“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, October 12, 2021

INDWELLING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT AND DISCERNMENT


“This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.

But you have not so learned Christ,  if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:17-24.)


I have come to a point in my life where I no longer give the same credence to the views and opinions of secular people as I do people with a Christian mindset, and who place their first loyalty with Jesus Christ. It’s a crap-shoot if non-Christians or lapsed Christians or anti-Christians will get moral issues right, and they always get things wrong when it comes to spiritual matters. Non-Christians tend to align their moral views with whatever clever sounding catchphrase or fashionable thinking is dominant at any given time.  

To identify as Christian on a census form is not enough either. That may be good for statisticians and government planners, but it means nothing to God.  Cultural Christianity is not Christian.  God wants a personal relationship with people. A living faith in Christ, and trust in His Word. He is the word. He has always been with God. Jesus Christ is God.[1]

Not only is Jesus Christ God, His unfathomable love for humanity is the reason He took on human form.[2]Imagine that! The creator of all things, seen and unseen, entered the world that He created and became part of our temporary reality so that we might become part of His eternal reality.

God is more concerned with your inner self than your outer self. Your physical self is continually aging. Through Christ your inner self can continually renew.[3] God speaks to your heart and mine. His law is written on our hearts.[4] The Holy Spirit witnesses and teaches God’s truth to us.[5]  Jesus sends the Holy Spirit to God’s children (sons of God)[6] The world that has rejected Christ is ignorant of the Holy Spirit;[7] for this reason it cannot receive the Holy Spirit (the 3rd member of the Trinity).  Faith in Christ comes first.[8] He is the 2nd member of the Trinity. God is the 1st member. There is no other way to God except through Christ.[9]

The Holy Spirt Christ dwells in the heart of the believer  This is not some airy-fairy concept. In Luke 11.13, Jesus said God gives the Holy Spirit to those who ask. It really happens! I know this from personal experience.  Someone reading this post may think to themselves: “Poor chap, the MS has affected Mark’s mind.” Even if that be true, how would that cynic explain the countless millions upon millions of people now — and throughout the past 2,000 years — who have experienced the indwelling of the Holy Spirit? 

To bring a small contemporary example to mind, how do they explain the twenty-one Coptic Christians willing to die rather than deny Jesus Christ. They were beheaded on a Lybian beach in 2015. With ISIS knifes at their throats, they called to Christ and committed their spirits to Him.[10] (I bet you didn’t see that part on liberal western media.) 

Can anyone realistically say those twenty-one men did not know Christ or hear His voice? The Holy Spirit was with them, and in them, as they were martyred and entered the Kingdom of God. 

“Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who before you.” – Jesus[11]

Somebody else reading this post might scoffingly say, “Are you saying you hear voices?” — to draw similarities to something akin to schizophrenia or infer some other mental illness. To make my claim sound like fiction, they make up their own.  Yes, I am saying I communicate each day with Christ and He with me, and so do hundreds of millions of other Christians! 

This is why genuine Christianity is not about religion: It is about a personal relationship with Christ. It is my experience that He sends the Holy Spirit to guide me in matters of faith, morality and conduct; the Holy Spirit has comforted me in the terrors of serious neurological disease, and cancer, and when I have been excluded or falsely accused. It is the Holy Spirit who convicts me of sin and calls me to repentance, and back to God through Christ. Anti-Christian atheists just don’t get it. Why would they? How could they? They have rejected Christ.

Christians must be careful. There is a need to discern which spiritual voices are from God or the evil one? Satan can masquerade as an angel of light.[12] The Apostle John instructed us how to discern what is of God and what is not.

“… [D]o not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. ...[13]


“You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them.”[14]

Any spirit that contradicts the Word of God is not of God. We who have met Christ and have given our lives to Him must always pray for more discerning discernment. The world is increasingly wily, cunning, and seductive in making evil seem good and good seem evil.  Be on guard. Put on the full armour of God.[15] Surrender your whole life to Him and let the Holy Spirit reign in you. 

MDP



[1] John 1.1.

[2] John 1.14. John 3.16.

[3] 2Corinthians 4.16.

[4] Jeremiah 31.33, Hebrews 10.16.

[5] Jeremiah 31.15, John 14.26 & 16.13, 1Corinthians 2.13.

[6] John 1.12-14, Ephesians 1.5, Romans 8.15.

[7] John 14.17a, 1Corinthians 2.11-14., Ephesians 1.5.

[8] John 3.5-7, Acts 2.38., Ephesians

[9] John 14.6, Acts 4.12

[10] See “Widow’s joy: He Didn’t Deny Christ When Beheaded” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OD16TqLaZe0  

[11] Matthew 5.11-12.

[12] 2Corinthians 11.14.

[13] 1John 4.1-3.

[14] 1John 4.4-5.

[15] Ephesians 6.10-18. 

Thursday, September 9, 2021

RELIGION VERSUS JESUS CHRIST


Over the years, I have noticed that Christians who are losing their faith (or have lost it) stop talking about Christ and start speaking about "religion"—usually in a negative way. The word 'religion' has a generic quality that allows a person who has lost their faith to use a shotgun approach in their attacks against Christianity. They attack the sins of Christians, or people posing as Christians, past and present. If they were once Christians, they should know that Christianity is not about religion. It is about Christ. It is about a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. The ex-Christian, or ant-Christian, talks much about sins of the church and little about forgiveness found in Christ — experienced by hundreds-of-millions of people throughout the last 2,000 years! Genuine Christianity is about Christ, so why don’t they attack Christ? 

 


There are anti-Christians who DO attack Jesus Christ, but again they
often base their attacks on the failures and sins of Christians. There is also a set of darker people whose wicked hearts hate Christ because He is God. He is the Word. He is Truth. Jesus Christ is the source of all that exists, visible and invisible. He is the only source of salvation.
[1]

 

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and without Him not one thing came into being.”[2]  

 

Anti-Christians and people who have lost their faith and turned away from Christ, choose darkness rather than light.

 

“What has come into being in Him was life, and the life was the light of the world. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”[3]

 

Some people have lost their faith because they are disappointed or angry with God. Their lives did not go as they planned or wanted. They are disappointed or angry because disease, disability, divorce, or the loss of a loved one, or loved ones. Perhaps their bitterness is rooted in being betrayed, abandoned or rejected by those they love most. Their hearts are broken and they blame God. 

 

Other people hate Christ because His light shines into their darkness and exposes their sin. They like their sin and want to continue. They prefer darkness of the soul.  Still others execrate Christ because they are anti-Christian, they are anti-Christ. They have given themselves over to the prince of darkness. 


Do not dismiss the idea of the diabolical at work in the world. All you have to do is watch the Hollywood’s movies about demons, witches, possession, and celebrating all forms of evil and sin. Look and the number of books with demonic themes, witches and wicca. Can’t you see the spirit of the age? 

 

Jesus spoke of Satan as a real being.[4] He spoke to Satan and Satan spoke to him.[5]  Jesus spoke about hell as being a real place.[6] Sceptics may say that references to fire and brimstone and gnashing of teeth are not meant to be taken literally. How do they know? 


Mike Livingstone wrote:

 

The images of fire (Matt. 25:41), darkness (Matt. 8:12; 22:13; 25:30), the weeping and gnashing of teeth ” (Matt. 8:12; 13:42,50; 22:13; 24:51; 25:30; Luke 13:28), and being cut into pieces speak of the horror of hell.”

“Are these vivid images of hell literal or figurative? If they are meant to be figurative, then the imagery is pointing beyond what human language can convey. In other words, hell—if not a literal fire and literal darkness—is immeasurably worse than those images and inexpressibly worse than we can even imagine or describe. As heaven is more wonderful than our finite minds can comprehend, hell is more horrible than we can comprehend.” (see footnote 5.)

Jesus also spoke of heaven as a place that is perfect, a place of joy, rewards and treasures. Shari Abbott wrote: “What Did Jesus Say About Heaven?” (https://reasonsforhopejesus.com/what-did-jesus-say-heaven-hell/). Heaven is a place where Christ is: I want to be with Him. I want to see the face of the One who has loved me and been with me throughout a life of trial, pain, disease and disability. I want to finally know why. I want to know as I am known.[7] And I want you to be there too.

There are so many traps, deceptions, temptations, addictions, and practices that seem harmless yet can draw believers away from Christ. Do not be drawn into them. If you are a Christian, your relationship with Jesus Christ is the most important thing in all your life. As Saint Paul said, put on the Whole Armor of God.[8] Fellow Christian! Summon all your spiritual resources! Submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee.[9]

MDP

__________

[1] John 14:6.

[2] John 1:1-3

[3] John 1:3b-5.

[4] Matthew 13:19 & 25:41; Mark 4:15; Luke 10:18, 11:18, 22:31-32; John 12:31, 14:30; 16:11.

[5] Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13.

[6] Matthew 5:29-30, 10:28, 15:33, 25:41; Luke 15:15; 16:23.

[7] 1Corinthians 13:12.

[8] Ephesians 6:10-18.

[9] James 4:7.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

MEMORIES OF REFLECTIONS









Saint Augustine said:

Love,

Endures in adversity

It shows prudence in prosperity

It is strong in suffering

It rejoices in good deeds

It is safe in temptation

It is generous in hospitality

Cheerful among true brothers

Patient with the faithless

It is the soul of the Scriptures

The virtue in prophecy

The salvation of the mysteries

It is the strength of knowledge

The bounty of faith

It is wealth for the poor

Life for the dying

Love, is everything.

 

I have suffered with disease and creeping disability most of my adult life. Diagnosed with aggressive multiple sclerosis at thirty, I endured a muriate of frightening neurological symptoms for decades. I am an old man now. Looking back, I’ve come to the same conclusion: Love is everything. Even when the body fails, love remains.  Love is the only possession we can take from this life. 

 

Saint Paul wrote about love. He said that even if we were to possess all knowledge and have profound spiritual gifts, and have faith that can move mountains, if we do not have love, we are nothing. 

 

Loveless faith is harsh, unbending, legalistic. Loveless faith lacks the love of Christ. Real love has certain characteristics. Augustine spoke of them in the passage above.  Paul said:

 

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”

My life has been a journey toward love—at times halting and uncertain, jealous and envious, often miserly in its expression. But God has been slowly teaching, wooing, chastening then blessing.   

“Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

Again, Saint Paul’s words. Saint Augustine understood. No doubt, he drew he drew much of his understanding on love from the 13th Chapter of 1Corinthians.  It has blessed and inspired humanity, and been read at countless weddings.

For me, it was a passage of the holy Scriptures I kept in mind and close to my heart during my worst attacks of multiple sclerosis. And they were bad, so bad that my doctor did not think I would live more than a few years.  The best doctors could do nothing to stop the savage attacks and slow degeneration. My wife had to watch it all ! She was convinced she would be widowed as a young mother with two children.  That’s how bad things got during the 1980s and ‘90s.

American author, lawyer and senior Fellow for the Discovery Institute’s Center for Human Exceptionalism met me. He described what he saw:

“I met Mark in the early 1990s and we became good friends. When I met him, he could barely walk using two canes because of his progressive MS. Over time, I observed his physical condition worsen, to the point he became triplegic, that is, was only able to use his left arm. He had no use of his legs whatsoever.”

In 2006, the MS also began to affect my left arm. My neurologist had exhausted all his treatment options. He resorted to administering the chemotherapy drug mitoxantrone (at that time still an experimental treatment for MS). It had some ugly side-effects and was discontinued. 

During those dark days, the knowledge that I was loved, and had always been loved, became magnified—it was my comfort and my consolation. One night I was lying awake on my bed in the middle of the night, gazing at the shadowy hoist hovering above me (used to help get me out of bed). I thought about what I'd lost over the years: My career, my health, use of my body, many friends and family. The words of Job came to me:

“I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” (Job 19.25-27)

 

Throughout the ages, a great sea of heavy-hearted humanity have identified with Job's words, the words of a man who lost everything: his health, his children, his wealth. His "friends" Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar taunted him under the guise of comfort. Even Job’s wife taunted him: “Do you still retain your integrity? Curse God and die.” (2.9).  And yet, even in his deepest sorrow and discouragement, Job cursed the day he was born, but not God. 

 

Those of us who have passed through that great sea of heavy-hearted humanity, can learn much from Job. Even if we die having lost everything in this world, through faith in Jesus Christ, we will have everything in the next world. Job reminds us that although our flesh will be destroyed, we shall see God. 

 

The love we take from this life will be perfected as we enter God's perfect love. All things will be made new—even us who believe in His Son! 


Mark 

 

 




Friday, July 30, 2021

HAITI NEEDS VISION AND HOPE


Sustainability and self-sufficiency are most often the keys to raising people out of poverty. Personal initiatives, small businesses, and responsible farming must be encouraged. I think of the oft quoted pearl of wisdom: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” 

 

In the years after the devastating Haiti earthquake of 2010,

many appeals were made to the world for essential things like clothing; clothes were given. The pleas kept coming; so in 2013, my wife, LaRee, packed 5 sewing machines on a plane and flew to a Haitian orphanage. She taught the older children to sew and left the sewing machines there. (My wife is a maternalistic sort of woman with an immensely practical orientation.) LaRee ascribes to the view that giving people a hand up is better than just giving them a handout. LaRee is a grandmother with an older school of thought rooted in practicality and resourcefulness. Decades before it was fashionable, she repaired and patched clothing, and reused fabric in what might be called “re-purposing” or “retro” today. She simply calls it frugality, and not being wasteful. 

 

[Give a child a garment and you’ve clothed him until he grows out of it. Teach him to make his clothes and you have clothed him for a lifetime. Teach him how to mend and alter clothing and you’ve given him a profession.]

 

That’s my LaRee. Practical. Hands-on. Never mind all the highfalutin hoity-toity international declarations. proclamations and promises of aid. As Larry the cable guy says just “Git-er-done!”

 

Before anything meaningful can be done for sustainability, Haiti’s chaos, rampant violence and societal disintegration must be brought under control and stopped. Haiti needs the expertise and assistance of businesspeople and their “know how.” Haiti needs community development from the ground up. Farmers need to be supported, Their farming techniques must be updated and modernized. That will take the form of on-the-ground agricultural expertise to help farmers and farm families. Corporate investments must play a role in Haiti’s economy. The UN, other nations, international and private foundations and philanthropists have a role to play. 

 

This has been done before in other places. Twenty-five years

ago, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown took a delegation of business executives to former Yugoslavia to explore possible business opportunities that might re-build the war-torn region and make a meaningful difference in the Balkans. Unfortunately, the delegation of 34 died in a plane crash in Dubrovnick, Croatia. But it did not stop the rebuilding and America played a significant role.

 

Throughout his presidency, I corresponded with Bill Clinton on a number of occasions, usually about disability issues and public policy supporting the Americans with Disabilities Act. In a much wider context, I also encouraged the president’s administration in its efforts to rebuild the Balkans and create an economy where free enterprise could flourish and people thrive.  (I believe that the sanctity of human life and being pro-life is also concerned with how people live to reach their full potential.) After his Secretary Brown’s untimely death, I sent a letter of condolence to the President. He responded by saying, in part:

 

“Dear Mark: Thank you for your heartfelt message of condolence on the death of Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown and the 34 people who accompanied him on his mission in support of peace. … Ron Brown knew the meaning of the American Dream and, as a member of my Cabinet, fought to secure it for everyone willing to work for it and believe in themselves. He and his colleagues lost their lives in their quest to bring the benefits of economic renewal to the Balkans and to strengthen the peace. …”

 

We can take the sentiments expressed by Bill Clinton and apply them to Haiti. Haiti needs someone to ignite a spark of a Haitian Dream that brings hope to Haiti’s people. They need to believe they can succeed. They need to embrace a vision that they can honestly achieve their dreams of prosperity, and better their communities, if they only believe in themselves. 


There is a Biblical proverb that says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”[2] It is not a vision seen with the eyes, rather the heart—that internal place where dreams are born. Remember the words of the fox to the Little Prince: “And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”[3] 

 

I believe that Haiti’s primary problem is that they are a people

without hope. They have no vision. That needs to change. It can
change! Creating an environment that is conducive to economy renewal, encourages investment, restores law and order, supports local businesses and farming, and, most importantly, brings Christian hope to the people that only Jesus Christ offers. 

 

Imagine that dreams really can come true, then make it happen. Theodore Roosevelt once said “Believe and you’re half the way there.” 

 

Mark Davis Pickup 



[1] Cindy Wooden, “To feed the world, start with family, pope says” Our Sunday Visitor, 26 July 2021. https://www.osvnews.com/2021/07/26/to-feed-the-world-start-with-family-farms-pope-says/

 

[2] Proverbs 29.18.

 

[3] Antoine de Saint-Exupery, The Little Prince.

[3]

Monday, July 26, 2021

THE PEWS ARE EMPTY!



I remember when the cultural madness became apparent to me, at least to my boy's mind. It was the early 1960s. My vague early memory of the 1950s was a world still deeply influenced by western Christian civilization with its morals, culture and mores. Life made sense and had order. 

 

Not everyone was Christian or even attended church. But you would have been hard-pressed, for instance, to find someone who did not know the ten commandments. They may not have followed them, but they knew they ought to. I remember when people were not afraid to walk alone at night on city streets, when people did not lock the doors of their houses or cars. More people told the truth than lied. I remember people whose word was their bond, and a handshake was as binding as any written contract. It’s hard to believe things were that way but they were. I remember it.

 

At a personal level, I was surrounded scholarly, ordered conservative men of manly good natures, like my father and grandfather. My grandfather's world was made up of music, tweed, a living room with overstuffed brocade chairs and sofa, and an ancient faded Persian rug.  A mantle clock sat on his fireplace. Its gentle steady ticking marked the hours, days, months, years, and decades dating back the early 20th century. His house smelled of coffee, old books, and pipe tobacco.  I loved being there.

 

In today’s world of the 21st century, men like my father and grandfather would be reviled and scorned as patriarchy.  It must have rubbed off on me—recently I was called “a patriarchal piece of S...t.” (I rather like the title.) The word ‘patriarchy’ is a dirty word now, but not to me. It evokes dear memories of security, family, Christian moral order, honesty, and decency. 

 

My father encouraged young people of both genders to rise to their full potential.  In fact, after his death in 1970, a Junior high school was named in his honour because of his love for education. But none of that fits into the mentality of 21st century moderns, the woke crowd, cancel culture, or ideologues of alternate gender fiction. (I’ve lost count of how many genders we are supposed to believe exist.) They cancel the memory of such men.  After all, men like my father were white straight men. They had “white privilege” despite being raised in the Great Depression of 1930-1940, then fighting a world war that claimed between 22-30 million military lives—and the same estimated number of civilian deaths.[1] 


They defeated the Nazis! Some white privilege! If my father’s and grandfather's generations were still alive, moderns would call them Nazis—but then the vocabulary moderns tends to be limited. They call anyone they disagree with a Nazi. Of course those who level the white privilege and Nazi accusations didn’t experience any of that history. They prefer to alter and rewrite history to suit their own agendas and worldviews. 

 

My father lived just long enough to see the beginnings of the 60s liberal church take root and abandon absolute truth for relative truth. They renounced the ancient tried-and-true Christian moral code for an experiment in social reconstruction of society. The stupidly audacious 1960s. My dad was a member of the United Church of Canada. It was, at one time, the largest Canadian Protestant denomination (or so they claimed). The 1960s saw a falling away from sound doctrine and Biblical truth. The early shifts were small—so small my father felt petty even mentioning them. But as surely as night follows day, one slight deviation after another, the falling away from Biblical truth became more and more apparent until: The Virgin birth was denied, the miracles denied, the validity and authority of the Bible was questioned, even the bodily resurrection of our Lord was denied with attempts to explain it away (remember the ridiculous 'swoon theory'?). By the time my father challenged the falling away, it was too late. A few years before he died, he said that one morning he woke up to realize he had nothing in common with his church anymore. When he challenged the church leadership’s direction, they invited him to leave (a fine display of liberal tolerance and accommodation). My father spent the last few years of his life at a local Anglican church that had an evangelical vicar.

 

Today the United Church of Canada is dead—a hollow shell of its former self. The local United Church where my father was a member—and was invited to leave in 1966—is now permanently closed. It died a slow death one empty pew after another until the last task of the minister was to turn out the lights and turn off the power. The closed church stands as a dismal monument to the failure of liberal compromise and accommodation of the culture. 


Liberal Christianity is just secularism cloaked in religious vestments.  


When denominations succumb to liberalism’s superficial allure, or "progressive Christianity," their people become starved of Biblical truth and the moving of the Holy spirit. Pews begin to empty. 


People don’t need more liberal blather and soft soap. They get enough of that from the media, governments, schools, tenured university professors and the entertainment industry. People do not need comforted consciences, they need conviction. In every heart-of-hearts, people know their own inner darkness; it only grows deeper the further they drift from God’s Truth, holiness, and divine love that has beckoned them since their earliest memory. They need the blazing light of Christ's objective truth, not relative truth. Objective truth convicts human hearts; it is the source of true healing and peace. Jesus said “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14.6) There are not many ways to God, there is only one way and Jesus Christ is it. Either that or Christ lied. Should I believe Him and His unchanging Truth or the ambient culture of uncertain brutal progressivism and fluid political correctness?


In his penetrating book Mere Christianity, (an important part of my own Christian conversion), C.S. Lewis said, “If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair.” 

 

That is why I became a Christian more than forty years ago. I was a liberal, and ever so progressive. Ultimately, I only found regress in liberal progress. Relative truth that started with comfort and comfortableness eventually broke my heart in despair. 


Christ’s truth gave me comfort despite terrible storms of neurological dysfunction of MS, and then cancer. He has been with me throughout it all. Don’t give me the gooey fat of liberalism. I need the solid meat of Biblical truth to rely upon and the Holy Spirit to guide me. 


MDP 



[1] History on the Net, How Many People Died In World War 2https://www.historyonthenet.com/how-many-people-died-in-world-war-2

 

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

THE HUMANLIFEMATTERS BLOG PASSES 1-MILLION VIEWS

The HumanLifeMatters blog has passed a major milestone:

1-MILLION page-views! (See the total page-views at the right.) Readers are primarily American, Canadian and British. I never thought the blog would be so successful. 

Apparently, people are actually interested in what an unlettered, disabled old man—living in his little house out on the hinterland of the Canadian prairies—has to say about suffering and faith, Life and love, ethics and culture. I have nothing to offer except that which the Lord gives me.

Recently, a reader from Texas wrote: 

"I can only marvel at the extent to which Our Lord has taught, and continues, to teach you. Also at the effective communication gifts with which He has endowed you. This blog is so profound, truths learned in circumstances no one would ever invite upon oneself. Another of the blogs you wrote drove my mind back to the accounts of Job."

Retired Canadian Member of Parliament, Ken Epp said this about the HLM blog:

"God has gifted you with amazing communication skills, and even though we may object, it seems that the person that God hones through hardship is really sharpened in the message he has experienced and learned from." 

Their words are kind. I'm grateful to them for highlighting that everything comes from the Lord, not me. Any ideas of substance do not come from my pea-brain. How could they! Christ said we can do nothing without Him.[1] The Apostle Paul said, "Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God."[2] 

Many blog posts have been forged in the fires of aggressive multiple sclerosis, (and cancer). Christ has been with me in suffering throughout most of my adult life. I learnt to trust him even in the worst of circumstances. He was with me during the terrors of neurological degeneration and happy regeneration with a miracle that delivered me from years in an electric wheelchair.

Everything good I've experienced in life comes from God. I'm dependent upon Him even for my next breath and heartbeat. My trials have kept me dependent on Christ.

Suffering has the capacity of stripping away all things extraneous in life, leaving only that which is essential. Throughout thirty-seven years of MS, I have learnt that it is in a state of spiritual poverty that the voice of the Holy Spirit can be heard more clearly. Discernment becomes sharper. Whole new dimensions of internal richness can open to the sufferer if they unite their suffering with Christ's redemptive suffering. We learn there is no suffering that He has not suffered. There is no pain He does not know, whether it be physical, emotional or spiritual. 

CHRIST HAS BEEN BEFORE US
Someone may ask "How did Christ suffer spiritually?" Read Matthew's account of Christ's agony in Gethsemane (Matthew 26.36-44). He said "My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death, ...."[3] Jesus cried from the Cross, "My God! My God! Why have you forsaken Me?"[4] He knew spiritual agony.

I have been afraid of suffering. Christ was too. Three times Christ asked if it was possible that the cup pass over Him—a bitter cup of drawn out torture, and crucifixion. Crucifixion was a most shameful and excruciatingly painful death. Christ knew it was waiting for Him. But He concluded each prayer of petition by saying not His will but His Father's will be done.[5] 

I experienced the frustration and humiliation of being confined to a wheelchair. For years, my legs were useless. Do you think that Jesus did not know the frustration of being unable to move?  His hands and feet were nailed to a cross, as He hung naked for all to see his agony! That is humiliation! My fear of creeping paralysis pales in comparison. 

I was abandoned and betrayed by friends when I became disabled with MS. So was Christ abandoned and betrayed by His friends. Peter abandoned and betrayed Jesus, so did Judas!

For more than three decades, I often asked God to take away my MS and return me to normal. He did not. I had to come to a point of total resignation and complete surrender of my life and my stubborn will. I had to be able to say and pray, "Thy will be done"—regardless of what that might be entail, and mean it. It was/is necessary for me to understand that whatever suffering God allows is for my ultimate good. 

My prayers began to change to prayers of trusting acceptance. I asked God to reveal Himself in my suffering and give me understanding in my physical degeneration. I stopped asking and began accepting. For years, I no longer asked God for deliverance. and prayed as Jesus gave us example in the garden of Gethsemane and the model prayer He gave us: Thy will be done.

Then one day a few years ago, I felt led to go before the Lord and ask once again if He was willing, could I get out of my electric wheelchair and walk again, even with canes or a walker, even if only for a short time, ... . and I humbly asked that if possible could I dance with my wife again, just once? The answer was Yes. 

Gradually, almost imperceptibly at first, I began to regain physical function. I slowly regained the use of my right arm and hand, and then my legs (but not completely). I did get out of my wheelchair! I did walk again, but not without the use of a cane, canes or a walker. One winter night I was able to put down my canes and slow dance with my wife in our living room to Lionel Richie's Three Times a Lady. Okay, it was more like gentle swaying in time to the music and rotating, but to us it was dancing.

Surprisingly, I even ride a bike! Granted it's a three-wheel bike (my balance is off) and I tire quickly, but hey, I'm riding a bike. The Lord has not returned complete function. It keeps me dependent upon Him.
Remember that God did not take away the thorn in Saint Paul's side. God told him, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness."[6] Strength in weakness? Such a paradox. Spiritual truths so often entail paradoxes. 

It is in life that we find death. Jesus told us that in death we find life.[7] In surrender to Him we find freedom and liberty.[8] The first in this life will be last in the next, and the last will be first.[9] It is through spiritual poverty that we gain richness of the kingdom of God.[10] We can be blessed in mourning, and receive God's comfort.[11] The Lord himself will wipe away every tear.[12]

I have personally experienced the Lord's comfort in my grief and mourning. I know Christ's words to be true. It is possible to experience divine joy in the midst of earthly sorrow. How can I keep such a discovery to myself? The HumanLifeMatters blog gives me an avenue to express it. And it's good to know so many people read my posts.

What if I have to return to my wheelchair? I will be thankful for the few years I parked it in the spare room of our house. I will have the memory of slow dancing with my wife. And if I lose the use of my right arm and hand again (or both hands) I will be grateful for LaRee's and my romantic suppers when she did not need to cut my meat.

I will thank God for granting my prayer request, even for a short time, and trust that what He does or allows is for my eternal good. My miracle has actually been a sign—a sign that Christ has heard every cry of anguish, every desperate and terrified prayer throughout the decades. He has been with me throughout it all.



Mark Davis Pickup
Email: HumanLifeMatters@shaw.ca

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[1] John 15.5.
[2] 1 Corinthians 3.5.
[3] Matthew 26.38a, Mark 14.34. Cf. John 12.27.
[4] Matthew 27.46, Mark 15.34. Jesus was quoting Psalm 22 or 42.9.
[5] Matthew 26.39-44.
[6] 2Corinthians 12.9.
[7] John 11.25b, cf. John 14.1-3. Cf. 2Corinthians 5.1.
[8] 2Corinthians 3.17, Galatians 5.1,13.
[9] Matthew 19.30, 20.16.
[10] Matthew 5.3.
[11] Matthew 5.4, 
[12] Revelation 21.4