Should You Go To Seminary?

Should you embark on this journey? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

What I am posting today applies not just to seminary, but also to Bible College for those wanting an undergrad. This is a question I sometimes get asked in email as to if someone should go to school. I also have strong opinions on who should be allowed into a pulpit in a church and also what are some grounds that are insufficient to state if you should seek higher education in ministry. However, I want to focus on one really big bad reason.

I am sure this will shock many of you, but I do not really take seriously claims someone has that they are called to preach.

Now let’s also be clear that going to seminary doesn’t mean that you will be a pastor, as some can want to be professors, some missionaries, some counselors, some teachers, or any number of positions. The call to preach is the most common one I hear and usually seems like an obvious given. Everyone believes in a call to ministry. Right?

Well, no.

But look at people like Moses and Jeremiah and Paul!

Yes, and you are not them.

There seems to be some idea in Christianity in the West that our experiences should be just like the great heroes of the Bible. We see Moses go up on the mountain and speak to God face to face as a man speaks to his friend. That’s us! We’re not at all like any of the other Joe Israelites at the bottom of the mountain who didn’t get this privilege. Nope! We are the ones who are privileged.

It’s really an arrogant position.

Or we are like Paul and Barnabas. Why the Holy Spirit Himself personally spoke to the congregation and asked them to set apart these two for missionary work. That’s what he’s going to do to us! Never mind that when Paul went on his second journey there was no call. He just said he wanted to go see those cities again.

I have seen too many pastors that have said they are called to preach and they do not have a clue on how to preach or any real knowledge of Christian doctrine. They just have a lot of strong emotion. This is how you get people like Dan Barker. There is even a Clergy Project for ministers who have left the faith and become atheists or agnostics.

If all you have is a call, then seriously reconsider entering official ministry capacity. Ministry requires a lot of work and if you run just on your emotional leanings, you will run dry. If you approached marriage, parenthood, work, or anything else wanting to run on pure emotion alone, you will not make it.

Bible College and Seminary I think are a lot of fun indeed, but they are also very hard. Later this week I plan to blog about that and explain why, but it is not really an easy path. If you go this route, you could get burnt out in seminary alone, which could be a good thing. It could show that maybe you should try something else, and there’s no shame in that. God needs people in every field.

Now someone could say “Yes, there are a lot of people that say they are called to preach and turn out to not really be, but you’re basing your position on the wrong experiences instead of the true ones.”

I am basing it on first off, Scripture never gives any such requirement. Some people are called to ministry in Scripture, but it does not follow that everyone in ministry in Scripture or outside is called to ministry. When Paul finds Timothy, he finds Timothy is well-spoken of and wants to take him along. There is no indication that there was a divine call on the life of Silas. Paul listed requirements for elders and deacons and callings were never any of them.

Not only this, but we run the risk of being like Mormons with this. Consider how the Mormons have the burning of the bosom test. If you pray about the Book of Mormon and you receive the burning in the bosom, then the Book of Mormon is true! If you didn’t get it, well, you weren’t sincere in your prayer. All disconfirming experiences are ruled out as not true and all the ones that get the desired result are true. Hardly a real test.

Well, that’s a brief look at an insufficient call, but what are some real reasons to consider seminary? That’s for next time.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Book Plunge: Becoming Worldly Saints

What do I think of Michael Wittmer’s book published by Zondervan? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

How on Earth can you be a worldly saint? Why would you want to be one? You are not to love the world nor the things of this world. Right? You could think that, until you also see that Scripture says God gives us everything richly for our enjoyment (1 Tim. 6:17) and the whole debate on eating meat offered to idols was about if you could enjoy the meat without thinking you are wronging God, and the fact that our Bibles have Song of Songs in them, a book about the delight of sexuality in marriage.

Wittmer writes to deal with these kinds of issues with the idea of not only should you enjoy your life, you can only really love God if you do love the things of this world. The writing in 1 John about the things of this world refers to what he says earlier, the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life. It does not refer to what many of us might think.

Wittmer writes about how he knew an old preacher who used to talk about how we didn’t care about our worldly matters. Well, except we all did. Wittmer would go out and play whiffle ball with friends and family and watch some of their favorite TV shows like Dukes of Hazzard, but not Dallas because, well, they weren’t that worldly. We can try to deny it, but all of us have aspects of this world we enjoy, and that is not a bad thing.

The unique aspect of Wittmer’s book is he gives a big picture perspective. He points to the purpose of the kingdom and the future consummation of all things. In doing this, he argues that we can further the kingdom by bringing people into the delight of God, including the delight of this world. We can enjoy our lives which will also show people a kind of life they want to live. Honestly, think about the people you have met who are Christians and seem to have no interest in anything else. How many of you want to be like those people?

Wittmer gives such an example. He talks about a well-known evangelist he picked up at an airport for a conference once. He asked him about his experience with leading people to Christ and the man went on and on with story after story and after awhile, Wittmer realized this guy didn’t care about him at all, the person who gave of himself to pick him up and wondered how many people the man had led to Christ were coming to Christ just to get him to be quiet.

While I find this book helpful, I did point out it was a big picture perspective which leads to one weakness. I would have liked more on the whole practical level such as general guidelines to follow. Of course, the difficulty is that it can lead to a kind of legalism. Perhaps we should more often realize that if we are concerned, perhaps we don’t need to be? If we were Christians not giving ourselves to God and seeking Him, we wouldn’t be asking the question.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

The Feeling Will Be Gone

Do those feelings last? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

She came into the seminary post office where I was working and was talking to me and a co-worker. They were talking about marriage and how she was still a newlywed. She said she still was in that honeymoon stage and that she hoped this feeling would last forever.

“It won’t,” I said.

Hey. I cut to the chase.

I then went on the explain that that’s a good thing. If that feeling lasted forever, you would never be able to function. Who could go through their lives with a lovesick attitude going on around them constantly? When you enter the stage of falling in love, you can’t think of most anything else and the person is the most perfect individual God ever made.

However, because those feelings fade, that allows you to move into a deeper stage. This is a stage that transcends your feelings. I told her that one day if you haven’t already, you will wake up and ask yourself, “Why did I ever marry this bozo?” When you wonder why you married someone, you have to remember that you did marry them and your responsibility to the covenant doesn’t depend on your feelings.

After all, anyone can do loving things when they feel like it. What accomplishment is that? It’s when you don’t feel like it that you are definitely acting out of true love. True love is not demonstrated in the feeling, but it is in the absence of the feeling.

Could this also indicate a danger in our situations today that we are often chasing after perpetuating a feeling, which never lasts forever, instead of building up the covenant the feeling is about? We also do the same with Christianity. How do we know what God is telling us supposedly? Look at your feelings. Do you feel led? Do you feel like you are being called? Then someone feels like God is angry with them or has rejected them and all of a sudden the feelings aren’t reliable. When the feelings are what we want, we trust them. When they’re not, they’re not reliable. Wonderful system.

This is not to be opposed to emotion either. It’s to say that it can’t be our diet. C.S. Lewis said that emotion can be the explosion that starts the engine, but it can’t run on that emotion. It needs to get locked into something steady and unchanging. Something firmer than that. It’s realizing you’re locked into something greater than yourself. You have a commitment to more than just your immediate happiness. You refuse to do what is wrong just because you want something for yourself.

Of course, in any marriage, it’s okay to have disagreements and even fights if you will. I get concerned when I hear of couples who aren’t having those. What will be remembered in the times when the relationship is the hardest is that you made a promise regardless of your feelings. The same applies to your Christian walk as well. Our feelings can be powerful motivators, but they are horrible guides.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

When Your Enemy Suffers

What do you do when your opponent suffers? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Proverbs 24: 17 Do not gloat when your enemy falls;
    when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice,
18 or the Lord will see and disapprove
    and turn his wrath away from them.

I was about to write out another blog on the next chapter of Bradley’s book when I saw the news shared in the thread on it at theologyweb.com. Bradley died earlier this year at 91. I had to pause some at that one.

Do I like Bradley’s book? No. Normally, I enjoy going through atheist material, but this one just seems same-old, same-old and is a real disappointment. My reading through Sean Carroll’s The Big Picture is at least engaging. If anything, I find reading Bradley embarrassing as he thinks he knows what he’s talking about when really he doesn’t and pulls out the same old tripe arguments that have been answered multiple times before.

However, I still had sadness when I saw this. My longing at the time and my personal prayer was that he somehow managed to get a bit of grace before he died that he turned to the Lord he had shunned throughout his adult life. Do I know that this happened or have any strong evidence? No, but a man can hope.

I have at least two vivid memories of the opposite happening in my past. One time was when Stephen Jay Gould passed away. I was on America Online then and I remember being in the chat room and hearing the people speak who were vocal creationists, whether YEC or OEC I don’t know, and saying things like “You think it’s hot where he is right now?”

Whatever your doctrine of Hell, this is something that should never be said. People who hold to conditional immortality and people who hold to eternal conscious torment should all agree on one thing. It is a tragedy when people go to Hell. We would all like in some way for universalism to be true, but I fear that it isn’t. I found it just awful thinking that some people were practically gloating that their enemy was in Hell. If it wasn’t for the grace of God, they would be too and frankly, I didn’t see a lot of that grace there.

The other incident was on PALtalk when the Pope had died. Now I do not believe Catholics are outside of the grace of God. Some people do. Let’s suppose that’s true. Even if it is, should you have the attitude that these people did that the Pope busted Hell wide open, as I remember hearing? That should be a cause of sorrow for you.

In the causes of justice, I think some exceptions can be made I was on PALtalk again when someone messaged me about Saddam Hussein’s sons being found and killed and said “Isn’t this good news?” In a sense, it is good in that they will not be able to bring about evil on this Earth anymore. In another sense though, it is sad, because now they are quite likely in a place of dark eternity where there is no escape.

The Bible does show times of celebration when the enemies are defeated, but let us make sure we are celebrating first that God acted according to His covenant and provided justice and relief and secondly, that their evil is no longer being done. If we act like we are pure and innocent and don’t deserve judgment, we’re asking for it.

As a divorced man, I have to watch myself with this. I do have times of anger every now and then, but they are rare. If anything, for my ex-wife, I pray for her well-being and blessing. I don’t know where exactly she is right now. I do not check. I do not search.

Am I saying she is my enemy? In a sense, she did hurt me deeper than anyone else ever has and she has spread untruths about me claiming that I abused her, but I don’t like to think about her that way. I prefer to see her as someone who is hurt and confused and needs to come to grips with her own issues. I prefer to think that nothing was done out of a malicious attempt to hurt me even though that is what happened.

After all, I have my own sins that God could call me to account for if He wanted to. Forgiveness was not owed to me. Now God did promise He would forgive, but it was conditional on that I repented. Had I never done that, God had no obligation to forgive and indeed I have no reason to think He would. Every moment I spend in a blessed eternity with Him will be a gift of grace. There will never be a time in my existence when I am not dependent on that grace.

I hope Dr. Bradley somehow came to Christ in his final moments before he passed on. God will do what is right and no one will say it wasn’t fair, but I can hope. May I live with grace and forgiveness to my own personal enemies throughout my life.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

How To Ace Bible Trivia

Is answering trivia the goal? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

A few days ago at my workplace, I found an item someone decided not to purchase that had been left behind. It was a book for middle schoolers on how to ace a world history exam. As I saw it, I thought that is part of the problem with the education system today. We teach students how to pass tests. They are taught knowledge for the sake of knowledge. They are not taught how to apply it.

When we don’t see the relevance of something to our lives, we quickly forget it. I can remember how to get through levels on video games I played decades ago, but I don’t remember a bit how to do quadratic equations, with respect to my algebra teacher. Why is that? Because I have never once had to use the process to do quadratic equations, but I sure have played my share of video games.

Fortunately, this doesn’t go on in the church. In the church, we only learn what is relevant to our lives. We don’t just give information so we will know stuff. We show the relevance of….oh please stop laughing already.

Yes. This is exactly what we do in the church. Let’s take something simple. We teach our children the ten commandments. Okay. That’s good. Why do we follow them? Don’t murder? That seems like an obvious one, but why not? Why is murder condemned? How many of us as young children also cited “Do not commit adultery”, but we had no clue what adultery was?

We teach our children how to do Bible drills. Congratulations! You can look up Philippians 4:13 faster than anyone else in the church! What good will that do you if you don’t have a clue what the passage really means? If we teach them anything about verses, well, it’s all about them. Philippians 4:13 is not about the glory of Christ, but it is about winning football games.

Don’t forget the trips that we send them on! They go on these trips that are youth conferences and come back and get super excited and want to tell the world about Jesus and life is awesome!

For about a week or two if that long.

After that, it’s right back to the same old thing.

If all we are teaching our youth is the content of the Bible, we are failing them. This is nothing against said content. This is just saying that we need to know the relevance of the content. We don’t need just pieces of Christianity. We need a whole tapestry of Christianity woven together so the students do see the importance and relevance of it in their daily lives.

Otherwise, the guy is with the girl and they’re alone together and she starts coming on really strong to him. So here he has a hot girl that he will really want to be intimate with and on the other hand, he has a verse in his head saying “Do not commit adultery” with no reason why other than don’t. Which one is he going to listen to? Now imagine instead if he has a whole biblical worldview on sex and marriage and understands based on that the importance of waiting for marriage and how giving in to temptation dishonors the God He serves who is to be His king?

Folks. It’s not enough anymore to just teach our youth facts about the Bible. They will forget them just as quickly as we forget things in school we don’t deem relevant to our lives. They need to be taught a whole worldview, a whole curriculum. They need to be taught about how every facet of their lives intersects with Christianity. It can’t just be about them. We also don’t just teach them isolated verses. We teach them the context of those verses and how they apply.

In the end, they’ll have a greatly informed biblical worldview that does apply to them to help them in their lives.

And they’ll probably still rock at Bible drills anyway.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

What’s Happening In Genesis 22?

Why does Abraham get told to sacrifice Isaac? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

In Genesis 22, God calls Abraham to go and sacrifice his only son to Him. What is going on here? Nothing in the text has indicated that God accepts human sacrifices. Sure, the gods of Canaan and others do, but not YHWH. The fact that we see that should strike us right at the beginning. This is supremely out of character.

It’s interesting that this is one rare state where we don’t see Abraham giving some pushback, but we can assume there was some. If he gave pushback on every other incident, why not this one? What was it that was making this request so hard? Was it just the sacrifice of the son?

Isaac was the son of the promise. God has had a habit in Genesis of keeping His promises to Abraham. His wife wound up giving birth at 90 and he was there to witness the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Nothing in the text then indicates Abraham was mentally ill. Being mentally ill doesn’t make a 90 year-old woman pregnant.

Isaac wasn’t just the son of Abraham. He was the promised son of Abraham. Abraham had been told that it was through Isaac that his offspring would be reckoned. Isaac would be the one through whom Abraham’s legacy would continue.

Kind of hard to do that if the son is dead.

Nevertheless, Abraham does obey. Notice also what he tells his servants. He assures them that he and his boy will return to them. Abraham is confident even here that somehow, Isaac will be brought back.

Now what about Isaac? Was this child abuse? No. Isaac at this point would have been a strapping teenager with a Dad nearly 100 years older than he was. Had Isaac wanted to, he could have easily taken down Abraham in a fight. In our world, we often think of Isaac being psychologically scarred, but in his world, survival everyday was a part of life and death was always just around the corner. You could say Isaac would do this for an afterdeath experience, but at this point in Biblical history, very little if anything had been revealed about such a state.

We know the story. Abraham is about to sacrifice Isaac when the Angel of the Lord stops him, the Angel who I take to be an early appearance of Christ Himself, and tells him not to sacrifice Isaac and reveals a ram with his head in the thicket. (Yes. A male lamb with its head caught in thorns. That should sound familiar.) That ram is sacrificed.

Then the Angel says “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”

Was God ignorant of the state of Abraham’s heart?

Of course not. We already know through Scripture that God knows the hearts of men. God knew that Abraham’s descendants would be captives for 400 years in another year and mistreated there. The position that God doesn’t know the future would prove too much. Based on other events in Genesis, we would have to say God doesn’t know the present either, such as how many righteous people are in Sodom and Gomorrah or whether Adam had sinned or what was going on at Babel.

So what is going on? God is speaking in a way Abraham can relate to. He is not speaking to teach deep theology or metaphysics. What is going on is a review of sorts. Abraham had proven his faith to be true. He had proven that he believed God could even raise the dead, quite astounding at that point in time.

It is also a reminder of the faith we are to have. If Abraham can believe God can raise the dead even long before Jesus, how much more should we believe in what God can do after the resurrection? There is no reason none of us can have faith in God like Abraham had.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Why Does Simplicity Matter?

What difference does it make to say that God is simple? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

In the last post, I explained simplicity and what it meant. I also pointed out this has been a historic position so even if someone disagrees, it should not be disagreed with lightly. There are objections and I will likely get to those next week, but for now, let’s ask what difference does it make. Is this just something that a theologian can stick in their hat for a trivia game or does it have a point?

It’s the latter. Everything about God has a point.

When we look at the early church, they lived in a world where monotheism was not the norm. You had gods in polytheistic gods and normally, these weren’t really gods, but just really powerful beings. Zeus was seen as the king of the gods in Greek and Roman thought, but even he had a beginning and he ran in terror from his wife many times. We could consider them to be like superheroes you would read about in comics today.

None of these are an ultimate explanation. Each of them needs a cause. When we get to Scripture, it’s radically different. Right at the start we read “In the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth.” John says “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.”

Did you catch that?

None of these have an origin story for how God came to be. God is just there from the beginning. The Bible in itself is not meant to be an argument for the existence of God. It’s to tell us something different. It has God right from the beginning and it makes no sense to say how He came to be. He never did. Why does the Bible never explain this explicitly? Because it’s not meant to be a philosophy book either.

We can say God says His name is “I AM” which indicates that He has eternal existing, but that is just simply stated. Moses never gets a philosophical treatise on the matter. He’s not supposed to. These are the matters left for us to work out and explore some, which we should. If two lovers love each other, they want to know everything they can about the other. If I love a game or a TV show, I look into it and try to find out more about it. I am reading through the complete Peanuts collection right now and when I see a new character in the strip, in a quest for information, I look up information about that character online.

If you love God, you will want to know more about Him. The Bible is not meant to answer these questions. He’s left them for us to explore.

So what does this matter? It gets us into the very nature of God. If we understand the nature of God better and realize that God is not just a really powerful creature, that definitely helps in dealing with the whole foolish “I just go one god further” objection from atheists. The other gods normally rejected are just superhero gods. None of them are the grounds of reality for the most part. Of course, even if one goes with a God who is fully simple, religions like Islam and Judaism are still in the running. Mormonism, on the contrary, is ruled out.

Also, God is not a combination of things. God is not a being who has goodness and power and love. God is these things. This shouldn’t surprise us as we get a clue in 1 John that says “God is love.” God does not merely have loving qualities as we do. God is love. Note that that cannot be reversed to say “Love is God.” Love does not have the attributes of God. God has the nature of love.

This also means God is totally different from the rest of His creation, which is meant to be. Isaiah was right in the section starting at chapter 40 with the whole challenge to the false gods. When you realize something like this, many new atheist objections, including the classic “Who made God?” fall to the wayside. Note also that many of these objections were being answered before they were even being asked. Skeptics today hardly ask any questions Christians didn’t ask themselves for centuries.

God is not a conglomerate. He is one being. He is not made up of parts. You can’t put attributes together in a metaphysical blender and get God. He is truly unique.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Book Plunge: Seven Stupid Things People Do To Mess Up Their Lives

What do I think of Beau Adams’s book published by Crossover Communications?

I don’t know a single human being who has lived a substantial amount of time on this Earth who doesn’t have something they’ve looked back on and said, “How could I have done something so stupid?” That includes me. That includes Pastor Beau Adams, who wrote this book. I also think it’s really refreshing to see a pastor openly use words like stupid.

Pastor Adams takes his material from the book of Proverbs and looking at Solomon, who sadly also did stupid things to mess up his life even after acquiring so much wisdom. Of course, none of us will be perfect at this and we will still make stupid mistakes. Still, at least we will have some advanced warning and hopefully, we can make less stupid mistakes. Adams gives us seven basic categories.

The first is to not get caught up with the wrong crowd. We all know that bad company corrupts good character. Today we hear a lot about race relations and one aspect of this we hear about often is fatherlessness in the black community. This really is a problem because when young men don’t have fathers or at least father-figures, what do they do when they want to know they’re men? It can often be gangs.

The antidote to this? Choose friends who are going to build you up and not bring you down. This doesn’t mean just choose friends because of what they will do for you, but make sure your friends are friends of noble character.

The next is thinking we know it all. Just yesterday, I was in dialogue on Facebook with an atheist who was being tripped up by Thomistic philosophy. I was blunt telling him he wasn’t familiar with what he was critiquing and recommended he read Feser’s Aquinas, especially since Feser used to be an atheist himself. He told me he was tempted to respond to my last point, but thought he might say something foolish again and so would go and read the book and then come back.

Props to you. Really. Props to you.

Too many of us don’t go that route, and it shows. A Christian can argue against evolution and they don’t know how to do a Punnett Square. Note fellow Christians that I am not telling you to not argue against evolution if you think it’s false, but I am telling you to come with an informed position. If you aren’t informed, you come across like a Christ-myther who only reads Richard Carrier.

The secret is to avoid thinking you know it all. This doesn’t mean you have to study everything as no one can do that, but it means you really try to only talk about what you have studied. Study also refers to not just watching YouTube videos. Read books.

The next is an obvious one. Sexual immorality. Yesterday, I got a message from someone asking if you were to preach on something apologetically oriented for two months and wanted to avoid race and politics, what would I preach on? My answer came immediately. Sex and marriage. The person responded saying that it did need to be for two months. I told him that should last for two years. Our youth especially get six days a week of the world’s view and we only have one day a week and we don’t even say anything.

Sexual immorality can easily ruin your life. How many pastors have fallen because they got too close to the opposite sex, including Ravi Zacharias. It can all start more innocent enough, but every relationship with the opposite sex needs to be guarded closely.

Now as I go through this, I realize I could say more about each point, but then I realize that would get lengthy and you need to have something to get you interested in the book, which you should read. Other topics include laziness, dealing with debt, controlling your tongue, and handling anger.

Pastor Adams’s book could be seen as having a harsh tone to it, but the whole of the book speaks with a pastor’s heart. He’s begging you to not make these mistakes. Some of these might be easier to recover from, as most of us have lost our temper at one point. Others are much harder, such as when we fall into sexual sin. I still get a sting anytime I go through my library now and see a Ravi Zacharias book.

Final word then is simply to get the book. You’ll likely learn something from it and hopefully you can put it into practice. You want to avoid doing something stupid after all.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

On Gambling

Should you roll the dice? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Yesterday, I am browsing Facebook and I see someone ask if gambling is a sin. I see most people jumping in and saying yes, immediately, but I am contrary I suppose and have more questions about the matter. It starts with asking what is really gambling.

We could just say it’s playing a game of chance, but is that simple enough to explain it? After all, while luck is involved, there is some skill and strategy involved in games like Poker and Blackjack. If that is the case, could we say the stock market could be a form of gambling as well? After all, one has no guarantee that a stock will shoot up, like GameStop for example, and one could really lose everything and some people have.

How about this scenario? You’re at home one day and there is a knock at your door and there are some small school children there. They are selling raffle tickets to do a fundraiser for their school. The prize is a big screen TV. Now you have a good TV, but the ticket only costs a dollar and it goes toward a good cause. Do you buy a ticket?

How about also you get together with a few friends for a Poker night? You get together and you have a maximum bet everyone can make and you just play cards. Most of the time, this isn’t done so some person can get rich. It’s something guys mostly do just so they can hang out together and the chance adds an element of fun to it.

We could get even more technical here. Let’s suppose you go to an arcade, which used to be a really popular hangout in the past and I even worked at one for awhile. Now you could put some quarters in a game that will offer you some moments of pleasure but nothing beyond that. On the other hand, you could also put it in the crane game, a game of chance, and see if you could win something that you could keep.

There were times in the past I know I won Allie something in a crane game. Long before that, one time I was at a bowling alley with a friend who was telling me that he wanted to win a stuffed elephant in a crane game there to give to a girl and he had spent $5 and not had any luck. I put in a couple of quarters and managed to win it for him immediately.

In the past as a teenager, I remember my Dad and I would sometimes drive up to Kentucky from Tennessee. The drive took a couple of hours both ways. We would have about $20 with us and we would just play scratch-off games together. It was never about winning. It was just about an excuse to get to travel together and have some bonding time. I still remember one time we actually won $50 doing this and just stopped at a place called Oasis Pizza on the way back.

So as you can see from this, I am not 100% opposed to gambling. So what would I recommend here? Good stewardship. If you have money for entertainment purposes and want to use it here responsibly, I don’t really have a problem with that.

What about Scripture? Well, it says nothing yea or nay. Casting of lots was more about divining the will of God. We also know the soldiers gambled for the clothing of Jesus, but that doesn’t make it evil any more than the soldiers standing guard around condemned criminals would mean police officers shouldn’t stand outside of jail cells.

So the principle is more about how you use what you have. If you are going and betting your life savings or your wedding ring to gamble, then you have a problem and need to stop. On the other hand, we could compare it to drinking. If you can drink responsibly and not get drunk, then I don’t have a problem with social drinking and I see gambling the same way.

So if you want to get together with the guys and play Poker, I don’t have a problem. If you go to Vegas and have a couple of spare bucks and want to even try a slot machine, go ahead. If you think you could get addicted however, you might want to step back from doing that and consider some other hobby. I would say if you want to play a game of chance, it’s better to play one where you have a reasonable chance of winning, aside from buying a ticket to a raffle just to support a good cause more than actually winning anything.

Have fun with what you do and do remember this is side money. Make sure you have done your charitable giving first and provided for your family. Then if the goal is to just have fun mainly, then do that and enjoy the company of your friends.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)
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