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Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit


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The Heart of Valentine’s Day

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

My wife Janice and I  celebrated our 41st Wedding Anniversary.  Over four decades later, I can say without reservation that I love her more deeply with each passing year.  It is too easy to take one’s marriage partner for granted in our extremely busy world.  Yet each of us want to feel special and appreciated.  Valentine’s Day is a wonderful opportunity to go to the very heart of what marriage is really all about.  Valentine’s Day was birthed in a time much like nowadays when people were encouraged to look down on marriage as an interference with their personal freedoms and careers.

Through attending a Marriage Encounter weekend, I have learned that one of the most romantic things that one can do on Valentine’s Day (and every day) is to write a personal letter to one’s sweetheart.

Despite Napoleon Bonaparte’s extreme busyness in leading France, he took time to write as many as 75,000 letters in his lifetime, many of them to his beautiful wife, Josephine, both before and during their marriage. This letter, written just prior to their 1796 wedding, shows surprising tenderness and emotion from the future emperor.

“I wake filled with thoughts of you. Your portrait and the intoxicating evening which we spent yesterday have left my senses in turmoil. Sweet, incomparable Josephine, what a strange effect you have on my heart! Are you angry? Do I see you looking sad? Are you worried?  My soul aches with sorrow, and there can be no rest for you lover; but is there still more in store for me when, yielding to the profound feelings which overwhelm me, I draw from your lips, from your heart a love which consumes me with fire? Ah! it was last night that I fully realized how false an image of you your portrait gives!

You are leaving at noon; I shall see you in three hours.

Until then, mio dolce amor, a thousand kisses; but give me none in return, for they set my blood on fire.”

Each Valentine’s Day, approximately 1 billion letters and cards are sent each year to loved ones.  So where does this remarkably popular Saint Valentine’s Day come from anyway? In the city of Rome around 270AD, there lived an Emperor known as Claudius the Cruel.  Claudius was having problems recruiting men to serve in his armies, because the men selfishly wanted to stay home with their wives and children. Angry that his men were more loyal to their wives than to himself, Claudius decided to outlaw marriage!

Couples who were in love searched for someone who would help them get married, even in secret.  A priest named Valentine performed wedding ceremonies for these desperate young lovers. When a young couple came to the temple, he secretly united them in marriage in front of the sacred altar. Another pair sought his aid and in secret he wed them. Others came and quietly were married. Valentine quickly became the friend of lovers in every district of Rome.

But, such secrets could not be kept for long in Rome. At last word of Valentine’s acts reached the palace and Claudius the Cruel was angry, exceedingly angry.  On the orders of Claudius, Valentine was dragged from the temple, away from the altar where a young maiden and a Roman youth stood, ready to be married, and taken off to jail.

Valentine’s jailer had a daughter, Augustine. She was so kind to Valentine during his brutal imprisonment, that Valentine sent a ‘Valentine’s Card’ with a grateful “thank you” message for all that she had done.

Many asked Claudius to release Valentine but Claudius refused to do so.  As a punishment for supporting marriage, Valentine was beaten to death with clubs and then beheaded.  Valentine laid down his life for others because he passionately believed in the sanctity of marriage.  His devoted friends buried him in the church of St. Praxedes.   The date of his tragic murder was February 14th AD 270. .

History tells us the first modern valentines’ ‘card’ date from the early years of the fifteenth century. The young French Duke of Orleans, captured at the battle of Agincourt, was kept a prisoner in the Tower of London for many years. He wrote poem after poem to his wife, real valentines, of which about sixty of them remain. These can be seen among the royal papers in the British Museum.

All of my Valentine’s Day Cards to my wife over the past 34 years have been marked with a string of “X”s to represent kisses.  The practice of using an “X” for a kiss grew out of the medieval practice of letting illiterate people sign documents with an “X” to represent their name. This was done in the presence of witnesses and a kiss was given upon the “X” to show sincerity. The “X” then became synonymous with a kiss in the minds of most people.  Why did they sign with an “X”?  One reason was because the “X” shape represented St. Andrew’s cross which is also used in the Scottish and British flags.  But most importantly for our ancestors, the “X” represented the first Greek letter (Chi) in the name ‘Christ’.  (That’s why Xmas stands for the ‘Christ’ in CHRIST-mas.)

For our forebears, “X” = Kisses=Love=the Cross=Christ.

As my wife and I will be celebrating thirty-four years of a loving committed marriage, I am reminded that ‘X’ marks the spot in our grateful marriage.  ‘X’ has been the open secret to our perseverance through good times and bad times.  ‘X’ has been the key to our hanging in there through sickness and health.  ‘X’ will be the key to our having and holding till death do us part.  My prayer for those reading this article is that each of us, like Saint Valentine, may be open to a personal encounter with the eternal ‘X’, Jesus Christ.

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

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

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

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

 

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


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Removing Self-centeredness from Our Marriages

By the Rev. Dr.  Ed HirdJanice and Ed gazing upward

My wife and I recently celebrated our Wedding Anniversary. How good are you at forgiving your spouse?

Reflecting on what makes a marriage work, I was struck by how vital is the gift of forgiveness. My wife, by the way, is very gifted at forgiving, probably because I have given her so much practice. My wife is also very patient and persevering, as I have noticed that often in our marriage, it has taken me a while to really grow and change. The fact that she never gives up on me, and that she keeps on believing the best for me, is a wonderful gift indeed.

A while back, I read a fascinating book entitled ‘Men & Women: Enjoying the Differences’ by the best-selling author Dr. Larry Crabb. He commented that ‘self-centered living is the real culprit in marriages with problems. Other-centered living is the answer.’

Ed_Jan2Many of us enter marriage thinking that our spouse will meet our deepest needs. We then feel cheated when they don’t, and begin to close our hearts. How many of us enter marriage with the view that we are there to serve our spouse? How many of us see marriage as a way of serving God?

A marriage where both partners are committed to serving one another, to ‘washing one another’s feet’ is a marriage in which self-centeredness gets sidelined. What will it take, says Dr. Crabb, to realize that our selfishness is without excuse and that our first job, in our friendships and marriages, is to recognize our selfishness and learn how we can change?

One thing that men and women have equally in common is that we are all equally self-centered and selfish. Little growth in marriages take place, says Dr. Crabb, until we realize that the disease of self-centeredness is fatal to our souls and marriages.

Nothing exposes our self-centeredness more heartclearly than anger. Because our hearts are deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9), we have an amazing ability to justify our own anger and bitterness towards our spouse, while simultaneously excusing our own bad attitudes. Being angry at our spouses can be very attractive, because it makes us feel both powerful and self-righteous.

Having counseled dozens of couples over the years, I am continually amazed at the self-deception of many who convince themselves that the problem is their spouse, and that their personal faults are far more minor and merely reactive. Self-centeredness is a cancer that blinds us from seeing that the problem is not merely our spouse; the problem is ourselves. Our culture is saturated with excuses for everything. It is not my fault. It’s my spouse’s, my parent’s, my government’s, or my boss’ fault. A.A. calls that ‘stinking thinking’.

Few of us are willing to do a thorough moral inventory of our own personal faults. The bible uses a short, unpopular word for self-centeredness. It calls it ‘sin’. Sin doesn’t mean that we are axe-murderers or child molesters. The heart of the word ‘sin’ is the ‘I’ at the middle. The heart of most marriage problems is self-centered sin.

Dr E Stanley Jones picture 2Dr. E. Stanley Jones, founder of the Christian Ashram, once said that ‘there can be no love between a husband and wife unless there is mutual self-surrender. Love simply cannot spring up without that self-surrender to each other. If either withholds the self, love cannot exist.’

A man and his wife were having painful marriage difficulties. The wife went away to a Christian Ashram, and surrendered her marriage to the Lord. When she returned home, her husband said to her: ‘Well, Miss High and Mighty, what did you learn at the Ashram?’ She replied: ‘I’ve learned that I’ve been the cause of all our troubles.’ She got up from her chair, came around beside him and knelt, folded her hands and said: ‘Please forgive me. I’m the cause of all our troubles.’

 At that moment, her husband nearly upset the kitchen table, while getting down on his knees beside her. He blurted out, ‘You’re not the cause of all our troubles — I am.’ There they met each other — and God. Each surrendered to Jesus, then they surrendered to each other and were free. Now this couple, instead of continually criticizing each other, are one in love and forgiveness.

My prayer for those reading this article is that many may find victory through surrender.

 

 

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

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

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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