Edhird's Blog

Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit


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John Owen

John Owen. “Secondly, God allows man to be tested to show himself to man. Until we are tested,see think that we are living on our own strength. It is however, God alone who keeps us from falling by his preventing grace. We might say, ‘All men may do this or that, but we will not!’ When the trial comes, however, we quickly see that only God’s preservation upholds us. So it was with Abimelech (Gen. 20 : 6), God withheld him from sinning. God also reveals his renewing grace through our testings. Paul, in His prayer for deliverance from the thorn in his flesh, found God’s sufficiency and renewing grace (2 Cor. 12 : 9).

We do not realise the power and strength that God puts forth on our behalf, and the sufficiency of his grace, until we compare our trials with our weakness. God’s power and grace are then seen clearly in our lives. The effectiveness of an antidote is not realised until one has been exposed to the poison. The preciousness of a medicine is revealed by the presence of the disease. We will not know the power of grace until we feel the power of the testing. We must be tried, to realise the glory of being preserved.”

~ John Owen


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Dr JI Packer & Richard Baxter

Click to read the Light Magazine article about two of God’s essential workers.

We hear a lot about essential workers and essential services in these COVID-19 times.  At 7 pm each night, many of us have been cheering for them, as we bang on our pots and pans.  The late Dr. JI Packer, God’s essential worker, helps us rediscover Richard Baxter’s essential writings, not just for mortal life but more importantly for eternal life.  What might it be like to cheer for God’s essential workers, including our theologians, pastors, evangelists, and missionaries?[1]  Both Baxter and Packer knew from personal experience that physical death is not the worst thing that can happen to us.  Both faced sickness and possible death early in life, but fixed their gaze on Jesus Christ in those difficult times.  Packer, who did his Oxford doctorate on Baxter, helped us rediscover Baxter’s brilliant emphasis, derived from Rupertus Meledenius: “In Essentials, unity; in non-essentials, diversity; and in all things charity.”  

Many believe that J.I. Packer, born in 1926 and passed on July 17th 2020, will be remembered as the principal theologian of the 21st Century.  Packer and Baxter each had the same puritan passion for knowing truth, seeing it as our first duty.[2] Both represent the best of Puritanism without being ‘puritanical’.[3]  Baxter in the 17th century commented: “I never discover a Truth in my studies, but it is as sweet to my mind as a feast to my body…I spend my time, and strength and spirits in almost nothing but studying after Truth.”[4]  Many people nowadays dismiss theology as non-essential ivory-tower speculation. We live in an anti-rationalist culture that worships one’s feelings and denies any objective truth.  Both men believed that the mind actually mattered, that reason and thinking were gifts from God that helped us discern truth.  Their love for truth gave them a respect for the arts, sciences, history[5], as well as theology.[6]  In Baxter’s day, theology was seen as the Queen of the sciences.[7] 

For both men, knowing God with our head and heart was essential.[8] It is not enough to just know about God academically.  Baxter held that “he is the best scholar who hath the readiest passage from the ear to the brain, but he is the best Christian who hath the readiest passage from the brain to the heart.”   Dr J.I. Packer also warned against “hardness of heart and cynicism of the head.”  Being heavenly-minded for Baxter and Packer was the key to making the most lasting impact on planet Earth. 

Recognized by Time Magazine as one of the twenty-five most influential evangelicals, Dr Packer is best known remembered for his most popular book Knowing God.  In reading Dr Packer’s doctoral thesis, I discovered that Packer’s Knowing God classic is an unpacking of the wisdom of Richard Baxter. 

Jesus prayed in John 17:21 that we would be one as the Father and Son are one that the world may believe.  While Baxter and Packer were both ordained Anglican clergy, they had a deep love for the wider body of Christ.  That is part of the reason that Packer has served since 1979 at Regent College, a interdenominational college. Baxter called himself ‘a mere Christian’, expressing the truth that God’s people go beyond the bounds of any one denomination.[9]  Both showed us that unity in the Essentials of the Gospel is essential to reach the world for Christ, such as the creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Ten Commandments.  Are we willing to repent over our division and arguments over non-essentials?  We can all agree to the full deity and humanity of Jesus, his virgin birth, his death for our sins, his physically rising from the grave.  By contrast, the precise way that we baptize, celebrate communion, organize our church leadership, or sing worship songs are not essentials worth splitting over.  Both men knew that not every Christian congregation has to be exactly the same, as sameness crushes creativity and spiritual intimacy.

After the heart-rending English civil war of 1647, Baxter felt called to be a peacemaker. [10] All his writings sought to promote “in all things, charity (love).”   As Packer put it, Baxter “meddled much with Controversies…to end them.” It was Baxter’s respect for truth that kept him from ‘undignified wrangling’.[11]  Even though he was often banned from preaching and forced out of town, Baxter stayed gracious and Christ-centered.  Both Packer and Baxter were deeply charitable and humble in times of great controversy.[12] While neither liked controversy, both had the courage to take a stand for gospel truth when waves of conflict occurred. Even when recently needing to say no to false teachers, Packer spoke the truth in love.  He never became vindictive and negative. At age 93, he is finishing well, staying focused on the goodness of the gospel essentials.

Our prayer is that in this COVID-19 pandemic, that we like these brave Christian men, Baxter and Packer, might rediscover what is essential, how to celebrate diversity, and the urgency of charitable love in all circumstances.

Rev.  Dr. Ed and Janice Hird

Co-author, Blue Sky novel

-published in the June 2020 Light Magazine

-Readers are invited to read the first two Academia.edu articles of the JI Packer & Richard Baxter Trilogy:

1) Analyzing the Global Impact of Dr. J.I. Packer

2) An Evaluation of Richard & Margaret Baxter’s Lasting Contribution in 17th Century England


[1] The Gospel and church are deemed in our COVID culture as a nonessential service, unlike pot stores.

Peace Arch News April 23rd 2020, Tom Zillich, A33 “…now would be the worst time to curtail people’s access to those substances which have helped them deal with their anxiety.”

[2] JI Packer, The Restoration and Redemption of Man in the Thought of Richard Baxter, Oxford Doctoral Thesis 1954 (Regent College Publishing, Vancouver, 2002), 96,  Packer commented regarding Baxter, “To the end of his life, he could never understand how his fellow Christians could love truth do little and seek it so half-heartedly.”

[3] Packer, Thesis, 95 (Baxter)…was anima naturaliter Puritana, the incarnation of Puritanism at its purest.”; Thesis, 98 Packer “…a Puritan thoroughbred…Baxter was the most consistent Puritan of them all.”

[4] Packer, Thesis, 95.

[5] Thesis, 68 Baxter “History is a very profitable study, if it be used for the right ends, and be rightly chosen. It is a very great help to understand the Scriptures, and to know the former and present state of the church; and to see the wonderful works of Providence, that otherwise would be lost to us.” XI:213

[6] Thesis, 95 (Baxter) “…to take all arts and sciences for his province so that he might himself construct the hierarchy of truth and show, according to the Puritan blueprint, how all this comes from God and leads to God.”

[7] Thesis,64 Packer: “Fundamental to all Puritan thought was the seventeenth-century version of the Medieval doctrine that all knowledge is a unity and all sciences, physical and moral, form a hierarchy at the head of which stands theology.”

[8] Packer, Thesis, 86,  ‘Baxter never tired of reminding his readers that “Heaven-work and Heart-work are the chiefest parts of Christian duty”; “true religion…consists in heaven-work and heart-work, in the love of God and man…” Cure of Christian Divisions (1670) 209, 408, et al.

[9] The title of CS Lewis’ best-selling book Mere Christianity is taken directly from Richard Baxter.  

[10] Thesis, 96.

[11] Thesis, 97 Packer: “He was exact in definition and accurate in usage; and his respect for truth and sense of responsibility for it kept him from undignified wrangling.”

[12] “What a gracious man”, I (Ed) thought as Dr J.I. Packer spoke.   In the midst of a raging North Carolina snowstorm, he was giving a morning devotion at the Anglican Mission Winter Conference on John 21, in which he identified with Simon Peter’s growing through failure.   The first time we ever spent time with Dr Packer was in 1979 in a student residence on the University of BC campus where we literally chased noises in the heating system.  Dr Packer came across so humbly and natural, despite his worldwide reputation. 

P. S. Click this Amazon link to view for free the first two chapters of our new novel Blue Sky.

“I’m afraid there’s been an accident…”

12bdf6ff-3021-4e73-bccd-bc919398d1a0-7068-0000031133e7b4d9Sandy Brown and her family have just moved to Spokane, Washington where her husband, Scott, is pastoring a new church. With a fresh start, Sandy is determined to devote more time to her four children. But, within weeks of settling in their new life, the Brown family is plunged into turmoil.

Sandy receives shocking news that her children aren’t safe, which brings back haunting memories of the trauma she experienced as a girl. Then, the unthinkable happens…

A brutal attack puts Sandy on the brink of losing everything she’s loved. Her faith in God and the family she cherishes are pushed to the ultimate limit.

Is healing possible when so many loved ones are hurt? Are miracles really possible through the power of prayer? Can life return to the way it was before?

Blue Sky reveals how a mother’s most basic instinct isn’t for survival… but for family.

If you’re a fan of Karen Kingsbury, then you’ll love Blue Sky. Get your copy today on paperback or  kindle.

-Click to check out our marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you. 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form.  Dr. JI Packer wrote the foreword, saying “I heartily commend what he has written.” The book focuses on strengthening a new generation of healthy leaders. Drawing on examples from Titus’ healthy leadership in the pirate island of Crete, it shows how we can embrace a holistically healthy life.

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, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5, Canada.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 

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, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5, 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, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5. 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 $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 


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Cheering for God’s Essential Workers: Dr JI Packer & Richard Baxter

Dr JI Packer, God’s Essential Worker
Richard Baxter, another of God’s Essential Workers

I would encourage you to cheer and give thanks for God’s Essential Workers…Dr JI Packer & his mentor Richard Baxter

Click to read about Dr JI Packer: Firestarter in Knowing God in the Light Magazine.

Click to read about Richard and Margaret Baxter: The Fire of Love in Difficult Times in the Light Magazine.

P. S. Click this Amazon link to view for free the first two chapters of our new novel Blue Sky.

“I’m afraid there’s been an accident…”

12bdf6ff-3021-4e73-bccd-bc919398d1a0-7068-0000031133e7b4d9Sandy Brown and her family have just moved to Spokane, Washington where her husband, Scott, is pastoring a new church. With a fresh start, Sandy is determined to devote more time to her four children. But, within weeks of settling in their new life, the Brown family is plunged into turmoil.

Sandy receives shocking news that her children aren’t safe, which brings back haunting memories of the trauma she experienced as a girl. Then, the unthinkable happens…

A brutal attack puts Sandy on the brink of losing everything she’s loved. Her faith in God and the family she cherishes are pushed to the ultimate limit.

Is healing possible when so many loved ones are hurt? Are miracles really possible through the power of prayer? Can life return to the way it was before?

Blue Sky reveals how a mother’s most basic instinct isn’t for survival… but for family.

If you’re a fan of Karen Kingsbury, then you’ll love Blue Sky. Get your copy today on paperback or  kindle.

-Click to check out our marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you. 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form.  Dr. JI Packer wrote the foreword, saying “I heartily commend what he has written.” The book focuses on strengthening a new generation of healthy leaders. Drawing on examples from Titus’ healthy leadership in the pirate island of Crete, it shows how we can embrace a holistically healthy life.

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, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5, Canada.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 

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, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5, 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, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5. 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 $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 


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John & Charles Wesley

Have you ever read John and Charles Wesley’s thoughtful case for not leaving the Anglican Church? Corruption and deadness in the Anglican Church is nothing new.
http://anglicanhistory.org/wesley/reasons1760.html

P. S. Click this Amazon link to view for free the first two chapters of our new novel Blue Sky.

“I’m afraid there’s been an accident…”

12bdf6ff-3021-4e73-bccd-bc919398d1a0-7068-0000031133e7b4d9Sandy Brown and her family have just moved to Spokane, Washington where her husband, Scott, is pastoring a new church. With a fresh start, Sandy is determined to devote more time to her four children. But, within weeks of settling in their new life, the Brown family is plunged into turmoil.

Sandy receives shocking news that her children aren’t safe, which brings back haunting memories of the trauma she experienced as a girl. Then, the unthinkable happens…

A brutal attack puts Sandy on the brink of losing everything she’s loved. Her faith in God and the family she cherishes are pushed to the ultimate limit.

Is healing possible when so many loved ones are hurt? Are miracles really possible through the power of prayer? Can life return to the way it was before?

Blue Sky reveals how a mother’s most basic instinct isn’t for survival… but for family.

If you’re a fan of Karen Kingsbury, then you’ll love Blue Sky. Get your copy today on paperback or  kindle.

-Click to check out our marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you. 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form.  Dr. JI Packer wrote the foreword, saying “I heartily commend what he has written.” The book focuses on strengthening a new generation of healthy leaders. Drawing on examples from Titus’ healthy leadership in the pirate island of Crete, it shows how we can embrace a holistically healthy life.

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, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5, Canada.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 

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, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5, 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, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5. 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 $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 


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Richard & Margaret Baxter

Check out this unlikely Puritan love story about Richard & Margaret Baxter in the Light Magazine.

In 1665, Richard and Margaret Baxter survived the Black Plague in London where 15% of Londoners perished that summer.[1]  King Charles II and most wealthy people fled London.  The poor people were not allowed to leave.  Only a small number of London pastors and doctors remained to cope with the overwhelming onslaught.  Plague houses, quarantined by guards for 40 days, were marked with a red cross on the door with the words ‘Lord Have Mercy Upon Us”. Richard commented: “The sense of approaching death so awakened both preachers and hearers, that multitudes of young men and others were converted to true repentance.”

Richard and Margaret, who had only been married three years earlier, were a powerful team caring for the sick and leading many to Christ.[2]  She was criticized by her upper-class family and friends “that she busied her head so much about churches and works of charity and was not content to live privately and quietly.”[3] Richard defended her involvement in ministry, saying “Does not Paul call some women his helps in the gospel?”[4]

As a confirmed bachelor, 47-year-old Richard had surprised many by marrying Margaret who was twenty years younger than him.[5]  Their unlikely marriage was a genuine puritan romance that we can still learn from over three centuries later. Richard wrote:

When we were married, her sadness and melancholy vanished: counsel did something to it, and contentment something; and being taken up in our household affairs did somewhat. And we lived in inviolated love and mutual complacency sensible of the benefit of mutual help.[6] 

Because of his dedication to renewing the Anglican Church, he, along with 2000 other Anglican clergy, were ejected from their churches and forbidden to preach within ten miles of a local town. [7] He was often hated by the establishment and the jealous bureaucrats.[8]  As the 17th Century’ most visible pastor, Richard had been leading a spiritual revival in Kidderminster with his 800-strong congregation of weavers.[9]  Packer comments:

In 1681, when Richard wrote this ‘Breviate’ (meaning ‘short account’) of Margaret’s life, he was probably the best known, and certainly the most prolific of England’s Christian authors.  Already in the 1650s, when despite chronic ill health, he masterminded a tremendous spiritual surge in his small-town parish of Kidderminster, he had become a best-selling author and had produced enough volumes of doctrine, devotion, and debate to earn himself the nickname ‘scribbling Dick’.[10]

Baxter was a proponent of what he called ‘mere Christianity’.[11]  He represented the often-ignored human side of Puritanism, how to be a Puritan without being puritanical.[12]  Packer comments:

The Puritanism of history was not the barbarous, sourpuss mentality of time-honoured caricature, still less the heretical Manicheism (denial of the goodness and worth of created things and everyday pleasures) with which some scholars have identified it. It was rather a wholistic renewal movement within English-speaking Protestantism, which aimed to bring all life – personal, ecclesiastical, political, social, commercial; family life, business life, professional life –under the didactic authority and the purging and regenerating power of God in the gospel in the fullest extent possible.[13]

As a pastor/scholar, Baxter had the common touch, being able to connect at both a heart and head level with the humblest and the best educated.[14]  Baxter held that “he is the best scholar who hath the readiest passage from the ear to the brain, but he is the best Christian who hath the readiest passage from the brain to the heart.”[15]   Packer comments:

The Baxter writing style is loose but lucid; it is intimate, informal, repetitive, and schoolmasterly, yet always pointed and weighty, coming hot from both head and heart.  …His zeal for God’s glory, the church’s purity, and the health of souls made it constantly ardent and arresting.[16]

Margaret, as an upper-class dilletante, was an unlikely convert.[17]  Richard observed that she had in her youth been tempted to doubt the life to come and the truth of the Scripture.[18]  Margaret didn’t think much of Baxter or the people of Kidderminster, merely attending church to humour her godly mother.[19]  But God reached her and changed her life.  As a new Christian, she almost died from tuberculosis, but the humble weavers prayed and fasted for her.  God heard their prayers, giving her a miraculous recovery.[20]  Richard commented:

And while we were all rejoicing in her change, she fell into a cough and seeming consumption [a wasting disease, such as tuberculosis] in which we almost despaired of her life( )…I and my praying neighbours were so sorry that such a changed person should be presently taken away before she had time to manifest her sincerity and do God any service in the world, that in grief they resolved to fast and pray for her.  For former experience had lately much raised their belief in the success of prayer( )…But I was with them at prayer for this woman; and compassion made us all extraordinary fervent, and God heard us and speedily delivered her as it were by nothing or by an altogether undersigned means…the next morning her nose bled (which scarce ever did before or since) and the lungs seemed cleared, and her pulse suddenly amended, her cough abated, and her strength returned in a short time. [21]

Choosing to marry Richard was to choose a life of being persecuted.  Richard commented:

Another trial of her wealth and honor was when I and all such others were cast out of all possession and hope of all ecclesiastical maintenance; she was not ignorant of the scorn and the jealousies and wrath and persecutions that I was likely to be exposed to; …To choose a participation of such a life that had no encouragement from any worldly wealth or honor, yea, that was exposed to such certain suffering which had no end in prospect on this side of death, did show that she was far from covetousness.[22]

As a wealthy heiress, Margaret loved to serve the poor and invest in her husband’s ministry to the lost.  She was full of love and forgiveness for all, including her sometimes awkward husband.[23]  Richard, in mutual submission, wrote to  Margaret:

The Lord forgive my great unprofitableness and the sin that brought me under any disabilities to answer your earnest and honest desires of greater helps than I afford you, and help me yet to amend it toward you.[24]

In a neglected part of London, she founded a free school where poor children were taught and learned (catechized) about Jesus.[25]  In one rented facility, over 800 gathered to hear Richard preach. Suddenly the building began to collapse. Margaret ran outside, immediately hiring a carpenter to put an extra support in the building so that the congregants would not die.  It worked.[26]  The memory of this near disaster left Margaret with nightmares.[27]  She was both very fearful and very courageous simultaneously.[28]  Her father, Francis Charlton, Esquire, was a wealthy leading justice of the peace.  One of the traumas of her early childhood was the demolition of her home Apley Castle by Royalist troops in 1644, during the Civil War.[29]  Men were killed right in front of five year old Margaret.[30] Three times more, Margaret faced death, leaving her with PTSD symptoms for the rest of her life.[31]

Her husband, Richard, was often fined and then sent to jail for preaching the gospel.  To keep the authorities from stealing her husband’s many books, she gave them away to budding theologians,  including those in New England.[32] When Richard was thrown in prison, she cheerfully joined him there, bringing her own bedding.[33]  After building a church building for her husband, jealous neighbours had the visiting minister arrested, thinking that they had captured her husband.  After being forced ten miles out of town in 1669 for preaching the gospel, the Baxters had to live in a dilapidated farm where “the coal smoke so filled the room that we were even suffocated with the stink. And she had ever a great constriction of the lungs that could not bear smoke or closeness.”[34]

The Baxters entered marriage with their eyes open.[35]  Packer commented: “Vividly aware of each other’s faults, they loved each other just the same, ever thankful for having each other and ever eager to give to each other.”[36]  Margaret was always trying to improve her husband for his own good.[37] Packer commented that she was reserved, intense, highly strung, restless, ardent, fearful, passionate and perfectionist, sad and self-condemning.[38]

 Initially Richard saw his wife as too fussy about cleanliness. Why waste your time cleaning the house when you and your servants can read a good book?[39]   But marriage for them was more about spiritually maturing than getting their own way. Richard commented “If God calls you to a married life, expect…trouble…and make particular preparation for each temptation, cross, and duty which you must expect.  Think not that you are entering into a state of mere [pure and unmixed] delight, lest it prove but a fool’s paradise to them.”[40]

Richard wrote 168 books, many after his ejection from the Kidderminster pulpit.[41] Even though Baxter’s books were largely forgotten after the Great Eviction of 1662, they were later rediscovered by John Wesley, William Wilberforce[42], and most recently by Dr. JI Packer.[43]  Margaret, who spoke her mind, informed her husband that he should have written less books, spending more time writing each book.[44]  She also told him that because of his prolific writing and extensive ministry, he was not spending enough time in secret prayer with her.[45]  Margaret was a passionate prayer warrior who often out-prayed her academic husband.[46] Richard commented that Margaret was very desirous that we should all have lived in a constancy of devotion and a blameless innocency.[47]  One of their marital joys was singing a psalm together each morning and evening.[48]  Packer comments that “…Richard was a public man, a preacher and a tireless writer, constantly in the home but not available to Margaret.”[49] 

Richard, who suffered from chronic pain in his later years, regretted how it sometimes affected his temper and communicativeness around Margaret.[50]  Her high-strung nature often clashed with his intensity.[51] Margaret was so afraid of getting cancer that she harmed her own health in the process.[52] Packer comments:

…they were both of fragile health, though in different ways, Margaret being a martyr to migraines and chest congestion and Richard being a veritable museum of diseases, which meant that he lived in some degree of pain most of the time.  He was forthright and hasty, and could be strident; she was gentle and circumspect, and could not bear an angry voice.[53]

  He was convinced from age 20 that he would not be long for this life.[54] Baxter’s physical ailments included “a tubercular cough; frequent nosebleeds and bleeding from his finger-ends; migraine headaches; inflamed eyes; all kinds of digestive disorders; kidney stones and gallstones.” So, he preached and wrote “as a dying man to dying men.”  Like J.I. Packer, his first drafts were often his final drafts.  Packer comments:

Sure that his time was short and that there was a vast amount of work still waiting for him to do, he wrote at top speed and published with little or no revision, so that everything is brisk, frank, rough, and pungent, the literary legacy of a good man in a hurry.[55]

Because Margaret was very sensitive to loud noise, Richard worked hard to modify his sometimes, hasty way of speaking.[56] Calmness was very important for her sense of peace.[57]  He greatly loved and admired Margaret, saying that she was “a woman of extraordinary acuteness of wit, solidity, and judgment, incredible prudence and sagacity and sincere devotedness to God, and unusual strict obedience to him…”[58] Richard was so secure in his own skin that he honoured his wife as a better pastoral counsellor than himself.[59]

In their nineteenth year of marriage, Margaret took a turn for the worse and died.  The bloodletting by doctors had only hastened her demise.[60]  Richard was heartbroken.[61]  As part of his grieving process, he wrote “under the power of melting grief” a book Breviate about his dear wife:

Richard was devastated at his loss and mourned by writing her memoirs – memoirs that have been described as ‘exquisite’, ‘incomparable’, ‘beautiful’.  …With great passion and tenderness, beloved author J.I. Packer illuminates this timeless lovestory, and from it teaches us the qualities of an enduring marriage and about the process of grief.[62]

J.I. Packer believed that Baxter’s book (renamed Grief Sanctified) can transform our marriages in the 21st century.[63]  Packer described this book as “an utterly fascinating pen-portrait, humble, factual, discerning, and affectionate throughout, of the complex, brilliant, highly strung, delicate, secretive, passionate, restless, loyal, managing woman that Margaret was.”[64]  He saw it as a lifeline to the bereaved.[65]  The denial of death in our current culture makes us vulnerable to great emotional dysfunction.[66] The Baxter’s marriage represented a commitment to covenant relationship that brings a course-correction to our self-indulgent culture.[67]  Marriage for Baxter was more about character development into Christ-likeness, than prioritizing one’s own happiness and personal fulfilment.[68]

Packer comments:

Richard and Margaret were what we would call ‘difficult’ people, individual to the point of stubbornness, temperamentally at opposite extremes, and with a twenty-year age gap between them; moreover they were both frequently ill, and were living through a nightmarishly difficult time for person of their convictions.  For Richard, who was officially regarded as the leader and pacesetter of the nonconformists, legal harassment, spying, and peronal sniping were constant, making it an invidious thing to be his wife.  Yet cheerful patience, fostered by constant mutual encouragement drawn from the Word of God, sustained them throughout, and their relationship prospered and blossomed.[69]

Richard, in grieving the loss of Margaret, focused on the goodness of God in time of tragedy.[70] Rather than being resentful and bitter he was grateful for the time that God graciously gave him with his wife.[71] They show us how to make it till death do us part.[72]  God used the fire of the Baxters’ love to transform many lives for eternity.[73] May we too, in this difficult time of COVID-19, trust that the fire of God’s love will strengthen and revive our families and marriages.

Rev. Dr. Ed and Janice Hird

Co-authors, Blue Sky novel


[1] The Black Plague started slowly at first but by May of 1665, 43 had died, in June 6,137 people died, in July 17,036 people died, and at its peak in August, 31,159 people died.

[2] Packer, A Grief Sanctified: Passing through Grief to Peace and Joy (Vine Books, Servant Publications, Ann Arbour, Michigan, 1997), 22. Margaret and her mother Mrs Hanmer followed Pastor Richard Baxter in April 1660 to London where he was involved in the forthcoming restoration of the Church of England.  In 1661, Mrs Hanmer died of fever.  On April 29th 1662, after Richard’s ejection from the Church of England, he received a license to marry Margaret. After ‘many changes…stoppages…and long delays’, they married on Sept 10th 1662.

[3] Packer, A Grief Sanctified, 115.

[4] Packer, A Grief Sanctified, 116.

[5] Packer, A Grief Sanctified, 100. Baxter commented that “the unsuitableness of our age, and my former known purposes against marriage, and against the conveniency of minister’s marriage, who have no sort of necessity, made our marriage the matter of much public talk and wonder.”

[6] Packer, A Grief Sanctified, 43.

[7] Hugh Martin, Puritanism and Richard Baxter, 1954, SCM Press, London, p. 55: “On Sunday August 17th 1662, some 2,000 ministers took farewell of their parishes, often in the presence of overflowing and weeping congregations.   One in five of the clergy were ejected.”; Martin, p. 125, “Richard Baxter is usually credited with 168 books”

[8] Packer, A Grief Sanctified, 44 . “…wherever Richard was and whatever he was doing, he was the object of continual spying and sniping; he was the tall poppy among Puritan nonconformists…”

[9] Packer, A Grief Sanctified, 20. “Kidderminster was an artisan community of some eighteen hundred adults, with weaving as its cottage industry.  Half the town crowded into church every Sunday, and many hundreds had professed conversion.”

[10] J.I. Packer, A Grief Sanctified, 13.

[11] Packer, A Grief Sanctified, 15 “Mere Christianity” –meaning historic mainstream Bible-based discipleship to Jesus Christ, without extras, omissions, diminutions, disproportions, or distortions –was Baxter’s own phrase for the faith he held and sought to spread. Three centuries after his time, C.S. Lewis used the same phrase as a title for the 1952 book in which he put together three sets of broadcast talks on Christian basics.  Probably Lewis got the phrase from Baxter… Lewis and Baxter belong together as men with a common purpose as well as a common faith. Now Lewis, like Baxter, also lost his wife in his sixties, and while in the grip of grief, turned to writing –the end product being his justly admired A Grief Observed.”

[12] Packer, A Grief Sanctified, 19 “That means they were gloomy, censorious English Pharisees, who wore black clothes and steeple hats, condemned all cheerfulness, hated the British monarchy, and wanted the Church of England and its Book of Common Prayer abolished – right?  Wrong – off track on every point!”

[13] Packer, A Grief Sanctified, 23.

[14] Packer, A Grief Sanctified, 53. “Richard Baxter was a communicative man, the kind of magnetic, commanding person who makes you feel that he is taking you into his confidence every time he opens his mouth or puts pen to paper.  Augustine, CS Lewis, and Billy Graham are four more instances of this human type – all of them, incidentally, persons with whom in different ways, Baxter is comparable.”

[15] This integration of heart and head in knowing God is a strong emphasis by Dr J.I. Packer as he warns against “hardness of heart and cynicism of the head.” Richard Baxter, The Saints’ Everlasting Rest, 1652, 153 http://www.ccel.org/ccel/baxter/saints_rest.html;  Dr JI Packer, Morning Devotions talk, AMiA Winter Conference 2010, Greensboro, North Carolina.

[16] Packer, A Grief Sanctified, 53.

[17] Packer, A Grief Sanctified, back cover “A True Love Story. Richard and Margaret Baxter came from landowning families who formed England’s aristocracy in the 1600s.  Richard was a Puritan evangelist, pastor and tireless author.  When Richard met Margaret, she was a frivolous, world-minded teenager.” 

[18] Packer, A Grief Sanctified, 119.

[19] https://ca.thegospelcoalition.org/columns/bedes-wall/margaret-charlton-baxter-puritan-wife/

Initially, when Margaret heard Baxter’s preaching, she had little liking for either him or the people of the town. She had, Baxter tells us in his life of Margaret—A Breviate of the Life of Margaret…Charlton—a “great aversion to the poverty and strictness of the people” of the town. Frivolous and held by the gaieties of this world, she was far more interested in “glittering herself in costly apparel.” (accessed 4/13/2020)

[20] Packer, A Grief Sanctified, 22. “…she sickened, and for months seemed to be mortally ill with lung problems that nothing would relieve.  Special intercession with fasting for her life by Baxter and his inner circle of prayer warriors resulted, however, in a sudden cure ‘as if it were nothing’ – a healing which today would be called miraculous, and was one of several such in Kidderminster in Baxter’s time.”

[21] Packer, A Grief Sanctified, 64-65.

[22] Packer, A Grief Sanctified, 102.

[23] Packer, A Grief Sanctified, 119. Baxter commented that “she was for universal love of all true Christians, and against appropriating the Church to a party, and against censoriousness and partiality in religion.”; Packer, Grief Sanctified,124. Baxter said: “But no one was ever readier (than Margaret) to forgive a fault confessed, and which weakness and religious differences caused.” 

[24] Packer, A Grief Sanctified,187. Baxter wrote: “…For though she often said that before she married me, she expected more sourness and unsuitableness than she found; yet I am sure that she found less zeal and holiness and strictness in all words and looks and duties, and less help for her soul, than she expected.”

[25] Packer, A Grief Sanctified, 110 Baxter commented that “so much was her heart set on the helping the ignorant, untaught poor about St. James’ that she set up a school there to teach some poor children to read, and the catechism, freely…”

[26] Packer, A Grief Sanctified, 106, 108. Baxter commented that “the place being greatly crowded, the beam gave so great a crack as put all the people in a fear.  But a second crack set them all on running and crying out at the windows for ladders…After the first crack, she got down the stairs through the crowd, where others could not get that were stronger. The first man she met, she asked him what profession he was of? He said, a carpenter.  Saith she, “Can you suddenly put a prop under the middle of this beam?”  The man dwelt close by and had a meet prop ready.  He suddenly put it under, while all we above knew nothing of it; but the man’s knocking increased the people’s fears and cry.”

[27] Packer, A Grief Sanctified, 108. Baxter commented: “But this fright increased my wife’s diseased frightfulness…  And if eight hundred persons had been buried in the ruins, as the Papists were in Blackfriars, O what a dreadful thing it would have been in the heavy loss, the many dolorous families, and the public scandal!”

[28] Packer, Grief, 126, Baxter wrote that “…she could not bear the clapping of a door or anything that had suddenness, noise or fierceness in it.  (She )…was more fearless of persecution, imprisonment, or losses and poverty thereby, than I or any that I remember to have known.”

[29] Packer, A Grief Sanctified, 19.

[30]Packer, A Grief Sanctified, 97. Baxter commented: “…her mother’s house, being a garrison, it was stormed when she was in it, and part of the housing about it burnt, and men lay killed before her face.  And all of them were threatened and stripped of their clothing so that they were obliged to borrow clothes.”

[31] Packer, A Grief Sanctified, 126. Baxter wrote about “…four times in danger of death, and the storming of her mother’s house by soldiers, firing part, killing, plundering, and threatening the rest…”

[32]  Packer, A Grief Sanctified, 113. : Baxter commented: “When warrants were out (from Sir Thomas Davis) to distrain of [ie confiscate and sell] my goods for fines for my preaching, she did without any repining encourage me to undergo the loss and did herself take the trouble of removing and hiding my library awhile (many score books being so lost), and after she encouraged me to give it away, bona fide, some to New England, and the most at home to avoid distraining on them.  And the danger of imprisonment and of paying a fine of 40 pounds for every sermon…”

[33] Packer, A Grief Sanctified, 47. On the occasion when Baxter’s home preaching landed him in Clerkenwell jail with a six-month sentence, she “cheerfully went with me into prison; she brought her best bed thither…I think she scarce ever had a pleasanter time in her life.”:   https://mylordkatie.wordpress.com/2012/06/21/margaret-baxter-a-high-calling/ “So completely loyal was Margaret that she insisted on joining him in prison! A friendly jailor allowed her to make the prison room comfortable for Richard and herself. (accessed 4/13/2020)

[34] Packer, A Grief Sanctified, 47, 104.

[35] Packer, A Grief Sanctified, 186. “Richard and Margaret, the workaholic pastor and the willful rich girl, started with the Puritan idea of marriage and built their relationship on that basis with spectacular success. As we can now see, they loved each other realistically, neither idolizing nor idealizing each other.”

[36] Packer, A Grief Sanctified, 186.

[37] Packer, A Grief Sanctified, 44, 146. Baxter commented: “The pleasing of a wife is usually no easy task.  There is an unsuitableness in the best and wisest and most alike…Those who agree in religion, in love and interest, yet may have different apprehensions about occasional occurrences, persons, things, words. That will seem the best way to one that seems the worst to the other.  And passions are apt to succeed and serve these differences.  Very good people are hard to be pleased.  My own dear wife had high desires of my doing and speaking better than I did, but my badness made it hard for me to do better.” “My dear wife did look for more good in me than she found, especially lately in my weakness and decay. We are all like pictures that must not be looked up too near. Those that come near us find more faults and badness in us than others at a distance know.”

[38] Packer A Grief Sanctified, 97.; Packer, A Grief Sanctified, 117. “Richard celebrates Margaret’s quick intelligence, competence in business, brilliance with moral dilemmas, joy in the gospel, in God, in godliness and in being a despised nonconformist, excellence as a homemaker, gentle patience with people of all sorts, faithfulness in chiding her husband as necessary, desire for fullest spiritual intimacy with him at all times. And great love for her mother, despite battles with nightmarish fears that threatened her sanity.”

[39] Packer, A Grief Sanctified, 60: “I had been bred among plain, lower-class people, and I thought that so much washing of stairs and rooms, to keep them as clean as possible their trenches and dishes, and so much ado about cleanliness and trifles, was a sinful eccentricity and expense of servants’ time, while have been spent reading a good book.  But she that had otherwise been bred had somewhat other thoughts.”

[40] Packer, A Grief Transformed, 31. “See that you be furnished with marriage strength and patience, for the duties and sufferings of a married state, before you venture on it…”

[41] Packer, A Grief Transformed, 13. “Debarred in 1662 from parochial ministry by the unacceptable terms on which the Act of Uniformity reestablished the Church of England, he made writing his main business, and by 1680, he made writing his main business…”

[42] Hugh Martin, 176, 180 Baxter inspired Wilberforce by his fearless stand against the slave trade, saying: “To go as pirates and catch up poor negroes or people of another land, that never forfeited life or liberty, and to make them slaves, and sell them, is one of the worse kinds of thievery in the world. “Richard Boyce the scientist said that Richard Baxter feared no man’s displeasure, nor hoped for any man’s preferment.”

[43] Hugh Martin, 125 “Baxter’s influence of the ‘Clapham Sect’ is just one part of the story of his speaking after death.”; 131 “(Baxter’s) ‘Reformed Pastor’ influenced Spener, the founder of German Pietism; 146 “Spurgeon (was a) close student of the Puritan preachers, including Baxter.”; JI Packer,  A Quest for Godliness: The Puritan Vision of the Christian Life, Publisher: Crossway Books, 1994.

[44] Packer, A Grief Transformed, 123.

[45] Packer, A Grief Transformed, 45, 121. Baxter commented: “She was very desirous that we should all have lived in a constancy of devotion and a blameless innocency.  And in this respect, she was the meetest helper that I could have had in the world;…for I was apt to be over-careless in my speech and too backward to my duty, and she was always endeavoring to bring me to greater wariness and strictness in both.  If I spoke rashly or sharply, it offended her; if I behaved (as I was apt) with too much neglect of ceremony or humble compliment to any, she would modestly tell me of it; if my very looks seemed not pleasant, she would have me amend them (which my weak, pained state of body undisposed me to do); if I forgot any week to catechize my servants and familiarly instruct them personally (beside my ordinary family duties [i.e. household prayers twice daily]), she was troubled at my remissiveness.”

[46] Packer, A Grief Transformed, 99. Baxter commented that “…her fervent, secret prayers; for, living in a great house of which the middle part was ruined by the [Civil] wars, she chose a closet in the further end, where she thought none heard it. But some who overheard her said they never heard so fervent prayers from any person.”

[47] Packer, A Grief Transformed, 120.

[48] Packer, A Grief Transformed, 46. “It was not the least comfort that I had in the converse of my late dear wife, that our first in the morning and last in bed at night was a psalm of praise.” 

[49] Packer, A Grief Sanctified, 44.

[50] Packer, A Grief Transformed, 123. Baxter commented: “She could not well bear to hear one speak loud or hastily or eagerly or angrily, even to those who deserved it.  My temper in this she blamed as too quick and earnest.”

[51] Packer, A Grief Sanctified, 44. “Moreover, neither of them had a really easy temperament.  Margaret was highly strung and a bundle of fears inside, which she made worse by bottling them up; Richard was hasty and frequently offhand, as persons who live in pain often are, and was inclined to be downcast and irritable when things did not go his way.”

[52] Packer, Grief, 47 “She was obsessive about her health, too, spending much of her adult life in fear of mental collapse, starving herself for years for fear that overeating would bring on cancer, and thereby as it seems undermining her own constitution.”

[53] Packer, A Grief Sanctified, 43, 103. Baxter commented that “…she could not endure to hear one give another any sour, rough, or hasty word. Her speech was always kind and civil, whether she had anything to give or not.”

[54] Packer, A Grief Sanctified, 171 “Richard, who had thought of himself from the age of twenty as living with one foot in the grave…”; Packer, 149. Baxter finished his book on Margaret with these words: “I am waiting to be next. The door is open. Death will quickly draw the veil and make us see how near we were to God and one another, and did not sufficiently know it.  Farewell vain world, and welcome true everlasting life.  Finis.”

[55] Packer, A Grief Sanctified, 53.

[56] Packer, A Grief Sanctified, 97. Baxter commented: “She was of an extraordinary sharp and piercing wit. She had a natural reservedness and secrecy, increased by thinking it necessary prudence not to be open…she had a natural tenderness and troubledness of mind upon the crossing of her just desires…she had a diseased, unresistable fearfulness; her quick and too sensitive nature was over-timorous.”;   Packer, A Grief Sanctified, 120. Baxter commented, “If I spoke rashly or sharply, it offended her.”;

[57] Packer, A Grief Sanctified, 127. Baxter  commented: “Indeed, she was so much for calmness, deliberation, and doing nothing rashly and in haste,  and my condition and business as well as temper made me do and speak much so suddenly, that she principally differed from me and blamed me in this: Every considerable case and business she would have me take time to think much of before I did it or spoke or resolved of anything.”;   Packer, 127-128 Baxter commented: “…not withstanding her over-quick and feeling temper, was all for mildness, calmness, gentleness, pleasingness, and serenity.” 

[58] Packer, A Grief Sanctified, 45, 170; Lloyd-Thomas, 249.

[59] Packer, A Grief Sanctified, 118. Baxter commented: “Yes, I will say that, except in cases that required learning and skill in theological difficulties, she was better at resolving a case of conscience than most divines that ever I knew in all my life.”

[60] https://mylordkatie.wordpress.com/2012/06/21/margaret-baxter-a-high-calling/

Finally, the doctors followed the common practice of bleeding her and she lost the last of her strength. After severe illness for twelve days, she died on June 14, 1681, aged only forty-two. (accessed 4/13/2020)

[61] Packer, A Grief Sanctified, 13.

[62] Packer, A Grief Sanctified, back cover.; Packer, A Grief Sanctified, 14 “…the writer’s discipline of getting things into shape  is always therapeutic at times of emotional strain.”; Packer, Grief, 56, 169 “…composing the Breviate was perhaps the most therapeutic thing Richard could have done for the managing of his grief process in his life.”

[63] Packer, A Grief Sanctified, 15 “…Baxter’s Breviate, though low-key and matter-of-fact in style, is Puritan spiritual storytelling at its best: story telling that is made more poignant by Richard’s intermittent unveiling of his grief as he goes along.

[64] Packer, A Grief Sanctified, 177.

[65] Packer, A Grief Sanctified, 162 “…Richard and Lewis each gave the world a small book forged in the furnace of grief that is frank, poignant, profound, and a lifeline for the bereaved.” 

[66] Packer, Grief, 164 Packer commented that “In our death-denying, live-forever-down-here culture, we do not know how to cope with the emotional effect of our loved one’s death.”

[67] Packer, A Grief Sanctified, 181. “Popular culture today treats structure in relationships as restrictive rather than liberating, and impoverishing than enriching.”;  Packer, 193 “For Richard and Margaret, as for the whole Bible-based Puritan movement, marriage was a covenant partnership meant to be God-centered and lifelong, a privilege, a calling, and a task.”  

[68] Packer, A Grief Sanctified, 31 “…Richard brings all this down to earth, stressing that what makes for God-honoring marriage is not euphoria but character, consideration, and commitment: in other words, personal formation, reflection, and resolution.”

[69] Packer, A Grief Sanctified, 30.

[70] Packer, A Grief Sanctified, 181, Baxter commented, “You see here that suitableness in religious judgement and disposition preserveth faster love and concord (as it did with us) than suitableness in age, education, and wealth…Nothing causest so near and fast and comfortable a union as to be united in one God, one Christ, one Spirit, one church, one hope of heavenly glory.”; Packer, A Grief Sanctified, 189 “…the experiential emotional fruit of the bereavement event, is, as we have seen, a state of desolation and isolation, of alternating apathy and agony, of inner emptiness and exhaustion.  …Do not let your grief loosen your grip on the goodness and grace of your loving Lord.”

[71] Packer, A Grief Sanctified, 167 …Richard, whose memoir praises God for Margaret, and Margaret herself for her godliness, throughout.”; Packer, 171 “…Richard’s sense of deserving none of the good gifts of earthly marriage…”

[72] Packer, A Grief Sanctified, 177. “Richard’s purpose of writing ‘true history’ led him to recount Margaret’s weaknesses, flaws, and struggles alongside her strengths, virtues, and achievements. He does not present as a plaster saint but as a born-again servant of God with a heart of gold, feet of clay, and huge natural vulnerabilities.” 

[73] Packer, A Grief Transformed, 193. “Why did I put this book together?  …First I wanted you to meet Richard Baxter.  Through his writings, he has been a close personal friend of mine for over half a century, and I wanted to share him.  An outstanding pastoral evangelist, a gifted and prolific devotional writer, and a major prophet (unheeded, unfortunately) to the Anglican Church in the second half of the seventeenth century, he is endlessly interesting; for beyond his public roles he was a great and communicative human being who lets you hear his heart beat as he writes.  …I wanted to introduce you to him as a husband working at his Puritan marriage, and as a widower grieving for the lively lady who had been his life-partner for almost twenty years.  …They were two memorable Christian people with whom I would have loved to spend time…They enrich my life; I should like them to enrich yours too.”

P. S. Click this Amazon link to view for free the first two chapters of our new novel Blue Sky.

“I’m afraid there’s been an accident…”

12bdf6ff-3021-4e73-bccd-bc919398d1a0-7068-0000031133e7b4d9Sandy Brown and her family have just moved to Spokane, Washington where her husband, Scott, is pastoring a new church. With a fresh start, Sandy is determined to devote more time to her four children. But, within weeks of settling in their new life, the Brown family is plunged into turmoil.

Sandy receives shocking news that her children aren’t safe, which brings back haunting memories of the trauma she experienced as a girl. Then, the unthinkable happens…

A brutal attack puts Sandy on the brink of losing everything she’s loved. Her faith in God and the family she cherishes are pushed to the ultimate limit.

Is healing possible when so many loved ones are hurt? Are miracles really possible through the power of prayer? Can life return to the way it was before?

Blue Sky reveals how a mother’s most basic instinct isn’t for survival… but for family.

If you’re a fan of Karen Kingsbury, then you’ll love Blue Sky. Get your copy today on paperback or  kindle.

-Click to check out our marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you. 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form.  Dr. JI Packer wrote the foreword, saying “I heartily commend what he has written.” The book focuses on strengthening a new generation of healthy leaders. Drawing on examples from Titus’ healthy leadership in the pirate island of Crete, it shows how we can embrace a holistically healthy life.

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, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5, Canada.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 

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, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5, 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, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5. 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 $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 


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Dr JI Packer: Knowing God

By Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

Have you ever read Dr JI Packer’s classic Knowing God? Click to check out the Light Magazine article on Dr. JI Packer: Firestarter in Knowing God.

Analyzing the Global Impact of Dr. J.I. Packer

By Rev. Dr. Ed and Janice Hird

-published in the April 2010 Light Magazine

Do you long for a reviving of your knowledge of God, not just intellectually but intimately? The late Dr. J.I. Packer wrote an unforgettable book Knowing God that has transformed and revived the hearts and minds of millions of readers, perhaps including yourself.[1]  Christianity Today readers named him one of the most influential theological writers of the last hundred years, second only to CS Lewis.[2] Dr. Alister McGrath called Packer a theological and spiritual giant[3]: “Packer is a rare example of an original thinker with a genuine gift for teaching…”[4] His legacy includes writing thirty books and over three hundred major articles.[5] Timothy George commented that “his writings are so voluminous that it is hard to imagine that they have come from the pen of one person.”[6]

Packer never let his fame and success get to his head.  Born on July 22nd 1926, he was raised in humble circumstances in the village of Twyning, near Gloucester, in southwest England. McGrath comments about Packer: “Even at an early age, he realized that he was something of a loner, a shy and awkward boy who found it difficult to relate to other children.”[7] While chased at age seven by a schoolyard bully, he was struck by a passing bread van, causing a serious head injury, requiring brain surgery.[8]  The medical diagnosis was…’a depressed compound fracture of the frontal bone on the right-hand side of his forehead.’[9]  This brain injury closed the door to his socializing through playing sports. Because of his fragile health, his parents wisely bought him a massive typewriter rather than a bicycle.  During his long recovery, the naturally shy Packer read widely, typing his earliest essays.  At age 17, Packer described himself as a Dostoevsky addict.[10]  When asked in his eighties about his strongest childhood memories, he replied, “Solitariness.”[11]  He was required to wear a black aluminum plate on his head, held in place by an elastic band. At age 15, he ‘went on strike’, refusing to wear the head plate any longer.[12]

Though raised Anglican, Packer did not know Christ personally.  While attending Crypt High School, he read C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity and Screwtape Letters.[13]   CS Lewis’ two books, said Packer, ‘brought me, not indeed to faith in the full sense, but to mainstream Christian beliefs about God, man, and Jesus Christ, so that I was halfway there.”[14] Because of his head injury, Packer was exempted from World War II military service. He became one of the very few who attended Oxford University during that time. On October 22nd 1944, while attending an Oxford Christian Union meeting (IVCF), Packer was soundly converted, singing Just as I Am: “I had given my life to Christ…When I went out of the church, I knew that I was a Christian.”[15] Over fifty years later, he said “I remember the experience as if it were yesterday.”

Over the next few weeks of being discipled, he stopped viewing the bible as just “a mixed bag of religious all-sorts, of which one could not accept more than the general outlines.”[16] Packer commented: “I can still remember the feeling of surprise -and gladness, as I left the meeting because I knew that I knew that the Bible is the Word of God.” Over the next sixty-six years, he took many courageous stands, drawing others back to the Lordship of Jesus and the authority of the Bible.  Packer valued tradition and history when seen through the lense of Holy Scripture: Scripture must have the last word on all human attempts to state its meaning, and tradition, viewed as a series of such human attempts, has a ministerial rather than a magisterial role.”[17]

Reacting against the ‘victorious living’ emphasis of the Keswick movement, Packer turned to the spiritual wisdom of the largely forgotten Calvinist Puritans.[18] McGrath observed that “while an older generation looked back on Keswick Conventions for their fellowship and teaching, an emerging generation looked instead to the Puritans.”[19] George Whitefield (1714-1770) and the earlier John Owen (1616-1683) became significant mentors in Packer’s spiritual maturing.[20]  He even did his Oxford doctorate on Richard Baxter, who symbolized the best of the Puritans.[21]  Baxter (1615-1691) showed how to be a puritan without being puritanical in the negative sense.[22] Packer’s Knowing God, published in 1973, is a popularization of his doctoral thesis on Baxter. 

Knowing God was originally written as a series of articles for the UK-based Evangelical Magazine. Packer said, “I wrote Knowing God over a period of years during which I was deeply concerned, as I still am, to help people realize God’s greatness.[23]  Intervarsity Press UK (IVP) passed up the chance to publish it, because they wanted Packer instead to write a book about charismatic renewal. Hodder and Stoughton UK initially published it instead.  It was in North America however that Knowing God would have its greatest impact, where IVP USA published it.[24] McGrath said that Packer’s personal opinion was that the book succeeded because it allowed its readers to find and experience the reality of God.[25]  Best-selling author Dr. John RW Stott reviewed Knowing God, saying “The truth he handles fires the heart.  At least it fired mine, and compelled me to turn aside to worship and to pray.”[26] Dr. Alister McGrath commented that reading Knowing God “is like going on a long walk along a forest trail, rich in flora and fauna, nestling under the shadow of the great Rocky mountains.”[27]

McGrath commented that Packer “greatly admired the preaching of Martyn Lloyd-Jones, particularly its expository thoroughness.”[28] Through the influence of Lloyd-Jones, Packer developed a passion for revival.  In 1949, Packer and Lloyd-Jones birthed the very influential Puritan Conferences, which continued at Westminster Chapel in London until 1970.[29] McGrath commented that the ‘Puritan Studies Conference’ “offered a powerful and persuasive vision of the Christian life, in which theology, biblical exposition, spirituality and preaching were shown to be mutually indispensable and interrelated.  It was a vision of the Christian life which possessed both intellectual rigour and pastoral relevance.  It was a powerful antidote to the anti-intellectualism which had been rampant within British evangelical circles in the immediate post-war period.”[30]

In the foreword to Lloyd-Jones’ Revival book, Packer said, “No concern was dearer to his heart nor to mine.”[31] Packer observed, “Dr Lloyd-Jones hoped for revival until he died. He is gone. The prophets are gone, but we should still be hoping for revival. Revival is a sovereign work of God. He fixes the time table. The schedule is his, not ours.” As Calvinist puritans, both Lloyd-Jones and Packer taught that revival is a sovereign act of God.[32] We cannot produce it through our organizational skills.[33]

Before moving to Vancouver’s Regent College in 1979, Packer taught in several English theological settings including Oak Hill College, St. John’s Birmingham, Latimer House, Tyndale Hall, and Trinity College Bristol.[34] The pull of North America became stronger after Packer began lecturing during the summers in USA and Canada.[35]  As McGrath put it, Packer liked Vancouver, and he liked Canada, which seemed to him to be halfway between Britain and the United States.[36]  Regent offered Packer a much greater opportunity to write and to speak at North American conferences.[37]  Leland Ryken noted that there has been no more famous teacher at Regent College through the years than Packer.[38] During Packer’s time at Regent, the student body has grown from 140 to over 800.[39]  

Charles Colson, founder of Prison Fellowship, stated that “…this will be known as the Packer Era because J.I. Packer has been the towering figure of this era – defending truth, defending orthodoxy, and defending great preaching.”[40]  In 1994, Packer was the chief architect of the Anglican Essentials movement in Canada which ultimately realigned many with the revival in the Global South.[41] The Montreal Essential Declaration is shaped by Richard Baxter’s maxim “In essentials, unity; In non-essentials, diversity, and in all things charity.”[42] In 2,000, he chaired the theological track at the World Conference on Evangelism convened by Billy Graham in Amsterdam.[43]  He served for many years as general editor in producing the 2001 English Standard Version Bible.[44] Packer had a passion for the revival of catechism, for teaching how to live out biblical truth.[45] Revival, said Packer, means “power, constant sustained power from God’s Holy Spirit for life and service.”[46] Revival means struggle for truth.[47]  Revival is about knowing God.[48]  What might it take for us, like J.I. Packer, to long for the fire of revival?

Rev. Dr. Ed and Janice Hird

Co-authors, Blue Sky novel


[1] Alistair McGrath, J.I. Packer: A Biography (Baker Books, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA, 1997), 179 “…one of the twentieth century’s most influential and admired Christian books –Knowing God.”; McGrath, 256 ”Packer’s bestseller Knowing God represented a classic statement and justification of the intimate relationship between knowing correct ideas about God and the relational activity of knowing God.”

[2]McGrath, xi  “James Innell Packer is one of the best-known names in modern Christianity.”

[3] McGrath,  xi   “….one such person who has made a major long-term contribution to the shaping of Christianity in the modern world.”; J.I. Packer and the Evangelical Future: The Impact of His Life and Thought, edited by Timothy George   (Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, MI, USA, 2009), back cover “J.I. Packer is one of the most significant evangelical theologians of the last one hundred years.” (Timothy George is the Executive Editor for Christianity Today.)

[4] George, 20.

[5] McGrath, 290.

[6] George, 10.

[7] McGrath, 3.; 45 “His parents were poor, and he had no private means.”; Ryken, 20. “…J.I. Packer came from humble roots.  …he has never lost his common touch.”

[8] McGrath, 1.

[9] Ryken, 23.

[10] Ryken, 24 In a Christianity Today polling of their contributors of the ten best religious books of the twentieth century, Packer chose the Lord of the Rings trilogy by JRR Tolkien, saying “a classic for children from 9 to 90. Bears constant rereading.”;   Ryken, 30 Packer said that at age 17, he became ‘a Dostoyevsky addict’, much impressed by how the Russian novelist ‘takes the skin off his characters and allows us to see what they are like.’

[11] McGrath, 11 “He was a solitary figure, who found greatest pleasure in reading and studying.”; Ryken, 21 “From his early years, Packer was a shy boy who did not mingle easily with his peers.”

[12] Ryken, 23.

[13] McGrath, 9.

[14] Ryken, 29.

[15] George, 10 “…It was in meetings of the Oxford Inter-Collegiate Christian Union, a British version of Inter Varsity, that Packer found a living relationship with Jesus Christ and committed his life to Christian service.”

[16] Ryken, 39.

[17] George, 25. JI Packer, “The Comfort of Conservatism”, in Power Religion, ed. M Horton (Chicago, Moody, 1992), 288.;  George, 20, McGrath commented: “Packer’s distinctive and, in my view, critically important insight that evangelical theology is both enriched and stabilized by attentiveness to the past.”; George, 26, McGrath commented, “Packer argues that attentiveness to the past liberates us from ‘chronological snobbery’ and alerts us to the riches of past readings of Scripture.”

[18] McGrath, 43 “Packer mentioned that he was a Puritan addict…”; McGrath, 55 Packer commented, “Without Owen, I might well have gone off my head or gotten boggled down in mystical fanaticism.”; McGrath, 77 “…the Keswick teaching had come to be seen as a distinctive article of evangelicalism.  To criticize Keswick was thus to attack evangelicalism.”

[19] McGrath, 54.

[20] McGrath, 22, 24, 25, 26 “The discovery of Owens must be regarded as marking a turning point in Packer’s Christian life…”; McGrath, 43 “Packer explained that John Owen’s sixty pages on mortifying sin had helped him cope with ‘popular brand of holiness teaching, which was driving [him] around the bend’.”; McGrath, 56  “What do the Puritans have to offer modern evangelicalism?  The answer for Packer can be summed up in a single word -maturity.”

[21] McGrath, 46 “Packer’s growing interest in the theology of the Puritans had led him to explore the writings of Richard Baxter (1615-91).”; McGrath, 47 “Packer’s thesis The Redemption and Restoration of Man in the Thought of Richard Baxter was long; its 499 pages extend to nearly 150,000 words. (Oxford would later insist that doctoral theses should not exceed 100,000 words.)  The work shows Packer as a scholar with a gift for rigorous analysis and clarity of expression.”

[22] Neil Bramble, “J.I. Packer”, Convivium, May 12, 2017, “The essence of Puritanism is not the public caricature often imposed upon them, but a lively, sincere, and devoted spirituality based on the Bible’s teachings translated into one’s personal life.” “https://www.convivium.ca/voices/124_j_i_packer/ (accessed Feb 28th 2020)

[23] .  J.I. Packer, Knowing God Study Guide (Intervarsity Press, Madison, Wisconsin, USA, 1975), 7 “Packer…wrote Knowing God from the conviction that ignorance of God lies at the root of the contemporary church’s weakness.”

[24] David Virtue, “The (Knowing God) book, first published in 1973 and now translated into at least seven languages, has sold more than 2 million copies, an astounding number for what is essentially a textbook in basic theology. “It was a surprise,” he told me: “I wrote the first draft as a series of articles. It was essentially intended as a catechesis-a teaching book. At first I just hoped that it would go into a second printing.” https://virtueonline.org/patriarch-dr-j-i-packer http://www.worldmag.com/articles/16150  (accessed March 2nd 2020)

[25] McGrath, 191.; McGrath commented that …this was the right book for the right moment.

[26] McGrath, 191.; Ryken, 114 “Indeed, Stott and Packer were the two most prominent evangelical leaders in the Church of England during the 1960s and 1970s.”

[27] McGrath, 195.

[28] McGrath, 62, 161 “Packer had been one of the relatively few evangelicals of influence within the Church of England who had championed links with Lloyd-Jones.”

[29] McGrath, 157 “Lloyd-Jones…wrote to Packer to terminate the Puritan Conferences.”  (in the context of the 1970 publication of the Growing into Union book by two evangelicals and two Anglo-Catholics.) (it became renamed the Westminster Conferences.)

[30] McGrath, 53.

[31] Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Revival (Crossway Books, Wheaton, Illinois, USA, 1987), foreword.

[32] Marks of Revival by J.I. Packer By GOL Revival (Grace Online Library) Awareness of God’s presence. The first and fundamental feature in revival is the sense that God has drawn awesomely near in his holiness, mercy, and might.

https://graceonlinelibrary.org/church-ministry/revival/marks-of-revival-by-j-i-packer/ (accessed 3/6/2020)

[33] Justin Taylor What Is Revival? |  February 17, 2010 Here is how J. I. Packer answers that question in his essay, “The Glory of God and the Reviving of Religion” in A God-Entranced Vision of All Things (pp. 100-104): “Revival is God touching minds and hearts in an arresting, devastating, exalting way, to draw them to himself through working from the inside out rather than from the outside in. It is God accelerating, intensifying, and extending the work of grace that goes on in every Christian’s life, but is sometimes overshadowed and somewhat smothered by the impact of other forces. It is the near presence of God giving new power to the gospel of sin and grace. It is the Holy Spirit sensitizing souls to divine realities and so generating deep-level responses to God in the form of faith and repentance, praise and prayer, love and joy, works of benevolence and service and initiatives of outreach and sharing. What is the pattern of genuine revival? Packer suggests the following ten elements:

God comes down.

God’s Word pierces.

Man’s sin is seen.

Christ’s cross is valued.

Change goes deep.

Love breaks out.

Joy fills hearts.

Each church becomes itself—becomes, that is, the people of the divine presence in an experiential, as distinct from merely notional, sense.

The lost are found.

Satan keeps pace.

https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justin-taylor/what-is-revival/ (accessed 3/6/2020)”

[34] McGrath, 180 “In the eyes of many young evangelicals, Packer and Moyter together (at Trinity College, Bristol) represented a form of evangelicalism which possessed both intellectual rigour and spiritual integrity.”; McGrath, 237.

[35] McGrath, 181 “As Trinity settled down, Packer again found he had time and space for thinking, speaking, and writing.  … Packer was able to negotiate an arrangement with the college Council, by which he would spend the autumn and spring terms teaching in Bristol, leaving the summer term free of commitments in order to allow him to spend time in North America…Increasingly, Packer became a well-known figure in North America – not simply through his books, but through his personal presence at seminaries as a teacher and lecturer.”

[36] McGrath, 233.; Bramble, “Packer could have had a number of other teaching positions in high profile seminaries in the United States, but he chose the fledgling Regent College, where 37 years later (2016) he is still involved—in his ninety-first year.”

[37] McGrath, 217 “Packer was by now regarded in North America as the best-known and most highly respected British evangelical theologian. …His book Knowing God had firmly established him as one of the most important writers in the area of spirituality…In short, Packer was being lionized in North America. In England, however, he was being marginalized.”; Ryken, 165 “…Mark Noll notes that the British posts (temporary teaching assignments)   were Anglican; the North American posts have been Reformed and evangelical.”

[38] Ryken, 164.

[39] McGrath, 239. “By the end of the 1980s’, Regent was the largest graduate institution of theological education in the region with a new purpose-built home on a high-profile site on the university campus.”

[40] George, Charles Colson, 139.

[41] McGrath, 160 “Two major events of the 1990s – the Anglican Church of Canada’s Essentials ’94 congress…can be seen to rest on precisely the theological foundations developed by Packer in England during the 1970s…it represented the application of a coherent and historically and theologically justified approach, which had been set in place twenty years earlier.”; McGrath, 283 “Packer…was the chief architect of ‘Essentials 94.’”

[42] George, 11 “Packer has been ever mindful of the maxim of Richard Baxter, on whom he wrote his Oxford doctoral dissertation.  In necessariis Unitas, in non-necessariis Libertas, in utrisque Caritas.”   http://www.anglicancommunionalliance.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Montreal-Declaration-for-ACA-Website-PDF-FINAL.pdf (accessed March 8th 2020); Leland Ryken, J.I. Packer: an Evangelical Life (Crossway, Wheaton, Illinois, 2015), 12 “Packer is by nature a peacemaker and a gentle man, yet he has had a career of controversy…his stand on religious issues has often made him an object of criticism.”

[43] George, 10.

[44] Bramble, “The term collaborator may well describe Packer’s most telling leadership quality. He loved working as a member of a team, and he did so on numerous occasions. Perhaps the best example was his role as general editor in producing the English Standard Version of the Bible. Interestingly, Packer himself sees this as his most significant contribution.”

[45] Trinity School for Ministry talk “JI Packer: On Personal Holiness”:  When I was eighteen years ago, I spoke to a conference “For the rest of my working life, I should be conducting a crusade for catechesis, that is, the revival of catechism type instruction in all evangelical churches.  What is the essence of catechetical instruction?  It is two things together, teaching the doctrines of the bible, teaching the truths that we are to live by, and teaching in direct connect with that, how to live by those truths, how to practice in fact what we called holiness.” “I want to campaign for a renewal of personal holiness…” “…culturally the West is coming apart…” “we don’t make as much of repentance as we should…” (accessed 2/23/2020)

[46] Marks of Revival, Revival Commentary, v. 1, n. 1.  JI Packer: “Revival is the visitation of God which brings to life Christians who have been sleeping and restores a deep sense of God’s near presence and holiness. Thence springs a vivid sense of sin and a profound exercise of heart in repentance, praise, and love, with an evangelistic outflow.”

Source: Your Father Loves You, Shaw Publishing, 1986, Page for May 30.

http://christian-quotes.ochristian.com/christian-quotes_ochristian.cgi?find=Christian-quotes-by-J.I.+Packer-on-Revival (accessed 1/6/2020)

[47]McGrath, ix “…my Christian calling thus far has felt so much like me ‘and a few other blokes’ trying to stop  specific falsehoods, nail specific sins, and further the new life that Satan tries to quench in his ongoing war with the God of creation, providence, and grace.”

[48] J.I. Packer, Revival #2, 02/18/24  A Southern Baptist conference at Grenville Seminary, South Carolina, USA  3:33 “In revival, God comes close, and thus sin is seen, and because sin is seen, the gospel is loved, as never before, and repentance goes deep, and godliness grows fast, and the church becomes itself, and the world feels the impact as an evangelistic overflow, and Satan keeps pace trying to spoil and corrupt what is going on.” 24:50 “Dr Lloyd-Jones hoped for revival until he died. He is gone. The prophets are gone, but we should still be hoping for revival. Revival is a sovereign work of God. He fixes the time table. The schedule is his, not ours. 49:43 “Revival means the overcoming of hostile spiritual forces, forces against which the people of God have thus far been impotent, forces which have run all over them, forces of secularity, forces of worldliness.  There is always opposition when revival begins, and regularly there is opposition to the gospel before revival begins.”  “And have you studied the East African revival of our own time?  It broke in the 1930s. It’s still going on.  It dies down and flairs up again like a forest fire…It prepared the people of God…for the appalling convulsions that they had to go through politically and in terms of persecution…The revival folks stood firm under persecution when the Mau-mau folk were trying to get them back to the tribal darkness of ethnic, witch doctor-type polytheism. They wouldn’t go.  Many of them lost their lives at the time…If God hadn’t quickened his people by revival blessing in the 1930s and thereafter, where would the Church be in East Africa?  1:04:35 paraphrase: Revival is a rediscovery of the blessing (the central revival doctrine) of justification (by faith). 1:0513 revival is…the people of God pictured as a candle stick sustained and enabled to burn and burn and keep on burning through oil from heaven… revival means power, constant sustained power from God’s Holy Spirit for life and service.  1:09:29 Revival means the purging out of sin from the lives of saint through bringing them to repentance.  (sins vomited up)  1:18:38 Revival shows God to be still on his throne, victorious…a demonstration of his sovereign Lordship and sovereign grace.

J.I. Packer, Revival: #3, 16:11, A Southern Baptist conference at Grenville Seminary, South Carolina,

USA : “The alternatives are always revival or judgement, and that is as true for us in North America today as it was in the bible times.” 19:43 “God is sovereign in revival. You cannot predict it, but also you cannot preclude it.  There is no situation so grave and so grievous that God cannot move in it and restore it.” 20:15 “Spiritual revival is something to be sought, to be sought for one’s own soul, to be sought for one’s own church, to be sought for one’s own community.  It is not for us to say all we can do is wait and twiddle our thumbs until God is pleased to act.” “We are to seek spiritual renewal, spiritual revival, and we are to seek it by petition…linked with self-examination.” 24:20 “Spiritual revival is something to be sought for and looked for.  God does not play cat and mouse with us.”  25:00 “Pessimism about the possibility of revival is a form of unbelief of the Bible.” https://www.sermonaudio.com/saplayer/playpopup.asp?SID=2190484748 (accessed March 2nd 2020)

P. S. Click this Amazon link to view for free the first two chapters of our new novel Blue Sky.

“I’m afraid there’s been an accident…”

12bdf6ff-3021-4e73-bccd-bc919398d1a0-7068-0000031133e7b4d9Sandy Brown and her family have just moved to Spokane, Washington where her husband, Scott, is pastoring a new church. With a fresh start, Sandy is determined to devote more time to her four children. But, within weeks of settling in their new life, the Brown family is plunged into turmoil.

Sandy receives shocking news that her children aren’t safe, which brings back haunting memories of the trauma she experienced as a girl. Then, the unthinkable happens…

A brutal attack puts Sandy on the brink of losing everything she’s loved. Her faith in God and the family she cherishes are pushed to the ultimate limit.

Is healing possible when so many loved ones are hurt? Are miracles really possible through the power of prayer? Can life return to the way it was before?

Blue Sky reveals how a mother’s most basic instinct isn’t for survival… but for family.

If you’re a fan of Karen Kingsbury, then you’ll love Blue Sky. Get your copy today on paperback or  kindle.

-Click to check out our marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form.  Dr. JI Packer wrote the foreword, saying “I heartily commend what he has written.” The book focuses on strengthening a new generation of healthy leaders. Drawing on examples from Titus’ healthy leadership in the pirate island of Crete, it shows how we can embrace a holistically healthy life.

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, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5, Canada.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 

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, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5, 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, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5. 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 $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 

 


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The irreplaceable Katharina Luther

Why was Katharina Luther so indispensable? Click to find out.

P. S. Click this Amazon link to view for free the first two chapters of our new novel Blue Sky.

“I’m afraid there’s been an accident…”

12bdf6ff-3021-4e73-bccd-bc919398d1a0-7068-0000031133e7b4d9Sandy Brown and her family have just moved to Spokane, Washington where her husband, Scott, is pastoring a new church. With a fresh start, Sandy is determined to devote more time to her four children. But, within weeks of settling in their new life, the Brown family is plunged into turmoil.

Sandy receives shocking news that her children aren’t safe, which brings back haunting memories of the trauma she experienced as a girl. Then, the unthinkable happens…

A brutal attack puts Sandy on the brink of losing everything she’s loved. Her faith in God and the family she cherishes are pushed to the ultimate limit.

Is healing possible when so many loved ones are hurt? Are miracles really possible through the power of prayer? Can life return to the way it was before?

Blue Sky reveals how a mother’s most basic instinct isn’t for survival… but for family.

If you’re a fan of Karen Kingsbury, then you’ll love Blue Sky. Get your copy today on paperback or  kindle.

-Click to check out our marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form.  Dr. JI Packer wrote the foreword, saying “I heartily commend what he has written.” The book focuses on strengthening a new generation of healthy leaders. Drawing on examples from Titus’ healthy leadership in the pirate island of Crete, it shows how we can embrace a holistically healthy life.

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, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5, Canada.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 

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, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5, 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, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5. 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 $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 


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Susanna Wesley: A Mother on Fire

Never underestimate the power of a praying mom. Susanna Wesley powerfully changed our modern world through impacting her children John & Charles Wesley. Check out our latest article in the September Light Magazine.

P. S. Click this Amazon link to view for free the first two chapters of our new novel Blue Sky.

“I’m afraid there’s been an accident…”

12bdf6ff-3021-4e73-bccd-bc919398d1a0-7068-0000031133e7b4d9Sandy Brown and her family have just moved to Spokane, Washington where her husband, Scott, is pastoring a new church. With a fresh start, Sandy is determined to devote more time to her four children. But, within weeks of settling in their new life, the Brown family is plunged into turmoil.

Sandy receives shocking news that her children aren’t safe, which brings back haunting memories of the trauma she experienced as a girl. Then, the unthinkable happens…

A brutal attack puts Sandy on the brink of losing everything she’s loved. Her faith in God and the family she cherishes are pushed to the ultimate limit.

Is healing possible when so many loved ones are hurt? Are miracles really possible through the power of prayer? Can life return to the way it was before?

Blue Sky reveals how a mother’s most basic instinct isn’t for survival… but for family.

If you’re a fan of Karen Kingsbury, then you’ll love Blue Sky. Get your copy today on paperback or  kindle.

-Click to check out our marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form.  Dr. JI Packer wrote the foreword, saying “I heartily commend what he has written.” The book focuses on strengthening a new generation of healthy leaders. Drawing on examples from Titus’ healthy leadership in the pirate island of Crete, it shows how we can embrace a holistically healthy life.

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, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5, Canada.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 

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, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5, 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, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5. 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 $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 


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Evan Roberts in the Land of Revivals

Evan Roberts

by Rev. Dr. Ed & Janice Hird

How might Canada be different if ten per cent of Canadians entered into the Kingdom of God in the next two years? That’s what happened in Wales, the land of revivals and song.

Evan Roberts, the spiritual father of the 1904 Welsh Revival, worked from age 12 to 23 with his father Henry in the coal mines. He had visitations from the Holy Spirit, showing all of Wales being lifted up to Heaven.

For several months before revival broke out, Roberts would be taken up into the heavens every night, where he would commune with God. He began to ask God to give him 100,000 souls, something that happened during this revival. In this awakening, ten per cent of the Welsh people were ushered into the Kingdom. Revival historian J. Edwin Orr says 150,000 became members of local churches in Wales, with 250,000 being born again.

Prayer was the very breath of Roberts’ soul. He seemed to be constantly praying. The prayer that he received from his mentor, Rev. Seth Joshua, was “Bend me, bend me, bend us.” Roberts urged total abandonment to the will of God. As one participant commented, “Did we not hear him time and again praying the words ‘Empty me! Fill me! Use me,’ until they became part of our thinking?” Whenever the Holy Spirit came upon Roberts in a revival meeting, his face was transformed, bringing a radiant smile and shining eyes.

The four points of his revival message were:
1. Confess all known sin, receiving forgiveness through Jesus Christ.
2. Remove anything in your life that you are in doubt or feel unsure about.
3. Be ready to obey the Holy Spirit instantly.
4. Publicly confess the Lord Jesus Christ.

Roberts became perhaps the most famous man in the world at the time. Even the future UK Prime Minister, Lloyd George, vouched for the genuineness of Evan Roberts and the Welsh revival.

Roberts was present at only about 259 of the tens of thousands of Welsh revival meetings that took place. The chapels were often so crowded that Roberts often had to climb over people’s shoulders just to make it to the pulpit. Participants said that it was not the eloquence of Evan Roberts that transformed people – it was his tears. People were standing for hours in the cold, wintry air hoping that by someone leaving the church, they could push in to witness the scenes that were taking place inside. Troubled by both the adulation and criticism, he wouldn’t announce his meetings in advance. He wanted Jesus, not himself, to be the focus. Sometimes, he would go to a revival meeting and then refuse to speak, instead praying silently before leaving. He said, “I am not the source for this revival. I am only one worker in that which is growing to be a host. I am not moving the hearts of men and changing their lives; but ‘God is working through me.”

From the very beginning of the revival, there was a strong sense of conviction of sin, with wrongdoing publicly confessed. Instead of sports, the hot topic in the pubs was about Evan Roberts and the revival. Drunkenness was cut in half, causing bankruptcies in many pubs. Crime was cut in half. Former houses of prostitution turned into homes of heavenly singing, encouraging their former customers to go to the revival meetings. The Bible Society in Wales could not keep up with the request for their bibles. People began to pay off their bad debts. Some of the toughest characters in the Welsh valleys were converted. Pit-ponies could no longer understand the miners’ commands as they had stopped cursing the ponies. The police, often having no one to arrest, would come to the revivals to sing in quartets. In one court case, the prisoner came under conviction, confessing his sins. The judge then preached the gospel to him, and the jury spontaneously broke out into Welsh revival singing.

Just like with the 1970s Jesus movement, most of the Welsh revival leaders and participants were very young. The revival services were marked with informality, laughing, crying, dancing, joy, and brokenness. Many of these youth did spontaneous Jesus marches, singing songs and visiting the pubs to invite people to the revival. No one bothered about the clock. People often stayed until two to three in the morning, and then marched through the streets singing hymns. A participant, David Matthews, commented, “When I left the heavenly atmosphere of the church for home, I discovered that it was five in the morning! I had been in the house of God for ten hours – they passed like ten minutes!”

As predicted by Roberts, the Welsh revival had a worldwide impact, birthing over 30 revivals around the world, including in China, Korea, India, East Africa, and the 1906 Azusa Street revival in Los Angeles, impacting hundreds of millions. At one meeting, all Roberts said was ‘let us pray’, before revival broke out. As with the later Korean revival, the Welsh all prayed simultaneously. This revival of love gave Roberts the ability to sing all day. The first Welsh revival team was five teenage girls who would sing about God’s love at the revival meetings. The love song of the Welsh revival was the song, “Here is love vast as the ocean”. Roberts told reporters, “I preach nothing but Christ’s love.”

Because he seldom ate, slept and rested, Roberts soon succumbed to the pressure of his rigorous schedule, and, in 1906, suffered a physical and emotional collapse, the first of his eight nervous breakdowns. The doctor told him after his nervous breakdown that if he ever preached again, he would die.

Evan Roberts Tent MeetingHe moved to England, living in virtual seclusion until he died. Sadly, Roberts refused to see his family when they visited, only returning to Wales upon the death of his father in 1928. While there for his dad’s funeral in Loughor, Roberts spoke a few sentences and a “mini-revival” sparked. Evan Roberts died in 1951 at age 72.
Imagine what God might do in Canada if we, like Evan Roberts, bent our will to God’s will for our nation? Bend us, Lord! Bend the Church in Canada!

Rev. Dr. Ed & Janice Hird -co-authors of For Better, For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship

-previously published in the Light Magazine

P. S. Click this Amazon link to view for free the first two chapters of our new novel Blue Sky.

“I’m afraid there’s been an accident…”

12bdf6ff-3021-4e73-bccd-bc919398d1a0-7068-0000031133e7b4d9Sandy Brown and her family have just moved to Spokane, Washington where her husband, Scott, is pastoring a new church. With a fresh start, Sandy is determined to devote more time to her four children. But, within weeks of settling in their new life, the Brown family is plunged into turmoil.

Sandy receives shocking news that her children aren’t safe, which brings back haunting memories of the trauma she experienced as a girl. Then, the unthinkable happens…

A brutal attack puts Sandy on the brink of losing everything she’s loved. Her faith in God and the family she cherishes are pushed to the ultimate limit.

Is healing possible when so many loved ones are hurt? Are miracles really possible through the power of prayer? Can life return to the way it was before?

Blue Sky reveals how a mother’s most basic instinct isn’t for survival… but for family.

If you’re a fan of Karen Kingsbury, then you’ll love Blue Sky. Get your copy today on paperback or  kindle.

-Click to check out our marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form.  Dr. JI Packer wrote the foreword, saying “I heartily commend what he has written.” The book focuses on strengthening a new generation of healthy leaders. Drawing on examples from Titus’ healthy leadership in the pirate island of Crete, it shows how we can embrace a holistically healthy life.

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, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5, Canada.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 

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, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5, 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, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5. 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 $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca