Saturday, March 05, 2011

Joe's Memorial Service

Today was I honored to do a Memorial Service for a great family as they honored the life of their father. Below are some of thoughts I shared:

One thing I learned the other night was that Joe loved to gamble. There are people who gamble and lose and there are people who gamble and win. Joe was a winner! Joe played the horses and greyhounds. Joe loved Vegas. He played the slots and won hundreds every time he went to Vegas. He even taught one of his grandsons how to play craps.

Later when Joe couldn’t get to Vegas anymore he played the lottery.

Let me talk to you about the way that Joe gambled. When he played the horses he kept good records of horses and how well they ran in the past. I am sure he tracked not only the horses’ records but he tracked the jockey’s records as well. Playing the ponies was a calculated risk but Joe knew how to win.

When Joe played the lottery he tracked numbers that won. He knew the numbers that won most often. He worked those numbers and he worked those numbers looking for just the right pattern, hoping that he would discover the secret.

With gambling, rarely is there a certainty that you will win, there is always the risk that you will lose. You can’t win them all. For every winner there is at least one loser. Poker requires you to bluff. Slots machine pay off only a certain percentage of the time, the gambler hopes to be playing the right machine at the right time in order to win that big payoff. But unfortunately not everyone wins.

There was a very wise man many years ago that contemplated God, Jesus and eternity. His thoughts were that if he bet in favor of Jesus being the Savior of the world and Jesus was, he won for all eternity. But if the wise man bet against Jesus being the Savior of the world and Jesus was, he lost for all eternity. There was always the option that he could bet for or against Jesus being the Savior of the world and if Jesus isn’t, no one wins or loses. In Blackjack we would call that a push.

Ultimately this wise man bet on Jesus being the Savior of the world. I think he made the wisest choice.

Joe was given the same choice by his son. And Joe made the wise choice. Now I am not sure if Joe got his ledger out and calculated the odds. I don’t think Joe even considered this choice a gamble. But something deep inside Joe told him that believing in Jesus as his Lord and Savior was the right choice.

You see betting on Jesus is not about the big win, it is not just about Heaven.

There is a cost to betting on Jesus. It requires us to release control of our lives and devote ourselves to Jesus. The family saw Joe’s life turn around. Joe tried to live a better life. Joe showed up weekly for services here. Joe wanted to know more about this Jesus he bet everything on.

It is God’s will that everyone would bet it all on Jesus.

And when death finally came upon Joe I am sure Jesus was waiting for him. Just because Joe bet it all didn’t mean he won big bucks, no Joe is enjoying something much more glorious than that.

I am not sure what Heaven really looks like. But from the stories I have heard about Joe he is probably hanging out with the laborers of Heaven. The people who keep the place clean, the gardeners, the cooks and of course the mechanics. And I am sure that there might be a card game or two, secretly played in some corner of Heaven where Joe will be winning the wings off some poor angel's back.

Do you feel like gambling?

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