“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

Sunday, July 24, 2016

WESTLOCK, ALBERTA: SUPPRESSING FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION IN A CANADIAN SMALL TOWN?

In my little corner of the world, it seems anti-life bigotry is alive and well. According to LifeSiteNews.com (LSN), the small farming town of Westlock, Alberta recently banned a pro-Life float from their annual community parade. Pro-Life views were not welcome. (Westlock is seventy miles north of my community of Beaumont, Alberta.)

The pro-life float was delightfully positive and life affirming. It had a cardboard birthday cake with three candles and a banner that said "Everyone deserves a birthday." Do you see something offensive in that? Me neither. 



It's an era when everyone is supposed to be so pluralistic and accepting. We're supposed to celebrate and accept alternate agendas. Homosexual PRIDE parades are celebrated in the largest cities across Canada -- with their in-your-face advocacy; Greenpeace -- saving baby seals and eagle eggs, and assorted other agendas. Why would a small Canadian prairie community ban a modest parade float advocating the affirmation, celebration and protection of all human life? 

I submit it is an example of how the culture of death has invaded and pervaded every level of Canadian society, down to the smallest town.


Initially, Westlock parade organizers said the pro-Life float was not in keeping with Westlock's 100th anniversary theme. The question arises: Did all the other floats have a 100th anniversary theme? Were any other floats banned and if so, why? The article below from LSN suggests the answer is no. If that is true, then we must conclude there was something parade organizers didn't like? Gee, I wonder what it was?


After hiding behind the not-in-keeping-with-the-anniversary-theme,

Westlock Alberta Mayor
Ralph Leringer
parade organizers finally admitted the real reason: "Pro-Life is not allowed." Calls and emails by LSN to Westlock Mayor Ralph Leringer were not returned. 

One former Westlock resident, Claudelle Key, stated, "The town had an agenda and clearly continued to ramp up its efforts, which included lying (you're not registered, you're not in theme, we're at capacity). 


She continued:


"In the end, these 'gatekeepers' used threats to keep this pro-life float out of the parade. If this had been another group that had been denied entry, this would be in front of the Alberta human rights commission right now." Although we need not identify which groups, Keys is absolutely right.



According to LSN, when Keys wrote a letter to the local newspaper to bring light to what happen, (I presume it was The Westlock News), they refused to publish it.

So what should we make of a community's apparent hostility to unfashionable yet legitimate and deeply held views of a significant minority of its citizens? If we embrace a spirit of pluralism and acceptance such behavior by community leaders must be decried. 


If the LSN article is correct, what happened in Westlock was nothing less than the suppression of its citizens' right to expression of conscience and religious beliefs, guaranteed in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (s-2).


Someone may be thinking, "What's the big deal? It was small town parade in a remote community out in western Canada." Injustice is injustice no matter where it happens. The rights enshrined in Canada's Charter, and the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Articles 18 and 19) apply to everyone. The  universal human right of conscience and religious belief, and their expression, are universal -- no matter how small or where they are applied.

In 1948, while pondering the new UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Eleanor Roosevelt said this about the what and where of human rights:



"Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home -- so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm, or office where he works. ... Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world."

It does not matter if suppression of conscience expression occurs on the streets of a dusty prairie town or Canada's largest city of Toronto; the violation is just as wrong and repugnant no matter where it happens. Banning or suppressing people's legitimate opinions from being expressed must be challenged anywhere it is found. According to LSN, it seems Westlock community organizers and local newspaper did that. Shame on them both!


The Pembina Pro-Life group deserves an apology from the Town and a solemn promise not to ban them in future. Westlock's municipal leaders may disagree with what Pembina Pro-Life espouses but they must protect their right to say it publicly. -- Mark


A link to the LSN article can be found here
https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/alberta-town-bans-float-from-parade-over-pro-life-message-pro-lifers-say?utm_source=LifeSiteNews.com+Daily+Newsletter&utm_campaign=d32159e1a8-LifeSiteNews_com_Canada_Headlines_06_19_2013&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_0caba610ac-d32159e1a8-326171814

Saturday, July 16, 2016

THE BEYOND SUFFERING BIBLE

There is a tremendous new resource Bible available called the
Joni and me at Biola University,
La Mirada, California, 2009
BEYOND SUFFERING BIBLE.  This New Living Translation (NLT) is available Joni and Friends International Ministries. For many years, Joni Eareckson Tada has been a trusted personal friend of mine. She has shepherded this critical important Bible to its completion. I highly recommend it to people whose hearts ache from the suffering of a loved-one or themselves. 



Joni comments: "I'm so excited about the Beyond Suffering Bible. It's designed to help the reader -- especially those affected by disability -- grasp the goodness of god amidst critically important questions about suffering." 

Joni knows a thing or two about suffering. She has lived with quadriplegia for nearly 50 years. She has had also had a serious bout cancer. Despite these trials Joni has glorified God not despite disability rather because of it through her international Christian ministry Joni and Friends based out of Agoura Hills, California. Joni Eareckson Tada has risen above profound disability to be a blessing to millions of people. 

I highly recommend that evangelical Christians order a copy of the BEYOND SUFFERING BIBLE from the website http://www.beyondsufferingbible.com/  



Wednesday, July 13, 2016

POPE BENEDICT ON THE RESURRECTION

My previous post dealt with the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Pope Benedict XVI had a very interesting observation about the earth shaking reality and historical turning point of the Resurrection. 

In his 2011 book JESUS OF NAZARETH, HOLY WEEK: FROM THE ENTRANCE INTO JERUSALEM TO THE RESURRECTION, the pontiff observed that the early church was made up almost entirely of Jews whose culture strictly observed the Sabbath for centuries. From its beginning, the Christian community gathered for worship on the first day: Sunday (cf. 1 Corinthians 16.2; Acts. 20.7; Revelation 1.10). Pope Benedict noted that Ignatius of Antioch (who died around AD 67) gave clear evidence that for early Christians Sunday had supplanted the Sabbath: Ignatius wrote: 


"We have seen how former adherents of the ancient customs have since attained to a new hope; so that they have given up keeping the Sabbath and now order their lives by the Lord's day instead (the day when life first dawned for us, thanks to him and his death." (Ad Magn., 9:1) 

Pope Benedict commented:

"If we bear in mind the immense importance attached to the Sabbath in the Old Testament tradition on the basis of the Creation account and the Decalogue, then it is clear that only an event of extraordinary impact could have led to the abandonment of the Sabbath and its replacement by the first day of the week. Only an event that marked souls indelibly could bring about such a profound realignment in the religious culture of the week."

The Pope then said, "For me, the celebration of the Lord's Day,
which was a characteristic part of the Christian community from the outset, is one of the most convincing proofs that something extraordinary happened that day -- the discovery  of the empty tomb and the encounter with the risen Lord."

Indeed, and I believe this convincing proof will dawn to a new generation. -- Mark



Sunday, July 10, 2016

THE PIVOTAL POINT OF CHRISTIANITY

Have you ever been so heartbroken and your hopes so shattered that you could scarcely consider what your future holds or whether you even had a future? That is what it must have been like for the disciples the day after Jesus was crucified.

They had placed their faith in him and dared to hope he was the Messiah and there he lay dead in a tomb. The terrible events of the previous day left them numb and heartsick. The raw grief within the remaining 11 disciples must have felt like a gaping wound pulsating in their chests.

And what about his mother? How could they console Mary when they could not even console each other? The chief priests and teachers of the law had mocked Jesus as he hung dying on the cross. They wagged their heads and said, "He saved others; he cannot save himself."

Were they simply stating the bitter and cruel truth? Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead but who would raise him from the dead - or his followers? Jesus restored sight to the blind but now, because of him, his followers were blinded by sorrow; for a time Jesus gave them a wonderful vision of how life could be and now that vision was extinguished – plunging them into a dark abyss of grief. Jesus healed broken bodies but what about healing their broken hearts?

Their hope was gone . . . or so they thought. Had the scoffers and cynics won? Had evil prevailed over good?

ROSE FROM THE DEAD
Then, early on that first day of the week, something happened: the resurrection! Jesus came alive again and physically rose from the dead. He appeared before them. It was not a hallucination or a ghost. He had truly, physically come back from the dead.

Jesus was different, yet the same. Natural laws did not seem to apply to him. He inexplicably appeared before them even though they were in a locked room. The resurrected Jesus said, "Why are you troubled? Why do questions arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have." He showed them his hands and his feet (Luke 24.36-40). The disciples were overjoyed.

Many people saw the risen Jesus, not just the disciples. In fact, on one occasion Christ appeared to more than 500 people at the same time (1 Corinthians 15.6). The Book of Acts says the risen Jesus not only appeared to many people but that he gave convincing proofs he was alive prior to his ascension to heaven. Is it any wonder that the disciples were unshakeable in their faith and resolve to spread the Gospel?

DIE FOR THEIR FAITH
Countless Christians of the early Church preferred death in the most grisly ways to denying Christ. But we should not limit our recognition of this fact of history to early Christendom; millions of Christians throughout the last 2,000 years have been willing to die for their faith in Jesus
Christ rather than renounce or betray Him. This continues to this day with more Christians than ever suffering and dying for their faith.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the pivotal point upon which Christianity stands or falls. Did he rise from the dead or not? If Jesus did not rise from the dead then Christianity is a fraud and the millions of its martyrs have died in vain, and so is your faith and mine too.

The Apostle Paul addressed this point in 1 Corinthians 15.14-19. If Christ was not raised from the dead then we will not be raised either and everyone who has died in Christ is lost.

We accept by faith that Jesus Christ suffered and died to settle with God our problem of sin and evil. We believe in his resurrection and even though we die too, we will experience resurrection of our bodies in Christ when he comes again.

This means everything to me. Not only can I anticipate
wholeness and freedom from disease and disability in the world to come but I have found meaning to my present suffering in union with Christ's suffering, and hope in his resurrection.

Like Job, I know my Redeemer lives and I long to see him from my flesh. As the Apostle's Creed proclaims, I believe in the resurrection of the body and life everlasting. I shall see the resurrected Jesus Christ face to face in heaven. I will rise.  -- Mark

[Click image below or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WlHUKY3jBv0 for "I will rise" by Chris Tomlin, 5:01]



Thursday, July 7, 2016

SOPHIA TALKS: CHOOSING LIFE

The second in the Catholic Social Services (Edmonton) video series of the Sophia Talks: Choosing Life.

Click https://www.cssalberta.ca/News/ArtMID/849/ArticleID/10

Mark

Monday, July 4, 2016

WHO WAS THE REAL MARGARET SANGER?

By Mary Flores
Educational Outreach Coordinator
American Life League

One hundred years ago, a woman named Margaret Sanger opened
Margaret Sanger
(1879-1966)
the first birth control clinic in New York City. That first clinic was the birthplace of what we know today as the abortion giant Planned Parenthood.
                                   
Most people recognize Planned Parenthood as the largest abortion provider in the United States, but few people realize that PPFA started with just birth control.

You see, when we think we can control when and where we have children, it leads us to believe that children are either wanted or unwanted. When a society believes that a person’s value depends on whether or not he is wanted, the only recourse is abortion.

Where it all started
Thanks to the work of one woman—Margaret Sanger—America changed its mindset about contraception. In the late 1800s, contraception was illegal. It was even illegal to distribute information about contraceptives in the United States, let alone perform abortions. Sanger set out to change that law.

Inspired by the false “science” of eugenics, Margaret Sanger believed that birth control was the only way to “cleanse the public gene pool” and to eliminate the poor and those whom she deemed “unfit” from society—an ideology much like that of the Nazis.

In the space of 100 years, the United States not only permitted anyone to use contraceptives, it also decriminalized abortion through all nine months of pregnancy.

Today’s youth deserve to know
Feminists of today see Sanger as a hero because of her campaign for birth control and her organization’s later campaign for abortion in America. Our young people deserve to know the truth about how Sanger’s ideas continue to damage our families and society as a whole.

A new multimedia unit study entitled Who Was the Real Margaret Sanger? from American Life League’s Culture of Life Studies Program shows high school students the history of the founder of Planned Parenthood and exposes Margaret Sanger’s twisted ideology and adherence to eugenics—the same quasi-science used by the Nazis to justify the murder of millions of people in order to create a “better race.”

In order to make this important unit study available in time for the fall semester, American Life League has started a Kickstarter fundraising campaign to raise the funds necessary to complete the study, as well as donate copies of Who Was the Real Margaret Sanger? to schools in need.

You can help bring this important effort to schools by giving to the campaign and sharing the project on social media. In exchange for backing the project, you can receive rewards such as a copy of Who Was the Real Margaret Sanger? and other unit studies from the Culture of Life Studies Program.





American Life League’s Culture of Life Studies Program stresses the culture of life as an integral part of every academic discipline. CLSP is dedicated to helping students become effective communicators of the pro-life message.