Author: Andy Becker

False Prophets

The anointing falls where it may. It is from the Lord God and it is not controlled by men. It is not at the whim of any man that the Holy Spirit decides when he will release the gifts of God. Some preachers make good money deceiving others by claiming the Holy Spirit is here or there or that if you are close enough to God, you will be specially anointed. One man even is trying to sell prayer cloths he claims are anointed. I’ve been to many different styles of services including some genuine times in which people were healed. I have also been to some in which we were told to prepare to receive healing or in which we were told miracles were going to happen. I find these types of claims disturbing. There is no doubt that God performs miracles and there is no doubt that God heals. I am a happy recipient of both. What I find offensive is the idea that the Holy Spirit listens to man’s will. Any person …

Making A List

Do you ever list things? Many people make grocery lists or lists of supplies for a project or school. The other day I made a list of things that give me a headache. I don’t know why I did this but it was an eye opener. Go ahead and try it. Even mentally I bet there is a pretty long and growing list of things that give you a headache. Some of our lists will probably be very similar, while others may not have anything the same on them. But it is unlikely that any two lists will be an exact match. Some of the items on my list are American politics, government corruption, racism, abortion, poor treatment of indigenous people, and closed churches and open bars. I don’t have to explain my list and you don’t have to explain yours. If we did, it will be an essay and not a list. And I know of at least one person that would argue with me on almost every item anyway. How do lists help? …

The Mad Hatter’s Invitation

The Mad Hatter’s tea party is in full swing and we’re all invited. Like it or not the craziness of the American elections and that country’s fall into violent insanity affects us all. That the election was not clean is beyond dispute. Neither is the influence of anti-Conservative violence and the biasness of the media and social media giants.  If you don’t believe me about the media just remember that the more adjectives one uses, the less objective they are. Then listen to CBC or CNN and how they cover different political viewpoints. Since Donald Trump became president four years ago the left followed the urging of Hillary Clinton and took the streets. The protests were fed into a frenzy by the Democratic leadership and eventually the anti-Trump movement became thug led riots. Often people wearing Trump’s, Make America Great Again hats were assaulted and threatened. Anyone who voiced support for Trump put themselves and their families at risk of physical harm, job loss, and public shaming. This is not democracy. This is mob rule. …

The Big Question

There are some really big questions out there. In every area of expertise there are people who sit around and discuss these questions. Science is discovering that it knows less and less about the origins of the universe and all that this entails as it asks more and more questions. Questions are everywhere. Most conversations we have are questions. Even going to the store involves questions. “How are you?” Will that be everything for you today?” We use questions to be polite but we could ask questions to discover things about each other. Good questions cut through the superficial judgments we make every day. We also judge people by the way we look. Our clothes seem to speak loudly to each other. When I wear a suit and have my hair perfect and walk into a room carrying a briefcase, I am treated much differently than when I wear my regular clothes or my work clothes. There’s a saying that clothes make the man. They certainly make the image of the man. Then there is …

Surrender?

No one wants to give up. Books have been written about not giving up. Movies have been made celebrating the human strength. Songs, like Never Surrender, by Corey Hart, tell us to not back down. The world thinks surrender is giving up. I know it as getting up. Surrender is not a sign of weakness but it is a measure of strength. Jesus came to give us life in the fullest (John 10:10). To get this, we have to surrender our will to His will. This takes guts. But if you really want to live, it is such a necessary and rewarding thing to do. A surrendered life is a life lived. Proverbs 3: 5-6 says: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show which path to take.” This means you have to surrender your understanding, your will, to God’s understanding and God’s will. Ultimately, there are two ways to go in life. Just two. Your way …

Guilty as Sin

I am guilty as sin Sin is in me. Let’s blame Eve. It was Eve that first gave into the number one temptation since God created us — to be like God. I suppose we could blame Satan who deceived her. By the time Adam came upon the scene, it was too late. Still, like most husbands would, he joined Eve in the one and only thing they were not supposed to do. Eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil meant that they now knew sin. From that moment forward the internal battle raged between trying to do good and wanting to do bad. That is the struggle into which I was born. Into which we are all born. This doesn’t mean that we have to pay for Eve’s sin. It does mean that the consequences of sin are long lasting, even eternal. We suffer the consequences of Adam and Eve’s sin. They were kicked out of Eden and their lives became difficult and harsh. I wonder how many conversations they …

Our Most Extreme Choice

What a weird world. The economists are talking about a K recovery from the never-ending Covid economy READ: Worries grow over a K-shaped economic recovery that favors the wealthy. This means that those who are already well off or at least doing okay will do more okay. This is the upper arm of the K. Those who have lost jobs already, no matter how well paying the job was, are represented in the lower arm of the K. In North America this means that the gap between the rich and the poor is getting wider. Because we are an economically driven culture, this means the gap gets wider in areas of understanding and connections as well. The rich already don’t understand the plight of the poor and the poor distrust and at times resent the rich. This is not going to help. Politically, we are moving more and more to the extremes. Left wing anger is destroying conservative lives and values. Right wing thinkers have dug their heels pointing at the violence and immorality of …

Lessons from the Ring

Have you ever been knocked out in a fight? I have. I didn’t like it much.  After all that bobbing and weaving and ducking and hitting; bam! Right in the nose. I saw stars and down I went. I didn’t stay down. Hats off to me, I jumped up and did the drunk walk for a bit before finding a place to fall down again. I lost that one. It is the only time I was knocked out by another human. I am glad I don’t box anymore. My Dad was an avid boxing fan and at one time we watched as many bouts as we could and knew many of the boxers by name and style. It is a violent sport. And there’s a lot to do if you want to succeed. Stay on the balls of your feet, keep them moving constantly, buildup your speed, your strength, your stamina, and control your emotions. My biggest downfall was losing my temper. You could hit me anywhere and it didn’t matter, it didn’t really even …

Culture Relevance and Christianity

There is so much confusion about truth these days. Our society is fighting among itself trying to convince the other side they are right and they are wrong. This feels and looks like war to me. Ideological and spiritual war. A well-known quote, many attribute to US Senator Hiram Johnson, claims that truth is the first casualty of war. Variations of this sentiment have been around for centuries and has its base in the notion that we vilify our enemies and romance our friends. The US and Canadian media do a great job of vilifying Conservative Christians and our beliefs in the Bible as the truth. The truth of God, even the inconvenient ones, are replaced with acquiesce to the cultural desires. Do what thou wilt has replaced the ten commandments. We see this shift taking place in many societies around the world. Here in Canada, our culture values sexual identity issues above religious freedom. Definitions change to exclude traditional families and Biblical values. The core of Christianity is being attacked as the Bible’s inspiration …

Good Mocking

Very few of us like to be mocked. When I was young, I was mocked for my short height. I was mocked over some of my peculiar pronunciations. I was mocked for my emotions. As a result, I decided to become as good as the big men in sports and toughness, worked hard on my intellect and communication skills. And hid my emotions. In short (no pun intended), I became who I wasn’t. Now over time, these traits became embedded in me, and I was a bit of an athlete, accomplished communicator and university honour student, and managed to live with and appreciate emotions. The problem is that because of the mocking, I redefined myself. The good news is that because of mocking, I redefined myself. It is written that what was meant for harm against us, God intended for good (Genesis 50:20). This was written about Joseph and his rise to power in Egypt after being sold into slavery by his brothers. In the end he was in a position to save many people …

Scary Bible Verses

Here are two scary Bible verses:  “Wives submit to your husbands.” (Ephesians 5:22).  “…husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her.” (Ephesians 5:25). Right off the top let me say that a Biblically submissive wife is not a downtrodden servant property of the husband. It is far from that. And giving up your life for your wife is not quitting your job or giving up who you are in order to make her happy. The truth is far from these lies that actually stop us from enjoying healthy relationships. What is a submissive wife and how do you get one? You get one by being the type of husband she respects. What is a loving husband and how do you get one? By being the kind of wife, he wants to be with. A Biblically submissive wife is not a doormat or a ‘yes’ person. Anyone who reads about the women in the Bible knows that the character of these women is strong, loving, …

We Need What?

In this time of everybody being mad at everybody and certain politicians trying to divide and conquer us, it is important to note two things. First, God made us all with the exact same love and care. We are equal in his eyes. Second, we all want to be loved and we all love. I was with a group of mostly Indigenous women lately.  We chatted about what worries us. The number one worry was family. Children and grandchildren were on everyone’s list. No one listed Covid or discrimination in their worries I find this encouraging.  Not that they have family concerns and worries.  Encouraging because they are examples of living. All the crazy and restrictive rules and all the ways in which fear controls our world, and their worries remain the same.  Adult children and grandchildren still need prayers. Young children need support and love.  Families need to stick together. In the real world, there are people living their lives and still loving others.  For better or worse family members make decisions. Some are …

The Truth Conspiracy

Conspiracies are everywhere these days. Many conspiracy theories surround secret societies and what the rich and powerful really do behind closed doors. Maybe some of them are true. It would be a strange world if all of them were true. The ones that seem more fantastic are great plots for science fiction and horror movies. The ones that seem plausible or at least less fantastic are interesting and provide for great conversations.

What, Me Fear?

What we think, we tend to believe. For example, most of the media outlets focus on Covid19. No wonder people are scared. The Bible says that we are who we hang out with. Proverbs 13:20 says “Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble.” Walk with the scared, and you will get scared. Scared people hide. They are fearful. Scared and fearful people have anxiety and stress to the point in which they do not live their lives. Normal and healthy things like family gatherings, visiting children and friends, shopping and attending church are seen as dangerous and self-centered. What was seen as good is seen as bad. The heroes in a fear-based culture are the ones who showcase fear. The people who hide are the good ones. The people who listen to the government and media are the good ones. They are compliant and helping stop the spread of Covid. Except this plan of division and isolation is not helping. Not according to the very people who told …

God vs The World

It seems nobody likes nobody these days. Everybody is mad about everything. But is this true? I am sure we all have examples of things we’ve witnessed that back the claim of society being more angry these days. At least there appears to be more stress and anxiety in the world. The images on our phones, computers, and TVs do not shout peace at us. It is almost as if we are told to be anxious and to worry and that we are to distrust each other. Disagreements must end relationships. Most of us don’t want to fear or be angry. Most of us just want to get along with everybody. Even those of us with peace and love in our hearts are being pressured into taking a stance. And if our stance is not in line with the mob’s, then we are bullied, threatened, hurt, and cancelled. We are destroyed or we cease to exist. Do we then shut up and keep quiet, pretending to go along with the mob for fear of retaliation …

Free Sin?

I watched a movie called the Second Coming of Christ. The devil convinced a scientist to create an immortal gene. If people were immortal there would be no death, no heaven and no hell. And no need for God. At least that’s what the plot was about. What if the consequences of sin were taken away? I am not writing about forgiveness and the spiritual consequences of sin. These are covered in detail in the Bible. But what if we could just sin against ourselves and others and get away with it? I suppose first we need to define sin. Wikipedia states “While sins are generally actions, any thought, word, or act considered immoral, selfish, shameful, harmful, or alienating might be termed sinful.” Sin is not always in direct relation to God; it is in relation to each other as well. So, if we were immortal without God, could we then sin? The short answer is we are free to sin or to not sin regardless of God’s love for us. Being immortal would not …

No Cheating!

Your cheating heart will tell on you is a line from an old song by Hank Williams called Your Cheatin’ Heart. It was recorded a few years before most of us alive today were born. Yet I find this line so relevant to what is happening now. What is a cheating heart? In the song it is a woman whose heart is bent on two timing her man. Her heart was divided between what she was doing and what she was presenting. You could say she had deceit hidden in her heart. She was a hypocrite. Today we see many people with a cheating heart. They claim to follow God and present themselves as fine Christians who follow the Bible and love their neighbors and follow the ten commandments. Then they support causes of violence and murder such as candidates who favor abortions. They turn a blind eye to the poor in their own towns and cities while spending thousands on oversea mission trips. Would this make them hypocrites? When Christians get so caught up …

Just Love

Do you recall the old Coke commercial where they used these song lyrics: “What the world needs now, is love”? The world does need love, especially now in this time of anger, fear, and division. But whose love does it need? This question and its answer relate to how we ought to solve our issues. Do we rely on social justice which is an outside approach using government programs and incentives to try and change beliefs? These programs reward certain ways of thinking or acting and punish those who are unwilling to conform to the latest standards. Programs that force compliance lead to censorship and the muting of dissension. It may create a more fair workplace or access to services but it doesn’t change the hearts and minds of people. In fact, it creates the opposite. Resentment builds and the idea that the government is showing favouritism can arise. People comply because they have to not because their heart and mind agree with it. There must be a better way. Maybe this is where love …

Is God Racist?

Does the Bible support racism? Some say it does. They might base their decision on the Old Testament story of Israel becoming a nation. Or perhaps the tower of Babel story. The story of Israel actually reflects the story of all believers in Jesus to some degree. Although this predates Jesus’s appearance as a human, the Israelis were a people trying to follow God. Christians also try to follow God. The Israelites are God’s chosen people and so were called to be holy and separate from the other nations of this world. The Old Testament is to a large degree the story of how Israel lived out this chosen relationship. This holy separation was not racism. The conflicts and wars were not based on hatred of other nations as much as a desire to follow God on the path towards holiness. Christians are called to be holy and separate from other people of this world as well. It is a decision to live for Christ by not getting caught up in the sin and the …

Hong Kong Protester Denied Bail

According to Fox News, the first protestor in Hong Kong was charged under the new security laws.  Tong Ying-kit, 23 was denied bail and I held in custody until October 6th, his trail date. READ: Hong Kong protester first to be charged under new security law is denied bail I wonder if all those rioters in the US know how fortunate they are that protests are not just allowed, but a right in the US Constitution. I can not imagine too many other countries in which protests are tolerated to the degree they are in free and democratic countries. I wonder if all those who protest know that a peaceful protest produces results but violent rioting produces only fear and division. I wonder if they realize they are being taken over by a domestic terrorist group bent on destroying the freedoms of America? I wonder what will happen if they succeed and only one voice, their voice is heard. ___________________________ Andy Becker is a retired counsellor and author of The Travelers, a fictionalized account of …

The Suffering Truth

While I was a student at the University of Victoria, I studied politics.  Out of curiosity, I decided to compare the facts in a Russian encyclopedia and an American encyclopedia. Events we accepted as factual and accurate were recorded from a completely different ideological angle. This often changed the facts. The two countries role in World War Two were very different yet the American version is that they won the war. The Russians claim it was their troops that won the war. When you write, or as is happening now in North America, rewrite your own history, you get to write whatever you want. Often truth suffers. According to the Baltimore Sun, a crowd tore down the Christopher Columbus statue near Little Italy and rolled into the Inner Harbour. In Canada, there is a request for a mayor to take down the statue of John A MacDonald in Regina. These statures represent discovery and growth in how America and Canada were founded and settled. The conflicts regarding Indigenous people and their culture and the way …

Constantly Changing

This life we are living is changing almost daily. Change can be exciting but constant change is tough to digest. We need some constants in our lives to give us a sense of normalcy and security.  Here is my list of constants that are still around. Taxes.  No surprise here. Especially now that many governments are generous with their programs.  The money comes from taxes. There are always at least two people with their hands in your pockets. A politician and a pastor. One wants money for this life and the other wants money for the next life. Either way, take comfort in the fact that you get to continue paying taxes.  Politics. This may be a bit more aggressive and violent than what some of us are used to, but political differences have been around a long time.  In some cultures, violence and politics go hand in hand. It seems people have never totally agreed on how to do things let alone what is important. And it doesn’t appear that politics will go away …

The Lying Truth

I am so sick of the news lately. And I am a news junkie. The problem is that all the news outlets cover all the same stories with all the same angles. Here is a summary of every mainstream newscasts. Covid19 will get you. Trump is bad. Terrorists are peaceful protestors. Oh, and my favorite news item. A celebrity who knows nothing about what is happening released a statement saying the Covid19 and Trump are bad and here is a million bucks to help the protestors who are victimized by the police. And then there is good old Canadian Pamela Anderson. Her news item was about if she would pose nude one more time for Playboy. This according to Fox News Entertainment Section. Thank you, Pam! In case you’re wondering, she said no. Now this is about as newsworthy as the woman who was offended by the man who held the door open for her. But it is a bit of relief in a news world gone mad with intent to scare and divide. The …

Evil Guilt

Some things about sports that I like are that there are rules and assigned times and places. As much as I love hockey if a bunch of hockey players turned my bedroom into an arena at three in the morning, I would not be very enthusiastic about it. And if a team followed the other team home and harassed them after the game, it would not be tolerated by the league. Unfortunately, there is no league of self. There are no rules about time and place. There are no provisions for fairness. I’d rather face the toughest team in the world than go up against the King of Kaos, the Twister of Tales, the Slayer of self, that most vicious fighter of all time…me! Yup. Little old me. I wasn’t always a servant of the Most High God or even a reputable and credible man. It took some time to get here, and there are battles that go on still today. Many of these fights are spiritual such as victory over temptation or choosing prayer …

Lessons from Jail

I remember when I worked in a penitentiary. The inmates had very little freedom and their days were organized for them. Breakfast was at a certain time as was lunch and supper. Activities were closely monitored and some inmates were kept isolated from the general prison population. Despite these rules, some inmates still attacked others and threatened guards and staff. It seemed there were some who always found a way around the rules and norms of prison life.  To get to my office I had to go through a metal detector, three electronic locked gates, and if I had to leave my area, I was given an armed escort to the more dangerous areas. Prison life had a different set of rules and the risk of violence was all too real. One day, there was an altercation between some inmates and some guards just outside of my office. It was quite violent and the inmates were seriously injured. Division was everywhere. The obvious one was between the guards and the inmates. Other divisions included between …

Masking the Pain

In days gone by people were divided by things like economic class, color, or culture. There were times that hatred rose up and violence and riots tore apart any semblance of peace. Even now in Minneapolis, this is happening. There is an undercurrent to it all and it is causing so much division in society as a whole right now. The division is symbolized by the masks many people wear today. Before I continue let me say that I am not picking on either the mask wearers or the mask non-wearers. I am writing about the division caused by perspective. Perspective is based on what and who you believe. It is not reality but it defines your interpretation of reality so deeply that perspective actually becomes your reality. When this happens, you change your behavior and your thoughts to match your perspective. There is no room for dissent and any evidence that challenges your perspective is dismissed as either fluke or fake. The people who wear masks have the perspective that the authorities are telling …

God Loves Outcasts

A lot of movies and TV shows have been made about outcasts. To many, outcasts are peculiar and hold the same morbid fascination as freak shows or perhaps car accidents and disasters. You know they are there, but they just don’t affect your life. The Bible is full of stories about outcasts. Some rose to great heights, even becoming kings. Esther saved an entire nation. David is the most revered king in Israel’s history. Joseph ruled Egypt, second only to Pharaoh. Others are mentioned briefly. Like the blind men healed by Jesus or the lepers healed, and we are not told what happened to them. But there is one outcast story in the Old Testament that touches me deeply. This story parallels the stories of many people pushed aside and forgotten except for crime or poverty statistics. The story of Ishmael is the story of the ultimate outcast and begins with Abraham. In Genesis 15, God makes a covenant with Abraham who was distraught that he had no children as heirs. God tells him to …

Spiritual Warfare #5: When Do I Win?

As we saw last week, a knight’s identity as a knight is what gave him the character and ability to win in battle.  The same is true of a Christian. Imagine yourself in a new modern soldier’s uniform with incredible weapons. You are about to board the transport plane for your first ever battle. You see some dirty, tired soldiers disembark and their faces are set, determined, grim even. A shudder goes down your spine. You know you are a solider but yet you experience fear. In what seems an eternity you find yourself jumping from a helicopter in the middle of a battle. Bullets, explosions, noise, and confusion surround and engulf you. You freeze. Your instinct is to move back. Then you hear the yells of your leader and you jump into action.  You are a soldier and you go forward into the battle. Jesus is our leader and although He doesn’t often yell, his voice is the one we must seek and is the one to which we must listen. Our identity comes …

Spiritual Warfare #4: Who am I?

There are two sections of the Bible that many people use as keys to victory in spiritual warfare. These are the Armour of God section in Ephesians 6: 11-18 and the resist verse in James 4: 7. According to them if I put on the full of armour of God and resist the devil, I will have victory. Yet, there are times in which this does not appear to happen. So how can we have victory every single time we battle the devil? The first thing to know about any Bible verse is that the words are not just some powerful enchantment. They must be believed to be true. That is where faith comes in. We must choose to resist or put on the armor. That’s where our mind comes in. The Bible is full of advice on spiritual warfare. Every single book in the Bible mentions it in one form or the other. In fact, it is the sword of truth in Ephesians 6. A sword is a great weapon but it is only …

Spiritual Warfare #3: Mind Meld

The modern culture tells us that faith and intellect are two different things. Either you have belief or you have brains. You can’t have both. In the previous two articles on spiritual warfare I wrote about how most spiritual warfare happens. This week I promised to start fighting back. To do so requires unity between our mind and our faith. In spiritual warfare, the evil enemy has hijacked our reason and rationality. He has been able to make science the final word and pitched it against the Bible. Many people, even those who profess to be Christians, defer to science to explain creation, the progress of life, and the world about and in us. People who chose to believe the Bible to be true and accurate are mocked and thought to be less intellectual. In effect, Christians don’t use their brains and are just wrong or misguided. This elevation of science and rational thinking over faith and divine inspiration (man exalted over God) created an either-or atmosphere. Either you are a believer or you are …

Spiritual Warfare #2: Guerrilla Warfare

There’s an old song by The Platters called the “Great Pretender.” The first line is: Oh-oh yes I’m the great pretender”. I used to belt it out because it is one of the few lines I can sing well.  That line could also be Satan’s tag line. Satan, the great pretender. Pretending he is God. Pretending that he has our best interests at heart.  According to Oxford, to pretend is to speak and act to make it appear that something is the case when in fact it is not. A second definition from Oxford is to lay claim to a quality or a title. This is Satan’s problem. He speaks and acts as if he is God and tries to lay claim to the throne of God. He knows he is defeated, and he knows his claim is false. Yet he continues to “prowl around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). As we read in last week’s article, Satan does not directly attack God since he would lose such a …

Spiritual Warfare #1: Fear or Freedom

Spiritual warfare is the foundation of many Hollywood movies and best-selling novels. We all know stories that scared us and our nightmares are full of frightening images and visions. All these things have one purpose and that is to cause fear. That moment in the movie when we jump as the monster leaps out of the dark, that build up of suspense in the book until the killer is standing over the victim, and that scary thing under our bed cause us to fear the unexpected, the unnatural, or the spirit world. Is this fear warranted? In this first in a series of articles on spiritual warfare, we examine that question. I used to like monster movies and those weird TV shows looking for Bigfoot, Chupacabra, or Loch Ness Monster. These creatures were shown as bigger than life and portrayed as frightening, almost supernatural. As a child, The Mummy scared me the most. Movies and TV moved into more powerful supernatural areas over time and evil spirits are shown as powerful unstoppable forces. People, even …

Courage?

According to Oxford, courage is the ability to do something that frightens one. Oxford also says it is strength in the face of pain or grief. Of course, the polar opposites here are encourage and discourage. One is giving courage and the other is taking away courage. When we thing of courage we often think of kings, warriors and those facing life threatening circumstances. I personally think of Joshua who led the Israelites into the promised land. Great battles need great courage to be sure. In our modern context we think of police, fire, and defense as areas needing courage. But courage today is not limited to our warriors and first responders. Christianity requires courage. It takes courage to maintain a different worldview than the one around us. It takes courage to speak out against sin when it is so pervasive that it is a human right. Christians live for the kingdom of heaven and our worldview is one of the Bible. The reality is Christ is the solution to sin. Unfortunately, many in this …

What? Me Rest?

What is the number one thing you would change in your life? Before you read on, take a moment and think what that would be. In counselling, we often set goals and objectives, issues that the clients want to address or need to be examined. At first, these can be rather unclear, and often what the real issues are, end up being a lot different than what the client came in to discuss. I think that is true of most of us. We just are not inward focused. We focus on what we do, not who we are. What we want, not what we need. Even when we focus on what we need, it gets mixed up with what we want. Here is an example. I need a rest. I want to see my friends. I will rest from my work by seeing my friends. While this may be a break from work, it is not a rest. You would only switch from work persona to friend persona. The idea of rest is not of …