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Friday, January 30, 2009

Gateways and doorkeepers

Dear Friends & Prayers:

From Cilfowyr Chapel it is nearly six miles to the open sea, and just over half way there on the Teifi River lies the old port town of Cardigan, just this side of the last ridge above the chapel. I remember on our second trip to Wales in 2002, I saw a book at a friend's house entitled, "Cardigan - Gateway to Wales". The moment my eyes lit on it, I felt my spirit leap as the Lord impressed this on me as further confirmation His plans for this nation.

And speaking of gateways, I was reading this morning in John 10:2-3 where Jesus says, "But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out." As I read this, I stopped and wondered a little bit about just who the "doorkeeper" was.

When Jesus explains the parable a few verses further on, He identifies Himself as the door, and then the good shepherd, but there is no more mention of the doorkeeper. After puzzling about it for a while, I began to think that maybe we are the doorkeepers!

Christ, the hope of glory, dwells in us. And according to the plan, His light shines through us to those around us. Isaiah 60:3 even says, "The Gentiles shall come to your light." And so perhaps our job as doorkeepers is to live our lives in such a way that we are "opening the door" for the Shepherd, and that the sheep can hear His voice through us. And to this take it a step further, could this even mean that when we open our mouth, we should do so that He might speak through us? And what should our deeds and conduct be communicating? This becomes quite a challenge.

Look what David says about being a doorkeeper in Psalm 84:10, "For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness [worldly prosperity]." What a privilege and delight to be able to let people come into His courts! Is there any greater fullness of joy than just being in His presence? I'd say a close runner-up is facilitating others to come into His presence as well.

So I just wanted to pass these thoughts along, and hope you find encouragement to press deeper in to the walk the Lord has called you to. I think we could be praying about how we can just get closer to Jesus keep the hinges on the door well oiled!

These early snowdrops showing up in the hedges by the chapel are harbingers of the coming spring. There is talk of more cold and even snow in the coming week, but that doesn't change the fact that spring is on the way. And in just as clear a way, in our role as doorkeepers we can show the coming of His kingdom by the hope within us!

And I believe that especially now in the times we are living in, and which may well continue getting worse before they get better, the people of this world need all the hope they can find. We have been entrusted with a Hope much greater than the hope of better economic times. What a glorious responsibility!

We pray that all of our lights shine brightly as He continues to draw us closer to Himself, and more hurting people into new life and His Kingdom!

Dick & Gladys


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Monday, January 19, 2009

Burning hearts and opening Scriptures

Dear Friends and Prayers:

The last chapter of Luke describes the encounter between Jesus and two of His followers on the road to Emmaus. Immediately after the Lord opens their eyes to recognize Him, He vanishes from their sight. And they say to one another, "Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and He opened Scriptures to us?"

This account has had a great impact on me ever since I was first saved, and invariably brings tears of gratitude because of how He opened my eyes thirty-five years ago. This week in the chapel it has taken on even greater significance as part of our prayers. It is this very burning of the hearts and the opening of the eyes for which we are crying out to God. There has been an almost desperate longing for this awakening of deadened hearts and lives, that they might see God's glorious grace and offer of salvation.

I have found myself time and again flooded to overflowing by the amazing love of God, and the incredible joy of His love is like a searing fire that consumes everything other than Himself. And then accompanying this is a heart-rending awareness of the ravenous need for the un-saved to know Him and experience His love and forgiveness and joy.

For many people who have always attend church or chapel out of family tradition, it seems that there is a level of familiarity with the scriptures, but they lack that personal heart-felt encounter with Jesus as Lord and Saviour. And we pray that their hearts start to burn with a hunger to know who He is - a hunger for the word of God.

In verse 45 near the end of the chapter, just before His ascension, Luke says, "And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures." This provides us with another direct application for prayer. We can ask that God might also "open the understanding" of those who are familiar with the printed word, but lack the revelation and experience of Jesus Christ, the Word of Life himself.

Daylight is starting to come a little earlier here now, and as we see the days start to lengthen, so we also pray that our own understanding of the Word of God, ours and yours, be continually opened by the Holy Spirit to show us more and more of Himself and the intensity of His love and desire for the perishing world around us. And may we reflect His glory to those around us the way the moon reflects the glory of the sun.

For Him who is worthy of our praise forever,

Dick & Gladys


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Monday, January 12, 2009

Wales - the prodigal nation!

Dear Friends and Prayers:

While reading through Luke 15 last week, I was deeply impacted by the story of the prodigal son, and it has provided me a strong and recurrent theme in my prayers since then. The Lord impressed on my heart how much Wales is like this prodigal son. ln spite of having such a rich heritage of revival and awakening, people seemingly have squandered their spiritual inheritance, and rather focused on staying alive and comfortable over the last several generations.

God's numerous and gracious visitations of Wales, along with the knowledge and fear of the Lord, have been all but forgotten. It seems that the majority of the few people that attend churches here are not even aware of this wonderful part of their own history.

In verse 20 Jesus tells how "...when he (the prodigal) was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him." This part demonstrates the Father's heart - of course He has not forgotten the son, but had been looking for him and longing for his return.

And so we watch and pray with this profound burden of longing from our Heavenly Father's own heart for the return of this prodigal yet beloved son, Wales. And just as in Jesus' story when the father celebrated with a feast and great rejoicing over his son's return, we look towards the day when there is a new celebration both here and in the heavenly realms when this land is filled once again with the glory of the Lord, and multitudes run to their Father's arms of love and eternal life.

Thank you for your interest in this tiny but significant country, and thank you for praying with us for God's work in the hearts and minds of each of the ones He is watching and waiting for. May He bless you mightily with the power of His presence in your place of prayer,

Love and blessings,

Dick & Gladys


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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Daily Newness for a New Year!

Dear Friends & Prayers:

We would like to wish everyone all the best blessings for this New Year - 2009! It is still pretty "new" at only six days old, but we know that like previous years, it doesn't take long at all to start turning old. And especially in light of the global economic downturn and all that accompanies it, this year may well get old faster than others.

Here in Wales the year is also very cold! We've had temperatures mostly below freezing for over a week now, with clear sunny days and blue skies. The freezing has produced some very interesting results where the water constantly drips from the rock ledge just outside the house. Besides lots of hanging icicles, there are stalagmites forming from the ground upwards, and we have growing just outside our doorstep a curious ice menagerie that changes every day!

Frost upon frost upon frost has built up everywhere also, making fantastic little formations.And although there has been no precipitation, the fields and hills are as white as if snow had fallen because everything is covered in tiny ice crystals. Some of the trees beside the river below us are works of art, and everything is fresh and new each morning.

Now back to this New Year - yes, it will get old fast. But I don't think our lives should really be affected by it, because it is only just a date. What our lives can and should be affected by is that God's mercies are new every morning! And that is worth celebrating every day! We don't need to sit by and watch this year get old and tarnished and wait nearly twelve months to get "happy" again. Today is new, and so are you!

2nd Corinthians 5:17 says, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." This truth is just as alive and vibrant and powerful today as it was when Jesus walked the earth. And this truth will be just as valid tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after that! I believe that this is not an historical and static event that happened when we were born again, but is rather a way of living each day, fully conscious that God's mercies are new every morning, and His faithfulness endures forever!

Paul encourages us in Romans 6:4 saying, "Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." If the scripture says we "should", then this also means that we can! And he exhorts us further in Romans 7:6, "But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter."

So our prayer for you is that every day you be encouraged and empowered and filled with joy from the throne of grace. And as you draw near to God each day, may your heart, mind and soul know with absolute certainty that He also will draw close to you!

In His love and service,

Dick & Gladys


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