“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

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

THE GREAT COMMISSION IN A WORLD OF WOKE, VICTIMHOOD AND IDENTITY POLITICS

 

Then Jesus came to them and said, 

“All authority in heaven and on earth has

 been given to me.  Therefore go and make

 disciples of all nations, baptizing them 

in the name of the Father and of the Son

 and of the Holy Spirit,  and teaching them

 to obey everything I have commanded you. 

And surely I am with you always, 

to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28.18-20

 

Christ has trusted faithful Christians, great and small, who came after the disciples throughout 2,000 years of history, up to this day, to take His great commission to the world. At times they were faltering and uncertain in their witness to those around them, just like Christians today.  That’s because they were flawed and frail humans, just like us. But Christ was with them, as He is with us. That is what He said in the Scripture passage above. He would be with us, in the form of the Third Member of the Trinity: The Holy Spirit. 

 

“But when the Helper comes, 

whom I shall send to you from the Father, 

the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, 

He will testify of Me.[1]

 

The Helper He referred to—the Spirit of truth—is the Holy Spirit. The Helper is with us when we testify for Christ, the Pascal mystery, and the salvation that is offered to all through the Cross and the price Christ paid for our sins, to reconcile us to a perfect God. Jesus said that once He left the world and ascended to the Father the Holy Spirit would do certain things in the world and guide those who testify about Jesus and take the good news of salvation to everyone.

“… I will send Him [The Holy Spirit] to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. . . . I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.”[2]

Not only do we have the Holy Spirit to guide us in the world, we also have Christ’s example and teachings in matters faith, conduct and morality. Christ said if we love Him then we will keep His commandments.[3] He told us to love one another as He loves us.[4] He said  the greatest commandment is to “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”[5]  He told us to love one another as He first loved us.[6]

 

For those of us who have encountered Christ, the living Christ, we know He is the only lasting peace we have ever known.[7] Internal peace of the heart touched by the Holy Spirit. It is inexplicable. It is beyond human understanding.[8]  How can we keep such peace to ourselves? From that peace springs love; from that love joy blooms almost too sweet to bear. To love God and be loved by God, they are the real reasons you and I were created.[9]  All else is ultimately inconsequential.

 

From Love’s radiance I have discovered purpose and meaning to my life, even at my lowest points of paralysis with multiple sclerosis when my legs became useless, and right hand could not even hold a spoon. He was there and the Holy Spirit’s internal light drove away the shadows of terror and despair. I have learned that the final reality is Jesus Christ. Do the politically correct and woke crowd expect me to remain quiet about the only hope I have ever known? Fat chance! They proselytize for their new paganism replete with gender confusion that defies biology, misandry, angry identity politics that flourishes in a quest for victimhood that gives birth to a new anti-Caucasian racism. And I’m not supposed to evangelize for Christ? I won’t be silenced. The gospel message is where divine love, lasting happiness is to be found. From love of neighbour grows consistent and enduring charity. 

 

The prevailing liberal left offer neo-Marxism (and a new elite) to replace Christian western civilization that raised humanity higher than any civilization in history. It is against this new backdrop of 21st Century madness that Christians find themselves. It is imperative that we do exactly what Jesus told us to do:  “… go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” 

 

We are to make disciples of Jesus Christ everywhere throughout the world. Indeed, He is with us. We are to love the Lord our God with all our hearts, souls and minds, and love our neighbours as ourselves.  We are to reflect the towering love of Christ for humanity to those who shout us down, shut us down, tear up the streets of our cities, slander and “cancel” us.  Am I saying that Divine love is the antidote to hate, that inner peace brings outer peace? Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying. Christ’s love did that for someone as despicable as me. why it won’t do that for other people better than me?  


MDP 


[1] John 15.26.

[2] John 16.7b-15.

[3] John 14.15.

[4] John13.34-35.

[5] Matthew 22.36-40, cf. Mathew 19.19, Mark 12.28-31, Luke 10.25-28.

[6] 1 John 4.19.

[7] John 14.27. 

[8] Philippians 4.7.

[9]Genesis 1.26, 1 John 4.7-17

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

SEXUAL SECRETS IN THE END TIMES

Pastor Jimmy and Karen Evans co-host Marriage Today, a nationally syndicated Christian television program. Jimmy Evans has authored over a dozen books including TIPPING POINT: The End Is Near (2020),  FREEDOM FROM YOUR PAST: A Christian Guide To Personal Healing and Restoration (2018), TEN STEPS TOWARD CHRIST: Journey Toward The Heart of God (2011), and  RESOLVING STRESS IN MARRIAGE.  

In April of this year, Pastor Evans recorded a Youtube video entitled SEXUAL SECRETS IN THE END TIMES. Very insightful. You can watch it at the link below.





Friday, April 23, 2021

SOCIAL DISTANCING CAN CREATE SOCIAL ISOLATION

 


She gazed out the kitchen window, not looking at anything in particular. LaRee was contemplating. “I wonder if we’ll ever get out from beneath COVID?” She turned to look at me: “Will life ever return to normal?” Who could blame her for being discouraged? The COVID pandemic has gone on longer than anyone thought. Too long. It’s been well over a year of lockdowns, ever shifting public health directives, and things seem to be getting worse not better, despite a mass vaccination campaign. COVID variants and mutations are out-pacing science. 

 

LaRee and I have been married for forty-eight years. I know her. Something new happened to pile on the daily bad news the media is so quick to tell us about. I asked a stupid question: “Why are you so gloomy? What’s up?” LaRee gave me a look as though I must have just climbed out from beneath a rock.  “Have you read the latest news? There’s new COVID variants every few days more transmissible that may be resistant to the vaccines. Two of our grandchildren are in quarantine from exposure to COVID at school. Our son and a granddaughter already have compromising lung conditions which put them at greater risk with COVID; and do I need to remind you that we haven’t been able to visit most of our family in over a year?!” All those things are true. Since the beginning of the pandemic, my wife and I have been diligently following distancing, masking, hand washing, and any other directions health authorities recommend. After all, we are seniors and I have two pre-existing health conditions that put me at higher risk: multiple sclerosis and hypertension. But social distancing can create social isolation.

 

Strangely, life with poor health is actual a strength. It was because of chronic illness, disease and disability that I slowly discovered lonely isolation can become gentle solitude. Solitude’s quietude allows people to tend to their inner development and interior spiritual life. 

 

Thirty-seven years with severe degenerative multiple sclerosis put me in an electric wheelchair. I often dreamt of better days despite desperate situations, regardless of whether I could enjoy them. I dared to dream of the unlikely or impossible because Christ was with me. Most of my dreams did not come true, but He was with me. And so, I looked up with hopes and dreams rather than down with sorrow or despair. When I didn’t think things could get physically worse, I had an unexpected mini-stroke, or as my neurologist affectionately called it, a ‘transient ischemic attack’ (TIA). (Don’t you love those highfalutin medical terms.) It put me a high risk of a subsequent major stroke, and yet an inexplicable peace descended upon me. He was there. Christ. 

 

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”[1]

 

And God’s divine consolation intensified even more when I was diagnosed with cancer. As I was wheeled on a gurney into an operating room for surgery, Christ was with me with the sublime assurance: “Be Not Afraid. I AM with you.”[2] I went under anesthetic completely at peace with whatever was His will. I can not tell you how much that understanding meant to me. Regardless of what health crises befell me or how sick I became, … the presence of God was greater.

 

During it all, I have known Christ has been with me. At the most unexpected moments — and often my sickest moments — I was often engulfed by a fleeting sacred child-like joy completely at odds with my circumstances; I came to treasure them. My interior man is learning to be content regardless of the situation. 

 

For those who do not yet know Christ, seek Him. He is seeking you! Jesus said,Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.”[3] In Him you will find joy and love, purpose and meaning to life.

 

Christians can use lockdowns of the pandemic to draw nearer to Christ. He will draw nearer to you. Times of crisis can open wonderful vistas for spiritual growth. 

 

This is my point: Christ is in charge! Nothing slips by Him. He is with us in this global covid pandemic. If we surrender our lives to Him, no pandemic, no disease, no isolation can separate us from the love of God. Saint Paul said:

“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”[4]

Remember, he also assured us that all things work for good for those who love God.[5] I recommend that you read the entire 8th chapter of Romans. Contemplate and meditate on what it says. Let the Apostle’s words reassure you during this plague. 

Perhaps when this pandemic is over, you may look back at this time as a spiritually fruitful time in your life—a time when lonely isolation came become sweet solitude.  

Mark Davis Pickup


[1] Psalm 23.4.

[2] See John 14.27, cf. Revelation 1.17-18.

[3] Revelation 3.20. cf. Luke 12.36, John 14.23.

[4] Romans 8.38-39.

[5] Romans 8.28.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

THE PASTOR WHO THREW POLICE OUT OF THE CHURCH




On Easter weekend, a Calgary pastor in Canada threw police out of his church. He was wild, screaming at the police to get out and calling them Nazis and Gestapo. My sympathies lay with both: I felt sorry for the police officers who were merely following orders:  Trying to ensure compliance with public health directives. I also felt for the pastor. 

 

He had an eastern European accent and is of an age when he he might well remember the oppression of a communist  country.  Seeing police come into the church service wearing guns, billyclubs, hand-cuffs, and tasers may have triggered memories of Stasi-like police intimidation, and jack-boot justice.  This would certainly explain such a severe and extreme response by the pastor. (He was wrong to go outside his church and hurl insults at the police as they walked back to their cars.) 

 

In retrospect, we must consider how these delicate, sensitive issues are approached. Tact and diplomacy are key.  Pastors and religious leaders who ignore the serious threat to human life that the pandemic presents are ignoring their responsibilities as citizens. This is an extraordinary time of public health crisis!  Their refusal to adhere to temporary policies put in place for the good of public health brings discredit to their Christian presence in their communities. Congregants who were unmasked and not obeying physical distancing will leave the church and enter the community. They may have been exposed to covid then take it—or one of the highly contagious and more dangerous variants—to their neighbours, people in the local grocery store or a pharmacy.    

 

Current public health regulations are not meant to violate people’s freedom of religion, association or peaceful assembly. In times of national emergency, we must understand there is (and must be) a hierarchy of rights, beginning with the right to life and security of the person. The right of peaceful assembly must give way in times of a lethal pandemic that spreads by air and close proximity of people. To obstinately refuse to acknowledge this is irresponsible and shows a blatant disregard for others (love of neighbour). 

 

I haven’t attended church in months. I don’t like it and miss it terribly. Online services and worship must suffice. I have underlying health conditions that put me at increased risk of contracting covid through public exposure. But it must be that way until the pandemic is over. 

 

I’ve spent most of my adult life espousing the value, worth and dignity of every human life, and the fundamental right to life and protection.  How could I now endanger others because of my lesser right of association and assembly? Churches have ways to connect with their members, and the community, through such things as Zoom, Facebook, FaceTime, Google Group Chat, email, or telephone conference calls. Granted they are grossly inferior to coming together in churches but It’s only for a while longer. 

 

The Calgary city police are not Nazis. They are not Gestapo. They were trying to ensure public health regulations are followed, not strip people of their rights. To call them such terribly inflammatory things was wrong.  The police officers were guilty of insensitivity, that’s all. They should have left their weapons, handcuffs and tasers in their cars to avoid any appearances of intimidation or bullying—especially when dealing with someone who may well have experienced real police thuggery in a communist country. They should not have interrupted a church service. They stepped into a hornet’s nest. 

 

I call on all pastors and churches to cooperate and obey covid health directives. Use technology and online tools at your disposal to collectively worship our Lord.  Granted, they are not the same as gathering as a church family, but it’s only for a short time longer until covid is under control and we can emerge into the sunlight again and resume our lives.  Don’t portray covid restrictions as persecution of Christians. That is not right and you know it. Obey public health regulations for the health and well-being of your communities, and us all.


MDP

Saturday, March 27, 2021

A DIFFERENT KIND OF WITNESS FOR LIFE AND LOVE

 

I've have had multiple sclerosis for 37 years. There were times when the terror of neurological dysfunction seemed almost too great to bare. At the same time, I saw a well-orchestrated campaign by euthanasia/assisted suicide advocates selling the false idea of so-called 'death with dignity' to the public, politicians and the media.  I wanted life with dignity!  Death with dignity is not achieved by injecting someone with poison when they are at their lowest point. That is abandonment not dignity. Death with dignity is not an event, it is a process, the conclusion of having lived with dignity. 

Through my own tears and sorrow of adult-onset degenerative disability, I asked God what He wanted me to do with my situation? He told me not to focus on my own increasing disability but to reach out with a message. What was the message?  Every life is sacred and deserves to be loved, cherished and protected — even if they have ceased to believe that — especially when they have ceased to believe it! And so, I began to take that message to anyone who would listen, and wherever God opened doors. Boy, did He open doors! 

For more than 20 years, I spoke across North America—from Victoria to Prince Award Island in Canada, Boston to Los Angeles in the U.S., from Whitehorse in Canada's Yukon to New Orleans. I spoke in small towns and big cities, to schools and universities, community groups and churches, politicians and government committees. As time passed, travel became increasingly difficult as my disability worsened. Eventually, travelling became so difficult I had to retire from speaking. Then, something else began to weigh on me.

I felt led to write an autobiographical feature length screenplay about my life. I called it TRANSCEND: A Journey Toward Love. Although it deals with abortion, it is not a story about abortion. Yes, it deals with severe disability, but it is not primarily about disability. It obviously deals with euthanasia and assisted suicide, but it is not a story about those things either. TRANSCEND is a love story, the heartbreak and transcending love story of my wife, LaRee, and I, spanning half-a-century as we slowly and painfully gained an ever deepening understanding of love (both human and divine). With God's help, our love transcended our circumstances.  

Then something wonderful happened. I prayed—as I had so often done throughout the years—that if it be God's will, could He raise me from the electric wheelchair I had been in for 16 years. I prayed that if it was His will that He would let me walk again and regain the use of my right arm and hand. It would be enough; even for a short time, even if I needed canes or a walker. In His loving providence, God did raise me out of my wheelchair and walk—albeit on weak and atrophied legs. He returned the use of my arm and hand. I've been walking for close to two years. I hadn't been able to hold anything in my right hand for a quarter of a century, so I began to pen love letters (I'm right handed) each day to my wife. But I had already finished the screenplay.  

It was necessary to rewrite the ending of the script to include this miracle. I knew many people would not believe something so dramatic and unexpected, but it had to be included. I sent the revised script to my friend Joni Eareckson Tada, an internationally renowned Christian disability advocate and prolific author, for her feedback.  She loved it! She gave it her strong endorsement (a copy of it is at the bottom of this post).  

The film industry is hard to break into, particularly for an old man who's never written a screenplay. Most producers won't give an unsolicited screenplay a second glance, and it was no different for me. 

Fortunately, a man who has been involved in Hollywood's movie industry read the script. Frank Eik liked it so much he wants to see it made into a movie. He sent the screenplay to a professional script reader in Hollywood for a critique. He helped me make recommended alterations, corrections and edit the script to tighten the story line and give it some "polish." Mr. Eik will now present TRANSCEND: A Journey Toward Love to a Christian movie producer he knows in Hollywood for consideration. The Director of Content for Pure Flix, a Christian movie streaming service, has also asked to read the script. Will it be made into a movie? I don't know. 

I believe LaRee's and my story is worthy and unique, but I'm biased.  If not, the exercise was educational and cathartic for me. That's worth something. 


Thursday, March 4, 2021

THE BIBLE IS NOT JUST ANOTHER BOOK

If I was banished to a remote and isolated island (the original cancel culture), I would want two books to live out my days: The Bible and The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis. Kempis’ book has been good for meditation on spiritual truths, spiritual discipline and development of my interior life. 

 

Kempis begins: Book 1, Chapter 1.2,  THE IMITATION OF CHRIST AND CONTEMPT FOR THE VANITIES OF THE WORLD.

 

“Whoever follows Me will not walk in darkness,”[1] says the Lord. These are Christ’s own words by which He exhorts us to imitate His life and His ways, if we truly desire to be enlightened and free from all blindness of heart. Let it then be our main concern to meditate on the life of Jesus Christ." 

 

"2. His teaching surpasses that of all the saints, and whoever has His Spirit will find in His teaching hidden manna.[2] But it happens that many are little affected, even after frequent hearing of His Gospel. This is because they do not have the spirit of Christ.[3] If you want to understand Christ words and relish them fully, you must try to conform your entire life to His."

 

I have met people who claimed to have read the Bible cover to cover and found it wanting, ordinary, and not particularly inspiring, even silly and inferior. I knew an agnostic man named Ted. He made such a claim; I did not believe him. His ignorance of Scripture belied his claim.  He said he found God to be vengeful and cruel. His usual example was to distort his face and imitate an ogre. In a guttural voice he would hiss, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” One day, I asked him where it says that in the Bible? He did not know. It’s Exodus 21.14.[4]

 

In fact, this passage does not reveal a cruel God exacting vengeance. Quite the contrary, it was instructions for judges that penalties must not exceed the crime, rather than retaliation by an injured party which was often out of proportion to the crime. A man does not kill someone who knocked out his tooth. This principle of proportionate punishment has guided laws into modern times. 

 

When someone says he’s read the Bible and got nothing out of it, the problem is not the Bible. The problem is with the reader who, as Kempis wrote, “… many are little affected, even after frequent hearing of His [Christ’s] Gospel. This is because they do not have the spirit of Christ.[5] If you want to understand Christ words and relish them fully, you must try to conform your entire life to His.” 

The Bible is not just another book, it is the Word of God.[6] The reader must be open to the leading of the Holy Spirit.”[7] The Bible cannot be understood by merely reading it, as though it is a novel or history book. It must be prayerfully read. C.S. Lewis said, “The Bible, when read in the right spirit and with the guidance of good teachers will bring us to Him” meaning Jesus. Saint Jerome said, “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” Remember Thomas à Kempis said that “whoever has His Spirit will find in His teaching hidden manna.”  

I actually don’t believe that people like Ted could have read the Bible without a little voice within convicting them. The writer of Hebrews said, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two- edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”[8] This was the problem for Ted and why he was so quick to dismiss the Bible. He did not want to have God’s word penetrate his interior life and convict him of his sin, his thoughts or the intent of his heart. He preferred darkness to light.”[9]

 

Ted preferred darkness to light because light would have exposed his secret life and his evil thoughts and sinful deeds. He enjoyed his sin. He did not want to change. The word of God exposed to him that which he did not want exposed.[10] Somewhere deep inside himself, Ted was afraid of the implications of listening to that little voice.[11] He would be called to repent of things he was not ready to repent of. It was easier and more comfortable to smother the little inner voice (as he had done so often before), silence his conscience, and close the Bible.

 

Do you understand what I am writing about? We who have denied and defied God at one time or another have tried to silence that nagging little voice. We felt that piercing double-edged sword. So many people have heard the feet of the Hound of Heaven behind them.[12] When they opened Scripture, they heard its pounding paws closing in on them. They had three choices: flight, fight or surrender.


I hope that in the final moments of Ted's life he finally surrendered to Christ. The darkness that had covered his life would have become light as he stepped from this life to the next. 


MDP 

________________________


[1]
 John 8.12.

[2] Revelation 2.17.

[3] Romans 8.9.

[4] Cp. Leviticus 24.20

[5] Romans 8.9.

[6] John 1.1. 

[7]1 Corinthians 2.10-12

[8] Hebrews 4.12.

[9] John 3.19-20. See 1John1.5, Acts 26.18, Romans 13.12.

[10] Ephesians 5.11.

[11] John 12.46.

[12] Francis Thompson (1859-1907), poem The Hound of Heaven.

[13] Romans 2.4.

[14] John 3.1-36. Also see 2Peter 3.9, Ezekiel 33.11, 1 Timothy 2.4.

Saturday, February 20, 2021