Author: Andy Becker

No Chance

A husband grabs a wall map of the world and tapes it up. He hands his wife a dart and tells her that wherever it lands is where they are going for a two-week vacation. She closes her eyes and throws the dart. I guess they’re spending their vacation behind the fridge! I like that story. It reminds me of what happens when we leave things to chance. As they say in gambling circles, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. The problem with chance is that there is no path to follow. You are like a man tossed into the seed at the mercy of wherever the waves go. It may seem that chance had its way with us when we are born. After all, I had no choice of my gender, color, culture, family, environment, etc. It appears that some people are born into opportunity and others born into trouble. The Queen of England was born into a royal family. Could she have been just as easily been born in an impoverished family …

Clowns for Christ

Yesterday I met with one of my prayer partners. We usually go to a coffee shop, visit and then pray. Yesterday was different. I went through the drive-thru, and then he came and joined me in my truck, Old Rusty. We’re sitting in the truck praying and he says something like: “Dear God thank you that you made Andy a clown.” And this was right in the middle of praying for the world, local churches, Covid19, and other important stuff. If you ever think you’ve got something going for you and then someone in your inner circle tells God you’re a clown, right in front of you! Well, that’s humbling. My friend then went on thanking God for me and how my being a clown helped people find perspective and humor even in the darkest times and how my humor drove away tension so they could seek solutions to their circumstances. After we finished praying and as I was driving home, I realized that he and are very much alike in many ways but very …

What is wrong with churches?

I have been to many church banquets, services, and functions. In my experience most churches are divided along economic class lines, some along racial or cultural lines, and others along ministerial lines. Rarely is there a church in which the unity of Christ is extended to all. I understand the desire to be with people like yourself. Rich with rich, poor with poor, etc. There is a familiarity and comfort in this. Church leaders who desire to form a real community in which these various elements form a family have their hands full doing so. And not all leaders want this. Neither do all churches. I know pastors of small churches who unplug toilets, counsel, and preach while the members serve together no matter who they are. Of course, with a smaller church, the members tend to be of one economic class or culture or background. Maybe it is easier to have unity and community in a group that cannot afford to be discriminatory. I know pastors of larger churches. As the church grows and …

True Peace

Most people want peace. Many of us want peace even if it means war to get it. And most of the time we want peace on our terms. This creates problems. For some, peace is simply an absence of conflict. For others, peace is an inner state of consciousness. Some people seek peace through nature, prayer, or meditation. It just seems very difficult to find. Maybe we are looking in the wrong places. Just like that old country song says, we are looking in all the wrong places (Looking for Love by Johnny Lee, released in 1980). Peace is not something you can buy at a store, find in a bottle, or discover on a mountaintop. To be sure, there is a peaceful environment in nature and many of the things we do to get peace provide temporary relief, but where can we find true peace? Let’s examine two concepts about peace. The first is that it is the absence of conflict. Do you believe that when there is a ceasefire in any one of …

Sea of Loneliness

Do you ever feel alone? Or lonely? Sometimes we are alone, other times we feel alone and lonely even while there are people around us. There are times in which we can feel more alone and lonelier in a crowd than by ourselves. We just don’t fit. This not fitting in is mostly okay. But there are times we want to fit in. Times in which we feel invisible. Those times are the tough times. Isolation and loneliness actually have negative consequences on our health. It manifests in our bodies with aches, pains, and illnesses. It affects your mind as it can lead to depression, anxiety, or other mental struggles such as negative images. Isolation can cause poor dietary choices, substance abuse, and sleep problems. Even reality can take on a fantasy-like quality. Here are some practical ways to deal with isolation and loneliness. Know yourself Enjoy yourself Love yourself Seasons come and go Connect on some level Popular is not always better If you want to change, take small steps Don’t devalue yourself Know …

The Sword of Love

“All is fair in love and war.” What a weird thing to say! Love and war ought to be the complete opposites, but it sounds like some dirty play is at foot in both of them. Both love and war are about challenges, conquest of sorts, and victory. When Stella agreed to marry me that was a great victory indeed! The Bible, which is full of love, is also full of war. And I think there is one great battle scene that we all know. Little David, the underdog child of God versus the king of beasts, the foul-mouthed cursing God, behemoth of the dark, Goliath! Goliath had all the armor and weapons that the Philistines version of Weapons R Us had. David went against Goliath with a sling. He picked up a stone and as Goliath bellowed at him, put it in the sling and spun it until it was just a blur, Then, at exactly the moment, He let the stone fly. BAM! Right in the forehead! Goliath fell and the earth shook. …

Memory Loss and Fear

Mental health is very important in all stages of living. I know some young people who struggle and some old people who struggle. Many of these struggles are to do with memories and fear. There is a connection between memory, mental health, and fear. Memory loss impacts our ability to understand since so much of our understanding is based on our history and experiences. When memory  loss occurs, the confidence that comes from an inner knowledge or a sense of familiarity is replaced by a void of uncertainty. A part of us feels like we should know who so-and-so is or what is happening around us, but we don’t. And that can be unsettling. Memory loss can happen at any age although it seems to be more prevalent among the older population. There are many types of treatments for memory loss from prescriptions to supplements to memory games and physical activity. I am not an expert on any of these treatments but I would suggest that just as we are all wonderfully and uniquely made …

Men Are Not stupid!

Women’s magazines often have these quizzes to help women determine if their man is a good fit for them or what type of man would be good for them.  Men’s magazines have articles on getting chiseled abs or how to be more confident. And that explains some issues in relationships. Men are different from women and this is true with how we view relationships. Men tend to see relationships like we see our vehicles. As long as it’s running, everything is fine. Women tend to see relationships as constantly needing work. “Yup, we got ourselves a really powerful motor and no rust, what a beauty!” One man might say to another man. He could be talking about his car or his wife. In either case, he’s not going to start repairing something that already works. I think this has to do with expectations. I expect that when I drive my truck it will get me to where I want to go. If something breaks down, I fix it. My expectation is that as long as …

Your True Valentine

Father Dave Mercer, a Catholic man, in case you were wondering, wrote on Aleteia.org that the three most desired phrases to hear are: “I love you.” “You are forgiven.” “Supper is ready.” When I think of that last one, it brings back memories of holidays with my family. We’re sitting around making small talk and wiping the drool off our chins waiting for that great smelling food to be ready.   We all want to be forgiven for the dumb things we do. I am blessed to be surrounded with such great people that when I do make a mistake, I am quickly and easily forgiven. And that is true of God who forgives my sins after I repent of them. I am loved. Every single day I hear I love you. Yet there were days and months and even years when I was younger in which I never once heard those words. Love means different things to different people. We are easily confused what love is so here are three things love is not. …

The Vending Machine God

Some preacher somewhere said that we have more faith in a vending machine than we do in God. That was a long time ago, yet I still believe it to be true. Yesterday I was meeting with my good friend, Mark. Mark leads the worship team for Lighthouse Ministries and we often chat to match worship to whatever I am preaching about. Yesterday we talked about making worship more inclusive and for some reason I mentioned the vending machine idea. Mark added to this thought and said that often we treat God like a vending machine. How we do these things is simple and sad. I don’t often use vending machines anymore but when I was a student and studied late into the night at one of the study halls, there was a vending machine. It served up coffee. To be honest, vending machine coffee is not as good as one might think but around eleven at night with hours to go, it was the only choice we had. I think coffee was only a …

War!

“War, huh, yeah,“What is it good for“Absolutely nothing” These are the lyrics of an old song by Edwin Starr. Originally recorded by The Temptations, Starr recorded it as a single in 1969. I remember this song and the power and conviction as a whole generation protested war, especially the Vietnam war. Those of us who were around in the sixties and seventies sang and still play a number of anti-war songs like Run through the Jungle, We gotta get out of this place, and Eve of Destruction. War! Rumors of war! The book of Matthew (Matthew 24:6) tells us that these things must happen before the end of our time. War is in the news again. A lot. And it is in the Bible too. Lots of places. Ecclesiastes 3:8 even tells us that is “a time for war and a time for peace.” These things have caused us hurt and pain. But what if there was a war that wasn’t bad. It would be tough and hard, but it would be worth it? What …

The One Thing

Curly Washburn told Mitch Robbins that the secret of life is to find one thing. He didn’t elaborate but as the movie and its sequel roll on Mitch figures it out. Find the one thing that makes you happy and stick to it. Is this advice from an old movie, City Slickers, good advice? According to the world it us sound and solid. You can’t please everyone so you got to please yourself is more than just lyrics from the song, Garden Party, by John Fogerty.  It is an anthem of the modern world.  What if I told you that both these bits of advice parallel the Holy Word of God? They don’t point us in the right direction but they have the same idea of focus and intent to walk our own path in a world telling us who we are  Jesus told us that all the prophets and laws in the Bible can be summed in a simple two sentence statement and that we are to focus on that. Although Curly wasn’t that far …

Learning Womenese

It pays to be bi-lingual. I was born into a family that spoke both German and English. However, I was only taught to speak English. However, as a man, I think and speak Manian. And believe it or not, I also think and speak Womenese, the international language of women. I can think like a woman, if I have to, and I can understand their language and customs enough to get by and have even translated for other men on several occasions. This is not to say that women are better than men or that men are better than women. This is (political incorrectness warning) to say that men and women are different. We look different, we feel different, we think different, and we even talk different. That is how God made us. This difference is a wonderful thing that human pride and the forces of darkness have exploited and turned into conflict. And this is why we need people who at least understand both the conceptual language of women and the literal language of …

Forgive and Love

Forgiveness is a tough thing. It is like it has a mind of its own.  There are even times in which we can say we forgive someone and actually believe we did forgive them only to find ourselves angry at them and replaying the hurt over and over again. There are people who seem to forgive every offense. On the other end of the forgiveness spectrum are people who never forgive. They remember every hurt and wear their anger as armor to protect them from further hurts. The first group allow themselves to be trampled upon and the second group do the trampling. There are many formulas written about forgiveness including steps to forgiveness, rituals to help us forgive, and even face to face meetings set up with the ones who hurt us. Most of these are external and miss what the Bible says. Forgiveness is based on the greatest commands of Jesus. Commands that sum up all the laws and prophets of the Old Testament. Jesus said, “Love your God with all your mind, …

We’re Fantastic!

I recently did a Google search on fantasy. You probably will not be surprised that the overwhelming majority of web posts have to do with sexual fantasies. There are other fantasies that are way more subtle and way less guilt ridden than these. There are two types of fantasies in which we take part. These are not daydreaming which are usually short-lived imaginations about people or events. The purpose of daydreams is to escape momentarily from our lives and allow ourselves to visit the land of what-if. Fantasies tend to be either forward-looking or backwards reaching. In them we rehearse what could be and what was. They are either negative or positive and often include fulfillment of goals or visions of potential disasters. An example of a negative fantasy is rehearsing past mistakes. When your fantasy has much to do with the phrase, “I should have…”, chances are you are replaying a past event. Your mistake could be real or perceived. This fantasy reminds you that either you were wrong or you were wronged. Emotionally …

Deceived!

Spiritual warfare uses trust to deceive. Subtle deception is the direction our culture is taking. A direction that will deceive even the most faithful if one is not careful. This whole deceit thing could be solved with one single question: Who knows more, man or God? The answer is obvious. Then we ought to trust in God and only believe Him, right? So why don’t we? Spiritual warfare is not just us as individuals being attacked and harassed by unclean and evil spirits. Sure we get tempted to lie, cheat, and steal among other things. And yes, the voice of the evil one is louder than the whisper of God or our own consciousness. I personally have gotten my butt kicked a few times by these things. There is a wider spiritual war happening at the same time. The war for our trust. And this is where mass deceit is possible. Remember the saying; “the squeaky wheel gets the grease”? This is true because the squeaks gets our attention. Let’s bring that into the spiritual …

I’m Offended!

What do we do when one of our deepest held beliefs offend another person’s deepest held belief? In the world viewpoint we used to just go to war. Some cultures still do. Most just compromise their values in order not to offend. It is easier to give up truth than stand firm. In Canada, we have a government that legislates such things and tells us we are to compromise our faith and beliefs to accommodate others. The second problem is even deeper. When we are forced to compromise our values, we erode our belief system and eventually our world view is taunted as wrong and even criminal. Then what happens is we start believing these lies and the truth of Christianity is no longer perceived as truth. We compromise our faith and allow the world to determine what is right and wrong. Unfortunately, the world is a fallen place infested by sin. Quite simply, the world does not know the truth. How do we then hold to the truth without offending others? We can not. …

We Have To Talk!

Here is a tell-on me scenario. If my wife and I have a meaningful talk every night for six months and miss a night, she says we never talk. If we talk one night in six months, I say we always talk. I can hear the head nodding on this one. Inter-gender communication is an interesting thing. Most men can sit together for hours and laugh and joke or say very little of significance. They have a great time and there’s no communication problem. I’ve heard women get together and laugh and cry and joke and share deep longings together. There is no communication problem there either. I deliberately exaggerated here to prove a point. It doesn’t matter what men talk about and it doesn’t matter what women talk about it, we both talk more freely with our own gender. In the beginning God created everything. First Adam, then Eve, were created. He out of clay of the earth and her out of his rib. These are interesting choices and clay can often turn as …

Jezebel’s Nasty

This article is based on an interview I did regarding the spirit of Jezebel. The show is called “The Sound of the Trumpet”. Do you remember Jezebel who was married to Ahab in the Old Testament? She tried to destroy the prophets of God and the culmination of that battle was the confrontation of Elijah and the hundreds of Baal prophets. God proved who He was and the false prophets were killed (1 Kings 18). While she was a real person, the spirit of Jezebel that controlled her is also a real entity. This spirit is at work even today and has infiltrated many churches. This spirit is hard to recognize. The Bible says to look at the fruit to determine the state of the tree so let’s look at the fruits of the Jezebel spirit and compare that to the spirit of God as represented in Elijah. The spirit of Jezebel is still around. Spirits live a lot longer than humans and it is not until Jesus gets rids of them all at the …

La mentira del suicidio

English version: Suicide’s lie Esta es la primera de una serie de artículos sobre la depresión. La depresión tiene raíces profundas mentales y físicas, así como una dimensión espiritual de gran alcance. A menudo se manifiesta con una sensación de estar fuera de sincronía con nuestro mundo, nuestra familia, e incluso a nosotros mismos. Y cuando estamos fuera de sincronía con el mundo se siente como que simplemente no encajamos. Empezamos a retirarnos de un mundo que nos parece que no le importamos, es hostil, o no tiene nada que ver con nosotros. Cuanto más damos un paso atrás, más difícil es parar. Oímos esa voz constante que ofrece la paz en un mundo sin paz hasta que en un momento, un momento desesperado, en el que el dolor de la vida nos abruma y no encontramos una salida en ese instante terminamos con nuestra vida. Nuestro dolor, que es tan profundo se transfiere ahora a los que nos aman. Nuestra pérdida alimenta el fuego de la culpa y la ira. La culpa es rampante …

No More Lies!

In this series we focused on the lies depression tells us. To have victory over depression we need to counter those lies with the truth. In this last article in the series we are going to look at how to be set free from lying spirits and their allies in depression. Depression lies about both who we are and our value. The spirit of depression is a cruel master and like other cruel masters it relies on force and control to destroy us. Getting out from under this force and control is not an easy task. It can be a long, painful journey to freedom. Or it can be one of discovery and light. The traditional way out of depression involves medication, therapy, and support. I know because I used to be involved in this world. Exploring triggers and self-doubts takes a long time and there are many revelations that help along the way. Medication helps victims cope with symptoms of depression and can be essential in preventing suicide. Support that promotes growth and positive …

Depression’s Biggest Lie

This is the third in the depression series of articles. Depression has many triggers and it is treatable. It is a horrible disease that relies on lies, fear, and isolation to cripple its victims. Please see a medical doctor or a counselor if you or someone you know suffers from depression. Here are the lies I am addressing in this series: I am not good enough I am not strong enough I am not loved enough I am not worth enough I am not needed enough The first two were addressed last week. I am not loved enough. This lie is a bit tougher to defeat. Unlike the previous two lies, it is more intrinsic. It is more of a sense of absence of love that hurts than the love others receive. To be clear, we are all loved by Jesus and by God. So, in that way we are all in the same boat. The issue with depression is often the human element of love is missing. This becomes a foothold for the lies …

Lies of Depression

Last week I wrote about what depression is and how it can manifest itself. I also mentioned the danger of believing the lies that you are not good enough, strong enough, and that people would be better off without you. I also said that these lies stem from fear and judgement. This week we examine these lies. A disclaimer is that I am not saying that all depression is spiritual. There are many elements that trigger depression and once you are in a depressed state, the enemy lies to you about who you are and who loves you. These are some of the lies of depression: I am not good enoughI am not strong enoughI am not loved enoughI am not worth enoughI am not needed enough All these lies can join together into two harmful beliefs: My life is hopeless, and I am helpless. Once there, suicidal ideation is not far off. Once I start fantasizing about my suicide, it is difficult to pull out of it. Especially when we reach the point that …

Suicide’s Lie

This is the first of a series of articles about depression. Depression has deep mental and physical roots as well as a powerful spiritual dimension. Often it manifests with a feeling of being out of sync with our world, our family, and even ourselves. And when we are out of sync with the world it feels like we just don’t fit. We start to withdraw from a world that doesn’t seem to care, is hostile, or can’t be bothered with us. The more we step back, the harder it is to stop. We hear that constant voice that offers peace in a world without peace until one moment, one desperate moment, in which the pain of life overwhelms us and we reach for the one way out. And in a flash our life is over. Our pain which was so deep is now transferred to those who love us. Our loss fuels their fire of guilt and anger. Blame is rampant and their lives will never be the same. Just as we believed the lies …

Bread or Bruises?

Yesterday afternoon I drove around a rougher area of town giving out bread. It’s just something my wife and I do whenever Lighthouse Ministries has more bread donated than we need. Usually people are happy to see me and only take what they need. No trouble, just happy faces. Yesterday, this streak of beauty came to a screeching halt. While a woman with three kids was choosing her bread, a big man came strolling the street. I asked him if he wanted bread. He said “I’m a bad guy.” Now I am somewhat familiar with bad guys, I even taught a group of federal parolees once and I worked at a federal penitentiary.  Not to mention living in one of the most violent neighborhoods in Canada. Most bad guys don’t have to say they are bad. Maybe I should have been nervous. ‘I don’t care if you’re a bad guy,” I responded, “Do you want some bread?” His response was not what I expected. He stopped and started towards me and threatened that he was …

Aw, Soot!

Do you ever wonder if prayer works? Or how prayer works! I have experience praying for many people both directly and indirectly. There have been instant healings, healings over time, and no healings. I have no human explanation for this other than I am not God and it is up to him how he answers prayer. I do know at least two things about this. God always knows when we pray and prayers always make a difference. Prayers bring us closer to God as we talk with him and ask for his help. The people we pray for also have something spiritual happen when we pray. It may be something different from what they expect, but something happens nonetheless. I had a vision the other morning that explains the way in which prayers matter. I can’t recall if I saw them first or heard them first. They were about a block away. I heard distant crying and yelling. As they got closer, I could see that it was a woman and a child. The woman …

Exposed!

I live in Canada and in Canada our current Prime Minister did something years ago that was stupid. At least back then it might have been only stupid but looking back with the modern lens of racism it is now seen as bad. Really bad. For those who don’t know, he colored his face brown and then black on separate occasions and dressed up like a person of color.   He champions himself as anti-racism so this was quite the shock for his followers. According to the media this might just have done him in. Perhaps we will have a new Prime Minister within the month after the election is over. Good thing I am not running for office! My slogan would have to be I sinned! Get over it! Remember the fiasco in the United States regarding the past of Brett Kavanaugh during his process of being appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court? His family had to weather a storm like few others have encountered. Which brings me to victims. What about when a …

What About me, God?

There are times in which it is hard to believe. Times in which it is hard to have faith. We pray and pray and we hope and hope for a miracle that just never seems to come. What do you do when that happens? Why does that happen? How come other people get healed, get a job, find true love, or seem to get whatever else they want? Well there are really only two places to look at when we pray. There’s God. And there’s you. I don’t know how many times people point the finger at some poor schmuck like me and tell me that it’s my fault God doesn’t answer my prayers. That maybe I have some unconfessed sin in my life, or that I don’t have enough faith to get what I asked for. Then there’s the other side of the table. Some people even tell me there’s no God or that He doesn’t care or love me. Perhaps He is not interested in my petty little things. Maybe I shouldn’t even …

Pass the Past

Ever find an old box that hasn’t been opened in years? You open it up and it has your old uniform or your old outfits in it. So, you try it on and if you manage to get it to stay on without using tape and staples, your glory day memories can pop up faster than the shirt buttons! Why can’t I be young again? I was called ‘The Cat’ because I was so quick when I played sports. The last time I played hockey my own teammates called me the ‘Old Jalopy’!  Old Jalopies are still useful as witnessed by all the joy (okay it was sneering laughter) from the bench. Now I am not complaining about my life now. In most ways it is better than I could have imagined. It’s just that my chiseled body of the past is now made out of clay that looks like it flopped down around my ankles. Being made of clay is not a bad thing though since God made Adam out of clay. Then he …

A Man For All Seasons

The saddest day of the year is fast approaching. It is a day in which I am sullen and silent. Yeah, if you knew me, you’d be saying what? You’re always yakking about something and at least you’re happy. Not on this day though. For this is the day I have to switch from shorts to long pants. The summer fades and soon so will my tan. The leaves fall and the rain and dampness of fall turns to snow and bitter cold of winter. And somewhere along the way I’ll be forced into the switch. And don’t even get me going about socks and shoes! I live in sandals and shorts all summer. From spring really. I walk, shop, preach, and write in them. Well, never mind what I wear when I write, if you knew you’d never be the same! But why the sadness? Seasons are inevitable and so what if I have to wear grown up pants. Good points but there is an allegory happening here. Each season has a different impact …

Me Forgive? No Way!

Betrayal is a nasty word. But that is how we feel when people we love and trust suddenly turn on us. It is tough to forgive someone we want to kick in the shins. Yet the Bible says we are to forgive even them. The Bible sure doesn’t understand, does it? Surely God would be on my side! I’m the victim here. Didn’t David ask God to dash his enemies and their children to pieces on rocks? Can’t I pray for God to destroy my once friends now enemies? Well, of course you can. You can ask God for anything you want. Doesn’t mean you will get it. And when you are talking with God, I have to warn you, he talks back! And if you start quoting the Bible to Him, He might just point out that He wrote it, that the Word is Him, and throw some quotes your way. Rather than get into a bunch of quotes about forgiveness, let’s talk about why you ought to forgive. First, let me confess that …

Who Are You?

One of my favorite crime shows, CSI, has a theme song that goes: “Who are you? Who, who, who, who?” Oddly enough it a song by a band called The Who. So who are you? Are you the same in public as in private? Are you really what you do? Basically we hide our true self while presenting what we think is a more acceptable self to others. This protects us from getting hurt and hurting others. At least that is the rationale. But doesn’t this just exaggerate fear? I mean the longer I hide myself the more I fear someone will see the real me and never ever stop slapping me. I even want to slap myself sometimes. Fear prevents us from being who we really are, so we often hide behind performance, jobs, looks, and other things the world tells us equals success. Don’t believe me? Remember how anxious you were the last time you had a bad hair day? This is all about your identity. Who you are is a fundamental question …

Don’t Blink

Do you ever think about someone you love or admire? Maybe they are the same person. What kinds of things do they believe or do? If you look at me you’d notice that I like to talk. A lot. I like to write. I like Jesus, my wife, and hockey.  You’d see that I was short for a man in my culture, a  bit grey, and after a moment or two you’d notice my sense of humor and my impish grin. Hopefully you’d see that what I believe and what I do match. How long would it take you to form an opinion of me? A few minutes? Perhaps one minute? Thirty seconds? One tenth of a second! That’s it! That is all the time it takes for the person you just met to form an impression of you. This is according to a study by Princeton psychologists Janine Willis and Alexander Todorov. I haven’t met them even for that long so I have no opinion about them either way. But I read the same …

View from the pulpit. Credit: Tyrone Warner/Flickr/Creative Commons

Keep Your Shorts On!

The other night I was preaching. I was just giving it! I mean I was on fire! God had given me the words to say and it was incredible! Then it happened! My pants started falling off. Actually they were shorts. Yup, I am the kind of preacher that wears shorts and sandals. And a shirt. I always wear a shirt. I don’t stay behind a pulpit or a podium when I talk. I walk around while I talk. Whenever possible I connect with people when I speak. This evening was a great setup for this. Unfortunately the word setup is more appropriate than I realized. So there I am in front of the church with rows of chairs in a semi circle around me and rows of pews behind them. I am right in the middle of the main aisle about standing right where everyone could get a good look at me. At first, it was a slight loosening. No problem I thought. I’ll make my way behind the podium and give them a …