This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Wednesday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

To love another person is to help them love God.

Soren Kierkegaard


This Day's Verse

A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish son grief to his mother.

Proverbs 10:1
The New International Version


This Day's Smile

Use your uniqueness to make a big deal out of God every day of your life!

Max Lucado


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Tuesday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

The thing of which we have to beware is not so much damage to our belief in God as damage to our Christian temper.  “Therefore take heed to thy spirit, that ye deal not treacherously.”  The temper of mind is tremendous in its effects, it is the enemy that penetrates right into the soul and distracts the mind from God, and until we get back to the quiet mood before God, our faith in Him is nil, and our confidence in the flesh and in human ingenuity is the thing that rules.

Oswald Chambers


This Day's Verse

Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

Matthew 26:41
The King James Version


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Monday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

Our sense of joy, satisfaction, and fulfillment in life increases, no matter what the circumstances, if we are in the center of God’s will.

Billy Graham


This Day's Verse

Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.

Revelation 1:3
The New International Version


This Day's Smile

A helping word to one in trouble is often like a switch on a railroad track, an inch between wreck and smooth-rolling prosperity.

Henry W. Beecher


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This Day’s Thought From The Ranch- Recalibrating My Goals


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

RECALIBRATING MY GOALS

by Eric Elder
The Ranch

 

Question: If you’re stranded on a desert island, what 3 things would you most want to have? Answer: Michael Phelps, a saddle, and a gold medal on a stick!

I’ve been watching the Olympics the past two weeks, and I’m inspired. I’m inspired to see what people can do when they put their minds to it, with Michael Phelps being example #1. He had a dream, he went for it, and he worked hard to attain it.

I’ve also been reviewing my own goals for this year–goals which I set back in January–and I’m inspired to pick up the pace to see what I can still accomplish by the end of the year. Unfortunately, I’ve fallen behind on some of my goals. I’ve stopped working actively on others.  And I’ve found that the targets that I was aiming for at first on one or two of my goals have moved.

But with the fall fast approaching, and the end of the year coming into view, I’m inspired to recalibrate my goals and keep pressing forward.

If you read my goal-setting message at the beginning of the year, you might remember that one of my goals was to write a complete script and score (dialogue and music) for a new musical based on a book my wife and I wrote a few years back about the real-life Saint Nicholas who lived back in the 3rd and 4th centuries A.D.

I’m pleased to tell you I’ve finished writing 1/3 of the script and 1/3 of the score! But I still have 2/3’s to go–and only 1/3 of the year left to get there! So this week I had a decision to make. I could either get discouraged that I’ve fallen behind and give up on the project altogether, or I could pick up the pace, press on, and keep moving forward toward my goal. As I looked at that goal again this week, remembering why I set it, how I thought I could accomplish it, and the progress I’ve made so far, I’m ready to dive back into writing again.

st-nick-script-and-score-one-third-done

I had another goal this year to lose some weight. By the middle of the year I had lost 1/2 of the weight I had hoped to lose for the year, and I was right on target. But over the past 6 weeks, I’ve taken a break from tracking and losing weight, only to find I’ve gained some of it back. So this week I had another decision to make. I could either get discouraged that I’ve not only stopped making progress toward that goal, but have actually started going backward, or I could pick up the pace, press on, and keep moving forward toward my goal. And as I looked at that goal again this week, remembering why I set it, how I thought I could accomplish it, and the progress I’ve made so far, I’m ready to dive back into tracking and losing more weight, too.

It wasn’t easy to decide to jump back into these goals, but I had a small victory this week that gave me some encouragement.

I was mowing a large patch of grass behind our house with a push mower–not an electric push mower, but a “reel”-type hand push mower like my grandpa used to use. The grass had gotten taller, so pushing through the grass wasn’t easy. I kept having to stop to clear out grass and sticks that kept the reel from spinning (and honestly I was thankful for the break each time so I could stop and catch my breath and wipe the sweat from my face). I didn’t think I could finish the whole patch, and I was tempted several times to give up and go inside.

But as I was pushing the mower, I started thinking about all of my goals for the year–why I had set them, what I hoped to accomplish by doing them, and what might happen if I actually achieved them–and I was inspired to keep going with them all… and with mowing, too! Even though I was ready to give up after 20 minutes, then 30 minutes, then 40 minutes, I kept pushing on until, at 45 minutes, I was done! (And yes, this is the same patch of grass where I was pulling weeds a few weeks back and had to give myself continual pep talks to finish that project, too!)

Fresh off this victory, I went back inside, took a shower, and pulled out all of my goals again for the year. Yes, I had fallen behind on some of them. Yes, I had gone backwards on others. And yes, I was going to have to take aim in a different direction to hit the rest. But I knew–like every Olympian who has competed in Brazil these past two weeks–that if I kept on track and kept putting in the hard work it takes to achieve my goals, then I would certainly achieve more than I could ever achieve otherwise.

And somewhere along the way, I just might win a gold.


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Friday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

You should accept yourself, not as a master, but as a servant, and then all your bad feelings, your anxiety, alarm, uncertainty, and dissatisfaction will be changed into calmness and peace.  You will be filled inside with a clear vision of your purpose, and with a great joy.

Leo Tolstoy


This Day's Verse

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.  For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

Romans 1:16-17
The English Standard Version


This Day's Smile

Everyone feels benevolent if nothing happens to be annoying him at the moment.

C. S. Lewis


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Wednesday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

Christ is not only a remedy for your weariness and trouble, but he will give you an abundance of the contrary: joy and delight.

Jonathan Edwards


This Day's Verse

For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.

Isaiah 44:3
The New International Version


This Day's Smile

Prayer may not change all things for you, but it sure changes you for all things.

John Mason


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Tuesday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

The Christian faith is meant to be lived moment by moment.  It isn’t some broad, general outline–it’s a long walk with a real Person.  Details count: passing thoughts, small sacrifices, a few encouraging words, little acts of kindness, brief victories over nagging sins.

Joni Eareckson Tada


This Day's Verse

John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.  And there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins.

Mark 1:4-5
The King James Version


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Monday

Special note from Eric Elder: St. Augustine said, “God is always trying to give good things to us, but our hands are too full to receive them.” If you feel like your hands are too full to receive all that God has for you, I’d invite you to take three days away with Greg Potzer and myself in early December as we’re planning a three-day prayer retreat in the mountains of North Carolina. We’ll be hosting the event both in person and online, so whether you’re able to join us there or from wherever you are, we hope you’ll block out three days to take part in this “guided prayer retreat.” Our plan is to give you ideas for how to make your prayer life more effective, as well as give you time to put what you’re learning into practice. We’re not charging anything for the retreat, but we have booked some rooms and meals at The Cove, a beautiful conference center in the Blue Ridge Mountains, and there will be a cost for the meals and lodging. The dates are December 7, 8 and 9, starting on the evening of the 7th and finishing up by noon on the 9th. If you’d like to join us in person, please let us know as soon as possible as we’ve reserved only 24 spots at the conference center where we’re holding the event, and we want to make sure we have a spot for you! Here’s a link to more details about the retreat, including an early-bird special on the lodging and meals that ends today, August 15! Click here to learn more.

Guided Prayer Retreat


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

Faith does not eliminate problems.  Faith keeps you in a trusting relationship with God in the midst of your problems.

Henry Blackaby


This Day's Verse

A single day spent in our Temple is better than a thousand anywhere else!  I would rather be a doorman of the Temple of my God than live in places of wickedness.

Psalm 84:10
The Living Bible


This Day's Smile

For I created your soul with a capacity for loving–so much so that you cannot live without love.  Indeed, love is your food.

Catherine of Siena, God speaking to Catherine in a vision


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This Day’s Thought From The Ranch- Excavating My Heart


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

EXCAVATING MY HEART

by Eric Elder

When people ask me how I’m doing, I know they genuinely want to know–and I genuinely want to tell them. And overall, I’m doing good, really good. But I’m also not immune to something that I Imagine many of you have experienced too. Every once in a while, and especially in the last few months, I’ve found myself bumping into that thing called “loneliness.”

It’s not that I don’t have friends or family. It’s not that I don’t enjoy a deep and personal relationship with God. It’s just that sometimes, in the midst of walking out my life, I feel like I’m walking all alone.

I bumped into it again last week when a friend called with some heartbreaking news. As I tried to digest the words–and the possibility of facing yet another major loss–I realized I had not just bumped into loneliness; I was about to become engulfed in it.

I was walking through the grocery store when it happened, while picking out food for the week with my daughter. Suddenly I felt like I couldn’t take one more step. I could have taken one more step. I just felt like I couldn’t. I mentally scanned through my list of friends I could call or text so at least someone would know what was happening in case I melted down into a puddle right there in the frozen food section of Walmart.

But then my daughter came back with another item on our list, so I just kept walking. I kept checking things off my list. And for the next half hour, I battled my inner thoughts and emotions, trying to just focus on the next item on my list, and the next, until I finally made it to the checkout lane. I knew that this feeling would pass, if I could just keep taking one step at a time, as it has passed before. But I was so thankful when later that night I got home and was able to crash into my bed, letting sleep take over and do its work of restoring my heart and soul.

The next day I talked to a friend and shared what had happened to me. She, too, had bumped into that kind of loneliness and sometimes had been engulfed in it altogether as well. What she learned in that place, however, and what she shared with me so touched my heart that I wanted to share it with you. She said, “That loneliness is God’s excavation of the ground, of a place in someone’s heart, of a place that God is going to fill. But He’s purposely not filling it yet. He’s purposely leaving a space. And every time that feeling comes, He’s taking a scoop–sometimes a bulldozer-sized scoop–but He’s taking a scoop and making room in your heart.”

She continued, “And God wouldn’t do this if He wasn’t intending to fill it. When God’s trying to take us deeper with Him, when He makes a space, He will fill it. He’s intentionally not filling it because He’s making the right place. And I think, based on the goodness of who He is–the utter goodness of who He is–there is no other answer. I don’t think those are wasted moments. I think those are very real and very important moments.”

It makes me cry just to think about it–cry with thankfulness for a good, good God who wastes nothing in our lives if we’ll give it to Him.

Rather than feeling like life is trying to rip something out of me, I can now see clearly that God Himself is the One who is at work. God is doing a work in my heart, taking bigger and bigger scoops in order to increase the capacity for whatever it is that He wants to pour into those newly opened spaces.

I’m thankful for a new vision of what’s going on inside. I’m thankful for family and friends to whom I can reach out when I need someone else on the other end of the line. I’m thankful for a God who I KNOW is for me–and who I KNOW is for you–a God who really does want to work out all things for our good.

The next time I feel that loneliness come upon me, I have something new to try. I’m hopeful that I’m going to be able to truly say, “Father, thank You for taking another scoop. Thank You for digging deeper and deeper in my heart in order to take me deeper with You. Thank You for excavating my heart, for making space for more, and for increasing my capacity to love You and to love others in a way that goes beyond anything I’ve ever experienced before. Thank You for always being FOR me and for holding those spaces open in my heart until the exact moment when You decide to fill them. Help me not to try to fill them with anything other than what You’re creating them for, because I want more than anything to be filled with all that You have for me. I trust You, and I trust Your goodness in this situation as well as in all things. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

And the next time someone asks me how I’m doing, I can genuinely say once again, “Overall, I’m doing good, really good,” because I know that God’s got this, too.

P.S. St. Augustine once said, “God is always trying to give good things to us, but our hands are too full to receive them.” If you feel like your hands are too full to receive all that God has for you, I’d invite you to take three days away with Greg Potzer and myself in early December as we’re planning a three-day prayer retreat in the mountains of North Carolina. We’ll be hosting the event both online and in person, so whether you’re able to join us there or from wherever you are, we hope you’ll block out three days to take part in this “guided prayer retreat.” Our plan is to give you ideas for how to make your prayer life more effective, as well as give you time to put what you’re learning into practice. We’re not charging anything for the retreat, but we have booked some rooms and meals at The Cove, a beautiful conference center in the Blue Ridge Mountains, and there will be a cost for the meals and lodging. The dates are December 7, 8 and 9, starting in the evening on the 7th and finishing up by noon on the 9th. If you’d like to join us in person, please let us know as soon as possible as we’ve reserved only 24 spots at the conference center where we’re holding the event, and we want to make sure we have a spot for you! Here’s a link to more details about the retreat, including an early-bird special on the lodging and meals that ends tomorrow, August 15! Click here to learn more.

Guided Prayer Retreat


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Friday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

A prayerful heart and an obedient heart will learn, very slowly and not without sorrow, to stake everything on God Himself.

Elisabeth Elliot


This Day's Verse

Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.

Ecclesiastes 7:9
The New International Version


This Day's Smile

My very soul was flooded with celestial light.  For the first time I realized that I had been trying to hold the world in one hand and the Lord in the other.

Frances Crosby


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Thursday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

Have a sincere desire to serve God and mankind, and stop doubting, stop thinking negatively.  Simply start living by faith, pray earnestly and humbly, and get into the habit of looking expectantly for the best.  When you live on a faith basis your desire will be only for that which you can ask in God’s name.  By success, of course, I do not mean that you may become rich, famous, or powerful.  I mean the development of mature and constructive personality.

Norman Vincent Peale


This Day's Verse

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.  Not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”

John 14:27
The English Standard Version


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Wednesday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

Doubts do not destroy truth; they strengthen it.

Leo Tolstoy


This Day's Verse

The full soul loatheth an honeycomb; but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.

Proverbs 27:7
The King James Version


This Day's Smile

Our business in this world is not to succeed, but to continue to fail, in good spirits.

Robert Louis Stevenson


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Tuesday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

There are many who want me to tell them of secret ways of becoming perfect and I can only tell them that the sole secret is a hearty love of God, and the only way of attaining that love is by loving.  You learn to speak by speaking, to study by studying, to run by running, to work by working; and just so you learn to love God and man by loving.  Begin as a mere apprentice and the very power of love will lead you on to become a master of the art.

Francis of Sales


This Day's Verse

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.  Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always even to the end of the age.”  Amen.

Matthew 28:18-20
The New King James Version


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Monday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

God permits some to suffer most, that they might experience the deepest joy.

William A. Ward


This Day's Verse

To get wisdom is better than gold, to get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.

Proverbs 16:16
The Revised Standard Version


This Day's Smile

Much that worries us beforehand can, quite unexpectedly, have a happy and simple solution.  Worries just don’t matter.  Things really are in a better hand than ours.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer


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This Day’s Thought From The Ranch- Drawing Water From Your Well


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

DRAWING WATER FROM YOUR WELL

by Eric Elder
The Ranch

 As a writer, I’m often pouring out to others that which has been poured into me. I’ll hear something that intrigues me, I’ll put it into practice in my own life, and then I’ll share what I’ve learned so others can enjoy it, too. I used to think of this as if I were being handed a cup of cool water, taking a good, long drink, and, if I liked it, passing that cup along so others could try it for themselves.

But I’ve come to realize it’s not as simple as just passing the cup along. It’s more like having the water poured over me and letting it filter through the soil of my life into my own personal well. When I later draw out that water and give it to others, it has been filtered and flavored in a way that is uniquely mine. The water may come from the same Source, but it now has a unique flavor, a flavor that is unique to my own personal well.

I told a friend I wanted to send her something I had written, which was based on something she had shared with me. I said, “Of course, you’ve already heard this before, because you’re the one who shared it with me!”

To which she replied, “Oh, no, I’d love to read it. I’m looking forward to seeing what the water filtered through your well tastes like.”

I thought her statement was precious and profound, something which I’ve pondered and savored ever since. On my wall at home, I have a small wall hanging that a young man gave me after visiting his church in the Philippines and sharing a personal message with him from my heart. He was so touched by what I said that he went out and bought this wall hanging to let me know how much my words had encouraged him. It says:

“You are special. God sends each person into this world with a special message to deliver, with a special song to sing, with a special act of love to bestow. No one else can speak your message, or sing your song, or offer your act of love. God has entrusted these only to you.”

You Are Special

The young man who gave it to me had written on the back, “Thank you for enlightening me, for leading me into the right path, and for letting God use you.”

As I look back on what I shared with him in my message that day–now almost twenty years later–I realize just how unique that message really was. It had been drawn from the well of my own personal encounters with God, and God had used it to touch him in a very personal way.

When you take the time to give out to others that which has come from your own personal encounters with God, you’re giving people water that is uniquely from your well–a well which God has spent so much time developing.

That’s one of the reasons why I love reading the Bible so much. I’m able to draw water from the wells of people like David and Abraham, Esther and Ruth, and especially Jesus. Each of them had a unique walk with God. Each of them received water from the same Source. Each of their stories and encounters with God have been filtered through their own unique soil. In turn, each of their stories adds to the richness and flavor of my own relationship with God.

You have your own unique well, too. God has poured water into you from His deep, deep well and filtered it through the soil of your life. Like Evian water that has been filtered through the soil in a small town in the French Alps and is now shipped all over the world, the water in your well is costly and precious. Why not draw it out and share it with others?  No one else can speak your message, or sing your song, or offer your act of love. God has entrusted these only to you.


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Join Us For A “Guided Prayer Retreat”!

Hi, this is Eric Elder with a special announcement! In conjunction with a new series on prayer that I’ll be sharing online this fall, I’d also like to invite you to join Greg Potzer and me for a “guided prayer retreat”–a time when we can come together and pray, but not just alone in silence. Greg and I, along with some strong praying friends, will be taking 3 days to share with you some of the ways we’ve found to make our times of prayer as effective as possible. Then we’ll spend some time in together in prayer and worship, sharing meals, and making new friends along the way. I believe it will be a powerful time, a healing time, a learning time, a prayerful time.

We’ll be hosting the event at the Billy Graham Retreat Center called “The Cove” in Asheville, North Carolina. We’ll start with dinner on Wednesday, December 7, then continue all day Thursday, December 8, and finish up by noon on Friday, December 9. The cost to use the center is $285 per person ($269 if you register by August 15), which includes 2 nights of lodging in a double room ($365 for a single room, or $349 if you register by August 15), 5 meals, and full use of the center and their meeting space. Greg and I are not charging anything extra for the retreat itself…we’re paying our own way to get to The Cove and offer this retreat to you–and we’re so looking forward it as well. Your registration fee goes directly towards the lodging, meals, and use of the center.

Christmastime at The Cove

The Cove at Christmastime.

the-cove-dining-room

The Dining Room.

the-cove-board-room

A Meeting Room.

the-cove-shepherds-inn

A Guest Room.

We have booked this event to take place at the end of the week to make it more economical for those attending and to allow each of you who are involved in ministries at your own churches to attend the retreat and still serve back at your local church on the weekend.

We will be broadcasting this event live online (and saving the videos for viewing later) so anyone, anywhere in the world, can take part in this special event as well. We believe that by having the event both online and in-person, it will enhance the experience for everyone. So whichever way you join us, we believe you’ll be blessed abundantly!

For those who want to join us in person, please register as soon as possible, as space is limited to the first 24 people who sign up. A $50 deposit is required to hold your space, with the balance due by October 15. Registrations may possibly still be made after October 15, but only if extra space is available at The Cove on the dates that we’ll be meeting.

To reserve your spot, please use the links below. (Please review The Cove’s “Statement of Faith” and “Our Group’s Agreement with BGEA Guidelines” before registering, especially in regard to age restrictions and honoring The Cove’s Guidelines.)

Click here or click the “Pay Here!” button below to reserve your spot with a $50 deposit per person. (You can also use the same link pay your registration fee in full, or to pay the balance of your registration). We’ll send you a follow-up email to collect the rest of your registration information.

pay-here
OR you can also send your deposit by cash or check to the address below. Please write in the memo line that this is for the “Guided Prayer Retreat at The Cove.”



The Ranch Fellowship

25615 E 3000 North Road

Chenoa, IL 61726  USA

Complete pricing, location and schedule of events follows…

PRICING

Early-bird pricing (by August 15) is $269 per person in a shared room (2 queen-size beds), or $349 for a single room. Please send your $50 non-refundable deposit by August 15 to lock in this early-bird price. Your final balance is due by October 15.

Standard pricing (after August 15) is $285 per person in a shared room (2 queen-size beds), or $365 for a single room. Please send your $50 non-refundable deposit to register and save your spot. Your final balance is due by October 15.

Space Available pricing (after October 15) is $325 per person in a shared room (2 queen-size beds), or $405 for a single room. Please contact us first if wanting to register after October 15, to check if we have any extra space available. If space is available, your full registration fee will be when reserving your spot.

A meal-only plan is also available for those not staying on “The Cove” property. Please contact us for rates.

A private shuttle service between the airport in Asheville and The Cove is available for $40 each way. Contact GrandyCo at 828-273-3214 to make a shuttle reservation.

Please note for tax purposes that your registration fee is not tax-deductible as you will be receiving a service in exchange for your gift. Any donations made beyond your registration fee, however, are fully-deductible and will go directly into helping us continue to share the good news of Christ worldwide.

SCHEDULE OF EVENTS

Wednesday, December 7
3:00-6:00 p.m. – Check-in and registration at The Cove
6:30 p.m. – Dinner
7:15-10:00 p.m. – Worship, Prayer and Messages

Thursday, December 8
8:30 a.m. – Breakfast
9:15-12:00 noon – Worship, Prayer and Messages
12:30 p.m. – Lunch
1:00-6:00 p.m. – Time for personal prayer, fellowship, exploring the Cove, or visiting the recently opened Ruth Graham Prayer Garden.
6:30 p.m. – Dinner
7:15-10:00 p.m. – Worship, Prayer and Messages

Friday, December 9
8:30 a.m. – Breakfast
9:15-12:00 noon – Worship, Prayer and Messages

(Room check-out is at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, but our program will go until noon. You’re welcome to stay on The Cove property, although not in your room, until 10:00 p.m. for additional time of prayer, fellowship, or exploration.)

ABOUT US!

Here’s a little more information about us…

About Eric Elder and The Ranch

About Greg Potzer and This Day’s Thought

About The Cove (video)

About The Cove (website)

For more information, please use our Contact Form!

This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Friday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

God is the beyond in the midst of our life.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer


This Day's Verse

so for men to search their own glory is not glory.

Proverbs 25:27
The King James Version


This Day's Smile

The Bible says that being a Christian is not only a great way to die, but it’s also the best way to live.

Bill Hybels


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Wednesday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

As Christians, we must live a day at a time.  No person, no matter how wealthy or gifted, can live two days at time.  God provides for us day by day.

Warren Wiersbe


This Day's Verse

For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?  or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

Matthew 16:26
The King James Version


This Day's Smile

Don’t take anyone else’s word for God.  Find him for yourself, and then you, too, will know by the wonderful, warm tug on your heartstrings, that he is there for sure.

Billy Graham


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Tuesday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

God’s salvation comes as gift; it is eternal, and it is a continuum, meaning it starts when I receive the gift in faith and is never-ending.

Franklin Graham


This Day's Verse

He will cover you with his feathers.  He will shelter you with his wings.  His faithful promises are your armor and protection.

Psalm 91:4
The New Living Translation


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Monday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

Thou hast formed us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee.

Augustine


This Day's Verse

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Isaiah 55:8-9
The English Standard Version


This Day's Smile

Faith is seeing light with the eyes of your heart, when the eyes of your body see only darkness.

Barbara Johnson


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This Day’s Thought From The Ranch- Holding Nothing Back


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

HOLDING NOTHING BACK

by Eric Elder
The Ranch

I have a secret to share with you today. Like many of my messages, this one is very personal. But I hope that giving you a peek inside my heart will be helpful. With that preface in mind, here’s what I’d like to share.

About a year ago, I fell in love. It was quite unplanned and quite unexpected. I was talking with a dear friend from long ago and far away when all of a sudden, I was smitten. I don’t know how it happened, but suddenly I was captivated, and I couldn’t let it go.

I didn’t tell anyone about it for two months, and I didn’t tell her about it for three. I just kept it all close to my heart, talking to God, asking Him what He wanted me to do, and asking myself what I would want, if I could really choose to do what I wanted.

After three months of praying on my own, I felt like I should tell her. I sent her a note and asked if we could talk. She said, “Yes,” she’d be glad to, so we picked a day to get together.

The night before we met, I asked God what He wanted me to tell her, and I felt like He said, “Let her know your heart, your fears, your prayers, your requests. She will be able to help you straighten them out.” I would have loved to do that, but it seemed like that would be way too much to share, way too early, and way too risky.

But it also felt like this was what God really wanted me to do. I asked Him, “Is there any scripture to confirm this?”

I opened my Bible and began to read a conversation between Samuel and Eli, as recorded in the book of First Samuel, chapter 3. Samuel was hesitant to tell Eli something that God had spoken to his heart, but Eli told Samuel to tell him everything, word for word, holding nothing back. The next words seemed to jump off the page:

“So Samuel told him, word for word. He held back nothing” (1 Samuel 3:18, MSG).

Again, God spoke to my heart: “Hold back nothing, Eric. Hold back nothing. It’s important for her to hear it and you to say it. Hold back nothing.”

The next day we met and, over a cup of hot chocolate, I shared with her everything that was on my heart, all that I had been praying about during the previous three months, holding nothing back.

In the months that followed, we talked and prayed, exchanged emails and texts. We never dated, never kissed, never held hands. In fact, I didn’t even know if she had any feelings for me at all beyond our mutual friendship. All I knew was that God wanted me to share all that was on my heart, holding nothing back.

Six months later, I had finally finished sharing all that I could think of that was on my heart. I felt like I was a campfire that had been stoked with firewood continually until there was no more wood to throw on the fire. I had shared everything; there was nothing left to say; I had held nothing back. All I could do now was pray.

Not long after this, I was on tour in Israel and found myself standing on the Temple Mount, that hilltop in Jerusalem where Abraham once stood as he laid his son, Isaac, on the altar before God. I felt like God wanted me to do the same with this relationship. I had poured out my heart and said all I could say. Now He wanted me to lay it down before Him. So I did.

Months passed, and I heard no response. Then, during my three-day personal prayer retreat last week, I got a call. My friend had had time to process all that I had shared, and she was ready to respond.

As much as she felt honored by our friendship and appreciated all I had said, she felt that she wasn’t the one I was really looking for–that she was a placeholder for the one who was to come. She was glad to be that placeholder–to prepare my heart for that person in the future–but she couldn’t see herself as being that person.

I was disappointed, of course, but I somehow agreed with her! Completely! I knew that what she was saying was absolutely right. She really had helped me to straighten out all of my thoughts and feelings, fears and prayers. I was so glad I shared with her all that I had shared. While I could have been tempted to see her response as a rejection (and if it was, it was the kindest rejection I had ever felt), God spoke to my heart to say that it wasn’t a rejection, but that it was an acceptance–an acceptance of God’s will, His perfect will, His BEST will, for both of our lives. God’s will is always goodwill, even when it doesn’t come in the form we might have expected.

As the ancient writer Epictetus said: “I am content with what happens, for I know that whatever God chooses is better than what I choose.”

I also could have been tempted to think that I had just wasted months of energy–mental, physical, and spiritual energy. But God stopped me in mid-thought saying, “Time spent seeking My will with all your heart, soul, mind and strength is never wasted. It’s always invested, and it will pay huge rewards for years to come.”

It made me think of another quote, written by an unknown author, that says, “Nothing lies beyond the reach of prayer except that which lies beyond the will of God.”

I believe that with all of my heart. I am thankful that I sought God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. I am thankful that I shared with my friend all that I shared, holding nothing back. And I am thankful for the answer which has come.

While I was hesitant to share this with you as it is so personal and so fresh, I know that the fruit often tastes sweetest when it’s fresh off the tree. May we all enjoy it together.

Will you pray with me?

Father, thank You that we can come to you anytime in prayer, seeking Your perfect will with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. Thank You that our time in prayer is never wasted, but always invested, and that it will pay rewards for years to come. Thank You for friends who let us share with them freely, and thank you for their gracious responses. And Lord, thank You for the reminder that Your will for our lives is always goodwill. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Friday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

Thou hast no life to lose, because thou hast given it already to Christ, nor can man take away that without God’s leave.

William Gurnall


This Day's Verse

but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.

Romans 2:8
The English Standard Version


This Day's Smile

You can’t defeat a praying man.  He finds his answers everywhere he looks.

Margaret Lee Runbeck


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Thursday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

George Muller had run and orphanage in England in the early 1800s that cared for 5,000 children.  He had made a vow never to ask people directly for anything, but to ask God instead to inspire them to provide food, clothing, money, or whatever else was needed.  He eventually received more that 50 million British pounds in donations, all without ever asking anybody for anything.

Unknown


This Day's Verse

The LORD protects the simplehearted; when I was in great need, he saved me.

Psalm 116:6
The New International Version


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Wednesday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

Believe in the Lord, and He will do half the work–the last half.

Cyrus Curtis


This Day's Verse

Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.

Romans 6:18
The King James Version


This Day's Smile

The more we love, the more we can forgive, and the more we forgive, the more we can love.

Criswell Freeman


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Tuesday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

Our children, relations, friends, honors, houses, lands, and endowments, the goods of nature and fortune, nay, even of grace itself, are only lent.  It is our misfortune and our sin, to fancy they are given.  We start, therefore, and are angry when the loan is called in.  We think ourselves masters, when we are only stewards, and forget that to each of us it will one day be said, “Give an account of thy stewardship.”

Thomas H. Horne


This Day's Verse

Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.  And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off–for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

Acts 2:38-39
The New International Version


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Monday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

When I fancied that I stood alone I was really in the ridiculous position of being backed up by all of Christendom.

G. K. Chesterton


This Day's Verse

Pride leads to arguments; be humble, take advice and become wise.

Proverbs 13:10
The Living Bible


This Day's Smile

Every happening, great and small, is a parable whereby God speaks to us, and the art of life is to get the message.

Malcolm Muggeridge


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This Day’s Thought From The Ranch- Pulling Weeds


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

PULLING WEEDS

by Eric Elder
The Ranch

Pulling Weeds

Pulling the final patch of weeds between two trees:
before, almost done, and finished. New grass is coming soon!

I woke up early on Tuesday morning to do something I really didn’t want to do: pull weeds. I don’t mind pulling weeds, but this was the last patch of what had become a week-long project of pulling weeds, and I was wearing out.

At first it was kind of fun. I had put on some headphones, gotten down on my knees, and even took time to pray while I was down there. But after a week of pulling weeds I was wearing out, and I didn’t know how much longer it was going to take. I knew what I had to do though, and that was to just keep pulling weeds.

I decided not to worry about how long it would take, but to just keep going forward with the task at hand: pulling weeds. I got down on my knees again and began to pull. Surprisingly, after an hour of pulling, I was done! And not with just that patch, but since it was the last patch, I was done with the entire project that I had been working on for a week!  The end had been right around the corner. I just didn’t know it. All I knew was that I just had to keep pulling weeds.

Yesterday morning, I woke up with another task at hand: recording a new song on the piano that I’ve been wanting to record for several months now. Unlike pulling weeds, this was a project I really wanted to do. But when I woke up yesterday morning, I felt like I was facing the same final patch of weeds again, and I had no idea when I would ever be able to finish the recording.

All I knew was that I just had to keep going and take the next right step that was in front of me. Amazingly, within an hour I had made huge strides in the recording process and, by the end of the day, I had finished editing all of the individual sound clips in order to turn them into one seamless and beautiful  song. (I still have a few more “next steps” to take until the song is finished completely, so I can’t share it with you yet. But here’s a picture of the final note in the bottom right corner of what has to be the longest and most complicated song I’ve ever recorded.)

Final Note

The final note (marked by an arrow).

One last story. I’ve been working through an unresolved situation with a friend for the past ten and a half months. While I believed there would be a resolution at some point, I felt like I had done everything that I could do on my end, and I had no idea when that resolution might come.

This week I decided to take a personal prayer retreat for three days. While I’m planning to do a prayer retreat with others at the end of the year, I thought it would be a good time to set aside the same amount of time on my own and enjoy my own personal time with God.  Most of my kids were away at a music festival, so I had time to think and pray and play the piano. On my knees that first morning, I laid out the various things I was praying about in my life.

The first night of my prayer retreat, my friend called. And during our two-hour conversation, things were resolved. I told my friend that I had just started a three-day prayer retreat that morning. I said, “If only for this conversation, I am so glad I set aside this time to pray.” And I still had two days of “retreating” to go.

I want to encourage you today that whatever seemingly insurmountable mountain of a task may lay before you, whether it’s pulling weeds or recording a song or reaching a resolution with a friend, keep focused on the task at hand. Do what God has called you to do. Take the steps He has called you to take. And trust the outcome into His gracious and loving hands.

Will you pray with me?

Father, thank You for giving us work to do here on earth, whether it’s pulling weeds, recording songs, or building friendships with others. Lord, I ask that You would help us stay focused on the tasks before us, not getting overwhelmed by all the things that need to be done, but moving ahead with the next right thing we know to do. Lord, help us to accomplish all that You’ve put on our hearts to do–for Your sake, for our sake, and for the sake of all those who will be touched by our efforts. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

P.S. I’m 99% sure we will go forward with the retreat in early December, both in-person and online. I am working out the final details now and will let you know soon so you can start making plans. Based on my own personal retreat this week, I would like to encourage you, invite you, and welcome you, to join me and see what God can do, not just after three days, but even after day one!


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Friday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible type of poverty.

Mother Teresa


This Day's Verse

For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.

Romans 8:6
The English Standard Version


This Day's Smile

He looketh into the heavens where God was lighting His lamps.

Unknown


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