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Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit


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The Lenten Discipline of Flossing Your Teeth

By Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

The forty day warm-up for Holy Week and the Easter season is known as Lent, an ancient word for ‘spring’.  Some people have not heard of Lent, but know about Mardi Gras, which in English is Fat Tuesday.  Certain places like New Orleans and Rio are famous for celebrating Mardi Gras.  The original purpose of Mardi Gras was to consume all the luxuries like eggs by making pancakes, so that Lent could be a time of balance and moderation.

Similar to how people go in training for an upcoming marathon, Lent is spiritual training for Easter.  For things in life to be really enjoyed, it usually takes preparation and anticipation.  So what does Lent have to do with flossing one’s teeth?  There are six Lenten disciplines that help people prepare for Easter: 1) Prayer 2) Fasting 3)Self-examination 4) Repentance 5) Bible-reading 6) Generosity to the poor.  These six Lenten disciplines are not meant to be done only during Lent, but rather especially through Lent.  If one only flosses one’s teeth for forty days of the year, their dentist will not be pleased. The purpose of doing something for forty days in a row is to develop new good habits, whether one is going to the gym or changing one’s diet.

Many people believe that prayer is a good thing.  Lots of Canadians pray when they are in crisis. But prayer is most effective when it is done daily, in season and out of season, just like with flossing one’s teeth.  For many years, I had a mental block about flossing my teeth.  I didn’t like how my gums would bleed afterwards.  To impress my dentist, I compromised by flossing just before my dental appointments.  As dentists can tell the difference, I am sure that my half-hearted flossing impressed no one.  Only when I adopted flossing as a daily discipline did my gums stop bleeding, and my dental care improve.  Years later, I now floss religiously, first thing in the morning.  My teeth don’t feel right until I have flossed.

If I had waited until I was in the mood for flossing, I would still be avoiding the discipline of flossing.  That is why I am calling flossing a Lenten discipline.  Flossing gets me in shape, just like prayer, fasting, self-examination, repentance, bible-reading and generosity to the poor.  I don’t always feel like doing any of them, but I become a healthier person when I discipline myself in these patterns.  How many people realize that fasting, while initially uncomfortable, can be a key to major spiritual breakthrough?  A while ago I wrote about BJ McHugh, an eighty-seven year old marathoner.  She tells me that she doesn’t always feel like getting up in the morning and going for a run.  Because she disciplines her body, she was able to recently run in the Hawaii Marathon with her son and granddaughter.  God wants to renew our youth like an eagle, but we need to co-operate by practicing healthy daily discipline.

Self-examination is another vital Lenten discipline.  It is so easy to deceive ourselves that everything is okay.  Self-examination shows us where we need to change, perhaps by cutting back on the carbs or by getting out walking on a daily basis. Repentance is about facing the facts about one’s self, the good, the bad and the ugly, and being willing to make systemic painful changes.  Perhaps there is someone that we need to forgive whom we have been holding a grudge against.  Lent is a good time to reconcile with that person and perhaps even make amends.  Everyone believes in forgiveness until it comes time to do it.  Forgiveness is a painful part of repentance.

Bible-reading is another vital Lenten discipline.  Most Canadians have a bible somewhere in their home, perhaps handed down from their parents or given to them by the Gideon’s.  Most Canadians have floss somewhere in their house.  Only when we start using the floss, only when we start reading our bibles does anything change.  I was raised in a generation that believed that if it feels good, you do it.  If I wait until I am in the mood for flossing or bible-reading, my gums will recede and my bible will stay dusty.  Discipline saves us from the folly of good intentions.

Canadians are some of the most generous people on earth.  Our Judeo-Christian heritage encourages people to be cheerful givers, knowing that it is more blessed to give than to receive.  Only the generous are really satisfied with their lives.  The more greedy we are, the more grumpy we become.  Don’t wait until you are in the mood to be generous to the poor.  Don’t wait until you are in the mood to floss your teeth.  My prayer for those reading this Lenten article is that we might grow in generosity, in prayerfulness, in bible-reading in ways that will make us all more healthy.

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

-an article 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.  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 


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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 


Leave a comment

“More Than Gold” Olympic Passion

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

Vancouverites put tremendous energy into the Winter Olympics.   The lengthy preparations were indeed a marathon.

The world’s most famous Olympic race is the marathon.  The original Battle of the Marathon in 490 B.C was just twenty-two miles from embattled Athens.  A Greek soldier ran all the way, day and night, to Athens to give his dying words: “Rejoice. We have conquered”.

In 1896, the modern-day Olympics were revived in Greece, spreading throughout the globe.  Each one of us in our own way is running an Olympic marathon every day of our life. The Bible tells us: “Run with patience the race set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1)  Dr. William Barclay commented: “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.”

There were many gold medals won  by Canadian athletes.  Winning is exciting.  Many athletes realized that the Olympics are about more than gold, more than just winning.  Olympics co-founder 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.”  The Christian community in Greater Vancouver came together for the Olympics across denominational and ethnic barriers to affirm that life is about more than gold.   The wider Christian community played its part in truly welcoming the world to Vancouver.  Many athletes shared their experiences of what it is like to win medals, and what is worth more than gold to them. You can watch them online.

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. 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…” (1 Corinthians 9:24-26).

Paul’s dying words were profoundly Olympic: “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.”

The Vancouver Olympics came in like a storm and then was gone.  The Gold medals were soon a distant memory. The lasting question is how your daily marathon is doing? Are you stretching each day towards the finish line?  Are you running the race of life in such a way as to get the prize? Life is truly about more than gold.

My prayer for the various Olympics around the world  is that the love of God will pour through us in the gift of hospitality so that the world will come to know the prize that lasts forever.

 

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

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

-previously published between the Deep Cove Crier

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