know when to hold 'em

so i went 12-3 against the spread this week in NFL games. that means regardless of how i fare in the MNF game, i still did better than the 30 other guys in my dad’s picks league and as a result, i get a $50 bill. very cool. don’t worry, i don’t have a gambling problem. i pay $50 to be in this league and pick every game. that comes out to about $3 per week, and about 20 cents per game. no biggie.

i did have an interesting discussion with some folks about gambling a few weeks back. when i mentioned playing poker for money, they bristled as if i was talking about killing someone for money. i explained my position that gambling is not listed in the bible as a sin, and that it is something that the christian sub-culture has attached a stigma to (like smoking cigarettes and listening to ‘secular’ music) to make us think that it is unequivocally wrong. well, like smoking a cigarette or listening to john mayer, i don’t think those things are inherently wrong.

might they be wrong for some people in some situations? of course. there’s too many factors to list them all. moderation, context, character all should be taken into account. but ultimately as a christian, we are no longer bound by law, but by grace. and because of that, God sent his Holy Spirit to help us navigate this life without the handrails of most of the laws the Israelites were given.

should a christian smoke? no. NOONE should smoke, imho. but why has the christian sub-culture come down so hard on smoking, when more christians have ruined their “temple of the Holy Spirit” by overeating themselves into obesity and heart disease? and why have we only attached this “devil music” tag to secular music? why not to “secular movies”, “secular books”, or “secular tv shows”? most of the christians i know who have a problem with “secular music” do not even use the word “secular” when talking about tv, art, movies, books, and the like. seems like a foolish double standard to me.

Remember, why did Christ set us free? Remarkably, it was for freedom that he set us free. (galatians 5:1). so instead of making up laws like “christians don’t gamble” or “christians don’t smoke” or “when you become a christian you have to throw out all of your Dave Matthews CDs”, let’s think about things rationally.

for instance, i play poker about 3 or 4 times a year for money. usually $10 per night. to me, it’s a choice between spending $10 on a 2-hr movie and popcorn or on playing poker with friends for 4 hours. i’ll take the poker game every day of the week and twice on sunday. (yes playing poker on sunday is ok too). when might it be wrong for me?

  1. if i wasnt being a good steward of my money and going into debt because of gambling.
  2. if i was addicted to gambling and it became more important to me than my family, job, or relationship with God.
  3. if a friend of mine had issues with it and instead of being sensitive to that i caused him to stumble.
  4. if my wife didnt want me to do it.
  5. if i was convicted about it by the Holy Spirit.

those are just a few examples…

anyway, I’m not a preacher, or a teacher, and I’m not even a good Christ-follower alot of the times. But that’s something that’s been on my mind lately. I probably should have thought through it more before i posted, but who has time for that…

I’m “all in”