This blog deals with issues pertaining to natural dignity and worth that all humanity deserves under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. You will find articles about Life issues pertinent to Christian living and faith.
“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
If you go to the site noted above, you will find a story
entitled “Sing a little louder” ― an account of German Christian detachment
from the Jewish holocaust in the second World War. As the story goes, a small German country church
was located near a rail line that transported Jews to certain death in a
concentration camp. Each Sunday the congregation would hear the train passing
their church with occasional cries of people in the cattle-cars. Their response
was to sing hymns louder to drown out the sound. I first heard this story a few years ago ─ whether it’s true or
not, I don’t know ─
but it sickened me.
DISDAIN FOR CHRISTIANS: What we do know from the historical record is that much of
Germany’s Protestant Christians were too timid to stand up against anti-human
racial doctrines and anti-Christian declarations of the Nazis. Adolph Hitler’s disdain was captured in a
comment he made about German Protestants:
“You can do anything you want with them, ... . They will
submit. . . .They are insignificant little people, submissive as dogs, and they
sweat with embarrassment when you talk to them.”
There were, of course, shining and courageous examples of
Protestant resistance to the Nazi agenda, such as Franz Hildebrandt, Reverend
Martin Niemöller of the Church of Jesus Christ in the affluent Berlin suburb of
Dahlem, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Pastor
Niemöller and the congregation became symbols of resistance to Nazi racial
doctrines and anti-Christian declarations of Nazi leaders. They internalized Jesus’ exhortations to be “salt
and light” in a hostile world? It helped to explain Nazi contempt for the
German Protestant church.
But for the most part, a majority of Protestants were too
timid to resist the radical cultural climate of Nazi Germany. For years I could
not understand such shocking behaviour of Christ’s followers. But then I
remember that the Disciples abandoned Christ in his hour of need and Peter
How can I be critical of German Christians of the Nazi era
when many Christians of my era were silent, during the 1970s – 1990s, about the
abortion holocaust, and many still have not found their tongues? How can I stand in
judgement of others when I championed the abortion of my first child? We are all sinful, weak people who must
confess our sin. With God’s help, perhaps we will learn from the history of
violence against the weak and stand up en
masse against the next assault against the vulnerable: Euthanasia and
assisted suicide. Put away timidity or indifference, fellow follower of Christ! Put on the armor of God to do battle with the forces of evil that are here!
Take courage, God is with us. Stand and
militate for the sanctity of every human life. The sick, dying and disabled do
not need euthanasia or assisted suicide, they need proper care and love. People do not need to live and die in unbearable pain. 21st Century pain management can
relief all physical pain Write to your elected officials at state, provincial and national levels and demand life affirming social policies and legislation be enacted to ensure quality palliative care and pain relief for people when they need it. Develop proactive church outreaches to families facing end-of-life issues or develop respite services for families living with disabilities. Include them in your church life. Develop Christian hospice services that always affirms life and never ends or denies life. Do not listen to those who tell you to downplay or hide your Christian faith. We must be unremitting witnesses for the Jesus Christ who is the light and life of humanity during this dark and terrible juncture in North American history, and always. -- Mark
William L. Shirer, The Nightmare Years:
1930-40, (Boston, Little, Brown and Company, 1984) p.152.
This symposium is a "must attend" for people of good will who are concerned about stemming the tide of euthanasia and assisted suicide that is rapidly gaining acceptance across North America.
Pied pipers of assisted suicide
The pied pipers of death are promoting euthanasia and assisted suicide; they will lead vulnerable people to their graves under the seduction of so-called "death with dignity." Legalization of assisted suicide of terminally/incurably ill people and the disabled has gained a toehold in Oregon and Washington state. Other American states are being pressured to accept assisted suicide. (I fear those states that reject euthanasia through their legislatures will have it imposed upon them through activist courts.)
In Canada, the province of Quebec is on the cusp of legalizing assisted suicide under the wicked euphemism "medical aid in dying." The Liberal Party of Canada has adopted a resolution to decriminalize assisted suicide if elected. It's really quite frightening for people like me to know we are so unwelcome in society. As a chronically ill and disabled person, I plead with North America to reject euthanasia and assisted suicide. I know what's in store for people like me if we become suicidal. We will not get suicide prevention counselling -- that's reserved for the healthy and able-bodied -- we will get help killing ourselves. We will be disposed of with the utmost civility. Euthanasia and assisted suicide are not death with dignity. They are ways of culling the sick and disabled from society. I grieve for what is in store for people like me, but I also grieve for a once great Christian society that is dying. This is just a symptom of that terrible reality. --- Mark
I've been guilty the sin of envy. The last of the Ten Commandments
given to Moses by God was not to covet. More precisely the Commandment states:“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your
neighbor’s wife, nor his male or female slave, nor his ox or ass, nor anything
else that belongs to him.”
Hebrew word for covet is hamad and
means “to have a strong desire for.” Coveting is an internal sin. One Bible
commentary states, “Coveting was not merely an appreciation of
something from a distance, but an uncontrolled, inordinate, selfish desire.
This tenth command governed an internal matter: the sin of coveting occurred in
the mind. This demonstrated that God intended the Israelites not only to avoid
the actions named in the previous commands, but also to turn away from the evil
thoughts that led to those actions.” (Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Commentary,
Let me explain
how I have violated this commandment. It has been a long time since I coveted
or envied other people’s houses or cars ― but I often find myself jealous of
other men’s health and physical abilities. When I became disabled with multiple
sclerosis in 1984, my children were only five and seven years old. During those
early years with the disease there were such wild fluctuations between attacks
and remissions that I was either too horrified by what was happening to me or too
afraid to be envious. Looking back at the first years with my disease, I don’t
remember jealousy being an issue (although I’m sure there must have been times
when it was). The issue of envy, coveting or jealousy really became a spiritual
issue for me later when I had longer periods of remissions from the MS to
contemplate my predicament and losses.
My sin became particularly acute after I
became a grandfather. By that time my MS had changed to one of slow
degeneration and I found myself stewing internally. To see other grandfathers
swimming, skiing, bicycling or rough-housing with their grandchildren made me
jealous. I watched from the sidelines as other men headed off camping with
their grandchildren; I sat in my wheelchair burning with jealousy and thought, “Why
can’t I be doing that too?!”
I told this
interior sin of mine to a friend. He replied, “Well, that’s understandable.” I
suppose he was trying to be kind but his comment was irrelevant to the sin.
Understanding why someone sins does not lesson, erase or mitigate the sin. You
may suspect that a childhood of deprivation may have caused a woman to become a
kleptomaniac, but she is still a thief. A loveless marriage may contribute to a
man having an affair, but he is still guilty of adultery. Sin is sin.
reason why we sin is less important than recognizing when we sin and responding
with confession and repentance. The grace of my Baptism does not inoculate me from
the weaknesses of my nature that lead me toward sin and evil.
all guilty of violating God’s law: The gravity of sin – whatever it may be –
must not be downplayed or discounted. Sin is destructive to our prayer life and
Christian growth, our human relationships, and our relationship to Christ. Sin
separates us from God. By Christ’s Passion, crucifixion and resurrection we are offered forgiveness of sin. It’s there for the asking through faith is Christ's atoning sacrifice.
For me to
allow jealousy, envy or covetousness to take root in my heart is really to
doubt the sovereignty and goodness of God. Something far better awaits me in
heaven. That should be enough to live contentedly here.
writer of Hebrews said, “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you
have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Perhaps this passage deals specifically with material possessions but I
place it in context with my reality of physical incapacity. I must not let my
temptation to be jealous of other men turn me bitter. Be grateful for those
things I still have? Yes, I still can get about with my wheelchair and my
family accepts me as I am. They have not forsaken me and nor has God.
My life is rich and there is every reason to be content. Forgive me Lord
for my discontentment.
I recently read the homily of Saint Gregory
of Nyssa (?-386) on Ecclesiastes. The essence of his message was that Christ is
our Head, and wise people keep their eyes upon Him. To the world this is foolishness because it
does not understand that a living Christ really exists and that He is humanity’s
final reality. To worldly understanding,
there is no final reality—only individual perceptions of God, or some life
force, or no perception of God at all.
People who look to a living Christ – the second member of a Triune God are
considered fools to the prevailing secular world.
A tough sell
When God told Moses to lead the Israelites
out of Egypt, God identified Himself as “I AM WHO I AM” (Exodus 3.14.) Moses must
have felt foolish traipsing in to Pharaoh under the authority of the great I AM
to say “Thus says the Lord God of Israel: “Let my people go, that
they may hold a feast in the wilderness.” Pharaoh didn’t warm to the idea. (Exodus
Christ identified Himself as “I AM” and got
an equally cool reception (John 8.58-59). The crowd wasn’t ready to receive God made
Man: The Incarnation! (John1.1&14a)
The Christ who is real
God is who He is, regardless of what the
crowds want. The living Christ is real. He is.
And this is the Christ that St. Gregory told us to keep in our sight. The world
does not understand this; the secular mind thinks Saint Gregory’s premise is foolish.
“How can you see Christ?” the
agnostic asks mockingly. The atheist
believes that there was no empty tomb and that our prayers fall into an empty universe.
To the worldly mind, the Christian is a fool—the more devout the Christian, the
bigger the fool.
It has always been this way. Saint Gregory
”People are often considered blind and
useless when they make the supreme Good their aim and give themselves up to the
contemplation of God, but Paul made a boast of this and proclaimed himself a
fool for Christ’s sake. The reason he said, “We are fools for Christ’s sake”
was that his mind was free from all earthly preoccupation.” (See: Christian
Prayer: The Liturgy of the Hours, 1976, P.1699.)
It’s not that Paul was oblivious to the
affairs of life, but his focus was on the final goal which was to be with
Christ. I have heard people (usually
agnostics) say some like this about devout, or seemingly devout Christians:
“He’s so heavenly minded, he’s no earthly good.” It may sound clever but it’s
Heavenly minded people
It is the truly heavenly minded person who
prays most fervently, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” He really
means it and his actions strive to make it be so. The heavenly minded person understands
that if the divine Good of God’s will is reflected in human affairs and society
– just as it already exists in heaven – the result will produce an environment
ideal for humanity to thrive. And the
person who is truly heavenly minded will work for that end.
Jesus said the greatest Commandment is to
“love the Lord God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with your
mind.” (Matthew 22.37). If a person really loves God with all their being they
will naturally become heavenly minded.
It is a natural outgrowth from this spiritual state that the second
great commandment occurs: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew
22.38). The closer a heavenly minded a
person becomes, they will be drawn nearer to the heart of God. Inevitably they
will find themselves aching with compassion for lost and hurting people because
of God’s extravagant love for us. (See Jeremiah 31.3, John 3.16, Romans 5.8,
Ephesians 2.4-5, 1John 3.1.)
Infectious love & a Comforter
Christ’s love is infectious (John 13.34-35,
15.10 & 12.) and we use Christ’s perfect love as our model. Perfect love is
not competitive or self-serving (John 15.13, 1Corinthians 13, Philippians 2.1-8.)
Seeking perfect love means the world may
destroy the seeker, just like it did to Christ.
By the world’s standards only fools would pursue or value such a love. Yet
Christians are called to seek Christ’s perfect love. We are fools for Christ.
Do not dismay at this calling. Earth is not
our home but you can rest in the assurance that Christ promised to give us a
home elsewhere. (John 14.2-3.)
Those who seek Christ’s perfect love will
be hated in this world. Count on it. (John 15.18.) Perfect love enlightens but
the world prefers darkness. The world has never valued or comprehended His
While we are in this world, Christ promised
to send us a Comforter, a Helper—the Holy Spirit (John 14.16, 25, John 15.26,
Acts 2.4.) This is the Spirit of God who
raised Jesus from the dead and who dwells in those who are restored in Christ’s
perfect love (Romans 8.11. Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), No.733, 734.).
We are promised that those who receive
Christ and are led by the Spirit of God become Children of God. (John 1.12,
Roman 8.14. CCC, No. 742.)
I believe that God uses people at certain junctures in history to speak to their generations when they've lost their moral way. God used Abraham Lincoln to set slaves free in America. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke for racial equality. Dr. Bernard Nathanson (and many others) exposed the corruption of the abortion industry.
Wesley J. Smith
During the late 1990s and early 21st Century, God used Wesley J. Smith as an author, speaker and activist, to warn America of the coming onslaught of euthanasia and assisted suicide acceptance of the incurably sick and disabled. His predictions were often ignored or attacked but always startlingly accurate. We are witnessing Smith's predictions coming true with the devaluation of vulnerable populations in areas where euthanasia and assisted suicide have been legalized. Always quick and insightful about emerging social trends, Wesley J.
Smith also saw the dangers that radical animal rights activists could pose to universal human rights. He began to speak about 'human exceptionalism' to puzzled allies and foes alike. Smith's 2010 book A RAT IS A PIG IS A DOG IS A BOY: The Human Cost of the Animal Rights Movement was ahead of its time. We are now beginning to see the threats he clearly laid out.
Wesley J. Smith latest work THE WAR ON HUMANS comes in the form of an e-book. The online description of THE WAR ON HUMANS states: " ... environmental activists have arisen who regard humans as Public Enemy #1. In this provocative e-book, Wesley J. Smith exposes efforts by radical activists to reduce the human population by up to 90% and to grant legal rights to animals, plants, and Mother Earth." Smith warns that it will be the powerless and most vulnerable members of humanity who will be most in peril if the animal rights movement gets its way. THE WAR ON HUMANS is a must read. This e-book can be ordered at http://www.waronhumans.com/ Novelist Dean Koontz says this about THE WAR ON HUMANS:
"Within the world of benign and admirable conservation and ecological awareness organizations, an irrational and misanthropic ideology has metastasized that in its own fanaticism is as dangerous as the fascist and communist crusades of the past century. In The War on Humans, Wesley Smith succinctly exposes the "philosophy" and aims of this movement, cites its deep unreason, and brilliantly extrapolates the horrors inevitable should it triumph."
The American historian and syndicated columnist, Nat Hentoff comments on THE WAR ON HUMANS:
"Smith has now written a riveting expose of this
multi-dimensional assault on human beings that for life saving reasons—I kid you
not—must be read by human beings beyond their political, religious, and all
other affiliations." See a 31 minute documentary about this subject and e-book THE WAR ON HUMANS by clicking on the image below. Order your e-book copy today at http://www.waronhumans.com/
In 1776 the America colonists declared their independence from British rule. The next year they adopted the Articles of Confederation but it proved unsatisfactory because it left the central government too weak. In 1787 a Constitutional Convention was assembled in Philadelphia to draw up the new nation's Constitution.
At times it was a rancorous process but the elder statesman, Benjamin Franklin was instrumental in guiding the process along to form a Constitutional document. One of the members of that historical Convention was James Madison. He later wrote that as the last members were signing, Benjamin Franklin looked toward the President's chair. Behind it was a painting of a rising sun. Dr. Franklin said: "I have, often and often, in the course of the sessions, and in the vicissitudes of my hopes and fears as to its issue, looked at that behind the President, without being able to tell whether it was rising or setting; but now at length, I have the happiness to know, that it is a rising, and not a setting sun." And so it was. The sun of American liberty rose bright to give hope and home to oppressed people who believed they could be free and rise to make for themselves a prosperous life by their own endeavors and hard work. They tried to live under the glorious vision of their towering Declaration that stated: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
This human entitlement to liberty was based upon a healthy understanding of the "Laws of Nature and Nature's God" to which the first paragraph of the Declaration of Independence referred. This is both the strength and weakness of the Declaration. Not everyone has or wants a healthy understanding of the Laws of Nature or Nature's God. Inalienable rights also carry inalienable responsibilities. All humanity has the right to life -- it is the first and highest human right. You can pursue happiness but never on the back or expense of another human being. This is a maxim of human liberty. To think otherwise is licence not liberty.
Roe versus Wade drove a wedge into the foundations of America's noble vision. The bright sun of human liberty dimmed after January 22nd 1973. I believe legalized abortion is more of a threat to America than terrorism. Violence in the womb fuels violence in the streets because it denies Nature's God and abandons the ideal of the sanctity, dignity and equality of every human life. It reveals the true poverty of human hearts without God's influence. Rampant abortion only hardened the heart of America to also consider euthanasia and assisted suicide for the old and frail, the incurably ill and disabled, and infanticide of defective newborns. It is a short walk from the nursery to the nursing home. How could America have lost its way in less than 240 years? It is because 'Us' was replaced with 'Me', liberty was twisted into licence, and the pursuit of happiness was replaced by hedonism. I believe that God is calling America back to its Judeo-Christian roots. It's up to followers of Christ to shine His light across the land and draw the wayward to God who gave America its original blazing vision. America must consider the same question as Benjamin Franklin did: Is the sun rising or setting for America? Perhaps with God's mercy and a national repentance there can be a new sunrise for the United States of America. I love America and pray God's blessing for Her. Mark
In October of 2012, Canada's Parliament gave UNANIMOUS support to a national suicide prevention strategy. The next month BC supreme court "Justice" Lynn Smith ruled in favour of assisted suicide for an incurably ill woman. Now Quebec is about to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide. They euphemistically call it "medical aid in dying." So which one is it? Suicide prevention or assisted suicide? Euthanasia proponents will respond "Both"! Healthy people get suicide prevention while sick and disabled people get assisted suicide.
That's the bad news. The good news is that assisted suicide clinics in Quebec will be fully wheelchair accessible. Mark
When I was young, it was fashionable to
grow a beard and long hair, put on a tie-dyed t-shirt, faded jeans and head off
to Europe to “find oneself.” Often I wondered
what would happen if those searchers didn’t like the inner-self they found? At
a personal level, I had already met my inner self, in the comfort of my own
home, and was horrified at what I found! What I found was a cesspool of
self-interest and self-exaltation. Pride was the underlying motive for all I
did, with occasional streaks of kindness which I twisted to bolster delusions
that somehow beneath all the corruption I was actually a good man.
Looking for the god or goddess within
Modern spirituality urges us to look within
ourselves and embrace the inner man and the god within. I did an Internet search for “find god within” which identified over
124-million results! It seems that finding the god within oneself is quite a hot
topic. There is a shaky assumption that inner peace awaits as we discover the god
or goddess within. On one particular
Internet site a fellow who identified himself as a Grand Master (of what I don't know) told his followers (how many I'm not sure): “Yes, there is a God, but not the God you perceive. As Jesus
said, “Don’t look here or there for heaven. It is within you.”” Methinks the "Grand Master" was taking a few liberties with Luke 17.21.
In that passage, the Pharisees asked Jesus
when the Kingdom
of God would come. Jesus replied that the “Kingdom of God
(not heaven) is amongst you.” Our Lord
was referring to the Kingdom
of God being internal and
spiritual rather than external and physical. Taken in light of other things He
said about the Kingdom of God (Mark 1.14-15, Luke 16.15-17), his last comment
likely means that the kingdom has arrived in the person and ministry of Christ.
Looking within for God is a dead end rooted
in pride and self-exaltation. It ultimately brings people lower not
higher. The Scriptures repeatedly tell
us this. (Proverbs 18.18, 28.25, Ezekiel 28.1-9, Habakkuk 2.4, Matthew 23.12, Luke
14.11, 1John 2.16). Pride is a form of hatred for God. It was pride and self-exaltation
that made the devil the devil (Is.14.12-15).
Saint Augustine warned about pride and self-exaltation in City of God:
"For, pride is the beginning of all sin. And
what is pride but an appetite for inordinate exaltation. Now, exaltation is
inordinate when the soul cuts itself off from the very Source to which it should keep close and somehow
makes itself and becomes an end to itself, … the soul falls away from the
unchangeable Good which ought to please the soul far more than the soul can
The “Source” and “Good” Saint Augustine referred to is the God of the
universe not some puny, make-belief god within us. Saint Augustine was referring to the great I
AM WHO I AM of Exodus, the Alpha and Omega of Revelation 1.8. (Also see Jesus’
words in see John 8.57). The simple fact
is that God is who He is quite apart from what Mark,Tom, Dick, Grand Master Harry thinks.
The eyeless “I” of self exaltation
Pride poisons our potential to foster or
even care about our relationships with other people, other than how they can
puff us up. We become an eyeless “I”. Self-exaltation
kills the potential for a relationship with the great I AM WHO I AM, through
Jesus Christ. That has eternal implications.
I want to help you not to overlook this point. We live in a time and culture that celebrates Self above everything.
Fellow Christian, place a guard around your heart against
self-exaltation lest you fall away from the warmth and light of Christ. He said, “Whoever exalts himself will be
humbled but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” (Matthew 23.12.) And
Jesus practiced what He preached.
Saint Paul wrote, “Have among yourselves the same attitude
that is also yours in Christ Jesus, who though he was in the form of God, did
not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied
himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found him in
appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a
cross. (Philippians 2.5-8)
Live and walk humbly before God (Micah 6.8).
If there’s any exalting to be done toward you, let it come from Him. In such a state, you will find your worth as a
child of God.
“But to those who did accept him he gave
power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name.” John 1.12
As a grandfather I worry about my grandchildren. It's the cost of love. I worry about their tender hearts being broken by a cruel and heartless world in which they live. There are disappointments they will experience and I won't be there to comfort them or wipe away every tear. I am, after all, only their grandfather and a step removed from their daily lives. Most of all I worry about their spiritual lives. I want them to love Jesus Christ with all their hearts. I fret equally about them all. Tonight I am thinking about Grace. I pray that you choose to love Jesus all the days of your life, serve him and live within His grace.
[Click on image below or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h8h38V-Bh8U ]].
[Laura Story singing Grace: from her album entitled Blessings]
Psalm 139 is often called the pro-life
psalm, and with good reason. The psalmist says God "knit me together in my
mother's womb" and "my frame was not hidden from you when I was made
in the secret place." Not only does the psalmist declare that God's eyes
saw his unformed body but ordained all the days of his life before any of them
came to be.
Psalm 139 is about unspeakable love and intimacy between
Creator and created—every human life that has ever been conceived, including
you and me. But Psalm 139 deals with so much more than God's tender presence
with the unborn child. In the entire Book of Psalms, the 139th sits as its climax.
British biblical scholar, R.E.O. White said "this psalm represents the
peak of the Psalter, the maturest individual faith in the Old Testament, and
the clearest anticipation of the New." GOD IS OMNIPRESENT
Psalm 139 speaks of God as omnipresent and all-knowing.
This understanding is a hallmark of honest, sensible living and is foundational
to developing intimacy with God and living a transparent life. Knowing that God
is omnipresent helps believers keep short accounts with God and encourages
familiarity with the confessional. Personal moments of terror with my own journey into
advanced degenerative disability (multiple sclerosis) have brought me back,
time and again, to the comfort of Psalm 139. God knows my terror; His hand
rests upon me! Lord you have probed me, you know me: You know when I sit and stand; You understand my thoughts from afar. My travels and my rest you mark; With all my ways you are familiar. Even before a word is off my tongue, Lord you know it all. Behind and before you encircle me And rest your hand upon me.
The undeniable truth is that an intimate touch of an
omnipresent God, who is all-knowing, has soothed tormented souls throughout the
ages. It's reassuring to know that I do not even need to blurt out clumsy words
- words that always fall short of expressing sorrow and fear. God understands my thoughts and knows what I want to say
before the words leave my lips. He encircles me with divine love and places his
hand on my shoulder (just like he did before my birth). What exquisite
intimacy! God's word tells me it is so. And then I realize that God's word is a spiritual
staircase: From the beginning of time the Word was with God and the Word was
God (John 1:1). The word became flesh in Jesus Christ and dwelt among humanity
(John 1:14). The Word will lead me home, regardless of what happens here. THE PERFECT LOVER What perfect romance! Charles Wesley's 18th century hymn
was absolutely correct: Jesus is the lover of my soul. He has been the lover of
my soul since I was conceived in my mother's womb. He embraces me in the
darkest moments of my sorrow and pain just as He has embraced generations of
humanity in theirs. Our darkness is not dark to God. The psalmist wrote,
"Darkness is not dark for you, and night shines as the day. Darkness and
light are as one" (139:12).
Christ drives back human darkness. He calls to you and me,
"Take courage! It is I, do not be afraid!" He says those words to me when I find myself in the ̔dark
nights of the soul̕. My terror has been a body slowly becoming a carcass.
Christ rests his hand upon my shoulder and asks me to let him use my affliction
as a vehicle for my spiritual purification. There's so much with me that needs
to be purified. My curse becomes part of my blessing. As I surrender fear
and my silly notions of God, and how my life was supposed to be, I can see the
darkness of sorrow and bitterness being pushed back for the love of God to
flood into my life. MY DEEPEST LONGING The lover of my soul knows that my deepest longing is not
to walk or run again: My deepest longing is to soar to heaven in his love.
Although I didn't know it until now, that's been my deepest yearning since
before my birth. God was with me in my mother's womb. Wonderful are
your works! My very self you
knew; My bones were
not hidden from you, When I was being
made in secret, Fashioned as in
the depths of the earth. Your eyes
foresaw my actions; In your book all
are written down; My days were
shaped, before one came to be." I know now that the MS was no
accident. It's just a chapter in that book. The title of the chapter is 'Purification'. My disease does define me, it refines me; it is not destroying my
life but preparing me for something and somewhere far richer and more abundant
than this life. Christ is true to me; I must be true to him.
Probe me, God, know my heart;
Try me, know my concerns.
See if my way is crooked,
Then lead me in the ancient paths.
Yes, Psalm 139 is pro-life with good reason. The Author of
life and love oversees it all. (See below.)
Disability inclusion has been something I have worked for most of my adult life -- even before I was disabled. It is vitally important for the common good of society to ensure conditions exist that allow all people to reach their full potential. We must help each other thrive. Many barriers facing people with disabilities have been removed in recent years but many more remain. It has been my experience as a disabled person that the biggest barriers are attitudes of others (and my own). The human family, under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, must include all its members from the unborn child to the centenarian and every stage and stage between those two points. Everybody has something to bring to the table of human experience. I came across an interesting video showcasing various visible disabilities. It's creative and unique. It challenges stereotypes of perfection and beauty and encourages disability acceptance among the public and self-acceptance with the people with disabilities who were involved. Great stuff! Look past the physical and atypical. Include. Encourage. Give loving accept those who live in your circle of influence, even those with twisted bodies or broken minds. Bring the love of Christ to all. -- Mark
I love to see young people excel in the arts whether it be visual, writing, music, theatre, performing or cinematic arts. It makes my heart soar to see them excel. My whole life I have been surrounded by artists and artisans. They make life so rich. You may have noticed that I paper this blog with references and examples of artistic endeavor. Throughout my 30 year disability journey music, literature and writing have been a near-constant companion. Below are young people's playing Beethoven's piano quartet in C major, I Allegro. An equally young 15 year old Beethoven composed it. Enjoy
about a young man paralyzed in a freak accident. The story gave a glimpse of
his grief and sorrow. It's been just a year since his accident. The terrible
prospect of permanent disability is beginning to sink in and it's breaking his
heart. He told the reporter, "It's really, really hard." And so it
is. Life with catastrophic disability is a hard journey. I know, I've lived
with degenerative multiple sclerosis for 30 years.
At the deepest point of grieving,
life can seem like an endless series of disappointments, accommodations and
compromises, lost opportunities, and inexpressible sorrow. One can feel totally
alone, even in a crowded room.
Disability is a
lonesome journey. As the old song says, It's not that friends are unkind -- just hard to find. Then
there are those dreaded moments at the end of each evening and one must make
his way to the terror of the bedroom. It's in there that the darkness awaits to
engulf a grieving person in fitful sleep-wake torture. A chorus of despair, self-doubts
and fear whisper, "You are alone. Nobody understands."
It is there, in the middle of an
endless night, lying wide awake staring into darkness, that a bed can become a
rack. The horrible truth of life's misfortune can seem too great to bear. A
human soul lays open like a gaping wound. Whimpers break into sobs of raw,
pulsating grief. Grievers beware! Emotions are
unreliable, they are apt to intensify the feeling of isolation out of all
proportion. Tears obscure vision and grief distorts perceptions of reality. There is no such thing as an
endless night. It only seems that way. The longest night must eventually give
way to dawn. It is only fear and grief that tell us otherwise. Even the pitch
black of arctic winter days will, in due course, transform into a peculiar
summer midnight sun. Many people with profound
disabilities have risen above their predicaments and abyss of intense grief to
incredible spiritual heights and human achievements. Perhaps the most famous example is
Ludwig Van Beethoven (1770-1827). Most of his vast contributions to the world of
music were written in either partial or complete deafness. George Frederic
Handel (1685-1759) suffered from manic depression. His beloved Messiah was
written at the end of a depressive bout. John Milton (1608-74) was blind
when he wrote Paradise Lost (1667). Paradise Lost is generally considered to be
the greatest epic in the English language. (Remember that John Milton also
wrote Paradise Regained.) Elizabeth Barrett Browning was an
"invalid and a recluse" to use the phrasing of one biographer. There
was nothing invalid about her - her gift for lyric poetry is with us to this
day. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was
physically crippled from polio at the age of 39, yet as America's 32nd
president he led an entire nation through most of the Great Depression and
Second World War.
Grief, sorrow and fear are not
unique to people with disabilities: they are common to the human experience.
Everybody is acquainted with sorrow. Everyone is afraid. The "No Fear" T-shirt that was so fashionable a number of years ago was not true. With the exception of babies and small children, everyone has fears
from the past and fears of the future.
Most people are afraid of serious
self-examination lest they come face to face with inner demons, character flaws
and emotional handicaps. They might be challenged to go through a difficult
process of change. Some people fear being forgotten while others fear being remembered.
We are afraid of committing
ourselves wholly to love yet afraid of being unloved. Many people are afraid of
committing themselves to lives with purpose -- yet despise those who do. Some people are afraid of dying
outside God's grace yet they are afraid to truly live within it. We may be
afraid of being seen as extreme yet afraid to venture outside mediocrity.
Helen Keller (1880-1968) went deaf
and blind before she was two years old. In an era when society restricted the
lives of people with disabilities (not to mention women), Keller overcame
monumental obstacles to rise to international stature advocating world peace,
women's suffrage, human dignity and civil rights for people with disabilities. She said:
"When it seems that our sorrow is too great to be borne, let us think of
the great family of the heavy-hearted into which our grief has given us
entrance. Inevitably, we feel about us their arms, their sympathy and their
That's my point. All humanity longs
for affinity and the understanding of others. All humanity is longing for
belonging. The young man grieving his paralysis may not yet know it but his
grief has given him entrance into the "great family of the heavy-hearted." Those of us who are full-fledged
members of that "great family" have the Passion and cross of Christ
as our chief example and inspiration. It is to Christ we can ultimately turn
with the knowledge his sufferings dwarfed all human pain and sorrows. There is
no grief Jesus does not understand. Christ is the ultimate affirmation. He is
the ultimate over-comer. He can change us, if we allow it, from victims to
victors. -- Mark
My adult daughter sent me the link below called "Calming Storms" by Clayton Jennings. Shen and Was 8 years old and her brother was five when I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS). As I have said in previous blog posts, those years were terrifying years. We pulled together as a family. I have often wondered what impact it had on my children to watch their dad deteriorate from a healthy active man to walking with a cane then two canes, then crutches then a scooter and electric wheelchair. My daughter said her email that accompanied this video "This dude has a story eerily similar to the one Dean and me; I can relate to." Is there a storm in your life? Trust Christ. He will see you through it. Christ has been with me throughout 30 years of multiple sclerosis. He has brought me calm in the midst of my storms of disease. There can be peace even in pain. Listen to Clayton Jennings story below. Mark
(Note: Bookings for me to address your church, college or group about a Christian perspective on suffering or euthanasia and assisted suicide, contact me at HumanLifeMatters@shaw.ca )