“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, 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.