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Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit


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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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Love Came Down at Christmas

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By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

Christmas is about love.  It is so easy to be cynical about love, to be hurt by what looks like love, to give up on ever being truly loved.  What is love, sang Tina Turner, but a second hand emotion?  When we are hurt, our heart can shut down. We can grow cold and jaded, singing with Tina: “Who needs a heart when a heart can be broken?”  Sometimes in my life, my heart has grown cold.  Sometimes I lose my passion.  That is when God has broken in and renewed my heart with his love.  I remember one time when he literally baptized my heart with love.  It seemed like I was walking in an ocean of God’s love and healing.  I wish that I could live there daily.

Love means many different things to many people. For some, love is expressed through gift-giving.  We can thank the three wise men bringing gifts for the flood of presents given every Christmas.  But love is more than just giving people gifts.  Love is also about quality time.  We live in a frantically busy culture, particularly on the North Shore, where it seems like there is never enough time to do all that we want to do.  It is so easy in our task orientation to lose the relational focus.   Love stops to listen.  Love puts down the newspaper and the cell phone to give true face-to-face time.  Love is curious, open and present.  Love is willing to change.  Love is willing to grow.  Love is willing to admit that we are often wrong.

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Love chooses to encourage when everyone else is tearing down another person.  Love, in the words of 1 Corinthians 13, never gives up on you, always believes in you, always takes a chance on you.  Love realizes that sticks and stones do break our bones, that words will hurt and crush us.  Love says no to bullying.  Love grieves over the tragic loss of Amanda Todd.  Love never gives up, never lets go, always speaks blessing.  Love adds value.  Love cares.  Love respects.  Love allows you to be yourself.

Love doesn’t just talk the talk.  It walks the walk.  Love is practical, down-to-earth.  Love is a cup of cold water, the gift of a meal, a roof over our head.  Love is the washing of another’s feet, the wiping of their brow.  Love is meeting people’s needs.  Jean Vanier, founder of the L’Arche Community, said that love doesn’t mean doing extraordinary or heroic things.  It means knowing how to do ordinary things with tenderness.  The Great Physician said that he came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.  Love is the way of the cross, the way of suffering, the way of unselfishness.

Love is both a verb and a noun.  To say that God is love is true, but it can feel abstract.  What if God put love into action by entering our neighbourhood?  What if God came down at Christmas?  What if Christmas is actually about God embracing us?

This Christmas I invite you to look again at the baby in the manger, the Christ child.   Ask yourself if love came down at Christmas.  Ask yourself if this love might touch your heart.  The greatest is love.  May love fill you, your family and your friends to overflowing during this Advent/Christmas season.

 

 

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

 -an article 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.  Dr. JI Packer wrote the foreword, saying “I heartily commend what he has written.” The book focuses on strengthening a new generation of healthy leaders. Drawing on examples from Titus’ healthy leadership in the pirate island of Crete, it shows how we can embrace a holistically healthy life.

In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook. It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

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

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

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5, Canada.

– 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