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Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit


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Bill W. and Dr. Sam: 12 Steps to Freedom

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

With millions set free from the ravages of uncontrollable drinking, who among us cannot be thankful for the gift of Alcoholics Anonymous?  Many of us have friends, family, and co-workers who are alive and well today because of the miracle of the 12 Steps.  Over the years, I have had the privilege of doing a number of ‘5th Steps’ with people in recovery.  I have always come away from those experiences with a deepened sense of gratitude for the amazing gift of life.

One of the perhaps unexpected spin-offs of AA has been the dozens of recovery groups who apply the 12 Steps to all kinds of addictions and challenges, including overeating, narcotics, sexual brokenness, emotional dysfunctions, and gambling dependencies.  One of the fastest-growing spin-offs is the ACOA movement for Adult Children of Alcoholics.  There is even a specifically Christ-centered expression based on the beatitudes called ‘Celebrate Recovery’ that over 400,000 have already participated in.

Where did these amazing 12 Steps come from, in the first place?  They were written by Bill W who had been mentored towards a life-changing faith by the Rev. Samuel Shoemaker.  Dr. Sam, as he was known affectionately in AA circles, had a profound impact on the spiritual awakening of Bill W.

As Bill W tells it in ‘AA Comes of Age’, he went with his friend Ebby to Dr. Sam’s Calvary Church Mission.  “There were some hymns and prayers.  Then Tex, the leader, exhorted us.  Only Jesus could save, he said.  Somehow this statement did not jar me.  Certain men got up and gave testimonials.  Numb as I was, I felt interest and excitement rising.  Then came the call.  Some men were starting forward to the rail.  Unaccountably impelled, I started too…I knelt among the shaking penitents. Maybe then and there, for the first time, I was penitent too.  Something touched me.  I guess it was more than that.  I was hit.  I felt a wild impulse to talk. Jumping to my feet, I began…Ebby, who at first had been embarrassed to death, told me with relief that I had done all right and had ‘given my life to God.’”

Bill W said that ‘It was from Sam that co-founder Dr. Bob and I in the beginning absorbed most of the principles that were afterwards embodied in the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, steps that express the heart of AA’s way of life.’  Bill W went on to say that Dr. Sam ‘gave us the concrete knowledge of about what we could do about (alcoholism)’ and that Dr. Sam ‘passed on the spiritual keys by which we were liberated’.  Dr Sam, according to Bill W, ‘has been the connecting link’.  Dr Sam even hosted the first AA meetings in his Calvary Episcopal (Anglican) Church Hall in New York.

Even though Dr. Sam was not an alcoholic, he had unusual insights into the human condition that drew alcoholics to him.  Reminiscing about the first time that he met Dr. Sam, Bill W said: ‘I can still see him standing there before the lectern.  His utter honesty, his tremendous forthrightness, struck me deep.  I shall never forget it.’  According to Bill W, Dr. Sam ‘always called a spade a spade, and his blazing eagerness, earnestness, and crystal clarity drove home his message point by point…Here was a man quite as willing to talk about his own sins as about anybody else’s.’

The author of twenty-eight books, Dr. Sam was named as one of the ten greatest preachers in North America.  He challenged all of the backward failings of humanity with fierceness, wit and relevancy.  But Dr. Sam was never pessimistic or despairing.

Upon Dr. Sam’s death, Billy Graham said: ‘Words cannot express adequately the sense of personal loss I have felt at the home-coming of our beloved Sam.  What a blessing it has been for me to talk and especially pray with this giant among men.  I doubt that any man in our generation has made a greater impact for God on the Christian world than did Sam Shoemaker’.

Many 12 Step groups around the world pray both the Serenity Prayer and the Lord’s prayer.  Both prayers are about ‘letting Go and letting God’.  According to Bill W, breakthroughs happen when “…we can surrender and truly feel, ‘Thy will, not mine, be done’”.  It is so hard to let go.  Yet as we work the twelve steps, as we admit our powerlessness, as we turn our lives and will over to the care of God, as we seek only for the knowledge of God’s will, then miracles can happen.

As Dr. Sam said to the 20th Anniversary AA Convention, “Prayer is not trying to get God to change His will. It is trying to find out what His will is, to align ourselves or realign ourselves with His purpose for the world and for us.  When we let willfulness cool out of us, God can get His will across to us as far as we need to see ahead of us.  Dante said, ‘In His will is our peace’.”

Dr. Sam concluded his address to the 20th Anniversary AA Convention by saying: “I thank God that the church has so widely associated itself with AA, because I think AA people need the church for personal stabilization and growth, but also because I think that the church needs AA as a continuous spur to greater aliveness and expectation and power.”  “Perhaps the time has come”, said Dr. Sam, “for the church to be reawakened and revitalized by the insights and practices found in AA.”

My prayer for those reading this article is that as with Bill W and Dr. Sam, God may make each of us a channel of his peace, his serenity and his sobriety.

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, Rector

BSW, MDiv, DMin

St. Simon’s Church North Vancouver

Anglican Mission in Canada

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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The Gift of Courage Can Be Imparted

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hirdcanadian_money

I remember when I lost my voice for 18 months back in 1980.  I will never forget resigning my job, going on sick leave, driving to the Employment Insurance office only to find out that my company did not have any long-term disability insurance.

In the midst of those devastating experiences, my strongest feeling was that I was disappointing my father.  However my dad was not feeling that way at all.  He was just concerned that I recover my voice and get back on track.  Deep within most of us is this inexpressible desire to please our fathers.

In the early 1980’s, I spent almost five years in Abbotsford, during which time we had our second child.  Each week I went to visit the sick in the local hospital.  While visiting the psychiatric ward, I met a man who had Anglican and Roman Catholic parents.  He said to me that he hadn’t seen a priest in thirty years.  Out of the blue, he told me that he never prayed to God.  ‘God was too angry’, he said. ‘You just couldn’t talk to him.  He would always blow up.’  The man went on to say that he only prayed to the Virgin Mary.  ‘She was kind, loving, gentle, and would always listen’, he said.

virgin-mary1I said to the man, ‘Does God ever remind you of your earthly father?’.  ‘Funny you should say that’, he said. ‘ They are just the same.  They never listen and they always blow up at me.’  I went on to say, ‘What about your own mother? Does she remind you of the Virgin Mary?’  His eyes brightened up, and he said to me, ‘You must know my parents.  My mother is just like the Virgin Mary.  She always listens to me’.

I said to the man, ‘Your problem is not with God.  It is with your earthly father.  If you are willing to deal with the pain of your relationship to your dad, you will find that you will be able to talk to God.’  A week later, a local psychiatrist phoned me up and informed me that this patient had experienced a major breakthrough in his counseling as a result.

In A.A., they say that you are as healthy as your (lack of) secrets.  I would agree, but also add that we are as healthy as our relationship with our fathers.  So many men nowadays are caught in painful ambivalence and confusion, because they have never really felt affirmed and blessed by their own fathers.

The gift of a healthy father is the gift of courage_under_firecourage.  The gift of a healthy father is the gift of being willing to lay down our lives, if necessary, for our families.  In this age of compromise, I give thanks for my own father who has not been afraid to stand up for his family and his convictions.

Without a father who believes in you, it may be very hard as a teenager to feel that you are going to make it through.  They say that teenagers experience most things far more intensely than many adults.  Their highs are twice as high and their lows are twice as low.  That is why premature sexual intimacy and the usual relational breakups are so deeply devastating for our teenagers.

A courageous father does more than just give a condom to his kid.  He explains to him the real risk of broken hearts and diseased bodies, as well of the benefits of waiting for real commitment.  By our faithfulness to our wives, despite the ups and down of life, we give our children courage to believe that they too can enter faithful lasting relationships.

The concept of future marriage for many teenagers and young adults has become filled with so much fear and uncertainty.  Yet as Dr. Laura put it, ‘Without commitment, there is no future.’  Courageous fathers give to their sons and daughters the courage to commit to the unknown future.

lynncanyon5One of the things I love the most about the North Shore is the beautiful trails that are woven throughout our area.  While out walking in the trails, I asked a neighbour, ‘What is a courageous father?’  He said, ‘Someone who holds down a job and cares for his children’.  Simple words, but very true.

In this age of compromise, in this pressure-cooker world, so many fathers are tempted to run away from it all.  The stress just becomes too much.  I thank God for my own father who never ran from our family during good times and bad, during sickness and health, for better or for worse.  I thank God for being the father of the fatherless, the one who gives me courage to not run from stress, who gives me the courage to stand my ground when everything else is falling apart, to stand for truth when many seem to be compromising.

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, Rector

BSW, MDiv, DMin

St. Simon’s Church North Vancouver

Anglican Mission in Canada

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

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Don’t Worry, Be Happy!?

By the Rev. Dr. Ed HirdDean Inge

Dean Inge once said that worry is interest paid on trouble before it is due. Another person said that “worry, like a rocking chair, will give you something to do, but it won’t get you there.” In Canada today, there are all kinds of things to worry about if we let ourselves: the economy, the health crisis, the epidemic of broken marriages. But the truth is that worry is completely worthless, Worry drains away our energy for living, and makes us far less efficient and productive. Research shows that 95% of the things we worry about never actually happen. From a cost/benefit analysis, worrying is not worth the bother. That is why the most famous person on earth said, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”

 

Jesus Asleep at the switchMany of you reading this article will be thinking: “Yes, I agree that worry is a waste of energy, but how can I stop worrying?” One helpful solution is to view worry as an addiction, just like an addiction to alcohol or drugs. Addictions are broken, by admitting our powerlessness over our addiction (worry) and turning to a power higher than ourselves. Jesus said that the solution to worry is to “seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness . . .” We worry most about things over which we have the least control. We feel most secure and in control when we think that we have our life figured out. Yet often our very desire to be in control causes us to alienate the ones we care for most, whether at home or at work. When we feel in control, others tend to feel controlled by us, and will often distance themselves from us. As we give over our need for control to our Higher Power, then we stop pushing others away from us.

 

Alcoholics Anonymous is famous for popularizing the phrase “One Day at a Time.” Very few alcoholics can imagine being sober for the rest of their lives, or even for one year. But they can imagine being sober for one day. Similarly the solution to worry is found in focusing our energy on today’s concerns, rather than tomorrow’s

That is why Jesus said:jesus3

“Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” It is the future that we worry the most about. The future scares us more than our past or present, because we can’t control it. As one person said, “Today is the tomorrow we worried about yesterday!” Yet worry is broken when we realize that Jesus is the Lord (in control) of our future, as well of our past and present.

That is why Hebrews 13:8 says that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Viewed from that perspective, worry is essentially a failure to trust God with our problems. If we can really trust that God is in control and will never desert us, worry ceases to paralyze us.

 

My prayer for those reading this article is that we all will learn to break our worry addictions, and leave them “in the hand of the Man who stilled the Waters.”

 

 

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, Rector

BSW, MDiv, DMin

St. Simon’s Church North Vancouver

Anglican Mission in Canada

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

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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