Saturday, November 14, 2020

Heart Issues

In the introduction to Psalms 365: Develop a Life of Worship and Prayer, which will be released later this month, I make this statement, "Whatever state you find yourself in, there’s a psalm for that—a psalm for every situation and human need."

When you make statements like that you can expect your words to be put to the test. And they have!

This summer on July 16th, I collapsed on the floor of my study, and was rushed to hospital by ambulance. On July 24th, I had open-heart valve repair surgery. Three of my heart's four valves needed repair.

The recovery process has been long, slow and painful, but it's now apparent the worst is behind me.

What have I learned during that time? It can be summarized in the verse pictured below.

When your flesh and your heart fail, is God there to receive you—to strengthen you?

From personal experience, I can now say, "Yes, He is. God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."

This verse from the Psalms speaks of resilience—a resilience that comes from a relationship with God. He is after all the God of resurrection and restoration. It's this heaven-born resilience that we all need during these trying times of economic woes and pandemic setbacks.

My collapse this summer came as a shock, but it wasn't totally unexpected. For my entire adult life, I was aware that I had heart issues. At age seventeen in preparation for college entrance, I was diagnosed with a barely perceptible heart murmur, technically called a mitral valve prolapse. None of this hindered my involvement in sports or fitness activities. In fact, later in life, my cardiologist encouraged me to stay active and go jogging.

I largely followed that advice. In the months and days before my collapse, I was averaging 10,000 steps per day on a weekly basis. The day before my first fainting spell I did 41 pushups extending myself out from the seat of a chair. Not too shabby for a 68 year-old man.

Suddenly, despite superior fitness, my flesh and my heart failed me. Did my heart fail me during an exercise routine? No. I collapsed while sitting at my desk staring at a computer screen. Apparently, sudden reversals like this are common for people with heart valve disfunctions.

The road to recovery has been hard on this old body—despite my recovery being aided by overall fitness before my collapse.

When your heart and flesh fail God is free to step in. You have nothing left. The reserve you need doesn't come from within. It comes directly from Him. "Underneath are the everlasting arms." See Deuteronomy 33:26-28.

Heart issues are best left in His hands.

David Kitz serves as chair of The Word Guild. His most recent published work is a translation of Mind Rooms, a psychological thriller by best-selling Turkish author Cem Gulbent.  

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Honouring those who served


It’s hard to imagine, for the youth of our time, how veterans, once young people themselves, went off to a war they didn’t conceive.

My father was a young teen when the Second World War raged in Europe and beyond. He saw young men, older than himself, in uniform, and he told us, in our parents' collected stories, how handsome they looked, yet he never told us and perhaps didn’t know of the brokenness in those young men who returned home at the end of the war.

Not long after my father turned 16, as a young man living on a farm, the war ended. And although my dad as the youngest could have been called on to serve, he was not required to do so after all. I'm grateful he was spared.

A friend of mine who looked after her father in his last years of life recalled nights of terror for an old man reliving war memories. Make no mistake, being in the war fighting was no glorious thing, not proud as watching young men and women in uniform going off to serve their country in whatever capacity they were able.

A late minister of our home church worked as a cook on a ship as a young man. He told us stories in our confirmation class of how that ship was cleaned until it shone, and of meals he cooked in that navy vessel.

And we could listen to an account from a storyteller who made famous an imagined tale of a truce on Christmas Eve—just a short one—for the soldiers to take a short break from fighting. It didn’t really happen like that.

Even those not in the midst of fighting could tell stories—people who ran for their lives, or whose home was taken over by soldiers. We heard a few of those stories in our lifetime and many of them were challenged in telling it, recounting the emotions that went along with it. Something I do not know of, but honoured their true stories nonetheless.

A war, no matter whose conflict it is, is not a glorious thing, and those who did serve their country—to keep the freedoms we know and experience—gave more than you or me and lost more than both of us. 

I cannot imagine the horrors because I did not live them, and I would prefer not to, but I do acknowledge in the wearing of my poppy this week that others did and many never returned, but perished.

A memorial exists in a Guelph downtown church of Colonel John McCrae who wrote In Flanders Fields. The McCrae family had attended that church, one I imagine that was solemn as they learned that another one of their young bright men had died. That would have happened in countless places across Canada.

In Flanders fields the poppies grow…”

Let us not forget this November 11th the democracy and freedoms we have that were so dearly bought. Let us remember that.


Carolyn R. Wilker, editor, author and storyteller




Monday, November 09, 2020

John Wimber: God’s Risk-taking Santa Claus -HIRD


By Rev. Dr. Ed & Janice Hird

John Wimber came to Christ in 1963 at age 29 as a self-proclaimed chain-smoking, beer-guzzling, drug abuser. Because his father abandoned him the day he was born, John didn’t know how to be a good father.  His marriage was nearly over.  He described himself as a fourth-generation pagan/unbeliever who had never heard the gospel.  As a gifted entrepreneur, he owned and operated sixty-one businesses during his sixty-three years on earth.  As manager and pianist for the Righteous Brothers band who toured with the Beatles, he was at the top of his musical career, playing twenty different instruments.  He heard the Lord tell him to give up his musical career. So, he went from a $100,000 per year to a $7,000 per year as a carpenter’s helper, cleaning out oil tanks. John humorously called this time his purgatory: “I was humbled.  I used to be pretty mouthy and sure of myself…I was used to pretty much calling my own shots…God was teaching me obedience.”  As rebellion was very deep in John’s baby-boomer heart, God never stopped working on that lesson in John’s life:

Again and again and again, He taught us obedience, obedience, obedience, obedience, that he valued obedience above all things, and he wanted relationship with us, and he wanted our dependence upon Him.”

With his gift of the gab, John became a salesman for a collection agency in Los Angeles, California. Everywhere he went, he shared the gospel.  People affectionately described him as a cross between Kenny Rogers and Santa Claus.  Others saw him as a warm teddy bear. He was relaxed and playful with a winning smile.  John, who personally led thousands to Jesus, said that during the Jesus movement, you could sneeze and lead someone to Christ.  While trying to fix a leaking water faucet, John had a life-changing vision:

I looked up at the sky and it was like fire falling, so real to me that I rolled thinking that I don’t want it to hit my face.  Then suddenly I was in some sort of state where I could see it exploding in the air all across Southern California, and then a fireball going across the ocean, hitting London and exploding over Europe, and then gathering again and going into Asia and Africa…I went to London four times in the 1970s and didn’t see any revival.

Becoming an evangelical Quaker pastor at Yorba Linda Friends Church, he soon had the largest Quaker congregation in North America.  By 1974, he was approaching burnout, and resigned from pastoral ministry. After his enrolling in the Doctoral program at Fuller Theological Seminary, Dr. Peter Wagner recruited him to be the Founding Director of the Fuller Department of Church Growth.  While visiting 2,000 different churches of various denominations, he heard returning missionaries’ amazing stories of church growth, miracles and casting out demons.  He taught classes for many years at Fuller Seminary, most notably a course in the early 80s called “Signs, Wonders, and Church Growth” which had over 800 registrants, the largest in Fuller’s history.

After John Wimber had a Holy Spirit encounter, he was graciously released from the Quakers, and planted Yorba Linda Calvary Chapel in 1977.  He had a passion to not just read in the bible about the healing ministry but also to participate in it.  For almost a year, Wimber and his congregation prayed for the sick with no one being healed.  Many left his congregation.  Finally, healings began to take place.  John taught that everyone gets to play, that the work of the Kingdom breaking in is for all Christians, not just for the ordained. He loved to say, ‘If I can do it, you can do it. Look at me, I’m just a fat man trying to get to heaven.’ John gave people permission to fail.  He never hyped people up, but rather just obeyed the Lord. John spelt Faith as R.I.S.K.: “Becoming a disciple is committing yourself to risk-taking the rest of your life, just always having to take chances.”

On Mother’s Day 1980, he invited Lonnie Frisbee to preach at his church.  Lonnie was a key Jesus movement founder with Calvary Chapel. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit that day brought tremendous church growth, and resulted in John becoming the leader of the Vineyard movement in 1982. The Vineyards were originally started in the homes of Christian musicians Larry Norman and Chuck Girard, which attracted fellow musicians Bob Dylan, Debbie Boon, Priscilla Presley, and Keith Green.  It was no wonder that Vineyard music focusing on intimacy with God swept around the world.

Because John believed that church planting is the best form of evangelism, he pioneered the planting of twenty-five hundred Vineyards in North America and in over ninety nations.  In the first ten years, the Vineyard grew at about 1100%.  Wimber’s stated desire as a gifted organizer was to leave a movement behind him like John Wesley did, not just leave converts like George Whitefield. He began leading healing and renewal conferences throughout the world to hundreds of thousands of delegates. Just like with DL Moody and Billy Graham, his greatest breakthrough happened in England:

When I was invited by (the Rev Canon) David Watson to go to London in 1981, I said okay but didn’t expect much of it.  I had completely forgotten about the (earlier) vision.  …When I arrived in London at Gatwick Airport, it was like I had a hand hit my head and knock me flat on my face.  As I went down, I heard in my mind ‘this is that which I have spoken to you about.’  The next two weeks were incredible. 

Bishop David Pytches and Rev Sandy Millar of Holy Trinity Brompton, both commented that John Wimber had a greater impact on the Church of England (Anglican) than anyone since John Wesley. While John led the Vineyard, he loved the entire Body of Christ.

I (Ed) was privileged to attend with 2,500 other people a life-changing five-day Conference with John Wimber, co-sponsored with Regent College, that was held at Burnaby Christian Fellowship.  Sadly John’s health began to suffer.  "All my life," Wimber admitted, "I have been a compulsive person, always working and eating more than I should." His travel schedule of more than forty weeks a year gave him a heart attack in 1986. This was followed by sinus cancer in 1993, and a stroke in 1995. Many of us missed John Wimber when he died from a brain hemorrhage in 1997.

Though John is gone, the power of the Holy Spirit to heal and renew is still available for all today who are willing to obediently risk.  John taught that a power encounter is only as far away as this prayer: “Holy Spirit, I open my heart, my innermost-being to you. I turn from my sin and self-sufficiency and ask that you fill me with your love, power, and gifts. Come, Holy Spirit”.


Rev. Dr. Ed and Janice Hird, Co-authors of the new Blue Sky novel

-previously published in the Light Magazine

Tuesday, November 03, 2020

Ending Well by Rose McCormick Brandon

 In his small but terrifying book, Night, Elie Wiesel writes of life in a concentration camp. He tells this story of a young Polish violinist, Juliek.

Near the end of the war, breathless for the allies to break through and rescue them, Jewish concentration camp inmates were herded for miles. Starved, frozen, these men who had eluded crematoriums, some for years,  died by the tens of thousands on the snow-covered fields of Germany.

Survivors of the journey arrived at Buchenwald, a concrete graveyard. Men stacked their broomstick bodies like kindling to warm one another. Wiesel and his father were in that pile of dying humanity.

From beneath him, Wiesel heard a violin playing a Beethoven concerto. The music came from young Juliek. During years of persecution, he'd protected his treasured violin.

"The darkness enveloped us. All I could hear was the violin. Juliek was playing his life. His whole being was gliding over the strings."

Wiesel fell asleep to the music. When he awoke Juliek was dead, the body of his violin crushed.

"How could I forget this concert given before an audience of the dead and the dying? Even today, when I hear that particular piece by Beethoven, my eyes close and out of the darkness emerges the pale and melancholy face of my Polish comrade bidding farewell to an audience of dying men."

Juliek's music soothed the souls of the dying.

With his final bit of strength, he gave.

A few days later, allied soldiers arrived at the gates of Buchenwald. Rescuers. 

Sometimes in the midst of hideous happenings, a bird sings, a baby giggles, the sun pierces the clouds.  Like the violin of Juliek these remind us, in the midst of human suffering, that beauty still exists. That God is still on His throne and that He moves in human hearts.

Juliek used his last bit of strength to bless others. He ended well. Many don't end well. (Often we see this in the visible and privileged.) Some use their last bit of energy to vent, rage and avenge. They leave a legacy with an unpleasant odor. 

Ending well is supremely important for the Christian. For inspiration read the story of Caleb (Joshua 14).

Make a commitment to end well.

Note: Elie Wiesel won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986. 


Rose McCormick Brandon lives in Caledonia, Ontario with husband Doug. An award-winning personal experience and inspirational writer, Rose contributes to denominational publications and devotionals. She writes and teaches Bible Studies, authors biblical essays and is the author of the Canadian history book, Promises of Home – Stories of Canada’s British Home Children. Her book, One Good Word Makes all the Difference, contains stories of her personal journey from prodigal to passionate follower of Jesus. She is the mother of three adult children and grandmother of four. 

Sunday, November 01, 2020

A Cup of Cold Water - Another Perspective on Covid by Eleanor Shepherd


       Someone who has really appreciated the opportunities afforded to her by Covid is our feline companion, Belle.  She has been so happy to have her human companions here to do her bidding. As one of my good friends often reminds me about our pets, “Dogs have masters but cats have staff.”


                Belle has been so pleased at the service that has been provided for her by her staff during the last eight months.  She has companionship whenever she decides to leave the confines of our comfortable bed and wander into either the office where I work or the desk that has been installed at the end of the dining room where Glen works. She does not hesitate to jump up on the desk and pass her comments about what we are doing and then jump down on our laps for a brief snooze before checking what else is going on in the place.


                She has been working at training us to provide her with drinking water in the way that she prefers it. She turns up her nose at water that has been sitting in a bowl for more than five minutes. She even refuses the neat little system that we placed on the bathroom counter for her that holds water that flows into the bowl at the bottom, and replaces any that she has consumed. The problem is that the water level does not go down to be replaced because she refuses to drink from it. Oh no! That may be fine for ordinary cats but Madame Belle prefers to have it straight from the faucet. If that is good enough for her human staff, it will be suitable for her. However, she has not yet discovered how to turn on the tap, so she has had to train these dull witted humans to turn it on for her.


                It works this way. As soon as she sees someone heading toward one of the bathrooms, she runs ahead and jumps up on the counter. Then she will begin to make all kinds of noises. I think she figures she is talking to us. What she is saying is: “Please turn on the tap so I can have a drink.  I will let you know when I am finished and you can turn it off again.” So of course, I obediently turn it on for her.


                As I think about this, I realize we are talking about an animal and how she gets me to provide water for her. Then I think of all of the millions of people all around the world and even in our own country, who do not have access to clean drinking water and I feel so sad. I am grateful for what I have and I want to figure out how I can help others to have something so basic as safe drinking water.


                I think I have figured out a few things that even a retired person like me can do to help. I can write about it like I am doing today. As I have opportunity, I can contribute to the work of those who are using their effort to make it possible for others to have water. Finally, I can pray that those around me will also contribute in whatever ways they can so that many others may have that cup of cold water that Jesus us told us we were offering to Him when we give it to someone who needs it.

                I am glad the cat is such good company during Covid and that she reminds me too of some other important things that I need to remember

Word Guild Award 
Word Guild Award
Word Guild Award

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