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Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit


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Ten Years Later at the Gym

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

Researchers have found that 115 million North Americans made health resolutions on  January 1 – promising themselves to quit smoking, eat better, lose weight, or start a serious exercise program. But within 2 months, only about 63% were still keeping their number one New Year’s resolution.  When one checks a year later, health resolution ‘survivors’ are a greatly diminished remnant.

What is it that gives us the motivation to hang in there when we are seeking to become healthy?   I will now have ‘survived’ ten years of consistently going to the gym, at least two times a week.  I have often been tempted to give up and crawl back on my couch.

One of my best motivators has been my dear wife to whom I have been married for 33 years.  She went to the gym many years before I went and often gently encouraged me to come along with her.  My initial impression was that I felt sorry for people who went to weight rooms.  They seemed rather masochistic to me.  Why would they inflict so much pain upon themselves?  I also felt intimidated by the endless variety of equipment with different levers ‘going in a thousand different directions’.  My fear was that if I pressed the wrong lever in the wrong direction, I might end up at the physiotherapist for the next year!

One of my most fun activities now is to work out at the weight room with my wife.  Every time I see her there, I am filled with admiration that she is taking such good care of herself.  I am looking forward to enjoying with my dear wife a healthy, active future fostered by the very weight training that we are both doing right now.

A second motivation for lasting ten years at the gym has been the ‘personal trainer called pain.  Since my being ‘rear-ended’ in a November ’99 car accident, my neck and shoulder muscles have become very fine-tuned to reminding me when I need to work out.  As long as I exercise at least two times a week, my neck is relatively pain-free, my headaches are down by 90%, and my hips and back are remarkably stable.  As a result, my medical costs for physiotherapy, chiropractic, and massage therapy are down by more than 80%!

But if I slack off and get too busy, I can feel the area of my former injury tightening up again.  The resulting pain and spasms once again will interfere with my work life, family life, and prayer life.  Chastened and reminded, I trundle back off to the gym, to my new friends who have been wondering what has happened to me.  My personal trainer ‘Pain’ can be a remarkable motivator if I will only listen to it and not just medicate it away.

A third motivator for lasting ten years at the gym has been the spiritual benefits.  Modern day life has all kinds of stresses built right into it.  I have found that the consistent discipline of weight training has deepened my sense of inner peace.  Not only has my pain level dropped; my worry level has dropped as well.  Working out actually helps me ‘let go and let God’.

The YMCA and YWCA were birthed out of the realization that all three parts of us need exercising body, mind, and spirit.  There is anonymity at the gym that lets one silently pray without any one else really noticing.  I have found that there is no better equipment than the stationary bike for truly integrating the merits of physical and spiritual fitness.  Over the last two years, the stationary bike and the Book of Common Prayer have become inseparable for me.

The term ‘exercise’ comes from the Greek word ‘gumnazo’ from which we derive the terms ‘gymnastics’ and ‘gym(nasium)’.  Exercise is helping me become more disciplined, a better disciple of my Lord Jesus Christ.  My prayer for those reading this article is that each of us may become more disciplined in our desires to be healthier in body, mind, and spirit.

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, Rector

BSW, MDiv, DMin

St. Simon’s Church North Vancouver

Anglican Mission in Canada

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier

-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 1008- 555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC, V7N 2J7, Canada.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #1008-555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC V7N 2J7. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $9.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to download a complimentary PDF copy of the Battle for the Soul study guide :  Seeking God’s Solution for a Spirit-Filled Canada

You can also download the complimentary Leader’s Guide PDF: Battle for the Soul Leaders Guide

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Thank God for the Red Cross!

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

As New York and Washington reeled in 2001 from 9/11, the Red Cross  flew into action, saving lives and bringing hope.  Thank God for the Red Cross who time and again make a difference in times of great tragedy.

Great organizations invariably are birthed from great people.  The Red Cross was birthed from the vision and drive of Jean Henri Dunant, who received the world’s first Nobel Peace Prize.  Dunant was a Swiss businessman who ‘happened’ to be on hand to see the carnage and horror of the battle of Solferino, Italy, in 1858.  Forty thousand wounded lay in their death throes under a blazing sun, in suffocating heat, helpless and unattended.  Amid the anguished cries of the wounded, in an atmosphere of panic and confusion, he gathered together a team of volunteers to relieve the ‘inexpressible sufferings’ of war.

Four days after the battle, Dunant discovered five hundred wounded who had been overlooked.  Dunant commented: “I succeeded in getting together a certain number of women who helped me as best as they could to aid the wounded…Food, and above all drink, had to be taken around to these men.  Then their wounds could be dressed and their bleeding, muddy, vermin-covered bodies washed.  All this took place in a scorching, filthy atmosphere, in the midst of vile, nauseating odors, with lamentations and cries of anguish all around!”  From this courageous action by Dunant at Solferino, the International Red Cross was born.

Dunant returned to Geneva but was so preoccupied with what he has seen at Solferino that he wrote a book at his own expense in 1862 entitled ‘ A Memory of Solferino’.  He wrote at length about the wounds and suffering he had seen and the shambles in which urgently necessary surgery was done.  “Would it not be possible”, he pleaded, “in time of peace and quiet to form relief societies for the purpose of having care given to the wounded in wartime by zealous, devoted and thoroughly qualified volunteers?”

On August 22nd 1864, through the impetus of Dunant’s book, the historic First Geneva Convention was birthed.  It provided for the alleviation of the sufferings of soldiers wounded on the battlefield.  It gave neutral status to the military hospitals and medical personnel of the armies of the signing countries.  As an identifying symbol, the Geneva Convention decided that these non-combatants should wear a red cross on a white field, a reversal of the colours in the Swiss national flag.  In 1865 Great Britain and Canada added their names to the first ten European countries who signed the Geneva Convention treaty.

Tragically, Jean Henri Dunant subsequently suffered from business failure and deep depression.  Resigning from the Red Cross in 1867, he virtually disappeared from sight.  In 1895, Dunant was discovered in Heiden, Switzerland by a newspaper reporter. By then the Red Cross had become famous, and financial assistance to assist Dunant began to pour in from all around the world.  In 1901 Dunant shared with Frederick Passy, a French internationalist, the first Nobel Peace Prize.  From Geneva, his old home, came this message from the International Committee of the Red Cross: “There is no man who more deserves this honour, for it was you, forty years ago, who set on foot the international organization for the relief of the wounded on the battlefield.  Without you, the Red Cross, the supreme humanitarian achievement of the nineteenth century would probably have never been undertaken.”  Dunant gave all of the Nobel Peace Prize money away to charity, and died peacefully in his sleep on October 30th 1910.

Few people realize that Jean Henri Dunant also helped co-found the International Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA).  Dunant started very humbly by inviting a few friends to meet regularly at his house to study the Bible, to encourage each other in good works, and to bring about a spiritual awakening among young people.

Jean Henri Dunant proved that one person can make a difference.  One person can change this world.  Jean Henri Dunant knew Jesus Christ as his Bridge over Troubled Water.  My prayer during this time of great uncertainty is that many of us may turn to the Bridge who will give us the strength to care for our neighbours for better for worse, in sickness and in health, for richer for poor.

 

 

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, Rector

BSW, MDiv, DMin

St. Simon’s Church North Vancouver

Anglican Mission in Canada

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier

-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 1008- 555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC, V7N 2J7, Canada.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #1008-555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC V7N 2J7. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $9.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to download a complimentary PDF copy of the Battle for the Soul study guide :  Seeking God’s Solution for a Spirit-Filled Canada

You can also download the complimentary Leader’s Guide PDF: Battle for the Soul Leaders Guide


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No Health in Us…

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

Growing waiting-lists for needed surgeries remind us of the crisis in our current health system.  One doctor summarized the essence of modern medicine as either removing something (surgery) or putting something in (medication).  All of us want to be healthy.  But do we want to be healthy badly enough to radically change our lifestyles?  Are we willing to give up junk food and start heading to the gym on a regular basis?  Perhaps true health begins when we get out of denial and admit, as the BCP puts it, that ‘there is no health in us.

The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines ‘health’ as ‘soundness of body, from the West Germanic ‘hailitha’ (whole).  The ‘Canadian Global Almanac 2001’ notes that 25% of Canadians see themselves as having excellent health.  Only 44% of Canadians age 20-64 were an acceptable weight for their height, according to the ‘Statistical Report of Health of Canadians’.  I was sobered to read that twice as many baby-boomers have a weight problem compared to Canadians age 20-24.

The percentage of overweight Canadian men has gone from 27% to 35% (and from 14% to 23% for women).  I remember having lunch with another man who told me that, in contrast to women, being overweight looked good on men.  Perhaps this kind of rationalization explains why Canadian men are almost twice as likely to have a weight problem as women.  Health Canada research has shown that ‘overweight and obesity are linked to a wide range of health problems, especially cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and some forms of cancer’.

There are many other health challenges faced by Canadians than just being overweight.  Twenty-six percent suffer from high chronic stress.  Twenty-eight percent still smoke and despite years of cancer education, smoking tragically seems to be on the rise among female teens.  Nine percent of Canadians consume 14+ drinks per week.

In the face of all these health challenges, only 21% of Canadians are physically active.  Our physical inactivity as Canadians is bearing a huge toll on our health system with each Canadian costing $2,512 in annual health expenditures.

The good news is that it is never too late to turn this around.  I have personally experienced considerable benefits in pain and stress reduction by consistently going to the gym for the past ten years.  Statistics Canada reported that “there is accumulating evidence that indicates physical activity may have multiple beneficial physiological and metabolic effects on heart health.  These include ‘advantageous effects on atherosclerosis, plasma lipid/lipoprotein profiles, blood pressure, availability of oxygenated blood for heart muscle needs (ischemia), blood clotting (thrombosis), and heart rhythm disturbances (arrhythmia).”  There are also indications that increased physical activity can help reduce depression through “exercise-induced changes in brain neuroreceptor concentrations of monoamines (norepinephrine, dopamine, or serotonin) or endogenous opiates (endorphins and enkephalins)”.

Thank God for the wonderful array of weight rooms and gyms available on the North Shore, especially at Ron Andrews and Parkgate Rec Centres.  The clean, spacious, well-stocked facilities are a tremendous encouragement when one is struggling to get to the gym.

One of my favorite workout machines is the stationary bike.  I enjoy it because it produces a good warmup and also allows me to read without crashing!  I enjoy doing Morning Prayer on the stationary bike.  I have found a real wholeness through this experience by bringing health to my whole person: body, mind, and spirit.  Silently reading the Book of Common Prayer  not only makes the workout go much quicker, but also brings my spirit more alive.  It has shown me that both in the physical and the spiritual, we can ‘dissemble and cloke’ our laziness and ‘follow too much the devices and desires of our own hearts’.  Perhaps that is why the Bible says that ‘workouts in the gymnasium are useful, but a disciplined life in God is far more so, making you fit both today and forever.’ (1 Timothy 4:4 Message Translation)  It’s time to say no to being a spiritual and physical couch-potato!

My prayer for those reading this article is that each of us may find fresh encouragement to get up off our couches and begin a healthy workout of our bodies, minds, and spirits.

 

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, Rector

BSW, MDiv, DMin

St. Simon’s  Church North Vancouver

Anglican Mission in Canada

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier

-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 1008- 555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC, V7N 2J7, Canada.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #1008-555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC V7N 2J7. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $9.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to download a complimentary PDF copy of the Battle for the Soul study guide :  Seeking God’s Solution for a Spirit-Filled Canada

You can also download the complimentary Leader’s Guide PDF: Battle for the Soul Leaders Guide


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The Treadmill of Life

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

My wife, like many loving wives, wants her husband healthy.  She had been encouraging me to get back on the treadmill.  I enjoy walking, especially throughout the spectacular trails interwoven through our local community.  But I had a lot of prejudice towards the idea of spending time on a seemingly never-ending treadmill at the local gym.

Even though I don’t want to be controlled by my wife, I do want to be healthy.  So I took the ‘plunge’ and became a ‘convert’ regarding the benefits of Rec Centre treadmills.  As a result, I feel healthier, stronger, and more peaceful inside.  I actually look forward now to doing the very thing that I once dreaded.  Lifting weights, maybe.  Stretching, perhaps.  But working out on the treadmill, never!

Part of what changed my mind was being ‘reared ended’ by a taxi.  I started going for various treatments to loosen up my neck and shoulders, but nothing seemed to really last.  The neck spasms and headaches had a nasty habit of sapping a lot of my energy needed for work and family.  Finally Dr. Paul Wiggins, while adjusting my aching back, said to me: ‘You need a personal trainer’.  My immediate reaction was to try to graciously change the subject.  Paul however is very persistent in a kindly way, and the next thing I knew, I was meeting with a personal trainer at the local Rec Centre.  I have been involved in many sports and exercise programs over the years.  Sooner or later I usually would push it too far and too fast, and injure myself.  Once injured and ‘humbled’, I often thought twice before ‘getting back in the ring’.

Thanks to six sessions with a personal trainer, I have finally learned how to pace myself, and as a result, I have only injured myself once since getting back to the gym.  I have learnt that the secret to virtually all the gym equipment is going ‘one step at a time’.  Patience, while not my strongest characteristic, is definitely a virtue in the weight room!

Sometimes the daily routines of life like work, taking our children to school, etc, can seem like a never-ending treadmill.  Many suffer from exhaustion and feel like crying out: ‘Stop the treadmill! I want to get off.’  Those of us who work out on Rec Centre treadmills know how dangerous it can be to get off a treadmill before it actually stops.  As I was working out this morning on a Rec Centre treadmill, I sensed that perhaps there are two different treadmills in our lives: treadmills of life and treadmills of death.  Treadmills of life bring strength, encouragement and renewed hope. Treadmills of death bring weariness, discouragement, and monotony.  Many medieval treadmills were even designed as punishment for prisoners who would be given no rest.

What helps me keep going on the Rec Centre treadmill is the practice of silently lifting up names of people I care for.  Rather than worry about these people, I have been learning how to give them back to the Lord, and trust that they are safe in his hands.  Working out on the treadmill teaches me that I am not called to worry about tomorrow, but rather to just take one step at a time, one day at a time.  Even though it may feel like my time on the treadmill is endless, experience has taught me that sooner or later it comes to an end.  So too, the treadmill of life is over far more suddenly than many of us expect.  Every funeral that I attend reminds me that even the best vitamins, the best sports workout, the best vacations can only delay temporarily the inevitable day of my last step on the treadmill of planet earth.

Jesus dismantled the treadmill of death by his death and resurrection on Good Friday and Easter Sunday.  As a result, I no longer am chained to that ‘medieval treadmill’ of decay.  I choose to take ‘one step at a time’ on the treadmill of life, life that is abundant, exciting, and eternal.  See you at God’s Gym!

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, Rector

BSW, MDiv, DMin

St. Simon’s Church North Vancouver

Anglican Mission in Canada

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier

-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 1008- 555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC, V7N 2J7, Canada.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #1008-555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC V7N 2J7. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $9.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to download a complimentary PDF copy of the Battle for the Soul study guide :  Seeking God’s Solution for a Spirit-Filled Canada

You can also download the complimentary Leader’s Guide PDF: Battle for the Soul Leaders Guide


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Jesus at the Gym

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

One of the best things to ever happen to me was when I was rear-ended eleven years ago by a taxi on November 29th 1999.  My body began giving me signals that I couldn’t ignore. In countless ways, my body kept saying  ‘Go to the gym.  Strengthen your neck and back muscles’.  When my chiropractor said the same thing, my procrastination came to an end.  Being assigned to a personal fitness trainer by ICBC, our insurance company, turned the gymnastic equipment from an unfathomable mystery into a set of helpful tools.

One of the weaknesses of my past ‘get fit’ experiences was that I tended to do too much in a short period.  The result was usually that I would injure myself and end up being less than enthusiastic about ‘getting back on board’.  I remember a period when I jogged a mile and a half every day, but didn’t pace myself enough.  Hobbling up the stairs can be very humbling for a dedicated jogger!

What has worked for me is that my personal trainer gave me a set of gradually increasing gymnastic exercises that avoided reinjuring me.  With my neck and shoulder pain significantly reduced, I look forward to going to the local gym. I have learnt that my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, and that I need to do my part in rebuilding that temple.

Ultimately my body does not belong to me.  By working out and getting in shape, I am honouring the true Master of my body.  Because I am made up of body, mind, and spirit, ‘getting fit’ applies to all three areas of body, mind, and spirit.  Rather than letting my stomach be my god (Philippians 3:19), I can learn to offer my body as a living sacrifice to my Lord.

The Good Book says that ‘physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things’.  Sometimes we put so much energy into getting physically fit that we forget about getting spiritually fit.  Prayer, bible reading and church attendance can be seen as forms of Christian calisthenics.  Getting physically or spiritually fit requires far more than good intentions.  We have to discipline ourselves to get off the couch and go for it.  Sometimes we feel too tired to lift weights, walk on the treadmill, or even to read our bible.  But if we wait until we are in the mood, our physical and spiritual lives will take a nose-dive.

The Good Book says that ‘No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful’.  As I watch my fellow Gym members huffing and puffing, it is easy to see why many people give up before they see lasting results.  The Good Book also says however that perseverance in such discipline will ultimately bear fruit.  Whether at the Rec Centre Gym or at God’s Gym (the local church), ‘hanging in there’ is the key to lasting change.

Some people have the idea that Jesus was a wimp.  The truth is that Jesus was very physically and spiritually fit.  There is no record that Jesus was ever sick.  Jesus worked for many years until the age of 30, doing hard physical labour in his step-father Joseph’s carpenter shop.  While spreading the good news through Israel, Jesus engaged in long-distance walking and mountain hiking.  While cleansing the temple of money-changers and animals, Jesus showed such remarkable physical strength that no one dared stop him.

After his resurrection, Jesus said that he would be with us forever.  He would never leave us or forsake us (even at the gym).  Does Jesus hang around gyms?  The answer is clearly yes.  He is waiting for each of us at our local Rec Centres, waiting to show his love and peace, waiting to encourage us and strengthen us.  My prayer is that each of us will let Jesus be our personal trainer.

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, Rector

BSW, MDiv, DMin

St. Simon’s Church North Vancouver

Anglican Mission in Canada

-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 1008- 555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC, V7N 2J7, Canada.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #1008-555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC V7N 2J7. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $9.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to download a complimentary PDF copy of the Battle for the Soul study guide :  Seeking God’s Solution for a Spirit-Filled Canada

You can also download the complimentary Leader’s Guide PDF: Battle for the Soul Leaders Guide


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Sir Alexander Fleming: Countless Millions Saved

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

When Alexander Fleming’s picture turned up on the front cover of Time magazine, the byword stated “His penicillin will save more lives than war can spend”.  A vivid example of this ‘miracle’ was the usage of penicillin on D-Day to save 3,000 on Normandy Beach from deadly gangrene.  Some researchers consider penicillin to be one of the key top-secret weapons that helped the Allies win World War II.

It is hard for our modern generation to fully appreciate that before penicillin, even an infected pinprick or a tiny cut might be lethal.  Hospitals were full of people with easily caught infections raging out of control.  Children died regularly from scarlet fever, from infections of the bones, throat, stomach, or brain.  It is no exaggeration to say that many of you reading this article would not be here today if it weren’t for the miracle of antibiotics touching you and your extended family.

In 1881, Alexander Fleming was born in Ayrshire in the lowlands of southwestern Scotland.  A playground accident smashed the bridge of his nose and left him looking like a battered boxer.  Andre Maurois said that Fleming had those qualities which many attribute to the Scots: a capacity for hard and sustained work, a combative spirit which refuses to admit defeat, a steadfastness and loyalty which creates respect and affection, and a true humility which protects against pretentiousness and pride.

Affectionately called Little Flem, his gift of silence appeared to be inexhaustible.  One colleague said that Fleming ‘could be more eloquently silent than any man I have ever known.’  His capacity for silence was only matched by his capacity for waiting – and for hanging on, an attribute that greatly helped him in his penicillin adventure.

The body’s fight with infection was Fleming’s abiding interest.  One of Fleming’s first breakthroughs was in the discovery of lysozyme, a natural antiseptic contained in human tears and saliva.  Fleming’s method of collecting lysozyme was to recruit a passing student or laboratory boy and drop lemon juice in his eye!  Eventually Fleming switched to the use of egg white which has a stronger concentration of lysozyme.

Lysozyme, unfortunately, ended up being an embarrassment to Fleming because it proved useless in killing harmful diseases.  As a result, his fellow colleagues mostly treated Fleming’s later penicillin discovery as if it were another laboratory dead-end.  Alexander Fleming always said, ‘We shall hear more about lysozyme one day’.  With thousands of scientific papers now written about it, the Russians use lysozyme for preserving caviar; doctors add lysozyme to cow-milk to reproduce the component structure of human milk, as well as for the treatment of eye and intestinal infections.

Fleming, being a ‘packrat’, never liked to throw anything away.  One day, Fleming noticed a blue mould growing on one of his unwashed petri dishes.  He seized the moment and changed the world forever.  From that moment, Fleming became obsessed with penicillin mould, even using his friends’ moldy old shoes. Fleming showed amazing ingenuity in his makeshift creation of the first penicillin ‘factory’, employing devices like oilcans, biscuit tins, dustbins, bedpans, milk churns, and bookracks!

For twelve long years after his 1928 discovery of penicillin, Fleming faced skeptical indifference.  Penicillin was a medical Cinderella that no one wanted to dance with.  ‘The man of genius’, writes Lord Beaverbrook, ‘ is often an egotist. When, as sometimes happens, he is simple and retiring, the world is inclined to underestimate his gifts…’

In 1937 Howard Florey and Ernst Chain of Oxford purified Fleming’s lysozyme.  From there, they purified Fleming’s penicillin, making it stable, concentrated, and more useful.

When Alexander Fleming turned up in Oxford, Chain was taken completely by surprise.  He had thought that Fleming was dead!  Fleming generously said of the two,‘We all owe a lot to Florey, Chain and their co-workers.  They did not initiate penicillin but they put it on the map as an effective drug.’

By freeze-drying it at a low temperature with a neutral pH, Chain and Florey were able to purify penicillin to become a thousand times more powerful than Fleming’s original mold.  Once completely purified, penicillin became a million times stronger than at first!

By one biographer’s account, Fleming was given 25 honorary degrees, 26 medals, 18 prizes, 13 decorations, the freedom of 15 cities and boroughs, and honorary membership in 89 academies and societies.  Both Florey and Fleming were knighted in 1944, and in 1945 Fleming, Florey and Chain were jointly given the Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine. Medical centers, research institutes, and even a moon crater were named in honour of the beloved ‘father’ of penicillin.  It meant a lot to Fleming as a Scot when he was elected as Rector of Edinburgh University in 1951.  When Fleming received an ovation at a Spanish bullfight, 20,000 fans broke out into mass hysteria.  The famous Spanish scientist Don Gregorio Maranon said of Fleming that ‘God selected him to carry out the greatest miracle which humanity has ever seen’.

Yet despite all the honours showered on Fleming, fame didn’t spoil him.  He remained a simple humble man, not even bothering to patent penicillin for personal profit.  When Fleming was asked to what he attributed his success, he said: ‘I can only suppose that God wanted penicillin, and that this was his reason for creating Alexander Fleming.’

Countless millions have been saved physically through Fleming’s sacrificial work on penicillin. Countless millions have been saved spiritually through Jesus’ sacrificial work on the cross.  When is the last time that we thanked God for such amazing acts of generosity?

 

 

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, Rector

BSW, MDiv, DMin

St. Simon’s Church North Vancouver

Anglican Mission in Canada

-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 1008- 555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC, V7N 2J7, Canada.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #1008-555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC V7N 2J7. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $9.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to download a complimentary PDF copy of the Battle for the Soul study guide :  Seeking God’s Solution for a Spirit-Filled Canada

You can also download the complimentary Leader’s Guide PDF: Battle for the Soul Leaders Guide


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Strengthening Weak Knees

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

How are your knees feeling today?  Are you fit enough for The Knee Knackering North Shore Trail Run, a challenging 30-mile foot race along the Baden-Powell Centennial Trail from Horseshoe Bay to Deep Cove? Running Wild magazine has recognized the Knee Knackering race on the North Shore of Vancouver, BC as one of the 25 toughest races in North America, as it involves some 16,000 feet of vertical climb and descent.

What started as a group run with 8 participants in 1989 has quickly grown into the biggest ultramarathon race in Canada.  Since 1994, there has been so much interest that the Northshore Ultra Trailrunning Society (N.U.T.S.) has been forced to use a lottery to select a maximum slate of 175 runners. Raising over $10,000 for various charities since its inception, this year’s Knee Knackering race benefited the North Shore Search and Rescue team.

Knee Knackering however is not just limited to the North Shore Mountains.  Because of the increased emphasis on physical fitness, knee injuries are becoming more common among athletes and the general population.  According to the California Podiatric Medical Association, out of the more than 100 million North Americans who will visit the emergency room this year, almost 13 million will be treated due to sports-related injuries.  More than 4.1 million people seek medical care each year for a knee problem. James M. Fox MD says ‘The annual cost of these knee injuries, including hospital bills, physical therapy sessions, and hours lost from work exceeds 40 billion dollars!

There is a hit song being played on the local radios these days which gives the advice: ‘Be good to your knees; you are going to need them later’.  It’s so true. I remember when I used to jog a mile and a half every day. Some days I forgot to warm up properly and would sometimes injure my knees. I would be in agony trying to crawl up the stairs, only to go out jogging the next day if I felt better.  Very few of us, when we are young, think about the long-term damage that we may be doing to our long-term knee joints.

Dr. Richard Villar, a specialist hip and knee surgeon, holds that the knee is the most commonly injured joint in the body. In San Francisco, a sports medicine clinic reviewed 10,000 recreational injuries, and nine activities – basketball, dance, football, gymnastics, running, skiing, tennis, soccer, and figure skating – accounted for three-fourths of the injuries.  What part of the anatomy was number one on the hit parade?  Knees.

The injured knee is also particularly unforgiving.  Knee injuries account for more time lost from competition by young athletes than any other type of surgery.  Knee injuries end more athletic careers and disable more athletes in later years than any other sports injury.  A severely injured knee is often at risk when an athlete returns to competition, even after surgery.

Of the 187 joints in the body, the knee is, without a doubt, the best at grabbing one’s attention and is our most vulnerable joint, according to James Fox, MD.   An estimated 50 million North Americans have suffered or are suffering knee pain or injuries.  For an estimated 17 million North American athletes, the injury rate in such sports as football, gymnastics, skiing, and racket sports is projected at over 50 percent.  According to sports medicine specialists, the initial complaint of over half the athletes they see is knee pain. Dr. Fox notes that if you’re an athlete, the chances of knee surgery are five times greater than surgery on any other part of the body

 One in four high-school football players will suffer some kind of knee injury.  According to a National Athletic Trainers Association study, about fifteen thousand high-school football players require knee surgery every year—almost 70 percent of all operations performed on high-school football players. A nine-year study showed that 70 percent of all football players had knee surgery by the age of twenty-six, including half of all running backs and virtually every quarterback.

When a knee is injured, it is vital to get evaluation from a medical expert as soon as possible.  The best treatment for injury is prevention, which is why we have many recreational therapists available to guide us in strengthening our knees through exercise at our local Rec Centres.

Immediate treatment of minor sports injuries is called RICE after its four components: rest, ice, compression, and elevation.  Arthroscopic ‘keyhole’ surgery allows doctors using miniature cameras to repair damaged knee cartilage, resulting in a dramatically reduced recovery period.  Up to a million ‘keyhole’ surgeries are done each year. Up to 200,000 knee joints are surgically replaced each year.  There are now dozens of websites offering sports braces to reduce and allegedly prevent knee damage.  Even the snowboarder websites are offering custom designed knee braces for the active boarder.

As we strengthen our knees physically, it is also vital that we strengthen our knees spiritually.  In both the Old and New Testament, we are encouraged to strengthen our tired arms and our weak knees (Isaiah 35:3, Hebrews 12:10).  The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines being weak-kneed as ‘the inability to stand firm, the want of resolution’.  There can be a danger in our gentle Canadian culture that we may fail to take a stand when a stand needs to be taken.  Only passionate persistent prayer in Jesus’ name can free us from morally weak knees.

 

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, Rector

BSW, MDiv, DMin

St. Simon’s Church, North Vancouver

Anglican Mission in Canada

-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada 

previously published in the Deep Cove Crier

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 1008- 555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC, V7N 2J7, Canada.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #1008-555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC V7N 2J7. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $9.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to download a complimentary PDF copy of the Battle for the Soul study guide : Seeking God’s Solution for a Spirit-Filled Canada

You can also download the complimentary Leader’s Guide PDF: Battle for the Soul Leaders Guide