Author: Andy Becker

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 …

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. …