Everything I post lately is either a quote from someone else or a link to someone else's writing. Oh well, I guess I just don't have many original thoughts to offer lately.
I've mentioned before my attraction to poker. It's a fun and challenging game to play or think about. I enjoy both playing with friends (not for money) and watching the pros play on TV (for LOADS of money). That said, there is obviously a TON of moral/ethical baggage associated with gambling. That's why I don't have any permanent links to any poker sites (certainly not gambling sites), blogs, or discussion boards. They're out there, so if someone wants to find them, they can, but I don't need to facilitate it.
Anyway, my favorite poker player, Daniel Negreanu, is a Christian. He was my favorite player before I knew he was a Christian, but it's kind of interesting/cool that he is. I've read some interviews that he's done, and apparently he was a pro card player before he became a Christian. Since then he has simply tried to apply the Gospel to his life. His apologetic for being a professional "gambler" isn't very sophisticated (what he does isn't really gambling, anymore than a top pro golfer is a gambler by having his paycheck determined by his performance in the tournaments he enters, it's the people playing against Daniel who are gambling, because they're not as good as he is, generally speaking, but then he's involved with them in a contest where winning money is the measure of success, which is only part of why the whole poker/gambling issue is such a gray, messy area). But he's a poker player, not a theologian. At the same time, he and all of us who follow Christ need to allow the Holy Spirit to penetrate into our innermost places and challenge whatever idols we allow to remain on their altars. Maybe it's wrong for a Christian to be a professional poker player, but it's also wrong for me to be a Christian and do many of the things I do and the same goes for us all. In no way does that mean Christians, who recognize their own faults, thereby lose the right to call their brothers and sisters to repentance. It means rather that you and I need to seek the Lord to remove the planks in our own eyes before we try to perform LASIK on our brother.
All of these thoughts I offer as preface to an article by Negreanu. What I like about the article is that it is just the poured-out heart of a regular Christian who recognizes the brokenness in his life that he needs the Lord to repair, even though it is coming from someone whose lifestyle and world are in another galaxy from what most of us reading this blog surely know. I can sympathize with Negreanu who says, "I feel like in many ways that my personal relationship with God has faded and it kills me to admit that." And later, "God is important to me. My life is better when I make God the center of it...I just can't be happy unless I feel like I'm at a good place with God." I've had the same thoughts countless times. What I need to remember in those times, and what I wish I could remind this brother, is that in Christ, we are always at a good place with God. Our personal relationship with God cannot fade because it is not dependent upon our effort, commitment, obedience, morality, or discipline. Instead, as Paul wrote, it is God "who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began." (2 Timothy 1:9) Our initial salvation was not dependent upon our works; our ongoing salvation is not dependent upon our works; and our final and ultimate salvation will not be dependent upon our works, because our salvation calling was according to God's purpose and grace, and given before time began, and thus before we had time to do anything right or screw anything up.
This was supposed to be a short post and a link, but it's turning into a sermon. One final note: Negreanu writes in his article with references to "God," always with that generic term, and I don't think he ever even uses the name of Jesus. If you are concerned about such things, you will have to take it from me that, as far as I can tell, Negreanu believes in the one, true, living, God, the God of the Bible, taught by the historic Christian church, and thus he is by synecdoche referring to Jesus.
boon-dog-gle: (noun) work of little or no value done merely to keep or look busy.
free: (adjective) provided without, or not subject to, a charge or payment.
"The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because they are generally the same people."