“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, February 27, 2010

Mark Pickup's latest blog

Read the latest blog by Mark Pickup about the seminar "SEARCHING FOR MEANING IN SUFFERING: A Christian perspective" at http://markpickup.org

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The tyranny of Canada's socialized healthcare

Danny Williams (60) is a self-made man. He was a multi-millionaire long before becoming Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador in Canada. Williams loves Newfoundland. He only takes a salary of one dollar a year as Premier. Under William's leadership, Newfoundland has transformed from a a depressed have-not province to an emerging place of promise -- thanks, in part, to well placed off-shore oil and gas. He has compassion and toughness in defending the rights of Newfoundland.

Last year Williams developed heart disease. He decided to seek heart surgery in the U.S. at his own expense (leaving the the provincial loonie he's paid annually in his pocket.*)

Friends of Medicare, the liberal Canadian media, and other defenders of Canada's universal healthcare system were outraged that Danny Williams did not patiently wait for his turn to have surgery in Canada. With the usual shrill indignation of Canada's socialist elites, they said Williams had some explaining to do when he got back to Canada! No he didn't.

I did not think he had any explaining to do whatsoever. Surely a man can spend his own money the way he wants! How are his decisions about his money anybody's business but his own?

Recuperating at his Florida condominium, Danny Williams was interviewed by Canadian media. "I was warned by my staff that this could be an issue," Williams said. "But this is my heart. It's my health and it's my choice." In short, Danny Williams thumbed his nose at his socialist critics. Good for you Mr. Williams, good for you.

The very media and government elites who tout "choice" when it comes to abortion decry a man's "choice" when it comes to his own life.

I can imagine if Obamacare becomes law, Obama would eventually appoint a Czar to oversee it and gradually strip away the private option to ensure there are no queue jumpers, no two tier healthcare -- one for the rich and another for ordinary people.

In the end, Americans could find themselves with a tyranny of socialized medicine -- just like Canada. Beware of the path Barack Obama and the Democrats take America!Does America really want Canadian style healthcare with its crippling debt by government mismanagement resulting in long lines waiting for necessary surgery, hospital bed closures and cutbacks in diagnostic imaging. Yet abortion on demand is funded -- unscrutinized and no questions asked -- regardless of whether taxpayers object? Think long and hard my dear American friends. Think long and hard.

Think of Danny Williams and imagine a place where a man's own money is up for public debate.

Mark Pickup

*The Canadian dollar coin bears the image of a loon. It's known as the loonie.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A reasonable request for Baby Isaiah -- and his parents

The case of baby Isaiah will be heard again today in an Edmonton (Canada) courtroom. As you may know, Baby Isaiah May was born October 24th 2009 after a difficult 40 hour labour. His umbilical cord was wrapped around his throat cutting off oxygen to his brain. He was born brain-damaged and has been in a coma and respirator dependent since then. Doctors in charge of his care want to remove the respirator while his parents want 90 days more to see if their baby will improve. They sought a court injunction to keep the respirator in place.

Justice Michelle Crighton has asked for the testimony of two medical specialty perspectives: An independent neonatologist and a independent pediatric neurologist.

Regardless of Baby Isaiah's prospects, I pray that Justice Crighton will do the compassionate thing and grant the 90 day window for Baby Isaiah to be on the respirator. Not only will it give an opportunity for him to improve, but it will give a needed opportunity for his young parents to prepare themselves for either a special needs baby or prepare for his death.

Baby Isaiah is not the only person requiring care. Ninety days is necessary, reasonable and compassionate for all parties involved. I hope Justice Crighton understands this and grants the 90 day repreive the May family has requested and need.

Mark Pickup

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Trusting God

Below is the second part of LaRee Pickup's presentation (see previous entry for part one).

We needed a house that would allow Mark to move about without a struggle, a home that would take us far into this disease – and further if necessary. Where the MS would take us, we did not know. We had to trust God.

My prayer was two-sided. I always had a deep longing for permanence, a place to call home. As a child I was moved from pillar to post (37 times throughout Canada). Every year I attended a new school; I didn’t want my children living like gypsies. There was nothing I wanted more than a stable HOME, a permanent address and an apple tree in the back yard. The Lord knew this had been my deepest wish.

And so, in 1987, God answered a need and a wish. He provided us with a wheelchair accessible home in Beaumont, Alberta, just down the hill from the Catholic church. During difficult times of MS attacks Mark seemed to find solace sitting near the apple tree and looking up the hill at the old church and listening to the sound of its bell. It seemed to draw his heart closer to God.

Our home has become a meeting place for family occasions.

Every August we gather in the backyard to pick apples from the tree. What a special blessing God has given to me! All I needed to do was trust Him. God enveloped me with His love in such a way that I don’t need a Superman husband. (I must admit though, when I hear a noise in the night, I send Mark in his electric wheelchair whirring into the darkness swinging a cane to protect us from the bogeyman.) What more could I ask for?

I am convinced that the Lord has allowed the MS to continue so that we grow spiritually and learn to depend upon him completely.

Do you want to know something else? I think we’re going to have a bumper-crop of apples this year.

I am convinced that love is the only thing that really matters.


Sunday, February 7, 2010

The pain of watching a loved-one degenerate

Recently my wife LaRee were in the Canadian province of Manitoba to deliver an address about suffering. I delivered the perspective of someone with a degenerative, incurable disease. She gave the perspective of a loved-one watching the degeneration occur. Below is part of her address. More will follow in the coming days:



Mark lives with the real symptoms of aggressive, degenerative multiple sclerosis, which have their limits. I am left to witness it all, ― and imagine. Imagination has no limits. That is why I believe it is easier to be than to watch.

Despite countless trials love has prevailed. But love is like the two sides of a precious coin. The two sides of love are this: It is life’s greatest ecstasy but also the cause of life’s greatest agonies and anguish.

The 19th Century writer, Victor Hugo said, “To love or to have loved, that is enough. Ask nothing further. There is no other pearl to be found in the dark folds of life. To love is a consummation.” -- And so it is.

Yet as a wife, mother and now a grandmother, I want more, and I ask further.

I want to protect those I love from pain, emotional hurts, disappointments, and even life, as it ends, — but I cannot. So often I sat at the bedside of suffering loved-ones and prayed, “Lord give me their pain” – as though there is some quota of suffering to be filled which I can bargain over with God. There is not.

Romantic love begins with a glance and a hello and ends in tears of goodbye at life’s conclusion and separation – or it should. Life begins with the agony of childbirth but is quickly forgotten by the power of love. Such is the love for a mother for her children.

When Mark and I married, he was so healthy and active. For the first eleven years of marriage he was a super-achiever not only in his career but with family life. After being diagnosed with MS, his career stalled and he was often too sick to participate in family activities. Our children were 7 and 5 when Mark was diagnosed with MS. They had difficulty understanding why their Dad could not play and be active like he used to be.

At the time that Mark was diagnosed, I didn’t even know what MS was. I had no idea of the impact it would have on our future. And so I began to research the medical literature and even visited a few auxiliary hospitals to see if I could pick out the people with MS. I noticed the canes, the crutches, the wheelchairs and scooters, the van contraptions and curb cuts. Multiple sclerosis meant disability! I looked into the faces of loved-ones of patients with MS and wondered if I could face the heart-break and hurt.

My initial reaction was anger. It was irrational but my immediate response was anger. How could Mark do this to me? How dare he get sick!

He was supposed to be the strong one. I was the weak one. “Damn you!” I thought. If one of us was to get sick, it should be me. I could cope better with disease. Mark was the one with the most energy. I could accept this much more easily if I was the sick one. I could just slink away from the world, it would be okay. I was angry, sad, and bitter but most of all,... I was afraid.

I wanted to correct the fate God allowed by trying to convince Him he made a mistake. Mark could raise the children, remarry, and go on with life.
“I can’t do this!” I cried. “I cannot sit back and watch this Lord.” I pleaded with God to give me the MS.

Mark’s faith was stronger than mine, his personality stronger than mine, his body was stronger, his upbringing stronger. His ability to make a living was better than mine. Couldn’t God see that?! I was so angry with Mark and GOD! I felt cornered and so let down.

Mark’s MS started changing him. I began to gauge the distance between benches in shopping malls when we went shopping in case he needed to sit with exhaustion. I started fearing places with crowds. He might get impatient and I would see that look of frustration on his face.

Then one afternoon I looked on in horror as my husband began to crawl up the stairs in our bi-level house so he could go to the bathroom. I realized our life had changed and I had to make some decisions. The first decision I had to make was whether I was prepared to stay in the marriage.

Many times Satan told me that there was an easier way out. “You’re still young. The kids would get over it,” He whispered over my shoulder. “You can start over like many other women after divorce.” The temptation continued: “You can get help from other family members. They will understand.” Even people at my work asked why I was staying with Mark. (?)

It did not take long to realize I needed to get serious with God and ask for his hand if I was going to jump on the wild MS rollercoaster ride. My first prayer was to ask for a wheelchair accessible home so we could begin our new life TOGETHER: God, Mark and me.