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Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit


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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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“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 


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A River Still Runs Through It

By the Rev. Dr. Ed HirdA%20River%20Runs%20Through%20It

It’s hard to find a really good movie that the whole family can watch together, without exploitive sexuality and violence. My extended family could not stop talking about ‘The River Runs through It’.  So eventually I too saw the movie and  joined the ranks of the enthusiastic “River” boosters.

 

The movie is directed by Robert Redford and the star of the movie “Norman” looks remarkably like a junior Robert Redford. It is set in the Midwestern United States of the 1920’s. Its breathtaking scenic shots are reason enough as to why this movie was an Academy Award winner.

 

The movie begins by having the elderly Norman recall his father’s words: “Someday when you are ready, you might tell our family story. Only then will you understand what happened and why.” An intriguing feature of this movie is that all the meaningful statements are deliberately understated in a way that provokes curiosity. For example, Norman commented: “in our family there was no clear line between fly fishing and religion.” Norman doesn’t really explain what he means, Instead he just teases your imagination, and then moves on. The symbol of life at its best was “the river running through.”

 

A%20River%20Runs%20Through%20It2Again and again, as tragedy and setbacks hit the Maclean family, they seemed to find solace and refreshment by returning to their family river, the big Blackfoot. As the movie put it, “Beneath the (river) rocks are the words of God. Listen … and if Paul and I listened very carefully all our lives, we might hear those words.”

 

Norman’s father was a rigid, but well meaning Presbyterian minister. There were times in the father’s life where his rigidity seemed to totally alienate his sons. Yet again and again their common love for the river would bring them back together as a family.

 

As Norman put it, “In the afternoon we would walk with him while he unwound between services and he almost always chose the path along the Blackfoot, which we considered our family river, and it was there that he found his soul restored and his imagination stirred.” Norman, of course, is making a clear allusion to the well known Psalm 23: “He leads me beside still waters, he restores my soul.”

 

In contrast to the modem tendency to “pigeonhole” religion into a small private slot, Norman’s father saw religion as a totally normal part of everyday life. Faith was as normal for him as breathing or fly fishing. Flyfishing for the Macleans was a symbol of an integrated and healthy spirituality pervading all of life. As Norman put it, “… Paul and I probably received as many hours of instruction in fly fishing as we did in all other spiritual matters.”

 

Norman’s father saw fly fishing as symbolic of the rhythms of life that we all need to discover. Norman comments: “As a Presbyterian, my father believed that man by nature was a damn mess, and that only by picking up God’s rhythms could we regain power and beauty. To (Norman’s father), all good things come by grace, and grace comes by art, and art does not come easy.” Norman’s father trained his two sons to cast “Presbyterian style”, on a four count rhythm between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

A%20River%20Runs%20Through%20It3

One of the most significant moments in the movie was the first time that Paul the younger brother broke free of his father’s instruction, into a shadow casting rhythm all his own. All of us, at some point, need to break free of our fathers’ spiritual instruction, to find a relationship with God that we can call our own Secondhand spirituality can only take us so far.

 

Paul stayed at home for college, unwilling to “leave the fish he had not yet caught. Norman went east for college, and entirely abandoned fly fishing.

 

When Norman returned home, he felt embarrassed and awkward down at the river, because he had lost touch with the rhythms of life while at college. Yet as the elderly Norman looked back on his life, he confessed that he was “haunted by waters”. Despite all the tragedy and horror of life, Norman’s returning to the river replenished him again and again.

As Norman put it, “… when I am alone in the half light of the canyon, all existence seems to fade to a being with my soul and my memories, and the sounds of the big Blackfoot River, and the four count rhythm and the hope that a fish will rise.” A Jewish Rabbi said 2,000 years ago: “Whoever believes in me, streams of living water will flow from within him.”

My prayer for those reading this article is that streams of  living water may flow through the middle of our lives, bringing a peace that passes all understanding.

 

 

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

-author of the award-winning book 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