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Monday, January 25, 2010

Latecomers in God's grace - the eleventh hour!

Dear Friends & Prayers:

The other afternoon Gladys and I were at the chapel reading Matthew chapter 20 together. That is the parable of the landowner who goes out in the morning and hires laborers to work in his vineyard.

He goes out again and hires more workers several times throughout the day, even at the eleventh hour. When the workday comes to a close, he pays everyone the same, which causes a little stir with those that started early in the day.

As I read this, the Lord suddenly impressed on me how our time here in Wales is so much like that! Here we've come in the eleventh hour (we're not as young as we once were!) to join the ranks of others who have labored here in the Lord's vineyard. Many have actively served God in different capacities their whole lives, many others have done likewise since their conversion. Others like ourselves have come here from other places, most of them long before us, and some have come since.

Where the Lord caught my attention is that although we are indeed late arrivals, we are here! At times it can seem as though what we do here does not really amount to much - there is no visible fruit like there was in "regular" ministry. But the Lord has really encouraged our hearts through this word. And we know that our labor in Christ is never in vain. Thank you, Jesus!

Now it comes to the exciting part. We are nearing the end of the day! As we look out on the Lord's "vineyard", we hear of Him moving in other places around Wales - some churches are experiencing real growth, others are reaching out into their communities and starting to work together in practical ways; new prayer groups are forming and others are gaining strength; some young people are getting on fire for the Lord and want to serve Him with their lives. God is stirring people to desire a more real experience with Himself - and not just in Wales but around the world.

So be encouraged where you are also! These days we're living in are challenging, and the going can be rough, but He is the Lord of the Harvest, and His word will not return to Him void or without fruit! Press into His heart through worship and the word and prayer, and together we will see great things, all are the works of His hand.

Our trust is in Him who is faithful,

Dick & Gladys


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Friday, January 15, 2010

There's Hope for Haiti

Dear Friends and Prayers:

Our hearts are heavy with the news of such devastation and death from Haiti's earthquake on Tuesday. It brought to mind fresh memories from my years in Guatemala in 1976 when 35,000 people died and a million were left homeless after a similar quake.

Yesterday morning while I was reading through Matthew 14, verse 35-36 stopped me in my tracks. "And when the men of that place recognized Him, they sent out into all that surrounding region, brought to Him all who were sick, and begged Him that they might only touch the hem of His garment. And as many as touched it were made well."

It suddenly came so clearly to me that Jesus is the only lasting hope for Haiti in this hour of dire need. As I prayed and felt the anguish of such suffering and sorrow and hopelessness, I was made acutely aware of the need for Haitians to "..only touch the hem of His garment." If they would just reach out to Him for what their hearts really need.

The immediate needs for food, water and shelter will eventually diminish, but the grief over lives lost and famlies decimated will remain. Only the knowledge of God's love and forgiveness in the person of Jesus Christ can bring any real comfort and peace, and the grace to accept whatever life's turnings may bring us.

I struggled for years with the whole idea of natural disasters. How could our loving God and Savior permit such massive tragedy? And why is that the poorest nations seem to suffer most?

In the ensuing years in Guatemala, thousands upon thousands of people came to Christ in unprecedented fashion. And I began to realize that in God's scheme of things, what really matters is the eternal destiny for each soul. Whether thousands die in calamitiies or human wars and atrocities, or through natural causes of disease and old age, the end is the same for us all. "..it is appointed to men to die once, but after this, the judgment." Heb.9:27

God knows the days and times for every person on earth. If they are going to choose life in Christ, they will have done it before their end comes, regardless of the cause. If not, another ten or fifty years might pass with the same end. He is sovereign, and He has perfect knowledge is of all our ways and depths of our hearts, and He is righteous altogether.

In the coming days, weeks and months in Haiti, there will be more going on that we can possibly imagine. But there is One who knows every single person there, and He is more than willing for any and all to come to Him. All the Christians and missionaries and relief workers in, or on their way to, Haiti need our prayer support. Let's ask the Lord for favor and grace so that through their lives people can come and touch the hem of His garment. Your heartfelt prayers can and do make a vast difference!

Thank you so much,

Dick & Gladys


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Thursday, January 07, 2010

Extreme Cold & Snow shocks the UK!

Dear Friends and Prayers:

They're calling it The Big Freeze! It's Britain's coldest and hardest winters for decades, with snow and ice set to continue causing problems as temperatures could plummet to -20C (-4F). It has thousands of schools and workplaces closed, and driving in some areas is extremely difficult and travel in general is in disarray - airports, trains included. The government has placed cutbacks on gas supplies to industry in order to keep homes warm, and with more cold and snow expected over the weekend, shortages on road salt nationwide threaten further disruption.

When nature steps out of line with the expected, even for short periods, suddenly the fact of our vulnerability comes into focus. Things could get worse very easily, and all of our human prowess quickly becomes impotent when confronted with God's handiwork. Hopefully it helps us see the real perspective of how small we are in this vast universe!

Please pray with us that the Lord would be merciful to many people that are already suffering hardship at this time through weather related deaths, accidents and other hardships. Also please pray that people here would remember to pray, or perhaps learn how for the first time!

We were snowed in over the past weekend, and thankfully we did manage to get the car out and go to the supermarket Monday before more snow and ice clamped down on us. We thank God for a fairly warm home, and the ability to turn up the heat! We can imagine what it must be like for those without electricity in some places.

Monday was also the only day we were able to get up to the chapel since last week, and that has been strange. It makes us appreciate what an important part of our life that has become to us, and the privilege it is to be here at all!

The winter has also brought us some new visitors from the surrounding woods. This young fox has been a regular visitor lately, and scarcity of her regular prey has her eating the hard red berries off some bushes by the wall of our garden. Here she is enjoying a few bones I threw out to her today, but shhhhhhhh, don't tell our neighbors!

As always, thank you for your interest and your prayers. And please do pray that one of the effects of this harsh winter weather be that people not only light fires in their chimneyplaces, but also kindle a fire in the hearth of their hearts as they remember their Creator in their times of need.

Huddling into the warmth of His everlasting love,

Dick & Gladys


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Friday, January 01, 2010

Some thoughts for a Happy New Decade!

Dear Friends and Prayers:

There are certain times and places with the Lord that we treasure and where we would like to stay forever, but we cannot. The important thing, however, is to know that when we are in those places where the presence of the Holy Spirit is so close we can practically breathe Him in, that is what is real in the eternal realm of things. That is our true condition.

When life's busyness takes us into other thoughts and situations, we should remember that what changes from those special moments is our focus, our own perception of things. But it doesn't change the big picture. In Hebrews 13:5 the Lord says, " I will never leave you nor forsake you," and that can only mean what it says, nothing less.

Also in John 14:23, Jesus says, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him." Again, that sounds pretty permanent to me.

So it must be that what He says is more reliable than the fluctuations in our awareness of His presence or our flighty human emotions. Our feelings can take us from ecstasy to despair in the twinkling of an eye. And our spiritual sensitivity can dwindle to that of a rock in milliseconds! Remember how Pharoah's heart was hardened?

So the upshot of the matter is that because His word abides forever, what He says goes. And He is always here with us through thick and thin. "Thank you Jesus for such great and precious promises!" And here's another one to add to our arsenal for this new year: in Romans 8:35-39 it says "Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ." Nothing! So with these immutable facts ensconced in our thoughts and hearts, we have a strong foundation from which we can go through whatever life brings us and remain standing firm - well, we could be sitting, lying down, climbing, running - you get idea!

Our family get together did not work out as we had hoped. Grace didn't get her visa in time so had a fun Christmas with her cousins in Washington. Meanwhile we spent a wonderful week together with our son Dicky, and he enjoyed some much needed R&R after several very busy weeks of packing his household and his company's office to be moved to California during his absence.

Monday he flew to Rome where he met Grace who arrived the night before, and we were so glad that at least they could be together for a few days and to see in the New Year. This shot was taken yesterday by the Vatican, and now as I write this Dicky is winging his way to L.A. and Grace is settling into the new apartment she found this week!

So once again we are blessed with God's goodness, and see His faithfulness around us and our family at every one of life's turns.

Looking to Him with great expectations for the coming year,

Dick & Gladys


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