“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 25, 2017


Recently I read about a family that took a stranger into their home. He has no family and is slowly dying with a terminal disease. I admired the family for their kindness and willingness to become involved with the plight of a stranger, but something troubled me about the story. It reminded me of my own fears and cowardice.
I am frightened of where multiple sclerosis may yet take me. What if my degenerative disability puts me into a nursing home like so many other people with degenerative diseases? It would remove me from being actively engaged in the lives of those I love most! (I’m no different that other people in those institutions.)

I avoid nursing homes: To see those who are living that nightmare reminds me of my own mammoth fear. I turn away. That is my shame. My fear is abandonment yet I abandon. I want Good Samaritans for me yet I am not one to others. Fear has been a terrible motivation in my life. 

The Good Samaritan (1562-63)
Jacobo Bassano
There are many artists depictions of Christ’s parable of the Good Samaritan. The parable is taken from the 10th Chapter of Luke. Jesus was responding to a lawyer’s test about inheriting eternal life. Jesus turned the question around and asked the lawyer “What is written in the Law?” The lawyer replied, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbour as yourself.” So far so good, then Jesus told him his answer was right. Then the lawyer cynically asked, “And who is my neighbour?” It doesn’t take much discernment to detect the lawyer’s question was meant to exclude some people from love’s embrace. Jesus responded with a parable to illustrate that love should not have calculable limitations.

Jesus’ story of the Good Samaritan was meant to illustrate that a neighbour is the person who shows mercy and a neighbour is also someone who needs mercy.  Christ’s story tells of a man who was attacked by robbers while travelling on a desolate road. A priest and a Levite passed by the half dead man without helping him. It was a Samaritan who stopped to help. It’s interesting that Christ spoke of a Samaritan because Samaritans and Jews were enemies and despised each other (cf. Luke 9.51-56; John 4.9). The Lord asked the lawyer, “Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” I imagine the lawyer felt a little uncomfortable and embarrassed at being put on the spot. He replied, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus’ reply must have resonated with the lawyer just as it should resonate with you and me: “Go and do likewise.”         

If  you and I are honest, we all must admit there have been times when our Lord’s words haven’t resonated with us. We have behaved like the priest and Levite and passed by someone in need. There probably were excellent excuses but they were excuses. The fact remained that someone needed love but did not receive it. At such moments, legitimate or lame excuses cheapened our connection to the human family ― not to mention our Christian faith.
Perhaps like the priest and Levite on a lonely stretch of road, there were times when we were afraid that a similar fate might befall us. Yes, fear has been a terrible motivation in your life too. Perhaps the needs of the needy may inconvenience us and demand more from than we were prepared to give.
When we pass by a person in need, it may as well have done it to Christ. It would have been a poor defence for you or I to say, “At least it was not indifference!”  On the surface, it can be hard to distinguish between inaction motivated by fear or by apathy. I believe the opposite of love is not hate but indifference.
Have you ever turned a blind eye to the plight of someone in need? Perhaps it was fear that held you back. (I hope it was not indifference!) We are all called to love God with all our being and our neighbour as ourselves. It is a tougher part of the Christian pilgrimage but Christ himself expects it from his followers. Love calls us to action.

Saturday, February 18, 2017


March 4th, 2017: I will be addressing a Wisconsin medical conference about my JOURNEY THROUGH GRIEF OF DISEASE TOWARD MEANING: A CASE STUDY. For more information see link https://www.humanlife.org/product/dignity-life/

I am available to address a Christian's perspective on suffering, adult onset disability, euthanasia and assisted suicide or end of life issues. For bookings send an email to HumanLifeMatters@shaw.ca

Mark Davis Pickup

Saturday, February 11, 2017


I was going through old USB memory sticks looking for a document when I discovered something I wrote in 2005. It was a terrifying time. What I feared most from multiple sclerosis threatened to happen: Quadriplegia. You can read it below. If it seems dramatic, forgive me. I was afraid. Happily and thankfully, God pulled me back from the precipice of becoming quadriplegic and the prospect of a nursing home. The drastic symptoms eased returning much of the use of my right arm, and all the use of my left. My legs are still badly effected but it's a lot better than what my wife and I feared. My words of twelve years ago are below.


I fear my darkest, most terrifying days are about to begin. I am so frightened!

The MS has become more aggressive. Quadriplegia seems to draw nearer with each passing month. Only my left arm and mind are unaffected by disease. Not even a vulture would fly to my carcass—some things too repulse even for scavengers.

In an attempt to stop this quickening degeneration, my neurologist has put me on a experimental and risky drug therapy. It has shown some promise in slowly the progress of certain kinds of aggressive multiple sclerosis. The therapy involving the drug combination involving the anti-cancer chemotherapy drug mitoxantrone followed up with an MS drug called copaxone.

When LaRee and I met with my neurologist to discuss the therapy he told us bluntly that there is a risk of heart failure due to cardiac toxicity of mitoxantrone.  It’s not a huge risk and he will carefully monitor liver function, white blood cell counts, and cardiac function.  

LaRee and I have finally reached a dreaded phase of degeneration that we avoided discussing for years. We could not bare the topic of me being quadriplegic, bedridden or the thought of – and I can hardly bring myself to type the words! – put in a nursing home.

My doctor is a brilliant MS scientist with the Clinical Sciences Division at University of Alberta. He has over three thousand patients of which only thirty (one percent) are on this risky therapy. I will be the 31st.

As I write these words the infernal Accuser is whispering over my shoulder, “Congratulations! You’re at the bottom of the heap of an incurable disease. See what your life amounted to? You are going to be institutionalized and forgotten.”

Ah, the old serpent raises his ugly head again.  It seems he’s been prowling the earth in my neck of the woods; he knows when a man is down.

I remind myself of St. Peter’s warning: “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” [1]  Do not be dismayed, Peter immediately gives us instructions to deal with Satan.

“Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of suffering. And the God of all Grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”[2]

Even if the Prince of lies was right in taunting me that I will be put in a nursing home and forgotten by friends and family, God will not abandon me. He will deliver me from this fate, either in this world or the next. I have the Word of God upon which I can rely.

The Bible is God’s word

I have accepted that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. It pays wonderful dividends in desperate times such these. In the words of Saint Paul, “For whatever was written previously was written for our instruction, that by endurance and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope.”[3] 

The Bible tells me all Scripture is given under inspiration of God:

“[A]nd that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.  All Scripture is given by inspiration of God,  and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,”.[4] [Emphasis added].

I have accepted that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, irrefutable and unalterable. I am able to rest in its blessed assurances. Regardless of what is about to happen, this is when it is important to accept the validity of the Bible as the inspired Word of God.  I'm terrified but will place my fate in the hands of God, whatever that fate may be. I have no other hope than in Him.

[1] 1Peter.5.8.  Also note Job 1.7 & 2.2 - records Satan roaming through the earth.
[2] Verses 9-10.
[3] Romans 15.4
[4] 2Timothy 3.15-16. Also see 1 Peter 1.20-21

Thursday, February 9, 2017


Planned Parenthood says they offer prenatal services. Is that true? See the video below. Of 97 Planned Parenthood facilities surveyed only 5 offered prenatal care. See what their main "service" really is. It's high time to stop funding Planned Parenthood and their systematic killing of unborn children with taxpayers' support. Planned Parenthood performs 1/3 of America's abortions.

I am hopeful that President Trump will do just that. He is courageous and resolute. He does not flinch even in the face of the most withering assault from anti-life liberals. Give him your strong and firm support to defund the giant baby killing machine of Planned Parenthood of America, and their affiliates across the nation. Now here is the video I mentioned.  -- Mark Davis Pickup

Tuesday, February 7, 2017


On March 4th 2017, I will be in Madison Wisconsin as one of a number of speakers to a one day symposium entitled DIGNITY AT THE END OF LIFE: From Suffering To Hope. This one day event for medical professionals is sponsored by the Pro-Life Healthcare Alliance and the . The date is getting close so For more information and registration click here https://www.humanlife.org/product/dignity-life/

My session is entitled JOURNEY THROUGH GRIEF OF DISEASE TOWARD MEANING: A CASE STUDY. I want to lay out some pertinent points in my 33 year experience with incurable disease and adult onset disability that came in the form of multiple sclerosis. I will chronicle the course of the degenerative physical disease and accompanying emotional and spiritual consequences. I will explain some helpful and unhelpful things health care professional did, or did not do. 

And I want to explain how my journey toward meaning involved a redefining of self and self-image; a discovering or rediscovering of significance -- not only in myself, but also my family, my community, but most importantly in my relationship with Christ and Him to me. And finally I will tell of a new ever progressing and  evolving understanding of meaning and a clearer sense of purpose in my life to which degenerative disease and disability helped me see more clearly.

Hope to see you there. -- Mark

Sunday, February 5, 2017


Adoration of the Trinity (1511)
by Albrecht Durer
Just a word of explanation and apology. HumanLifeMatters blog uses Google Adsense as a way of generating a bit of income. I was appalled this morning to see Google placed an advertisement for somebody, or group, that denies the Trinity. As soon as I saw it I removed it. I am so sorry. In defense of Google Adsense, I think appropriate advertisements are placed by keywords -- and in this case the word "Jesus" must have been detected and mistakenly placed on this blog. Without tools for theological vetting Adsense would not have detected the problem. Still, it appeared on the HumanLifeMatters (HLM) blog. 

I want to clarify to all readers of the HLM blog that whoever sponsored such an advertisement was proclaiming a lie which I completely and utterly reject.  Just prior to His ascension, Jesus confirmed the Trinity

"Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations. baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit."*

Matthew 28.19 (cf. John 14.26, 15.26; 2Corinthians 13.14; 1Peter 1.2) The Trinity has been a doctrine from the beginning of Christianity. 

Saturday, February 4, 2017


Anyone who reads this blog know that my favourite composer is Ludwig van Beethoven. Deafness began at age 27 and marred his adult life; and yet his disability drove him to unparalleled levels of musical achievement. 

Granted there were other composers who suffered various disabilities such as Robert Schumann, Frederic Chopin, Gustave Holst and Maurice Ravel, but it was Beethoven's struggle with increasing deafness to the point of being near-total, that speaks to me. (In fact, if you look at the blog photo above you will see a bust of Beethoven on my fireplace mantle.) It illustrates for me the successful human struggle to overcome adversity. 

Beethoven's muscular mind was so creative and inspired that not even deafness could shut out the voices of angels. His immense contributions to the vast human musical treasury are celebrated and still loved, even 190 years after his death. Who can not be moved by Beethoven's 5th symphony or his timeless 9th symphony --written in silence -- or his much loved Moonlight Sonata? German jurist and writer, Wilhelm Heinrich Wackenroder (1773-1798) wrote this about Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata: 

"Many passages were so vivid and engaging that the notes seemed to speak to him. At other times the notes would evoke a mysterious blend of joy and sorry in his heart, so that he could have either laughed or cried. This is a feeling that we experience so often on our path through life and that no art can express more skillfully than music."*

Yes, Herr Wackenroder, music can express the human heart where words fail. Music has been an important companion throughout my own 33 year disability contracted at age thirty.

Here then, is the 1st movement of Ludwig van Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata, performed by Wilhem Kempff.   


* Jan Swafford, Beethoven: Anguish and Triumph (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014), p. 290.

Thursday, February 2, 2017


James R. Edwards is a Presbyterian minister and Professor Emeritus of Theology at Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington. He wrote a book entitled, Is Jesus the Only Savior? (Eerdmans, 2005). Edwards’ answer was an emphatic Yes. It’s not the sort of answer to ingratiate him to the World Council of Churches, of which his denomination is a part. I wonder if the WCC gave him the proverbial cold shoulder?

One review of Is Jesus the Only Savior? said:

“After tracing the currents of modernity from the Enlightenment to the Jesus Seminar, Edwards contends that the assumptions of most skeptical historical-Jesus scholars are no more intellectually defensible than the claims of faith. He then assembles extensive support to show that Jesus considered himself the unique and saving mission of God to the world.” 
"The Last Supper" (1495)
Leonardo da Vinci

The belief that Jesus Christ alone is the saviour of humanity and the only way to salvation has been a foundational tenet of Christianity from its beginning.  At the Last Supper, Jesus spoke to his disciples about the way to heaven. He said, “I am the way and the truth and the life, No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14.6.) 

Jesus went on to promise “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, which the world cannot accept.” (verse 16-17) After Christ’s Ascension, Peter was filled with the holy Spirit (as promised) and proclaimed this about Jesus: “There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved.” (Acts 4.12)  Pretty clear, pretty exclusive. Saint Timothy was equally clear: “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” (1 Timothy 2.5)

Unpopular message

This sort of message is not generally welcome to our age of pseudo-pluralism where truth is relative and people want to hear about many paths to God.  But if the testimony of Jesus, Peter and Timothy are to be believed, this is not true. The only way to God is through Jesus Christ.  Should I believe those who espouse that all religions are basically the same and there are many paths to God, or should I believe Jesus, Saints Peter and Timothy.  Hmmm, I wonder who it will be ?

Truth is rarely fashionable—but it is knowable.  The truth is knowable because Jesus Christ is truth and the he is the saviour of the world, and we can can know Him.

21st century relativism

Many people in the 21st Century no longer accept that there is such a thing as truth, and certainly no such thing as absolute truth. To them, the only absolute truth is that there is no absolute truth—there’s no right and wrong, only opinions.  All ethics are situational.  (Actually, if there’s no such thing as right and wrong then the concept of ethics is meaningless.)  Everybody is tolerant of everything; the only thing not to be tolerated is intolerance.

People must rely on laws as the only recourse for moral direction. But even laws can be changed with a simple majority vote and a stroke of a legislative pen. In a world of relativism, there is no higher Truth that exists apart from what legislatures declare and enforce. The final arbiter of truth is power. Change the government and what was right and true yesterday is usurped by a new set of standards and a different set of lawmakers. What was previously unthinkable can becomes the law of the land. Germany showed us that in the last century.
Without a higher moral Law or standard for people to agree upon and follow (or an author and giver of that higher Law or standard), all that’s left is consensus of those who are most powerful and cunning. If there’s no lawgiver, no Messiah to save us from ourselves, then ultimately most people will find no meaning or purpose to life, no truth, life will have no intrinsic value.   

Society may have to hunt down and jail criminals like Paul Bernardo or John Wayne Gacy to protect itself.  But if we seriously believe there is no such thing a right and wrong, no truth, then it’s pointless condemning what they did. After all, when they committed their sexual abductions, tortures and murders, their personal definition of truth may have been dominance and self-gratification.  Somebody may interject to say, “They had no right to impose their views on others or kill those women!”  Why not?  If there is no right and wrong, then there’s no basis to make such a claim.  

What is truth?

That’s why I find 21st Century relativists suspect. In one breath they maintain there is no objective right and wrong, no absolute Truth.  In the next breath they’re decrying the destruction of the rain forests, or using animals in medical experimentation, or they’re marching in the streets against globalization.  Methinks the relativist believes in objective truth more than he’s letting on and he expects the rest of us to agree (or at least acquiesce). Why? Well, according to the relativist, each person has his personal truth, his own standard of right and wrong, and he must not inflict his standards or morals on others. But that is exactly what relativists are doing when they march in the streets shouting and waving banners.

Now, if there is such a thing as objective truth, where does it come from? Christianity says Jesus is the Truth. His crucifixion and Resurrection gave rise to a tidal wave of love and hope for millions of people for more than two thousand years.

Each person must decide if Jesus is the only saviour of the world. Personally, I’ve concluded the answer is Yes. Christ has utterly changed my life for close to forty years.