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Johnny Cash: Remix

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird 

 

selective focus photo of guitar

Photo by Agung Pandit Wiguna on Pexels.com

Johnny Cash’s mother Carrie said to Johnny at age 15:  “You’ve got a gift, JR. You’re going to sing. God’s got his hand on you. You’re going to carry the message of Jesus Christ.”(1)  Cash saw the song ‘I walk the Line’ as his first Gospel hit.  He sang it not just to his wife, but also to God. (2)  His mother Carrie always believed in her son even through the worst of his addictions.  Sadly Johnny’s alcoholic father did not know how to bless his son.  When his older brother died tragically, his father unfairly blamed Johnny, saying “Too bad it wasn’t you instead of Jack.” (3)

Johnny Cash was a seventeen-time Grammy winner who sold more than 90 million albums in his lifetime.(4)  But his life was full of tragedy and heartbreak.  Johnny Cash self-medicated for much of his musical career, saying: “You know, I’ve had my years in the wilderness, had my years when the demons crawled up my back. That was only when the drugs started, and they’ve gone away now…I had to finally accept it, you know, that God thought there was something worth saving, so who was I to say, ‘You’re wrong?.’ I had to accept it and go along with it, and that’s what I did.”(5)

Cash said that he used drugs to escape but it devastated him, making it impossible to communicate with God.  Amphetamines and alcohol were literally killing him.  Cash admitted: “you’re on the suicide track when you’re doing what I was doing.”(6)

Through his addictions, many family members and co-workers were deeply hurt.  As part of his recovery, Johnny Cash worked hard to rebuild many destroyed relationships.  His son John Carter Cash said: “When Dad returned from the Betty Ford Center, he had a new lease on life, a new direction. Like the Apostle Paul, the scales were pulled from his eyes.” (7)  As Cash sang about painful broken relationships, many identified with his struggles.  Bob Dylan said of him: “If we want to know what it means to be mortal, we need look no further than the Man in Black.”(8) Cash was described as the poet for the common person: the cotton picker, the gravedigger, the roughneck, the coal miner, the train engineer, the lumberjack, the spike driver.(9)

 Cash’s music spoke up for the voiceless, the rejected, the abandoned, and the prisoner.  Who can forget when he did a live album in Folsom Prison? Time Magazine said that “Cash and his songs are rooted in the basic of country life: the land, lost loves, wanderlust, the seasons, lonely trains hooting across the still prairie night, preachers, prison and Sweet Jesus and home sweet home.”(10)

A major part of his recovery was the relentless love of his wife June Carter Cash. Johnny Cash said of June: “She loves me in spite of everything, in spite of myself…She’s always been there with her love and it certainly made me forget the pain for a long time many times.”(11)  June often flushed his drugs down the toilet, and prayed for him when he was near death with an overdose.  She and Johnny’s mother were there waiting for him when he pulled out of a suicidal tailspin at Nickajack Cave near Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Another key to Johnny Cash’s recovery was the loyal friendship of the late Billy Graham.  John Carter said: “When my father fell short, he could always reach out to Billy Graham.  Billy didn’t judge my father.  He was there as his friend unconditionally.  Billy would lift him up, support him and say, ‘You can do this. Stand back up. You know who you are.’”  He and June would eventually share and sing at nearly three dozen Billy Graham Crusades in front of nearly two million people. (12)

Many people don’t know that Cash wrote a novel about the apostle Paul, saying: “If God could embrace an avowed and bloodthirsty enemy of his son Jesus Christ, he’d make a place for Johnny Cash.”(13)  Few were aware that he was an ordained minister, even performing weddings, including  one for his daughter Kathy.(14)  Johnny Cash commented: “The Master of Life’s been good to me…He gives me strength to face past illnesses, and victory in the face of defeat.  He has given me life and joy where others saw oblivion.”(15)

In the last ten years of his life, Johnny Cash came back to his creative roots and was rediscovered by the younger generation of musicians.  Bono of U2 commented: “To me, Johnny Cash –with all his contradictions– was a quintessential character of the scriptures, or at least of the characters in the Bible that interested me. If God had time for these flawed characters, then God had time for me.” Bono said that he would rather spend a day with Johnny Cash than a week with most other pop artists. (16) Bob Dylan said: “Listen to (Cash) and he always brings you to your senses. He rises high above all, and he ‘ll never die or be forgotten, even by persons not born yet –especially those persons…”(17) As an artist, Johnny Cash wanted to make records that made a difference.

Johnny Cash finished well.  His last producer Rick Rubin drew out that which was best and truest about Johnny Cash, particularly in the video  Hurt.  Cash noted: “Rick saw something in me that I didn’t know was there anymore.”(18)  Johnny Cash rediscovered what made him tick musically. Rick Rubin commented: “When I asked artists what they admired about Cash, that’s what they often mentioned –that vulnerable, hurt aspect, that man who wouldn’t give up.”(19)  Bono said that Hurt was perhaps the best video ever made.(20)  It was raw and real.  Cash’s unshakable faith in Christ shone through this remarkable video.  His daughter Rosanne commented: “It’s so unflinching and brave and that’s what you are. I thought it was an enormously courageous . It was a work of art, excruciatingly truthful.”(21)

My prayer for those reading this article is that we like Johnny Cash may finish well, that we may be creative and faithful until the end of our lives.

 

 Hurt Video with Johnny Cash

 

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-previously published for the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News

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

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest 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. 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.

– 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 

(1) Robert Hilburn, Johnny Cash: the Life ( Little, Brown & Company, New York, NY, 2013), p. 23.

(2) Hilburn, p. 104.

(3) Hilburn, p. 20.

(4) Reinhard Kleist,Johnny Cash: I See the Darkness (Abrams ComiArts, New York, NY, 2009), p. inside Cover

(5) Johnny Cash: My Mother’s Hymn Book CD and notes, p. 15.

(6) Cash by the Editors of Rolling Stone, edited by Jason Fine (Crown Publishing, New York, NY, 2004 ), p. 162-163.

(7) John Carter Cash , House of Cash: The Legacies of My Father Johnny Cash. ( Insight Editions , San Rafael , CA, 2011), p. 73.

(8) Cash, edited by Jason Fine, p. 205.

(9) Michael Streissguth, Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison: the making of a masterpiece (Da Capo Press, Cambridge, MA, 2004),  pp. 13, 27.

(10) Hilburn, p. 363.

(11) Hilburn, p. 606.

(12) Hilburn, p. 370, p. 375.

(13) Hilburn, p. 506.

(14) John Carter Cash, p. 59.

(15)  Johnny Cash: American III: Solitary Man, 2000, CD liner.

(16) Cash, edited by Jason Fine, p. 139.;Hilburn, p. 538.

(17) Hilburn, p. 628.

(18)  Cash, edited by Jason Fine, p. 149.

(19) Hilburn, p. 546.

(20) Hilburn, p. 629.

(21) Hilburn, p. 603.


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Sleepless in Seattle

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

Who can forget the classic 1993 comedy ‘Sleepless in Seattle’ where Sam Baldwin (Tom Hanks) and Annie Reed (Meg Ryan) find healing and romance through the delightful impetuosity of Jonah Baldwin (Ross Malinger ), Sam’s media-savy son?  Seattle is a beautiful coastal city to visit that has much in common with Vancouver BC.

Fifty years later…

A few years ago, my family and a Christian Ashram team  had the privilege of ministering at John and Holly Roddam’s Seattle congregation, the original epicentre of Anglican renewal which began fifty years ago in 1960 and continues to impact the world.  I believe that the renewal birthed in Seattle is God’s wake-up call to a sleepy, self-absorbed Church.  As Paul put it in Romans 13:11, “The hour has come for you to wake up from your sleep…”

You may remember St. Eutychus, the patron saint of teenagers, who was literally bored to death during the Apostle Paul’s all-night sermon (Acts 20:9).  You may also remember how Jesus’ closest disciples couldn’t stay awake on the Mount of Transfiguration (Luke 9:32) and the Garden of Gethsemane.  Jesus even had to say to them: “Why are you sleeping?  Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation” (Luke 22:46).

 

I believe that God is blowing the Shofar of renewal across the Anglican Church saying “Wake up, wake up, before it is too late”. Why has so much confusion crept into much of the Anglican Church regarding sexual immorality, new-age syncretism, and mother/father god/dess worship?  Clearly we, as clergy and laity, have been asleep at the switch, instead of being watchmen for our nation.  “Let us not be like others who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11)

What is the calling of faithful Anglicans in these perilous times?  It is the same calling that many christians parents have on Sunday mornings while attempting to get their teenagers ready for church: “Wake up O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you!” (Ephesians 5:14)  Wake up, O Canada; Wake up O Anglicans; rise from the dead and Christ will shine on you!

 

It is little wonder that previous times of renewal (which means new-again) and revival (which means life-again) have been called ‘awakenings’.  We think especially of the 18th century First Great Awakening with the Anglican priest George Whitfield and Congregational pastor Jonathan Edwards, and the 19th Century Second Great Awakening with Presbyterian clergyman Charles Finney and Yale President Timothy Dwight.

 

How deeply we Canadians need to wake up to righteousness (1 Corinthians 15:34).  How deeply we Anglicans need to recover the discipline of morning prayer, exemplified in the heritage of our Book of Common Prayer.  Then we can cry out like the Psalmist: “Awake my soul!  Awake, harp and lyre!  I will awaken the dawn.” (Psalm 57:8)  Perhaps we can hear Proverbs 6:9-11 as a prophetic calling: “How long will you lie there, you sluggard?  When will you get up from your sleep?…”God is saying to us: “Awake, awake, O Zion, clothe yourselves with strength.  Put on your garments of splendor…Shake off your dust, rise up…Free yourself from the chains on your neck, O Captive Daughter of Zion.”

Being in Seattle for the Christian Ashram weekend was a wake-up call to me.  Like many churches in renewal, the Roddam’s congregation had both a traditional and then a contemporary service on Sunday mornings.  Their congregation proves that the traditional Prayer Book service doesn’t inhibit freedom in the Spirit.  It was wonderful to see the gift of prophecy graciously exercised in both services.  There is such an anointing on their people  who have been soaking in the Spirit for fifty years.  Being around such godly people helped me shake off my dust and free myself from the chains on my neck.

 

What a joy to know that a Canadian Anglican couple, the Rev. John and Holly Roddam, were serving the people of Seattle.  Canada, through the ministry of the Rev. Dennis & Rita Bennett, has received so much through the Bennett’s extensive travels across Canada.  Many Canadians Anglicans can date their awakening to the reading of the Bennett’s bestsellers like ‘Nine O’clock in the Morning and ‘The Holy Spirit and You’.

 

I believe that God sent Canadians servant-leaders to Seattle as a way of saying ‘thank you’ to Seattle for all that they have given to so many in Canada and around the world.  I thank God that the Rev John and Holly Roddam were powerfully used in helping many to be ‘sleepless in Seattle’.  While the Roddams have since move back to the Maritimes, they have left a significant imprint in the hearts and minds of many in Seattle.  I pray that for the sake of the Anglican Church and our lost world, we sleepy believers will awaken and ‘not rest until righteousness shines out like the dawn and salvation like a blazing torch’ (Isaiah 62:1).  Do it again Lord, wake us up for your glory and honour!

 

Note: The majority of the people at the Roddam’s congregation have now left the old St Luke’s building, re-aligned with the Global South Anglicans and formed a new congregation Emmanuel Anglican Church . You are encouraged to check out this vibrant congregation led by Rev Dan Rice.

 

 

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

Past Chair, Anglican Renewal Ministries of Canada

-previously published in the Anglicans for Renewal Canada magazine

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest 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. 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 Ave, Surrey, BC V4A 0A5.

– 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 Ave, 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 Prayer Book: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Three addresses were given at St. Paul’s Church, Bloor Street, Toronto, on May 1, 1999 at a special event organized by
the Prayer Book Society of Canada, Toronto Branch, in celebration of the 450th anniversary of the Book of Common Prayer

by

The (late) Revd. Dr. Robert Crouse, retired Professor of Classics at King’s College, Halifax;

The Revd. Dr. James Packer, Professor of Systematic Theology at Regent College, Vancouver

The Revd. Dr. Ed Hird, rector of St. Simon’s Church North Vancouver (1987-2018)

“FILLED WITH THE KNOWLEDGE OF HIS WILL”  (Col. 1:1-14)

    The Revd. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

The Revd. Ed Hird was ordained in 1980.  He served in the parishes of St. Philip’s, Vancouver, and St. Matthew’s, Abbotsford, before becoming the rector of St. Simon’s Church in North Vancouver in 1987.   Ed is the past National Chair of Anglican Renewal Ministries Canada, and has spoken at Renewal, Essentials and Prayer Book Society conferences in Honduras and in various locations across Canada.  Inspired by the Essentials movement, he re-introduced the Prayer Book as one of the two main Sunday services in his congregation.

   We live in an age in which the knowledge of God’s will is deemed by many to be either unknowable or irrelevant.  Our society reminds me of the story of the roving TV reporter who was sent out to the shopping malls on Saturday morning to investigate the problem of teenage apathy and ignorance.  Every teenager had the same response: “I don’t know and I don’t care”!   And to be fair, teenagers are not the only Canadians suffering from spiritual ignorance and apathy.  I remember an adult coming up to me after a sermon I preached in a previous parish.  This person said, “I’m totally shocked.  I have never made it before to the end of a sermon.  I would always just doze off and wake up at the end of the message.  But this time I actually heard it through to the end.”

This problem of apathy and ignorance can be traced back to the ancient disease of Pyrrhonism.  Pyrrhonism is a system of skeptical philosophy, expounded in 300 BC by the Greek thinker, Pyrrho of Elis.1  The heart of Pyrrhonism is the denial of all possibility of attaining certainty in knowledge.  All one is left with is the classic west-coast phrase: “Well, whatever works for you”.   With the collapse of confidence in objective truth, our Canadian culture is sinking in intellectual subjectivism and moral anarchy.  We have seen a Canadian judge strike down child pornography laws while claiming that our Canadian Constitution and our Charter of Rights somehow protect the possession of child pornography.  We live in an age where there “is no king and everyone does as they see fit.” (Judg. 21:25).  We live in an age of leadership crisis.  It is not just our politicians, our police officers, our school teachers, our military leaders.  Even in the Church, yes, in the Anglican Church, there is a profound leadership crisis that is crippling our corporate ability to get on with the task of making disciples of all nations.  Perhaps the never-ending “sexual politics” in the Anglican Church of Canada is really a symptom of a deeper leadership crisis.

More than ever, we need to discover afresh what it means to be filled with the knowledge of God’s will and given the power to carry out that will.  As J. John at the Canterbury ‘98 Conference put it, “We only have enough time to do the will of God”.  So many of us in the Church are like Martha whom Jesus said was distracted by many things, but missing the main one of sitting at Jesus’ feet.

One of the many things I appreciate about the Prayer Book Society is the clarion call to prayer.  The Prayer Book Society is not a Colonel Blimp English Memorial Society.2  Rather it constitutes a mobilization of God’s troops to the sacred calling of spiritual warfare through sustained and intensive prayer.  If there is anything that we know about God’s will, it is that God wills that we “pray without ceasing”.  Let’s be honest.  How many of us need to cut back on our prayer life, because it is getting in the way of doing God’s will?  Despite any fears that prayer will make us so heavenly-minded that we are no earthly good, the truth of the matter is that only the prayerful and heavenly-minded are ultimately any earthly good.  The late Mother Teresa of Calcutta was a living testimony to the intimate relationship between prayer and resulting action.

It is not without reason that the Apostle Paul calls us again and again to “devote ourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful” (Col. 4:2).  Prayer is the backbone of all lasting renewal.  As Dr. E. Stanley Jones, the famous Methodist missionary to India put it, “there can be no great spiritual awakening either in the individual or in the group unless and until the individual or the group give themselves to prayer.”3  Dr. Jones goes on to say: “When we feel that there is something wrong and that it is all ending in futility, instead of giving ourselves to prayer, we appoint a committee!  If a monument”, says Dr. Jones, “were erected over the dead situations in Christendom, we might inscribe on it ‘Committeed to Death’.  We call a committee instead of calling to prayer.”  It has been said that the 16th century Reformation began in Luther’s prayer closet.  The truth is that all reformation, all renewal, all restoration begins in someone’s prayer closet.  Quoting Dr. Jones again, “we find sooner or later that in prayer we either abandon ourselves or we abandon prayer.  Prayer will keep us from self-withholding or self-withholding will keep us from prayer.”4

I would encourage you, if you have your Bibles with you, to turn in the book of Colossians to Chapter One, which deals with one of the greatest prayers in the New Testament.  I believe that it would be presumptuous to try to improve on the New Testament prayers.  Rather, our goal as 21st Century Anglicans should be to model all of our prayers on the biblical pattern of prayer shown especially by Jesus and the Apostle Paul.  I remember my rector, Ernie Eldridge,  telling me that one of the great strengths of the Book of Common Prayer is that something like 80% of it is straight from the Bible.  The prayers in the BCP were written by people who were steeped in the biblical thought forms, and so produced biblically sound and lasting prayers.

Paul is writing here to a formerly great and flourishing city that had been in a recession for the last three to four hundred years.  Colossae, whose name means “Monstrosity”, had become a backwater no-name town that had been left behind in the busy pace of 1st century Greek life.  Its neighbouring towns, Laodicea and Hierapolis were well-known respectively for their financial and administrative prowess, and for their burgeoning tourist and hot springs industry.  They, like Colossae, were located on the River Lycus, a river famous for overlaying its surrounding river banks with thick deposits of chalk.  As Bishop J.B. Lightfoot put it, “Ancient monuments are buried; fertile land is overlaid; river beds choked up and streams diverted; fantastic grottoes and cascades and archways of stone are formed, by this strange, capricious power, at once destructive and creative, working silently throughout the ages.  Fatal to vegetation, these incrustations spread like a stony shroud over the ground.  Gleaming like glaciers on the hillside, they attract the eye of the traveller at a distance of twenty miles, and form a singularly striking feature in scenery of more than common beauty and impressiveness.”5  In some ways, Bishop Lightfoot’s description seems like a parable of the Canadian Church … beautiful, impressive, but calcified and choked up by double-mindedness and fear.

Paul had never personally visited Colossae.  Rather, he preached extensively in the coastal city of Ephesus, with the result that his new converts spread the gospel extensively to many lesser-known cities and towns that were further inland.  There is a remarkable similarity between the books of Ephesians and Colossians, especially in the structure of Paul’s prayers in both epistles.  In both Colossians and Ephesians, Paul centres his prayer in thanksgiving.  You will notice in verse 3 how Paul says: “We always thank God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you …”.  In a structure similar to that of the Lord’s Prayer, Paul pays the debt of gratitude before he moves into his personal requests.  “Thy kingdom come” needs to come before “Give us this day our daily bread.”  In the Alpha Course, Nicky Gumbel says that the three key prayers that we can pray are “thank you”, “please”, and “sorry”.   Back in 1931, Bishop Lewis Radford of Goulbourn, Australia commented regarding this passage that “a survey of the grounds for thanksgiving revives the spirit of hope, and provides fresh material for petition.”6  The Christian life is not a life of Pollyanna-style positive thinking, but rather that of eucharistic thanksgiving in all circumstances, trusting that God can turn everything that is against us to our advantage, that all things work to the good for those who love him.

Why was Paul so thankful?  Verses 4 and 5 tells us that Paul was thankful because of the great triad of Christian graces: faith, hope, and love.  So often when Paul prays, he prays according to the three-fold pattern of the only things that will remain in the end.  Faith: their faith in Christ Jesus; Hope: hope stored up for us in heaven; and Love: love for all the saints.  As Bishop J.B. Lightfoot put it, “faith rests on the past; love works in the present; hope looks to the future”.7  Does the Prayer Book Society, indeed does the Anglican Church have a future as we celebrate the 450th Anniversary of the Book of Common Prayer?   I believe that the answer to both questions is yes, if we will ground our Christian life more and more on the three-fold graces of faith, hope and love.

I will always remember Dr. Robert Crouse’s presentation at the Montreal Essentials ‘94 Conference when he spoke of “despair, that most dangerous of all sins.”8  Satan, the ultimate deceiver and seducer of God’s people, is a past master at the use of discouragement and despair in crippling the saints.  He would love us to believe that Anglicanism is beyond hope, that there is no point in praying and working for the restoration of biblical orthodoxy.   We can thank our Lord Jesus Christ that he will always have a faithful Anglican witness in Canada, even if someday it may require missionaries from Africa and Asia to come and re-establish the gospel in our own homeland.

The good news found in verse 6 of Chapter 1 of Colossians is that “all over the world the gospel is producing fruit and growing”.  Lambeth ‘98 was a powerful reminder of that truth with the hundreds of Asian, African, and South American bishops making their presence felt in unforgettable ways.  The gospel, as Bishop Lewis Radford put it, is both a transforming force and a travelling fire.9  It is a fire that cannot be stamped out no matter how hard secularists and revisionists may try.  Verse 7 tells us about Epaphras, the founder of the Church at Colossae.  Some early church traditions make him the first bishop of Colossae.10  Verse 7 describes him as “our dearly loved fellow servant”, as a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf.  Both Paul and Epaphras were passionate that the Colossians should be filled with the knowledge of God’s will.  Epaphras was so passionate about this that Paul commented in Colossians chapter 4, verse 2 that Epaphras was “always wrestling in prayer for you that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.”  The Greek word for wrestling is agonizomenos which means to agonize.  It is God’s will that each of us agonize in prayer for the restoration of faithful Anglicanism in Canada.  Wrestling in prayer is the key to being filled with the knowledge of God’s will.

That is why the Rev. Samuel Shoemaker, the Anglican priest who wrote the “12 Steps” and helped to found Alcoholics Anonymous, quoted Colossians Chapter 1 in writing step 11.  What does Step 11 encourage us to pray for: “… the knowledge of His will for us and power to carry that out.”

What is the use of knowing what to do, if we haven’t the power to do it?  What is the use of studying the Bible if we never do the Bible?  What is the use of praying the Prayer Book if we never live out the Prayer Book?  The key to doing the Bible and living the Prayer Book is Colossians chapter 1, verse 8: “love in the Spirit”.  It is not the love of power that will set the Anglican Church free, but rather the power of love.  Dr. Gordon Fee, the well known New Testament Scholar from Regent College, notes that virtually everywhere that the word “power” is used in the New Testament, it is referring to the power of the Holy Spirit.11  Only the Holy Spirit can give us the power to change.  Only the Holy Spirit can give us the power to love.  Only the Holy Spirit can give us the power to forgive.  Verse 8 tells us the secret of lasting renewal: “love in the Spirit”.

In the early days of Anglican renewal, a bishop in northern B.C. fired his dean because some of his parishioners had had the nerve to pray that the bishop be filled with the Holy Spirit.  If only they had just prayed forthe bishop to be filled afresh or anew, the Dean might have kept his job.  Why do all of us need to be filled with the Spirit again and again? (Eph. 5:18).  The reason, as D.L. Moody put it, is that we leak.  It is always touchy to pray for one’s bishop without sounding like one is trying to give his bishop advice.  It is so easy for us to dump all our unmet dreams and frustrations on the back of our bishops.  Yet God calls us to bless and not curse.  God calls us in verse 9 to never give up praying for each other, and that certainly includes our bishops.  Verse 9 is a wonderful way to pray for your bishop, your rector, and your wardens in a way that none of them could possibly object to.  Just pray that God will fill them with the knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.  All of us need to be filled up, to be more full of God’s grace, peace, joy, hope, and faith so that we will be more full, more grace-full, more peace-full, more joy-full, more faith-full.  The point of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22) is to fill us up inside with more of the character of Jesus Christ.

What will being filled with the knowledge of God’s will really do for us?  Paul tells us in verse 10 that such filling will result in our walking worthy of God, in our pleasing the Lord in every way, in our bearing fruit in every good work, in our growing in the knowledge of God.  Being filled with the knowledge of His will is the key not only to living in the Spirit but also to walking in the Spirit (Gal. 5:25).  As our AA friends remind us, it is not enough to talk the talk; we also need to walk the walk.

Yet all of us are powerless in ourselves to change our lives.  In fact, no change is possible until we admit in the words of Step 1 that “We are powerless over our (addictions and sins) and our lives have become unmanageable”.  The reason why “12 Step” people talk so much about a Higher Power is that our own power, our own resources, are never enough to make a lasting difference.  We need, in the words of Luke 24:49, to be clothed with power from on high, the very power of the Holy Spirit.  That is why Acts 1:8 says that “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you shall be my witnesses … to the ends of the earth.”.  That is why Colossians chapter 1 verse 11 talks about our being strengthened with all power: in the Greek, “being powered with all power”, with all dunamis, all dynamite.  There are logjams in Anglicanism that nothing but the power, the dynamite, of the Holy Spirit can possibly remove.  All of us know many faithful Anglicans who have given up in despair and left our church, perhaps returning occasionally for their Communion “fixes”.  When we think of the mother/father God/Goddess apostasy that the new ACC “Common Praise” hymn book is leading us into, only the power of the Holy Spirit will be able to lead us out of that syncretistic swamp.  Yet with God, nothing is impossible!  Would anyone like to become the founders of a Blue Hymn Book Society of Canada?

Dr. E. Stanley Jones holds that “the difference between a river and a swamp is that one has banks and the other has none.  The swamp is very gracious and kindly, it spreads over everything, hence it is a swamp.  Some of us are moral and spiritual swamps.  We are so broad and liberal that we take in everything from the shady to the sacred.  Hence we are swamps.  A river has banks – it confines itself to its central purpose.  The civilizations of the world organize themselves not around swamps, but around rivers.”12

To me, the Book of Common Prayer and the Bible are rivers.  The new Common Praise hymn book in contrast is a gracious and kindly swamp.  The river that is the Holy Spirit confines Himself to His central purpose, which is to fill us with the knowledge of the Father’s will and to give us the power to carry that out.  The Colossian Christians were a tiny, faithful minority living in a “new-age” spiritual scene.  As with the original Colossian church, one of the greatest challenges facing our Anglican Church is well-meaning interfaith syncretism.  In our worship of newness and inclusiveness, we are rushing to replace the riverbanks of our BCP with the neo-gnostic swamp of centering prayer/mantra yoga, enneagram workshops, labyrinths, Jungian-based MBTI personality tests, and invocations of “God our Father and our Mother”.13  Lord, forgive us for our naïve worship of the seemingly new and trendy, and for our disrespect for the wisdom of our Anglican forebears.  Genuine renewal is actually about renewing the riches of our inheritance in Christ Jesus, not about uncovering secret “new revelations”. (Eph. 1:18)

Most renewal movements in the past few centuries, including the various holiness, pentecostal, charismatic, and third-wave expressions, can be traced back to the influence of two Anglican priests, John and Charles Wesley, the founders of Methodism.  Canadian Methodism was the largest of the bodies which came together to form the United Church of Canada in 1925.  Few people realize what a high view the Wesleys had of the Anglican prayer book and of the Anglican Church in general.  Even on the verge of being forced to ordain his own preachers, John Wesley commended the Church of England to his leaders as “the best constituted national church in the world”.14  John Wesley also taught his followers that “there is no LITURGY in the World, either in ancient or modern language, which breathes more of a solid, scriptural, rational Piety, than the COMMON PRAYER of the CHURCH of ENGLAND”.15  John Wesley did not just appreciate the Prayer Book theology.  He even loved its language, language which he described as “not only pure, but strong and elegant in the highest degree.”16  John and Charles Wesley experienced manifestations of the Holy Spirit that would make the Toronto Airport Fellowship look tame, yet the Wesleys still held up the Prayer Book as a vital tool for orthodoxy and renewal.  And John Wesley was even radical enough that he advised all his clergy to administer the Lord’s Supper every Sunday at the main service.17

As Dr. Bard Thompson put it, “It was the way of John Wesley to espouse extempore prayer, yet esteem the prayer book; to give free expression to evangelical power, yet prize the structures of the church …”18  Yet sadly Wesley’s wisdom was largely ignored.  His followers decided that they could pray better and with more devotion when their eyes were shut, than they could with their eyes open, praying from a book.19  So they cast aside the Prayer Book and produced the United Church of Canada instead.  Wesley drew the balance between the stability of tradition and the dynamism of the Spirit.  His followers, however, became progressively less rooted generation after generation.  It is so easy to cast aside “the riches of our inheritance”.  It is much harder to humble ourselves enough to go back home and start afresh.  I remember how hard I tried to convince my Grandma Allen to “get with it” and give up on the Book of Common Prayer.  But she was so “stubborn and inflexible” that she died with the Bible and the Prayer Book by her bedside.

Our parish of St. Simon’s had not used the Book of Common Prayer at its main service for over 25 years.  When I came back from the Montreal ‘94 Essentials Conference and suggested that we might try doing the Prayer Book on fifth Sundays, some of my leadership secretly wondered if I might have lost my mind.  But eventually they came to see in unity what I was talking about.

Reintroducing the Prayer Book as one of our two main services has brought 30% growth in average Sunday attendance over the next two years.  I am not saying that it was easy to reintroduce the Book of Common Prayer.  Many Anglicans don’t like change, even if it means restoring the riches of their inheritance.  There are many well-meaning Anglican clergy out there who would rather die than admit they may have made a mistake in abandoning the classic Book of Common Prayer.  Many clergy have battle scars from liturgy wars in the 1970’s and early 80’s.  They have finally achieved relative liturgical calm in their parishes and they are reluctant to “open up old wounds”, and disturb the relative truce.

But God’s will for us as clergy is not merely for us to preserve the peace or to be keepers of ecclesiastical aquariums, but rather to be fishers of men and women.  Our greatest desire as Anglican leaders must be our desire to be filled with the knowledge of God’s will and to have the power of the Holy Spirit to carry it out.  Why else do we pray every day “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done”.  What is God’s will?  The Bible is clear that God’s will, among other things, is that we go into all the world, preaching the gospel to all creation, and that we make disciples of all nations (Mark 16:15, Matthew 28:19).  1 Timothy chapter 2, verses 4 and 5 tells us clearly that God’s will is that all people be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth, and that there is only one mediator, one bridge between God and humanity, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all.

The leadership crisis in Anglicanism is directly linked to a growing fuzziness of vision regarding God’s will that the lost be found.  Many church leaders are beginning to publicly question whether the lost are really lost after all, and whether God really wants to find them.  Unless we are convinced that the man Christ Jesus is the only mediator between God and humanity, and that he really gave himself as a ransom for all, not just for those raised in the church or in the west, we will not have the power to carry out this great and lasting commission.  As Dr. John Stott put it at an Vancouver Anglican Essentials gathering, we claim uniqueness and finality in Christ alone.

If all we do is squabble about liturgical preferences and do not reach the lost, we are a people most to be pitied.  The Book of Common Prayer is not an ingrown book.  It is a book with a passion that the lost might be found.  In contrast to the BAS, the BCP is clear that God wants us to win the world for Christ.  The BAS, if you read it carefully, is written in a way that it can either encourage you to do evangelistic mission work for Christ or merely to affirm God in all cultures.  The BCP, however, is uncompromising in its biblical stance that “God is not willing that any should perish but that all may come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)  As the former Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, said at Kanuga, “Evangelism is not a matter to be debated but a command to be obeyed.”  God’s will, as expressed in Colossians 1 verse 13, is that he might rescue (many) from the dominion of darkness and bring (them) into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we might have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.  We say each Sunday in the Creed that we believe in the forgiveness of sins.  Are you sharing that forgiveness with your lost neighbour, family member, co-worker?

I pray in conclusion that God may fill each of us with the knowledge of His will, that none should perish, that all may come to repentance, and that God may give us the power of the Holy Spirit to carry out his will to the very ends of the earth, in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

Past Chair, Anglican Renewal Ministries of Canada

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

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest 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. 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

– 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 

 Endnotes:

  1. The Oxford Dictionary of the Church, F.L. Cross, ed. (Oxford University Press, 1957), p. 1128.

  2. Colonel Blimp was a humorous anachronistic figure in the British WW2-based television series “Dad’s Army”.

  3. Dr. E. Stanley Jones, Pentecost: the Christ of Every Road, (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1930), p. 247.

  4. Ibid., p. 248.

  5. The Rt. Revd. Dr. J.B. Lightfoot, as quoted in Dr. William Barclay’s The Daily Study Bible: the Letters to the Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians (Toronto: G.R. Welch Co. Ltd.), p. 91.

  6. The Rt. Revd. Dr. Lewis B. Radford, Colossians (London: Methuen & Co. Ltd, 1931), p. 3.

  7. Ibid., p. 151.

  8. Anglican Essentials, George Egerton, ed. (Toronto: Anglican Book Centre, 1995), p. 289.

  9. Radford, op. cit., p. 153.

  10. Ibid., p. 154.

  11. Dr. Gordon Fee, God’s Empowering Presence (Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 1994), p. 35.

  12. Dr E. Stanley Jones, op. cit., p. 227.

  13. As done in the Canadian Anglican “Common Praise” hymn book (1999), which tragically alters the much-loved “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee” hymn from “God our Father, Christ our Brother” to “God our Father and our Mother”.

  14. Liturgies of the Western Church, “The Sunday Service”, ed. Bard Thompson, (Cleveland and New York, Meridan Books, The World Publishing Company, 1961), p. 416.

  15. Ibid., p. 416.

  16. Ibid., p. 416.

  17. Ibid., p. 416.

  18. Ibid., p. 416.

  19. Ibid., p. 410.

This booklet is published by the Toronto Branch of the Prayer Book Society of Canada.  Additional copies can be ordered at a cost of $2 each from Dr. Diana Verseghy, 16 Capilano Court, Concord, Ontario, L4K 1L2.
E-mail: Diana.Verseghy@ec.gc.ca


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Finishing the Race of Life

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

Who can forget the remarkable Vancouver 2010 Olympics?  Dr. William Barclay comments that perhaps the world’s most famous Olympic race is the marathon.  The original Battle of the Marathon in 490 B.C. was one of the decisive battles of the ancient world.  The Plains of Marathon, where the Greeks met King Darius I’s Persian army, were just twenty-two miles from embattled Athens.  Against fearful odds, the Greeks won the victory, and, after the battle, a Greek soldier ran all the way, day and night, to Athens with the news.  Straightway to the magistrates, he ran. “Rejoice,” he reportedly gasped,” we have conquered” and even as he delivered his message, he fell dead.  He had completed his course and done his work, and there is no finer way for any man to die.”

When Michel Bréal and Pierre de Coubertin suggested the idea of the marathon race to the first 1896 Athens Olympic Organizing Committee, the Greeks embraced the plan with eagerness. Here, after all, was a race that emerged from Greek history and celebrated the achievement of a Greek runner.  Against great odds, the first 1896 Olympic Marathon was won by a Greek, Spiridon Louis.  The nation of Greece exploded with joy!  Since there were no gold medals for the 1896 Olympics, Spiridon Louis was awarded with an olive branch, a silver medal and cup, as well as an antique Olympic vase. The same Pierre de Coubertin, inspired by a sermon at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, wrote the following ‘creed’ for the Olympics: “The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.”

Each one of us in our own way is running an Olympic marathon every day of our life. The Good Book tells us to ‘run with patience the race set before us.’ (Hebrews 12:1) Dr. William Barclay commented that “It is easy to begin the race of life but hard to finish. The one thing necessary for life is staying-power, and that is what so many people lack.  It was suggested to a certain very famous man that his biography should be written while he was still alive.  He absolutely refused to give permission, and his reason was: ‘I have seen so many men fall out at the last lap.’ It is easy to wreck a noble life or a fine record by some closing foolishness.”

Probably one of the most famous ‘Olympic runners’ is the apostle Paul, a former Rabbi who was knocked off his horse while racing to Damascus, Syria.  Paul spent the next thirty years ‘running’ throughout the Roman Empire telling people the good news.  Paul, the prolific writer, wrote more chapters of the New Testament than any other individual (74 chapters singlehanded!) He often used Olympic Marathon language to communicate his heart: “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.  Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown of laurel that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.  Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly…” (1st Corinthians 9:24-26).  Paul had been in and out of jail many times, escaping death again and again.  He was always on the run! By the end of Paul’s life, the crazed Emperor Nero was on the warpath, and Paul knew that the only way out of jail was by beheading.

Even though Paul was designated for the ‘chopping block’, he didn’t panic, but stayed focused on his spiritual ‘Olympic Marathon’.  Ironically Paul told his young protégé ‘runner’ Timothy to ‘keep his head in all circumstances’ (2 Timothy 4:5).

Paul knew that he was about to die.  “Now”, said Paul, “is the time for my departure”.  The Greek word for departure is analusus –like our word ‘analysis’ which means ‘a separating of items from each other’. It was used for loosening the ropes of a ship when weighing anchor. It was also used of a camper packing up his tent, and for a farmer unyoking an animal from its plough.  Paul was saying that death was not the end; rather it was a moving on to the next adventure.

Paul’s dying words were profoundly Olympian: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” As Bishop Michael Baughen depicts it, “The relay runner is pounding round the track, using every ounce of energy, heading for the hand-over point.  Ahead of him is the next runner in the relay, feet beginning to move in anticipation, eyes on the runner coming towards him,  his hand now outstretched to take the baton at the appropriate moment and then to run and run, while the man he took the baton from collapses breathless on to the grass.  Paul is pounding towards the end.  His ‘time of departure has come’ and Paul is urging Timothy to take the baton from him and to run with commitment and determination.”

As the Vancouver Olympics has faded into pleasant memories, how is your daily marathon doing? Are you stretching each day towards the finish line? Are you preparing another young Timothy that you can pass the baton to, when you finish the race of life?  Are you running the race of life in such a way as to get the prize?

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News

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

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest 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. 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 Ave, Surrey, BC V4A 0A5.

– 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 Ave, 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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Breaking the Power of Shame

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

The teenaged Roman Emperor Nero started off in AD 57 as a idealistic reformer, banning capital punishment. He forbade killing in circus contests, emphasizing instead athletics, poetry, and theater. He reduced taxes and permitted slaves to file complaints against unjust masters. But absolute power absolutely corrupted him.

 Nero was born at Antium (Anzio), Italy, on December 15th 37 A.D. His father, who died when Nero was age 3, was a great-grandson of Caesar Augustus – the Roman emperor at the time of the birth of Jesus Christ (Luke 2:1).

 Nero’s mother Agrippina rescued her son Nero from poverty by marrying her uncle, the emperor Claudius.  Agrippina managed to get Nero adopted not only as a son of Claudius, but the heir to the throne before Claudius’ actual sons. To show her gratitude, she poisoned her husband/uncle with tainted mushrooms. Nero became the emperor of the mighty Roman empire at the age of 17.

 One year after Nero became Emperor, he got tired of his mother’s interfering, and had her removed from the palace.   Four years later she still kept meddling, so Nero rigged her boat to collapse on her.  Being a strong swimmer, Agrippina refused to drown, so Nero had to send soldiers in to finish the job.  There is a famous painting by John William Waterhouse where Nero is lying on his bed feeling remorseful for taking his mother out but any remorse did not slow him down for long.  As murder can be rather addictive, Nero proceeded to present the gift of an ex-wife’s severed head to a future wife, and then kick another wife to death while she was pregnant.

 Nero’s most memorable accomplishment was burning much of Rome to the ground to make room for a new palace. After six days of Rome burning, Nero discovered the value of blaming a small Jewish group called Christians.  Their ringleader, the Apostle Paul, was thrown into a Roman dungeon, to prepare for his imminent beheading.  If these early Christians refused to renounce their faith, Nero had them thrown to the lions, crucified, or set on fire and used as garden-party lighting.

 Christianity looked as if it would be obliterated from the face of the earth.  But Paul from prison wrote a second letter to his chosen successor Timothy, ‘rallying the troops’. He said to Timothy: “Don’t be ashamed to bear witness for the Lord or Paul his prisoner”.  He encouraged the naturally timid Timothy not to be ashamed of Paul’s chains.  Paul, though about to be exterminated, said to Timothy: “I am not ashamed, for I know whom I believe”.

Breaking the power of shame is absolutely vital to living a free and healthy life.  All of us have at least one Nero in our life who would like to enslave us, entrap us, and fill us with shame.  It may be our relatives, our boss, our ex-spouse, our own personal addictions to fear, guilt, anger.  By breaking the power of shame and self-hatred, we can live fully without regret.  The key, said Paul, to breaking the power of shame, is in ‘knowing whom we believe’.

I would challenge each one reading this article to no longer let our personal Neros cover our faces with shame.  Live free.  Live forgiven.  Live in the healing embrace of the One who gave everything so that you might really live.

 

 

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News

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

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest 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. 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 Ave, Surrey, BC V4A 0A5.

– 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 Ave, 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 $9.99 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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Honouring Our Young Leaders

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

We don’t hear enough about the wonderful accomplishments of upcoming young leaders. In our ‘man-bites-dog’ media-saturated world, it is the ‘bad news story’ about youth that seems to get our attention.

 The ‘Good Book’ is full of memorable stories about young people who made a difference when no one expected anything from them.  Think about the young prophet Samuel in the Temple.  Think about young David with his slingshot in front of an older and much larger Goliath.  Goliath despised young David, saying: “Am I a dog that you come at me with sticks?”  And think about young Timothy, who was mentored by an older and wiser Apostle Paul.

 Timothy was in an impossible situation in Ephesus, a port city in Western Turkey.  The Apostle Paul had ‘parachuted’ Timothy into this troubled city to turn around a very confused and demoralized community.  The problem was that the older, more sophisticated Ephesian leaders didn’t want Timothy around.  They despised his inexperience, immaturity, and insecurity.  Paul had to say to Timothy: “Don’t let people look down on you because you are young, but rather be an example for them in speech, in conversation, in love, in spirit, in faith, and in purity.”

 As the historian Dr. JW Milne puts it, “Ancient culture generally admired age before youth.” Paul was saying to Timothy: “Don’t let anyone underestimate your worth and value.” As the well-known Dr. John Stott puts it, this “is a perennial problem.  Older people have always found it difficult to accept young people as responsible adults in their own right, let alone as leaders.   And young people are understandably irritated when their elders keep reminding them of their immaturity and inexperience, and treat them with contempt.”

 Now what age was Timothy anyways?  Scholars estimate that ‘young Timothy’ was probably around 35 years old.  Michael Griffiths commented that “Young in ancient culture meant anyone young enough for military service; ie under 40 years of age”.

 So how was young Timothy to get credibility with older people, as he attempted to exercise leadership?  The Apostle Paul was clear that Timothy’s authority was not to come by pushing his weight around, by bragging about his credentials, or by laying down the law.  Dr. John Stott wisely noted that “the great temptation, whenever our leadership is questioned, threatened, or resisted, is to assert it all the more strongly and to become autocratic, even tyrannical.”  The Good book defines healthy leadership as: “not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples.”  Rather young Timothy was to gain acceptance by setting an example in the way he not only ‘talked the talk’ but also ‘walked the walk’.

 One of the most powerful ways that young Timothy set an example was by not ‘throwing in the towel’ when he felt discouraged.  Sometimes Timothy was discouraged, disappointed and distressed, but like Winston Churchill, he never ever gave up.  Young Timothy had that essential leadership ingredient that some called ‘stickability.

 The Apostle Paul also encouraged Timothy by reminding him that he was very gifted.  “Don’t neglect the gift that God has given you”.  It is so easy to focus on our weaknesses and neglect our God-given gifts and abilities.

The Apostle Paul said to young Timothy that if he devoted himself to keep growing in his God-given gifts, then everyone would notice how much that he had matured and progressed.  One of the dangers with leadership is that we stop growing, and we lose that sense of teachability.  The word ‘progress’ in the Greek means to ‘cut in front’ and is used of armies advancing or ships cutting through water.  Progress contains the graphic picture of a pioneer cutting his way forward through obstacles by means of a strenuous effort, like a man blazing a trail through a tangled Canadian forest.

The late Bishop Chuck Murphy had us do an exercise to find out if we are more like pioneers or settlers.   Bishop Chuck concluded by saying that God is looking nowadays for innovative pioneers who are willing to be trail-blazers and ground-breakers.

My hope for those reading this article is that we may seek to honour the upcoming young leaders who will trail-blaze our future communities.

 

 

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-previously published in the North Shore News

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

for better for worse

-Click to check out our newest 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. 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 Ave, Surrey, BC V4A 0A5.

– 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 Ave, 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