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Dr JI Packer

You are invited to read The Incalculable Impact of Dr JI Packer: Giant of the Faith

Ed & Janice Hird+

Light Magazine Columnists

P.s. In this time of Covid social distancing, you are encouraged to repost this memorial to others.

P. S. Click this Amazon link to view for free the first two chapters of our new novel Blue Sky.

“I’m afraid there’s been an accident…”

12bdf6ff-3021-4e73-bccd-bc919398d1a0-7068-0000031133e7b4d9Sandy Brown and her family have just moved to Spokane, Washington where her husband, Scott, is pastoring a new church. With a fresh start, Sandy is determined to devote more time to her four children. But, within weeks of settling in their new life, the Brown family is plunged into turmoil.

Sandy receives shocking news that her children aren’t safe, which brings back haunting memories of the trauma she experienced as a girl. Then, the unthinkable happens…

A brutal attack puts Sandy on the brink of losing everything she’s loved. Her faith in God and the family she cherishes are pushed to the ultimate limit.

Is healing possible when so many loved ones are hurt? Are miracles really possible through the power of prayer? Can life return to the way it was before?

Blue Sky reveals how a mother’s most basic instinct isn’t for survival… but for family.

If you’re a fan of Karen Kingsbury, then you’ll love Blue Sky. Get your copy today on paperback or  kindle.

-Click to check out our 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.

-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 

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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Dr JI Packer: Knowing God

By Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

Have you ever read Dr JI Packer’s classic Knowing God? Click to check out the Light Magazine article on Dr. JI Packer: Firestarter in Knowing God.

Analyzing the Global Impact of Dr. J.I. Packer

By Rev. Dr. Ed and Janice Hird

-published in the April 2010 Light Magazine

Do you long for a reviving of your knowledge of God, not just intellectually but intimately? The late Dr. J.I. Packer wrote an unforgettable book Knowing God that has transformed and revived the hearts and minds of millions of readers, perhaps including yourself.[1]  Christianity Today readers named him one of the most influential theological writers of the last hundred years, second only to CS Lewis.[2] Dr. Alister McGrath called Packer a theological and spiritual giant[3]: “Packer is a rare example of an original thinker with a genuine gift for teaching…”[4] His legacy includes writing thirty books and over three hundred major articles.[5] Timothy George commented that “his writings are so voluminous that it is hard to imagine that they have come from the pen of one person.”[6]

Packer never let his fame and success get to his head.  Born on July 22nd 1926, he was raised in humble circumstances in the village of Twyning, near Gloucester, in southwest England. McGrath comments about Packer: “Even at an early age, he realized that he was something of a loner, a shy and awkward boy who found it difficult to relate to other children.”[7] While chased at age seven by a schoolyard bully, he was struck by a passing bread van, causing a serious head injury, requiring brain surgery.[8]  The medical diagnosis was…’a depressed compound fracture of the frontal bone on the right-hand side of his forehead.’[9]  This brain injury closed the door to his socializing through playing sports. Because of his fragile health, his parents wisely bought him a massive typewriter rather than a bicycle.  During his long recovery, the naturally shy Packer read widely, typing his earliest essays.  At age 17, Packer described himself as a Dostoevsky addict.[10]  When asked in his eighties about his strongest childhood memories, he replied, “Solitariness.”[11]  He was required to wear a black aluminum plate on his head, held in place by an elastic band. At age 15, he ‘went on strike’, refusing to wear the head plate any longer.[12]

Though raised Anglican, Packer did not know Christ personally.  While attending Crypt High School, he read C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity and Screwtape Letters.[13]   CS Lewis’ two books, said Packer, ‘brought me, not indeed to faith in the full sense, but to mainstream Christian beliefs about God, man, and Jesus Christ, so that I was halfway there.”[14] Because of his head injury, Packer was exempted from World War II military service. He became one of the very few who attended Oxford University during that time. On October 22nd 1944, while attending an Oxford Christian Union meeting (IVCF), Packer was soundly converted, singing Just as I Am: “I had given my life to Christ…When I went out of the church, I knew that I was a Christian.”[15] Over fifty years later, he said “I remember the experience as if it were yesterday.”

Over the next few weeks of being discipled, he stopped viewing the bible as just “a mixed bag of religious all-sorts, of which one could not accept more than the general outlines.”[16] Packer commented: “I can still remember the feeling of surprise -and gladness, as I left the meeting because I knew that I knew that the Bible is the Word of God.” Over the next sixty-six years, he took many courageous stands, drawing others back to the Lordship of Jesus and the authority of the Bible.  Packer valued tradition and history when seen through the lense of Holy Scripture: Scripture must have the last word on all human attempts to state its meaning, and tradition, viewed as a series of such human attempts, has a ministerial rather than a magisterial role.”[17]

Reacting against the ‘victorious living’ emphasis of the Keswick movement, Packer turned to the spiritual wisdom of the largely forgotten Calvinist Puritans.[18] McGrath observed that “while an older generation looked back on Keswick Conventions for their fellowship and teaching, an emerging generation looked instead to the Puritans.”[19] George Whitefield (1714-1770) and the earlier John Owen (1616-1683) became significant mentors in Packer’s spiritual maturing.[20]  He even did his Oxford doctorate on Richard Baxter, who symbolized the best of the Puritans.[21]  Baxter (1615-1691) showed how to be a puritan without being puritanical in the negative sense.[22] Packer’s Knowing God, published in 1973, is a popularization of his doctoral thesis on Baxter. 

Knowing God was originally written as a series of articles for the UK-based Evangelical Magazine. Packer said, “I wrote Knowing God over a period of years during which I was deeply concerned, as I still am, to help people realize God’s greatness.[23]  Intervarsity Press UK (IVP) passed up the chance to publish it, because they wanted Packer instead to write a book about charismatic renewal. Hodder and Stoughton UK initially published it instead.  It was in North America however that Knowing God would have its greatest impact, where IVP USA published it.[24] McGrath said that Packer’s personal opinion was that the book succeeded because it allowed its readers to find and experience the reality of God.[25]  Best-selling author Dr. John RW Stott reviewed Knowing God, saying “The truth he handles fires the heart.  At least it fired mine, and compelled me to turn aside to worship and to pray.”[26] Dr. Alister McGrath commented that reading Knowing God “is like going on a long walk along a forest trail, rich in flora and fauna, nestling under the shadow of the great Rocky mountains.”[27]

McGrath commented that Packer “greatly admired the preaching of Martyn Lloyd-Jones, particularly its expository thoroughness.”[28] Through the influence of Lloyd-Jones, Packer developed a passion for revival.  In 1949, Packer and Lloyd-Jones birthed the very influential Puritan Conferences, which continued at Westminster Chapel in London until 1970.[29] McGrath commented that the ‘Puritan Studies Conference’ “offered a powerful and persuasive vision of the Christian life, in which theology, biblical exposition, spirituality and preaching were shown to be mutually indispensable and interrelated.  It was a vision of the Christian life which possessed both intellectual rigour and pastoral relevance.  It was a powerful antidote to the anti-intellectualism which had been rampant within British evangelical circles in the immediate post-war period.”[30]

In the foreword to Lloyd-Jones’ Revival book, Packer said, “No concern was dearer to his heart nor to mine.”[31] Packer observed, “Dr Lloyd-Jones hoped for revival until he died. He is gone. The prophets are gone, but we should still be hoping for revival. Revival is a sovereign work of God. He fixes the time table. The schedule is his, not ours.” As Calvinist puritans, both Lloyd-Jones and Packer taught that revival is a sovereign act of God.[32] We cannot produce it through our organizational skills.[33]

Before moving to Vancouver’s Regent College in 1979, Packer taught in several English theological settings including Oak Hill College, St. John’s Birmingham, Latimer House, Tyndale Hall, and Trinity College Bristol.[34] The pull of North America became stronger after Packer began lecturing during the summers in USA and Canada.[35]  As McGrath put it, Packer liked Vancouver, and he liked Canada, which seemed to him to be halfway between Britain and the United States.[36]  Regent offered Packer a much greater opportunity to write and to speak at North American conferences.[37]  Leland Ryken noted that there has been no more famous teacher at Regent College through the years than Packer.[38] During Packer’s time at Regent, the student body has grown from 140 to over 800.[39]  

Charles Colson, founder of Prison Fellowship, stated that “…this will be known as the Packer Era because J.I. Packer has been the towering figure of this era – defending truth, defending orthodoxy, and defending great preaching.”[40]  In 1994, Packer was the chief architect of the Anglican Essentials movement in Canada which ultimately realigned many with the revival in the Global South.[41] The Montreal Essential Declaration is shaped by Richard Baxter’s maxim “In essentials, unity; In non-essentials, diversity, and in all things charity.”[42] In 2,000, he chaired the theological track at the World Conference on Evangelism convened by Billy Graham in Amsterdam.[43]  He served for many years as general editor in producing the 2001 English Standard Version Bible.[44] Packer had a passion for the revival of catechism, for teaching how to live out biblical truth.[45] Revival, said Packer, means “power, constant sustained power from God’s Holy Spirit for life and service.”[46] Revival means struggle for truth.[47]  Revival is about knowing God.[48]  What might it take for us, like J.I. Packer, to long for the fire of revival?

Rev. Dr. Ed and Janice Hird

Co-authors, Blue Sky novel


[1] Alistair McGrath, J.I. Packer: A Biography (Baker Books, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA, 1997), 179 “…one of the twentieth century’s most influential and admired Christian books –Knowing God.”; McGrath, 256 ”Packer’s bestseller Knowing God represented a classic statement and justification of the intimate relationship between knowing correct ideas about God and the relational activity of knowing God.”

[2]McGrath, xi  “James Innell Packer is one of the best-known names in modern Christianity.”

[3] McGrath,  xi   “….one such person who has made a major long-term contribution to the shaping of Christianity in the modern world.”; J.I. Packer and the Evangelical Future: The Impact of His Life and Thought, edited by Timothy George   (Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, MI, USA, 2009), back cover “J.I. Packer is one of the most significant evangelical theologians of the last one hundred years.” (Timothy George is the Executive Editor for Christianity Today.)

[4] George, 20.

[5] McGrath, 290.

[6] George, 10.

[7] McGrath, 3.; 45 “His parents were poor, and he had no private means.”; Ryken, 20. “…J.I. Packer came from humble roots.  …he has never lost his common touch.”

[8] McGrath, 1.

[9] Ryken, 23.

[10] Ryken, 24 In a Christianity Today polling of their contributors of the ten best religious books of the twentieth century, Packer chose the Lord of the Rings trilogy by JRR Tolkien, saying “a classic for children from 9 to 90. Bears constant rereading.”;   Ryken, 30 Packer said that at age 17, he became ‘a Dostoyevsky addict’, much impressed by how the Russian novelist ‘takes the skin off his characters and allows us to see what they are like.’

[11] McGrath, 11 “He was a solitary figure, who found greatest pleasure in reading and studying.”; Ryken, 21 “From his early years, Packer was a shy boy who did not mingle easily with his peers.”

[12] Ryken, 23.

[13] McGrath, 9.

[14] Ryken, 29.

[15] George, 10 “…It was in meetings of the Oxford Inter-Collegiate Christian Union, a British version of Inter Varsity, that Packer found a living relationship with Jesus Christ and committed his life to Christian service.”

[16] Ryken, 39.

[17] George, 25. JI Packer, “The Comfort of Conservatism”, in Power Religion, ed. M Horton (Chicago, Moody, 1992), 288.;  George, 20, McGrath commented: “Packer’s distinctive and, in my view, critically important insight that evangelical theology is both enriched and stabilized by attentiveness to the past.”; George, 26, McGrath commented, “Packer argues that attentiveness to the past liberates us from ‘chronological snobbery’ and alerts us to the riches of past readings of Scripture.”

[18] McGrath, 43 “Packer mentioned that he was a Puritan addict…”; McGrath, 55 Packer commented, “Without Owen, I might well have gone off my head or gotten boggled down in mystical fanaticism.”; McGrath, 77 “…the Keswick teaching had come to be seen as a distinctive article of evangelicalism.  To criticize Keswick was thus to attack evangelicalism.”

[19] McGrath, 54.

[20] McGrath, 22, 24, 25, 26 “The discovery of Owens must be regarded as marking a turning point in Packer’s Christian life…”; McGrath, 43 “Packer explained that John Owen’s sixty pages on mortifying sin had helped him cope with ‘popular brand of holiness teaching, which was driving [him] around the bend’.”; McGrath, 56  “What do the Puritans have to offer modern evangelicalism?  The answer for Packer can be summed up in a single word -maturity.”

[21] McGrath, 46 “Packer’s growing interest in the theology of the Puritans had led him to explore the writings of Richard Baxter (1615-91).”; McGrath, 47 “Packer’s thesis The Redemption and Restoration of Man in the Thought of Richard Baxter was long; its 499 pages extend to nearly 150,000 words. (Oxford would later insist that doctoral theses should not exceed 100,000 words.)  The work shows Packer as a scholar with a gift for rigorous analysis and clarity of expression.”

[22] Neil Bramble, “J.I. Packer”, Convivium, May 12, 2017, “The essence of Puritanism is not the public caricature often imposed upon them, but a lively, sincere, and devoted spirituality based on the Bible’s teachings translated into one’s personal life.” “https://www.convivium.ca/voices/124_j_i_packer/ (accessed Feb 28th 2020)

[23] .  J.I. Packer, Knowing God Study Guide (Intervarsity Press, Madison, Wisconsin, USA, 1975), 7 “Packer…wrote Knowing God from the conviction that ignorance of God lies at the root of the contemporary church’s weakness.”

[24] David Virtue, “The (Knowing God) book, first published in 1973 and now translated into at least seven languages, has sold more than 2 million copies, an astounding number for what is essentially a textbook in basic theology. “It was a surprise,” he told me: “I wrote the first draft as a series of articles. It was essentially intended as a catechesis-a teaching book. At first I just hoped that it would go into a second printing.” https://virtueonline.org/patriarch-dr-j-i-packer http://www.worldmag.com/articles/16150  (accessed March 2nd 2020)

[25] McGrath, 191.; McGrath commented that …this was the right book for the right moment.

[26] McGrath, 191.; Ryken, 114 “Indeed, Stott and Packer were the two most prominent evangelical leaders in the Church of England during the 1960s and 1970s.”

[27] McGrath, 195.

[28] McGrath, 62, 161 “Packer had been one of the relatively few evangelicals of influence within the Church of England who had championed links with Lloyd-Jones.”

[29] McGrath, 157 “Lloyd-Jones…wrote to Packer to terminate the Puritan Conferences.”  (in the context of the 1970 publication of the Growing into Union book by two evangelicals and two Anglo-Catholics.) (it became renamed the Westminster Conferences.)

[30] McGrath, 53.

[31] Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Revival (Crossway Books, Wheaton, Illinois, USA, 1987), foreword.

[32] Marks of Revival by J.I. Packer By GOL Revival (Grace Online Library) Awareness of God’s presence. The first and fundamental feature in revival is the sense that God has drawn awesomely near in his holiness, mercy, and might.

https://graceonlinelibrary.org/church-ministry/revival/marks-of-revival-by-j-i-packer/ (accessed 3/6/2020)

[33] Justin Taylor What Is Revival? |  February 17, 2010 Here is how J. I. Packer answers that question in his essay, “The Glory of God and the Reviving of Religion” in A God-Entranced Vision of All Things (pp. 100-104): “Revival is God touching minds and hearts in an arresting, devastating, exalting way, to draw them to himself through working from the inside out rather than from the outside in. It is God accelerating, intensifying, and extending the work of grace that goes on in every Christian’s life, but is sometimes overshadowed and somewhat smothered by the impact of other forces. It is the near presence of God giving new power to the gospel of sin and grace. It is the Holy Spirit sensitizing souls to divine realities and so generating deep-level responses to God in the form of faith and repentance, praise and prayer, love and joy, works of benevolence and service and initiatives of outreach and sharing. What is the pattern of genuine revival? Packer suggests the following ten elements:

God comes down.

God’s Word pierces.

Man’s sin is seen.

Christ’s cross is valued.

Change goes deep.

Love breaks out.

Joy fills hearts.

Each church becomes itself—becomes, that is, the people of the divine presence in an experiential, as distinct from merely notional, sense.

The lost are found.

Satan keeps pace.

https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justin-taylor/what-is-revival/ (accessed 3/6/2020)”

[34] McGrath, 180 “In the eyes of many young evangelicals, Packer and Moyter together (at Trinity College, Bristol) represented a form of evangelicalism which possessed both intellectual rigour and spiritual integrity.”; McGrath, 237.

[35] McGrath, 181 “As Trinity settled down, Packer again found he had time and space for thinking, speaking, and writing.  … Packer was able to negotiate an arrangement with the college Council, by which he would spend the autumn and spring terms teaching in Bristol, leaving the summer term free of commitments in order to allow him to spend time in North America…Increasingly, Packer became a well-known figure in North America – not simply through his books, but through his personal presence at seminaries as a teacher and lecturer.”

[36] McGrath, 233.; Bramble, “Packer could have had a number of other teaching positions in high profile seminaries in the United States, but he chose the fledgling Regent College, where 37 years later (2016) he is still involved—in his ninety-first year.”

[37] McGrath, 217 “Packer was by now regarded in North America as the best-known and most highly respected British evangelical theologian. …His book Knowing God had firmly established him as one of the most important writers in the area of spirituality…In short, Packer was being lionized in North America. In England, however, he was being marginalized.”; Ryken, 165 “…Mark Noll notes that the British posts (temporary teaching assignments)   were Anglican; the North American posts have been Reformed and evangelical.”

[38] Ryken, 164.

[39] McGrath, 239. “By the end of the 1980s’, Regent was the largest graduate institution of theological education in the region with a new purpose-built home on a high-profile site on the university campus.”

[40] George, Charles Colson, 139.

[41] McGrath, 160 “Two major events of the 1990s – the Anglican Church of Canada’s Essentials ’94 congress…can be seen to rest on precisely the theological foundations developed by Packer in England during the 1970s…it represented the application of a coherent and historically and theologically justified approach, which had been set in place twenty years earlier.”; McGrath, 283 “Packer…was the chief architect of ‘Essentials 94.’”

[42] George, 11 “Packer has been ever mindful of the maxim of Richard Baxter, on whom he wrote his Oxford doctoral dissertation.  In necessariis Unitas, in non-necessariis Libertas, in utrisque Caritas.”   http://www.anglicancommunionalliance.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Montreal-Declaration-for-ACA-Website-PDF-FINAL.pdf (accessed March 8th 2020); Leland Ryken, J.I. Packer: an Evangelical Life (Crossway, Wheaton, Illinois, 2015), 12 “Packer is by nature a peacemaker and a gentle man, yet he has had a career of controversy…his stand on religious issues has often made him an object of criticism.”

[43] George, 10.

[44] Bramble, “The term collaborator may well describe Packer’s most telling leadership quality. He loved working as a member of a team, and he did so on numerous occasions. Perhaps the best example was his role as general editor in producing the English Standard Version of the Bible. Interestingly, Packer himself sees this as his most significant contribution.”

[45] Trinity School for Ministry talk “JI Packer: On Personal Holiness”:  When I was eighteen years ago, I spoke to a conference “For the rest of my working life, I should be conducting a crusade for catechesis, that is, the revival of catechism type instruction in all evangelical churches.  What is the essence of catechetical instruction?  It is two things together, teaching the doctrines of the bible, teaching the truths that we are to live by, and teaching in direct connect with that, how to live by those truths, how to practice in fact what we called holiness.” “I want to campaign for a renewal of personal holiness…” “…culturally the West is coming apart…” “we don’t make as much of repentance as we should…” (accessed 2/23/2020)

[46] Marks of Revival, Revival Commentary, v. 1, n. 1.  JI Packer: “Revival is the visitation of God which brings to life Christians who have been sleeping and restores a deep sense of God’s near presence and holiness. Thence springs a vivid sense of sin and a profound exercise of heart in repentance, praise, and love, with an evangelistic outflow.”

Source: Your Father Loves You, Shaw Publishing, 1986, Page for May 30.

http://christian-quotes.ochristian.com/christian-quotes_ochristian.cgi?find=Christian-quotes-by-J.I.+Packer-on-Revival (accessed 1/6/2020)

[47]McGrath, ix “…my Christian calling thus far has felt so much like me ‘and a few other blokes’ trying to stop  specific falsehoods, nail specific sins, and further the new life that Satan tries to quench in his ongoing war with the God of creation, providence, and grace.”

[48] J.I. Packer, Revival #2, 02/18/24  A Southern Baptist conference at Grenville Seminary, South Carolina, USA  3:33 “In revival, God comes close, and thus sin is seen, and because sin is seen, the gospel is loved, as never before, and repentance goes deep, and godliness grows fast, and the church becomes itself, and the world feels the impact as an evangelistic overflow, and Satan keeps pace trying to spoil and corrupt what is going on.” 24:50 “Dr Lloyd-Jones hoped for revival until he died. He is gone. The prophets are gone, but we should still be hoping for revival. Revival is a sovereign work of God. He fixes the time table. The schedule is his, not ours. 49:43 “Revival means the overcoming of hostile spiritual forces, forces against which the people of God have thus far been impotent, forces which have run all over them, forces of secularity, forces of worldliness.  There is always opposition when revival begins, and regularly there is opposition to the gospel before revival begins.”  “And have you studied the East African revival of our own time?  It broke in the 1930s. It’s still going on.  It dies down and flairs up again like a forest fire…It prepared the people of God…for the appalling convulsions that they had to go through politically and in terms of persecution…The revival folks stood firm under persecution when the Mau-mau folk were trying to get them back to the tribal darkness of ethnic, witch doctor-type polytheism. They wouldn’t go.  Many of them lost their lives at the time…If God hadn’t quickened his people by revival blessing in the 1930s and thereafter, where would the Church be in East Africa?  1:04:35 paraphrase: Revival is a rediscovery of the blessing (the central revival doctrine) of justification (by faith). 1:0513 revival is…the people of God pictured as a candle stick sustained and enabled to burn and burn and keep on burning through oil from heaven… revival means power, constant sustained power from God’s Holy Spirit for life and service.  1:09:29 Revival means the purging out of sin from the lives of saint through bringing them to repentance.  (sins vomited up)  1:18:38 Revival shows God to be still on his throne, victorious…a demonstration of his sovereign Lordship and sovereign grace.

J.I. Packer, Revival: #3, 16:11, A Southern Baptist conference at Grenville Seminary, South Carolina,

USA : “The alternatives are always revival or judgement, and that is as true for us in North America today as it was in the bible times.” 19:43 “God is sovereign in revival. You cannot predict it, but also you cannot preclude it.  There is no situation so grave and so grievous that God cannot move in it and restore it.” 20:15 “Spiritual revival is something to be sought, to be sought for one’s own soul, to be sought for one’s own church, to be sought for one’s own community.  It is not for us to say all we can do is wait and twiddle our thumbs until God is pleased to act.” “We are to seek spiritual renewal, spiritual revival, and we are to seek it by petition…linked with self-examination.” 24:20 “Spiritual revival is something to be sought for and looked for.  God does not play cat and mouse with us.”  25:00 “Pessimism about the possibility of revival is a form of unbelief of the Bible.” https://www.sermonaudio.com/saplayer/playpopup.asp?SID=2190484748 (accessed March 2nd 2020)

P. S. Click this Amazon link to view for free the first two chapters of our new novel Blue Sky.

“I’m afraid there’s been an accident…”

12bdf6ff-3021-4e73-bccd-bc919398d1a0-7068-0000031133e7b4d9Sandy Brown and her family have just moved to Spokane, Washington where her husband, Scott, is pastoring a new church. With a fresh start, Sandy is determined to devote more time to her four children. But, within weeks of settling in their new life, the Brown family is plunged into turmoil.

Sandy receives shocking news that her children aren’t safe, which brings back haunting memories of the trauma she experienced as a girl. Then, the unthinkable happens…

A brutal attack puts Sandy on the brink of losing everything she’s loved. Her faith in God and the family she cherishes are pushed to the ultimate limit.

Is healing possible when so many loved ones are hurt? Are miracles really possible through the power of prayer? Can life return to the way it was before?

Blue Sky reveals how a mother’s most basic instinct isn’t for survival… but for family.

If you’re a fan of Karen Kingsbury, then you’ll love Blue Sky. Get your copy today on paperback or  kindle.

-Click to check out our 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.

-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 

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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Foreword by Dr. JI Packer to ‘Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit’

Foreword

By the Rev. Dr. J.I. Packer

Think of Shakespeare.  Each of his plays is distinctive, having its own character and plot.  Some of them are grander than others.  But they all have the tang, so to speak, of Shakespeare, and it is hard to imagine any of them being written by anyone else.

So with Paul’s letters.  Each is different, and they are not all equally weighty.  But in each, we meet the same person: the apostle who lives under the authority of his risen Lord and Saviour, and of the divine message of which he has been made trustee; the teacher who calls constantly for faith in the truth of that message and in its Christ, God-man, sin-bearer, conqueror of death, discipler and coming judge; the pastor who insists that faith must show itself and unshakeable hope and conscientious, law-keeping love.  In all Paul’s letters, the flavour of his gospel is steady, sweet and strong, and that is as true of Titus as it is of any.

Titus is sometimes dismissed as a dull, possibly non-Pauline rehash of things that Paul says more vividly elsewhere, notably in his letters to his prize protégé Timothy.  But such a verdict is unperceptive, not to say perverse.  Titus was Paul’s second deputy after Timothy, and Paul had left him on the island of Crete to finish setting in order the congregations of first-generation converts there.  Was this a tough task?  Yes.  Cretan culture, so it appears, was casual, morally sloppy, undisciplined, self-indulgent, and self-absorbed.  It is true that in his letter to Titus, Paul spells out Christian essentials in a somewhat laborious way, but this does not mean that he doubts the adequacy of Titus’ grasp of the Christian basics; what it shows, rather, is that he is going over in his own mind the full and forthright terms in which the fundamentals needed to be impressed on the Christian believers.  Equally forthright statements, be it said, to young churches and church plants are sometimes needed today.

Ed Hird is a working pastor, a gospel veteran whose bailiwick for many years has arguably had something of Crete in it.  He recognizes the realism of this letter, and his exposition brings it out.  I heartily commend what he has written.

Dr. J.I. Packer 

Board of Governors’ Professor of Theology at Regent College;

Prolific author, including Knowing God,

Named by Time Magazine as among the 25 most influential evangelicals in America

P. S. Click this Amazon link to view for free the first two chapters of our new novel Blue Sky.

“I’m afraid there’s been an accident…”

12bdf6ff-3021-4e73-bccd-bc919398d1a0-7068-0000031133e7b4d9Sandy Brown and her family have just moved to Spokane, Washington where her husband, Scott, is pastoring a new church. With a fresh start, Sandy is determined to devote more time to her four children. But, within weeks of settling in their new life, the Brown family is plunged into turmoil.

Sandy receives shocking news that her children aren’t safe, which brings back haunting memories of the trauma she experienced as a girl. Then, the unthinkable happens…

A brutal attack puts Sandy on the brink of losing everything she’s loved. Her faith in God and the family she cherishes are pushed to the ultimate limit.

Is healing possible when so many loved ones are hurt? Are miracles really possible through the power of prayer? Can life return to the way it was before?

Blue Sky reveals how a mother’s most basic instinct isn’t for survival… but for family.

If you’re a fan of Karen Kingsbury, then you’ll love Blue Sky. Get your copy today on paperback or  kindle.

-Click to check out our 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.

-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 

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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The early days of the Jesus Movement in Vancouver (1972)

We gave out free food, had rock concerts, and shared the love of Jesus with many young people on drugs. While there, I saw my first beach baptisms at 2nd Beach, a trademark of the Jesus Movement.

We became involved in IVCF at UBC which at the time had the largest involvement of any Campus club with over 250 students each Thursday lunch. Dr John Ross was the Dean of St Andrew’s Presbyterian Hall and taught with the Arts One program. He taught me about systems thinking, that there is no such thing as a simple thing, and to watch out for reductionist terms like just, merely, only, simply, etc…

Arts One was an introductory combined course which I took giving me credit for 1st year English, 1st year History, and 1st year Philosophy. It was a very ‘hippy-dippy’ course with a lot of granola thrown in. But it allowed me to thinking very creatively, shaped by Dr John Ross.

One of the life-changing experiences that I had in the early days of my Christian life was going on a Missions trip to Peachland with our youth group from Sonlite Coffee House at Trinity Baptist in Vancouver. We invited everyone door-to-door in Peachland to come to a musical that we were putting on. This flyer was given to each person that we visited. Len Sawatsky, our Youth Pastor, was attending Regent College, having previously been part of the Christian World Liberation Front in Berkley California. CWLF was made up of former Campus Crusade for Christ workers who wanted to more contextually reach the Berkeley Campus culture.

One of the early positive influences in my Christian life was going to Keats Camp on Keats Island. God was powerfully moving on Keats among the campers. Many  were turning their lives to Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour.

 The Keats Camp leadership knew how to have fun and how to share the good news in a way that youth could relate to. Keats continues to still have a powerful impact on hundreds of young people in BC. You may have noticed that David Bentall, a leadership trainer, is in the picture on the right side.

Terry Winters was a remarkable evangelist and communicator who God raised up through Granville Chapel. Terry (before he died from a heart attack) developed a most effective and sensitive TV program in which he had Dr Michael Green and others speak regularly. I remember phoning Terry up several times and saying ‘Thank you’ for not embarrassing us on your TV show. “Thank you for being so sensitive and real.”

I fondly remember Terry speaking to young people at Keats Camp. One of the key young people at St Matthias gave his life to Christ when Terry spoke at our Sonlite Coffee House at Trinity Baptist (49th & Granville). Hundreds of youth gave their lives to Christ at the Sonlite Coffee House during the Jesus Movement. There was such a remarkable hunger for the Gospel

I almost gave my life to Christ at a Terry Winter banquet at the Bentall Towers, but one of the youth had an anxiety attack and our whole youth group left early before I heard Terry share the gospel. Ironically the youth group forgot to pick me up for our Monday Night meeting the next week, but I was so determined that I biked there on my Peugot to 39th and Main Street where Len Sawatsky the youth pastor lived. On the way, because I can be directionally challenged, I went to the wrong location (730 E. 39th Ave). Looking closer, I noticed that 7:30 referred to the time of the meeting, not the address. Half an hour later and soaked by the rain, I biked to Len Sawatsky’s house, was wonderfully welcomed by Len and the youth, and ended up giving my life to Christ that night. It was a Damascus Road experience. The youth asked me if I knew Jesus. I replied that whatever they had, I wanted. Len took me to his kitchen, pulled out a Four Spiritual Laws booklet, and led me to Christ. It was a profound spiritual breakthrough that radically changed the direction of the rest of my life.

Once I came to faith in Christ, I discovered that there were actually Christians everywhere, right under my nose. One of these people was my own GP Dr Goertzen who attended 10th Alliance Church. While going for a checkup, we discussed my coming to faith. He took out a prescription form and wrote “Dr Francis Schaeffer: Escape From Reason”. This was a wonderful tip that encouraged me to begin thinking theologically about the meaning of my faith and how our culture has abandoned its faith in reason. Forty-two years later I am still excited in having completed my Doctorate about growing in my faith. I want to be a life-long learner until the day Jesus takes me home.

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

P. S. Click this Amazon link to view for free the first two chapters of our new novel Blue Sky.

“I’m afraid there’s been an accident…”

12bdf6ff-3021-4e73-bccd-bc919398d1a0-7068-0000031133e7b4d9Sandy Brown and her family have just moved to Spokane, Washington where her husband, Scott, is pastoring a new church. With a fresh start, Sandy is determined to devote more time to her four children. But, within weeks of settling in their new life, the Brown family is plunged into turmoil.

Sandy receives shocking news that her children aren’t safe, which brings back haunting memories of the trauma she experienced as a girl. Then, the unthinkable happens…

A brutal attack puts Sandy on the brink of losing everything she’s loved. Her faith in God and the family she cherishes are pushed to the ultimate limit.

Is healing possible when so many loved ones are hurt? Are miracles really possible through the power of prayer? Can life return to the way it was before?

Blue Sky reveals how a mother’s most basic instinct isn’t for survival… but for family.

If you’re a fan of Karen Kingsbury, then you’ll love Blue Sky. Get your copy today on paperback or  kindle.

-Click to check out our 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.

-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 

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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Photos from the Alan Hirsch Missional Church Conference at Regent College

Today was a wonderful opportunity to learn from Alan Hirsch, Dr Ross Hastings, and Cam Roxborough teaching about the Missional Church.

Alan Hirsch teaching at Regent College
Alan Hirsch shares his Jewish Australian humour and his deep love for his Messiah Jesus
Dr Ross Hastings and Cam Roxborough respond to Alan Hirsch’s presentation
Dr Ross Hastings and Cam Roxborough are key strategists in the Missional Church movement
Alan Hirsch listening carefully to Dr Ross Hastings and Cam Roxborough’s feedback
Anthony Brown of Forge Ministries speaking with Alan Hirsch
Dr Ross Hastings shared in his workshop about the theological foundations of being missional
Dr Ross Hastings shares about the three ‘greats’ in Mission
Flyn Ritchie, the former Publisher of BC Christian News at the Alan Hirsch conference
Pastors Matthew and Winnie Low from Agape Church Burnaby
It was a great privilege to spend Saturday at the Alan Hirsch missional conference

P. S. Click this Amazon link to view for free the first two chapters of our new novel Blue Sky.

“I’m afraid there’s been an accident…”

12bdf6ff-3021-4e73-bccd-bc919398d1a0-7068-0000031133e7b4d9Sandy Brown and her family have just moved to Spokane, Washington where her husband, Scott, is pastoring a new church. With a fresh start, Sandy is determined to devote more time to her four children. But, within weeks of settling in their new life, the Brown family is plunged into turmoil.

Sandy receives shocking news that her children aren’t safe, which brings back haunting memories of the trauma she experienced as a girl. Then, the unthinkable happens…

A brutal attack puts Sandy on the brink of losing everything she’s loved. Her faith in God and the family she cherishes are pushed to the ultimate limit.

Is healing possible when so many loved ones are hurt? Are miracles really possible through the power of prayer? Can life return to the way it was before?

Blue Sky reveals how a mother’s most basic instinct isn’t for survival… but for family.

If you’re a fan of Karen Kingsbury, then you’ll love Blue Sky. Get your copy today on paperback or  kindle.

-Click to check out our 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.

-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 

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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The Prayer Book: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Three addresses were given at St. Paul’s Church, Bloor Street, Toronto, on May 1, 1999 at a special event organized by
the Prayer Book Society of Canada, Toronto Branch, in celebration of the 450th anniversary of the Book of Common Prayer

by

The (late) Revd. Dr. Robert Crouse, retired Professor of Classics at King’s College, Halifax;

The Revd. Dr. James Packer, Professor of Systematic Theology at Regent College, Vancouver

The Revd. Dr. Ed Hird, rector of St. Simon’s Church North Vancouver (1987-2018)

“FILLED WITH THE KNOWLEDGE OF HIS WILL”  (Col. 1:1-14)

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

The Revd. Ed Hird was ordained in 1980.  He served in the parishes of St. Philip’s, Vancouver, and St. Matthew’s, Abbotsford, before becoming the rector of St. Simon’s Church in North Vancouver in 1987.   Ed is the past National Chair of Anglican Renewal Ministries Canada, and has spoken at Renewal, Essentials and Prayer Book Society conferences in Honduras and in various locations across Canada.  Inspired by the Essentials movement, he re-introduced the Prayer Book as one of the two main Sunday services in his congregation.

   We live in an age in which the knowledge of God’s will is deemed by many to be either unknowable or irrelevant.  Our society reminds me of the story of the roving TV reporter who was sent out to the shopping malls on Saturday morning to investigate the problem of teenage apathy and ignorance.  Every teenager had the same response: “I don’t know and I don’t care”!   And to be fair, teenagers are not the only Canadians suffering from spiritual ignorance and apathy.  I remember an adult coming up to me after a sermon I preached in a previous parish.  This person said, “I’m totally shocked.  I have never made it before to the end of a sermon.  I would always just doze off and wake up at the end of the message.  But this time I actually heard it through to the end.”

This problem of apathy and ignorance can be traced back to the ancient disease of Pyrrhonism.  Pyrrhonism is a system of skeptical philosophy, expounded in 300 BC by the Greek thinker, Pyrrho of Elis.1  The heart of Pyrrhonism is the denial of all possibility of attaining certainty in knowledge.  All one is left with is the classic west-coast phrase: “Well, whatever works for you”.   With the collapse of confidence in objective truth, our Canadian culture is sinking in intellectual subjectivism and moral anarchy.  We have seen a Canadian judge strike down child pornography laws while claiming that our Canadian Constitution and our Charter of Rights somehow protect the possession of child pornography.  We live in an age where there “is no king and everyone does as they see fit.” (Judg. 21:25).  We live in an age of leadership crisis.  It is not just our politicians, our police officers, our school teachers, our military leaders.  Even in the Church, yes, in the Anglican Church, there is a profound leadership crisis that is crippling our corporate ability to get on with the task of making disciples of all nations.  Perhaps the never-ending “sexual politics” in the Anglican Church of Canada is really a symptom of a deeper leadership crisis.

More than ever, we need to discover afresh what it means to be filled with the knowledge of God’s will and given the power to carry out that will.  As J. John at the Canterbury ‘98 Conference put it, “We only have enough time to do the will of God”.  So many of us in the Church are like Martha whom Jesus said was distracted by many things, but missing the main one of sitting at Jesus’ feet.

One of the many things I appreciate about the Prayer Book Society is the clarion call to prayer.  The Prayer Book Society is not a Colonel Blimp English Memorial Society.2  Rather it constitutes a mobilization of God’s troops to the sacred calling of spiritual warfare through sustained and intensive prayer.  If there is anything that we know about God’s will, it is that God wills that we “pray without ceasing”.  Let’s be honest.  How many of us need to cut back on our prayer life, because it is getting in the way of doing God’s will?  Despite any fears that prayer will make us so heavenly-minded that we are no earthly good, the truth of the matter is that only the prayerful and heavenly-minded are ultimately any earthly good.  The late Mother Teresa of Calcutta was a living testimony to the intimate relationship between prayer and resulting action.

It is not without reason that the Apostle Paul calls us again and again to “devote ourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful” (Col. 4:2).  Prayer is the backbone of all lasting renewal.  As Dr. E. Stanley Jones, the famous Methodist missionary to India put it, “there can be no great spiritual awakening either in the individual or in the group unless and until the individual or the group give themselves to prayer.”3  Dr. Jones goes on to say: “When we feel that there is something wrong and that it is all ending in futility, instead of giving ourselves to prayer, we appoint a committee!  If a monument”, says Dr. Jones, “were erected over the dead situations in Christendom, we might inscribe on it ‘Committeed to Death’.  We call a committee instead of calling to prayer.”  It has been said that the 16th century Reformation began in Luther’s prayer closet.  The truth is that all reformation, all renewal, all restoration begins in someone’s prayer closet.  Quoting Dr. Jones again, “we find sooner or later that in prayer we either abandon ourselves or we abandon prayer.  Prayer will keep us from self-withholding or self-withholding will keep us from prayer.”4

I would encourage you, if you have your Bibles with you, to turn in the book of Colossians to Chapter One, which deals with one of the greatest prayers in the New Testament.  I believe that it would be presumptuous to try to improve on the New Testament prayers.  Rather, our goal as 21st Century Anglicans should be to model all of our prayers on the biblical pattern of prayer shown especially by Jesus and the Apostle Paul.  I remember my rector, Ernie Eldridge,  telling me that one of the great strengths of the Book of Common Prayer is that something like 80% of it is straight from the Bible.  The prayers in the BCP were written by people who were steeped in the biblical thought forms, and so produced biblically sound and lasting prayers.

Paul is writing here to a formerly great and flourishing city that had been in a recession for the last three to four hundred years.  Colossae, whose name means “Monstrosity”, had become a backwater no-name town that had been left behind in the busy pace of 1st century Greek life.  Its neighbouring towns, Laodicea and Hierapolis were well-known respectively for their financial and administrative prowess, and for their burgeoning tourist and hot springs industry.  They, like Colossae, were located on the River Lycus, a river famous for overlaying its surrounding river banks with thick deposits of chalk.  As Bishop J.B. Lightfoot put it, “Ancient monuments are buried; fertile land is overlaid; river beds choked up and streams diverted; fantastic grottoes and cascades and archways of stone are formed, by this strange, capricious power, at once destructive and creative, working silently throughout the ages.  Fatal to vegetation, these incrustations spread like a stony shroud over the ground.  Gleaming like glaciers on the hillside, they attract the eye of the traveller at a distance of twenty miles, and form a singularly striking feature in scenery of more than common beauty and impressiveness.”5  In some ways, Bishop Lightfoot’s description seems like a parable of the Canadian Church … beautiful, impressive, but calcified and choked up by double-mindedness and fear.

Paul had never personally visited Colossae.  Rather, he preached extensively in the coastal city of Ephesus, with the result that his new converts spread the gospel extensively to many lesser-known cities and towns that were further inland.  There is a remarkable similarity between the books of Ephesians and Colossians, especially in the structure of Paul’s prayers in both epistles.  In both Colossians and Ephesians, Paul centres his prayer in thanksgiving.  You will notice in verse 3 how Paul says: “We always thank God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you …”.  In a structure similar to that of the Lord’s Prayer, Paul pays the debt of gratitude before he moves into his personal requests.  “Thy kingdom come” needs to come before “Give us this day our daily bread.”  In the Alpha Course, Nicky Gumbel says that the three key prayers that we can pray are “thank you”, “please”, and “sorry”.   Back in 1931, Bishop Lewis Radford of Goulbourn, Australia commented regarding this passage that “a survey of the grounds for thanksgiving revives the spirit of hope, and provides fresh material for petition.”6  The Christian life is not a life of Pollyanna-style positive thinking, but rather that of eucharistic thanksgiving in all circumstances, trusting that God can turn everything that is against us to our advantage, that all things work to the good for those who love him.

Why was Paul so thankful?  Verses 4 and 5 tells us that Paul was thankful because of the great triad of Christian graces: faith, hope, and love.  So often when Paul prays, he prays according to the three-fold pattern of the only things that will remain in the end.  Faith: their faith in Christ Jesus; Hope: hope stored up for us in heaven; and Love: love for all the saints.  As Bishop J.B. Lightfoot put it, “faith rests on the past; love works in the present; hope looks to the future”.7  Does the Prayer Book Society, indeed does the Anglican Church have a future as we celebrate the 450th Anniversary of the Book of Common Prayer?   I believe that the answer to both questions is yes, if we will ground our Christian life more and more on the three-fold graces of faith, hope and love.

I will always remember Dr. Robert Crouse’s presentation at the Montreal Essentials ‘94 Conference when he spoke of “despair, that most dangerous of all sins.”8  Satan, the ultimate deceiver and seducer of God’s people, is a past master at the use of discouragement and despair in crippling the saints.  He would love us to believe that Anglicanism is beyond hope, that there is no point in praying and working for the restoration of biblical orthodoxy.   We can thank our Lord Jesus Christ that he will always have a faithful Anglican witness in Canada, even if someday it may require missionaries from Africa and Asia to come and re-establish the gospel in our own homeland.

The good news found in verse 6 of Chapter 1 of Colossians is that “all over the world the gospel is producing fruit and growing”.  Lambeth ‘98 was a powerful reminder of that truth with the hundreds of Asian, African, and South American bishops making their presence felt in unforgettable ways.  The gospel, as Bishop Lewis Radford put it, is both a transforming force and a travelling fire.9  It is a fire that cannot be stamped out no matter how hard secularists and revisionists may try.  Verse 7 tells us about Epaphras, the founder of the Church at Colossae.  Some early church traditions make him the first bishop of Colossae.10  Verse 7 describes him as “our dearly loved fellow servant”, as a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf.  Both Paul and Epaphras were passionate that the Colossians should be filled with the knowledge of God’s will.  Epaphras was so passionate about this that Paul commented in Colossians chapter 4, verse 2 that Epaphras was “always wrestling in prayer for you that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.”  The Greek word for wrestling is agonizomenos which means to agonize.  It is God’s will that each of us agonize in prayer for the restoration of faithful Anglicanism in Canada.  Wrestling in prayer is the key to being filled with the knowledge of God’s will.

That is why the Rev. Samuel Shoemaker, the Anglican priest who wrote the “12 Steps” and helped to found Alcoholics Anonymous, quoted Colossians Chapter 1 in writing step 11.  What does Step 11 encourage us to pray for: “… the knowledge of His will for us and power to carry that out.”

What is the use of knowing what to do, if we haven’t the power to do it?  What is the use of studying the Bible if we never do the Bible?  What is the use of praying the Prayer Book if we never live out the Prayer Book?  The key to doing the Bible and living the Prayer Book is Colossians chapter 1, verse 8: “love in the Spirit”.  It is not the love of power that will set the Anglican Church free, but rather the power of love.  Dr. Gordon Fee, the well known New Testament Scholar from Regent College, notes that virtually everywhere that the word “power” is used in the New Testament, it is referring to the power of the Holy Spirit.11  Only the Holy Spirit can give us the power to change.  Only the Holy Spirit can give us the power to love.  Only the Holy Spirit can give us the power to forgive.  Verse 8 tells us the secret of lasting renewal: “love in the Spirit”.

In the early days of Anglican renewal, a bishop in northern B.C. fired his dean because some of his parishioners had had the nerve to pray that the bishop be filled with the Holy Spirit.  If only they had just prayed for the bishop to be filled afresh or anew, the Dean might have kept his job.  Why do all of us need to be filled with the Spirit again and again? (Eph. 5:18).  The reason, as D.L. Moody put it, is that we leak.  It is always touchy to pray for one’s bishop without sounding like one is trying to give his bishop advice.  It is so easy for us to dump all our unmet dreams and frustrations on the back of our bishops.  Yet God calls us to bless and not curse.  God calls us in verse 9 to never give up praying for each other, and that certainly includes our bishops.  Verse 9 is a wonderful way to pray for your bishop, your rector, and your wardens in a way that none of them could possibly object to.  Just pray that God will fill them with the knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.  All of us need to be filled up, to be more full of God’s grace, peace, joy, hope, and faith so that we will be more full, more grace-full, more peace-full, more joy-full, more faith-full.  The point of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22) is to fill us up inside with more of the character of Jesus Christ.

What will being filled with the knowledge of God’s will really do for us?  Paul tells us in verse 10 that such filling will result in our walking worthy of God, in our pleasing the Lord in every way, in our bearing fruit in every good work, in our growing in the knowledge of God.  Being filled with the knowledge of His will is the key not only to living in the Spirit but also to walking in the Spirit (Gal. 5:25).  As our AA friends remind us, it is not enough to talk the talk; we also need to walk the walk.

Yet all of us are powerless in ourselves to change our lives.  In fact, no change is possible until we admit in the words of Step 1 that “We are powerless over our (addictions and sins) and our lives have become unmanageable”.  The reason why “12 Step” people talk so much about a Higher Power is that our own power, our own resources, are never enough to make a lasting difference.  We need, in the words of Luke 24:49, to be clothed with power from on high, the very power of the Holy Spirit.  That is why Acts 1:8 says that “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you shall be my witnesses … to the ends of the earth.”.  That is why Colossians chapter 1 verse 11 talks about our being strengthened with all power: in the Greek, “being powered with all power”, with all dunamis, all dynamite.  There are logjams in Anglicanism that nothing but the power, the dynamite, of the Holy Spirit can possibly remove.  All of us know many faithful Anglicans who have given up in despair and left our church, perhaps returning occasionally for their Communion “fixes”.  When we think of the mother/father God/Goddess apostasy that the new ACC “Common Praise” hymn book is leading us into, only the power of the Holy Spirit will be able to lead us out of that syncretistic swamp.  Yet with God, nothing is impossible!  Would anyone like to become the founders of a Blue Hymn Book Society of Canada?

Dr. E. Stanley Jones holds that “the difference between a river and a swamp is that one has banks and the other has none.  The swamp is very gracious and kindly, it spreads over everything, hence it is a swamp.  Some of us are moral and spiritual swamps.  We are so broad and liberal that we take in everything from the shady to the sacred.  Hence we are swamps.  A river has banks – it confines itself to its central purpose.  The civilizations of the world organize themselves not around swamps, but around rivers.”12

To me, the Book of Common Prayer and the Bible are rivers.  The new Common Praise hymn book in contrast is a gracious and kindly swamp.  The river that is the Holy Spirit confines Himself to His central purpose, which is to fill us with the knowledge of the Father’s will and to give us the power to carry that out.  The Colossian Christians were a tiny, faithful minority living in a “new-age” spiritual scene.  As with the original Colossian church, one of the greatest challenges facing our Anglican Church is well-meaning interfaith syncretism.  In our worship of newness and inclusiveness, we are rushing to replace the riverbanks of our BCP with the neo-gnostic swamp of centering prayer/mantra yoga, enneagram workshops, labyrinths, Jungian-based MBTI personality tests, and invocations of “God our Father and our Mother”.13  Lord, forgive us for our naïve worship of the seemingly new and trendy, and for our disrespect for the wisdom of our Anglican forebears.  Genuine renewal is actually about renewing the riches of our inheritance in Christ Jesus, not about uncovering secret “new revelations”. (Eph. 1:18)

Most renewal movements in the past few centuries, including the various holiness, pentecostal, charismatic, and third-wave expressions, can be traced back to the influence of two Anglican priests, John and Charles Wesley, the founders of Methodism.  Canadian Methodism was the largest of the bodies which came together to form the United Church of Canada in 1925.  Few people realize what a high view the Wesleys had of the Anglican prayer book and of the Anglican Church in general.  Even on the verge of being forced to ordain his own preachers, John Wesley commended the Church of England to his leaders as “the best constituted national church in the world”.14  John Wesley also taught his followers that “there is no LITURGY in the World, either in ancient or modern language, which breathes more of a solid, scriptural, rational Piety, than the COMMON PRAYER of the CHURCH of ENGLAND”.15  John Wesley did not just appreciate the Prayer Book theology.  He even loved its language, language which he described as “not only pure, but strong and elegant in the highest degree.”16  John and Charles Wesley experienced manifestations of the Holy Spirit that would make the Toronto Airport Fellowship look tame, yet the Wesleys still held up the Prayer Book as a vital tool for orthodoxy and renewal.  And John Wesley was even radical enough that he advised all his clergy to administer the Lord’s Supper every Sunday at the main service.17

As Dr. Bard Thompson put it, “It was the way of John Wesley to espouse extempore prayer, yet esteem the prayer book; to give free expression to evangelical power, yet prize the structures of the church …”18  Yet sadly Wesley’s wisdom was largely ignored.  His followers decided that they could pray better and with more devotion when their eyes were shut, than they could with their eyes open, praying from a book.19  So they cast aside the Prayer Book and produced the United Church of Canada instead.  Wesley drew the balance between the stability of tradition and the dynamism of the Spirit.  His followers, however, became progressively less rooted generation after generation.  It is so easy to cast aside “the riches of our inheritance”.  It is much harder to humble ourselves enough to go back home and start afresh.  I remember how hard I tried to convince my Grandma Allen to “get with it” and give up on the Book of Common Prayer.  But she was so “stubborn and inflexible” that she died with the Bible and the Prayer Book by her bedside.

Our parish of St. Simon’s had not used the Book of Common Prayer at its main service for over 25 years.  When I came back from the Montreal ‘94 Essentials Conference and suggested that we might try doing the Prayer Book on fifth Sundays, some of my leadership secretly wondered if I might have lost my mind.  But eventually they came to see in unity what I was talking about.

Reintroducing the Prayer Book as one of our two main services has brought 30% growth in average Sunday attendance over the next two years.  I am not saying that it was easy to reintroduce the Book of Common Prayer.  Many Anglicans don’t like change, even if it means restoring the riches of their inheritance.  There are many well-meaning Anglican clergy out there who would rather die than admit they may have made a mistake in abandoning the classic Book of Common Prayer.  Many clergy have battle scars from liturgy wars in the 1970’s and early 80’s.  They have finally achieved relative liturgical calm in their parishes and they are reluctant to “open up old wounds”, and disturb the relative truce.

But God’s will for us as clergy is not merely for us to preserve the peace or to be keepers of ecclesiastical aquariums, but rather to be fishers of men and women.  Our greatest desire as Anglican leaders must be our desire to be filled with the knowledge of God’s will and to have the power of the Holy Spirit to carry it out.  Why else do we pray every day “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done”.  What is God’s will?  The Bible is clear that God’s will, among other things, is that we go into all the world, preaching the gospel to all creation, and that we make disciples of all nations (Mark 16:15, Matthew 28:19).  1 Timothy chapter 2, verses 4 and 5 tells us clearly that God’s will is that all people be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth, and that there is only one mediator, one bridge between God and humanity, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all.

The leadership crisis in Anglicanism is directly linked to a growing fuzziness of vision regarding God’s will that the lost be found.  Many church leaders are beginning to publicly question whether the lost are really lost after all, and whether God really wants to find them.  Unless we are convinced that the man Christ Jesus is the only mediator between God and humanity, and that he really gave himself as a ransom for all, not just for those raised in the church or in the west, we will not have the power to carry out this great and lasting commission.  As Dr. John Stott put it at an Vancouver Anglican Essentials gathering, we claim uniqueness and finality in Christ alone.

If all we do is squabble about liturgical preferences and do not reach the lost, we are a people most to be pitied.  The Book of Common Prayer is not an ingrown book.  It is a book with a passion that the lost might be found.  In contrast to the BAS, the BCP is clear that God wants us to win the world for Christ.  The BAS, if you read it carefully, is written in a way that it can either encourage you to do evangelistic mission work for Christ or merely to affirm God in all cultures.  The BCP, however, is uncompromising in its biblical stance that “God is not willing that any should perish but that all may come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)  As the former Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, said at Kanuga, “Evangelism is not a matter to be debated but a command to be obeyed.”  God’s will, as expressed in Colossians 1 verse 13, is that he might rescue (many) from the dominion of darkness and bring (them) into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we might have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.  We say each Sunday in the Creed that we believe in the forgiveness of sins.  Are you sharing that forgiveness with your lost neighbour, family member, co-worker?

I pray in conclusion that God may fill each of us with the knowledge of His will, that none should perish, that all may come to repentance, and that God may give us the power of the Holy Spirit to carry out his will to the very ends of the earth, in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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

Past Chair, Anglican Renewal Ministries of Canada

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

 Endnotes:

  1. The Oxford Dictionary of the Church, F.L. Cross, ed. (Oxford University Press, 1957), p. 1128.
  2. Colonel Blimp was a humorous anachronistic figure in the British WW2-based television series “Dad’s Army”.
  3. Dr. E. Stanley Jones, Pentecost: the Christ of Every Road, (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1930), p. 247.
  4. Ibid., p. 248.
  5. The Rt. Revd. Dr. J.B. Lightfoot, as quoted in Dr. William Barclay’s The Daily Study Bible: the Letters to the Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians (Toronto: G.R. Welch Co. Ltd.), p. 91.
  6. The Rt. Revd. Dr. Lewis B. Radford, Colossians (London: Methuen & Co. Ltd, 1931), p. 3.
  7. Ibid., p. 151.
  8. Anglican Essentials, George Egerton, ed. (Toronto: Anglican Book Centre, 1995), p. 289.
  9. Radford, op. cit., p. 153.
  10. Ibid., p. 154.
  11. Dr. Gordon Fee, God’s Empowering Presence (Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 1994), p. 35.
  12. Dr E. Stanley Jones, op. cit., p. 227.
  13. As done in the Canadian Anglican “Common Praise” hymn book (1999), which tragically alters the much-loved “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee” hymn from “God our Father, Christ our Brother” to “God our Father and our Mother”.
  14. Liturgies of the Western Church, “The Sunday Service”, ed. Bard Thompson, (Cleveland and New York, Meridan Books, The World Publishing Company, 1961), p. 416.
  15. Ibid., p. 416.
  16. Ibid., p. 416.
  17. Ibid., p. 416.
  18. Ibid., p. 416.
  19. Ibid., p. 410.

This booklet is published by the Toronto Branch of the Prayer Book Society of Canada.  Additional copies can be ordered at a cost of $2 each from Dr. Diana Verseghy, 16 Capilano Court, Concord, Ontario, L4K 1L2.
E-mail: Diana.Verseghy@ec.gc.ca

P. S. Click this Amazon link to view for free the first two chapters of our new novel Blue Sky.

“I’m afraid there’s been an accident…”

12bdf6ff-3021-4e73-bccd-bc919398d1a0-7068-0000031133e7b4d9Sandy Brown and her family have just moved to Spokane, Washington where her husband, Scott, is pastoring a new church. With a fresh start, Sandy is determined to devote more time to her four children. But, within weeks of settling in their new life, the Brown family is plunged into turmoil.

Sandy receives shocking news that her children aren’t safe, which brings back haunting memories of the trauma she experienced as a girl. Then, the unthinkable happens…

A brutal attack puts Sandy on the brink of losing everything she’s loved. Her faith in God and the family she cherishes are pushed to the ultimate limit.

Is healing possible when so many loved ones are hurt? Are miracles really possible through the power of prayer? Can life return to the way it was before?

Blue Sky reveals how a mother’s most basic instinct isn’t for survival… but for family.

If you’re a fan of Karen Kingsbury, then you’ll love Blue Sky. Get your copy today on paperback or  kindle.

-Click to check out our 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.

-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 

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