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Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit


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Walking the Line with Johnny Cash

By the Rev.  Dr. Ed Hird

During Johnny Cash’s nearly fifty years of music, he sold over ninety million albums.  He learned to sing while picking cotton as an impoverished sharecropper’s son in Kingsland, Arkansas. His 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.”[i]

 

Cash recorded more than 1,500 songs including well-known hits like ‘A Boy named Sue’, ‘Folsom Prison Blues’ and ‘Ring of Fire.’  Johnny Cash is the only musician who has ever been threefold-inducted into the Songwriter’s, Country Music, and Rock and Roll Halls of Fame.”

 

More than 100 other recording artists and groups have recorded Cash’s song “I Walk the Line.”  Cash commented: “I wrote ‘I walk the Line’ when I was on the road in Texas in 1956, having a hard time resisting the temptation to be unfaithful to my wife back in Memphis”: ‘I keep a close watch on this heart of mine.  I keep my eyes wide open all the time.  I keep the ends out for the tie that binds. Because you’re mine, I walk the line.’  Cash saw ‘I walk the Line’ as his first Gospel hit, because he sang it not just to his wife, but also to God.[ii]  Cash’s life was often fraught with tragedy and heartbreak. “After my brother Jack’s death”, said Johnny, “I felt like I’d died too. I just didn’t feel alive.  I was terribly lonely without him.  I had no other friend.” His father unfairly blamed Johnny for his brother’s death, saying “Too bad it wasn’t you instead of Jack.”[iii] Like his father before him, Johnny struggled for many years with addiction issues.  His father was never able to tell his children that he loved them.

 

Johnny Cash’s first marriage ran aground in the midst of workaholism and pill-popping.  In Cash’ autobiography, he comments: “Touring and drugs were what I did, with the effort involved in drugs mounting steadily as time went by.” Amphetamines keep him going without sleep, and barbiturates and alcohol knocked him out.  Cash comments: “I was in and out of jails, hospitals, and car wrecks.  I was a walking vision of death, and that’s exactly how I felt.  I was scraping the filthy bottom of the barrel of life.”

He knew that he had wasted his life and drifted far from God.  In desperation, Cash decided to end his life in 1967 by crawling deep into the inner recesses of Nickajack Cave on the Tennessee River.  There in pitch darkness he met God and then miraculously was able to crawl to the opening of the cave. There waiting for him was his future wife June Carter and his mother.  That was one of Cash’s turning points, along with the birth of John Carter Cash, in getting serious about battling his addiction.

 

Cash had relative freedom from drugs until attacked in 1981 by an ostrich that ripped his stomach open and broke several ribs. While in hospital, he became heavily re-addicted to painkillers.  In 1983, his family and friends did an intervention, which included Cash’s going to the Betty Ford Clinic. Cash comments: “I’m still absolutely convinced that the intervention was the hand of God working in my life, telling me that I still had a long way to go, a lot left to do.  But first I had to humble myself before God.”  Because of the enormous pain from sixteen failed jaw operations, Cash well understood the cunning, baffling, and powerful pull of self-medication.

In the midst of great trauma, Cash found that spiritual music helped bring him back from the despair of his addictions.  “Wherever I go, I can start singing one of them and immediately begin to feel peace settle over me as God’s grace flows in. They’re powerful, those songs.  At times they’ve been my only way back, the only door out of the dark, bad places the black dog calls home.” Cash began to find great strength in reading the bible and in prayer.  He learned to stop hating himself, and to forgive himself and  others.

During this time, the late Billy Graham became a personal friend and mentor.  Billy Graham “was interested, but never judgmental…I’ve always been able to share my secrets and problems with Billy, and I’ve benefited greatly from his support and advice. He’s never pressed me when I’ve been in trouble; he’s waited for me to reveal myself, and then he’s helped me as much as he can.”  Johnny and June would eventually sing and share at almost three dozen Billy Graham Crusades in front of around two million people.

I thank God for the late Johnny Cash’s recovery from serious addiction, and pray that all of us will have the courage to change the things that can be changed.

 

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 

[i] Robert Hilburn, Johnny Cash: The Life (Little, Brown, & Company, New York, NY, 2013), p. 23.

[ii] Hilburn, p. 104.

[iii] Hilburn, p. 20.


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Prophetic Words from Bonnie Chatwin

by the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

 

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Photo by Victor Freitas on Pexels.com

On April 12, 2005, I was feeling rather fragile in the midst of helping others work through all the trauma and loss around our congregation’s pending eviction.

While I was working out at our local Parkgate Gym, Bonnie Chatwin a very gifted Pastoral Counsellor phoned me by cell phone. She cautioned me against falling into the ‘bait of Satan’ , that of taking offense, resulting in unforgiveness and bitterness. And she poured into me excerpts from Paul’s epistles to Timothy: words that were to become the skeleton of my award-winning book “Battle for the Soul of Canada”.

1 Timothy 1: Warning against false teachers

2 Timothy 1:8: Do not be ashamed

2 Timothy 1:12 I am not ashamed

2 Timothy 1:14 Guard the Deposit

2 Timothy 2:1 Be strong in the grace…endure hardship

2 Timothy 2:15 A Workman that does not need to be ashamed

2 Timothy 2:24 The Lord’s servant must not quarrel

2 Timothy 3:5 Have nothing to do with them.

2 Timothy 3:10 Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.

2 Timothy 4:2 I give you this charge

2 Timothy 4:3 The time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine

Bonnie Chatwin said to me:

“You are going through a prophetic commissioning. It’s a process, standing, enduring, getting through, not focusing on the visible results with the eye. Take on an attitude of humility, grace, but also of courage and strength. Do not take personal offense, or you will be taken out. There is no use arguing with your oppressors. You have been stripped of a crown of glory as an Anglican priest, now wearing a crown of thorns, one with Christ. You need to express an attitude of gratitude and embrace the counselor/the Holy Spirit, admitting your helplessness. You are not rebelling against authority, but rather just standing firm.”

 

Out of that prophetic encounter, I became convinced once again that Christian values lie at the very foundation of our nation, that the key to renewing the soul of Canada- the heart of my new book- is to be found in raising up Timothys, raising up the emerging generation of leaders.

 Who was Timothy? What do we know about him? Timothy was Paul’s irreplacable right-hand man sent into impossible circumstances to re-establish healthy foundations. To the troubled Corinthians, Paul said: “For this reason I am sending to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.”(1 Corinthians 4:17) Listen to what Paul said to the Phillipians: “For this reason I am sending Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you. I have no one else like (Timothy), who takes a genuine interest in your welfare. For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.”(2:20-21)

How the local city church treated Timothy determined how healthy they would be in their future. Timothy, being naturally shy, could easily be put off by inhospitality. Paul, as his mentor and spiritual father, fought for his acceptance: “If Timothy comes, see to it that he has nothing to fear while he is with you, for he is carrying on the work of the Lord, just as I am. No one, then, should refuse to accept him. Send him on his way in peace so that he may return to me. I am expecting him along with the brothers.” (1st Corinthians 16:10).

In many ways, Timothy has the personality profile of Canada: gentle, somewhat insecure, and easily rejected. Yet Paul saw that this unlikely individual had the potential to be a great leader, even to be the successor after Paul’s assassination by the Emperor Nero. Canada, and especially the Canadian Church, has the potential for great servant leadership throughout the nations. We can be God’s Timothys, if we will only humble ourselves before the Lord (2nd Chronicles 7:14 )

A genuine Timothy is someone who seeks first God’s Kingdom and his righteousness in this profoundly self-centered culture. A genuine Timothy is someone sold out for God, passionate, committed, and visionary. Paul knew that Timothys need to first be discovered and then raised up. Paul knew that Timothys are a rare breed (I have no one else like Timothy), but they can change a nation. Timothys need to first go through a time of testing and proving. Paul commented: “you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel.” (2:22)

During our 31 years at  St. Simon’s North Vancouver (1987 to2018), we were privileged to mentor and raise up three Timothys for the Anglican priesthood (The Revs. Peter Falk, Ken Bell, and Josh Wilton). It takes time to raise up Timothys. Mushrooms grow overnight; Oak trees take longer.

 Sometimes the Canadian Church has looked to committees to rescue Canada from its malaise. The Rev Sam Shoemaker commented, “Committees do not beget spiritual movements, any more than they beget babies. Inspired men beget them.” As one wag put it, God so loved the world that He didn’t send a committee!

My vision in the book ‘Battle for the Soul of Canada is to raise up and send Timothys all across our nation, and ultimately around the world for the healing of the nations. Paul said that he hoped to send Timothy soon. That is our passion and calling. That is the hope of our nation, to raise up Timothys to turn our nation back to God.

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