Month: January 2014

Answered Prayers and Varied Grace

Thank_you_001

After my previous post at the start of the week requesting prayer for some of the challenges that we’ve been facing recently, I feel it’s only appropriate to let you know how things have played out by the end of the week.

It’s been kinda crazy – there have been some wonderful answered prayers that have come in the form of varied and much valued grace.

1. The tooth

My tooth doesn’t hurt anymore – the pain is gone! What happened? Was I miraculously healed? Did an angel rock up and whack a gold filling in my mush? Nope! My wonderful wife managed to persuade me to go and see a private dentist for a second opinion. She’s the only person on planet earth who could have got me to do that (I’m not a big fan of private health care) but, frankly, he was a legend! He managed to work on the tooth, stop the pain and get me set for a root canal in a couple of weeks. Don’t much fancy the root canal, but right now I can eat, drink coffee and not want to smash my face into walls – so I’ll take it!

Thank you God for my wise wife and for a private dentist who knows what he’s doing!

2. The car

We have found a new car, paid a deposit and sorted insurance out. We collect it on Saturday morning, which means that tomorrow is the last day of bump-starting Betsy! She’s been a faithful old girl and we’ve had many adventures in her, but all good things come to an end. There is absolutely no way we’d have be in possession of a new car if generous saints hadn’t graciously provided us with a gift to buy it. They gave us the exact amount that we needed for a car that is perfect for us! We are STOKED!

Thank you God for the gift of gospel-hearted friends who are glad to be a means of grace to others!

3. The toilet

Finally, ever since I posted that last blog, Ezra (yeah, I named him!) has not had a SINGLE accident!!! He’s been clean and dry for the last 3 days and, as things stand, the twins will be back in nursery next week! It truly is a miracle. Literally overnight he just started taking himself to the bog. We’re SO blown away!

Thank you God for the simple yet significant grace of sovereignly intervening in the life of our toddler and helping him to get the hang of depositing turds in the right place!!

So there we have it! Yes, I’ve been smashed by flu this week. Yes, it’s been painful and frustrating. No, it hasn’t gone as planned. No, I haven’t enjoyed it. But I have to confess that as I reflect back I am deeply grateful to those of you have prayed, encouraged and stood with us in so many ways. I hope you have been blessed to know that you have been used by God in this way and that God has indeed answered your prayers on our behalf. I have truly been struck again by the varied grace of God that doesn’t always come to us in the form of supernatural signs and wonders, but often comes to us by the hands of ordinary followers of Jesus with extraordinary faith and love. Finally, I am most grateful to my God who has once again proved Himself to be faithful, merciful and kind to His children.

I’m so humbled and thankful.

All glory to God.

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Teeth, Transport, Pruning and Pain.

pruning-grape-vinesHey good people this is a very quick blog post from a very unwell Dai, asking for your prayers.

On Sunday I preached what I believe was one of my most impacting sermons at Hill City. The passage was John 15 and the title was Bear Fruit. (You can find it here). It was quite a simple message – God wants us to be fruitful, and to do so we need to abide in Christ, abide in His love and let His words abide in us. I made reference to the issue of ‘pruning’ too, explaining that God prunes fruitful branches in order to make them more fruitful. I preached this point to help provide perspective and encouragement for all those in the church who are experiencing suffering right now (and there’s plenty of them!) Shears are sharp, but we would do well to never lose sight of the love of the Vinedresser or His desire and commitment for His people to be fruitful.

So it’s little wonder that when I preach a word like that it gets tested…and boy is it being tested right now?!

I’ve had a toothache since last Wednesday. And it’s bad. Like literally, can’t stop myself from screaming and wanting to smash my own face into a wall to knock it out myself. I’ve literally been fighting against pain since last Wednesday and I think last night I just felt drained and emotional and defeated. I’ve seen my NHS dentist twice and he seems clueless to fix it, so this morning I swallowed my pride and went to see a private dentist. He’s done some preliminary work to (hopefully) kill the pain and I’m booked in for a root canal in a few weeks. Oh the joy! This whole situation hasn’t been helped by my somehow contracting a feverish fluey type thing so I’m aching all over and can’t stop shivering.

On a totally unrelated matter our car is dying. But in a really annoying way, cos it’s still working – it just needs bump-starting to get going, which means that wherever we go we have to park on hills everywhere so that we can get home. It’s not something we like to do with the kids in the car and it’s not something that Michelle enjoys, so with me being ill it’s just been awkward. Now miraculously we have been given a hugely generous gift to buy a new car (HALLELUJAH!) but until we’ve found one, it’s bump-starts all the way!

On top of all that, Michelle has just lost her mornings. Until Christmas the twins went to a wonderful local playgroup blessing Michelle with time to spend with God, visit friends, do housework (and have breakfast with me on Mondays!) But since Christmas they are meant to be starting nursery…but there’s a snag! They only take fully toilet-trained kids…and one of our kids isn’t! I don’t want to say which one to embarrass them…but it’s the male one with a planet-sized head! So we are now in the second week that Michelle has had to be with them non-stop, which she doesn’t mind cos she is a full-time mum and home-maker at the mo, but I can see it’s taking it out of her.

So there we have it – Pruning hurts!

Now I appreciate that much of this is first world problems and there are people suffering far worse than me. Agreed! But we live in the first world and things are tough so would you please keep us in prayer? Pray for us, that we would know God’s grace, patience and help as we seek to navigate this difficult season, and that the end product would be more fruit…and speaking of fruit…

It’s probably not ironic that we are currently enjoying a very fruitful time at Hill City. We have seen several people saved from all sorts of backgrounds recently and had one of the busiest Sundays we’ve ever had this last weekend. Furthermore, we have had our first Acts 29 church planter approved and have several families with us who we hope will soon be embarking on new gospel and church planting adventures. So please celebrate that with us too!

Our God is faithful.

Big love to you all.

Some Photos for my Dad!

My dad spends much of the year enjoying proper sunshine in Greece, or proper winter weather in Canada (you can read about his travels and enjoy his photos here). He’s currently loving life in the Canadian Rockies. However, before he left the soggy Welsh hills for the snow covered peaks of Banff it’s fair to say that the weather had been pretty rank and depressing, even by Welsh standards! Which is why when the sun made a rare appearance on Monday I jumped on my bike and pegged it up the local mountain, Garn Wen. The views were pretty spectacular – not quite the Rockies – but worth taking a few photos of on my phone. So seeing as he wasn’t around to enjoy the beautiful (albeit brief) moment of local sunshine, I thought I’d post my photos on the blog to reassure my dad that it’s not always murky and mingin’ back home. (The bottom one was taken first thing in the morning on my dog walk, not on my bike ride).

These are for you Pops…

Folly from Garn Wen

east from Garn Wen

SW from Garn Wen

Trevethin view

trevethin dawn

Punctures, Pressure, Pumps and Repairs

bicycle-repair-manI went to go for a bike ride the other day, only to discover that I couldn’t cos one of the tyres on my bike was as flat as the hedgehog who stopped to tie up his shoe-lace! Undeterred I went to my bike bag to pull out a new inner-tube, only to discover that I didn’t have any spares!

WHAT WAS I GOING TO DO?

Then the thought hit me like the juggernaut that didn’t see the hedgehog – why not repair the puncture?! I had the patches, the glue and all the other bits and bobs (including the little grey cubic thing that I still don’t know what is used for) but, to my shame, I have to confess that it had been quite some years since I repaired a puncture, having favoured the lazy, wasteful and irresponsible option of just whacking new inner-tubes on my bike and binning the old ones. (I have since repented and will opt for the repair option from now on!) Anyway, I knew that puncture repair was the only option so I dug deep into the recesses of my memory vaults and went for it:

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Ernest Shackleton – my new hero

10--Sir-Ernest-Sha_1675442iSo I was having a random chat with dad last week (can’t even remember what about!) and that’s when he just dropped Ernest Shackleton into the conversation.

“Who?” I hear you ask.

And that would be a fair question because until my old man mentioned him to me last week, I’d never heard of him either. However, here I am less than a week later wondering how I’d never heard of him before, indeed how no one I’ve spoken to about him since has ever heard of him before either. Perhaps it’s because for many decades Shackleton’s story was (wrongly) overshadowed by that of his contemporary Robert Falcon Scott (a.k.a Scott of the Antarctic).

But Ernie Shack was a beast. A true hero. Literally the stuff of legend. It’s kind of impossible to do justice to what he accomplished on my posy little blog, but rest assured I’m going to be posting A LOT about him over the coming weeks and months. Why? What has he done that has so got my pulse racing? The short version is that after his ship, The Endurance, sank amidst the ice of Antarctica back in 1915, it triggered one of the most incredible episodes of survival against-the-odds and courageous rescue in history. Through vision, compassion and brave leadership – Shackleton ensured that every single member of his team made it home. Now it’s probably fair to say that my introduction to this heroic figure has come at a time when leadership is something that I have been thinking long and hard about. Certainly the leadership qualities that he displayed were both remarkable and exemplary. Plus it’s also fair to say that such stories of adventure have always captured my imagination! Perhaps it’s because I’m just a big kid at heart. Or maybe it’s because I still see life, especially as a follower of Jesus, as the epic quest to end all quests and therefore love heroic, true-life stories of adventure because I’m in the middle of one! (I like to think it’s the latter!)

Either way, I’ve just ordered myself a bunch of books and DVDs to get better acquainted with my new mate friend, Shackleton, and will be unpacking all sorts of leadership lessons and inspirations as I get stuck in. In the meantime, however, I really want you to discover this man and his story for yourselves, so I’ve posted a series of YouTube videos below that together make up a documentary that should prove more than enough to get your blood pumping.

Enjoy.