feel we take one step forward and slide two steps back.

Even on the mountain-top, it may seem as if our problems, distractions and failures have followed us up the slope—or maybe even beaten us to the top—meeting us there with accusations of guilt. “What do you think you’re doing, kneeling atop this mountain? You’re in no condition to pray! Just take a look at this long list of sins you’ve committed and important tasks you’ve left undone. Why, if I unrolled the whole thing it would stretch all the way back down to the valley.”

So much for Overlook prayers. But before getting up from your knees and giving up—before you start down the path of prayerlessness, remember the hope-filled words of the psalmist David. “I will lift up my eyes to the hills—from whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord Who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:1-2, NKJV).

Not only does our salvation, our life and our very breath come from God, but our ability to pray is a gracious gift from Him as well. As Billy Graham once said, “God Himself is the power that makes prayer work.”

The location doesn’t matter—whether you’re voicing a prayer from the scenic vantage-point of the Overlook or seeking the Lord with your head leaning over a mop bucket, He’s ready to hear. Whether you’ve had a victorious week of seeing God at work and sensing His presence or a week of failures and straying from His will, He’s ready to forgive.  Because Christ’s blood cleanses our sin when we confess it (1 John 1:7) and His Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness and makes intercession for us (Romans 8:26), God stands ready to hear our prayer. Like the “Race to the Top” of the Cove Overlook, the journey to persevering prayer is worth the effort.

Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving” (Colossians 4:2, NKJV).

During the month of September, pray especially for the military couples who attend the retreat. Pray for healing of relationships, rest for war-weary hearts and minds, and victory over battles with sin and temptation.  We are honored to serve these couples who have sacrificed so much to preserve and defend our freedom. Now let’s be faithful to pray for them.

Run with patience the race that is set before you” (Hebrews 12:1, NKJV).

—Donna Riesen

We appreciate you joining us in prayer for the following events taking place on The Cove property during the month of September.

Oh come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.   (Psalm 95:6, NKJV)


Erwin Lutzer — September 5-7
The Mysteries of God: Drawing Near to the God We Love, Fear, and Struggle to Understand

An Evening at The Cove with Travis Cottrell — September 7
An evening of fellowship, delicious food and uplifting music!

Tommy Nelson — September 8-10
Military Marriage Retreat — The Art of Living Well in Marriage

Chip Ingram — September 15-17
The Real God: How He Longs for You to See Him

SeniorCelebration: James Merritt with Sisters — September 18-20
Out of Options? Relying on God in Desperate Times

Please join our brothers and sisters in Texas in prayer today.  Sunday, Sept. 3, has been proclaimed a Day of Prayer in Texas by Governor Abbott. 

5 Practical Steps to Encourage You in Prayer

Prayer is a vital part of every Christian’s life. Not only is prayer a command, duty and a privilege; it is a direct line of communication with Almighty God.

Prayer is a vital part of every Christian’s life. Not only is prayer a command, duty and a privilege; it is a direct line of communication with Almighty God.

We hope you’ll find these practical prayer suggestions, based on Billy Graham’s teaching, helpful in your prayer life.

1.  Desire the Will of God

Jesus taught us to pray, “Your will be done.” The key is not the words, but your attitude. Seek God’s will and God’s best for whatever you are praying about. He may respond in unexpected ways that please Him and will delight you. “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).

2.  Search Your Heart

God may not respond when you allow sin to remain in your life. If that’s the case, don’t stop praying. Rather, confess your sins or wrong motives to God. He already knows your heart. God has promised always to respond to that prayer (see 1 John 1:9). “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened” (Psalm 66:18).

3.  Pray in Faith

Express your requests freely to God in childlike faith. As a child who trusts a wise and loving parent, ask in complete faith that He is able to do whatever you ask and that He will know what is best.

The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops” (James 5:16-18).

4.  Pray Every Day

God wants to hear from your regularly. He wants a relationship. Take time to talk to God daily and throughout the day, not just when you face a crisis and not only with a list of wants and needs. “Pray continually” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

5.  Pray for God’s Glory

Pray for things to happen in such a way as to provide God with the credit and to give God the glory. He is powerful, magnificent and majestic. And He is still our closest, most intimate Friend. Praise Him and ask for things that matter to Him. “To the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen” (Romans 16:27).

From My Daily Prayer Journal With Insights By Billy Graham
(Now called Rooted in Prayer: A Personal Prayer Journal With Insights by Billy Graham)

Are you a Christian church or nonprofit ministry looking for a place to hold your conference, retreat or ministry event? Get more information on holding your event at The Cove.

Find a schedule of seminars, concerts and retreats at The Cove in beautiful Asheville, N.C.

Visit the Chatlos Memorial Chapel, Visitors Center and Ruth’s Prayer Garden. Tours are free.

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Saturday Snapshot — Ruth Graham’s Words Live On

Billy Graham once said, “Many ask me, ‘Who is the greatest Christian I’ve ever known?’ I always answer, ‘Ruth.’ She’s the greatest Christian I’ve ever known.”


Today would have been Ruth Graham’s 97th birthday.  Born in China in 1920 to medical missionary parents, she later served the Lord, alongside her husband, for more than 60 years.  Ruth was called home by her Savior 10 years ago, but her words and her legacy of prayer live on…

Ruth Bell Graham

Ruth’s desk at their home in Montreat, North Carolina.  As you can see, she spent a great deal of time in God’s Word.  Ruth Graham desk

Executive Director of The Cove and Ruth’s grandson, Will Graham, appreciated his grandmother’s heart for prayer so much, that he dedicated Ruth’s Prayer Garden in her honor.  We’d love to share the prayer garden, adjacent to Chatlos Memorial Chapel, with more than 150 plant varieties, with you.  Stop by and take a tour….it’s free.  Click here for directions and hours. 


PRAYER NOTE: June 2017

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.

Prayer Note(3)

By Donna Riesen


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)


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.”

“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.”

“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.”

“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.”

“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.”

“I’ve resolved to speak truth and love into the lives of my children and grandchildren.”

“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.”

“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.


Jerry Vines — June 2-4
Left or Taken? Believers, Unbelievers, and the Return of Christ

Jim Cymbala — June 5-6
Pastors’ Institute— Storm: Hearing Jesus for the Times We Live In

An Evening at The Cove with Mark Lowry and Stan Whitmire —   June 18

Mark Yarbrough — June 19-23                                                                                    Intensive Bible Training— Reveling in Grace: The Gospel of Freedom

Walter C. Kaiser, Jr. — June 26-30
Intensive Bible Training— God’s Grand Plan for the Nations

Ken Ham — June 30-July 2
As in the Days of Noah