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Friday, February 15, 2019

Bringing God's light into the shadow of death...

carregwensunrise2019.jpgDear Praying Friends and Saints:

One of our readings this morning was the beginning of Luke's gospel when Zacharias' speech is restored and he prophesies over his infant son John (the Baptist). Luke 1:77-79 says, "To give knowledge of salvation to His people
by the remission of their sins, through the tender mercy of our God, with which the Dayspring from on high has visited us; to give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.
"

The Holy Spirit was apparently drawing in part from Isaiah 9:2, "The people who walked in darkness Have seen a great light; Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, Upon them a light has shined." These verses just highlighted the contract of the light overcoming the darkness in the world around us.

Two conversations this week impacted both Gladys and I. Monday we spoke with a couple of nurses, both middle-aged and very nice and attentive. They asked the inevitable question, "What brought you here to Wales?" Haha, such a loaded question and people are always daffodil-mini.jpgsurprise by the answer. Then the next morning two 20-something telephone/internet technicians came to the house and asked the same question. We love it because the absolute answer is the message of the Gospel!

What is so surprising is that these four, and most unsaved people we talk to, have no idea that they are living in darkness and the shadow of death. In fact, when we tell about Jesus bringing us the gift of forgiveness of sin, and living forever in his heavenly Kingdom with our loved ones, it's like we come from a different planet and speak a different language! They can't seem even relate to such a marvellous hope.

Last week I had a blood test, and the nurses and another much older patient asked the same question. When I told them, with they said, "Nobody believes in that stuff any more!" When I asked what they thought about eternity, one of the young techs said, "I'll just take my chances." So even though people recognize that physical death, "the inevitable", comes to everyone, the possibility of something more to life seems to be of zero interest or concern to them. So this shadow of death is invisible to them, when it should be more frightening than having an undiagnosed cancer.

chapelbirthday.jpgLast Sunday after our monthly chapel service we went to a lunch organized for the members to celebrate our pastor's 80th birthday! I think the youngest ones are in their late 40s or early 50s, and the rest of us toward the upper end of the spectrum here. We may not be a very charismatic group in that all we talk about is Jesus. However there is an unspoken understanding that we all embrace the same wonderful faith in Him. That in itself is priceless in comparison to the other conversations mentioned above.

Jesus teaches about the work of the Holy Spirit in John 16:8, saying, "And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged."

This stark reality of darkness versus God's amazing Light is one of the many reasons why we pray. And in Jesus' own words we see the importance of asking Him to send the Holy Spirit to "convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment."

May God grant us diligence and passion in praying and sharing the Good News with His help and strength,

Dick & Gladys


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Tuesday, February 05, 2019

The secret place... our source of strength for prayer

ferrymancottage.jpgDear Friends:

Yesterday afternoon I took advantage of some sunshine to go for a walk beside the Teifi River that runs in the gorge below our house. Not far upstream is the old ferryman's cottage, long since abandoned after a much longer history back into the 1800s or earlier. The old walls were capped years ago to prevent further deterioration.

This place has always fascinated us, and yesterday was no different. But as I gazed at it I began to see it as a picture of the Lord's house. We build houses with a good roof to protect us from the elements. But the Lord makes His house for us to be open to the heavens! He himself is our shelter and doesn't want us putting up any barriers.

I believe the Lord has a specific "house" for each one of His children—a secret place where we can meet together alone. Psalm 91:1 says, "He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty." So who needs a roof when we are in His shadow? And we are invited to, "... come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need" in Hebrews 4:16. That meansteifistillness.jpg come without pretext, without excuses, but just as we are, into His presence.

Jesus also talks about this plainly in Matthew 6:6, "But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly." He has a special place for each one of us—it is in His presence. It can be in a room, in a wood, on a train or bus, or even just closing our eyes, anywhere, anytime. (Here are a few more words about that place!)

A little farther upstream I sat for a while in another favorite spot where there is a sense of perfect peace and stillness. It's very similar to a place by the river where I grew up and wandered frequently as a boy. I could just sit and be enveloped in silence and wonder at God's creation—another one of those secret places. At a prayer meeting this morning I heard the Lord say, "Speak to Me in the secret place. Seek Me in the secret place. Give me your cares in the secret place, and just rest with Me." He... is our hiding place. And we... are His secret place! "My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him." John 14:23

And it is in this secret place where we can pray for the things that are on our hearts, but more importantly, where we can listen and pray with Him for the things that are on His heart!  He longs for the world to know His love and mercy.bitesofspring.jpg And there is a great chorus of prayer and longing surrounding us in nature itself. All of creation is crying out with us and for us!

The portion in Romans 8:19-27 paints an extraordinary picture. "For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God...  Because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God...  We do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself...  who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God."

So it is God's good will and pleasure that we abide in the secret place of communion and prayer in His presence. It can be as easy and as natural as breathing. After all, this is what we were made for since the beginning!

As Paul reminds us in Ephesians 1;1-6, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, ...according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved."

May we all be empowered by the fulness of joy in His presence as together we pray for revival in Wales and the nations.

Dick & Gladys


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Friday, January 25, 2019

Turning up the "Prayer Pressure" in the joy of the Lord

dusknsnow.jpgDear Praying Friends:

This past week we've been reading through the book of Nehemiah in the section after the rebuilding of the wall was completed in Chapter 7. All the Jews who returned to Israel from their exile to Babylon are gathered in the public square of Jerusalem and the law of Moses is read and explained to them. It says in Nehemiah 8:9 says, "And Nehemiah, who was the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, 'This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn nor weep.' For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the Law."

Then, after celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles, in Chapter 9 we see the people are gathered together with fasting and verse 3 says, "And they stood up in their place and read from the Book of the Law of the Lord their God for one-fourth of the day; and for another fourth they confessed and worshiped the Lord their God."

As I read through the rest of this Chapter 9 something really got ahold of me and has sort of wrapped itself around my heart like the snow around this hilltop. Up through verse 15 they heard of the wonderful goodness and mercy of God who gave them "light on the road..., spoke with them from heaven, and gave them just ordinances and true laws..., bread from heaven and water out of the rock, and told them to go in and possess the land He had promised them." And then in verse 16, "BUT they and our fathers acted proudly, hardened their necks, and did not heed Your commandments.

http://www.bibleexplained.net/other-early/Nehe/ne08.htmlAnd from there on out it becomes a kind of litany—they listen up and they turn away; they listen up and they turn away; they listen up and they turn away. There is a constant reiteration of God's goodness such as verse 31 saying, "Nevertheless in your great mercy you did not utterly consume them for you are God, gracious and merciful." And finally starting in verse 32-38 they address God and say, "'Now therefore, our God, ...Neither our king nor our princes, our priests nor our fathers have kept your law, ...And because of all this, we make a sure covenant and write it; our leaders, our Levites, and our priests seal it.'"

Ever since Saturday when I read this chapter I've had the term "prayer pressure" coming to mind again and again. It has to do with the term "pressing in" as it relates to the Israelites having made a "sure covenant" that was "sealed." This ongoing tension between God’s faithfulness and His people's constantly turning their backs on Him was not just limited to their day.

In our day, we have been sealed by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13, 4:30) under a better covenant, and so this "prayer pressure" is being forged by the new law written in our hearts. Each one of us, on one level or another, have to deal with this same tendency to "listen up, and turn away". By God's amazing grace we have the Holy Spirit to empower our self-control and keep us in that place of His presence and prayer. Paul puts it another way in Romans 7:21-23, "... for I delight in the law of God... But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind..." So we have the freedom to make the choice, and that's where we need to apply "prayer pressure."

We can also see another aspect of ancient Israel's struggle around us today. Both in the USA and the UK right now there is much dissension and tension and strife between the two major political ideologies. It seems that huge crisis-proportioned difficulties are at our very doorstep, or rather they are already in the house. I just get the feeling like there’s this war going on in the heavenly realms and we are under attack. There it is a battle cry sounding if we have ears to hear it. We need to apply some serious "prayer pressure", and we need to fight the good fight on ourhttps://studyjesus.com/Stories_From_Hebrew_Bible/109_Ezra%27s_Bible_Class.htm knees. We are, or should be, driven to cry out to God for His righteousness intervention, that "Nevertheless in your great mercy you do not utterly consume us for you are God, gracious and merciful."

In Nehemiah 12:27 we read about the dedication of the wall. We see the priest and the Levites and musicians and worshipers brought up on top of the wall in the one goes to the right and one goes to the left and they go all the way around and meet on the other side. That to me just seems like a great picture of how prayer is so much required now.

There are many sincere believers who on both sides of these embattled issues that are plaguing our nations, and we need to encompass them in prayer. And in the midst of all this, we must trust that God will bring about His good and perfect will. His interest is not a political victory for righteousness, but rather that individual hearts come into alignment with His words of life and desire to bring them into His eternal kingdom.

I like how Nehemiah 12:43 says, "Also that day they offered great sacrifices, and rejoiced, for God had made them rejoice with great joy; the women and the children also rejoiced, so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard afar off."
We also can rejoice because we know Who has the ultimate victory. We are empowered in prayer by the good promises of our gracious Godtreeswalking.jpg and so we can apply pressure on the right side from wherever we stand.

Looking across our valley the other day I noticed that some ivy-covered trees formed this figure of a giant man walking along in the field behind them. He seems to be carrying a large object in his arms and it reminded me of carrying our burden to the Lord in prayer as we "fight the good fight" both within and without.

We can call on the Lord in the strength of His joy along with Psalm 68:1,3-4. "Let God arise, Let His enemies be scattered..., But let the righteous be glad; let them rejoice before God; yes, let them rejoice exceedingly. Sing to God, sing praises to His name; extol Him who rides on the clouds, by His name Yah, and rejoice before Him." Let's make some noise in the heavenly realms. And please feel free to share this with friends as led. The more "prayer pressure" the better!

Our sincere thanks for your continued interest and prayers for Wales and for the nations. And may God bless you with all grace and wisdom in the days ahead,

Dick & Gladys


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Thursday, January 17, 2019

A promise on a Welsh hilltop in 1999!

carregwenhill.jpgDear Friends of Wales Awakening:

This morning on my way up to the chapel the glory of the morning sun was lighting up the hilltop where God showed me the vision of the coming Welsh Revival while first visiting here in 1999. Little did I imagine back then what He had in store for us, and Wales. And so this was a wonderful reminder of the promise I was given.

My first reading was in Genesis 18 when the Lord and two angels appeared to Abraham by the terebinth trees in Mamre as he sat at the door of his tent. After the meal he had prepared for them, God told Abraham in verse 10, "And He said, 'I will certainly return to you according to the time of life, and behold, Sarah your wife shall have a son.'  Sarah was listening in the tent door which was behind him." And Sarah laughed within herself, and got caught. I'm sure you're familiar with the story.

There was Sarah, well past the age of child-bearing, and hearing God say she was going to have a baby at 90 years old just cracked her up. Well, I had to stop and have a little laugh here myself, because just like Sarah, from a coldly practical point of view, what we're doing here seems ridiculous! And so more than once we have laughed at this adventure we're on. But in verse 14 God's gentle response to her laughter, and ours, is "Is anything too hard for the Lord?"

abandonedchapel.jpgAs I reflected on this, and the rest of the chapter about Abraham's intercession for Sodom, Lord reminded me once again of how amazingly faithful He has been to us. He also brought back to mind some of the many fruits of the dawning of revival—cold insensitive hearts will be kindled afresh by the incursion of the Holy Spirit in lives, families, and communities; young people will find their purpose as they joyfully surrender their lives to God and go forth to labor in the harvest in missions both local and abroad; old abandoned chapels will be restored and filled once again with worshipers; on and on the list goes.

Then I was joined in the chapel by some friends and we had a rich time in those same scriptures and prayer together. We spent the rest of the morning in fellowship as they wanted to know about our story of how the Lord called us here, etc. One of their questions was if over the years have we had times of doubt and how we've dealt with it. And of course, there have been countless times when we have questioned our work here. How could we not do so?

abandonedchapelexterior.jpgSarah doubted, and then laughed. And in Genesis 17, when God tells Abraham that Sarah "...shall be a mother of nations...", verse 17 says, "Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, 'Shall a child be born to a man who is one hundred years old? And shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?'" It is very natural and human to question and doubt. "What did God really say? What did we hear?"

One of the most amazing things to us is to see how God has sustained us here all these years through thick and thin. In those times of doubt and struggle God has always upheld us by His grace. As we talked, the Lord reminded me of one particular morning in 2010. I was at the chapel praying, and having some of those very doubts. Then I began to read in Jeremiah 32. This is when God tells him that he is to buy a field from his cousin Hanamel who is going to come and offer it to him. And then in the very next verse his cousin shows up and says verbatim what God said he would say. And Jeremiah says that then he knew it was the word of the Lord in verses 6-8.

What was such a huge encouragement to me that morning was the fact that if Jeremiah, as major prophet of the Lord, had his times of doubt, than way more likely would it be natural for me to harbor occasional doubts. God spoke some very significant things to me that morning that left me rejoicing at His heart and plans for this land of revivals. (You can read the full account here.) So even once again as we shared this morning the Lord brought fresh encouragment and expectation.

As believers, it doesn't matter what stage of life or situation we find ourselves in, there will be times that cause us to question ourselves, and question God. But we know that we haven't been called to walk by sight but rather by faith. Back to the story of swanseabaysnowdrops.jpgAbraham, the word of God says about him in Genesis 15:6, "And he believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness."

I believe that we all have particular promises and assignments that God has given to each one of us. And in the same way as Abraham, and many other men and women throughout the scriptures, each of us will find ourselves challenged time and time again throughout our lives to believe God's words to us. These include His written words and promises for all believers, as well as those specific words and promises to us as individuals.

So we can cling onto God's promises by the faith that He gives us. We know we can trust Him for the coming of revival to Wales. He graciously strengthens us through His living word. And we know that He is faithful, even when we might struggle to be. What promises are you trusting Him for?

The best and greatest of God's promises were all fulfilled on a different hilltop almost 2000 years ago. It was there that Jesus, the Prince of Life gave Himself as a ransom for all mankind. The culmination of those promises is the "Desire of Ages." He alone is our hope, our strength, and our salvation.

Dick & Gladys


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Tuesday, January 08, 2019

A prayer perspective for the new year...

stdavids-dec18.jpgDear Friends and Prayers:

Welcome to 2019! It seems like it should be hard to believe another year has gone zipping by, but I guess coming to terms with time gets easier with practice. It also means we're just around the bend from 2020, and that sounds like some science fiction title!

We've been reading through the book of Ezra this last week. In this section, the children of Israel have just finished laying the new foundation to rebuild the temple. When I reached the middle of the section in Ezra 3:11-13 I got stopped by tears as my heart was suddenly overcome.

"And they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the Lord:
  'For He is good, for His mercy
   endures forever toward Israel.'
Then all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. But many of the priests and Levites and heads of the fathers’ houses, old men who had seen the first temple, wept with a loud voice when the foundation of this temple was laid before their eyes. Yet many shouted aloud for joy, so that the people could not discern the
noise of the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people, for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the sound was heard afar off."

blaenwenen.jpgA profound sorrow for what had been so painfully lost was suddenly awakened by seeing the actual stones of temple put back in place again. And that, combined with years of intense longing to see Jerusalem once again return to how it had been, proved too much for them to bear. On the other hand, the joy of the rest of the people seeing the future glory of the temple take shape before their eyes provoked such celebration that it simply could not be contained.

I think what so deeply affected me was a combination of both aspects. There is a deep mournful yearning for the fullness and power of the life-giving church that we see in the New Testament that has existed in one way or another ever since the day of Pentecost. In fact, this longing for a God-centered lifestyle goes back beyond that to what we read about in this portion in Ezra. And there were many times, albeit mostly brief ones, throughout Old Testament history when people were right with God.

But I believe it goes deeper yet, right back to the unfettered fellowship with God in the garden of creation. That's our spiritual DNA—deep calling unto deep. As Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, "He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end." We can't really get our understanding around it, but with our spirit we can cry out "Abba, Father" with God's own heart as it says in James 4:5, "Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, 'The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously'?" When we pray in tandem with His longings, things happen.

thelordsland-bighouse.jpgIn late December our youngest son and his wife spent some time in a "random" place in Northern California called Albion, on Route 1. They had no way of knowing that was where I was saved in 1973, and I asked them to stop in at The Lord's Land and take a few pictures for old times' sake. It is still very moving to look at that wonderful place again. It was in this large upper room, the brothers' dorm at the time, where I received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and along with many other new believers, was trained to become a disciple in the Lord Jesus Christ.

And not so unlike the "old men who had seen the first temple", the longing to once again see multitudes be birthed into the newness of life through the workings of the Holy Spirit is quick to surface. Drawing from the past, we look expectantly to the future with a sure and joyful hope that God's heart will be satisfied with the incoming harvest of souls.

So as we get our start in this new year, may we allow the desire of God's heart to empower our prayers for an outpouring of revival in this desperately needy world and to bring each of us into a place of abiding in deepened intimacy with Himself. "Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;" Philippians 1:6

Dick & Gladys


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