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Summary: A christian perspective on gambling

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15Then he said, “Beware! Don’t be greedy for what you don’t have. Real life is not measured by how much we own.” New Living Translation

This morning’s subject is about what Charlie McDowell called the interesting moral notion that if people are inclined to waste their money, the government should make it fun for them. And take a profit.(1)

Today I am asking you to “smell the coffee”. The reality of a state-run gambling lottery is on the horizon – and closing fast!

If you have a doubt that this is so, I want you to hear a couple of excerpts from recent issues out of the governor’s mansion:

First – a newspaper quote from February, 2001

With South Carolina voting yes and a budget crisis looming, N.C. legislators will likely consider a lottery when they return to Raleigh early next year.

Gov.-elect Mike Easley has pitched a lottery as a key to reducing class size in public schools. (2)

Second – from the State of the State address by our governor 4 weeks ago:

Now, there’s no free lunch. It takes revenue. And in this tight fiscal environment, it is going to take some creative solutions to continue funding real progress in education.

The truth is, North Carolina is already funding smaller classes and education improvements. Unfortunately, we’re funding them in other states...in Virginia, in Georgia, and soon in South Carolina and Tennessee. We are spending hundreds of millions of dollars - North Carolina’s dollars - to build new schools in other states, while we’re packing our kids in trailers at home. We are the only state that plays the lottery and gives away the proceeds.

I want to keep North Carolina’s money in North Carolina’s schools for North Carolina’s children. Those resources could, and should, stay home.

Now I am not saying a lottery for education is the only solution, it’s just one solution. If anyone has a better idea...if anyone has another way to find the $400 - $500 million for education, I am open to it.

But you can’t just say "no" we’re against a lottery - finish the sentence - tell me what you’re for, because next year 100,000 five-year olds will show up at the schoolhouse door, and they deserve more than an overcrowded classroom and an overworked teacher. (3)

I am glad today to answer the governor’s question – finish his sentence: I’m for raising children without teaching them that gambling is the high ethical road! We don’t need a lottery educating our children – we need responsible fiscal management and ethical leaders to set the example.

When those 100,000 five-year olds show up at the schoolhouse door they deserve the best – they don’t deserve a society filled with gambling and the crime, more prisons and gambling addictions it will bring.

They don’t deserve to grow up and pay for the “therapy” 3% of their neighbors will need to get off their gambling addiction!

If more money is needed for education, Mike, North Carolinians will pay the taxes – an honorable way of funding the needed salaries and supplies for educating our children. We don’t need another Las Vegas in Raleigh!

There was an old farmer who came into the hardware store, and threw down the new chain saw he’d bought at the feet of the storeowner. "You told me I could cut down 40 trees a day with that saw, but I couldn’t cut down more than three."

"Well now," said the store owner, "let me sharpen the teeth and you give it another try." The farmer agreed. Three days later the farmer returned and demanded his money back. "That saw is junk! I still can’t cut down more than three trees a day!"

The storeowner looked at the chain saw, and said that he needed to try it for himself before he gave the farmer his money back. He pulled the starter cord on the saw, and it roared to life on the first pull. The farmer was startled, and yelled, "What’s that noise?" Some things in life are like that.... we do not understand the power that goes along with things we get into. Luke 12:1-34 says a lot about the Christian response to gambling.

I would like to share with you the reasons why I will not participate in the lottery, or any other form of gambling....

1. ADDICTION IS POSSIBLE

The evidence for this is in experience itself. Paydays are enlightening. If you walk into a Florida convenience store you will see lines of folks waiting to buy a lottery ticket (or 20)! Are these folks winning? No...they’re exercising their constitutional right to throw away whatever portion of their paycheck they care to!

If gambling weren’t addictive, why would millions of consistent "non-winners" continue to play against incredible odds? The National Council on Compulsive Gambling has stated that there are approximately 8 million compulsive gamblers in the United States alone. On average, when a compulsive gambler finally seeks help for his addiction he is in debt for over $80,000.

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