“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

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

WHEN DESPERATE PRAYERS SEEM UNANSWERED

"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" It was in his terrible agony of being crucified, Jesus cried those words of abandonment.[1]  Christ was abandoned by his friends -- except John and, of course, his mother. He was abandoned by the fickle crowds that -- one week earlier -- heralded his entrance into Jerusalem with jubilant shouts of "Hosanna in the highest!" Then the one who lived in perfect fellowship with God felt alienated from God.

Christ cried those heart-breaking words because he felt abandoned by God at the very moment he needed his Father most! Why? Because Christ took on the weight of the world's sins.[2]  In God's perfect holiness, He had to turn away from the great body of human sin, even when borne by His only begotten son.

Abandonment 

Do you feel abandoned by God in your pain? Does it seem that God does not answer your desperate prayers? Christ understands. He has been there. God does not turn away from us, although it certainly may seem that way at a critical moment of crisis.


I think we can begin to understand why the door to God's comfort and consolation seems to have slammed shut when our need for Him is most desperate. The key lies in the word "desperate."

C.S. Lewis wrote about this aspect of grieving. He explained that in
most things, we can't get what we want if we want it too desperately, or at least not get the best of it. Lewis used the analogies of not being able to see clearly when our eyes are filled with tears; that really delicious drinks are wasted on a ravenous thirst. I think he was right. It is the drowning man, flailing frantically in wild panic, who cannot be rescued, lest he drags down the rescuer and himself. 

We've all heard accounts of firefighters finding bodies of victims piled at the exit of a burned out building. The chaos of panic prevented orderly evacuation. Everyone perished beneath the exit sign. 

Sleepless nights

I know the stark terror of sleepless nights. I remember (more than 35 years ago now) the feeling of being abandoned in my anguish, staring out the kitchen window at 3:00am, while everyone else in the house slept peacefully. The fresh shock of being told I had an incurable, degenerative disease filled me with a strange mixture of numbness and panic. The only sound was the steady ticking of the mantle clock in the living room. As I looked into the backyard bathed in silver-blue moonlight, I was struck by the contradiction of the tranquillity around me and the terror within. I wanted to run away. But run where? The terror was in my own body!

My future had stretched out ahead of me, full of promise. Suddenly, it was all in ruins, or so I thought. My desperate prayers were unanswered, or so I thought. I felt deserted and alone. I remember looking up at the ceiling and saying to God, "If this is the way you treat your friends, no wonder you have so few of them."

Do you see the problem? This was no way to approach the sovereign God of the universe! I was angry that my agenda had been derailed. I demanded to be delivered back to my former self (disguised as a prayerful petition). God was only welcome on my terms. (I suppose Christ could have rightfully responded, "If this is how you treat your friends ... ."

Pray another prayer

I needed to place my sorrow before God, and honestly, humbly pray another prayer, with a different heart. In the hours leading to his crucifixion, Christ prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will."[4] Christ asked three times that his cup of suffering be removed, and yet each time qualified his request with a willingness to submit to his heavenly Father's will, whatever that might be. Christ's request was not granted but an angel was sent to strengthen him in his suffering.


If God had granted Christ's earnest prayer request, the stain of humanity's sin would have remained. Even now, centuries later, it is only through faith that Christ's blood shed at Calvary has paid the penalty for our sins, are we reconciled in repentance to God.

Jesus spoke of people opening the door of their hearts at the sound
of his voice.[3] But how can a man hear Christ's voice if he is screaming in terror, confusion, desperation or anger? The man is pounding on the inside of a door only he can open.

Sometimes the most effective prayers are not what we say but how we listen. Sometimes God wants us to be still so he can calm our hearts. Only then can He speak to us at our deepest level. God wants us to utterly surrender every corner of our being to Him. He wants us to trust Him regardless of our circumstances.

There are times when suffering has a far greater benefit than deliverance from it. We must quieten our hearts, humbly seek God, and submit to his will, whatever that might be. Perhaps it is at the apex of suffering, and the door to God seems to have shut, that the seed of real faith can germinate. It is when all evidence of God's presence seems to have vanished that we have a unique opportunity to cry out with the great family of sufferers throughout the ages: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me" -- yet still choose to believe and obey.

MDP
____________
Notes.
[1]Matthew 27.46.  Cf. Psalm 22.1.
[2]See Isaiah 53.5; 2Corinthians 5.21; Galations 3.13; 1Peter 2.24, 3.18; 1John 3.5.
[3] Revelation 3.20.
[4] Matthew 26.39


Friday, July 6, 2018

THIS IS MY FATHER'S WORLD


"Was not this narrow enclosure, with the sky for a background, enough to enable him to adore God in his most beautiful as well as
in his most sublime works? Indeed, is not that all, and what more can be desired. A little garden to walk, and immensity to reflect upon." -- Victor Hugo



That is the case for me, except I can not 'walk' in my little garden.  
Still, I can tend to my enclosure with a tall hedge that gives a place of solitude, my little sanctuary, to adore God.

Be content with your life. Blossom where God plants you. He is our consolation, the final reality.

Although I am in the autumn of my life, the perpetual summer of God's love glows in my heart. This is my Father's world. See video below courtesy of Fountainview College.




Saturday, June 23, 2018

CHRISTIAN TRADITIONS PROVIDE CONTEXT FOR LIFE

[NB: Although this post deals with Catholic Christian traditions, I encourage Evangelical followers of this blog to read it. It may provide some context to understanding the mindset of your Catholic brothers and sisters.] 


St. Vital Church
I worship at a French Catholic church dating back nearly 100 years: Saint Vital on Beaumont, Alberta. Situated on the western Canadian prairies, it harkens back to a time when the church was the center of the community. And that's exactly where Saint Vital is situated in my town: Smack-dab in the center of town, perched at the top of the hill the town is named after. Houses spread out from there. There is a sense of history and French Catholic tradition that seems to emanate from the church. You can see the church from miles away.

Faith, family & community

Saint Vital was built by hardy French Canadian farmers who came
to western Canada from Quebec to homestead the rich land in the area. Their lives revolved around a common faith, family, and a deep connection of interdependent community -- in that order. That is the way its supposed to be. Those pioneers endured, survived and thrived. The original church was destroyed by fire and the new church was built of brick. A walk through the graveyard at the back of the church bears silent and powerful witness to that history and those people.

When my grandchildren were little, they loved to go to "Papa's church" as they called it. In their vocabulary, I'm Papa (don't ask why. It's a convoluted story). Sometimes we would go there when the church was empty. I talked to them about God and the parish history. They loved it. Even as pre-school children, they seemed to desire a connection to what went before.

Catholicism is historically oriented. The Holy Scriptures and Traditions of the Church provide a basis for preserving Christ's teachings, as revealed to the Apostles. It is the basis of revealed truth (cf.  John 1.14, 14.6). It is the root of understanding.

Train up a child 

Proverbs 22.6 says "Train up a child in the ways he should go, and
when he is old he will not depart from it." Some parents have mistakenly thought this is an iron-clad promise from God. I sure did. I thought that if I did my parenting correctly there was a binding promise from God to save my children. The problem with this notion is twofold: One is hard-pressed to find such a guarantee in the Bible (including this verse). The other problem is the issue of free will. Proverbs 22.6 is a proverb, not a promise.  No matter how godly a parent may be, it is not a guarantee of faithful or godly children. Each generation is responsible for its own relationship to God.

Participation with God

I understand that now with the hindsight of an old man. Proverbs 22.6 provides a general principle to be taken in divine balance. There's no magic to it and certainly no guarantees. God will not override humanity's free will of choosing to love him.

As a grandfather, I can only provide a supportive, secondary role to my adult children and convey some sense of the reality of Jesus Christ in my own life and point toward a personal relationship with him as the most critical decision any person can make. The Holy Scripture and Church traditions only provide a framework and context for that.

MDP

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

FAIRNESS IN JUSTICE & GRACE OVER REVENGE

Ted was an anti-Christian bigot.

He took great pleasure in depicting God as a vengeful Being -- ready to pounce on poor humanity for the slightest infraction against His holy law. Ted would attack God and Christianity based on this caricature; he would contort his face like an ogre in mock imitation of this caricature and hiss, "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth!"

Biblical Ignorance

One day, after hearing this tiresome routine for the umpteenth time, I asked Ted if he knew where in the Bible that passage is found, or if he could complete the verse. He could do neither and flew into a fury at having his biblical ignorance exposed. Ted did not know the Bible. He merely regurgitated snippets of Scripture he heard somewhere in his past in order to bolster his case against God and his prejudice against Christianity.  I doubt he even owned a Bible.


The actual Scripture is found in Exodus 21 and must be taken in context:


"If men fight and hurt a woman with child so that she gives birth prematurely, yet no harm follows, he shall surely be punished accordingly as the woman's husband imposes on him; but if any harm follows, then you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.*

Lex Talionis

This Scripture deals with Lex Talionis, or the principle of tit for tat. It was meant to do more than enforce strict justice; it was also meant to prevent greater penalties than crimes warranted, or punishments that exceeded the injury. This is different from exacting personal revenge.


For example, we read in Genesis 4.23 that Lamech bragged to his wives: "I have killed a man for wounding me, even a young man for hurting me." That was distorted revenge, not justice.

Under God's guidance, Moses placed judgment for wrongdoing under the authority of judges. The "tooth for a tooth" statement was meant to call judges to be absolutely fair in their rulings. 

Christ spoke about the principle of a tooth for a tooth: "You have heard that it was said, 'an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also." (Matthew 5.38-39. Cf. Proverbs 20.22, Luke 6.29, Romans 12.17, 1Corinthinians 6.7, 1Peter 3.9) Jesus exhorted Christians to forego legality for the sake of love not hatred, grace not revenge. In doing this, Christians give a powerful and disarming witness to the love of God.

Several years ago, Ted died from a heart attack. As far as I know, he went to his grave cursing God and His Church. (I must be careful about conjecture.) What happened in Ted's last few moments on earth are between him and God. What I do know is that God does not want anybody to die in their sins. 

"As I live, says the Lord, I swear I take no pleasure in the death of a wicked man, but rather in the wicked man's conversion, that he may live. Turn, turn from your evil ways!" (Ezekiel 11.33)


The Apostle Peter said that God is "longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance." (2Peter 3.9).

We are all called to repentance, through faith in Jesus Christ. How we respond, ... well, that's up to us. Yes, that is up to us. God will not make us love him.

MDP

___________________
NOTE:
* Exodus 21.22-25, cf. Leviticus 24.17-20, Deuteronomy19. 

NB: Abortion advocates have occasionally used this passage to try and show that the unborn child has less value than the woman. But that's not what it's saying at all. In fact, one biblical commentary makes the follow the comment about verses 22-25:

"Of special interest to many Christians are verses 22-25. Unfortunately, most translations leave the reader with the false impression, which has led in turn to the wrong application of the passage to the abortion issue. In short, this law deals with the results of a pregnant woman being struck (accidentally) by two men who are fighting. The result of this unfortunate attack is a 'miscarriage' according to most English translations. The text continues: "[If] there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined. . . . if there is injury, you are to take life for life, eye for eye . . ." (v.23). This has often been interpreted to mean that a miscarriage occurred. Then the issue becomes how the mother was affected -- the implication being that the fetus really did not matter; it was not considered a human being and the focus of attention was the mother. This passage is often used by advocates of abortion to say that since God did not demand punishment for the loss of the child, then the fetus did not have image-of-God status.

However, the Hebrew of 21-22 literally reads, "and hit a pregnant woman so that her child(ren) come forth, and no harm follows, the one who hurt her shall be fined." Here the King James and New Internal translations are helpful. The Hebrew word for miscarriage is not used here. Our text portrays a woman being struck then delivering prematurely. The very passage used for some to support abortion, in fact, goes in the opposite direction. In this case, the woman is accidentally struck, but if she or the child dies as a result, the guilty party could be sentenced to death. This is the only instance in the Torah where involuntary manslaughter calls for the death penalty. Generally, the guilty party was to receive refuge from the 'avenger of blood' and was not to be put to death (Deut. 19.4-10). Injury to the unborn is the only exception. The reason seems clear enough: God places high value on the unborn. The law always expresses concern for those least able to defend themselves." (James K. Hoffmeier,  "Exodus" in Evangelical Commentary on the Bible, ed. Walter A. Elwell (Grand Rapids, MI: BAKER BOOK HOUSE, 1989) P. 56.)



Monday, June 11, 2018

LIFE AFTER DISABILITY ONSET

I became disabled with multiple sclerosis (MS) at the age of thirty. It was a terrible shock going from healthy and athletic to life with mobility contraption, house adaptations and ever-increasing restrictions on what I could do. My career with the Canadian government ended when I was unceremoniously put out to pasture before the age of thirty-eight. Serious adult-onset disability is a harsh reality. We can either let it make us bitter or better. If we are open to God's leading, we can find life after disability can be as vibrant and fulfilling as before.

Below is a video of a remarkable young woman who suffered a spinal cord injury. Her resilience is a testament to the human spirit as she explores the parameters of her new life. If she hasn't yet met Christ, I pray she will. With Him, she can transcend her circumstances.   


Wednesday, June 6, 2018

CHRISTIAN RESPONSES TO EUTHANASIA IN CANADA

In the months after Canada legalized medically assisted suicide, the Archdiocese of Edmonton held a series of presentations, under the guidance and leadership of Archbishop Richard Smith, about this new national reality.  Canada's courts and parliament have chosen this radical departure from its Christian origins as a nation. It is the beginning of a dark chapter in our history.

How then should Canadian Catholics respond? What are Christians to do? Below is a link to the fifth in the Archbishop's series addressing this question. I presented a disability perspective, palliative care physician and evangelical Christian, Dr. Anna Voeuk gave a doctor's perspective, and Archbishop Smith presented the Catholic perspective. It should be noted that since this presentation in 2016, more than 2,000 Canadians have been euthanized; the most common reasons are cancer, ALS and MS. 


See below for my contact information.  

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

"COINCIDENCES" OF THE LIVING CHRIST

Many years ago, my wife and I rescued a woman from an extremely abusive husband. The man was a sheer brute. He was filled with bluster and threats -- ruling his household by intimidation and fear! Perhaps I have met worse men than Leo but I can't remember when. The rescue was planned for a day when Leo was supposed to be away for a few hours.

We took the opportunity to get his wife out of their apartment, along with her clothes and a few cherished belongings. Having multiple sclerosis, I couldn't make it up the stairs to the apartment so my wife and the woman worked feverishly to vacate the place when Leo came home early! They lied through their teeth to get out of the apartment building. The two women made their way across the parking lot to the car. I was gunning the engine ready to whisk them away. Being disabled, I was hardly able to deflect a physical altercation with Leo.

I was praying even harder than revving the engine. I Knew the Lord
has a heart for the oppressed. Psalm 103.6 says "The Lord does righteous deeds, brings justice to all the oppressed." Elsewhere in the Psalms say "He upholds the caused of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets prisoners free, ..." Surely this woman was oppressed! Surely she was a prisoner in her own home!

Suddenly an enraged Leo appeared at the front door of the apartment building. "Please heavenly father" I prayed, "deliver us!"
Without prompting a police car screeched around the corner of the street and stopped behind my car. A policeman with a puzzled look on his face walked to my car. I could see Leo shrinking back into the apartment building at the sight of the police officer.

I rolled down my window for the policeman. "Did you call the
police?" He asked. I responded "No officer, but it's sure good to see you." By this time my wife and the woman were piling into the car. "Did you call the police?" I asked them. Both said No. Leo must have thought I called the police because he disappeared out of sight. The confused policeman went back to his car wondering who called him to that location. I drove away with the image in my rear-view mirror of a bewildered policeman mumbling to himself.

Coincidence? Perhaps. The problem is that there have been too many "coincidences" in my life throughout the years. Too many for them all to be "coincidences." They can't all be coincidences or they would not be coincidences. 

Am I saying that God intervenes in the lives and affairs of
humanity? Yes, that's exactly what I'm saying! He certainly has/does in mine, just as He has in the lives of millions upon millions of people throughout the ages.

What happened to the woman rescued from Leo? She divorced him and started a new life. In subsequent years, she too felt the hand of God in her life. She passed away peacefully a few years ago at the age of eighty-two.

Millions of people (including me) know the reality of the resurrected and living Jesus Christ. The Joy Behars of this world simply do not understand. They can but they don't ... yet.

MDP

Saturday, May 19, 2018

ALAN KEYES' ADVISE TO THE PRESIDENT

I have always admired Dr. Alan Keyes. I believe he would have been a wonderful President of the United States. He twice ran unsuccessfully for the Republican Presidential nomination. Below Ambassador Dr. Alan gives advice to President Trump to embrace the constitution and tell the House of Representatives to do their job. I hope uncooperative members of Congress this to wise man's advice.

[As an aside, many years ago Dr. Keyes called my house and asked for me. I wasn't home. I think Dr. Keyes thought he was calling an office. My 17-year-old son answered the phone with the usual sassiness of teenagers. Dr. Keyes must have thought he called a pretty unprofessional and shoddy office and was blunt. My son pushed back. Dr. Keyes found out he was talking to my son and had called my home. He apologized. My son replied with something to the effect: "Ya dude, whatever" before hanging up. He had no idea who Alan Keyes was. My son is close to forty now and a businessman. I occasionally tease him about his youthful impertinence.]


Thursday, May 17, 2018

THINGS WHICH ARE SEEN AND UNSEEN

I have a vivid memory from about fifteen years ago.

One stifling hot summer night, I awoke to a familiar but dreaded sizzling sensation in my legs. My old nemesis, multiple sclerosis, was visiting, eating internal function -- like termites inside a tree. It was a time of great fear as the disease seemed to threaten everything! Unable to go back to sleep, I transferred from bed to wheelchair and went outside and stopped under the boughs of a cluster of Manitoba maple trees in my backyard. All was still.

My little house sits at the bottom of the hill that Beaumont was named after. I looked the hill to see the reassuring and steady light of an illuminated historic Catholic church. It's been there for over a century. Everything was peaceful, barring that horrible sizzling sensation. I crawled into a hammock tied between two massive maple trunks and gazed up into the dark serenity of a starry sky. It was my sacred little place in the world where I spent countless hours throughout many years: contemplating, reflecting, praying, searching, looking to understand rather than to see. It was beneath the canopy of maple branches that the Christian hope within me swelled within my chest and rose as an offering to God. 

There was a sudden gust of wind that swayed the
branches above me. Leaves rustled as though to whisper, "Do not be afraid, I AM with you." Ecstasy then shame. Ecstacy filled me to know He was near -- then shame to realize my life was deeply stained by sin. Confession. Forgiveness. Divine embrace.

As suddenly as the visitation came. it vanished and all became ordinary again. The yard remained bathed in moonlight and the great old church on the hill still shone in floodlights. The sizzling sensation in my legs remained but ceased to matter. 

Any passerby would have been oblivious to what had just happened. For a brief instant, it had seemed that a sweet essence of Eden opened then mercifully closed: The whisper in the breeze was too much for anything more than those brief seven words. In that twinkling
but earth-shaking moment, centuries melted away and indescribable Joy filled my heart. I wept, not because my body was wasting but because I had been touched by the Holy Spirit.

Saint Paul's words made perfect sense:

"Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inner man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,
while we do not look at the things which are seen, but the things which are unseen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are unseen are eternal. (2Corinthians 4:16-18. cf. Romans 8.18; Colossians 3.10; Hebrews 11.1.)

Two years ago, a violent storm brought down the maple trees. If the evil one was trying to destroy my sacred place, he failed. I realized that sacred place was within me all along.  The trees were only a setting. The maples are gone but the blue moonlight still washes over my little house on the Canadian prairies and the old church at the top hill and reminds me that nothing can separate me from the love of God. 

My forever home is not here. Heaven is my home.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

MOTHER'S DAY: THE LOVING HAND THAT ROCKED THE CRADLE

Motherhood is a sacred vocation and I want to wish every mother a blessed and happy Mother's Day. I am reminded of the poem by "THE HAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE RULES THE WORLD, by William Ross Wallace (1819-1881).
    Blessings on the hand of women!
        Angels guard its strength and grace.
    In the palace, cottage, hovel,
        Oh, no matter where the place;
    Would that never storms assailed it,
        Rainbows ever gently curled,
    For the hand that rocks the cradle
        Is the hand that rules the world.
    Infancy's the tender fountain,
        Power may with beauty flow,
    Mothers first to guide the streamlets,
        From them souls unresting grow —
    Grow on for the good or evil,
        Sunshine streamed or evil hurled,
    For the hand that rocks the cradle
        Is the hand that rules the world.
    Woman, how divine your mission,
        Here upon our natal sod;
    Keep – oh, keep the young heart open
        Always to the breath of God!
    All true trophies of the ages
        Are from mother-love impearled,
    For the hand that rocks the cradle
        Is the hand that rules the world.
    Blessings on the hand of women!
        Fathers, sons, and daughters cry,
    And the sacred song is mingled
        With the worship in the sky —
    Mingles where no tempest darkens,
        Rainbows evermore are hurled;
    For the hand that rocks the cradle
        Is the hand that rules the world.

    Mothers are at the center of a child's life and life in the home and shape tomorrow's world.

    MDP 

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

IS IOWA'S HEART-BEAT LAW THE BEGINNING OF THE END FOR ROE V. WADE?

Speaking in Dubuque, Iowa
5 May 2018
On May 5th, I was in Dubuque, Iowa, to give the keynote address to the Dubuque County Right to Life's annual banquet. I spoke to the audience of 650 about the human tragedy of abortion, and perils of euthanasia and assisted suicide for vulnerable people with severe disabilities and/or incurable diseases. There was a jubilant and celebratory atmosphere to the evening. Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds had just signed the "Heartbeat" bill into law that afternoon. It prohibits abortions after an unborn child's heartbeat can be detected which is at 6 weeks gestation.

Governor Reynolds signs the Heartbeat bill into law
5 May 2018
The new law is sure to face legal challenges, possibly up to the US Supreme Court. The courageous defenders of life are prepared and have a legal team at work developing strategies to defend the new law. But if it stands, Iowa's Heartbeat bill may be the thin-edge-of-the-wedge to crack and bring down Roe v. Wade. (More than 60-million of America's babies have been slaughtered since that terrible 1973 Supreme Court decision.) The Heartbeat bill is not perfect: There are still exceptions in the law, but perhaps it is a start the toppling of Roe v. Wade. I pray other states will muster the courage to follow suit. God bless Iowa! Please give moral and prayer support to Iowa and it's courageous and principled governor Kim Reynolds. 

Abortion's vicious blackguards of death, and their media allies, are sure to attack the Heartbeat Law and Governor Reynolds in attempts to bring down this new law and protect their evil. They must NOT succeed!

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

PRO-LIFE GOOD NEWS

Sometimes two or three small words have the potential to make a world of difference. They initially go unnoticed. Stop! Take note! 


On the website for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) you will find their latest Mission Statement. I have copied the Mission statement and pasted it below.   

Mission Statement

"The mission of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is to enhance the health and well-being of all Americans, by providing for effective health and human services and by fostering sound, sustained advances in the sciences underlying medicine, public health, and social services."
Immediately below the Mission Statement on the website, you will find the Organizational Structure. It says:

"HHS is the U.S. Government’s principal agency for protecting the health of all Americans and providing essential human services, especially for those who are least able to help themselves. HHS accomplishes its mission through programs and initiatives that cover a wide spectrum of activities, serving and protecting Americans at every stage of life, from conception. HHS is responsible for almost a quarter of all Federal outlays and administers more grant dollars than all other Federal agencies combined."
Did you see it? It says the "HHS accomplishes its mission through programs and initiatives that cover a wide spectrum of activities, serving and protecting Americans at every stage of life, from conception." [My emphasis added.]

The U.S. federal government's Department of Health and Human Services now recognizes its mission includes protecting the lives of all Americans at every stage of life beginning AT CONCEPTION! Don't believe me? Check it for yourself at https://www.hhs.gov/about/strategic-plan/introduction/index.html

Under the Presidency of Donald J. Trump, complete recognition of
the value of all human life is now official policy!  Unless I'm missing something, this is a major success for the pro-Life movement. The Trump administration quietly, and without fanfare, amended the mission of Health and Human Services to recognize what you have fought to gain for so long!

Two little words "from conception". Dare we hope this marks a seismic shift in policy, programs and activities that are life-affirming under the leadership of the Trump administration?! Is this the beginning of the end of government support of barbaric organizations like Planned Parenthood, that was so heavily supported by Obama?!  

It is important for America's pro-life movement to actively encourage HHS to put in place a wide spectrum of program and activities that support maternal and prenatal health, education of the nature of life before birth, and help women in crisis pregnancies, as well as protecting their unborn children. 

This can be achieved by supporting pregnancy care centers to serve
women in crisis pregnancies to support themselves, and their babies, or partnering with community faith-based organizations to develop and deliver employment and life skills and mentoring programs for young women who might otherwise be abortion-minded. 

Pressure and support the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to quickly put these policies and programs in place in your community.

Those two little words "from conception." Perhaps they can be the start of a new day in America where every life is truly valued and protected. God bless America. 

MDP

Monday, April 23, 2018

MY FRIEND JONI, AND CHRISTIAN DISABILITY MINISTRY

Joni and I at Biola University, California,
to debate advocates of assisted suicide
2009
I have the great privilege of having a dear and treasured friendship of Joni Eareckson Tada. Joni is a devout evangelical Christian author, radio show talk host, an accomplished artist, and head of the international disability Christian ministry Joni and Friends, based in Agoura Hills, California. Joni is also quadriplegic. She is, quite simply, a spiritual giant of the 21st Century. 

Throughout the years we have been supportive of each other's
disability and pro-Life ministries: She, an evangelical Protestant, and me, an evangelical Catholic, working together -- wherever and whenever possible -- to serve the disabled and vulnerable within church ministry and inclusion. Our common ground lies in our mutual love for Jesus Christ, a desire to equip Christians for special needs and related pro-life ministries. The ultimate goal is to bring people to a personal relationship with Christ, regardless of circumstances.

Both Joni and I are acquainted with suffering throughout decades of disability. She has often ministered to me in my pain. I hope that in
some small way, I have ministered to her. At one point in my degenerative MS journey, three out of four limbs were severely affected (triplegia) and there was a very real threat I would lose the use of my left arm and become a quadriplegic.  I contacted Joni and told her about my situation. She said, "You have the use of one arm? Sounds wonderful." Ouch! It was a needed kick in my keester to stop whimpering about something I could not control and carry on with the important work before us. Happily, my crisis passed, and I did not become quadriplegia. In fact, I even regained some of the use in my right arm!


[I am available to speak about a Christian perspective on suffering and disability, and the perils of euthanasia/assisted suicide to the disabled and our culture in general. Send an email to me at HumanLifeMatters@shaw.ca.] 

See the video below for a wonderful interview evangelical leader Chuck Swindoll had with Joni Eareckson Tada a few years ago.



Thursday, April 19, 2018

A THOUGHT ABOUT SUFFERING

I will turn 65 next month. More than half my life has been marred by severe multiple sclerosis (MS). I've come to understand that behind every Why? is the love of Christ. It is more important to understand than to be understood.

Mark Davis Pickup

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

VATICAN ASYLUM FOR THE EVANS FAMILY!



The tweet above was sent today to Pope Francis to offer asylum for baby Alfie Evans' family and treatment at the Bambini Gesu Hospital in Rome and is connected with the Vatican.  (For more information about the case, see the news link at the bottom of this post.)

Baby Alfie and parents
It sounds so familiar with other cases where hospitals have over-ridden parents wish to continue life support. I am reminded of British baby Charlie Gard at London's Great Ormond Street Hospital, baby Isaiah Haastrup at King's College in London, England, Canadian baby Joseph Maraachi at London Health Sciences Centre (London, Ontario) and baby Isaiah May at the Stollery Children's Hospital in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.  

I ask people reading this post to rally behind Alfie's parents Tom
suffered their latest defeat to have Alfie moved to the hospital in Rome. Lord Justice Davis, Lord Justice King and Lord Justice Moylan were wrong in their decision. Don't be fooled by their lofty titles. Write to the Vatican asking that their lawyers intervene in this case and offer to take baby Alfie in the Vatican's care for treatment at Bambino Gesu Hospital in Rome. Will it work? If the Charlie Gard case is any indication, the chances are slim. 

Most of my adult life been a member of the school of hopeless causes. On rare occasions, we've won. Let's hope the Alfie Evans
is one of them and the Evans family will be welcomed into the loving and tender embrace of the Vatican.

CONTACTS
Pope Francis by letter
His Holiness, Pope Francis
Apostolic Palace
00120 Vatican City

Twitter: @Pontifex

Vatican Emails:

The Most Rev. Archbishop Pietro Parolin
Vatican Secretary of State
Email: vatio26@relstat-segstat.va

Pontifical Council For the Family
pcfl@family.va

Thank you.

Mark
"Who is Alfie Evans and why are are his parents back in court?" BBC News, 16 April 2018: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-merseyside-43754949

Monday, April 16, 2018

C.S. LEWIS: BEYOND PERSONALITY

Below is a 1944 BBC radio broadcast of C.S. Lewis speaking about changing the essence of human personality into Christ-likeness and completion of who we were intended to be. It is worth listening to the 15-minute broadcast. (Lewis' voice is rather like I imagined it.)



HOW THE PERCEPTION OF ABORTION WENT FROM MURDER TO A HUMAN RIGHT

North American society finds itself in a peculiar, difficult and disheartening state: a state it brought onto itself. Forty-five years ago our culture was gleefully in a sexual revolution. 

This social experiment carried enormous risks to society beginning with the threat to marriage and throwing off all restraint. Popular opinion heralded a new era of sexual freedom and emancipation from fidelity.  I remember we called it 'free love'. It was a lie and many people -- even those espoused it -- knew in their heart of hearts it was a lie. It was lust not love, and anything but free. The cost was venial disease, and broken hearts, and that pesky the problem of unplanned and unwanted children. What was emancipated society to do about the responsibility of caring for unwanted children? Kill them before birth, before they could be seen. 

SUPPRESSING TRUTH FOR A LIE

Although biology had long discovered, by experimental evidence, that a new life begins when sperm penetrates egg -- that point we commonly call conception -- abortion seemed to answer the problem of unwanted pregnancy.  How was the sexual revolution to separate that life from the 'boomers lives? A second lie was needed and so the 'blob of tissue' myth was adopted to denigrate the value of inconvenient prenatal life.  


The biological truth was suppressed in favour of an alternate sociological and political agenda. Real life in the womb became 'potential' life that hampered the liberation of women from patriarchy and women's aspirations. Abortion went from murder to a new human right. VoilĂ !

A woman's right to choose abortion became the battle cry of feminists everywhere. The new right of abortion became a lynch-pin for women's equality.  This myth became popular and people bowed to the power and seduction of this myth. Those who embraced the myth thought of themselves as appearing intelligent and progressive.  But the appearance of truth does not mean truth, only that it appears to be so.

APPEARANCES & DECEPTION

Most people build an "appearance" of themselves that they
want others to believe. This appearance is so important to them that they can quickly become slaves to the opinions of others; They desire so strongly to be aligned with the intelligent and progressive. They will sacrifice their integrity and squelch the voice of conscience within them in order to join the ranks of progressive company. They worked so hard cultivating an appearance compatible with the approval of the progressive "we": They have an overwhelming fear of being rejected and relegated to the unwashed masses of "them." They will do whatever is necessary to remain in the ranks of "we." The powers of others' opinions become dominant. They must continue to slavishly plod along the path of fickle acceptance. Truth for the sake of truth becomes distant. 

Pope Benedict XVI observed that people in this predicament "... can indeed no longer break free from the net of shared pretence." The Pontiff continued his observation: 

"Opinion, untruth gains domination. The entire life of a society, political as well as personal decisions, can in this way rest on the dictatorship of untruth: of how things are presented and reported instead of reality itself. An entire society can fall from the truth into shared deceit."[1]

That is where North America society finds itself with respect to abortion. Between America and Canada close to 70 million abortions have soaked the landscape with the blood of our unwanted and inconvenient children, over nearly five decades.[2]

SETTING THINGS RIGHT

How can we disentangle this holocaust of unprecedented proportions that the collective 'we' caused? It's a difficult and disheartening predicament. The way out is difficult yet surprisingly simple too.

It requires the humility to admit our individual and cultural deceit and embrace all the human family beginning in the womb. We must admit we were wrong. Repentance and confession are necessary, without excuses, on an individual and collective basis. But repentance is repugnant to the proud. It is unpopular and old-fashioned but desperately needed. We need a change of heart and a spirit of mortification about decades of abortion, and a solemn commitment to stop killing the unborn. We need the resolve to provide life-affirming alternatives for women in crisis pregnancies and their children. 

C.S. Lewis wrote this about progression. "We all want progress, but if you're on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive."


We must return to where we went off track. I believe it happened when society turned away from the Laws of Nature, the sanctity of human life, and the God who created both. 

Lord restore our nations and give us a new heart of love, compassion and unity. Instill in us a compelling desire for holiness and truth. Amen.

Mark

[This post also appeared in the American Life League Life League blog at https://www.all.org/how-the-perception-of-abortion-went-from-murder-to-a-human-right/ ]
__________________
[1] Pope Benedict XVI, "THE YES OF JESUS CHRIST: SPIRITUAL EXERCISES IN FAITH, HOPE AND LOVE" (NEW YORK: Crossway Publishing Company, 1991) pp. 86-87.
[2] Canada began abortion in 1969.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

NURTURING A CHRISTAN FAMILY IN A SECULAR WORLD

I want to feature a Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS) podcast with Dr. Darrell Bock, Executive Director of Cultural Engagement at DTS and Pastor Chip Ingram of Venture Church in Los Gatos, California. The podcast is entitled "Nurturing a Christian Family in a secular world." It deals directly with issues Christian families wrestle with in parenting. Parents must answer a fundamental question: What's more important: Happiness or holiness? -- Mark 


Thursday, April 5, 2018

EDMONTON ARCHBISHOP WITHHOLDS FUNDING FROM CATHOLIC AGENCY

Archbishop Richard Smith
Archbishop Richard Smith of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton (where I live) has been compelled to withhold funds from the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (CCODP). This does not come as a surprise. Over the past few years I have heard rumours that CCODP has been involved indirectly with abortion activities and contraception. I have not written about these rumours because, after all, they were rumours.

I am not sure what prompted the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops to instigate a review of CCODP's activities, but Archbishop Smith wrote an open letter, dated April 4th 2018,  to Catholics of the Archdiocese. In part, he said:

"Development and Peace fulfills its mandate in collaboration with more than one hundred partner agencies in the Global South, contracting with them to carry out specific projects aimed at improving the lives of our sisters and brothers in many developing countries. The Bishops of Canada have recently been apprised of the preliminary results of a review of these partners."

"The initial results communicated to me are alarming. An estimated forty partners appear to show evidence of conflict with Catholic moral teaching and,  in particular, that they do not demonstrate full respect for the sanctity of human life."

"For this reason, the Archdiocese of Edmonton will withhold the D&P portion of the 2018 Together We Serve donations from Development and Peace." 

Archbishop Smith stated that funds will be withheld from Development and Peace until he has clear assurances all funds will be used by agencies "whose mission, values and practices cohere with the teachings of the Catholic Church ..." And that is how it must be!

[You can read the Archbishop's entire letter at the end of this post.]

The sanctity of human life: It lies at the center of Christian morality. God made each of us in his image and likeness (Genesis 1.26-27) That fact alone gives every human life, from womb to tomb, immeasurable value. Catholic institutions or agencies must never be involved in anything that does not hold up the sanctity of all human life -- whether it be directly, indirectly, by extension, or affiliation. If life is not sacred then nothing is sacred. 





Tuesday, April 3, 2018

MARTIN LUTHER KING'S STRUGGLE FOR 'THE DREAM' CONTINUES

April 4th marks 50 years since Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. When we think of the great civil rights leader, we are apt to remember his profound "I have a dream" speech. He said, 

"I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal." 

Dr. King dreamt of a day when black Americans would truly stand as equals with white America and that they would not be "judged by the colour of their skin but the content of their character." 

Martin Luther King  not only believed in racial equality, but harmony of all peoples. He rejected all forms of violence, and that included the violence of abortion. 




A number of years ago I was invited to deliver the keynote address to a U.S. National Right to Life Prayer breakfast. I accepted. I spoke from my wheelchair about the equality and natural dignity of all human life from conception to natural death -- from the womb to the tomb. 

After my speech, I was mingling with people. A woman came up to me and we visited for a few minutes before I went to my table. 
"Do you know that woman is?" somebody asked me. 
"No." I replied. 
"That's Dr. Alveda King, Martin Luther King's niece. She's a civil rights leader in her own rite."
I was stunned. Why did I deliver the keynote address with her in the banquet room? She should have delivered the address!


Dr. King sees her pro-Life advocacy as a continuation of the civil rights struggle. She's right. After all, as her uncle said "How can the 'dream' survive if we murder the children?" Everyone has the right to live, to breath fresh air and be warmed by the sun. Alveda King is taking that struggle, for life itself, to the places of power and to main street America. The right to life is the first and highest right. Without life guaranteed, all other rights become arbitrary and uncertain.


Mark

THE DEEPEST HUMAN DESIRE SATISFIED

In a sermon to newly baptized Christians, early Church Father Saint Jerome (c. 347-420) imagined what it must be like for the saved to stand before God. He said:

"Now they come forward and they stand in the presence of God. They have come forward before the altar and have looked upon the mystery of the Saviour. ...I shall go into God's marvellous dwelling place, his house. The house of God is his Church, his marvellous dwelling place, filled with joyful voices giving thanks and praise, filled with all the sounds of festive celebrations."

DEEPEST DESIRES SATISFIED

Saint Thomas Aquinas told us that our deepest desire can only be satisfied in our heavenly home with the saints. He said, "Only God satisfies, he infinitely exceeds all other pleasures." Saint Augustine exhorted us to pray as the Master taught us for Christ shows us how to receive the desire of our hearts, through prayer.

We learn from Augustine that God's "gift is very large indeed, but our capacity is too small and limited to receive it." This desire does not enter into our hearts -- we enter that divine desire. What is that desire? God is the object of our deepest desire and longings. Therefore, to follow Saint Augustine's line of exhortation, God must be the Object of our our prayer life.

PRAYER

To enter God's glory is to enter an Ecstasy beyond human capacity to imagine. Prayer is intended to expand the Christian's capacity to anticipate and enter the glory of the Lord.

I believe an underlying and refining purpose of our brief time on earth is to expand our capacity to enter into the full joy of "God's marvellous dwelling place, a house." Again Thomas Aquinas tells us that "Since in our heavenly home the saints will possess God completely, obviously their longing will be satisfied, and their glory even greater."

SAINT STEPHEN

Occasionally, we see the spiritual transformation from earthly to heavenly understanding. This was dramatically illustrated with the martyrdom of Stephen (Acts 7.55-56):
Stoning of Stephen
Giulio Romano
(1499-1546)

"But he, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked up intently to heavenly and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and he said, "Behold, I see heaven opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God." But they cried out in a loud voice, covered their ears, and rushed him together. They threw him out of the city, and began to stone him. The witness laid down their cloaks at the feet of a young man named Saul. As they were stoning Stephen, he called out, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit."

Despite being robbed of his earthly life, Stephen's heavenly life came into full view. Things of earth grew dim and faded away.

GOD'S GLORY

Saint Paul referred to seeing indistinctly and partly here on earth but in the presence of Jesus Christ, standing face to face, then we will see clearly and understand fully, just as we are understood fully. (1 Corinthians 13.12)

At present we are incapable of seeing the full glory of what awaits 
those who love Jesus Christ. The glory of God is too much for any of us to bear in our present states. At best, we can only grasp wisps and whispers of that glory. We do not understand. The holiest of people only understand in part.

Prayer is the mechanism God has provided to us to prepare and expand our capacity to experience His glory. Sublime Ecstasy will accompany divine desire fulfilled. There, beyond our our present experience, beyond nature, we shall eat of the tree of life in glorified and renewed bodies.

I must avert my thoughts from nagging doubts. That which is decaying here will dance there. The cross comes before the crown.

Through Christ I shall enter God's glory and will say, "It is this for which I was created." In God's dwelling, with the saints of the ages, I will understand that I am finally home -- my deepest desire and longing satisfied.