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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Are we going after Jesus wholeheartedly?

Dear Friends & Prayers:

Here it is the last day of February, and we thought the year had just gotten underway! But now it seems that spring is really beginning. Tiny new leaves are out in the hedges and some of the trees. The branches on our black currant bushes are waving their little green flags and cheering on the bursting out of new growth, and there is clearly a red hue to the woods in the river gorge from the bulging buds of the oak trees.

Just in this last week we've been getting busy outside, enjoying days without rain and even some sunshine here and there. The earth has gotten dry enough to start turning over the soil in the garden, and begin planning what we will plant where. After last year's wettest and cloudiest summer on record, we are hope for a better harvest than last year too.

With much thanks to the Lord, Gladys health is definitely improving now and we are very grateful to all of you who have prayed for her during this time. It hasn't been easy, but His grace has always been sufficient and helped her to "stay the course." Some of the lessons that life brings our way can be tough going, but we come out stronger and closer to Him as a result, again by His grace alone.

This week I've found myself drawn back again and again to this scripture in the last chapter of John when Jesus shows Himself to the disciples at the sea of Tiberius. After they throw in the net and make a huge catch, "The disciple that Jesus loved said to peter, 'It is the Lord!' Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment (for he had removed it), and plunged into the sea."

Isn't that a wonderful picture of hunger for the Lord! He didn't wait the few extra minutes for the boat to make it in to the shore, he just plunged in! I can envision him flailing and lunging his way through the waist-deep water with total abandon to get as close to Jesus as he can as fast as he can! Perhaps he threw on his outer garment in case the Lord asked to him to go somewhere and he wanted to be available immediately.

So I've had to wonder should our own urgency to be with Jesus be any less than Peter's? . . Is there really anything of seemingly greater importance to us that might be holding us back? . . Have we just made some great "catch" of something that we find too precious to just leave behind? . . Or do we sweep inconvenience aside and plunge headlong after the One who gave His all for us? . . Let the questions keep coming . .

Along with the other disciples Peter walked and talked with Jesus for three years. They listened to His teaching and watched Him do amazing things and even participated in performing miracles themselves. And yet, greater than any of these experiences, just being with Him was to know the Father and dwell in His light with fullness of joy. And so now for us, in the midst of whatever we happen to be doing, when there is any evidence of Jesus nearby, can't we also drop it all and run to Him? Can't even a passing thought of Him inspire us to a moment of adoration in any place at any time?

We are now just two months into the new year of 2009. Perhaps the glitter and optimism is seeming a little tarnished already. But if we just take our eyes off our earthly surroundings long enough to look to Him, our perspective will certainly change! Nature is not holding back its flowers because last year was a hard one! So in the midst of whatever our particular tasks or circumstances might be, let us be free run to Him!

Among your other prayers, could you please remember our son Mike who has been trying to find employment since losing his job in late November? Thank you so much for your prayers for us and your continued interest in our intercessory mission here in Wales!

Taking the plunge for Him who first loved us,

Dick & Gladys


Friday, February 20, 2009

Is anything too hard for the Lord?

Dear Friends and Prayers:

At this month's meeting in the chapel, the sermon text was taken from Genesis chapter 18, when the Lord appears to Abraham in Mamre on the way to Sodom and Gomorrah. After eating the food that Abraham provided, the Lord tells him that Sarah soon will have the son promised to them years earlier. In response to Sarah's silent laughter, the Lord asks Abraham why she laughed, and then said, "Is anything too hard for the Lord?"

I immediately equated this story to the spiritual situation here in Wales. There are many others besides ourselves that are praying for and longing for an outpouring of revival once again in this land - the birth of the promise. But for many, like Abraham and Sarah, it has been a very long wait. It is easy to understand why Sarah laughed at the Lord's pronouncement. And in a similar way, it is easy to understand how the human mind tends to do the same with ideas of revival.

A practical analysis of the state of Christianity in Wales today is quite easily comparable to Sarah's assessment of her and Abraham's ability to have a child at their advanced age. A look around at the long trend of shrinking or closing churches certainly points towards a dismal future. From time to time when we meet people here, and we tell them that we are here praying for the coming revival, we can almost hear the silent laughter. More than once I've actually heard it out loud! And to be entirely candid here, I think I have heard my own laughter as well a few times!

That's where the words of God come into such prominent importance. "Is anything too hard for the Lord?" Absolutely not! It is His words that abide forever, not ours! It is our incapacity and His omnipotence that gives hope to our prayers, joy to our hearts, and assurance in the face of overwhelming odds. Sarah indeed laughed, but her understanding could not limit God's sovereignty! Isn't that a marvelous fact?

We are continually bolstered along by the fact that God's promises are more sure than any surrounding evidence. Such words as, "I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh..." and  "For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea," and innumerable other biblical promises will surely come to pass. Added to the written word are the things that the Lord has spoken directly to us, and countless others as well, of a coming move of God to Wales, and the nations. This is a privileged time in which we are living. Isn't it good to know that God's plans are never thwarted?

This picture here is of an old spring that has run freely here for hundreds of years. The litttle house is quite new of course, but the spring allegedly dates back to the first millenium A.D. It doesn't depend on any external power source, just a channel to run through, and occasional cleanings. Remeniscent of Jesus' words in John 7:38, "He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water."

Looking forward in His trustworthiness,

Dick & Gladys


Monday, February 09, 2009

Showers of blessings!

Dear Friends and Prayers:

Last week was filled with blessings for us. Snow has kissed the hills and valleys of Wales recently, and made some wonderful sights. The other night we drove home through the falling snow and it was just beautiful!

As we watched that perfect whiteness drifting down in the car's lights through the trees beside the road, I couldn't help but think of how God's amazing grace falls freely to all that turn to Him. Driving along in awe of His creation carried with it a plea for the awakening of this nation to the beauty of forgiveness and right standing with God through Jesus' shed blood.

The Lord also opened up a door of gracious hospitality near Cardiff which made it possible for us to go to a conference with Bill Johnson of Bethel Church in Redding, California. It was great to see the venue packed for almost every session, which bore witness to a growing sense of more need for Jesus and His kingdom. People came from a wide spectrum of churches from all over Wales, and that was a great encouragement in itself!

For both Gladys and myself, it was a real blessing to hear great testimonies of people who put into practice the very clear and simple teaching from the word of God. The overriding stress on our relationship with and total reliance upon the Holy Spirit for every aspect of life and ministry was very refreshing. It was also a renewed challenge to live every day in this fashion. And I think that for myself, the greatest blessing was to be strongly reminded again of the very fact of our being here in Wales and the nature of our calling. How can we dare believe such an immense assignment to stand in the gap for a nation? And yet, how dare we not believe? What an awesome God we serve!

Another and special blessing is that we have received permission from the membership of the chapel to host a small meeting of intercessors from around different parts of Wales next month! You may recall that last June there was a prayer meeting held in the Mid-point of the country. Our friends Dudley and Ann Griffiths are organizing this upcoming meeting at the point where the three large counties of Carmarthenshire, Cardiganshire and Pembrokeshire join together just a few miles from here. And so our chapel will be the staging area for the day's events.

Thank you for your prayers, interest and support as we look to the Lord in every aspect for the coming awakening.

Amazed by His love and favor,

Dick & Gladys

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