“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

Saturday, June 23, 2018


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

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

Faith, family & community

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

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

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

Train up a child 

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

Participation with God

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

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


Wednesday, June 13, 2018


Ted was an anti-Christian bigot.

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

Biblical Ignorance

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

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

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

Lex Talionis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Monday, June 11, 2018


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

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

Wednesday, June 6, 2018


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

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

See below for my contact information.