Tuesday, August 11, 2020

A Different Kind of Fatigue-- Carolyn R. Wilker



I read an article this week about fatigue. Not the physical sort where one works too long and gets exhausted, or the kind where people struggle with chronic illness. This kind of fatigue deals with the kind of watchfulness and care we’ve been carrying around since early March. 

Think of a life guard charged with the careful watching of a pool full of gleeful people splashing around—children and their parents—and the eagle eyes the life guards must have. And the break they need once people are out of the pool. This kind of watchfulness, albeit, is a different kind than we have been practising, with little relief in sight. Add to that the many reports of where the virus pops up and where the curve is flattening and the potential of a vaccine being developed.

I see all this and have to dial down the news but not dismiss it completely.

Situational awareness, as described this week by Globe and Mail writer Jillian Horton, refers to this kind of watchfulness since the pandemic was first declared. Not just in one country, but in countries all over the globe, including us. People are getting tired of doing it, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to stop.

The CERB benefit has helped many people, including some members in our family. Some companies offered delays in payment of certain bills, others offered free resources to help anyone in those positions, and that was good when we all needed to stay safe and limit our coming and going to only those things that were entirely necessary.

For people with continuing jobs, working from home, we had the reassurance of knowing we could pay our bills. We could buy groceries and necessary prescriptions. 

Jesus fed people, he healed them and brought comfort to many in distressing situations.  What can we do when so many are hurting?

For companies aching to get back on their feet at a critical time, it has to be hard financially, and for those companies that closed, an even harsher reality. Supporting local business, including restaurants with take-out food, is one thing we can do, where we have the means. 

In our extended family, we had two deaths in early July within 24 hours of each other (not by Covid, but still painful). One family decided on a donation to the Food Bank of their community; that was a place we could make a contribution. 


Our resources may be limited, financially, or our physical energy limited. We can exercise good judgement, do our best to keep up the practice of physical distancing, wash our hands, and wear our masks out in public, where distancing is not possible. And maybe that’s all you can do.

All this is essentially the commandment to love others as we love ourselves. Be well, stay safe, and help where you are able. And maybe for some, it's a 'listening ear' or something fresh from our


Sunday, August 09, 2020

The Incalculable Impact of Dr. J.I. Packer: Giant of the Faith - HIRD


(July 22nd 1926 to July 17th 2020)

By Rev. Dr. Ed & Janice Hird

-an article for the Light Magazine


Canada has been blessed to have the late Dr JI Packer in our own backyard since 1979.  Although born in the UK, he became a Canadian citizen after becoming a Regent College professor.  His generosity of spirit has transformed countless Christian leaders.  How is it that so many of us have experienced such a personal connection to a global leader?

Dr Darrell Johnson insightfully noted, “One of the Lord’s humble giants has been called home. J.I. Packer is what a theologian is called to be: first a forgiven sinner who then gratefully loves the Saviour, and then a sacrificial servant who uses his massive giftedness to equip the church to live for the glory of Christ. I can never repay the debt I owe Dr. Packer for the gift of “Knowing God.” And now he does as never before!”

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby commented, “Dr James Packer’s death ends a wonderful service to God by a disciple of learning, wisdom and holiness. A giant of his time.”  Geoff Tunnicliffe, former Secretary-General for the World Evangelical Fellowship agreed, saying, “Dr. J.I Packer was a giant of the Faith.  Jim had a huge influence in personal journey.” Rev Dr Chris Sugden from Oxford commented that John Stott, Michael Green, and Jim Packer were key framers of the Keele Statement which reaffirmed that evangelicals could remain in the Church of England with integrity.  Pastor Dave Carson of Hope Vancouver knew Dr Packer from the 1960s in London, commenting that Packer’s highlighting of George Whitefield’s preaching was foundational in his own life. Archbishop Yong Ping Chung of South-East Asia (ret) said “I had the privilege of getting to know him a little better when he firmly and courageously stood up for the truth of the Gospel against the false teachings, especially during the very difficult and controversial time in our Anglican Communion.”

Many famous people become inaccessible and pompous.  But not Dr Packer.  His friend Dr George Egerton of UBC noted that “he was famous and revered for his best-selling books, but was utterly without pretensions.  He had time for anyone.  If you needed an article for a journal, or a review, he was always happy to oblige.” Rev Ron Corcoran stated he was so delighted and humbled that Dr Packer took the time to read and endorse his book.  We are grateful that he wrote the foreword to two of my own books, as he did for so many others.

Packer’s many Regent students appreciated how deeply he invested in their lives.  Rev Peter Falk remembered that every class they sang the Doxology.  Dr Packer was fond of saying, ‘Theology is for doxology.’ Pastor Macintosh of Heritage Alliance Church rejoiced when Packer taught him that election (being chosen) is about overflowing thankfulness for God’s gracious action on our behalf. Bishop Felix Orji feels a deep sense of loss, “He was like a father to many of us.  At a personal level, Jim helped me with doctoral thesis - the outline for my doctoral Thesis was hashed out by Dr Packer in his living room one afternoon I went to see him.”

Dr. Packer helped redeem the concept of theology, making it accessible and practical.  Rev. Dr. John Roddam observed that many theologians are in the ozone but Jim’s writings were accessible to the “average Joe.” Brian C Stiller, Global Ambassador for The World Evangelical Alliance, commented, “James Packer was uncommon in his ability to digest a wide assortment of complex and wide-ranging   theology and reduce it to its elementary and essential issues. He is a prime example of how those of us in the wider and more popular level of Gospel witness, benefit so greatly from those brilliant in scholarship and at the same time, care so much about and deeply love the Gospel.”  Dr Rod Wilson, past Regent College President, stated, “I will remember Jim Packer as a man who had a unique ability to link theology with the mere Christian, and the academy with the church. These gifts were bathed in an irenic spirit that made him a gracious man even when dealing with his critics. Intertwined with these strengths was an outrageous sense of humour that endeared him to so many.”

Many are grateful for Dr. Packer’s humanity, humour and playfulness, especially around meals.  Rev Ken Shigematsu of Tenth Church commented, “JI Packer inspired me to choose play that gives life, ennobles, and draws me to God.” Rev. Calvin Weber of UCM BCIT was struck by Packer’s love for six Hunan peppers on his Hunan Gung Pao Chicken. Dr. Jeff Greenman, Regent College President, spoke of Dr. Packer as both his teacher and friend, regularly making time to share beef curry together at a local Chinese restaurant.  Packer, said Greenman “was not only a brilliant thinker and amazing writer, but fundamentally a deeply godly, Christ-loving Christian gentleman, who gave his life to serving the God he loved.”

His book “Knowing God”, which sold millions, has had the greatest impact of all of Dr Packer’s many writings.  Dr Axel Schoeber of West Vancouver Baptist Church commented, “His book Knowing God was hugely formative for me as a young Christian and shaped my approach to ministry once I became a pastor.” Rev Robin Guinness, fellow co-signer of Dr JI Packer’s Montreal Declaration of Anglican Essentials, observed, “I go back again and again to his monumental work Knowing God.   It is also through him that I have been encouraged to rediscover the depth and riches of the great Puritan leaders.”  

Bishop Peter Klenner said, “The Rev. Dr. J I Packer was—in the very best sense of the word—a Puritan. He was a man of the Word. He loved and lived the bible. Dr. Packer was also a Pastor—in the best sense of the word. He cared for people; remembered their names.  He loved people and was willing to walk alongside as a pilgrim.” David Bornman, West Coast Christian Fellowship, commented, “I am grateful for JI Packer’s lifelong dedication to the defense of scripture which has been a strength to the church worldwide. In person and in writings JI Packer approached scripture with a wonderful expression of reverence and joy that welcomed each listener to enter his joyful discovery of the glory of God.”

When asked late in life by Christianity Today what his final words to the church might be, Packer replied, 'I think I can boil it down to four words: Glorify Christ every way.'"


Rev Dr. Ed and Janice Hird

-Co-authors of the Blue Sky novel

p.s. It seems very fitting that the Lord had us do a trilogy recently on Dr. JI Packer and his mentor Richard Baxter in the Light Magazine.

Dr JI Packer: Knowing God

Richard and Margaret Baxter

Dr JI Packer and Richard Baxter

Monday, August 03, 2020

Take Care of your Heart by Rose McCormick Brandon

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23


Pepper Point Gardens, Manitoulin Island 

A woman bought a house because she liked the previous owner’s landscaping. As the new owner, she enjoyed the perennial garden with its peonies, roses, delphiniums and clematis.  After a few weeks she noticed changes. Roses hung their heads. Dead blooms tainted the appearance of flowering bushes. The neglected garden soon looked unkempt. 

Like a garden, the heart requires care. 

The heart is the inward person. Think of it as the garden of the soul. A good gardener tends the soil by adding compost and other beneficial material. She prunes stray branches to add symmetry and to let in sunlight. She waters and fertilizes, moves plants from one area to another and never seems to stop noticing areas that need help.

No one deliberately plants weeds, but they appear even in well-tended gardens. The diligent gardener pulls them while they’re small, when they can be easily removed. Weeds quickly develop strong roots that require a shovel and labour to remove them. Some pervasive weeds require extreme measures like laying a sheet of plastic over the ground and around the roots of plants. This keeps the sun from penetrating the soil, thus preventing weeds from growing. The passionate gardener uses every necessary means to keep plants and soil healthy.

Our hearts require the same diligent care. The wise keep their hearts free from resentment, lies, profane talk, perversions and all kinds of sin. Anything that destroys goodness is an enemy. Jesus said, “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart” (Luke 6:45).

Nurture your heart with God’s Word. Take care that it doesn’t become overgrown with weeds like worry and sins of all kinds. Listen to God's prompts. Replace anger, hatred and fear with a childlike trust in God. If your heart is in an overgrown state begin weeding out the offenders one by one. 

"Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior" Ephesians 4:31. 

Prayer: Father, make me more mindful of what I watch, read and hear.

Rose McCormick Brandon writes from her home in Caledonia, Ontario. Her award-winning Biblical essays, personal experience pieces and devotionals have been published in several periodicals in Canada and the U.S. 

Friday, July 31, 2020

TREES by Eleanor Shepherd

    In Grade Six, an English teacher introduced me to a poem by the American poet, Joyce Kilmer, who died fighting in the First World War. The simple and delicate beauty of the poem so impressed me that nearly all of the six two line stanzas have remained with me from that time until now. That was in the late 1950’s. 

            The poem says:

                        I think that I shall never see

                        A poem lovely a a tree.


                        A tree whose hungry mouth is prest

                        Against the sweet earth’s flowing breast;


                        A tree that looks at God all day,

                        And lifts her leafy arms to pray;


                        A tree that may in summer wear

                        A nest of robins in her hair;


                        Upon whose bosom snow has lain;

                        Who intimately lives with rain.


                        Poems are made by fools like me,

                        But only God can make a tree.


            Yesterday the words of this poem came back to me again as Glen and I were enjoying a picnic on the Niagara Parkway.  It was not the holiday we had originally planned.  This was the year that the whole family was going to enjoy a holiday together on Prince Edward Island.  However Covid put an end to that plan. 


            Instead Glen and I came to visit friends on the Niagara peninsula, at a place where we could still practice social distancing while our daughter and son-in-law tried to finish the renovations they were doing for us at our place when Covid hit. 


            The weather has been so hot this summer that whenever we venture out of our air-conditioned comfort, we head for the shade of the trees.  Perhaps that is what has made me so aware of them. Plus my daily morning walks, when I find myself as I walk along the lakeshore looking for the places where I will be able to walk mostly in the shade of the trees.


            As I opened the blinds this morning and looked out, I saw near the house where we are staying a tree so enormous, I had to bend my head way back to try to see the top.  I called Glen to ask him how tall he thought it must be.  Together we agreed that it was at least five or six stories high. 


            This new fascination with trees intrigues me.  I have always loved the way that the trees turn such beautiful colours in the fall.  I am struck by their starkness on the winter landscapes and how they are softened by the gentle covering of snow they often don. With eager anticipation, I await the signs of the first budding of the leaves in the spring, that heralds the end of winter and promises the end of ice and snow and warmer weather to come. 


            Awareness of the trees and what is happening in the world of nature is another one of a series of gifts that I have received during this season of isolation. We all know that this has not been an easy time of any of us. All of our routines were curtailed by having to change our way of living. At first we were up for the challenge but as the months went on, we began to desire what was familiar but no longer possible. 


The gift for me was that in the midst of all this, I found the capacity to appreciate the beauty that surrounds me, not just rushing past the trees but actually stopping to look at these strong and steady messengers and listening to what they might tell me about my perspective. Through them I heard echoed the words of the Psalmist, “Be still and know that I am God.”   

Word Guild Award 


                                                                                 Word Guild Award 


Friday, July 17, 2020

The Collection and A Biker Part 1 BY SUSAN HARRIS

For Peter Black, a man whose goodness I wish to emulate. 

Ruth had received a giant baby bottle as a gift when she was born, which she talked about many times. The oversized container resembled a baby's feeding bottle. It was clear, and the cap was a large white and pink plastic nipple with a slot for coins. For many years Ruthie, as she was called, piled pennies into the bottle. It seemed to take an eternity, but finally it was full. With her mother's help, Ruthie's six-year-old fingers had placed penny after penny into paper rolls. Painstakingly she filled and rolled, and filled and rolled again. Three times they had trekked to the store for more wrappers, only to find that they were out of stock on the last trip.
"I can put them in plastic bags." Ruthie rushed in the direction of the kitchen eagerly, her long dark curls swinging up and down.
"The bank will not take plastic bags, sweetie," her mom explained to the child. "I'll get some rolls when I go to the city." 
Soon the day came when they stood before the teller in the bank.
"How can I help you?" the teller asked Ruthie's mom.
"It's her that needs help." The mother gestured to Ruthie on her left, who was barely discernible behind the counter. They were both holding the heavy bags of metal currency.
The teller leaned forward to see the child and commented on how cute she was with her crisp, dark curls and large, luminous eyes. 
Ruthie is my daughter
 An employee at the next station who had no clients then came over to look at Ruthie. Judging from their reactions it did not look like diminutive customers made frequent appearances at the bank to conduct their own business. 
"What can I do for you?" the woman asked Ruthie in a soft voice.
The little girl stuttered back, "I want to change my pennies." 
Ruthie and her mom heaved the bags onto the counter. Counting the dollars aloud the teller handed the paper money to the child. 
"Eighteen dollars for you," she chimed. "What are you going to do with all that money?"
"Eighteen dollars?" Ruthie repeated the words as a question, and her already large eyes grew even larger. She did not fully comprehend the value of eighteen dollars, but she sensed it was a lot of money. Like liquid pools of the bronze she had just exchanged, her brown eyes sparkled, and she touched the dollars with tenderness akin to reverence. This was her money. 
It was another poignant moment for Copper: the unified value of pennies. Coins that some think have no value. Coins that were sometimes tossed into jars among buttons, paperclips, rubber bands, and anything else that had no specific home. Coins that were thrown unceremoniously onto the nearest surface available, often forgotten and ignored. Considered a nuisance, and described as inconvenient, worthless, and heavy. 
"I will buy Easter eggs for the seniors' home." Even as Ruthie replied she held tightly on to the bills, as if afraid they could get lost. The child's little kindness had delighted the seniors, and many of them had patted her cheeks and hugged her. Dressed in blue tulle and chiffon, she floated like a fairy princess, offering her basket of eggs to staff and residents at the home. 
Savings like hers bought gifts for children living with their mothers in domestic abuse shelters. Pennies like Copper bought clothes and toys for children in orphanages. A penny helped someone get food. Copper had seen people's tears, their struggles, and their happiness. The little coin had been to many provinces, and had been owned by persons of status and persons living in poverty.
Like the woman with the straggly hair that hung on the side of her worn face. Her mouth was droopy and her back was slightly stooped. She moved slowly and paused for breath after every second step. Pork and beans had been her meals for the last week, but she was grateful she could afford that. There were no more Social Insurance cheques. There was also no heat in the house as the furnace was broken. 
Limping to the aisle with canned foods, she reached for the familiar tin with its picture of brown beans nestling in the thick sauce. She was so hungry she could have eaten the picture. Her gaze lingered on the soups next to it, but there were no options here. The soup would only be one meal. The beans could stretch over three meals if she spread it thinly on the stale bread she was rationing. Picking up the tin, the forlorn woman went to the checkout counter.
"Eighty-eight cents, ma'am." She fumbled with the tattered purse and handed the cashier of the variety store some coins. He counted it. 
"You're six cents short," he barked. Another quick fumble and she passed over the one nickel that remained. 
"You owe me a penny." He was irritated. 
Looking at his chin, the woman murmured, "I don't have any more money." The attendant barely heard her, but the empty purse spoke loud and clear. 
"Sorry." His tone was curt and the can of beans vanished under the counter as he shoved her money, one cent short of the total, back at her. He was not really a mean man, but if the cash till did not balance, then the difference came out of his earnings. Too many customers showed up with pennies short. This man knew that a penny here and a penny there added up, and on minimum wage, that was a lot to deduct. 
 Tears of shame filled the woman's eyes. She hunched down even lower as if the stares of the other customers in the line pierced her back. 
Then a gruff voice broke the tension: "Here's a penny."
A muscular biker with a tattooed arm slapped down a brown cent and the purchase was complete. Whispering a broken 'thank you,' the woman accepted the proffered beans that were resurrected from under the counter, and shuffled out of the store. Her benefactor looked a bit intimidating, with his head tied in a red bandana and bushy eyebrows half covering his lids, but it was clear to all that his heart was kind. 
Mostly, Copper saw the value of one cent.
Removing the physical penny coin would affect low-income families and poor people the most as they tended to use cash most. These people did not seem to mind the inconvenience and time needed to roll pennies and take them to the bank. When pennies were no longer distributed, prices would be rounded down or up. Since the poorer people usually made smaller purchases more often, they would experience rounding up more often and could have to pay more.
Copper was concerned that those people may not be able to afford the higher prices. When money is tight, every red cent counts. So children, poor people, and those without cards would shoulder most of that burden of eliminating pennies.
Little copper coins have always made a difference. They pass on positive values. They teach children how to save through penny power. Though Copper is the least profitable denomination—it cannot buy anything on its own—its power comes through unity. Collectively, with other pennies, they become thousands of dollars.
Copper dared to wonder: when pennies are gone, will the giving stop? Will small charities be able to carry on their good works? Its cousin the nickel will be the next smallest denomination, but that may not be given away so easily.
Even though the little coin pondered, it accepted its fate of elimination. For it knew it was a hero, and a true hero never dies.

Penny Fact
1. W.H.J. Blackmore designed the reverse of the 1911-1920 penny.
2. Canadians can still use pennies to pay for items at businesses that choose to accept them, and the cent will remain Canada's smallest unit for pricing goods and services. 
3. The composition of the most recent penny is 94% steel, 1.5% nickel, 4.5% copper plating or copper-plated zinc.

Penny Fun
·      Create dumb bells for exercising by filling socks with pennies and tying the open ends. Wrap them around your ankles or wrists as weights. Longer socks work better.
·      Start a hobby of collecting pennies from as many countries as possible. Storing them in coin holders or coin albums is ideal. 

An excerpt from Little Copper Pennies: Celebrating the life of the Canadian One-Cent Piece  by Susan Harris (Susan Harris 2012, Borealis Press 2014). 


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