“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 25, 2017


I was recently asked to speak to elementary students (6-12 years old age) at a Christian school about Life issues. I agreed but was sensitive to the young age of the children I would be addressing. I didn't want to burden tender hearts with the horror of abortion or the immorality of doctors helping sick and disabled people kill themselves. It's not right to put such heavy weight on small shoulders. Let children be children. Sadly, they will discover, soon enough, the cruelties of adults who kill unwanted babies before they are born and vulnerable sick and disabled people.

Instead, I spoke to the children about the inherent value of their lives and every other life in the world. I wanted to help to build a foundation in them of unreserved reverence for all human life in which killing other human beings is unthinkable, Only time will tell. 

They will eventually face the daunting prospect of being a Christian in a hostile anti-Christian culture. Will they have the moral courage to stand against the barbarity of our age? I have posted below my speaking notes. I welcome feedback.

Good morning, children. I have come today to speak to you about life: Your life, and your life, and yours – every human life. I want to talk with you about God’s love for us all.

God loves every baby in his or her mother's arms or in his or her mother's tummy. God loves young people and very old people. He loves people like me who are disabled.  You cannot find any human being in the world God does not love. He loves us all. And God wants us to be with Him forever, through believing in His only Son, Jesus. Why do you think that might be?

I think it goes back to the very beginning of everything.  We read in the Bible that when God created the world He put his image into the human race.  In the very first chapter of the very first book of the Bible we read:

 “Then God said,‘Let Us make man in our image, according to Our likeness… So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female He created them.”[1]

It is because everybody has deep within their soul, the image and likeness of God that everyone deserves respect, care, kindness and love.  

Your value and worth do not come from what you can do, how smart you are, how popular, healthy, rich, or how good looking you are. You are important and valuable because you have God's image and likeness, and He loves you.

Somebody may wonder when did God put his likeness and image into you, me, us? It was given to you long before you were born. God planted his image into you at the moment you started (that moment big people call conception).  Your mom and dad didn’t know it, but God did. 

At that moment all the ingredients that make you you came together and made you unique and different from every other person who ever lived or will live in the future. Isn't that neat?

Do you want to know something else? Before your mom knew she was pregnant with you, God was with you.[2] He knew your name before you started to take form. God knew you, and he sanctified you. (Sanctified means sacred, holy).[3] He mentioned you by name![4]

The Bible says that! It says you were fearfully and wonderfully made. Your heart started to beat just 18 days after you were started in your mother’s tummy. God whispered your name then, and He whispers your name today – like a still small voice – calling you to Him through His Son Jesus Christ. God does that with everybody; He is the Father to us all.[5]

In fact, I think Jesus would have willingly died on the cross if you were the only person to ever become a Christian. He loved everyone in the world as though they were the only one in the world. 

Did you know that your body is God’s temple because it contains the image and likeness of God?  In the Bible, the Apostle Paul wrote:

“Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of Holy Spirit, who is in you, and was given to by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honour God with your body.”[6]  

Remember, in every one of you God planted his image and your body is the temple for that holy image. Respect our bodies and take care of them.  You never appreciate good health so much as when you lose it. I know, I lost mine.

Everyone has the right to be alive, find their place in the world, and become what God’s wants them to be. God has a purpose for each one of you.  He loves you and wants you to love Him. God does not want to lose anybody.[8] There is nobody else like you! There is a reason you are here.

You don’t need to know yet what that reason or purpose is. As you grow in your faith in Jesus, keep your heart sensitive to God’s voice (which never contradicts the Bible).

This Christian School teaches you important things like math and science, history and language arts. But most importantly this school teaches you about God, and tries to help you grow in your faith in Jesus Christ, and become a better Christian in an unchristian world, and prepare you for life. When the time is right God will lead you into your purpose.

But for now, you need to pay attention to you studies and education, and commit your life to Jesus, pray and be obedient to God’s Word which is? … the Bible.

If you are tempted to do something that is against what the Bible teaches, then that something is wrong.

For example, if you are tempted to gossip or say mean things about someone, remember they are made in the image of God too. He loves them, and they deserve respect and honour. And the Bible teaches us this.

The Bible tells that we are to guard what we say. With our tongue we bless our Lord and with that same tongue we say bad things about people “who are made in the image of God.”  The Bible tells us this should not be. [9]

We must be kind in the things we say and do to people. Help them to do what is right and good and encourage them to be their best. Never say or do things that will hurt them or dishonour them. Jesus said that whatever we do to other people we do to him.[10]

If you do not help somebody who needs your help, then you hurt Jesus. It is Him you did not help.[11]

Think of it this way: Suppose someone hurt my wife, they don’t hurt just my wife, they hurt me. They may as well have hurt me because I love my wife and what hurts her hurts me. In the same way, if someone is kind to her, it makes me happy to see her happy. It’s just like they were kind to me. Does that make sense?

Don’t ever think that someone who has a deformity or a disability or is different doesn’t have the image of God within them. They do, just like everyone else. We often judge others by what we see on the outside but God judges what’s on the inside.[12] 

And if you feel unkind or mean, don’t be. Pray that God will calm down those mean or unkind thoughts. Be kind in what you say and do – even if you don’t feel like being kind. (Be careful about feelings. You can't always trust them. The truth of the Bible exists regardless of how you feel.)

God wants you to treat others with loving-kindness just like he would do. Be kind. Try to ease another person’s pain – whether in their heart or their body. You will make Jesus happy.

And through your actions and kind words, who knows, people who do not yet know Jesus may be attracted to you. They may start going to church and hear that God loves them so much He sent His only begotten son that they might have eternal life by believing in Jesus. They might confess their sins, have faith in Jesus and trust in God.[13]

As you can see, I use a wheelchair. There was a time – a long time ago – when I was healthy. I could walk and run and play, just like you. Then I got a disease called multiple sclerosis (MS). You don’t need to worry, it’s not contagious, you can’t catch it from me. One day, a long time ago, I started having trouble walking and here’s the reason why.

Everything that happens in your body comes from signals sent from your brain.  The brain sends electrical signals to the body through nerves.  For some people, like me, the strangest thing begins to happen.

The messages from my brain start having trouble getting to where they are supposed to go. Here’s why: My body starts to confuse my nerves as a foreign body – something that should not be in my body, and so my immune system starts to attack parts of my nerves. Well, actually that’s not quite true. My immune system attacks the fatty coating around the nerves called myelin.  

Do you know what the immune system is? It is your body’s defence against infections. It’s like your body’s army to fight off cold bugs and other sicknesses. Well, my army thinks I am the enemy and attacks that fatty coating around the nerves! That coating begins to swell and squeezes the nerve so only part of the message gets through, or none of it. 

For example, my brain might send a message through to my arm telling my hand to pick up a pencil. Maybe only part the message get through to my arm and it tries but it has trouble picking it up. Maybe it can’t pick the pencil at all!  Maybe most of the brain’s message gets through but because the myelin is swollen it makes my arm ache and it goes numb  – much like what you might feel at night when you sleep on your arm too long. It goes numb and it feels like pins and needles.

After a while that swollen and irritated myelin begins to breakdown, and develop scars. The Latin word for scar is scler. The word osis means sickness. These scars begin to happen in various places along my nerves – in many or multiple places. That’s why they call my disease multiple sclerosis or MS.

In my case, most of my scars make my legs hard to use. Sometimes it made my arm hard to use.
Sometimes the MS made it hard to see or speak, but it mostly affects my legs. That’s why I use a wheelchair or scooter.  It’s not so different from glasses people wear. They are simply tools intended to help us in our daily lives. Nothing more. 

The same is true for a blind person who uses a guide dog trained to be the person’s eyes. (We must not bother a guide dog when he is on duty. He has a job to do.)  Maybe a blind person uses a white cane to tap-tap-tap, and find their way down a street. It’s white to let other people know the person is blind.

A person who is hard of hearing or deaf may use a hearing aid or sign language to communicate with their family and friends. These are all just tools to help people live a normal life, and find their way in the world, and hopefully reach their full potential, the reason God put them here, just like you. 

I can use my disability to serve God. Maybe one day God will heal me and make me better, but for now, I use my situation to serve Him.

I must tell you that when I first got sick with MS, I became angry. I did not want to have a disability. But God, my family and my church and Christian friends loved me even when I wasn’t very lovable. When I realized my disability was not going to go away, I became very sad and depressed. I didn’t think I was valuable anymore. 

My family, my church and Christian friends held me up as a child of God, even when I didn’t feel like one.

I had to remember God’s image was still in me, regardless of how disabled or sick I became.

My family, church and Christian friends helped me search for a new way to fit into the world and serve God, even when my legs or arms or eyes didn't work very well.

God does not want anybody to live outside a Christian community. We were not meant to be alone.[14] When you see someone who doesn’t fit in or has no friends, you can be their friend. It may mean the world to them. 

Invite them into your group of friends. If your friends don’t like it, tell them that whatever they do to others, we do to Jesus. If someone is disabled, don’t make fun of them or stare at them. Be kind to them.

They know they limp or use crutches or a wheelchair or have a deformity; they don’t need to be reminded of it or be treated meanly by others.  If they are missing a limb or look different, be kind. They know what they look like.

They should not be left out and have no friends. They may need a friend, and you can choose to be that friend! That’s what Jesus would do, and we should too. Do you want to know something? That is when your faith in Jesus really shines.

Everybody needs a friend and companionship. You and your group of friends have the power to decide to be friends with a friendless person. 
After all, isn’t what you would want if you had no friends and weren’t invited to play? Always keep in your mind that what we do to others, we do to Jesus.  

If you see someone being bullied, stand up for them and tell the bullies to stop. If you saw Jesus being bullied would you try to stop it? Well, respond as though it was Jesus being bullied.[15]

Everybody needs love, even bullies. The bullies also bear the image of God and they need to be reminded of it and behave in a way that honours God. Be kind to bullies too. 

Remember, sometimes the best way to show that you are a Christian is by your actions more than what you say.

If you have given your life to Jesus, let your faith shine like a light on a hill.[16] Jesus said He is the light of the world.[17] If you have given your life to Him, then you have His light in you.[18] Let it shine. People will know you are followers of Jesus by the way you love other people.[19]

So what am I saying? Prayerfully ask Jesus to teach you to remember that everyone has the image of God inside them. They may behave like they do but look for the good that could be not the bad you see.

We live in a world where people who are strong, young and beautiful are considered winners. The world doesn’t have much room for people like me. We are the world’s losers. But we are winners to God. He welcomes people who are weak, the old and people with disabilities. 

Jesus said,

“When you have a luncheon or a banquet feast, don’t invite your friends, brothers, relatives and rich neighbours. For they will invite you back, and that will be your only reward.  Instead invite the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind. Then at the resurrection of the righteous, God will reward you for inviting those who could not repay you.”[20]

God wants everybody at his table. People who believe in Jesus Christ and live for Him are in the family of God. We are His children.[21] And that includes babies inside their mother’s tummy, it includes people with disabilities, and people who are very young and people who are very old. God wants us to include them all in our world.

When you see someone disabled come to your church, make a special point of introducing yourself.  If you don’t have people with disabilities at your church, invite some.

Don’t be scared if they make weird movements or can’t talk very well. They are aware you are there. If you can’t understand what they are saying then say that and ask how to talk to them?

If moving around is a problem, don’t be afraid to ask if they would like help. Remember, I said that wheelchairs, canes, scooters, guide-dogs help people live their lives. They are tools. Don't see their disability, see them. Everybody needs to be included and have friends. Everyone needs the Lord.

Okay, who wants to drive my electric scooter?

Mark Davis Pickup

[1] Genesis 1.26a & 27, also 5.1-2. Cf. Col. 3.10, 2Cor. 4.4, 2 Corinthians 3.15-18, James 3.8-10.
[2] Psalm 139. 13-16. Cf. Job 10.8-12.
[3] Jeremiah 1.5.
[4] Isaiah 49.1-2, 5.
[5] Malachi 2.10.
[6] 1Corinthians 6.19-20. Cf. John 2.21, 2Corinthians 6.16
[7] Ephesians 2.18-22. Cf. Matthew 18.20.
[8] 2Peter 3.9. Cf.  Ezekiel 18.21 & 33.11.
[9] James 3.8-10, also 411a; cf. Romans 3.13-14, 1 Peter 1.1-2.
[10] Matthew 25.40.
[11] Matthew 25.45.
[12] 1 Samuel 16.7
[13] Psalm 40.3.
[14] Genesis 2.18a
[15] See Matthew 25.35-40, cf. Matthew 10.40
[16] Matthew 5.14-16.
[17] John 8.12, cf. John 1.4-5 &9, 2 Corinthians 4.6, Ephesians 5.14, cf 1 John 2.7-11.
[18] John12.36, Ephesians 5.8, 1 Thessalonians 5.5.
[19] John 13.34-35, 1Thessalonians 4.9, 1Peter.1.22-23.
[20] Luke 14.12-14. Also see verses 16-24.
[21] John 1.12-13, Galatians 3.26.

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