Summary: It pays to gamble your life on Christ.
INTRO.- ILL.- J.E. Bedenbaugh said, “My grandmother, a staunch Southern Baptist, had marched me off to Sunday school and church regularly. So when I switched to the Episcopal church after marriage, she challenged me: "What’s wrong with the Baptist Church, son?" "Well," I explained, "Carole and I flipped a coin to see if we would go to her church or mine, and I lost." "Serves you right," said my grandmother. "Good Baptists don’t gamble."
I would say that everybody gambles in some form or another, even good Baptists.
ILL.- On August 14, 1851 in Griffin, Georgia, John Henry Holliday was born to Henry Burroughs and Alice Jane Holliday. Otherwise known as “Doc Holiday.” Church records state: "John Henry, infant son of Henry B. and Alice J. Holliday, received the ordinance of baptism on Sunday, March 21, 1852, at the First Presbyterian Church in Griffin."
What does this mean? It means that Doc Holiday’s parents believed the Lord Jesus and that they had their infant son sprinkled as an indication of their faith, not his. So we assume that Doc Holiday had something of a Christian upbringing. BUT SOMETHING HAPPENED ALONG THE ROAD OF LIFE.
Because of his family status, John Henry had to choose some sort of profession and he chose dentistry. John was a good dentist, but shortly after starting his practice, he discovered that he had contracted tuberculosis. Although he consulted a number of doctors, the consensus of all was that he had only months to live. However, they all concurred that he might add a few months to his life if he moved to a dry climate.
Following this advice, Doc packed up and headed West. His first stop was in Dallas, Texas. The date was October 1873, and Doc soon found a suitable position as an associate of Dr. John A. Seegar. He hung out his shingle and prepared for business, but his terrible illness was not through with him. Coughing spells wracked his thin frame and often occurred at the most embarrassing times, such as in the midst of filling a tooth or making an extraction. As a result, his dental business gradually declined. John soon had to find other means of earning a livelihood. AND I THINK WE ALL KNOW WHAT THAT LIVING WAS: gambling.
It became apparent that he possessed a natural ability for gambling and this quickly became his sole means of support. In those days, a gambler in the west had to be able to protect himself. Doc was well aware of this and faithfully practiced with six-gun and knife. On January 2, 1875, Doc and a local saloonkeeper, named Austin, had a disagreement that flared into violence. Each man went for his pistol. Several shots were fired, but not one struck its intended target. According to the Dallas Weekly Herald, both shooters were arrested. Most of the local citizens thought such a gunfight highly amusing, but changed their minds a few days later when Doc put two large holes through a prominent citizen, leaving him very dead. Feelings ran high over this killing and Doc was forced to flee Dallas a short distance in front of a posse.
Bat Masterson said of him: "Doc Holliday was afraid of nothing on earth.” Doc could be described as a fatalist. He knew that he was already condemned to a slow, painful death. If his death was quick and painless, who was he to object! Actually, he expected a quick demise because of the violent life he lived.
There is no accurate count of how many people Doc Holiday killed, but I counted eight more deaths from his hand. Doc Holliday claimed he almost lost his own life a total of nine times. Four attempts were made to hang him and he was shot at in a gunfight or from ambush five times.
In May, 1887, Doc went to Glenwood Springs to try the sulfur vapors, as his health was steadily growing worse, but he was too far-gone. He spent his last fifty-seven days in bed and was delirious fourteen of them. On November 8, 1887, he awoke clear-eyed and asked for a glass of whiskey. It was given to him and he drank it down with enjoyment. Then he said, "This is funny", and died. Doc Holidy was dead at the age of 35.
Doc Holiday was a gambler but of the wrong variety. He gambled with his life in many ways, except in living for Christ. What caused him to go so wrong after being raised by Christian parents? I would say it was the temptation of the world, the flesh and the devil. Probably all three got him. And I suspect that after he said his last words, “This is funny” and then went into the presence of God, he wasn’t laughing. What a bad and sad commentary on one man’s life.