Dear Praying Friends and Saints:
For several weeks now I have had this phrase resounding in my heart.
When I was reading about the fate of Eli the priest and his
family, I was struck by the verses in 1 Samuel 4:21-22, "Then she named the child Ichabod, saying, 'The
glory has departed from Israel!' because the ark of God had been
captured and because of her father-in-law and her husband. And
she said, 'The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of
God has been captured.'"
My immediate reaction was one of deep sorrow. But just as
quickly, the Lord impressed "Immanuel" into my spirit with an
unexpected wave of JOY! And then came the words, "From Ichabod to Immanuel". As I pondered this glorious and almost
instantaneous change, the "traditional" context of the church came
to mind with quite a wonderful realization that this is what is
happening as a result of the coronavirus lockdown that has taken
place around the globe during the last few months.
Let's face it. Over the last fifty years or so, the impact of the
traditional church on society has grown less and less. I use the
word "traditional" here, in very general terms, to include
physical buildings where we go to congregate for worship and
preaching/teaching, and to have fellowship with other believers.
Both in larger Sunday meetings and in smaller cell-type groups
during the week, that pattern has all too easily become the norm
in our Christian experience. We grow accustomed to hearing from
others about the Lord and His word, but a relatively small
percentage of believers develop the personal discipline to spend
time alone with God on a daily basis.
Suddenly and gloriously, that has all
changed. With public gatherings, even in small groups, prohibited
almost everywhere, there is a new dynamic at work. Self-isolation
has obliged us to seek the Lord where we are—without going
somewhere else with others. Many are joyfully discovering what it
means to respond to Jesus' invitation in Revelation 3:20, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone
hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and
dine with him, and he with Me." The reality of
Immanuel—"God with us"—comes boldly into the foreground.
Another result of this shift is that people's lives are changing.
Believers are flourishing. As Christians by the thousands are
drawn into a new level of relationship with God, there is a
wonderful by-product, like that of Acts 4:13. "Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and
John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men,
they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus."
Another result of our physical confinement, especially through
the medium of the internet, is that the Body of Christ has been
coming together in new and unique ways. I trust you have
all probably seen some of the several songs of blessing by and for
nations produced collectively with most of the participants recording in their
homes. They are such a great example of the church being the
church at this link!
Many churches, if not most, are now streaming their Sunday
meetings online, and reaching people whom they've never met, and
in many cases people join in from other nations. Meetings can be watched at any
time, virtually enabling us to "be in two places at the same
time." Small groups are meeting using online resources such as
Zoom. Unprecedented numbers of online prayer meetings are
taking place globally. People are reaching out to one another with
a new-found fervor that warms the heart and blesses heaven itself.
crisis has confronted humankind very directly with its own
mortality with the numbers of death still increasing and being
talked about incessantly now for months. Amidst the fear and
apprehension that have gripped the hearts of people who have no hope
beyond this material life, there has been a huge increase in the
number of internet searches for the topics of God, prayer, and the
The emerging "new" church, individuals renewed in their
relationship with Jesus and one another, are finding opportunities
to engage with people looking for answers to the big questions that
suddenly matter more than ever before. Now is our opportunity to
display the reality of 1 Peter 4:10, "As
each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as
good stewards of the manifold [multi-form/color] grace of God."
This is a uniquely opportune time to pray for God's direct
intervention in the hearts of men. Psalms 80:19 says, "Turn us again to yourself, O LORD God of
heaven’s Armies. Make your face shine down upon us. Only then
will we be saved."(NLT) As people
around the world are confronted by the vulnerability of our very
existence, and impotence to do anything about it, so too we find
ourselves unable to bring forth any spiritual change outside of
God turning the hearts of men to Himself.
At this unparalleled time in human history, our prayer can be
nothing less than a plea for massive worldwide revival as people
turn to Jesus in record numbers as the living rock of their
salvation. May His grace, wisdom, and love empower each one of us
day by day as we rejoice in Immanuel—God with us,
Dick & Gladys
Dear Friends and Prayers:
This verse in Psalm 74 immediately brought a melody to mind from
many years ago. It touched me so deeply that I just had to find
out what it was. That led me to discover all the original words of
this amazing old hymn by Isaac Watts based on Psalm 90, and I want
to share it with you here. I hope you take the time to reflect on
the significance of each verse.
O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home.
Under the shadow of Thy throne
Thy saints have dwelt secure;
Sufficient is Thine arm alone,
And our defense is sure.
Before the hills in order stood,
Or earth received her frame,
From everlasting Thou art God,
To endless years the same.
Thy Word commands our flesh to dust,
“Return, ye sons of men”:
All nations rose from earth at first,
And turn to earth again.
A thousand ages in Thy sight
Are like an evening gone;
Short as the watch that ends the night
Before the rising sun.
The busy tribes of flesh and blood,
With all their lives and cares,
Are carried downwards by the flood,
And lost in foll’wing years.
Time, like an ever-rolling stream,
Bears all its sons away;
They fly, forgotten, as a dream
Dies at the op’ning day.
Like flow’ry fields the nations stand
Pleased with the morning light;
The flow’rs beneath the mower’s hand
Lie with’ring ere ’tis night.
O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Be Thou our guard while troubles last,
And our eternal home.
(Isaac Watts, Published 1719)
We pray This great photo taken recently from the International
Space Station of the United Kingdom adds some context and
dimension to the words of this hymn and all the scriptures. Psalm
73:28 says, "But as for me, how good it is
to be near God! I have made the Sovereign Lord my shelter, and I
will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do."
So as we draw close to God during this season, let's remember to
share with those around us who our source of strength and hope is.
Dick & Gladys
Friends and Prayers:
As incredible as it seems, on this morning fifteen years ago we
found ourselves standing with half of our worldly possessions
outside Heathrow Airport in London! Our Welsh adventure had begun
and here we were—full of expectation and wonder at how the Lord
had sovereignly moved us here lock, stock and barrel. After
twenty-nine years of ministry among Latin Americans, this radical
change had all the markings of foolishness.
Now, looking back over our time here, we are always amazed at how
the Lord has continually upheld us in so many ways. We have had
challenges in many areas, but God has faithfully seen us through
them all. We are so thankful that His ways are not our ways.
Yesterday morning we read the story of Ruth. When Boaz first
speaks with her on the first day she goes to glean in his fields,
he says in chapter 2:12, "'...The Lord repay
your work, and a full reward be given you by the Lord God of
Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge.'" As
I read those words, I was overwhelmed once again with gratitude
for how secure a refuge He has been for us.
On that same day, on the drive into Wales, I stopped to take this
picture as we neared our destination. The bright flowers and the
name of the town for "some reason" just grabbed our attention.
What we could never have known at the time was that this was the
town where we would live for our first years in Wales. And even
more surprising, the white entrance just ahead on the right would
be where we made our home after five months of very temporary
housing situations while we looked to rent a place of our own.
Isaiah 62:4 says, "You shall no longer be
termed Forsaken, Nor shall your land any more be termed
Desolate; But you shall be called Hephzibah, and your land
Beulah; For the Lord delights in you, And your land shall be
married." After moving so many times, nine, in fact, we
did feel a bit "forsaken". And then to find ourselves in such a
lovely place was yet again more heartwarming evidence of God's
care for us. And that has continued unbroken for all these fifteen
We also took this scripture to heart as it applied to this land
of Wales. Like any other nation in this world, until its people
come into a right relationship with their Creator, they will
indeed be desolate. As it says in Ephesians 2:12-13, "...at that time you were without Christ,
...strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and
without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who
once were far off have been brought near by the blood of
And so this is our ongoing prayer, that this land
shall be married
—joined to the Body of Christ—through God's
saving grace. Thank you so much for your continued interest and
prayer support prayer for Wales and the nations, especially in these
Dick & Gladys
While reading the story about Samson and Delilah this morning in
Judges 16, my attention was arrested by verse 20. "And she said, 'The Philistines are upon you,
Samson!' So he awoke from his sleep, and said, 'I will go out as
before, at other times, and shake myself free!' But he did
not know that the Lord had departed from him."
This has always struck me as one of the greatest tragedies among
many in the Old Testament, and I began to consider how this could
have happened. Had Samson just grown used to his extraordinary
strength, and forgotten its source? I think not, because he didn't
want to reveal it to Delilah. But his active awareness of God's
extraordinary anointing on his life had been dulled by the things
of this world. Apparently, his chief interests lay elsewhere.
To my understanding, in Old Testament times, the spirit of God
would usually "come upon" people for specific messages, tasks, or
periods of time. But now, through God's amazing grace, we live in
the times and promises of the New Testament. Jesus has told us in
John 14:16-18, "And I will pray the Father,
and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with
you forever—the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot
receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know
Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not
leave you orphans; I will come to you." This means
that He doesn't just come and go from time to time, rather He
takes up permanent residence!
This brought me to take a
closer look at our own condition. Not unlike Sampson, who didn’t
realize the Lord had left him, we too can so easily get caught up
in the process of our day-to-day living that we find ourselves
oblivious to His presence in every aspect of our lives. That fact
that we could even forget such an overwhelming truth is, in
itself, very sobering. This old framed quote is a good reminder of
takes it a step further in Psalm 19:14. "Let
the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be
acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer."
Now, this gets way closer to home, and frankly, could even make us
downright uncomfortable when we take an honest look at our thought
life. (It sounds vaguely like the "thought police" of George
Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four!)
However, the truth runs gloriously in the opposite direction. How
can it be that the Creator of the universe humbles Himself enough
to live within us, with all our foibles and imperfections? And yet
this is exactly what He has done. He redeems us, renews our ways
of thinking and living, and makes us His earthly home. How
incredibly marvelous is that?
And here once again, David provides the proper context in Psalm
16:11, "You will show me the path of life;
in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are
pleasures forevermore." So rather than feeling
"monitored" in big-brotherly fashion, our hearts can boldly
rejoice in the fact He is there in the center of our being and His
new law written in our hearts is transforming us day by day.
And what's even more, Isaiah 61:3 says that He has given us His
spirit "...that they may be called trees of
righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be
" Ours is the joyous privilege of pointing
others towards His forgiveness and mercy. Now there is something so
sizzling bright that it should be unforgettable!
Therefore, as Hebrews 13:5-6 says, "'...because
God Himself has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake
you.' So we may boldly say: 'The Lord is my helper; I will
not fear. What can man do to me?'"
Dick & Gladys
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