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Welcome to Wales Awakening
Friday, June 15, 2018

A prayer for the nations from an old song!

americanplains.jpgDear Friends and Prayers:

For some reason yesterday morning the old patriotic song "America the Beautiful" came to mind. When I started singing, it I realized I didn't know all the words and so looked it up online. It was first written as a poem by Katherine Lee Bates in 1893 and subsequently published with music by klbates.jpgSamuel A. Ward in 1910.

You may be familiar with the first stanza as I was, but I couldn't recall having ever heard the others, and I found them very moving. Here is the well-known first verse.

 America the Beautiful
O beautiful for spacious skies
For amber waves of grain
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

I won't include all of the seven stanzas here, but want to just share some of the last lines of them. You can see the complete words at this link. They reflect the values that we would be delighted to see in our country, and also make a wonderful prayer for any nation. So I am going to take the liberty of substituting "My Homeland, My Homeland" for "America, America."

My Homeland! My Homeland!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

My Homeland! My Homeland!
God mend thine every flaw
Confirm thy soul in self-control
Thy liberty in law!

My Homeland! My Homeland!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain divine!
My Homeland! My Homeland!
God shed his grace on thee
Till souls wax fair as earth and air
And music-hearted sea!

My Homeland! My Homeland!
God shed his grace on thee
Till paths be wrought through wilds of thought
By pilgrim foot and knee!

My Homeland! My Homeland!
God shed his grace on thee
Till selfish gain no longer stain
The banner of the free!

Congress-Prayer.jpgWhen we pray for revival, we are praying for the working of the Holy Spirit to change individual hearts and lives. And that means we are also praying for changes in the nations. Psalm 9:20 says, "Put them in fear, O Lord, that the nations may know themselves to be but men." As we pray for our nations and our leaders, here is a good goal to hold in our hearts in Proverbs 14:34, "Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people."

And we would like to leave you with Paul's prayer in Ephesians 1:16-17, "I pray for you constantly, asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God."

Dick & Gladys


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Friday, June 08, 2018

How quickly we can lose sight... staying immersed in Him!

disappearinghedge.jpgDear Praying Friends and Saints:
The cemetery at the chapel is surrounded by a stone wall with a hedge planted on top, but it requires regular and dedicated looking after. Since our long-time friend and resident caretaker retired seven years ago, things have changed a lot. Without his constant care, the hedges quickly were overgrown by ivy, briars and many other types of tenacious wild plants.
And that drew my attention to our morning readings a few days ago in Deuteronomy 11:18-21.
  "You shall therefore impress these words of mine on your heart and on your soul; and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontals on your forehead.
   You shall teach them to your sons, talking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up.
   You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your sons may be multiplied on the land which the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens remain above the earth."
God's words are like the stone wall, the underlying foundation of all that grows out from there. But as the scripture vividly points out, there is a very basic and important need to be constantly reminded in many ways. And this was thousands of years ago when life was far less complicated than in our modern age.
disappearingact.jpgI am always blown away by the fact that after hearing God's voice on Mt. Sinai and seeing the fire and cloud and feeling the trembling of the earth, just days later they made the golden calf. Or worse than that, how Cain, after hearing directly from his parents about how they walked in the garden and talked with God, could then blithely turn away from love and reason and murder his own brother!
But sadly there is a natural tendency that draws our hearts and thoughts away from the things of Lord. As sure as unchecked growth can make the stone walls disappear in a relatively short time, so too can our time and energy be redirected and we lose our most important focus.
If in ancient times God's people needed constant reminding of His words, His love, and His care for them, how much more is it imperative for us in today's busy and complicated world? Jesus us reminded us in Mark 4:19 how easily, "...the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful."
The antidote for us today is much the same. It is impressing these words of His, binding them, seeing the world through them, talking about them and writing them in obvious places. But it is much better than that too.  In Jeremiah 31:33 God said, "...I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people." And because Jesus is the Word, and he dwells inside us by his spirit, it is far more than reading and talking about His words, lupines2018.jpgbut talking with Him. It's all about a relationship. And like any important relationship, it means spending time together. Similar to keeping a hedge-topped stone hedge or cultivating a garden, it is a matter of constant maintenance and input. The major difference is that there is joy in our fellowship! Psalm 16:11 says, "You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore."
And as we learn to enjoy and seek out His presence, look what kinds of good things begin to happen. Isaiah 29:24 says, "These also who erred in spirit will come to understanding, and those who complained will learn doctrine." And so as we are exhorted in Hebrews12:2, let us continue to keep on "looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."
abraveswimmer.jpgIt is sort of like learning a language by an experience of "total immersion". There can be nothing better for us than living immersed in God's presence, and His word abiding abundantly in us. And even greater that this is the fact that He actually enjoys our time spent with Him!
On a brief final note, it seems that summer has really started now. The proof is that Gladys has actually gotten into the still very cold water here at nearby Mwnt. "It's great", she said, "come on in!" I was gently coerced into it on Thursday, and it was freezing. Thankfully, God's presence is an infinitely better immersion experience!
May you be deeply strengthened and refreshed as you "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you." James 4:8

Dick & Gladys


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Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Between a rock and a hard place...

rootedintherock.jpgDear Friends and Prayers:

When at times we find ourselves a little unsteady or confronted with some adversity, the Psalms are a particularly good source of encouragement and strength. Psalm 62:5-7 says,
  "My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him.
   He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved.
   In God is my salvation and my glory; the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God."

When we ran across this tree making the best of a hard situation, lots of things came to mind. What a picture of determination and perseverance! It may not have a beautiful straight trunk, but it is not going anywhere even in the wildest of storms. And that is precisely what David was reminding himself about when he found himself in difficulties.

rockandsky.jpgWe read yesterday in Psalm 83:3, "They have taken crafty counsel against Your people, and consulted together against Your sheltered ones." "Sheltered" here also means protected ones, treasured ones, or hidden ones. How wonderful to consider His care for us!

Throughout the Psalms we find David talking about his enemies who are always plotting his destruction and death. Most of us don't have an actual physical enemy that wants us dead, but as 1 Peter 5:8 reminds us, there is an enemy. "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour." Many times, the battle rages inside our head, and the roaring of the enemy's lies threatens to steal our peace and stability.

And once again Psalms can point us in the right direction. Psalm 121:1-2 says, "I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; from where shall my help come? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth."

quietwaters.jpgAnd then of course Psalm 23;1-3 which reminds us, "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not lack anything. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake."

So when from time to time we find ourselves in a struggle, we can always turn to the Psalms to learn how to hug the Rock of our salvation a little tighter. And another wonderful source of strength is just to spend time with other believers. Paul prays in Ephesians 3:16-17, "that He would grant you, threefriends.jpgaccording to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God."

Thank you for praying with us that the world would come to know this amazing love of Christ. We bless you in the precious name of Jesus,

Dick & Gladys


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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

New friends and old - a joyful foretaste of revival?

mownfield.jpgDear Praying Friends:

There has been a lot of mowing going on around here lately as farmers are taking the first cutting for silage. And after one of the wettest winters in recent history, both fields and hills are drying out in the warming sun and longer days. We haven't had any rain for about two weeks now and it will actually be very welcome when it comes.

And while reading and praying through the scriptures the other morning, this portion of Psalms 72:5-6 just filled me with joy and thankfulness!
"Let them fear You while the sun endures,
And as long as the moon, throughout all generations.
May he [or he will] come down like rain upon the mown grass,
Like showers that water the earth."

What really struck me about these verses was that God's faithfulness and goodness is always there for us in time. Over the years we've known many people, both in and out of full-time ministry, that have gone through periods where they felt they just didn't have anything more to give–they felt dried up, tired out and empty, just like this field looks. But God has a way of coming down like rain just when the time is right.

griffings-wilkes-bending.jpgHe sends down the rains when the going is good also. Yesterday we had a wonderful extra blessing of spending some time with some very long-time ministry friends. We've known Olen and Syble Griffing and Wayne and Bonnie Wilkes for over thirty years since our days in Guatemala. And the funny part was that their visit was arranged by our Singaporean friends from Cornerstone Church who had no idea we knew each other. They had simply asked me if I could meet two American pastors at the nearby Blaenannerch Chapel and share something about Evan Roberts and the beginnings 1904 Welsh revival.

They also didn't know that in January I had made arrangments to spend time that same morning with another group of intercessors from a different church in Singapore who were coming to spend time at the Ffald-y-Brenin Retreat Centre near here. And it turned out that they were all staying at the Bible College of Wales in Swansea the same nights. (It would make one think that the Lord seems to have a master plan in place well ahead of us!)singsistersatblaeanannerch.jpg

The end of my brief overview of the 1904 revival brought us to the point where Evan cried out, "Bend me, bend me, bend me." And those words then launched us into prayer. God brought us into an extraordinary time of crying out together for Him to bend and mold us, and to fulfill His plans for our own lives, for Wales, and for the nations of the world. It was one of those special times that you just don't want to come to an end, and the sweetness of His presence and the longing of His heart for the lost to turn to Him affected each one of us profoundly.

So meeting new friends and greeting old friends in such an atmosphere was just an amazing taste of heaven on earth for us. It brings to mind the verses in 1 John 1:3-4, "...what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete."

And all this was just one day of God's blessings. It seems of late that every morning's new mercies fill each day with a greater appreciation of just how marvelous He really is. It's as if we are already getting a foretaste of the firstfruits of the coming revival. And these are just the small parts that we get to see. How much more is unseen, like the sprouting seeds still under the surface?

So please join us as we pray together God's own words from Isaiah 45:8, "Rain down, you heavens, from above,
And let the skies pour down righteousness;
Let the earth open, let them bring forth salvation,
And let righteousness spring up together.
I, the Lord, have created it."

Dick & Gladys


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Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Perseverence and purity in prayer...

readytogrow.jpgDear Friends of Wales Awakening:

"Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand." When I read this portion from James 5:7-8 a couple of days ago, it underscored yet again an ongoing theme. If we just carry on and don't faint, the harvest is coming!

Just like farmers everywhere, we labor to prepare the soil and plant seeds. And that is all we can really do. All the rest depends on God's sending sun and rain. The farmer plants a natural seed for an earthly harvest. But we, with prayer and yearning, plant seeds of faith, "...not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever." (1 Peter 1:23)

dewdropsilver.jpgAnother scripture that tugged hard on my heart this morning is in Numbers 25:11. "Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, has turned away My wrath from the sons of Israel in that he was jealous [zealous] with My jealousy [zeal] among them, so that I did not destroy the sons of Israel in My jealousy." How amazing to consider that we can actually be moved by the Holy Spirit to experience God's jealousy in prayer. We can not generate it on our own any more than the farmer can generate growth in his fields. But when we are willing to hand over our time and our hearts to the Lord, He is ready and willing to fill us with His love for a dying world.

There is another aspect of God's jealousy that I would be remiss not to mention in James 4:3-5. It's a little heavy hitting but is really important. "You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, 'The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously'?"

I'm sure we don't ask for frivolous things in our prayers, but, frankly, I find the concept of "friendship with the world" a little challenging. If we want our prayers to make more of a difference, it seems we need to continually ask God's grace to purge our lives of things that steer us in the wrong direction. A simple example that I struggle with is "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God."

greenhillfarm.jpg

When I wake up in the mornings, my desire is to get into God's thoughts rather than my own. But... but my alarm clock is my phone. And when I open it to see the time any messages are right in my face, or there is always the temptation to check my email first. I can so easily tell myself, "It may be something important!"

And that is just one area I can almost painlessly mention. What other's are there that reduce our efficacy in prayer? Anyway, you get the idea. I just wanted to put this out there, because our prayers do make a difference. And the more Holy Spirit unction we can get behind our prayers, the better the fruit will be for His name's sake.

May the Lord help us keep our prayer pastures green and weed free!

Dick & Gladys


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