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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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