“Our once great western Christian civilization is dying. If this matters to followers of Jesus Christ, then we must set aside our denominational differences and work together to strengthen the things that remain and reclaim what has been lost. Evangelicals and Catholics must stand together to re-establish that former Christian culture and moral consensus. We have the numbers and the organization but the question is this: Do we have the will to win this present spiritual battle for Jesus Christ against secularism? Will we prayerfully and cooperatively work toward a new Christian spiritual revival ― or will we choose to hunker down in our churches and denominationalisms and watch everything sink into the spiritual and moral abyss of a New Dark Age?” - Mark Davis Pickup

Thursday, August 25, 2016

NEW DOCUMENTARY ON END OF LIFE DECISIONS

I am available to address the perils of euthanasia and assisted suicide or a Christian perspective on suffering. For bookings write to me at HumanLifeMatters@shaw.ca
__________________

HumanLifeAlliance (Minneapolis, Minnesota) has made a new
New end-of-life documentary
video called Informed: Life is Worth Living. This documentary provides information and individual perspectives for making informed medical decision revolving around incurable disease and end of life issues. 


The U.S. based Pro-Life Health Care Alliance featured the production in a recent email newsletter. They stated, in part:


"Informed: Life is Worth Living is an essential resource to communicate pro-life healthcare information. Viewers will learn about the dangers inherent in today's end-of-life decisions. They'll be equipped with information from individuals who have first-hand experience in navigating these crucial choices. Chapter titles include:
  • Understanding Critical Medical Decisions
  • Peter's Story: When a Child Dies
  • Brain Death: Jennifer Hamann's Story
  • The Hidden Story about Organ Donation
  • Living With a Deadly Diagnosis
  • Facing the Disability Challenge
  • Understanding Depression and Dying
  • Hospice: Making an Informed Decision
  • What about Food and Water
  • The Myth of Physician Assisted Suicide Safeguards.

"Available in DVD format or online, "Informed" includes interviews with leading pro-life advocates such as Julie Grimstad (Life is Worth Living), Mary Kellett (Prenatal Partners for Life), Jennifer Hamann (CA Nurses for Ethical Standards), Dana Palmer (cancer survivor), Mark Davis Pickup (disability rights advocate), Dr. Karl Benzio (Lighthouse Network), and Jo Tolck (Human Life Alliance)."

"More than just a sound bite, at a runtime of 56:49, this video offers an introduction to end-of-life decisions with depth. "It provides densely packed information. Viewers will want to watch this series more than once to get the full message," HLA Executive Director, Jo Tolck pointed out. "Informed: Life is Worth Living will save lives. This informative series is perfect for churches, small groups, and all of us who need to make critical medical decision."


Copies can purchased in DVD format or online at humanlife.org.

Click on image below or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FiGA_ztiD_Y to see my interview Facing the Disability Challenge because, well, this is my blog. Having said that all eleven segments of the video are worth seeing and I highly recommend getting a copy of Informed: Life is Worth Living.



NEW DOCUMENTARY ON END OF LIFE DECISIONS

HumanLifeAlliance (Minneapolis, Minnesota) has made a new
New end-of-life documentary
video called Informed: Life is Worth Living. This documentary provides information and individual perspectives for making informed medical decision revolving around incurable disease and end of life issues. 


The U.S. based Pro-Life Health Care Alliance featured the production in a recent email newsletter. They stated, in part:


"Informed: Life is Worth Living is an essential resource to communicate pro-life healthcare information. Viewers will learn about the dangers inherent in today's end-of-life decisions. They'll be equipped with information from individuals who have first-hand experience in navigating these crucial choices. Chapter titles include:
  • Understanding Critical Medical Decisions
  • Peter's Story: When a Child Dies
  • Brain Death: Jennifer Hamann's Story
  • The Hidden Story about Organ Donation
  • Living With a Deadly Diagnosis
  • Facing the Disability Challenge
  • Understanding Depression and Dying
  • Hospice: Making an Informed Decision
  • What about Food and Water
  • The Myth of Physician Assisted Suicide Safeguards.

"Available in DVD format or online, "Informed" includes interviews with leading pro-life advocates such as Julie Grimstad (Life is Worth Living), Mary Kellett (Prenatal Partners for Life), Jennifer Hamann (CA Nurses for Ethical Standards), Dana Palmer (cancer survivor), Mark Davis Pickup (disability rights advocate), Dr. Karl Benzio (Lighthouse Network), and Jo Tolck (Human Life Alliance)."

"More than just a sound bite, at a runtime of 56:49, this video offers an introduction to end-of-life decisions with depth. "It provides densely packed information. Viewers will want to watch this series more than once to get the full message," HLA Executive Director, Jo Tolck pointed out. "Informed: Life is Worth Living will save lives. This informative series is perfect for churches, small groups, and all of us who need to make critical medical decision."


Copies can purchased in DVD format or online at humanlife.org.

Click on image below or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FiGA_ztiD_Y to see my interview Facing the Disability Challenge because, well, this is my blog. Having said that all seven segments are worth seeing and I highly recommend getting a copy of Informed: Life is Worth Living.


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

THINGS FOR SUFFERING CHRISTIANS TO REMEMBER

Christians who suffer must always remember that something far greater awaits us in eternity. Our present pain will be dwarfed by eternity's joy. Saint Paul wrote:

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared the glory that which shall be revealed in us.” (Romans 8.18)

In 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, we see more assurance that the Christian's present afflictions produce a weight of glory in heaven that is beyond comparison.

What we see is transitory, what is unseen is eternal.[1] This moment's freight of pain is incomprehensible; it must be seen through eyes of faith where it is possible to accept in humble submission and alignment with Christ's redemptive suffering.

We have a prize of God's upward calling in Jesus Christ. We who are losers in this world must keep our spiritual discernment firmly fixed on the unseen reality of Christ. His image and glory will yet come into clear focus. Our inheritance is with and in Christ and will be our ultimate joy.

God has set eternity in the hearts of men.[2] That is the source of the insatiable longing within you and me which began in our earliest childhood – like a distant and indistinct inkling of something that cannot quite be remembered.

It is a desire to give and receive perfect love, which are both
just out of our reach and it breaks our hearts to realize it. Our hearts, the core of our being, must be perfected to receive and give perfect love which is the essence of God. Suffering can achieve this when we place our pain in Jesus' pierced hands.

We were made for heaven yet we are incapable of understanding what God has done and prepared for us. The anticipating is almost as sweet as the having.

My earthly losses have only increased my desire for holiness in preparation for the next world. I want to be presentable to God and be able to accept his perfect love for me and, return a perfect love for my heavenly Father, through Christ. This can only be done once I have been thoroughly stripped of pride and self-centredness that crippled my life more than disease.

I'm beginning to understand that sickness and disability are the vehicles to excise my infernal pride. I have ceased to ask "Why did God allow me to become crippled and sick?" I know why. Archbishop Fulton Sheen said, "We, too, need to shed our skins of pride through suffering." Discovering real truth involves suffering. Truth without tears is a shallow truth indeed.

Do not be afraid of weeping when you suffer or mourn. Jesus said you will be comforted (Matthew 5.4). You may cry now but will laugh with joy. In heaven God himself will wipe away every tear you have ever shed. He knows your present pain. Christ is with us.

That brings me to another point. The last chapter of Matthew concludes with a promise. Christ said, "Remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age." We do not suffer alone.
Mark
________________
[1] cf. Hebrews 11.1

[2] See Ecclesiastes 3.11. 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

SPEAKING ABOUT EUTHANASIA AND ASSISTED SUICIDE

Mark Davis Pickup has lived with degenerative multiple sclerosis for over three decades. He has spoken across North Amerca about the perils of euthanasia and assisted suicide.

Mark understands issues surrounding positive Christian responses to counter cultural acceptance of medical killing. He has a unique Christian perspective of suffering. To book Mark to speak in your area, contact him by email at HumanLifeMatters@shaw.ca 

View a short video message below.


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

SPIRITUAL IMAGERY OF KINTSUGI ART

I encountered a post on a Facebook page of a dear friend. It featured a bowl (see right). The image was accompanied with the following note:

"This is the Japanese art of Kintsugi. It is the process of repairing broken pottery with gold or silver in order to highlight the value of an object rather then disposing of it because of its breaks and cracks. 

To repair an object rather than allowing its service to end at the time of its damage or breakage.

The application of the precious metal not only increases the value of the piece but adds to its unique beauty displayed through its imperfections. 

Isn't God Good! His effect on our lives is the same. It is to always add value to us and to display the beauty of who we are because of what He has brought us through rather then to remove the remembrance of it at all - no matter how painful it was initially.

The addition of His heavenly elements to our broken places makes each of us uniquely beautiful and irreplaceable. 

Thank you Lord, You make all things Beautiful in time .. Even from the ashes comes the Crown.

There is such profound spiritual imagery here -- particularly for those with broken bodies, broken hearts or broken minds. Still, Christ is the light of the world who can touch even the deepest sorrow and pain. Although written in a different context, and I've referred to it before, I am reminded of a beautiful song written by Leonard Cohen called Anthem. It carries the lines that seem appropriate to this blog entry. 

"You can add up the parts, you won't have the sum,
You can strike up the march, there is no drum,
Every heart, every heart to love will come,
But like a refugee. 

Ring the bells that still can ring,
Forget your perfect offering, 
There is a crack, a crack in everything,
That's how the Light gets in."

[See Leonard Cohen's song Anthem at link below, or here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mDTph7mer3I ]






Tuesday, August 16, 2016

IN CHRIST, OUR SUFFERING WILL ONE DAY MAKE SENSE

When I met Moira (not her real name) she was completely broken-hearted. As the old song says, “I can tell by your eyes, you’ve probably been crying forever.” That was Moira. 

This forty-two year old mother had developed severe chronic progressive multiple sclerosis which put her into a wheelchair within a year of her diagnosis. Moira’s husband left her and their only daughter went with him. She had nothing left she cared about and she wanted to die. The curtains in her darkened apartment were drawn to shut out the daylight – like a sad metaphor of what her life had become. What could I say to comfort her? Moira was inconsolable. Her dreams had come true for a brief period of time then were snatched away. The loss in her body paled in comparison to the loss in her heart.

Why do I share this with you? There are millions of people like Moira in the world. Their hearts have been crushed by lost health, lost love, and lost dreams. The beating of a broken heart is a tender thing that needs the soothing balm of loving care from those around the individual filled with sorrow.

For those who grieve, there is a God who understands. Christ’s heart was also broken. He wept too and knew sorrow: “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.” (Matthew 26.38.) He knew what it was to feel abandoned: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27.46.) He knew the feeling of being homeless: “Foxes have their holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” (Luke 9.58.) Jesus knew excruciating physical pain as we see with His Passion and crucifixion. There is no anguish that Christ does not understand. We can approach him with confidence. I know this from personal experience.

Throughout thirty years of incurable and generative disease I have continually called out to God in my physical, emotional and spiritual anguish. At my lowest points Christ has sent his consoling spirit to comfort me. (Perhaps that’s one reason why the Holy Spirit is also referred to the Comforter.)

I wish that Moira had turned to Christ in her sorrow. Maybe she eventually did, but I haven’t seen her in years. Moira had a special opportunity to grow spiritually through her anguish. It is often through suffering that humanity is offered the prospect of transcendence. But what sort of transcendence?

Christ offers us the possibility of transcending ourselves and our situations, if we are open to His leading, and completely trust Him.  It is hard. I also know from experience the struggle between fear and faith. The question is this: Which will prevail?

This is something Jesus struggled with as He entered his Passion at the Mount of Olives. In his prayer, he was horrified at the physical destruction that lay before him.  Pope Benedict XVI addressed this in his book, JESUS OF NAZARETH:  HOLY WEEK:  FROM THE ENTRANCE INTO JERUSALEM TO THE RESURRECTION (2011):

The Pope tells us of the struggle between two wills found in Jesus’ prayer. There is the “natural will” that resists the “appalling destructiveness of what is happening and wants to plead that the chalice pass from him; and there is the “filial will” that abandons itself  totally to the Father’s will.” (see p.156)

In a lesser way each of us who are confronted with suffering also has a struggle between our two wills. We have the natural will that recoils at the inevitable “appalling destructiveness” of disease, progressive disability, or old age. Then there is the “filial will” as children of God ― a desire to follow our heavenly Father in childlike trust and expectation of his joy and the divine that lies just beyond reach in our earthly state.


There is a yearning deep within the human heart for the perfect
love of eternity. It has been there since earliest childhood. It is there because God put it there. I think this is what is meant in Ecclesiastes when it says that God “has put the timeless into their hearts, without men’s ever discovering it, from beginning to end, the work God has done.” (3.11.)  

Suffering has the capacity, if we let it, to intensify that yearning for the perfection of the Eternal. It is not a desire for death, rather a desire to see the face of God. It will be then, in His perfect love, that all our earthly suffering will make sense.


I BELIEVE JOHN KENNEDY WOULD BE HORRIFIED

Earlier this year, I had the privilege of speaking at the historic Washington Cathedral about the sanctity of human life and disability inclusion. The beautiful 19th century red brick Cathedral of Saint Matthew the Apostle is steeped in American history of the Capitol.



As I was speaking, I could see on the floor, a foot or so in front of me, a plaque honoring President Kennedy. His body laid on that very spot for his requiem mass after being assassinated in 1963. 




It was 10 years before Roe v Wade that began the great and
terrible abortion holocaust began in America that has slaughtered more than 58 million children before they ever
saw the light of day. It was a generation before legalized medical killing of the sick and disabled in Oregon, California, Washington state and Vermont. Would John Kennedy be horrified at where his nation has gone? I believe he would.

See historic footage of President Kennedy's Funeral November 1963 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3KJQkn6zUvM

To book Mark to speak, send email to HumanLifeMatters@shaw.ca