“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

Saturday, December 10, 2016

FAMILY TRAITS AND TALENTS

Since early childhood I loved to draw, with a particular fascination for the human face. It never ceased to amaze me that with all the people on the planet, no two faces are the same (except for identical twins). Isn't that amazing? God makes us all unique and it is as obvious as, well ... as the nose on your face. My son Dean also showed an aptitude for art beginning at an early age.  

He watched me draw as in the sketch at the right. Even as a small child Dean picked up a pencil in his little and uncertain hand and began to draw with remarkable ability in my shadow. I put him in quality art classes at the Edmonton Art Gallery and watched his God-given talent soar. By the time Dean was sixteen he was better than his instructors. In fact, a time came when Dean's teacher told him there was nothing more he could teach him. The student surpassed the teacher -- and that's the way it should be.  

Today, my son's work is in high demand. As Christmas draws near he can't keep up with the demand for his sketches. People want prints of his work. Others commission him for sketches. (See sample at the left of his work.)

 He makes his living as a graphic/commercial artist along with portraits in pencil, ink and water-colour. 

Although multiple sclerosis took away my ability to draw many years ago, I am satisfied to watch Dean excel far beyond anything I ever achieved. Now, his children are following him and producing remarkable art that may one day surpass him. That's as it should be.

Dean recently asked me if science discovered a way to cure MS and reverse my neurological damage, would I be happy to draw again. Yes, it would be nice ... very nice to pick up a pencil in my uncertain hand and draw again in the shadow of his towering talent.

It's not out of the realm of possibility. Science is advancing with dazzling leaps and bounds. Below is a link to the story of an artist who lost her ability due to tremors of Parkinson's disease. Scientists were able to settle her tremors. Perhaps one day my time will come. If it is God's will that I can serve Him better the way I am, that's fine too. --Mark

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-38208814

(See Dean's work on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/deanpickupartist/)

Friday, December 9, 2016

THE BODY OF CHRIST


My soul-bond with the Eucharist -- the body of Christ[1] -- has consoled me in my darkest hours of degenerative disease and disability. 

The body of Christ draws me ever nearer to Him; it unites me with His suffering, death, and the assurance of future eternal glory in the resurrection, of which Christ is the first fruits.[2] It is the real presence of my Lord, body and blood, together with His soul and divinity. "The whole Christ is truly, really and substantially contained" in the Eucharist.[3]

Mark
___________
[1] Matthew 26.26, Luke 22.19, 1Corinthians 11.20-24, John 6.51-56, Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1333-1342.  (Also see "The Real Presence" http://www.catholic.com/tracts/the-real-presence )
[2] 1Corinthians 15.20-23 (cf. Acts 26.23, Colossians 1.18, Revelation 1.5).
[3] CCC. 1374

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

JOY OF CHRISTMAS CARRIES HOPE OF THE AGES

The Nativity by
Gerard Van Honthorst (1590-1655)
The Christmas Season is meant for inexpressible Joy. After all, Advent marks the coming of Jesus Christ to earth to save humanity from the penalty of sin and evil. It should be a joyous time as we contemplate this colossal event that was so immense that even the heavens were shaken and altered at what was happening.  His birth had been foretold by the prophets and awaited by all creation. Christ was born into poverty; the Saviour of the world was placed in a manger ─ probably little more than a feeding trough for animals!  It was all the Blessed Virgin Mary could give him, other than to lovingly wrap the holy infant in swaddling clothes.

I have often wondered what she must have thought giving birth in a stable to God’s Son. She knew who she carried and gave birth to!  The angel Gabriel previously appeared to her and said,


The Annunciation (c. 1472-1475)
by Leonardo da Vinci
(1452-1519)
“Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1.31-33)

The newborn Son of the Most High was not laid in a royal nursery but in a manger, amongst the smell of straw and animals not surrounded by palace guards.  How could this be? A stable manger is a long way from the throne of David! And yet the Blessed Virgin Mary believed and trusted God.  

(On a different dimension ─ more real than any earthly context ─ I believe that a legion of angels watched over the Christ child.)

The Presentation of Jesus in
The Temple (c. 1631)
Rembrandt
Harmenszoon Van Rijn
(1605-1669)
When Joseph and Mary presented Jesus in the temple for circumcision and consecration to the Lord, the righteous and devout old man Simeon was filled with the Holy Spirit. He took the baby in his arms and he prayed to God: “Now Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, ... a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.”

Then Simeon turned to Mary and said, “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed.”

And so it was ― and still is today. Christ reveals thoughts of many hearts of men and women in how they respond to him. His truth brings reconciliation to some and enmity to others.  Where people stand with Jesus determines where they stand before God. As I have said in previous posts, Christ’s internal light is the source of revelation to all those who place their lives, faith and hope in him. Those who receive Christ at a deep internal level rise above themselves and are transformed: Their prayer becomes Thy will be done, not mine.  And they mean it.  They are content to accept God’s will, whatever that might be.

Living in anguish within the will of God is better than living in comfort outside the will of God.  It sounds strange, but it is true. I know this from personal experience. It took much of my life ─ along with a sea of tears and a trail of regrets ─ to finally learn it. It may seem contradictory, but one’s heart can be broken, ripped into shreds, laying open and bleeding while at the same time knowing the peace and joy of Christ. I don’t know how it’s possible but it does happen.  (?) I have experienced it and so have millions of other people.

We sometimes witness this apparent human contradiction at the deathbed of a Christian. He may be racked with illness or pain and sad to leave his family yet there is joyous expectation of eternity with Christ that overshadows all his earthly concerns.

That brings me back to Christmas. What began in a dank, humble stable 2,000 years ago transformed the world and changed the lives of countless millions of people who believed in Jesus Christ. He gave them power to become children of God.

Coronation of the Virgin
(c.1641-1644)
Diego Valazquez
(1599-1660)
Throughout history millions of Christians preferred to death rather than renounce the hope they discovered in Christ. His mother became the mother of humanity. The Queen of heaven now continually petitions her Son, The King of Kings, on our behalf.


The joy of Christmas has the hope of the ages. The meaning behind Christ`s birth can give meaning to our lives and deaths.

May you have a blessed, holy and merry Christmas.

Mark

CAMPAIGN FOR WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE VAN

This christmas Season consider a donation to the GoFundMe campaign to purchase a wheelchair accessible van for me. Not only will it improve my quality of life, the w/c van will assist me to take to communities a Christian message of life with dignity for incurably sick and disabled people. This is in sharp contrast to the prevailing myth in North America of death with dignity by lethal injection or poison.


To donate to the GoFundMe campaign, click on the link below: 
https://funds.gofundme.com/dashboard/2rnxyktc

Thank you for your generous consideration. May God richly bless you this Christmas, and throughout the year.

Mark

LOVE OF NEIGHBOUR

C.S. Lewis
"Do not waste time bothering whether you 'love' your neighbour; behave as if you did." -- C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Monday, December 5, 2016

WESLEY J. SMITH: "TRUMP DERANGEMENT SYNDROME INFECTS BIOETHICS MOVEMENT"

Wesley J. Smith
I have posted below another penetrating article in the National Review by one of America's top bioethical thinkers, and close personal friend, Wesley J. Smith: "Trump Derangement Syndrome Infects Bioethics Movement."  Smith's analytical mind is as sharp as a razor. See it here http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/442767/trump-derangement-syndrome-infects-bioethics-movement

Sunday, December 4, 2016

WHAT DO CATHOLICS BELIEVE?

A question to my Catholic brothers and sisters: Do you know your Catholic Catechism? A question for my Evangelical Christian brothers and sisters: What does the Catholic Church actually believes? The essence of Catholic teachings and doctrine can be found in the CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH.  Below is a link to EWTN's TV show "Grab Your Catechism" with Father Charles Connor, STL, Ph.D. He gives a good foundation and speaks about God, the Trinity and the Apostles and Nicene Creeds. He's very good!
http://www.ewtn.com/multimedia/live_player.asp?satname=domenglp&telrad=t001&servertime=20141101427