Monday, August 9, 2010

Gambling is Gambling

I remember why Christians shouldn't gamble...
Our United Methodist Social Principle against gambling is one I have struggled with for a long time. I marked most of my early milestones with gambling. The lottery ticket and horse race at 18, slots in the Bahamas for my High School Senior week, my picture on the "Wall of Winners" at the Tropicana in Las Vegas when I was 21, my favorite game--roulette--in Atlantic City for my bachelorette party. I walked away from all of that when I was called to the ministry of a pastor.

Even when table games came to Charles Town Races and Slots The Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races, I was proud to maintain those principles and stay away from the attraction.

But, last night I caved with a simple wager.

Broken Commandment number one: "Thou shalt not covet." My neighbor Bryan has this "Book It" tee-shirt that he bought at Urban Outfitters. I want that shirt.  Bryan loves the Dallas Cowboys. I hated football until last year/this season when I have found myself drawn into the drama of the Cincinnati Bengals. I became an Ochocinco fan last year when he changed his name, because I love anybody that finds a creative way around No-Fun-League rules. I want one of his jerseys....there's that covetousness again.

The second sin: pride. Well, when you talk trash to a good friend and neighbor the way I did it's just prideful. "When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. (Proverbs 11:2)" Plus, it's among the seven deadly sins.

So, in just a simple bet, I've managed to break one of the Ten Commandments and commit one of the seven deadly/cardinal sins. I'm going to stop this assessment because I already have enough for which to repent.

I'd given up betting on sports after my Michigan Fab Five lost to North Carolina because of Webber's technical foul in the 1993 NCAA Basketball Championship. I only lost, like, $1 to my friend Peter who is now a sports agent, but I thought I'd learned my lesson back then when I was in junior high. Besides, I was sure that T.O., Ochocinco, Carson Palmer, PacMan Jones, and a few other hardened criminals on the field in orange (already my favorite color anyway) would crush the prettyboys--ahem, Cowboys.

The terms: that "Book It" tee-shirt against my home-brewed sweet tea for A YEAR.

All I can say is, "Lord forgive me!" as I put the kettle on the stove. How much sugar will I need for a gallon a week?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Spiritually Ready for Back to School

So, I've been told the 25 cent crayons are out at Walmart, and in-service days for teachers are beginning. It's back to school time! At CUMC we're going to be hosting a clothing swap for the neighborhood to get read on Friday, August 13th. I've been cleaning out some closets for it since the kids seem to gain inches overnight.

 On school days, I like to say a prayer with the children on our way to school. When they were younger, I worried about the lessons they would learn. Asher once prayed that he would be the classroom helper that day. I told his teacher, I wasn't sure if I wanted it to happen for him or not, because the lesson would either be that we immediately get what we pray for, or that prayers aren't answered. (Matthew 7:7-11 is a great reflection for those days).

Pockets is a devotional magazine for kids that I always looked forward to when I was young. Online, they have a great Back to School Litany that families can use to spiritually prepare for that day. And, we can always stress the message in that old song that my father would sing to us every first-day morning: "school days, school days, dear old golden rule days..."