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Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Where's the water in Wales? Praying for heaven's rain!

dryteifi.jpgDear Praying Friends:

During the long and very wet winter, there must have been a lot of people praying for the rain to stop. We have had one of the longest dry spells since we've been in Wales, and have seen more sunshine and hot weather than we can remember here. But not it's all good news, especially for the farmers.

The Teifi River usually runs with a healthy amount of water, but the low water level is very evident here at Cenarth Falls just upstream from where we live. The photo below was taken from close to the same spot in the springtime a couple of years ago, so you can see what I mean.

When we saw this the other day, Psalm 63:1 quickly came to mind, "O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You In a dry and thirsty land Where there is no water." Now many people that were praying for dry weather not so long ago are now longing for some rain!

falls-cenarth.jpgIn the natural realm, changes come with the seasons. But the spiritual drought here has dragged on for far too long. The overall influence of the Gospel has been on the wane since the war years of the 20th century. Many unused old chapels and churches continue to be converted into private dwellings or put to commercial uses, while others are just abandoned and left to ruin.

So this scene is a good reminder for serious prayer. Happily, we do see evidence of change, and many of God's people are encouraged, but the need for an outpouring of God's Spirit is massive. Words like these in Isaiah 44:2-4 are great fuel for prayer. "...Fear not, O Jacob My servant; And you, Jeshurun, whom I have chosen. For I will pour water on him who is thirsty, and floods on the dry ground; I will pour My Spirit on your descendants, and My blessing on your offspring; They will spring up among the grass like willows by the watercourses."

cenarthwaterlow.jpg God's many promises throughout the scriptures are an enormous source of strength, and keep us going and keep us on track. We don't depend on what we see around us but rather we depend on what God's word says. And we learn to be patient and to rest in the fact that the times are in His hands, and not ours!

This photo from just below the falls shows again how low the water is just now. A few years ago the water was so high that it reached the tops of the arches and was running through the "eye" in between them. That was put there to help ease the pressure against the structure when the river is at flood stage.

In a similar way, we know that as God continues to prepare the land here for the coming revival, and that He is also building structures into the church that will hold firm when things really get going. Networks of prayer being established and more people are getting involved, healthy relationships are being developed across denominational lines in the church, and different groups are working together on projects to serve communities and wider areas across the nation.

gwaunriverbridge.jpgThe first Tuesday of each month is the Ffald-y-Brenin Prayer Day. The time of worship yesterday morning was exceptional and went on uninterrupted for longer than usual. This provided more evidence of a growing hunger for the coming move of God, and His response was the sweet lingering of His presence during the long silence after the music stopped. It is exciting to see that as the desire to be with Him increases, and we make our time available to Him, so do the precision and the power of our prayers increase through the grace that He imparts.

During the noon break, we walked down to this little bridge over the Gwaun River with some friends and enjoyed our lunch in the shade and the warm breeze above the murmuring water below. It wasn't quite as wonderful as His presence had been with us earlier, but almost!

In your own prayers in the coming days for our needy world, remember the words of Isaiah 55:1 that say, "Listen! Every one who is thirsty, come to the waters. And you who have no money, come, buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price." (NLV) As we draw ever closer to Him, we can ask boldly that many would come to know His great love and plan of salvation.

Dick & Gladys

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

A few miles later... God's extraordinary faithfulness!

oldstonebridge.jpgDear Friends of Wales Awakening:

The middle part of June of has shot by like an arrow! Two weeks ago found us just returned from a two-night visit to the Cotswolds, a very old and beautiful farming area in the west of England. The stay was a thoughtful gift from friends for my 70th birthday in December. The rolling hills, fields, and woodlands reminded me of rural Maryland where I grew up.

Then June 17th was, incredibly, our 40th wedding anniversary! So we took a drive to beautiful North Wales where we were graciously hosted by friends. We had planned to do some hiking in the mountains but it was mostly foggy and wet so we adjusted our plans accordingly.

It was nice to just get away and admire the beauty of God's handiwork. We spent our first months together in The Andes in Ecuador, and have always loved the mountains. And so this was a special time to reflect on the many blessings the Lord has given us over the years. And the northern part of Wales is still very dear to our hearts since we traveled there every month for nearly five years to a prayer meeting for revival we started in Blaenau Ffestiniog, and is still going.

sheepinfog.jpgLast Tuesday we stayed with some other friends on the north side of the Llŷn Peninsula. They host a weekly prayer meeting in the Welsh language, and it was a great blessing to meet a few people from their group that evening, and then at lunchtime the next day. And an extra treat for us was to be joined by another old friend who used to come to the meetings in Blaenau, and also the daughter of a wonderful older sister that we had visited and prayed with there a few times. It was amazing for us to see the special connections the Lord has blessed us with here.

It was exciting to be able to share with our Welsh speaking friends about a very brief but significant visit we had back in April. A pastor from India called and arranged to visit us with a friend. He excitedly told us how in 2015 God gave him a vivid and remarkable dream. There were three points: the Welsh people, the Welsh community, and the Welsh language that were going to be involved as the epicenter of a worldwide revival. When he woke up from the dream, 40years.jpghe grabbed his dictionary to find out what "Welsh" meant.  He had never even heard of Wales, and was amazed to discover that Wales is a country, and one of the four nations in the United Kingdom! So as you can imagine, this was especially exciting for our friends to hear, and of course for us as well.

So it has been a time to consider each of these milestones in our lives. foxgloveonblue.jpgWe realize that it is only God's grace that has made it all possible. And as the years continue to roll by, we are ever more aware of how He has so faithfully sustained us every step of the way. All we can do is give Him our thanks and our service, and be constantly looking to Him day by day.

This is such a wonderful portion in Psalm 63:6-8 that says, "When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches. Because You have been my help, therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice. My soul follows close behind You; your right hand upholds me."

And as we read in 1 Samuel 7:12 after his victory over the Philistines, "...Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen, and called its name Ebenezer, saying, 'Thus far the Lord has helped us.'"

And so may we all keep foremost in our hearts that the Lord's help is ever present with us, and be encouraged and strengthened daily by His words of life,

Dick & Gladys

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

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

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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