God and Poker Subscribe To My Blog (RSS)(Click this icon to Subscribe)

Doesn't have anything to do with music but I noticed this while examining my old my space page. My space? What's that you say? Anyway, kind of interesting if you can get past God and Poker in the same conversation...
So at the 2007 final table of the World Series of Poker's main event Jerry Yang keeps praying for God to work a miracle during the hands he's playing. First off, it seems weird because gambling is usually considered a no-no by most Christians. Even though it's not specifically prohibited in the bible, it's not by its very nature a very wise thing to do. Beyond that however, Yang's prayers blow my mind, first by the audacity- he's basically asking God to let him win and not the other guy, but secondly and more important, because I'm not sure of the immenisity of the size of the miracle that he's asking God to perform. Not only that I don't think he understands what he's asking for either.
The first instance of this is maybe the most interesting sequence- Yang is in a showdown with Lee Watkinson. Yang has Ace-Nine and Watkinson has Ace-Seven so Yang has the better hand. Watkinson goes all in- committing all his chips and Yang calls. Here's where it gets weird for God. Watkinson's wife starts yelling, "Father, make Lee a believer." asking God to help Lee out. Yang counters by praying, "Lord, please let me win!" Who does God go with? Basically, Watkinson's wife is asking God to make a seven show up and Yang is asking for one not to. The cards are all dealt and Yang wins the hand and Watkinson is eliminated.
Now for just one minute think about what Lee Watkinson's wife is asking God to do in the statement "Father, make Lee a believer." (This one's for all you Arminians.) Here's the size of the miracle she's asking for- 1) to make one of the cards be a seven so that Lee wins the hand and stays in the tournament 2) through one flip of a card to MAKE Lee Watkinson become a believer in God. People do this all the time, and most of them will say that God gives us free will to choose him or not. But then we show that we want that free will in our lives, but not in anyone elses. When she says, "God, MAKE him believe in you," she's saying "TAKE AWAY his free will in that decision."
Back to Yang- the next hand shown Yang and Lee Childs end up in a showdown, with Childs going all in this time and on the turn (the fourth card) an 8 is dealt, giving Yang a pair and the lead. Childs needs a King to win the hand. Yang starts praying (he was silent up to this point while he was behind) "Father, I will glorify your name. Let people see your miracles." What Yang is asking God is one of two things. Either he's asking God for the last card to not be a King, which is kind of an after the fact prayer, in that the cards have already been shuffled and it's not a real request for a miracle or he's asking God that if that card IS a King, please change it to something else. WOW! That is a huge prayer request, isn't it? What Yang is really asking (and he does this again and again in the tournament) is that if that card is a King for God to change the physical face of the card into something else, and apparently switch that king face somewhere else in the deck because, with the cards being in the dealers hands, he would probably notice if they suddenly switched places! While I'm not sure Yang realized the immensity of this miracle he's asking for, it sure is faith that could move a mountain kind of faith, and I kind of wish I had the belief to ask those sort of things (the supernatural breaking the physical laws of nature-- not the winning 10 million part) from time to time.

posted by Inward Fire on 05/04/2012

I Think This Is How Church Should Look Subscribe To My Blog (RSS)(Click this icon to Subscribe)

This morning as I was leading worship, I looked out at our motley gathering. In the front row on the right are the five neighborhood kids who show up at 9:45 because they haven't eaten and they know there will be donuts, and for some reason today they haven't left at the "shake somebody's hand and give them a hug time" after the first song. Actually, today they brought friends who have spilled into the second row and are sitting with Dolly, the 50 year old with Downs Syndrome who comes with a group from the special needs home down the block. She has recently been slipping further and further into dementia and really doesn't do much except sing incoherently now at the top of her lungs and say "Hi Paul" constantly. In the third row are her comrades from the home and in the fourth, Debra, the wonderful woman in our church who brings them each Sunday. She just returned from leading one of her other charges out of the sanctuary at a dead run, or as fast as a 60 year old who is severly developmentally disabled can run while doing the pee-pee dance, which is less of a scene than last week when he choked on a donut and had to have the Heimlich manuever performed on him by our Pastor's Wife/Bass player. At the back of rows on the right is the sound board and computer, the power point being faithfully administered by a nine year old girl (The sound board is just on it's own.) All in all there are about 50 of us here, a paraplegic, some former addicts, a couple widows. Where are the normal people? I turn and look back at the Pastor's daughter, who is 13 and just started playing the drums in November, and started playing drums in church in November. Then I realize today we have a soprano singing with us on the stage- the 10 year old Aunt of the 9 year old in the sound booth. She belts out "Lord, I Lift Your Name on High" at a volume much higher than her mother, who usually occupies that mic. Oh, for a sound man. Next to me, singing the lead line is Manny, my 18 year old 'son' who I know is praying right now that he doesn't get lice from the kids in the front row when he goes and sits with them to try and keep them from leaving 3 minutes into the sermon like they have been doing. That's just the way his mind thinks, he has PTSD and Attachment Disorder and several other disorders that go along with being a crack baby whose mother was deaf and mute and whose father was a murderer, which led to his adoption by my sister, and how he eventually ended up with me. And as we burst into the chorus of this song I have sung at least a thousand times, I think again, where are the normal people? And as Dolly leads us along, I really don't care where the normal people are, because most of the people here are either children, child like, wishing they were children, or wondering how to be a child and I think that this is how church should look because that is the kind of relationship that God wants with us.

posted by Inward Fire on 04/28/2012