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What Faith and Poker Have in Common

When you spend nearly a decade of your life working nights, you have to improvise to find a way to do the hobbies that you enjoy. During my career in youth ministry, playing cards was one of the easiest ways to get to know other students. After leaving the ministry, I received a computer game with nearly a hundred different card games. About this same time, ESPN began airing the World Series of Poker annually. Watching these broadcasts helps a novice like me develop strategies from the best card players in the world.

When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built an altar there; then he laid the wood in order and [c]bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar on the wood. 10 And Abraham stretched forth his hand and took hold of the knife to slay his son. 11 But the [d]Angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, Abraham, Abraham! He answered, Here I am. 12 And He said, Do not lay your hand on the lad or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear and revere God, since you have not held back from Me or begrudged giving Me your son, your only son, Genesis 22:9-12.

From a spiritual standpoint, if you want to expand your faith in God beyond Easter Sunday, reading and studying the Bible increases faith, Romans 10:17. While looking back at the life of Abraham, I discovered what faith and Poker have in common. When you’re about to run out of chips in Poker, desperation and a good hand forces players to go All In. Meanwhile, after years of wavering by trusting in his own instincts, God placed Abraham into a situation forcing him to make a decision. Abraham’s actions in the passage reveals he too went All In.

Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths, Proverbs 3:5-6.

Carrie Underwood’s song Jesus Take the Wheel contains a similar message. Rather than continue to drive and go where you want in life, Carrie alludes to the Lordship of Christ. When you surrender complete control by handing over a steering wheel to Jesus, you too are going All In by trusting God with your future. King Solomon highlights this concept in the passage above. When Christians reach a state of spiritual maturity, you are trusting God, going All In, playing the cards that the Lord gives you in life. Winning occurs when Jesus is Lord of all of your life.

by Jay Mankus


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