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Tag Archives: Las Vegas

Betting on the Future

On May 14th, 2018 the United States Supreme Court struck down a 1992 federal law on commercialized sports betting.  Prior to this ruling, Las Vegas was one of the few places in this country to legally place a bet on March Madness or the Super Bowl.  This decision has opened the door for other states to grab a piece of the pie.  Based upon initial reports, one hundred and fifty billion dollars in illegal wages are made every year.  Thus, for states like Delaware and New Jersey who have recently passed legislation to allow gambling on sports, local government officials are betting on the future.

Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it, Proverbs 13:11.

If gambling on sports was illegal until now, one has to wonder why would past legislators initially outlaw this practice?  King Solomon referred to the love of money as vanity, Ecclesiastes 5:10.  A first century doctor warns believers against falling prey to covetousness, Luke 12:15.  An associate of the apostle Paul urges Christians to avoid earthly practices that begins with compromise and ends by forfeiting your soul, Mark 8:36.  While playing the lottery, fantasy sports and making bets with friends seems innocent, if victorious these practices can accumulate ill-gotten gain.

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you,” Hebrews 13:5.

The phrase follow the money first appeared in William Goldman’s screenplay All the President’s Men.  Since this film, other movie’s has illustrated the corruption and demise that comes along with a hunger and thirst for money.  While the optimism for sports betting is currently high, the spiritual consequences for those who indulge in gambling can have lasting affects.  After a visit to Atlantic City several years ago, I came face to face with individuals who came to town with money but left broke or homeless in a worst case scenario.  Only time will tell if betting on the future was worth the risk.  Yet, for now keep your life free the love of money, content with the life that God has given you.

by Jay Mankus

 

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The Squeeze

Squeeze has multiple definitions depending upon the context.  This term can refer to firmly gripping an object, getting through a restricted space, obtaining something with difficultly or shooting a round from a gun.  In the 2015 film the Squeeze, a young hot shot golfer played by Jeremy Sumpter is lured by a high priced gambler to play golf for money.  Based upon the real life events of Keith Flatt, Sumpter goes to Las Vegas to put his life and family on the line in a high stakes bet for 1 million dollars.  In the end, Sumpter has to choose between keeping the woman of his dreams or remaining undefeated as a golfer.

For God knows that on the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened [that is, you will have greater awareness], and you will be like God, knowing [the difference between] good and evil.” And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was delightful to look at, and a tree to be desired in order to make one wise and insightful, she took some of its fruit and ate it; and she also gave some to her husband with her, and he ate, Genesis 3:5-6.

After Lucifer was kicked out of heaven for glorifying himself as the most beautiful arch angel, he took with him a third of the angels.  Maintaining angelic powers while on earth, Ephesians 2:2, this ruler of the air recruited powers of darkness to put the squeeze on mankind.  Lucifer’s first victim is an innocent woman, Eve, curious about the Tree of Knowledge.  Although her husband Adam was right there with her, he allowed enticement to linger.  This lack of spiritual leadership enabled sin to be conceived.

Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not strive and remain with man forever, because he is indeed flesh [sinful, corrupt—given over to sensual appetites]; nevertheless his days shall yet be a hundred and twenty years,” Genesis 6:3.

By the time of Noah’s generation, the presence of sin spread like a spiritual plague throughout the earth.  Disappointed by the choices made by the human beings, God decided to punish future generations by limiting life on earth to 120 years.  Similar to the tactics used by Riverboat played by Christopher McDonald in the Squeeze, temporary pleasures are hard to resist.  What make matters worse is that Satan knows your weaknesses, luring weakened souls to indulge their sensual appetites.  In the end, what choices will you make when you are squeezed by temptation?  Choose wisely.

by Jay Mankus

What Happens Here Stains Eternity

A couple of times a year I put on a brand new shirt or sweatshirt for the first time, proudly seeing how it looks in the mirror.  Unfortunately, a careless bite later often produces a stain.  The only thing worse is putting a new outfit in the dryer without catching this blemish.  Once dried, there’s nothing you can do except donate or throw this piece of clothing out.

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour, 1 Peter 5:8.

If you watch a lot of television, you are probably beginning to see commercial blitzes for travel destinations.  This is the time of year that cities and states are trying to sway you to plan a summer vacation or visit during a long weekend.  Perhaps, I’ve never given it much thought before, but Las Vegas’ calling card, “what happens here stays here,” got under my skin recently.  In the spiritual realm, what happens here stains eternity.

Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings, 1 Peter 5:9.

In this day and age, no one is immune from embarrassing moments.  Friends may even bring up painful remainders of the past to keep you humble.  Yet, even Peter who denied Jesus in public three times learned from his previous mistakes.  Although what happens here on earth stains eternity, this portion of Peter’s letter highlights the importance of faith.  Thus, the next time you’re tempted to do something your heart or soul is telling you is wrong, resist this urge.  Rather, be alert and keep in step with the Spirit of God.

by Jay Mankus  

The Hands of God

Stephen King has written a plethora of books, several of which have become classic films.  Taking horror in a new direction, King’s 1994 mini-series entitled the Stand portrays an end of days film in America.  Following a biological outbreak, only 10 percent of the population survive with the righteous calling the heartland home.  Meanwhile, those tempted by evil make their way to Las Vegas.  In the end, the Hand of God comes down to rescue the saints from a nuclear bomb.

While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them, Acts 13:2.”

Throughout history, God’s hands have been invisible, mysteriously protecting faithful Israelites.  Accounts abound within the Old Testament.  Noah and his family escaped the flood.  Abraham and Lot fled Sodom and Gomorrah before its demise.  Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego survived a fiery furnace and Daniel spent a night in a lion’s den, without harm.  Are these merely coincidences or the hands of God?

So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off, Acts 13:3.

According to the New Testament, God’s hands are extended from heaven through his followers.  When the elders laid hands on people, discernment, gifts and wisdom are imparted.  Similar to a prayer circle, believers expect God to do great things.  Without faith, even Jesus could not perform miracles in his home town.  Yet, when a concert of prayer is formed around a person in need, the hands of God are more than a legend; His power become a reality to those who receive this blessing.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

The First Pawn Star

Prior to 1950, pawning was the leading form of credit for consumers in the United States of America.  While chess players refer to  a pawn as the least valuable piece on their board, pawning is when someone exchanges an object or possession for cash, used as collateral in case this person can’t pay back a broker or business owner.  The History Channel’s hit show Pawn Stars, starring 3 generations of the Harrison family’s Gold & Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas, has popularized this ancient practice.

As I read Genesis 47:13-26, I realized that Joseph, governor of Egypt during the great 7 year famine, became the first pawn star on earth.  When the Egyptians ran out of money after the first few years of this drought, Joseph began to barter food in exchange for cattle, donkeys, goats, horses and sheep.  Once residents had pillaged all of their possessions, land and labor were offered up for food.  Ahead of his time, this shrewd business man developed a plan, similar to a tax, pawning grain at a 20% interest rate, expecting to be repaid once their fields were restored.

Whenever you think you’ve had it tough in this economy, please read Genesis 47:13-19.  After hearing this sad story of poverty, may God help you see how blessed you truly are today.  This passage serves as a reminder to be prepared for a rocky future by saving as much as you can now.  If God didn’t give Joseph a vision for the future, Egypt would have been caught off guard.  Therefore, take this message as a wake up call, ready to bare down, living a frugal life so that when famine returns you and your family will survive.

by Jay Mankus

The Original Indecent Proposal

Still of Demi Moore and Woody Harrelson in Indecent ProposalIn 1993, Hollywood pushed the envelope further than most screen writers had gone before in the film Indecent Proposal.  As Woody Harrelson and Demi Moore lose their life savings gambling in Las Vegas, they encounter a billionaire who offers a selfish plan to solve their financial woes.  Robert Redford offers one million dollars to the couple if Woody allows him to spend one night with his wife.  Controversial at the time, this concept is an idea taken right out of the Bible.

Still of Robert Redford in Indecent ProposalFour hundred years following the flood, God called Abram to leave Haran and the comfort of his family, Genesis 12:1.  Traveling toward Canaan, Abram makes 2 altars to the Lord, dedicating his life to the Lord in the hills between Bethel and Ai.  However, like the 1993 movie, during the first sign of turbulence, a famine, Abram relies on himself, not the Lord.  Since it was common for kings to steal beautiful wives, killing their husbands, Abram came up with the original indecent proposal.

Located in Genesis 12:10-13, Abram encourages Sarai his wife to tell a little white lie to Pharaoh.  Compromise is so subtle, logically excusing ourselves from sin due to circumstance.  As this plan is carried out to completion, Abram becomes a hero, honored with sheep, cattle, donkeys, camels and servants.  In the process, Sarai is taken as Pharaoh’s wife, but curses follow his family immediately.  Like the sailor’s in the days of Jonah 1:8, Pharaoh quickly recognizes Abram as the source of his troubles.

Being duped by Abram, Pharaoh confronts him in Genesis 12:17-20, kicking this couple out of Egypt, left to fend for themselves during the rest of the famine.  While on  the outside, Abram might have felt like he got away with his plan, consequences follow.  Sarai becomes barren, she talks Abram into having a son with another woman, Genesis 16:1-2 and trials become a way of life for this couple.  If your life is a mess like this family or you are feeling burdened by the stress of life, call on the name of the Lord, Proverbs 3:5-6.  If you do this, the Holy Spirit will keep you from going through with any indecent proposals that pop into your mind, 2 Corinthians 10:3-5.

by Jay Mankus

A One Way Ticket to… Tarshish?

During the days of Jonah, there was a city similar to Las Vegas, where sin was flaunted for all to see.  Thus, when God gave him the assignment to preach to Nineveh, Jonah’s hatred of this place prevented him from following God’s calling.  Instead, he fled from the Lord, setting sail for Tarshish in the opposite direction, Jonah 1:3.

In many ways, my current path appears to be similar to the detour Jonah took from God.  After 10 successful years of teaching, I figured this stage of my life was over, a bitter memory of countless hours of service.  However, it appears the boat that I call occupation has sunk, leaving me stranded without a whale to bring me back to shore.

Second guessing my choices over the past 16 months may be futile, yet maybe this storm I have been experiencing has occurred to bring me back where I didn’t want to go.  While I have punched my one way ticket to Tarshish, God has the ability to bring me back in accordance with His will, wherever that may be.  As I continue to float off course, keeping my head above water, maybe there is an open door on the horizon to lift me out of these murky waters.  As for now, all I can do is pray the prayer of Jonah 2:1-9, expecting a happy ending accompanied by God’s providence.

by Jay Mankus

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