Last month, Sainsbury's, a chain of supermarkets here in the United
Kingdom, released their Christmas advertisement on national television.
They made a powerful three-minute video of the Christmas Truce of the
First World War that was being fought one hundred years ago.
I don't remember ever having heard of this. But in the one of the
most brutal wars in all of history, there were unauthorized spontaneous
ceasefires along some areas of the trenches. Some of the soldiers from
opposing sides exchanged Christmas greetings and even sang hymns
Jesus, the Prince of Peace, came to give us peace with God through
His atoning blood, and eternal life. The recognition of this wonderful
fact by both sides was enough to stop the aggression for at least a few
then the overriding influence of the "powers that were" obliged them to
continue on their senseless course. The current of this world swept
away those moments of peace and it was back to "business as usual."
This short production is very well made, and I have found myself
profoundly touched each time I've watched it, and driven to a place of
prayer, longing for God's Kingdom rather than the fleeting kingdoms of
men. There is such a stark contrast between the two.
Towards the end of the video the background music is that great old
hymn, "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms."
What a fellowship, what a joy divine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
What a blessedness, what a peace is mine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.
It seems to represent the
Lord's invitation to come to Him, all who are heavy laden. He is still
the Prince of Peace in the midst of a world wracked by sin and sorrow.
this link to watch the video. Hopefully it will energize your
appreciation for this greatest of all gifts, that "Christ Jesus came into the world to
save sinners." And may it also stir you to pray with renewed
vigor for the world around us.
We wish you and your loved ones a very blessed Christmas, and that
the true and extraordinary "reason for the season" become more deeply
real and meaningful to you each day,
Dick & Gladys
Friends and Prayers:
On this side of heaven there is no greater treasure than our own
families. And it's been quite a while since we've sent out news about
our children, so here's a brief update about each of them.
Peter, on the left, is the oldest at 35, and has just reenlisted as
Staff Sargent for another four years in the U.S. Marine Corps. (Perhaps
that explains his expression here!) He has spent most of his 12 years
in San Diego and is now looking at the a likely change of duty station.
Has hasn't put in any requests so will find out early next year where
his next few years will be spent. It could be anywhere, and he's
looking forward to a change. It was great to see him reconnect with his
little brother while they were both living in Southern California.
Richard, our youngest, will be 29 in less than two weeks. After five
years with Bosch as an industrial designer, he has worked for almost
two years with Luxion, a 3D rendering, animation and lighting software
company. He is their Global Training Specialist, and has earned the
title with some serious air miles. This year alone he has been in the
UK twice, Helsinki, Beijing, and many American cities as well. Earlier
this year he moved to Boston to open a small office for the company,
and really likes the change from SoCal, and especially being nearer to
family. His next door neighbors are his first cousin, her husband and
three daughters, whom he totally enjoys. My brother is also in Boston
and my sister lives in Connecticut, so it has been a blessing for him.
Our daughter Grace, 33, is now totally recovered from her emergency
appendectomy in early August while working in Rwanda. Thank you so very
much again to each of you that prayed for her! She has been with
Catholic Relief Services in Baltimore for about two years now, and has
recently been appointed the health and nutrition regional technical
advisor for their Central Africa regional office. She is responsible
for covering Rwanda, Burundi, Chad, Central Africa Republic, the
Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Nigeria and Ghana. She will be
moving to Bujumbura, Burundi's capital, at the end of May. She has
friends there and is looking forward to living abroad again. She finds
her job very rewarding and she loves to travel. Watching monkeys play
just outside her office there is a bonus!
Michael, 32, is the only one of the four that is married. He lives
in Hammond, Louisiana with our lovely
daughter-in-law Lauren. They "took the plunge" just over four years now, and
seem to be getting sweeter on each other as the days go by. Mike works
at a supply warehouse for the Winn Dixie supermarket chain, and is
hoping to find a daytime job doing what he studied for and worked
in–computer drafting and mapping. Lauren is newly self-employed and is
doing the what she loves to do as an artist. She bakes irresistible
looking and delicious goodies, designs and makes knitted goods and
other things, and sells them on the weekends at local markets. It is a
challenge but they are both enjoying it, especially Mike who gets to
wear and eat the products, but hopefully not the profits too!
Gladys and I are both so very blessed to see how the Lord has kept
our kids both safe and happy. One of His promises before we left
Louisiana nearly ten years ago was that He would look after them better
than we ever could. His faithfulness over the years has been amazing,
and a great comfort as well.
It is not always easy being so far away from them, but with today's
communications the world is a lot smaller. Emails, messaging and voice
and video chats have enabled us to keep wonderfully in touch. And an
extra special blessing for us is that "Dicky" and Grace will be
arriving here in Swansea on the day after Christmas for ten days. We
are so looking forward to their visit, and are delightedly thankful for
such a treat!
We wish you every blessing in Jesus' wonderful name,
Dick & Gladys
Praying Friends and Saints:
Each monthly meeting at our chapel starts with the first two stanzas
this beautiful old hymn written in the early 1800's by John Hughes. It
is titled, "A Prayer for the Holy Spirit".
O send the Holy Spirit, Lord,
In Jesus' mighty name,
With His workings like fire,
O may He come down.
According to Thy great and worthy promise,
O pour out from above
Thy Holy Spirit with strength,
To work upon us.
What an amazing request, and perhaps a bit risky too. When people
asked John the Baptist if Jesus was the Christ in Luke 3:16-17, "John answered, saying to all, 'I
indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I is coming, whose
sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. He will baptize you with the
Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will
thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather the wheat into His
barn; but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire.'"
This open invitation speaks of
a disposition to allow the Lord to have free reign in our lives and
"work on" whatever area in us that He sees fit. That's a big difference
from us asking Him to work on such-and-such an area. It is His criteria
and not ours—the refiner's fire! Are we ready for this? Are we willing
to pay the price? Really?
What an impact we, His church body, would have in the world around
us! The disciples in the early church were serious about following
Jesus. In Acts 17:6 they are described as, "...These who have turned the world
upside down have come here too." They were ready for what came
their way as they followed faithfully in His.
Can we pray this prayer with all sincerity and be willing and ready
for Him to cleanse us of our chaff? Jesus is ready at every moment. In
John 12:49 He says, "I came to
send fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!"
May His fire light up our hearts and change our lives in such a way
that the people around us can see His glory in us and be drawn to the
Christ our Redeemer!
Dick & Gladys
Friends of Wales
After a few frosty mornings in a row,
it is now apparent that December is really here. A nippy 24°F (-4.4°C)
this morning made me glad I got our little prayer booth up last week.
It has a small heater on a timer and provides
a warm welcome on cold days like today.
I love this crisp cold weather and the
how it brings things into focus that go unnoticed at other times. The
color of these mushrooms against the frosty grass of the cemetery was
kind of like a tiny sunrise against an icy silver sky.
They seem to be flourishing at a time
when most other growing things have dropped their leaves and are now in
"sleep" mode for the approaching winter. I was reminded of the Lord's
promises to sustain us in times of adversity, and how He gives us hope
and strength when we need it. Paul reminds us in Romans 5:3-5, "And not only that, but we also glory
in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and
perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not
disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts
by the Holy Spirit who was given to us."
little chap doesn't seem to be phased at all by the cold. He's found a
bit of shelter by the corner of this gravestone and is making the best
of his situation. Of course it could be that blade of grass tickling
his nose, but I think he is looking out in hopeful expectation for
God's new mercies that come every morning without fail. Or perhaps he
is remembering what Jesus says in Luke 6:21, "Blessed are you who hunger now, For you
shall be filled. Blessed are you who weep now, For you shall laugh."
I have been reminded several times
recently of people in some places on this same earth of ours that are
living through situations so terrible it is difficult to imagine. Of
course with today's instant media we don't need to imagine much because
of all the graphic imagery bombarding us daily. What we might consider
life's adversities would likely appear as almost paradise to so many
living in dire situations at this very moment. I'm sure I need not
elaborate here, but most of is directly due to human aggression,
selfishness or indifference—sin, to put it bluntly. How we need the
is so easy to tune these things out, especially at this time of year.
But I would like to remind us to please keep the many desperately
needy people in our thoughts and prayers. It could be us were it not
for the grace of God.
1 Timothy 2:1 exhorts us, "Therefore I exhort first of all that
supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for
all men." And especially for those that are fellow believers, we
know that God's promises are the same for them as for us. Psalm 32:7
says, "You are my hiding place;
You shall preserve me from
trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance."
Furthermore Psalm 119:114 states that "You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in Your word."
So perhaps we can pray for all our
fellow members in the one body of Christ that they are given an
overpowering awareness of these transcendent truths, and that His
presence and grace accompany and surround them in ways that we have
Our lasting hope is indeed in God's
word and kingdom, everything else is just temporary. And may our
greatest desire be like His "who desires all
men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." (1
Dick and Gladys