“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

Monday, June 19, 2017

A SPEECH IN WASHINGTON, DC

Recently I stumbled across a video on Youtube of a 2016 speech I gave at St. Matthew the Apostle Cathedral in Washington, DC. (It's at bottom of this post.) My address was leading up to the U.S. National March for Life in the nation's Capital city. 

I entered the Cathedral. The art took my breath away. Stunning! 
Established in 1844, St. Matthew Cathedral is an American historic site and repository of art and sculpture at its best.

As I prepared to speak, I noticed about three feet in front of me was a marble plaque on the floor with these words:

HERE RESTED THE REMAINS OF PRESIDENT KENNEDY AT THE REQUIEM MASS, NOVEMBER 29, 1963 BEFORE THEIR REMOVAL TO ARLINGTON WHERE THEY LIE IN EXPECTATION OF THE HEAVENLY RESURRECTION. 

And so I began my speech to pro-life Americans -- some of the finest citizens any nation can have -- who came to Washington from across the Union.  A blizzard was descending on the city but it did not deter hundreds of thousands of people marching in the streets to speak up for the sanctity of human. They called upon legislators to overturn Roe v. Wade that has been responsible for the abortions of 58 million preborn babies. They spoke out against acceptance of euthanasia and assisted suicide.  

Below is the Youtube video of my speech. Please excuse a few audio problems that briefly pop up in a few places.  If you would like me to speak in your area about against euthanasia, assisted suicide or address disability or a Christian perspective of suffering, contact me by email at HumanLifeMatters@shaw.ca -- Mark




Wednesday, June 14, 2017

THE REGRESSIVE WORLD OF PROGRESSIVES

The Canadian city of Edmonton spent $3 million on a fence across a high-level bridge over the North Saskatchewan River.  It is intended to prevent suicidal people from jumping off the bridge. Happily, the fence has been successful in that regard. Although progressives don't see a philosophical or ideological contraction to the fence, let me play devil's advocate (after all, most of Canada's, politicians, mainstream liberal media and government √©lites are doing his bidding). If suicide is an exercise of personal autonomy, doesn't the fence obstruct people's right of autonomy?

Chief Justice
Beverley McLaughlin
On February 6th, 2015, Canada's Supreme Court, under the ideological leadership of Chief Justice Beverely McLaughlin, unanimously struck down Canada's law against assisted suicide. They focused on Section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (similar to a constitution) that says:  "Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with fundamental principles of justice." (Happily, Justice Mclaughlin will be retiring soon. Unhappily, we're still stuck with the other eight.)

The Justices suppressed the first and highest human 'right to life' in order to elevate the lesser right of 'security of the person'. In other words, the high court's low decision raised personal autonomy to preposterous prominence. Why do I say the right to life is the first and highest right? All other rights (including the exercise of liberty and security of the person) depend upon the right to life in order to exist. Beverley McLaughlin and the other eight starched collars on the high court view personal autonomy of higher concern that sanctity of human life. And the Supremes said as much. From their ruling:

"... we do not agree that the existential formulation of the right to life requires an absolute prohibition on assistance in dying, or that an individual cannot "waive" their right to life. ... The sanctity of human life is one of our most fundamental societal values. Section 7 is rooted in a profound respect for the value of human life. But S7 also encompasses life, liberty and security during the passage to death."

After muting the right to life and the sanctity of human life, the nine illustrious judges continued:

"Underlying both of these rights [liberty and security of the person] is a concern for the protection of individual autonomy and dignity." Citing a British Columbia Human Rights Commission ruling they agreed that liberty protects "the right to make fundamental personal choices free from state interference."

Although the Supreme Court Justices were dealing with assisting the suicides of disabled and sick Canadians, surely the principal of making autonomous choices on matters of life and death apply to all Canadians, under this new legal model. To be consistent in the Brave New Canada under the Supreme Court's vision, shouldn't suicide prevention fences like the one in Edmonton be taken down, suicide prevention telephone hotlines across the country unplugged and suicide prevention programs stopped? After all, they impinge upon Canadians freedom to decide the time and place of their own deaths and make autonomous choices. But I don't think consistency is what the Supreme Court's had in mind with their deplorable ruling.

The Canadian Supreme Court ruling and subsequent federal assisted suicide law are intended exclusively for the disabled and sick. Medical killing of the disabled has been sold with the deceptive, saccharine euphemism medical assistance in dying.  It sounds so civilized and compassionate. Medical assistance in dying is actually called palliative care. What was legalized was medical killing.

The Supreme Court's assisted suicide decision and subsequent so-called progressive legalizing of assisted suicide dealt a serious blow to hard-won disability equality.  People like me have sought for more than thirty-five years to advance the cause of people with disabilities being treated as equals with the rest of the population. We fought to be equal in law, social policy promoting inclusion, health care, and every facet of society. The new law treats Canadians with disabilities as lesser citizens undeserving the same protections as the rest of the population. It seems that the progressives are, in fact, regressive. What Canada has now is suicide prevention for healthy and able-bodied Canadians while Canadians with disabilities and incurable disease get assisted suicide. It gives new symbolism to the Justices' blood-red robes!

Canada's new law will be eventually challenged by some depressed or mentally ill person who wants to be euthanized. They will say they don't want to risk trying to commit suicide by their own hand for fear of bungling the attempt and ending up in a worse position. They may say their emotional and psychological suffering is as great or greater than my physical suffering. And who are you or me, or judges in ivory towers, to say it is not?! A legal Rubicon has been crossed, a Pandora's box has been opened, the genie will not go back into its bottle. Tear down the fences that hamper 'choice'! 

Welcome to the darkening and indifferent world of unfettered personal autonomy. It is the natural and absurd conclusion to a regressive world of progressives, in all its callous splendour. God help us.

Mark

Sunday, June 11, 2017

OF SUCH IS THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN

Christ blessing the children
Jan Salomonsz de Bray
1663


I am an old man. Most of my life is behind me now. I am old but I'm happy. My world is filled with love despite spite of more that 3 decades of serious degenerative neurological disease (multiple sclerosis).

A number of years ago, my youngest grandson came to visit for a week. He was three years old. We had a wonderful time doing nothing in particular. Each day we went out to explore various playgrounds, or a field, or collect rocks. He would sit on my lap and we whizzed around town in my electric wheelchair. As we travelled about we sang children's songs. He could really belt out rousing renditions of Itsy Bitsy Spider, Wheels on The Bus, and of course, that generational favourite, Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.

We would pass the big red church at the top of the hill in the center of my little French village, and I talked to my little guy about Jesus and things like the real meaning of Christmas and Easter. As each day came to a close and bedtime came, I read to him children stories from the Bible. He took it all in and accepted it as the truth. We read about how God made the world and when Jesus blessed the little children. We prayed for mommy and daddy, his brother and sister. When we said, “Amen”, he simply said "good night Papa", closed his eyes and went to sleep hugging his favourite stuffed animal.  My grandson was completely secure in the care and love of his grandparents. He slept like – well, ... a baby.

His simple, pure faith broke my heart. I thought of what Jesus said: "Let the little children come to me, and do not forbid them; for such is the kingdom of heaven," (Mathew 19.14, cf. Mark 10.13-16.)

Just like my grandson's dependence and trust in me, I must trust and depend on God. In the previous chapter of Matthew, Jesus used the example of a small child to model discipleship.

“At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one little child like this in my name receives me." (Matthew 18.1-5, cf. Matthew 10.40, 19.13-15.)

Jesus was referring to child-like humility and trust,
not childish thinking or behaviour. The word “turn” means to change course. It implies repentance. It is a crucial component to salvation and entrance into the Kingdom of heaven, along with faith, trust in, and dependence on Christ. Was Christ referring to receiving believers who are child-like in their Christian faith, or receiving small children in His name, receive Christ?  Both. Jesus’ teaching on children in Matthew 19.13-16 affirms His love for children and closely followed his teaching on marriage, which precedes his teaching on money – but that’s fodder for a different blog entry.

It is God’s intent that children be raised in the security of a family with a father and mother. That’s the model. In Matthew 19.4-6, Jesus states that marriage is between a man and a woman in agreement with God’s original plan for the conjugal union (Genesis 2.24). Biblical Christians must, therefore, conclude that children are best served by a family with a father and a mother. 

Both genders bear the image of God and should reflect different characteristics and attributes of God. Children need to see these loving parental differences to help develop a healthy understanding of God. The more both parents trust and depend on Christ, and love and serve each other, the more accurate the reflection of God’s characteristics. Conversely, the less trusting and dependent on Christ that the parents are ― the more distorted the image that is given to their children.

As a grandparent, my role is to be supportive to the marriages of my adult children, to offer advice when sought, and to lovingly adore and encourage my grandchildren and give them a sense of their heritage.

It’s not as easy as it may appear, especially for someone aggressive or dominant. by nature. I want to take charge! But that’s not my role, I am not in charge. I am only the grandfather. God’s way is that my adult children raise my grandchildren, not me. 

I am taken back again to a Scripture mentioned above: 

“At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one little child like this in my name receives me."


My little grandson (and all my grandchildren) have taught me about humility and the kingdom of heaven. I must turn and become like a child and trust Christ with complete abandon.  -- Mark

Thursday, June 1, 2017

AN IMAGE OF CHRIST

My favourite portrayal of the life of Christ is the 1977 television mini-series, Jesus of Nazareth. That Emmy award-winning production had an all-star cast including Robert Powell (Jesus), Olivia Hussey (the Virgin Mary), Sir Laurence Olivier (Nicodemus), Sir Peter Ustinov (Herod the Great), Christopher Plummer (Herod Antipas), Rod Steiger (Pontius Pilate), just to mention a few. 

It was Robert Powell's portrayal of Jesus that moved me. It was outstanding! Not only was his acting exquisite, Powell's appearance was closest to the face of Christ in my mind. My son, Dean, knows this. He is an extraordinarily talented and successful artist. 

For my 64th birthday, Dean drew that rendition of Christ for me, in pencil. (See image at the top of this post.) I was deeply moved when he presented me with his original sketch of this powerful image from Jesus of Nazareth.

Now you can own a high quality print of Dean's Jesus of Nazareth for your home or use for a fundraising auction in support of your favourite charity. Numerous charities have used various other pieces of Dean's art for auction. Without exception, it has been successful.   

Here's how it works:

1. Auction:
  • Dean provides you with a framed print free. 
  • His sets his minimum reserve price if the piece sells. All bids above the reserve go to the charity. The successful auction bid is the organization's, less the reserve which is sent to Dean
  • If there are no bids, you simply return the print to Dean. It costs you nothing (other than postage).
2. Sale of prints
  • You purchase a set quantity of prints (discounts for bulk orders). You sell them for a price set by you.
You can contact Dean Pickup for more information or to place and order. He can be contacted by email: dean@dpict.ca, or facebook: @deanpickupartist 

MDP

ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE (HUMAN AND DIVINE)

Little children, I am with you only a little while longer. You will look for Me, and as I said to the Jews, so now I say to you: ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’ A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so also you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another." -- Jesus Christ, John 13.33-35[1] 


This is the Master's commandment. It is not a suggestion, it is a command as plain as the crooked nose on my face. Why? God is love.[2] For more perspective about the love Christ spoke about, read the 4th chapter of 1John verses 7-21. The Apostle John reinforces and affirms Christ's words. 

Perhaps it is fitting that the fourth chapter of 1John begins with instructions about testing spirits. Spirits and the spirit of our age distort love and pervert it. I believe Christ-like love is the greatest weapon against the cultural war in which we find ourselves (and we are in a culture war of colossal proportions). The battle is for nothing less than the hearts, minds and souls of every man, woman, and child. In the western, developed world, the enemy's weapons are the allure of hedonism and shallow promises of narcissism. Depression and hopelessness are their bitter fruits. The Christian's weapons are Christ-like love that shows Him to the world. (It is often shown through His followers.) 

The Divine love of God is expressed in His Son. It can change people forever as they discover new dimensions of their lives that God intended when He endowed them with His image and likeness. Joy is the sweet fruit as they discover in their divinely intended meaning and purpose. All people need to love and be loved. And they need to know they are loved. 

After more than 33 years of aggressive multiple sclerosis, the why of my suffering has finally been answered: The answer is found in the Divine love of Christ (just as it is for you). By surrendering my brokenness to Him, something mysterious and wonderful has begun. Despite my wheelchair and massive flaws of character, I am being slowly transformed to be more like Him! I'm being prepared for eternity. This is not unique to me. Millions of people throughout the past 2,000 years have discovered this transformation through a personal relationship with the risen Christ. 

He is the source of all dimensions of Divine love. All other love is either stunted or counterfeit. We must love God with our whole being. But it does not stop there, we are to love our neighbour as ourselves.[3] There is a natural flow from the first to the second (or there should be).

Dare anybody ask the cynical and dismissive question: "Who is my neighbour?" Jesus answered that ancient question in the Parable of the Good Samaritan.[4] 

Everybody is called to the light of love (both human and divine). Our world needs to encounter Christ's love. (Despite a line in the song below, there is nobody on this side of the grave who can not be saved. On that point, John Lennon was wrong.

Humanity desperately needs the reality of Jesus Christ, and to be transformed by His love to become children of God.[5] Christians are called to love, at home and abroad. We are to love others wherever we meet them. Hear their silent cries for love, and respond with love. 

For example, there are hundreds of thousands of North American children adrift in foster care. Many need a home and permanent Christian family to call their own -- a family where they find belonging and unconditional love. They need to grow and blossom. Have you considered a domestic adoption? 

Do you know there are an estimated 147 million abandoned and orphaned children in the world? Their need for love and care is immediate and acute. Orphans are some of the most vulnerable people on the planet! They need to love and be loved. They long for belonging. 

Have you considered an international adoption? Do you have love to give but can't afford it financially? Ask your church family to help sponsor your adoption. It may take a village to raise a child, but what happens when the village is abandoned or broken down? It takes a family to care for and protect an orphan or abandoned child. 

God gives us the example: Through faith in Christ, we spiritual orphans are adopted as children of God. Can you mirror God's example and make room at your family table for another child?

Papa (me) waiting
patiently for my
new grandchild
My daughter and son-in-law are in the final throes of adopting a child from Haiti. I could very well meet my new grandchild by Christmas. What a glorious Christmas it will be! A little child will be immersed into the love of our family. Love grows. 

Perhaps a cynic is thinking "That's only one child! You can't save the world." No, but we can save one child's world forever. And that child will change us forever. 

We are the human family; the human family is at its best it under the lordship of Jesus Christ. All we need is love (human and Divine). Leave the rest to God. -- Mark 
(Make sure your sound is on for the video below.
Children are so open to love.)

________________________
Notes

[1] Also see Leviticus 19.18; Matthew 5.44; John 15.17; Romans 12.10, 13.8-10; Gal 5.14; Ephesians 5.2, 1 Thessalonians 4.9. Compare with Galatians 6.2; 1John 2.8-10, 3.4,18,23; 2John 1.5.
[2] 1John 4.8 & 16.
[3] Matthew 22.35-40.
[4] Luke 10.25-37.
[5] John 1.12-13, Galations 3.26-28.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

THE JESUS PRAYER AND INNER CHRISTIAN LIFE: A presentation by Federica Mathewes-Green

Federica
Matthewes-Green
I first became aware of Federica Matewes-Green in Deerfield, Illinois about 20 years ago, when I was speaking at the Center For Bioethics and Human Dignity (Trinity International University). She interviewed me for a magazine article. about my life and my Christian perspective on degenerative disease, disability and suffering. I liked Federica very much; I met a sister in Christ.

Federica Matthews-Green is an Eastern Orthodox Christian author and speaker. I came across a Youtube video of Federica speaking about The Jesus Prayer, and a deeper application of it in Christian life.  The Jesus Prayer is a part of my own inner Christian discipline.

Below is the video. It is 36 minutes long but time well spent.