Tag Archives: The Billy Graham Training Center

Coming Soon To A Church Near You

Coming Soon To A Church Near You

By: Pastor Erwin W. Lutzer

Overnight your Gospel-preaching church could change from being “a cool place to worship” to being branded as a church of bigotry and hate. That’s what happened at The Crossing in Columbia, Missouri—and it could happen anywhere.

On Sunday, October 13, Pastor Keith Simon preached a message on Genesis 1:27 as part of a new series on Genesis. His topic was gender. The sermon was thoughtful, welcoming, and non-judgmental. In an attempt to speak to the issue of gender confusion, the tone was one of respect and compassion. However, he did affirm the biblical teaching that God created only two genders: male and female. He ended with a series of questions including:

Are we sure that erasing the concept of father and mother and substituting parent 1 and parent 2—are we sure that this is good for families?”

Are we sure that it is fair for sports to have biological males [who transitioned to female] compete with biological women?”

Are we sure that we should give hormones to boys entering puberty to prepare them for gender reassignment surgery?”

Are we sure that our internal feelings of who we are always define reality?”

Normally, such a sermon would not only be expected in an evangelical church, but would be accepted as consistent with Scripture and biology. Nothing unusual so far.

But on Monday, a social media firestorm ensued, and the surrounding community was thrown into a polarized debate. The church had been a long-time sponsor of a local art gallery and a documentary film festival. Within days, an online petition emerged, and was quickly signed by 1,000 citizens urging the art community and film festival to cut their ties to the church. They obediently did so. Personal attacks followed, including calling the pastor the “Anti-Christ.” People who had never entered the church and did not even hear the sermon weighed in, fueling the fire of outrage. After widespread coverage in local newspapers and television, it has now drawn some national attention.

The Crossing has always been actively involved for the good of their community. For example, this past August they raised $430,000 to pay off the medical debt of 42,000 patients in Missouri (a sponsor cooperated with the church, so the sum total of forgiven loans was in the millions). The church supports multiple local organizations that assist those in financial need, and plans annual missions trips to partner with effective ministries in countries with great poverty. Started 20 years ago, it now has an attendance of 4,000. No wonder the word on the street was that this was the place to worship. They were known for what they were for, not what they were against.

But they crossed a trip wire. The current culture rejects civil discourse, rational discussions, and honest evaluations of biological and scientific evidence accepted by many doctors which state that gender tampering can be harmful for children and, for that matter, adults. There has been a consistent push to uncritically accept the contemporary dictum that gender is fluid, that it is a state of mind which can be changed based on vacillating desires and inclinations. Not only can a man become a woman and a woman become a man, but there are also other genders somewhere between the two. The growing number of stories of heartbreak by those who experienced transgender surgery, only to determine that their gender dysphoria had not been resolved, are ignored. Simply raising these questions has resulted in hatred and vilification of anyone who dares to ask.

For years I have wrestled with the oft-repeated statement, “We have to be known for what we are for and not what we are against.” Given our present political and moral climate, what you “are for” will evaporate in the minds of many once they hear “you are against same-sex marriage and gender fluidity.” It won’t be long until other convictions elicit the same response. We already know that to be pro-life means you hate women; to believe that Jesus is the only way to God is religious bigotry.

Some people may leave The Crossing as a result of this media backlash. But this is the reality that many churches will likely be facing in the coming years. As this issue begins to divide families, communities, and churches, some will begin to separate themselves from organized religion and reject Christianity as a whole. Congregations may begin to thin out. It seems that the church is in a process of being pruned, and while some will remain, others will walk away.

I know that parallels between our situation in the United States and Nazi Germany can be easily overdrawn. But there is this similarity: at some point God separates the chaff from the wheat in His Church. Most of the churches in Germany were either silent or supportive of Hitler after he announced “The Muzzle Decree” which made criticism of the Reich a crime.

But Martin Niemöller, who would spend time in a concentration camp for his boldness, preached these words to his congregation:

We have all of us—the whole church and the whole community—we’ve been thrown into the Tempter’s sieve, and he is shaking and the wind is blowing, and it must now become manifest whether we are wheat or chaff!…[we] must see that the calm of meditative Christianity is at an end…

It is now springtime for the hopeful and expectant Christian Church—it is testing time, and God is giving Satan a free hand, so he may shake us up so that it may be seen what manner of men we are!

Satan swings his sieve and Christianity is thrown hither and thither; and he who is not ready to suffer, he who called himself a Christian only because he thereby hoped to gain something good for his race and his nations is blown away like chaff by the wind of time.”

Blown away like chaff by the wind!

It has been aptly stated that “a Christianity without courage is cultural atheism.” Let us resolve as a church that silence is not an option. Jesus commanded us to rejoice when others speak evil of us, and be prepared for what we are facing when He said, If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 15:18; 16:33).

I think I hear Him saying to us what He said to the church in Sardis:

Wake up and strengthen what remains.”

 


We invite you in 2020 to attend a Seminar or a Pastor Renewal Retreat led by Pastor Erwin W. Lutzer. Click here to learn more.

Click here for a schedule of all 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 Garden. Click here for directions and operating hours. Tours are free.

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Weekly Bible Verse: Romans 8:28

Our weekly Bible verse comes from Romans 8:28:

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose” (NIV).

As a Christ follower we can have peace, even in the midst of the trial, that God works everything for  good. We can rest assured by keeping our eyes and hearts focused on Him. His presence gives life, joy, love, peace, and so much more.


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 Garden. Click here for directions and operating hours. Tours are free.

Follow us on social media. click map

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A Cove Recipe: Watermelon Gazpacho

A stay at the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove provides ample opportunity to feast on God’s Word, but as any Cove guest will tell you, there’s also plenty of delicious food!

Cool and refreshing Watermelon Gazpacho Soup with cucumber, bell pepper and avocado.

1 large tomato

1/2 red bell pepper

1/2 green bell pepper

3 cups cubed watermelon

1/4 red onion

1/2 cucumber, peeled and seeded

1 Tbsp. fresh dill

2 tsp. red wine vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Feta cheese to your liking

Put all ingredients in a blender except feta cheese and 1/4 cup cubed watermelon; blend.

Chill soup in container for up to six hours.

When serving, garnish soup with feta crumbles and the remaining cubed watermelon.

*Can also garnish with mint leaves or avocado.


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 Garden. Click here for directions and operating hours. Tours are free.

 

Follow us on social media. click map

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The Cove Weekly Snapshot

We had a wonderful week at The Cove with multiple groups on campus. The week started with an Intensive Bible Training and the arrival of  several Guest Groups for their retreats and donor events. We also offered a Personal Spiritual Retreat for individuals or couples looking to refocus on growing their relationship with God in the beauty and peaceful quiet of The Cove.

We were blessed to have Pastor Mark Yarbrough with us from the Dallas Theological Seminary. Worship was led by Richard and Gina Kingsmore.

We had students attend from the Dallas Theological Seminary that received seminary credit for their graduate work and CEU credit for a teacher certification. We also had several families and individuals who wanted to dive deeper into the Word.

Here is a sweet mother and daughter that decided to take their vacation to The Cove and spend time in the Word and with one another.

We also had several guest groups events and a personal spiritual retreat. The Training Center lobby  at The Cove was filled with many conversations, fellowship, and prayer.

To end our week, we have an Evening at The Cove with the wonderful group Veritas. They are a classical crossover vocal group that leads uplifting songs of worship. They recently  released their third full-length album, “Simply Veritas”, a collection of a cappella standards, patriotic tunes, and classic hymns, dear to their hearts.

Our summer is just beginning and we have an incredible line-up of Bible teachers, worship artists, and more. We hope that you can visit us soon!


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 Garden. Click here for directions and operating hours. Tours are free.

Follow us on social media. click map

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Pinterest

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)

JUST WHO DO WE THINK WE’RE TALKING TO?

“…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.

LIFTING OUR EYES

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)

 

Cove Bible Verse for Week of February 27

“They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness,” (Lamentations 3:23, ESV). 

Jeff & Mary | SOWERS (Servants on Wheels Ever Ready) | Lamentations 3:23

SMALL_Jeff and Mary Peace_SOWERS

For information on the SOWER ministry, click here.


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

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

Cove Bible Verse for Week of February 20

“God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and a sound mind,” (2 Timothy 1:7, NKJV). 

Sabrina | Guest Group Billing Assistant | 2 Timothy 1:7

SMALL_Sabrina_Guest Group Billing Assistant


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

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

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

Cove Bible Verse for Week of February 13

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,”
(Philippians 4:13, NKJV). 

Renee | Program Assistant | Philippians 4:13SMALL_Renee_Program Assistant


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

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

Cove Bible Verse for Week of February 6

“For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die,” (Philippians 1:20, NLT).

Kristen | Chapel Visitor | Florida | Philippians 1:20

SMALL_Kristen_Florida_Visitor_Chapel


We’d love for you to stop by and visit the Chatlos Memorial Chapel, Visitors Center, and Ruth’s Prayer Garden.  Click here for directions and operating hours. Tours are free.

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

Cove Bible Verse for Week of January 23

“Be still and know that I am God…” (Psalm 46:10, NKJV). 

Logen | Program Communications Associate | Psalm 46:10

SMALL_Logen_Program_Communications_Associate


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

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