“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

Monday, January 23, 2023

OUR HOUSE IS A VERY, VERY, FINE HOUSE

 



Musician David Crosby has died. Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young were a favourite band of mine back in the 1970s. Their harmonies were so tight for the day. Crosby’s personal life was in shambles, but he gave the world some great music. My personal favourite was Our House.

 

When I was diagnosed with aggressive multiple sclerosis in 1984, my wife, LaRee, and I were terrified. I previously worked for the multiple sclerosis association so I knew the terrible places MS could take people. 


LaRee had to watch me start to decline. It broke her heart, but she is a realist. We sold our house and built a wheelchair-accessible home. It was our house where we would live a life we knew was going to be hard, but there would be good times too. 

 

“I’ll light the fire,

You place the flowers In the vase 

that you bought today."

 

Wide-eyed terror of neurological dysfunction took us on a wild rollercoaster ride. The MS attacked my ability to speak, then it would relent. My hearing was affected. My vision was affected. My legs would go spastic and my coordination was impaired. I’d lose the ability to walk or the use of my right arm. All these things would come without warning and no guarantee of remissions. Each remission would return most but not all previous functions—particularly in my legs and arm. A crippling fatigue would overtake me and all I could do was watch life happen just beyond my reach. But LaRee still loved me. 

 

"Staring at the fire for hours for hours and hours,

While I listen to you play your love songs all night long

For me, only me."


At times it seemed as though the two of us and our love was all we had.


"Come to me now,

And rest your head for just five minutes,

Everything is done."



Protracted periods of time were spent convalescing. Months turned into years. Years became decades. Then I developed cancer. Our house became a nest, its rooms filled with sunshine coming through windows. We knew Christ was with us illuminating our way. We transcended our lot in life. 

 

"Such a cozy room,

The windows are illuminated by the evening,

Sunshine through them, fiery gems,

For you, only you."


For more than 35 years we have lived in our house. It is built on love. Its walls have seen tears and laughter, sad times, and good times. Terror and God’s comfort—often at the same time. Our children grew up in our house, and our grandchildren come to visit from time to time. Consolation turned to contentment. 


"Our house is a very, very, very fine house,

With two cats in the yard,

Life used to be so hard,

Now everything is easy cause of you."

 

And then in 2018, something wonderful happened. After so many years paralyzed and in an electric wheelchair with end-stage multiple sclerosis, God raised me out of it to walk again and He returned the use of my right arm. We had expected my next house would be a nursing home.


 

Yes, life used to be hard. But it has also been good. Now everything is easier because of You, my Lord and my God. LaRee and I live in our house, a very, very fine house that You gave to us. We are content to know that Christ is in control. His love and our love fill the rooms.


Now for your listening pleasure, here's Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young performing Our House.



  


Wednesday, January 18, 2023

 



It is a day of reflection. Fifty-three years ago today my father died while he and I were downhill skiing in western Canada. He had a massive heart and died in my arms. He was 52 and I was sixteen. My world crumbled. But as God so often does, He used a tragedy to open new possibilities. 


My grief was so intense that the next few months were just a blur. Then in the early Spring of 1970, a girl I had been sweet on for as long as I could remember, telephoned from Ottawa, Canada, 3 thousand miles away. She expressed her condolences about the loss of my dad. That started a love affair that has lasted to this day. In October we will be 70 and married 50 years. 

Beauty can come out of tragedy. Joy can replace sorrow. Trust God's plan for your life, even if you're not sure what it is. There is one. (The trinket I'm holding in the photo to the right was given to me by my wife the year my father died. It says "Me and you, you and me, that's the way it will always be.")

Sunday, January 15, 2023

HERE I AM LORD

 





In my darker moments, the thought crosses my mind: Are we witnessing the collapse of western civilization as we know it? The pandemic keeps dragging on and the COVID virus keeps mutating—isolating people from each other. Interconnectedness is the glue that bonds and unites communities.  It seems like a lifetime ago since public gatherings were not a public threat. 


Each week, I hear about another school shooting or some lunatic with an automatic weapon spraying bullets into a crowd or shopping mall. The ancient moral code not to kill the most vulnerable amongst us has been breached and trampled and discarded.  Last year there were 44 million abortions in the world. What was an abomination to previous generations throughout the ages is now considered a “reproductive right.” Euthanasia of the sick and the disabled, the mentally ill and people living in poverty is being championed in my own country of Canada. I’ve watched mayhem and destruction in cities across America, while police stand aside or are defunded. Lawlessness abounds. We have heard rumblings of the “nuclear option” in the Russia-Ukraine war. Need I go on?

 

What does all this mean? Are we really facing the end of the western Christian civilization that gave rise to human rights and freedoms never before experienced throughout history? What will replace it? Marxism? Anarchy? A new world order of which the world’s people do not yet understand what its ramifications will be? We’ve been told by new √©lites at the World Economic Forum, like Danish parliamentarian, Ada Auken, that by 2030 we will own nothing, have nothing, every transaction will be monitored right down to the minutia of life, and yet we will be happy—or so she says.[1] Will that include Ada? Will she own nothing? Only time will tell. Methinks not. The new 21 Century √©lites will lord over the unwashed masses (that’s you and me) 

 

If Auken’s 2016 predictions of a Brave New World Order are what is in store for us, how should Christians respond? Apocalyptic survivalists advocate stocking up supplies, arming ourselves to the teeth, and hunkering down in bunkers. But that is not what Jesus told us to do. He told us to 


“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”[2] 


That’s what we are supposed to do regardless of what is happening in the world. Even if our worst fears come to be, we praise the God who saves anyone who believes in His Son Jesus Christ.[3]

 

“It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation, always and everywhere to give you thanks." "Lord Holy Father, almighty and eternal God, through Christ our Lord. For through His Pascal[4] mystery He accomplished the marvellous deed by which He freed us from the yoke of sin and death, summoning us to the glory of being now called a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for Your possession, to proclaim everywhere your mighty words, for You have called us out of darkness into Your own wonderful light. And so, with angels and archangels, with Thrones and dominions, and all the hosts and powers of heaven, we sing the hymn of Your glory as without end we proclaim: holy, holy, Lord of hosts heaven and earth are full of Your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed it is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”

 

Do not blush at such lofty proclamations about the redeemed people of God. We were made for glory. We all have a yearning, a longing for the transtemporal. If you look deep within yourself and think of your earliest recollections at the dawn of your memory, you will discover a joy was present that may have contradicted your circumstances. You did not understand it, it was simply there. Before you experienced rejection or callous neglect, verbal or physical abuse, before life’s disappointments and failures, there was a sense of—for lack of a better term—cradle joy. Perhaps you still experience, on very rare occasions, what C.S. Lewis called 'raids of joy'. 


Maybe they are triggered by early morning sunlight shining into a window in a certain way, or the distant sound of somebody's shoes on a linoleum floor, or the smell of freshly cut grass, or a certain piece of music. For me, I may experience a sense of that primordial joy in crisp autumn air and long shadows of late afternoon, if a gust of wind blows through evergreen trees. I believe those flashes of joy are evidence that you were created for the glory of heaven. C.S. Lewis wrote about this in his marvellous essay The Weight of Glory. If you haven’t read it, I urge you to do so. 

 

Sometimes when I have tried to console an inconsolable infant, (one of my children or grandchildren), I've wondered if she/he was, in a primordial way, yearning to be bathed in the love of God that was present in utero. The baby was not tired, sick, or hungry, nor did he/she need a diaper changed. 

 

God has given us life and wants us to spend eternity with Him through Christ’s cross and resurrection, through faith. we can experience a foretaste of heaven when the Holy Spirit indwells us. 

 

I believe evangelical and faithful Catholic Christians can find unity through the Holy Spirit, not arguing points of doctrinal difference. It will come in knowing Christ and having a personal relationship with Him. Together, perhaps we can stem the tide of a monstrous "great reset" that is being planned. 


The "great reset" of the global economy may soon be thrust on the world. Read the article in the link in footnote No. 1.  I suspect if the world Ada Aukenn envisions comes by 2030, it will be anti-Christian to its core and hostile to all that is holy. We will be expected to replace Christ with a type of animism that worships nature. 


In 2020, Prince Charles—now King Charles—spoke at the annual Davos Summit in conjunction with the World Economic Forum. They put out a slick propaganda video promoting the new world order. His Majesty said, in part:


"We need to evolve our economic model, putting people and the planet at the heart of global value creation. If there is one thing we have to learn from the crisis is we need to put nature at the heart of how we operate."


We do not need to put nature at the heart of how we operate! We need to put the Creator of nature, Jesus Christ at the heart of how we operate. This is central to Christian living. True followers of Christ understand this and will not replace Him at the heart of how we live with some new-age concoction of earth worship. The architects of the new economy at the World Economic Forum may detect, by our behaviour and countenance, the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. I certainly hope they do. And I suspect that it will ultimately alienate us in the world and separate us from the world. Another word for this is sanctify.  

 

“…to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord both theirs and our grace to you and peace from God our Father in the Lord Jesus Christ …” (1 Corinthians 1:2-3)

 

We are united and sanctified in Christ by the Holy Spirit, to take the Good News to the world at all times and in all places:  


“But as many as received Him to them He gave the right to become children of God even to those who believe in his name.” (John 1:12)

 

This is how we respond to whatever future is in store. Followers of Christ respond: “Here I am Lord; I come to do Your will.”  

 

Be ready and willing to do what Christ told us to do. It hasn't changed. Go into the world and make faithful disciples for Him everywhere. And when the darkness threatens to overwhelm, remember what He told us:  “… I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”






[1] Ida Auken, “Welcome to 2030: I Own Nothing, Have No Privacy, And Life Has Never Been Better”, Forbes Magazine, 10 November 2016. https://www.forbes.com/sites/worldeconomicforum/2016/11/10/shopping-i-cant-really-remember-what-that-is-or-how-differently-well-live-in-2030/?sh=5fabc94f1735

[2] Matthew 28:19-20.

[3] John 3:16. Cf. Romans 5:8.

[4] Pascal – Of or related to Passover or Easter.

Saturday, January 7, 2023

CONFIDENCE VERSUS OVERCONFIDENCE

 


My wife says I’m over-confident. I know, it runs in the family. My grandfather was that way. During the Great Depression, when he stood in breadlines, he demanded toast. 

 

Confidence is good. Overconfidence is not. A Christian can be confident in the Lord and that He will take care of him/her regardless of circumstances. It’s unbecoming for a Christian to be over-confident. It can lead to undue self-reliance, arrogance, and turning away from dependence on God. Never presume God’s will.

 

There were times, terrible times, when aggressive multiple sclerosis stripped me of basic daily abilities—like dressing myself or cutting my own meat at dinner, or even getting out of bed. And yet Christ’s presence was ever-present. His still small voice whispered, “Be not afraid, I Am with you.”[1] The sicker I became, the more real and profound His presence became. 


I was able to be confident in the Lord and accept what I was going through was serving a spiritual purpose for my own good.  In 2012, I was diagnosed with cancer. Again, that still small voice whispered, "Be not afraid, I Am with you.” A blanket of His peace descended on me so that I could finally say, “Not my will but Yours be done, Lord.” I could finally accept with confidence that nothing happens outside of God’s control. There was a purpose in what was happening to me. Decades of MS terror taught me that. I was content with wherever cancer would take me. Christ’s love would be with me. 

 

As I was waiting to go into surgery, my wife asked, “Are you afraid?” Certainly, there was concern, but I can’t honestly say I felt no fear. A blanket of God’s comfort inexplicably suppressed or extinguished wide-eyed fear. My gurney was wheeled into the operating room. As the anesthesiologist was about to put me to sleep, a well-meaning but annoying new-age nurse was telling me to relax and think of meadows, bunnies and butterflies. It wasn't necessary. I was trying to pray to the Creator of all the meadows, the bunnies and the butterflies—and the Cosmos. Before the oblivion of anesthesia, again those words came to me. “Be not afraid, I Am with you.”

 

God was in control and He placed me in the hands of a skilled surgeon. I’m happy to say that eleven years later I'm cancer free. Not only that, I’m walking again after many years, and no longer wheelchair dependent. 


You see, I can be confident in the Lord regardless of what happens in this life. Yes, I can be confident in the Lord. Overconfidence would be registering for ballroom dance classes. 

MDP



[1] See Isaiah 41.10 & 13, John 6.20., Revelation 1.17. Cf. Matthew 8.26 & 14.26-27, Mark 4.40 & 6.50, Luke 12.7, John 14.27.