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Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit


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“I Don’t Believe in God…”

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

Today’s new atheism has been popularized by Richard Dawkins, the late Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett, and Sam Harris.  Contemporary atheism reminds me of Alexandre  Dumas’ book ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’.  You may remember Jim Caviezel/ Edmond Dantes’ cry while in Chateau d’If prison: “I don’t believe in God”.  Edmond had suffered so deeply and so unfairly for so long that he had given up on the concept of a loving and just God.  His ‘cellmate’ Abbe Faria poignantly replied to Edmond: “God believes in you.”

Alexandre Dumas lived through many French revolutions during which belief in God became distinctly out-of-fashion or even dangerous to one’s health.  Dumas experienced much disappointment in his life, and was frequently either breaking the heart of a female acquaintance or having his own heart broken.  Yet in the midst of many setbacks, Dumas had a fascination with the God question that comes across in his over 250 novels, travel pieces, memoirs, and theatre productions.  Best known as author of ‘The Three Musketeers’, ‘The Man with the Iron Mask’, and ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’, Dumas had a remarkable ability to touch deep into people’s souls.  As his friend Victor Hugo said after Dumas’ death, Alexandre “fertilizes the soul, the mind, the intelligence; he creates a thirst for reading; he penetrates the human genius and sows seeds in it.”

In the Dumas biography ‘Genius of Life’, we are told about young Dumas’ tragic loss of his father:

“Why should I not see (my father) any more?”

“Because God has taken him back”

“…I’m going to heaven”, said young Dumas, “I’m going to kill God who killed my papa.”

 

Dumas, being an avid reader, learned much sacred history from the Bible that later shaped many of his plays.  Dumas encouraged the studying of ‘the bible as a religious, historic and poetic book’. At one point, young Dumas was given funding in a will to go to seminary and become a priest.  This overwhelmed him, and he said “I am running away, because I do not want to be a priest.”  Receiving his first communion had a profound impact on Dumas: “When the host touched his lips, he became dizzy, burst into sobs, and fainted.  It took him three days to recover from this…Dumas would never again approach the communion table, except at the hour of his death.”

Our reactions to suffering and injustice can make or break us, turn us bitter or better.  So often we are insensitive to the deeper issues of life until we have personally ‘hit the wall’.  Edmond Dantes the Monte Cristo hero recalled that

‘the prayers taught him by his mother discovered in them a hidden meaning hitherto unknown to him.  To the happy and prosperous man, prayer is but a meaningless jumble of words until grief comes to explain to the poor wretch the sublime language that is our means of communication with God.”

 

Edmond Dantes miraculously escaped from prison and found hidden treasure on the Island of Monte Cristo.  Using resurrection language, Dumas commented,

“When (Edmond) was at the height of his despair, God revealed himself to him through another human being.  One day he left his tomb transfigured miraculously.

 

But Edmond was consumed by a need for revenge that threatened to destroy his own new freedom.  “I must have revenge, Mercedes!  For fourteen long years have I suffered, for fourteen years wept and cursed, and now I must avenge myself.”

Dantes admitted to Mercedes: “From being a kind and confiding nature, I made myself in to a treacherous and vindictive man…If you ever loved me, don’t rob me of my hate. It is all I have.”  She wisely responded, saying, “Let it go Edmond. Let it go.

Edmond’s reappearance after so many years in prison called forth this memorable statement from Mercedes:

“Edmond, I know there is a God above, for you still live and I have seen you. I put my trust in him to help me…Unhappy wretch that I am, I doubted God’s goodness… Cowardice was at the root of all my actions.”

Edmond responded to her deep repentance by saying: “you have disarmed me by your sorrow…God had need of me and my life was spared.”

At the end of the book, Edmond faces the Christ-like choice of mercy or revenge.  He painfully chose mercy which set him free from the root of bitterness that was eating him alive.  Mercedes commented: “I repeat once more, Edmond, it is noble, beautiful to forgive as you have done.”

Dumas said in ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’ that ‘the wretched and miserable should turn to their Saviour first, yet they do not hope in Him until all other hope is exhausted.’

My prayer for those reading this article is that we not totally exhaust ourselves before we finally admit our spiritual need.

 

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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Good news according to frodo

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.  “So do I,” said Gandalf, “ and so do all who live to see such times.  But that is not for them to decide.  All that we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”  Hearing this insight from Frodo and Gandalf in the recent Lord of the Rings movies really touched my heart.

I didn’t particularly enjoy the first movie Fellowship of the Rings as it seemed too violent and traumatic for my liking.  So I planned to quietly avoid the second Lord of the Rings movie ‘The Two Towers’ but ended up going along reluctantly in order to spend time with one of my sons.  Though I had tried reading the book back in the 1970’s, I couldn’t get into it.  The endless details and strange names threw me off.  My classic excuse for not reading material like Lord of the Rings was that life has enough fantasy and fiction in it to suit me already.

Amazingly, in watching the second movie Two Towers, the penny dropped and the message behind the message began to break through.  It was like being in an AA 12-step meeting where they always say at the end: ‘Keep coming back, it works’.  Eventually the penny will drop.

When watching the Two Towers, I, like Frodo, had been going through a rather challenging year that ‘I wish…need not have happened in my time’.  Like Gandalf, I had to learn that ‘all we can decide is what to do with the time that is given us.’  I have discovered afresh that I am not alone on the journey of Life, and there are resources available to me that I might have never imagined back in the comfort of my ‘shire’.

The Shire in the Lord of the Rings is a symbol of tranquility and safety free from harm and stress.  To many of us locally, Deep Cove represents that kind of Shire.  Have you ever wondered who the hobbits in the Lord of the Rings really are?  JRR Tolkien once said that ‘the hobbits are just rustic English people, made small in size because it reflects the generally small reach of their imagination –not the small reach of their courage or latent power.’   Tolkien also said the hobbits were ‘just what I could have liked to have been, but never was.” Tolkien was deeply traumatized by the loss of both his father at age 3 and his mother at age 12.  So he never knew the safety and security taken for granted by so many other rural English children.

Bill Hybels of Willow Creek wrote an unforgettable book entitled ‘Courageous Leadership’.  Where are the courageous leaders in our highly ambivalent third millennium?  Elrond said of the hobbits, “This is the hour of the Shire-folk, when they arise from their quiet fields, to shake the towers and counsels of the Great.  Who of all the Wise could have foreseen it?”  Many of us shy away from facing conflict.  But the experts tell us that conflict-avoidance only makes it worse and more widespread.  It takes courage to stare evil right in the face.

 

The Lord of the Rings book reminds us that ‘there is a seed of courage hidden (often deeply, it is true) in the heart of the fattest and most timid hobbit, waiting for some final and desperate danger to make it grow.’  As the journey became more difficult, Gandalf said to Frodo: ‘Courage will now be your best defence against the storm that is at hand—that and such hope as I bring’.

JRR Tolkien warned against allegorizing the Lord of the Rings but believed in ‘applicability’.  As I read Frodo’s danger-filled quest, I was reminded of the applicability of Psalm 23: ‘Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou are with me, thy rod and thy staff they comfort me’.  King Theoden of Rohan said to his men: ‘Fear no darkness’.  Elrond said, ‘There is naught that you can do, other than to resist, with hope or without it.  But you do not stand alone.’

One of the most gripping moments in the Lord of the Rings was when Frodo had fully counted the cost and still courageously said: ‘I will take the ring, though I do not know the way.’  Frodo at that moment was choosing to face Mordor’s wasteland, vicious Orcs, giant spiders, and betrayal by Gollum.  The greatest danger that Frodo faced was the ever-present temptation to grasp the Ring for himself, and make use of its vast power for his own benefit.  After destroying the ring in the Crack of Doom, Frodo was deeply hurt by his self-sacrifice but reminded his friend Sam that ‘when things are in danger, some one has to give them up, lose them, so that others may keep them.’  Frodo’s selfless actions remind me of the words of Jesus: ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.  For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it’.

Many people who love the Lord of the Rings don’t realize that JRR Tolkien was a deeply committed Christian whose values permeated his unforgettable trilogy.  Tolkien knew the power of Story in touching hardened hearts like that of his friend CS Lewis who, through Tolkien’s influence, moved from hard-core atheism to passionate faith in Jesus Christ.  My prayer for those reading this article is that we too may discover the message behind the message in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.

p.s. For more on Tolkien, just click

 

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 Avenue, Surrey, BC, Canada 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, Canada 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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Jesus Loves me, This I know…

By the Rev. Dr. Ed HirdChristlike

One of the most well-known children’s songs throughout the world is “Jesus loves me, this I know.”  Somehow that song, like “Amazing Grace”, forms part of the spiritual memory banks of most adults.  The vast majority of baby boomers and their ‘builder’ parents have gone as children either to Sunday School or Catechism.  As a result, most older adults, whether or not they currently attend church, have significant core memories connected with those early experiences. This would not necessarily be true with GenXers and Millennials.

 

As a teenager, I found church boring and avoided it by golfing and skiing on Sunday mornings.  But as a child, I remember enjoying Sunday School and looking forward to going.  I’ve always liked to sing, and one of my favorite hymns as a child was “Jesus loves me, this I know”.  Even though I did not know Jesus personally, something touched me as I sang that song in Sunday School.  Years later, I still feel deeply moved by this simple song.

 

Dr. Karl Barth was one of the most brilliant and complex intellectuals of the twentieth century.  He wrote volume after massive volume on the meaning of life and faith.  A reporter once asked Dr. Barth if he could summarize what he had said in all those volumes.  Dr. Barth thought for a moment and then said: “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”

chairman_maoWhen Mao Tse Tung attempted to crush the church in China, things seemed very bleak.  In 1972 however, a message leaked out which simply said: “The this I know people are well”.  The Communist authorities did not understand the message.  But Christians all around the world knew instantly that this referred to the world’s most famous children’s hymn.  Miraculously the Chinese Church, instead of being crushed, has boomed under persecution, growing from 1.5 million believers to over 100 million.

 

The author of this amazing little children’s song was Anna Bartlett Warner, sister to the famous 19th century writer, Susan B. Warner.  Susan’s first novel The Wide Wide World was an instant success, second only to Uncle Tom’s Cabin, the most popular 19th century novel written in North America.  Anna published her own novel Dollars and Cenannabartettwarnerts under the pseudonym “Amy Lothrop”.  Anna and Susan collaborated together on fifteen fiction and children’s books.  Neither sister ever married, so they shared a house on Constitution Island right across from the famous West Point Military Academy.

 

The two sisters took a great interest in the Military Academy in which their uncle Thomas Warner was a chaplain and professor.  As a result, they opened their home to the cadets and held Sunday School classes.  Anna outlived her sickly sister by thirty years, and continued to run a very large Sunday School throughout her life.  It was her invariable custom to write for her students a fresh hymn once a month. “Jesus Loves Me” was one of those monthly West Point hymns.  Anna also gave the song to her sister Susan to use in the novel Say and Seal. In Susan’s book, a Sunday School teacher sings ‘Jesus Loves Me’ to a sick pupil.

Great words without a great tune don’t get very far in the musical world.  Fortunately William Batchelder Bradbury stumbled across the “Jesus Loves Me” words, and wrote the now unforgettable tune.  Thirteen years earlier, Bradbury had written the tune for the “Just as I am” hymn, which everyone nowadays associates with Billy Graham Crusades.  In 1862, Bradbury found the “Jesus loves me” words in a best-selling 19th-williambradburycentury book, in which the words were spoken as a comforting poem to a dying child, John Fox.  Along with his tune, Bradbury added his own chorus “Yes, Jesus loves me, Yes, Jesus Loves me…”   Within months, this song raced across the hearts of children throughout North America, and eventually all the continents of the world.

 

Even after 155+ years, “Jesus Loves Me” is still the No. 1 spiritual song in the hearts of children around the world.  Why is this?  I believe that it is because all of us deep down need to know that God loves us.  When I tell unchurched people that Jesus loves them, many of them genuinely thank me.  One lady said: “Great…we can use lots of love”.  A man said: “Thanks…I’m going to need Him some day.”  Whatever situation we are in, all of us need to know that the Lord really loves and cares for each of us.

I loved my Grandpa deeply, even though sometimes he was distant and abrasive.  Grandpa claimed to be an atheist, who had no time for religion.  One day I discovered to my surprise that Grandpa used to be active in a church choir, until his first wife died giving birth to her second child.  Left with two children under age two, he turned bitter and dropped out of church.

 

When Grandpa was in his late 80’s, I was speaking with him about that painful time in his life.  Initially he said that he didn’t want to talk about it, but then he started talking.  First he said that God sure works in mysterious ways.  Then my atheist Grandpa began to sing “Jesus loves me, this I know” to my three year-old son.  My son began to dance in front of Grandpa, and an amazing catharsis happened for my Grandfather.  Shortly after, my ‘atheist’ grandfather began listening to hymns again.  The next time I visited him, Grandpa spontaneously sang: “Up from the grave He arose!”  Within two years, I took my Grandpa’s funeral, confident that Grandpa had rediscovered that Jesus loved him too.

 

 

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

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

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

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 chapter 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, Canada 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, Canada 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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C.S. Lewis: Lover of Nature

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

CS Lewis picture

Perhaps one of the most famous and versatile English writers has been the Oxford, and then Cambridge, scholar: C.S. Lewis.  Some readers, especially children, find the Narnia tales among the most captivating books they have ever read. First BBC and then Disney have come out with versions of the Narnia Chronicles that have been seen by tens of millions. University students often reserve their greatest appreciation for C.S. Lewis’ science fiction trilogy.  Clyde Kilby describes him as “the kind of writer who can usher the reader into a new world, into a continuing process of discovery that reconstitutes his way of thought and life.”

 

CS Lewis picture 2Where did C.S. Lewis get his vivid skill at being able to describe fantasy and science-fiction worlds that fascinate and delight the imagination?  Scholars attribute the development of this creative ability to his childhood love of nature.

 

If C.S. Lewis had moved to Canada, I could easily see him wanting to live in the Deep Cove area, with its magnificent forest, water, and mountains.  Lewis’ love of nature was something that he never outgrew.  Once his older brother brought a toy garden into the nursery.  It made Lewis vividly aware of nature — not as a storehouse of forms and colours but as something cool, dewy, fresh, and exuberant.  Years later, he stood beside a flowering currant bush on a summer day.  Suddenly there arose within him without warning an “enormous bliss”, a joy that made everything else that had happened to him insignificant in comparison.  The rest of his life became the search for that authentic joy that makes all life meaningful.  He went through a long period of atheism and cynicism about the world.  But he could not ultimately deny the mysterious beauty that he saw in nature.

In his first step to faith, he began to hold that “Beauty is the call of the spirit in that Something to the spirit in us.”  Gradually Lewis started to realize that the DSCF1496more that he grasped after the Joy in nature, the less of it he would experience.  It was his very tendency to analyze and tear apart all his experiences that robbed him of the joy of his experience.  As C.S. Lewis discovered, “It is impossible to both kiss one’s girlfriend and analyze the kiss at the same moment.”  To do so is to dissipate the reality of the kiss.

Lewis began to realize that his search for Joy could not be found in Joy alone, but in that to which Joy points.  It could not be found in nature alone, but in that to which nature points.  C.S. Lewis began to discover the supernatural behind the natural.  As Lewis put it in a letter to a friend, “Today I got such an intense feeling of delight that it sort of stopped me in my walk and spun me round.  Indeed the sweetness was so great, and seemed so to affect the whole body as well as the mind, that it gave me pause…Everything seems to be beginning again and one has the sense of immortality.”  C.S. Lewis later wrote an autobiography entitled “Surprised by Joy”, to express how shocked he was to find that Jesus Christ could make such a difference in his everyday life.

 

My prayer for those reading this article is that we may open our eyes to the beauty around us and that we may experience the Joy of knowing the Supernatural behind the Natural.

 

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

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

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

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, Canada 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, Canada 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