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Thursday, April 11, 2024

The Eclipse of the Son that outlasts and outshines them all...

Total Solar Eclipse, 8April2024, courtesyof NASA.
https://plus.nasa.gov/video/2024-total-solar-eclipse-through-the-eyes-of-nasa/Dear Friends and Intercessors:

This NASA photo of the April 8th total solar eclipse paints an extraordinary picture of an extraordinary event. It won't be repeated in such entirety for another 250 years or so it and drew sightseers from around the world. The 4 minutes and 25 seconds of the blocking of the sun's direct rays along its northeasterly path across North America was made much of as a "once in a lifetime" opportunity.

There have been countless eclipses over the centuries and they all capture human attention where they have been observed, but there was one in particular that changed everything forever. When Jesus was crucified Matthew 27:45 says, "Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land." When He said, "It is finished" and gave up the ghost—the price was paid in full for the sins of all mankind. That was really just the beginning.

Having just come through the Easter season, the scenes are fresh in the mind. The culmination of God's majestic plan of salvation has once again been made clear. It started off with Jesus at the last supper with his disciples, known as Maunday Thursday. Maunday, coming from the word commandment, referred to when Jesus instructed his disciples the 'new commandment" to love one another as He has loved them, that the world might know that He came into the world to bring salvation to lost souls.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ecce_homo_by_Antonio_Ciseri_%281%29.jpg#/media/File:Ecce_homo_by_Antonio_Ciseri_%281%29.jpgPilate's wife had an ominous dream about Jesus and expressed her concern to Pilate about his innocence. You can see that detail in this amazing scene, painted by Antonio Ciseri in 1871. John 19:5 explains, "Then Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. And Pilate said to them, 'Behold the Man!'" His declaration had a far greater significance than he could possibly have known. The events of that day began the fulfillment of God's words in Genesis 1:3, "Let there be light."

When Jesus gave up His spirit, the whole of the universe took on new shades of glory, and a new dimension of light was birthed. Those hours of darkness were setting the stage for much more than the payment in full for our sin. Through His resurrection, He became the living proof of eternal life to all those who believe. As it says in Colossians 1:13-14, "He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins."

The floodgates of God's mercy have been opened wide, and whosoever will may now come to Him freely. The desire of all nations—God's living temple—is established! The Body of Christ lives in His Kingdom today, and He lives in and through us to reach others with His gifts of love and salvation.

Romans 8:26 elaborates further, "...the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans." And then follows vs.29, "And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God."

Rainbow over Rhyd Lewis in sunset colorsIn the completeness of God's plan for us, He says in John 8:12, "Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, 'I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.'" And we are instructed in 1 John 1:7, "But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin."

As the darkness increases in the world around us, people are seeking the light. We are seeing the fulfillment of Amos 8:11. "'Behold, the days are coming,' says the Lord God, 'That I will send a famine on the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord.'" We have been entrusted with the words of light and life for such a time as this.

May these words in Colossians 3:14-16 encourage us all "But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another..."

God bless you and your nearest and dearest, and those who don't even know they're looking for you yet,

Dick & Gladys


Thursday, March 21, 2024

Surprise after Surprise after Surprise!!!

Gladys with her sister JosefinaDear Friends of Wales Awakening,

The last 10 days have been a whirlwind of activity leading up to a series of surprises! Several weeks ago, Gladys began to mention that she would really like to go to her big sister's 80th birthday, which took place this past Tuesday. Current circumstances didn't permit it so we  just left it at that. When she mentioned it again, two weeks ago, I didn't say anything, but I actually looked up prices to see if it were at all possible and was surprised that the cost wasn't as much as expected, but we were already committed to other travel we have planned in June.

The first big surprise happened Monday morning. When Gladys mentioned again how much she would love to go, I knew it was the right thing to do because it is a big occasion for her sister to have made it to 80 after some health issues over the past couple of years. Also, over the weekend we had gotten some good news that released us from a difficult situation, making the trip possible. When I told her, "You can go!", we both burst into tears of joy and gratitude for God's faithfulness! By the evening, travel arrangements were finished, and then began days of frenzied packing and arrangements for all the many details. 

Friends from church group for birthday breakfastSurprise number two: I left Gladys at Heathrow Airport at 7 AM Monday and she got to her sister's house in Guatemala City very late Monday night after her sister was asleep. Early next morning they stumbled into each other in the dark hallway and had an incredible and joyful surprise encounter with intermittent tears and wonderful laughter. Gladys's niece and two children were just getting up to get ready for school, and festivities were already underway! And then her sister's friends from the ladies' group at her church came for a celebratory breakfast and things went on from there. Bible College of Wales at night, 2024The happiness among all the family has been contagious and on each of our many calls, all we can do is smile and be thankful for God's love and goodness.

The third surprise: On my way home from London I was able to arrange very spontaneously an overnight stay at the Bible College of Wales. We have a dear friend who had signed up for the course of study there, and I was looking forward to paying a visit to say hello and surprise her. I had wanted to do so with Gladys but due to the circumstances, this just seemed a great way to break up my drive back home. Dear friends at the Bible College of Wales with a new student!The campus administrator very graciously made a room available for the night with only one hour's notice, and I got there in time to greet dear friends at that Tuesday night prayer meeting! It was a real delight to be on those hallowed grounds again, where we made our temporary home for a month when we were moving house in 2021.

This has all been a sweet reminder of what God's word says in 1 Corinthians 2:9, "...Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him."

May we all continually be expectant for the far greater things the Lord has in store, not only for us but the needy world around us that has yet to discover His goodness and eternal plans for whosoever will come,

Dick & Gladys


Friday, March 08, 2024

A Welcome Change of Seasons - Moving Ahead Together!

Rainbow en route to Welsh Prayer Breakfast, Mar 2024

Dear Friends:

On our way south through Pembrokeshire to the Welsh Prayer Breakfast early last Saturday morning, this brilliant rainbow highlighted our drive. The supposed "pot of gold" was actually the wealth of fellowship at the event itself. I was reminded of it again by this morning's reading in Exodus 18:12. "Then Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, took a burnt offering and other sacrifices to offer to God. And Aaron came with all the elders of Israel to eat bread with Moses’ father-in-law before God."

When we sit down with other believers to share physical bread and spiritual bread there is always something special and joyous about it. Acts 2:46-47 tells this story of glory. "So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved." Although we might not yet be seeing people be added daily, that is where we're headed as revival draws closer, and that comprises an important dimension of how we should be praying.

We see this other amazing scene which takes place a little later in chapter 28 of Exodus story. God calls Moses to come up with Aaron and his sons and seventy of the elders of Israel. Then in verses 10-11 we read, "and they saw the God of Israel. And there was under His feet as it were a paved work of sapphire stone, and it was like the very heavens in its clarity. But on the nobles of the children of Israel He did not lay His hand. So they saw God, and they ate and drank." Wow, talk about stories of glory! Cath Woolridge shares
at Welsh Prayer Breakfast, March 2024

After breakfast was served, we enjoyed a wonderful spirit-led time of worship by our friends from the Sound of Wales. It very much set the stage for the message following, encouraging us to press in for "more" we're looking for. And then afterward, there was another and very creative segment of worship, stories, and poetry.

Geraint Morse gives the word at the Welsh Prayer
BreakfastSomething we especially enjoy is meeting new people, trying our best with what Welsh we can manage, and discovering other parts of the Lord's church. It was a particular privilege to meet some who had only recently discovered the rich history of powerful revivals that have touched Wales over the last three centuries. It is not called "The Land of Revivals" for nothing! There is a short and powerful overview of Welsh Revival history on our Revival History page.

The following day we visited a congregation in a town about 20 miles to the north and there met several people who have felt a definite call to here for what they feel the Lord is preparing to do Over the years we have met countless people who have been called by God to places all over Wales and they are praying and simply making themselves available to share His love with those around them.

Snow covered Brecon BeaconsAfter what has been one of the wettest winters in about a decade, we are beginning to see a very welcome change. We've had some glorious sunny days and the wind is helping to dry out a very waterlogged countryside at last. This clear view of the distant snow-capped Brecon Beacons to the southeast was a heartwarming sight with the abundance of early spring flowers and trees and hedges putting out their first leaves to declare that spring is in the air!

As the freshness of change into this new season lifts of spirits, it seems to clearly demonstrate the longing for that something far greater that we pray for. Romans 8:19 says, "For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God."

Together we join our hearts to the cry of Isaiah 64:1-2. "Oh, that You would rend the heavens! That You would come down! That the mountains might shake at Your presence... To make Your name known to Your adversaries, that the nations may tremble at Your presence!"

Dick & Gladys


Friday, February 16, 2024

Gladys's story: Enjoying the first fruits of years of sowing!

Diwrnod GweddiBlaenau FFestiniog, February 2, 2024Dear Friends,

Last week we went for an afternoon and evening of prayer at Blaenau Ffestiniog in North Wales. For me, Gladys, this experience was fruit that God had prepared for us. When we got to the venue just before noon, it was a very old building with advertisements for a cinema outside but the original stone title across the front said, "County Police Buildings".

We climbed some old steep wooden steps and when I opened the door I greeted a girl with a Welsh "Sut Mae" which means, "How's it going? Instantly it was like turning on the water tap and I was delightfully surprised by the Welsh language. On previous visits to the north in years gone by, people had made fun of my greeting because "Sut mae" is pronounced totally differently in the south, and here a different Welsh is spoken. But this time it was different because there were people from all over Wales with a single purpose!

I felt very honored to be able to speak a few words in Cymraeg, "Welsh", since I can only manage a few phrases to break the ice... When I entered the large meeting room it was a great surprise and delight for me—it was like hearing little bells when I heard that everyone was speaking mosty So great to meet up with old friends!Welsh! It felt like arriving at my own home in an atmosphere of family and love!

It was wonderful to greet whoever could between hugs and cries of amazement and love for old friends we prayed with over 10 years ago when we saw each other again. And how great a contrast to see that the majority were young people and families. Here in South and West Wales where we live the meetings are predominantly older adults and more senior citizens.

We were very surprised that from the beginning of the meetings, they were all led by young people. The building we were in had sofas in the front and there were chairs in the back section. The middle was left open and there were many people and couples with children and babies sitting on rugs on the floor. Everything was very comfortable and pleasant, and they encouraged us at the beginning to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit, and if God were to give us something for the gathering we should share it in the times provided. And that was the case ... especially when they asked us that those of us who wanted to could call out the Names of God. Of course, I was not going to stay silent and I said, "Alpha and Omega", and "El Principio y El Fin."

Another one of the surprises that God had prepared for me was a Welsh couple that I met here in our own Cilfowyr Chapel nearly five years ago. Tina had learned Spanish at university, with Tina we hugged and kissed like two sisters who had not seen since we met and started chatting away in Spanish, "guiri, guiri", as we say in my country, Guatemala!Young family shares testimony og God's grace

With Tina next to me I was able to ask the words of the hymns and their meaning in Spanish of the songs we were singing in Welsh. All the songs were on the screen in both Welsh and English. In some songs like Great is Your Faithfulness I sang the Spanish words of this song into Tina's ear. Since she had never heard them in Spanish, she was amazed by the new sounds and the meaning they brought to her ears, and we ended up hugging each other with the joy of sharing something so simple but very true and powerful.

The meeting room was filled up in the evening meeting!At the evening meeting, I noticed a difference when I entered because the open space in the center was now filled with chairs. The whole place was filled with people both young and old people, and the praises were only sung in Welsh with the translation below for those of us who didn't know Welsh that well.

In the middle of one of the worship songs, I was singing with my hands raised when I had a vision...
"Suspended from the sky I could see a white mantle and suddenly it was being sliced open from top to bottom in several places, and where the whiteness was split open, I could see the darkness in the background through the openings."
    I kept thinking about what might be its interpretation... and in my mind, I heard the word, "Breakthrough". A breakthrough is here.

Now at home again, I feel very encouraged when I remember being at this meeting. It brings tears of gratitude for having been able to be there "For such a time as this" …and seeing the greatness of my God among the young people who are especially thirsty for Him and praising Him with everything.

Knowing that for years so many of us have prayed for Blaenau Ffestiniog, it was truly glorious to see these lives surrendered to the Holy Spirit and His guidance. And now we begin to enjoy the fruits of the harvest that God has prepared for us and will continue to prepare for us.

What a mighty God we serve!

Gladys & Dick


Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Point your hearts toward the sky—the best exercise!

Pointing our hearts toward heaven

Dear Friends and Prayer Partners:

"Point your heart toward the sky!" We hear this phrase regularly at our gym class during warm-up and cool-down times. But what a great reminder it makes for our daily lives too. In fact, if we don't make a conscientious effort the do this regularly, we can easily find ourselves caught up in things we would most likely never choose! Thus the exhortation in Philippians 4:8, "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."

Will Durant, an American historian and philosopher, put it another way in his Ten Wise Rules, "...your mind is formed by what it takes in. Don't be a wastebasket." I used to hear that as a kid from my parents and it didn't impress me at the time. But after I met Jesus I began to realize how true that is. Throughout the scriptures, this principle is highlighted over and over. Proverbs 4:23 says, "Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life." This "keeping" is an ongoing process throughout each and every day. We continually make choices of what we engage our minds with, so we need to keep pointing our hearts toward the sky!

The glory of the morning sky always raises one'sspirits

David says in Psalm 19:1, "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the expanse of heaven shows the work of His hands." We've had some extraordinary sunrises and sunsets lately which help keep us looking the right way. En route to the chapel the other morning I chose a detour to stop and watch this one unfold—not a difficult choice. I could have decided just to keep getting glimpses of it on the way through the ups and downs of the road, but giving it my undivided attention was far more rewarding.

"Multi-tasking" has become a buzzword in recent decades—associated with productivity and success. But it just doesn't cut it when it comes to spending time with God in the Word, in worship, or in prayer. Psalm 86:11-12 makes it very clear. "Teach me Your way, O Lord; I will walk in Your truth; Unite my heart to fear Your name. I will praise You, O Lord my God, with all my heart, and I will glorify Your name forevermore." If the Psalmist needed help back in times when life was simpler, how much more do we God's help to stay on point in today's world? I know I sure do!

In Paul's letter to the Colossians, he encourages them with these words in chapter 3:1-2, "If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth." Here we see yet again that our spiritual well-being depends on the choices we make throughout each day of our lives. This is not only for our own benefit but also for the sake of those around us who may be in need of the treasure we carry within us. Jesus told the disciples in LukeFirstsnow of 2024, Jan 18th to be precise 6:45, "A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks."

We had our first snow about two weeks ago, and it was a refreshing change in what had been a very wet and grey winter so far. Seeing everything painted white for a few days was a beautiful sight and the crisp cold mornings made a welcome change for starting our days. But rain or shine, cold or hot, we are blessed and very thankful to know the constant love and new mercies of God that surround us.

At the same time, our hearts ache for the vast multitudes whose lives are engulfed in unthinkable hardships and loss, turbulence, and uncertainty. This is the result of the evil treasures of the hearts of sinful men in a fallen world, with the exception of natural disasters. Our prayer is that even in such circumstances, people would come to learn of the love of God and experience the forgiveness of their sins through the precious blood of Jesus shed for them; that they would "Repent therefore and be converted, that their sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord." (Acts 3:19)

We also pray with and for you and all believers as Paul did in Philippians 4:6-7, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."

Dick & Gladys


Monday, January 08, 2024

God's Word for the New Year, and a stunning post-Christmas find in the mountain woods!

Olive Tree Bible App's M'Cheynes reading plan.Dear Praying Friends,

One of the greatest gifts that we have every year is the freedom to make a new start with a renewed heart. That renewal comes through the word of God, and it has been a tremendous source of strength and inspiration for Gladys and myself throughout our lives.

For over 20 years I have been following a one-year reading schedule  which was created by Scottish minister Robert Murray M'Cheyne in the 19th century to be used for both family and personal devotions. Each day has four readings with two from the Old Testament, one from the New Testament, and one from the Psalms or Gospels.

Through the course of one year, you'll read through the Old Testament once and the Psalms and New Testament twice. I've been amazed at how the daily readings dovetail together with such precision many a time! This link takes you to a .pdf file of the plan which you can copy and print. Or better yet you can download either of these handy free apps to see and mark your daily readings and stay on track: "The M'Cheyne Plan" on Apple App Store, or "Bible Reading Plan - M'Cheyne" on Google Play Store. I use the Olive Tree Bible App which incorporates the plan and is super handy. BibleGateway(.)com also has it online, and a web search will find you lots of options.

A family we met in the woodsWe went for a walk the day after Christmas after the weather cleared up on a logging road on Llanllwni Mountain near Lampeter in West Wales. We always are looking for opportunities to share the Lord with folks but this was literally in the middle of nowhere! ( FYI https://maps.app.goo.gl/eyRsMCgQUUU85tzq7)

A young Welsh-speaking family caught up with us on the road, trying to keep up with their 9-year old son on his bike! Local folks are always curious to meet obvious foreigners who speak a bit of Welsh. It inevitably leads to the question, “So, what brings you here?” Such an open door to talk about the Gospel!

We talked for a long time, lots of questions and some hesitation. And by the time we got back to the cars, all our time  together was very warm and friendly. I had been telling the dad how Jesus has been blessing him and calling him, and is actively pursuing him. His wife told us how she takes their two children to church from time to time, and how the son even played drums in their Christmas service! When we got back to the cars, the dad and his son went across the road to have a look around. A
Gospel coin from www.timefortruth.co.ukWhen they came back, the boy had this in his hand that he’d spied in the brush!
(You can order many version of these coins for free at this link!)

They were astonished as you might well imagine, and we just had to laugh at the Lord’s amazing ways. I told them in no uncertain words, "The Lord is SO after you guys!!" We blessed them and wished them a great 2024 and headed home for some hot drinks to warm up. We couldn't get over what a set-up the Lord had waiting for that family. Please join us in remembering them in your prayers.

So be encouraged! Our life and work in the Lord is never, ever, in vain. There is a great reminder for the year ahead in Colossians 4:5-6, "Conduct yourself with wisdom in your interactions with outsiders (non-believers), make the most of each opportunity [treating it as something precious]. Let your speech at all times be gracious and pleasant, seasoned with salt, so that you will know how to answer each one [who questions you]." (Amplified Version)

May you have a very blessed and Christ-filled New Year,

Dick & Gladys


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