Thursday, 27 April 2017


These last three years I have been able to go to Nichlaston House for a ‘Looking forward to Easter’ retreat, only this year, although it was only Monday to Friday in our timing, we travelled in our meditations from Maundy Thursday, right through to the day of Pentecost.
We were encouraged to participate in imaginative contemplations so that God might speak to us through our imaginings.
I was so happy to participate in this, as my writings and poems all come out of pictures God gives me. And I have learned to  teach our children to pray by putting a chair for Jesus, asking  them what they would like to say to Him and then imagining what he says in reply. I know that God speaks to me very often through my imaginings.
So when Sam (Samantha) placed an empty chair for Jesus, and then asked us to sit quietly and see what we imagine happens next, I was wonderfully blessed.      
The next morning I sought to catch the joy of that time into words:
                        ‘An empty chair? But you are there
                        I run, I kneel, and know my pain you feel
                        What joy we share at that empty chair.’
I won’t attempt to share all my meditations, but I remember how, as I stood with the crowd on that dusty Jericho road, it was not only the poor blind man who was calling out to Jesus, for I too had called out to Jesus, and together we had followed .
I too felt troubled and convicted in the Upper Room when Jesus told us that one of us would betray him, and I also experienced the tremendous surge of joy as the Holy Spirit came in mighty power on the Day of Pentecost. But out of all these meditations, I think I was impacted the most when Sam asked us to picture ourselves responding to God’s call  after the veil of the temple had been rent in two.
You see, I had come with a special need. I often long for heaven. Is it those we have been closest to who will be in our special reception committee? I like to picture it so. But our greatest hope and longing is that we might see our Jesus face to face. But  with all the multitude of the redeemed gathered throughout the ages, and those who have done so much, surely I will be far away. Will he, who is King of kings and Lord of Lords,  even see me in the great throng?
But now, in my godly imagining I stood before the rent veil, the new and living way that had been so miraculously opened for me through the death of my Saviour. I heard God’s voice. He called me by my name. ‘Come. You must come alone.’
I came. I was welcomed as if I were the only one for whom God gave his Son. Not a plain chair this time, but a glorious throne. But then, taking me by the hand, he drew back another curtain so that we were looking out to a universe redeemed. There, from every nation and people and tribe and tongue, all were there worshipping our Saviour.
Among this great throng there was a place for me. The Father reminded me of Jesus’ words, ‘I go to prepare a place for you.’ he told me, ‘He has prepared that special place for you. His eye is always on you. How could he fail to be aware of you?’
I drove home on Friday morning, knowing that each of us in the small company  who had gathered had  been deeply blessed. Doubtless we had all come with our individual needs, and God was sending us each on our way, deeply satisfied, knowing we could face all that lay ahead of us in the joy and power of our risen Christ.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017


It was such a privilege to have been among the many who gathered for this wonderful service of thanksgiving, and so I felt I should try to share some of the blessing.
 How deeply we feel the loss of this great man of God, David Ollerton. Ours was not the privilege of those who have already crossed the river, and are among the joyous company who gathered to be part of his abundant entrance into the Kingdom of God.  Yet we had that foretaste of the kingdom as, maybe a thousand or more of us, met in the ample facilities of Christchurch, Newport, and sang some of the old hymns of the Welsh revival, and some of the newer ones, also deeply meaningful, which David had taught us.
‘His children will arise and call him blessed.’ It was wonderful to see so many of his children, and grandchildren too taking part, while our dear Liz, who has been so strong for David in all his trials, and  now for all of us too, had doubtless choreographed it all.
Some of the youngest of the ‘Tribe’ recounted how their Taid, as they called him, had learned to memorise Psalm 121 at his grandmother’s kitchen table, and now, each speaking a few verses in turn, they spoke it out strongly. ‘I will lift up my eyes to the hills.’ No wonder they have become a family of mountaineers.
It was David and Liz’s two daughters, Ruth and Joy, who between them read to us the history of David’s fruitful life, while their husbands too had been included in the service.
We could not have had such a service without the Gospel being preached. David had placed this responsibility on his very capable son, Andrew, also in the ministry, but before he did so, it was thrilling to hear his wife, Charlotte, declaim a selection of verses from Paul’s writings in 1 Corinthians. And now, like Elisha, it seems a double portion of his Father’s anointing, is now upon him.
The whole of this wonderful family behaved with charisma and dignity throughout this moving occasion. But who could not help but feel deep emotion in the face of such a parting. It was only at the end of such  exemplary  preaching that his son paused a moment to regain control of his own emotion, and somehow this seemed so fitting. They set  an example for us all, for David, with Liz, and their children too, have sown so much into our lives, and he will be so greatly missed. It was they who planted our fellowship in Porthcawl, pastoring us for the first two years until,  because of health he could no longer continue.
While in remission, with the measure of health he had, he knew he had to make Wales Wide his priority, but he continued to mentor Tom and Laura, who have so capably taken on his role of pastoring, and has loved and supported us all from afar.
An awe inspiring picture of David towered over us, by means of the screen, so life like, in his mountaineering gear, and standing by the cairn he has built, just a stone or two at a time. It is his Ebenezer. For even in the last painful months when he endured a course of chemotherapy, yet again, - yes, for our sakes, even though, like Paul, he longed to be with Christ, which is far better, he had slowly, painfully, yet joyfully, climbed the gentler slopes of Fan Fawr, raising funds for Felindre, and building his Ebenezer – a thanksgiving to our faithful God.

Oh God, creator of the rugged ranges
Thank you for those with heart of mountaineer
Loving the great outdoors of open spaces
Facing the fiercest climb with glad good cheer

Thank you for those who count each climb a challenge
Trusting God’s strength to face each rocky road
Nor fear the final peak that’s yet before them
Knowing they’ll soon be present with their Lord

Oh how we thank you, Lord, for those like David
His joy to lead us all to claim the heights
To gain new strength for every climb before us
And so possess the land in God’s own might

So may we hear God’s call to face the mountains
To know we each can be his mountaineer
To claim new heights nor fear the steepest valleys

To walk, e’en as he walked, with glad good cheer.