Sunday, November 14, 2021

Why Bother Blogging?

     Why bother blogging? Why learn a new writing skill? Why not stick with what you are familiar with? These questions and a dozen more flooded my mind. 

    When I returned from the 2013 Write! Canada Conference, I had a decision to make. Would I heed the advice of Kim Bangs, whose writing workshop I attended, or would I ignore her recommendation. You see, Kim Bangs, now of Baker Publishing, strongly urged all in her class to begin blogging.

    Did I want to begin blogging? No way! And no thank you.

    But the Holy Spirit might also be called a gentle whispering nag. In the days following the conference, the Spirit kept whispering, "When are you going to start that blog?"

    After a time of resistance, I finally relented.

    "Okay! I'll write that stupid blog."

    Actually, it wasn't the blog that was stupid, but the author had a lot to learn, and he needed an attitude adjustment as well. 

    I stumbled about for a while as I tried to discern a theme and purpose for my writing. Eventually, I began writing devotional posts on the Psalms. Once that decision was made, I settled into a routine writing rhythm, knocking off a daily post of consistent length. In due time, I had devotional posts for every day of the year, and all one-hundred-and-fifty psalms in the Bible—enough to fill three 265-page volumes.

    Why bother blogging? Well the answers have been coming thick and fast for a number of years now. Answers come in a variety of ways. Most often they come in the comments left by blog readers. At other times they come through words spoken directly to me, or through Amazon book reviews. 

    But perhaps the biggest answer to that question came on September 25, 2021 at The Word Guild Gala when I won the Grace Irwin Best Book of the Year Award for Psalms 365: Develop a Life of Worship and Prayer, Volume I.

    Yes, my blog posts on the Psalms became an award-winning book with a significant cash prize attached. You never can tell where following the advice of a writing professional might take you. That's especially true if it's accompanied by the Holy Spirit's urgent prompting.

     All three volumes of Psalms 365 are available for the Christmas season. They are a great way to begin the new year. For a closer look or to purchase click here.

    David Kitz is the author of numerous books and the chair of The Word Guild.

Thursday, November 11, 2021


 Robert Dollar; Global Impact in Business

By Rev. Dr. Ed and Janice Hird

-an article for the Engage Light Magazine



After coming to Canada penniless from Falkirk in Scotland, Robert Dollar became one of Scotland’s fifty wealthiest individuals, amassing a fortune of over forty million dollars ($800 million in today’s money).  He was even on the cover of the March 19th, 1928 TIME magazine, and written up in the Saturday Evening Post in 1929.


Leaving school at age 12 to work in Canadian logging camps, he saved up enough cash to buy into the lumber trade itself.  As most loggers spoke French, Dollar taught himself French and took over the camp’s accounting. Being a logger taught him determination, "One thing I now admire of this wild, hard life, was that we never used the word 'can't'. We had to do!"


At their peak, Dollar’s mills produced fifteen million board of lumber.  While in the lumber camps, Dollar ‘always made it a practice on Sunday to take out (his) Bible to a quiet place and read it, even in the coldest of weather.” He “attributed much of his success to the teachings received from this daily reading.” Dollar advocated “clean habits, clean thoughts, plenty of exercise, fresh air and plenty of sunshine...and plenty of work...Last, but most important, fear God and keep his commandments.”


Captain Robert Dollar (originally spelt Dolour) became the founder of Dollarton in North Vancouver, and its first major employer with hundreds of local residents working at the Dollar Mill.  As owner of 100 acres in North Vancouver, he could see North Vancouver’s great potential in terms of international trade and commerce. Even the local Dollarton minister had his salary paid by Dollar. 


In 1895, Dollar purchased his first ship in order to move his lumber down to American markets. His first boat became a huge success because of the number of people making their way to the Alaska Gold Rush. Out of this, he began the 40-vessel Dollar Steamship Company (later becoming American President Lines). Known as the Grand Old Man of the Pacific, Dollar started three head offices in North Vancouver, San Francisco and Shanghai. His ships bore the famous "$" on their smokestacks. During his lifetime he made some 30 voyages to Asia, being the first to bring North American lumber to Asia. While in China, Dollar, with missionary zeal, built several Y.M.C.A.s, an orphanage, a school for the blind and a village school. In his autobiography, Dollar commented that “the evangelization of China means safety, security and a certainty of China becoming a great and strong nation.” 


By World War I, Dollar was such an institution in Asia that his word alone was enough “collateral” to begin building ships in China that cost $30 million ($820 million in today’s dollars). Chinese people trusted Robert Dollar and accepted him as one of them. He became one of the greatest promoters of trade and friendship between China and North America.  On one of his trips to China, a three-hour procession of thousands of men, women, and children passed his hotel to honor him. Even during the Chinese civil war, Dollar's agents were not molested or harmed, and his property was saved from the ravages of warring factions. Dollar commented,


I believe there is better opportunity for trade in China than in any other part of the globe. We business men deserve no credit in securing this foreign trade. It is the missionaries who deserve the credit. They preceded us and made it possible for us to trade in China and other foreign countries.

In 1923 at age 80, Dollar purchased seven “president” ships from the U.S. government which enabled him to pioneer round-the-world passenger service, being the first to publish scheduled departure and arrival times. Dollar placed a bible in every room in his boats. "By commencing the day with the reading of my Bible," Dollar said, "I find it gives much valuable information and inspiration which is past my power to express. The older I become, the more benefit do I derive from the habit of reading from chapters of the Bible each morning. It has meant guidance and help in my efforts to make a success in this world."  In 1925, Dollar Line acquired the Pacific Mail Steamship Company and its trans-Pacific routes. He never sold liquor on any of his ships, and always had 11am Sunday worship services for the sailors and passengers.

Dollar’s mom died when he was nine; his grief-stricken father became an alcoholic.  Out of his family pain, Dollar developed four principles to which he clung to:

1. Do not cheat.

2. Do not be lazy.

3. Do not abuse.

4. Do not drink.

Dollar was a family man with a strong work ethic and solid faith. His granddaughter remembers visiting her grandpa, saying: "We all arose at 6 a.m. and went to bed at 9 p.m.  Grandfather read a passage from the bible each morning and we joined in...Grandfather sat at the end of the table and said grace before each meal. At festive occasions, he would tell us a story about his life in the Canadian north woods and have us all spellbound and laughing."

In Dollar’s diary, he wrote:


Thank God, from whom all blessings flow ...we start the year with supreme confidence in the future, knowing that God is with us and hoping prosperity will enable us to aid humanity with our money, and that we will be permitted to leave the world a little better than we found it.

Dollar never retired, saying:

It would have been nothing short of a crime for me to have retired when I reached the age of sixty, because I have accomplished far more the last twenty years of my life than I did before I reached my sixtieth birthday ... I was put in this world for a purpose and that was not to loaf and spend my time in so-called pleasure ... I was eighty years old when I thought out the practicability of starting a passenger steamship line of eight steamers to run around the world in one direction ... I hope to continue working to my last day on earth and wake up the next morning in the other world.

At the age of 88, in 1932, Robert Dollar died of bronchial pneumonia. Some of his final words were:

In this world, all we leave behind us that is worth anything is that we can be well regarded and spoken of after we are gone, and that we can say that we left the world just a little better than we found it. If we can’t accomplish these two things, then life, according to my view, has been a failure. Many people erroneously speak of a man when he is gone as having left so much money. That, according to my view, amounts to very little.

May the global discipleship of Robert Dollar inspire all of us to make a missional difference in our lives.

Rev. Dr. Ed and Janice Hird

Co-authors, God’s Firestarter and Blue Sky

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Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Remembering and Praying for Peace

 Many people in our world bear the scars of war. Immigrants coming from countries that seem to be constantly at war. Those who managed to escape without loved ones. Those who came from Europe following the World Wars looking for a better life and safe place to start a family.

A Guelph, Ontario, church holds the name of one such soldier, Colonel John McCrae, author of the famous In Flanders Fields, a solemn rondeau poem about soldiers who now lie below a row of cross-shaped markers in a far away field.


“In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row…”



According to Litcharts, “McCrae wrote the poem in 1915 as a memorial to those who died in a World War I battle…. McCrae himself treated many of the soldiers injured.”

The poem appears to have different voices, those on the field who cannot hear the birds sing for the sound of battle, and those who lie beneath the ground, having their say about someone else taking up the torch, someone else understanding that they will not rest easily even if the field is covered with beautiful poppies and crosses neatly in a row.

Remembrance Day is a solemn time to mark when soldiers went off to endure war to bring about peace. Peace was not easily secured. It cost many lives and sacrifices that followed soldiers to the end of their lives, for those who did make it home, and the trauma they carried around the rest of their lives.

Many wars have been fought because of greed and to gain land and supremacy. Make no mistake that those who started the war were not the ones who fought it.

There is still unrest in many places around the world, ones that cause people to flee for their lives, ones that rob children of parents.

While the poppy is a symbol of freedom gained, I choose to think of peace and hope that we can keep that peace. And honour those who did go to fight. Fathers, grandfathers, young men with a life seemingly before them, cut short. So today we remember those who went to fight.

A rendition of "In Flanders Fields" by Canadian  singer and songwriter Adele Simmons



Carolyn Wilker, Editor, Author, Storyteller

Wednesday, November 03, 2021

Love Your Bible Enough to Wear it Out by Rose McCormick Brandon


Everyone has them – a pair of scruffy shoes that should be thrown away. Mine sit on a shelf at the back door – an ancient pair of black loafers. Miles of wear have molded them to the shape my feet. When I slip into them, my toes sink into hollows on the inner sole. I always intend to change into garden clogs before wading into the perennial bed but I seldom do. Now, horizontal grooves from weeding on bended knees wave across the insteps of my favorite footwear.  

With its frayed stitching and floppy cover, my favorite Bible resembles my leather loafers. Coffee stains dot its pages but the burgundy coloured Amplified version fits me as comfortably as my old shoes. Not long ago, I treated myself to a luxurious NIV. I carried it to church and Bible studies and tried to love it. But gradually I reverted to the rumpled Amplified. Scribbled notes wander across its margins. Dates, stars, names and arrows draw my attention to verses that have special meaning. I love its wordiness. Others may find the bracketed alternate meanings an interruption but I find myself wishing for more explanation.

A bible should become as personal as well-worn sneakers. Once a new Christian picked up my bible from our coffee table – at that time I used a leather-bound Schofield KJV study Bible, with my name embossed in gold on the cover. I’d owned it for several years and it showed. “You write in your Bible?” she said.

 “Yes. If a verse touches my heart or teaches me something, I underline it. And sometimes I make notes beside it.”

She spent several hours that afternoon underlining my special passages in her fresh bible.  “You’re going to end up with a bible that’s more mine than yours,” I told her. She wanted it to look used she said. And I get that. Nothing is as sad as a seldom-read Bible. More than just another religious book, a copy of scripture contains sacred words that penetrate the deepest recesses of the human soul. No other writing, no matter how stirring and brilliant achieves this.

Like comfortable shabby shoes, a loved Bible travels. And not only to religious events. It visits park benches, cafes, laundromats, airports, trains, buses and fast-food places. It’s not afraid of greasy fingers or breakfast crumbs. It doesn’t cringe when a baby reaches out, as one of mine did, and rips a page from Romans. I taped the tattered leaf in place and now its stiffness draws my attention to the greatest stand-alone book of all 66.

Men like William Tyndale sacrificed their lives to put a copy of scripture in common hands like mine. Since then, many have believed in Jesus through no other witness but the Bible. My husband Doug is one of them. When we were dating he found the Bible (the leather-bound KJV) I had stashed in the glove compartment of my car during my wanderings from God. Beginning in Genesis, he read every day for months. One day while lunching in a park, Doug read these words in John – “Whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.” (2) He prayed, “God, I not only believe in you but now I believe in your son Jesus.”

David van Biema, Religion Editor for Time Magazine wrote – “The Bible is the most influential book ever written. Not only is it the best selling book of all time, it is the best selling book of the year every year.”(1) Today’s robust Bible sales must have Voltaire red-faced in his grave. He predicted that fifty years after his death there would not be a single Bible remaining on earth. Since his death in 1778 many new translations of the scriptures have been introduced and billions of copies distributed around the globe. The sad reality is that a large percentage of them lie neglected on shelves, their pages unruffled by human fingers and free of ink spots.

Helen, a Ukrainian immigrant to Canada, found one of those neglected bibles at a time when she was lonely, depressed and contemplating suicide. Alone in her apartment, she read for hours each day. At night she placed the Bible under her pillow as she slept. “I found my Lord in this book,” she said pointing to a hard cover volume held together with ribbon. “He saved my life and I have dedicated myself fully to Him.”  Helen is now wearing out her second bible.

As a fifth grader, my friend Patricia received a Gideon New Testament. She read it from cover to cover and still follows the practice of reading the Bible as a complete book. She’s lost track of how many times she’s read it through. It’s so familiar to her that when searching for a passage, she often knows its exact location on the page.  That happens when we become as comfortable with our Bibles as we are in an old pair of shoes.   


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 five.

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