Lottery – Wanna Bet?
Just this morning the Governor of Alabama proposed letting the citizens of Alabama decide on a State Lottery. His claim is that this “volunteer tax” will help fund Medicaid, Law Enforcement, and other State programs. He cites that our bordering states all have a lottery and that we are losing lottery sales to those states.
Before you voice your opinion on a State-wide Lottery, allow me to give you some notes on gambling:
- What about Christian Benevolence? Working so you can give (through the Church, other charities, to individuals, via taxes) – Ephesians 4:28
- Lotteries prey on the elderly and poor. These are the people who stand in line for tickets using the money they need for the basic necessities of life. – Zechariah 7:9-10
- Gambling plays on our greed (covetousness). We play not to give, but to get what others lost while gambling. Luke 12:15
- Covetousness is idolatry – Colossians 3:5
- Gambling displays a discontent and distrust of God – Philippians 4:11, 19
Here is what John MacArthur said in Exposing the Ten Pillars of Gambling:
“Gambling is the result of post-modern pessimism, the hopelessness of practical atheism, that says, ‘there is no God, no hope, no future, no reason, no rationality – just luck.’ (Gambling) succeeds in a mood . . . Of relativism and atheism, but it doesn’t belong with Biblical Christianity.”
Keep these thoughts in mind as our state considers this dangerous road.
This summer will go down in my life as a stormy one. I have seen many people in my life fighting for their life. I watched the news that seemed to come everyday about law enforcement using what in some instances seemed unnecessary force followed by the next story of angry individuals and groups murdering law enforcement officers in retaliation. Then there are the reports of terrorist attacks at home and abroad. We cannot forget the turmoil that a Presidential election year brings to the United States and the mudslinging, accusatory bantering that accompanies politics.
This is also the summer that my family learned that my younger brother has a fight on his hands as he battles a malignant brain tumor. He is having bad days and good days. He is taking a positive approach to his diagnosis and treatments relying heavily on prayer and faith.
Through this summer there are a number of songs that are keeping me focused. One such song is Eye of the Storm:
Like many of you, I have been doing a whole lot of thinking about our current culture of mistrust, violence, hate, and prejudice. I honestly feel sorry for society. Many have seemingly lost hope. Many are acting in ways that are only exacerbating this volatile climate.
While what I am about to share is not perfect, I find these ten rule helpful. They are in many ways the rules that I use to guide my life. I think they work. I do know that I have any enemies. I think I am well trusted and liked. I have not been in any real fights since that one time at the bus stop in 4th grade unless that time the principal saw me in a one hit fight with my best friend in 8th grade – while I am on the subject, I am really sorry I hit your jaw that hard. Back to this list of rules. The point is that they are working for me and I have a really good life.
Ten Rules for My Life!
- Respect the Creator and His Word.
- Love your family.
- Love your neighbor.
- Work hard at what you are doing.
- Respect authority
- When in authority – respect those under your authority
- Laugh often.
- Be honest – to a fault.
- Try something new when you have the opportunity.
- Be an example of what is right, even if you think no one is watching.
BTW – I am sure others have said similar things. Any similarity is simply because I learn from others and incorporate what I learn into my life.
This morning on my drive to the study, I was listening to WDJC 93.7 FM. They play Contemporary Christian Music and have religious discussions and questions on air. I find this much better than the other music I used to listen too.
The hosts – Roxanne and Chris – asked a simple question to us listeners this morning;
“What’s the main message we should take away from the Bible?”
I did not have the opportunity to call – I was driving, and by the time I arrived at the study they were on to the next topic. I did take time to offer a quick answer on their Facebook page.
The Message of the Bible.
The Bible is the message of the Mission of God. What a wonderful start – “In the beginning God . . .” It tells us of our Creator and Sustainer who is benevolent and compassionate, who longs to walk in fellowship with His creation. But we sin and that sin separates us from a completely holy and righteous God. Yet, God has a way to redeem His creation (Gen 3:15 – the seed of woman (Messiah – Christ) who will deal a crushing blow to the tempter).
The Old Covenant prepares a people who will be the nation that the Messiah is born into. That Messiah. The prophets point to the coming of this Messiah.
The Gospel accounts tell of His coming, Acts gives us the history of the Messiah’s new kingdom – not Israel, but the Church. The epistles of Paul, Peter, John, James, and the Hebrew writer tell us of this kingdom and how to live in it. Paul spells out the message o the Bible in 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 – God through Christ was reconciling us to Himself, God made the one who had not sin to become sin so that we (His creation) might become the righteousness of God in Christ..
The Bible concludes with the message of the Christ’s return when He gives the Kingdom over to God and we – those who overcome in Christ – will have an eternal home in the perfect Paradise of Heaven where we will again have full fellowship with God as intended in the Garden before we rebelled against God.
Thirty years ago I was in my first internship as a minister, during the summer of 1986 between my Freshman and Sophomore years at Faulkner. I suppose I am thinking about this since Andrew is about to start his Sophomore year at Faulkner and Amy had lunch with someone with ties to Camp Wetoga and a friend in Calhoun.
I was working with a church in Calhoun, GA and was gaining great experience. I made some good friends that summer I was only 19 and the youth group had 18 and 19 year old students participating. Admittedly I was more of a peer than a minister. One of the 19 year old students was Kevin, who introduced me to real Mexican food. Kevin and I took one morning to go visit with a younger teen who was struggling with family and life in general. On the way we passed a public lake. Kevin wanted to go fishing for half an hour or so. I did not mind being on a lake, Kevin had Georgia fishing license, I did not; I agreed to be the motor on a rented row boat. We stopped in the middle of the lake and talked as he wet a hook and drowned a few crickets. On the way back to shore, he was taking a turn at the oars. I picked up his rod and reel, feeling it in my hands, it had a nice weight and balance. Without bait on the hook, I thought it would be safe to cast — just once. I put my arm back and gave it a quick toss and reeled in as quickly as I could.
What I did not see, was the Game Warden sitting in his truck watching the lake. When we came to shore, he asked to see our license. That was an expensive $150 lesson.
Here is what I learned.
1. My desires led to a mistake. “Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” (Jas 1:13-15).
2. Avoiding situations that provide temptation to sin (break the law) is a great way to avoid sinning.
I pray you can learn from my mistake.
One of the great things that happens in youth ministry is the training our young people acquire in the area of service. Yesterday J Hall took about 15 young people from Central and a few adults to the West Alabama Food Bank. WAFB distributes food to low income families in a variety of ways. They set up distribution centers in low income areas, in rural areas without a grocery store, and social workers use them as a resource to help families and individuals with daily food necessities.
The food that WAFB has comes from donations from individuals, groceries stores, and corporations. Paid staff and volunteers work the food bank to help get the food to those in need.
Our group volunteered for the day and I took the opportunity to go with them. We sorted fresh fruits and vegetables, we sorted yogurts and other dairy products. One group sorted cereals and crackers. A few of us “repaired” damaged boxes. Some stocked shelves in the “store” area. It was a good day. It was hard work, but the youth had fun.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘ Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.” (Matthew 25:34-36)
Thank you J for setting this up.
For those that do not know me personally, I am not a glass half-empty person but nor am I a glass half-full person. I am more of a “Hey, there is still something in there” person.
Honestly. I will eat the last spoonful of casserole, the last three green beans in the pot, and that half a biscuit left on the counter. I will drain the last sip of ice-diluted tea from the bottom of my glass before I wash it – no pouring it out there is still something in there! I fight the urge to say something when I see someone pour out a few sips of Dr. Pepper. There is still something in there.
This tendency also applies to my approach to life. I am an upbeat person and very little gets me down. When I do feel down, I do not stay that way for long, because there is always something positive left. Yes, Pollyanna is a favorite story and at one time I had a “rainbow maker” on my desk.
Lately, I am finding greater struggle in feeling positive about the world – specifically our current culture. When a few law enforcement officers abuse their power, when protests meant to be peaceful turn violent as a sniper shoots officers who are protecting the crowds, when an assumed terrorists with ties to Jihad drives a truck through the crowd killing 84 people in Nice, France during a Bastille Day fireworks display I begin to loose my positive attitude.
But then I see and hear other things around me.
I hear of a store manager that not only helped a young mother with her groceries, but held her baby and help get her in the car. I see a young white male helping an older black lady with a heavy package at the Post Office. I see a young black woman, holding a door for a older white gentleman who walked with a walker. I see an Hispanic teen help a stranger pick up the stuff they dropped.
I see people remembering to love their neighbor!
Jesus told those who asked for commentary on the what is the greatest commandment, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39).
- Love your Hispanic neighbor
- Love your Homeless neighbor
- Love your Muslim neighbor
- Love your Christian neighbor
- Love your Black neighbor
- Love your Straight neighbor
- Love your White neighbor
- Love your Jewish neighbor
- Love your Homosexual neighbor
- Love your Racist neighbor
- Love your Atheist neighbor
- Love your Asian neighbor
- Love your Addicted neighbor
- Love your Buddhist neighbor
- Love your Transgender neighbor
- Love your Hindu neighbor
Loving does not mean agreeing.
Love does mean respect. Love means being kind. Love means practicing good-will in thought and action toward them.
So today, as you go about your business take time to smile and say hello to those you see. Open the door for someone and hold it as they go in or out before you. Smile at a young family in the store and complement them on their children. Be friendly with the cashier at the grocer’s or the worker at the coffee counter or fast food restaurant. Thank the receptionist at work or the secretary you depend on. Be the bright spot in their day. Paul says that as children of God we are not of darkness but of the light (1 Thess 5:5). Be sure to bring a little of God’s light in Christ to the world around you today.