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Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit


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The Summer Pause that Refreshes

By the Rev. Dr.  Ed Hird

As summer rolls into August, we know that we are entering the home stretch of the holiday season.  Most of us really enjoy our summer holidays, particularly when the weather co-operates.  Earlier this summer it seemed like summer was never going to start.  Then suddenly it felt too hot but people didn’t want to complain because we were so grateful to see the sunshine.  There is something about a sunny day that can help with a sunny personality.  That is why so many people move to California.  But good weather alone does not guarantee the summer pause that refreshes.

                I remember when I first went to Hawaii.  The weather, surfing, swimming, and sights were great.  The only problem with Hawaii was that I was there.  I

low angle photography of coconut trees

Photo by Michelle Clement on Pexels.com

brought with myself that same sense of emptiness, that something was missing from my life.  Last year, when I once again visited Hawaii, I happened to stumble upon a bagpipe ceremony for a person who had died tragically young.  Just a few feet from a beautiful Hawaiian beach, I was reminded that all the beauty of creation doesn’t ultimately satisfy our inner longings.  I love the beauty of creation particularly on a beautiful summer day, but the beauty of creation is meant to point beyond itself to the beauty of its Creator.

                I come from a long line of overfunctioners and hard workers.  Sometimes people in my family of origin have neglected the summer pause that refreshes.  Sometimes they have attempted to keep going in their own strength.  Sooner or later the body gets its revenge.   Either we enter into the pause that refreshes or our body will force us to stop, sometimes in a rather shocking way.  The Creator of this amazing world designed our bodies so that they worked best if we took pauses that refresh.  That is why healthy people take regular days off.  That is why summer holidays are so vital to our health.  The Good Book calls the pause that refreshes the Sabbath.  Similarly academics call their pause that refreshes a sabbatical.  No one can function at their best on a 24/7 basis.

                Because of our workaholic culture, some people do summer holidays with the same frenetic intensity, leaving them more exhausted than they started.  They never pause to reflect, to enjoy, to observe, and to renew.  No wonder that so many people half-jokingly say that they need a holiday just to recover from their holiday.  What if in the final portion of the summer holidays, we actually rested?  The heart of the Hebrew word ‘sabbath’ is ‘rest’.  The Great Physician once said ‘Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.’  So often our souls are weary, burdened, and restless.  What if this summer we embraced the pause that refreshes?  What if during this holiday season we actually rested?  What if this summer we allowed the beauty of creation to point us back to the author of creation?  My  prayer for those reading this article is that we would each become deeply refreshed and renewed in our body, soul, and spirit.

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

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

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

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

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

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ED HIRD, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 


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Walking the Line with Johnny Cash

By the Rev.  Dr. Ed Hird

During Johnny Cash’s nearly fifty years of music, he sold over ninety million albums.  He learned to sing while picking cotton as an impoverished sharecropper’s son in Kingsland, Arkansas. His mother Carrie said to Johnny at age 15: “You’ve got a gift, JR.  You’re going to sing.  God’s got his hand on you.  You’re going to carry the message of Jesus Christ.”[i]

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

– previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News

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

for better for worse

-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.


 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

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

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

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

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #102-15168 19th Ave, Surrey, BC V4A 0A5.

For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 

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

[ii] Hilburn, p. 104.

[iii] Hilburn, p. 20.


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Breaking the Suicide Addiction

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

Did you know that suicide has become the No. 2 killer of teenagers in North America?  Suicide is a taboo subject that no one wants to talk about.  It may frighten us; yet it has to be faced.  In North America the suicide rate for male teens aged 15 to 19 has increased to 3 times the 1967 rate (2 ½ times increase for females).

So what can we do about teen suicide?  How can we get the help to teens who really need it?  Well, first of all, we need to know what the causes of suicide are.  Why do people do it?  Experts say that there are five main causes of suicide:

Severe feelings of guilt and hostility towards others

Punishing others through suicide

Emotional illness (35% of suicides involve severe depression and temporary insanity)

Physical illness such as cancer (40% of men who commit suicide and 20% of women)

Losses such as death of loved ones, or financial ruin

Camus, the famous philosopher, once said that there is but one philosophic problem and that is suicide.  It revolves around life’s apparent meaninglessness, despair, and absurdity.

I think Camus has a point.  You see, life sometimes can feel very unfair, very abusive, and very cruel.  Life can often destroy your dreams, and make you wish that you’d never been born.  For some people, they never feel any suicide temptation.  Some others feel it very infrequently.  There are others who feel these emotions on a regular basis.  They may have never acted on those feelings, but the feelings still haunt them.

Every time those feelings come, it becomes a major struggle to once again choose life and renounce the powers of death.  The suicide temptation is often an addiction.  Anything becomes an addiction when it controls our lives, when no matter how much we dislike the activity, we seem to return to it again and again.  I believe that Jesus Christ, through counseling and prayer, can break the power of any addiction.  But it’s not easy.  There’s no such thing as a quickie cure.

The root of addiction is none other than fear and guilt.  All addictions, whether to suicide or whatever, are fed by bondage to fear and guilt.  The more fearful we become, the guiltier we become, the greater control the addiction to suicide gets over us.

The cycle may go like this.  Say you’ve had a very depressing week, your teacher flunked you, your parents grounded you, your girlfriend dropped you, your baseball coach cut you, and your car died on you.  In the midst of this depression, you may begin to feel; “What’s the use?  I wish I wasn’t alive”.

Suicide addiction can easily set in at this point.  First of all, you feel guilty that you just felt that way.  Secondly, you may feel fear that those feelings will become worse.  So you just try to avoid these suicide feelings and shut them out of your mind.  But it doesn’t work and you just feel more guilty.  Winning over temptation by mental avoidance never works.

Another thing that increases the suicide addiction is that when we feel guilty about these feelings, we’re too embarrassed to have God around.  We feel too unclean, too unspiritual; so without fully realizing it, we ask God to leave the room and wait outside until the temptation is over.

This, of course, makes us feel even more rejected and guilty.  Then we feel abandoned by God just when we need him.  The old saying, “If you don’t feel close to God, guess who moved?” is still true.  But we tend to say to ourselves; If God abandons me when I really need him, why bother to fight it.  I’m not worth it.  Why resist it?”

So then we take the other step of self-abandonment.  We abandon ourselves to the hopelessness of wallowing in our suicide feelings, and to an ever-increasing vicious cycle of fear and guilt.

How then does Jesus break the addiction of suicide?  Jesus breaks the addiction by breaking the power of guilt and fear.  By dying on the cross as the forsaken one, as the abandoned one, He exchanges His cleanness for our uncleanness.  He was abandoned and forsaken so that we need never feel abandoned or forsaken.  You may remember that He died on the cross, saying ” My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus became grieved and distressed, saying “My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death”.  In Gethsemane and on the cross, he took our agony, our guilt, our depression, our fear, so that we don’t have to be stuck with that garbage any more.

The Bible says that Jesus has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15).  That means that Jesus allowed Himself to feel the awful pull to death and suicide, and then he broke its power on the Cross.  In an allegorical sense, you could say that Jesus “committed suicide” on the cross so that we don’t have to.

As a result you don’t need to punish yourself anymore.  Jesus took your punishment.  You don’t need to condemn yourself anymore. “Now there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1).  You don’t need to be consumed with fear any more. “Perfect Love casts out all fear.” (I John 4:18)

Some of you reading this may be secretly struggling with suicide feelings.  Some of you feel very guilty and fearful about it.  I challenge you to give these feelings to Jesus and accept his offer of forgiveness.

I challenge you to seek professional counseling and really give Christ a chance to do some long-term personal healing. “Choose life that you may live in the love of the Lord.”

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

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

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

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

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

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, 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 USD/CDN

-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