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Wednesday, June 27, 2018

A few miles later... God's extraordinary faithfulness!

oldstonebridge.jpgDear Friends of Wales Awakening:

The middle part of June of has shot by like an arrow! Two weeks ago found us just returned from a two-night visit to the Cotswolds, a very old and beautiful farming area in the west of England. The stay was a thoughtful gift from friends for my 70th birthday in December. The rolling hills, fields, and woodlands reminded me of rural Maryland where I grew up.

Then June 17th was, incredibly, our 40th wedding anniversary! So we took a drive to beautiful North Wales where we were graciously hosted by friends. We had planned to do some hiking in the mountains but it was mostly foggy and wet so we adjusted our plans accordingly.

It was nice to just get away and admire the beauty of God's handiwork. We spent our first months together in The Andes in Ecuador, and have always loved the mountains. And so this was a special time to reflect on the many blessings the Lord has given us over the years. And the northern part of Wales is still very dear to our hearts since we traveled there every month for nearly five years to a prayer meeting for revival we started in Blaenau Ffestiniog, and is still going.

sheepinfog.jpgLast Tuesday we stayed with some other friends on the north side of the Llŷn Peninsula. They host a weekly prayer meeting in the Welsh language, and it was a great blessing to meet a few people from their group that evening, and then at lunchtime the next day. And an extra treat for us was to be joined by another old friend who used to come to the meetings in Blaenau, and also the daughter of a wonderful older sister that we had visited and prayed with there a few times. It was amazing for us to see the special connections the Lord has blessed us with here.

It was exciting to be able to share with our Welsh speaking friends about a very brief but significant visit we had back in April. A pastor from India called and arranged to visit us with a friend. He excitedly told us how in 2015 God gave him a vivid and remarkable dream. There were three points: the Welsh people, the Welsh community, and the Welsh language that were going to be involved as the epicenter of a worldwide revival. When he woke up from the dream, 40years.jpghe grabbed his dictionary to find out what "Welsh" meant.  He had never even heard of Wales, and was amazed to discover that Wales is a country, and one of the four nations in the United Kingdom! So as you can imagine, this was especially exciting for our friends to hear, and of course for us as well.

So it has been a time to consider each of these milestones in our lives. foxgloveonblue.jpgWe realize that it is only God's grace that has made it all possible. And as the years continue to roll by, we are ever more aware of how He has so faithfully sustained us every step of the way. All we can do is give Him our thanks and our service, and be constantly looking to Him day by day.

This is such a wonderful portion in Psalm 63:6-8 that says, "When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches. Because You have been my help, therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice. My soul follows close behind You; your right hand upholds me."

And as we read in 1 Samuel 7:12 after his victory over the Philistines, "...Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen, and called its name Ebenezer, saying, 'Thus far the Lord has helped us.'"

And so may we all keep foremost in our hearts that the Lord's help is ever present with us, and be encouraged and strengthened daily by His words of life,

Dick & Gladys


Friday, June 15, 2018

A prayer for the nations from an old song!

americanplains.jpgDear Friends and Prayers:

For some reason yesterday morning the old patriotic song "America the Beautiful" came to mind. When I started singing, it I realized I didn't know all the words and so looked it up online. It was first written as a poem by Katherine Lee Bates in 1893 and subsequently published with music by klbates.jpgSamuel A. Ward in 1910.

You may be familiar with the first stanza as I was, but I couldn't recall having ever heard the others, and I found them very moving. Here is the well-known first verse.

 America the Beautiful
O beautiful for spacious skies
For amber waves of grain
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

I won't include all of the seven stanzas here, but want to just share some of the last lines of them. You can see the complete words at this link. They reflect the values that we would be delighted to see in our country, and also make a wonderful prayer for any nation. So I am going to take the liberty of substituting "My Homeland, My Homeland" for "America, America."

My Homeland! My Homeland!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

My Homeland! My Homeland!
God mend thine every flaw
Confirm thy soul in self-control
Thy liberty in law!

My Homeland! My Homeland!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain divine!
My Homeland! My Homeland!
God shed his grace on thee
Till souls wax fair as earth and air
And music-hearted sea!

My Homeland! My Homeland!
God shed his grace on thee
Till paths be wrought through wilds of thought
By pilgrim foot and knee!

My Homeland! My Homeland!
God shed his grace on thee
Till selfish gain no longer stain
The banner of the free!

Congress-Prayer.jpgWhen we pray for revival, we are praying for the working of the Holy Spirit to change individual hearts and lives. And that means we are also praying for changes in the nations. Psalm 9:20 says, "Put them in fear, O Lord, that the nations may know themselves to be but men." As we pray for our nations and our leaders, here is a good goal to hold in our hearts in Proverbs 14:34, "Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people."

And we would like to leave you with Paul's prayer in Ephesians 1:16-17, "I pray for you constantly, asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God."

Dick & Gladys


Friday, June 08, 2018

How quickly we can lose sight... staying immersed in Him!

disappearinghedge.jpgDear Praying Friends and Saints:
The cemetery at the chapel is surrounded by a stone wall with a hedge planted on top, but it requires regular and dedicated looking after. Since our long-time friend and resident caretaker retired seven years ago, things have changed a lot. Without his constant care, the hedges quickly were overgrown by ivy, briars and many other types of tenacious wild plants.
And that drew my attention to our morning readings a few days ago in Deuteronomy 11:18-21.
  "You shall therefore impress these words of mine on your heart and on your soul; and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontals on your forehead.
   You shall teach them to your sons, talking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up.
   You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your sons may be multiplied on the land which the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens remain above the earth."
God's words are like the stone wall, the underlying foundation of all that grows out from there. But as the scripture vividly points out, there is a very basic and important need to be constantly reminded in many ways. And this was thousands of years ago when life was far less complicated than in our modern age.
disappearingact.jpgI am always blown away by the fact that after hearing God's voice on Mt. Sinai and seeing the fire and cloud and feeling the trembling of the earth, just days later they made the golden calf. Or worse than that, how Cain, after hearing directly from his parents about how they walked in the garden and talked with God, could then blithely turn away from love and reason and murder his own brother!
But sadly there is a natural tendency that draws our hearts and thoughts away from the things of Lord. As sure as unchecked growth can make the stone walls disappear in a relatively short time, so too can our time and energy be redirected and we lose our most important focus.
If in ancient times God's people needed constant reminding of His words, His love, and His care for them, how much more is it imperative for us in today's busy and complicated world? Jesus us reminded us in Mark 4:19 how easily, "...the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful."
The antidote for us today is much the same. It is impressing these words of His, binding them, seeing the world through them, talking about them and writing them in obvious places. But it is much better than that too.  In Jeremiah 31:33 God said, "...I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people." And because Jesus is the Word, and he dwells inside us by his spirit, it is far more than reading and talking about His words, lupines2018.jpgbut talking with Him. It's all about a relationship. And like any important relationship, it means spending time together. Similar to keeping a hedge-topped stone hedge or cultivating a garden, it is a matter of constant maintenance and input. The major difference is that there is joy in our fellowship! Psalm 16:11 says, "You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore."
And as we learn to enjoy and seek out His presence, look what kinds of good things begin to happen. Isaiah 29:24 says, "These also who erred in spirit will come to understanding, and those who complained will learn doctrine." And so as we are exhorted in Hebrews12:2, let us continue to keep on "looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."
abraveswimmer.jpgIt is sort of like learning a language by an experience of "total immersion". There can be nothing better for us than living immersed in God's presence, and His word abiding abundantly in us. And even greater that this is the fact that He actually enjoys our time spent with Him!
On a brief final note, it seems that summer has really started now. The proof is that Gladys has actually gotten into the still very cold water here at nearby Mwnt. "It's great", she said, "come on in!" I was gently coerced into it on Thursday, and it was freezing. Thankfully, God's presence is an infinitely better immersion experience!
May you be deeply strengthened and refreshed as you "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you." James 4:8

Dick & Gladys


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