Why I Don't Buy Lottery Tickets

I have to admit that I have imagined what I would do if I suddenly won millions of dollars.  What I won’t do, is buy a lottery ticket.  Here are a few reasons why.

The whole concept of the lottery is built on almost everyone losing more money than they win. What are you buying when you buy a lottery ticket? A “chance” to win that is so infinitesimal as to almost not exist. 

At best, what you get is spending your money on your imagination. It is fun to imagine what you would do with all that money. 

At worst, what you have is a state sponsored game in which people are encouraged to spend money on nothing in hopes that they might receive a ton.  The lottery appeals to greed in many and holds out false hope to many more.  Depending on what survey you look at, 20-30% of respondents believe that the lottery is their best chance to gain wealth.

Statistically, poorer people buy more lottery tickets.  Those who can afford to throw their money to the wind the least are the ones who do it the most.  Your government encourages this.  Media outlets give countless dollars in free advertising by running news stories on it. 

There isn’t a Bible verse that says “Thou shalt not buy a lottery ticket” so I can’t say that either.  However, there are some sins from top to bottom that are definitely at work. 

From the top, a lot of money is made from the lottery, by the states, and by all the middlemen that promote, organize, run, and sell lottery tickets.  Their profit is based on losers.  This scheme takes advantage of the poor and the ignorant.  This is something that the Bible forbids explicitly. “Do not exploit the poor because they are poor” (Proverbs 22:22). “A ruler who oppresses the poor is like a driving rain that leaves no crops” (Proverbs 28:3).

From the bottom, the major motivation for buying a lottery ticket is to get something for nothing.  This attitude is also forbidden in Scripture.  “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat”(2 Thessalonians 3:10). Greed and covetousness are also sins. 

If you have plenty of money, and you have fulfilled your obligations to God and family and want to throw it away go ahead.  But do remember, if you believe the Bible, then none of your money is yours.  God gives you everything.

So is it acceptable to buy a lottery ticket? That’s between you and God. 

If you know for certain that you are neither greedy nor foolish, then go ahead.  Of course, if you are neither, then I would ask, why are you playing?

Always Be Ready to Answer Questions

I love questions.  I love to ask them and I love to answer them.  The reason for this is probably because I am both a learner and a teacher. So are you.  There are things you know that you can pass on to others and there are things that others know that they can pass on to you.  There should never be a time when you aren’t willing to ask or answer a question.

This is especially important for Christians. Christians are commanded to always be ready to answer questions.  “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.  But do this with gentleness and respect…” (I Peter 3:15). In some ways this is the theme verse of my life. 

First, we see in this verse that we are to be ready to answer everyone who asks why we have hope in Christ.  This reminds us that in order for people to ask about the difference Jesus makes in our lives, we first need to be living differently.  People need to see that we handle difficulty and trial differently because of Jesus in our lives.

Second, we need to always be prepared to answer.  How can we always be prepared? By studying.  Like a student who has to be prepared for pop quizzes, we never know when the question is going to come.  So we should be constantly studying our Bibles, attending Bible studies, reading good Christian books, listening to good Bible teaching and learning more about Jesus.

Third, we should treat questions and their questioners with respect.  So many times we treat people as interruptions.  When someone asks us something, we should start seeing it as a God ordained appointment.  Questions are a great learning opportunity.  When someone asks, they are usually ready to listen to the answer.  Answering questions is the best way to meet people where they are.

Peter says to do this with gentleness and respect.  Don’t belittle genuine questions or  treated questioners poorly.  We don’t need to beat people over the head with our answers.  We are not trying to win arguments or debates.  We are trying to win people.   

One of the great joys of my life is being able to help someone by answering their questions.  That doesn’t mean I have all the answers. But if I can help someone else by sharing the little bit of knowledge I do have, I praise God for it. “Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17).

Did Adam & Eve Have Bellybuttons?


This question, while amusing, is often asked by children. It’s a valid question. I don’t know the answer for sure for two reasons: 

  1. I’ve never met Adam and so this isn’t something I’ve seen for myself. 

  2. The Bible doesn’t answer this question directly.

But we can engage in some reasonable speculation. This is the story of Adam’s creation according to Genesis 2:7. “The LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”  And then God created Eve. “Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man…” (Genesis 2:22).

Our navels come from our time in the womb when we needed nourishment from our mothers through the umbilical cord.  But God created Adam and Eve as full-grown adults.  Therefore, I think it’s reasonable to conclude that Adam and Eve did not have bellybuttons because they didn’t need them. It makes me smile to imagine their children pointing at their own bellies and saying, “Dad, how come you don’t have one of these?”  Then Adam would tell the story of his own creation, teaching his children where we all come from.

This question leads us to the more important one: “Who made me?” And the answer is quite clear.  “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule…over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:26-27). Out of all God’s creatures, it is only human beings that were created in God’s image.

Human beings are the crown of God’s creation. When you think about the magnificence of God’s creation, that is a wondrous thought.  “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?  You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet…” (Psalm 8:3-6).  God made us in his own image. He made us like him so that we reflect and represent him to the world. This is a great privilege and an awesome responsibility.

God made you, body and soul, exactly as he wanted you. David knew that.  “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well…”(Psalm 139:13-14). You are fearfully and wonderfully made. Praise the Lord for that today!

Why I'm Not For Prayer in School

First, let’s define the phrase. When most people say “let’s put prayer back in schools” they don’t mean, let’s give students the right to pray. They already have that right.  It was never taken away.  As long as it is not disruptive, any student or group of students is allowed to pray silently or aloud as they wish.  Schools are also required by law to give student-led prayer groups and bible studies the same access to school facilities that other extra-curricular groups (such as chess club or glee club) have. 

What is no longer allowed is a teacher, administrator or other school official leading the students in prayer.  I think that’s a good thing.  Once upon a time in our country, Christianity was the majority religion.  Most teachers and administrators would pray a Christian prayer.  That is no longer the case.  We live in a post-modern, post-Christian America.  You can no longer assume that your child’s teacher or principal will have a Christian background.  They may be Muslim, Jewish, Wiccan, Satanist, Scientologist, New Age, Atheist or whatever.  Do you really want someone with beliefs utterly opposed to your own leading your child in prayer daily?  I sure don’t.  

And besides in today’s era of tolerance, and pluralism, any prayer uttered by even a Christian teacher would be so watered down “so as not to offend anyone” that it would be meaningless.  It would be a prayer to an abstract, “lowest common denominator” deity that would be so inclusive, that it wouldn’t describe anybody’s “God”. 

If you send your child to public school, you have the right not to have a particular religion or ideology taught to your child.  Now, I also don’t believe that public schools are actually neutral.  A “neutral” ideology is still an ideology.  There is a system of beliefs being taught to our children.  It is up to us as parents to supplement what they learn at school with Christian teaching, so that they learn to see the world through a Biblical lens.  Equip your children with Scripture.  Make sure they know how to pray and share their faith with their friends.  Be involved in the public school system.  As Jesus commanded, be salt and light.

And remember you have a choice.  You can choose to send your child to public school, private school or to home school.  If you choose to send them to a Christian school, then you should expect (and want) your children to be led in prayer.  But a school that is paid for and run by the public is not the place to teach your children about Jesus. That’s your job.  And if you want the school to help you, you’re going to have to send them to a place that will.

Was Jesus a Good Man?

“A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher.  He would either be a lunatic – on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the Devil of Hell.  You must make your choice.  Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse.”
— C.S. Lewis

There are many that say that Jesus was nothing more than a good teacher.  They will compliment Jesus on his lasting teachings about love and peace, and then in the next breath say that his followers who claim that he is God go farther than Jesus intended.

The problem with saying this is that Jesus’ actual teachings do not allow for it.  It is true that the Gospels do not record Jesus saying, “I am God” in those words.  However, he did say, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9) and another time he said, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). This statement would be understood by all as a claim to divinity.  And we know the crowd understood it this way, because they picked up stones to kill him for blasphemy.  Jesus made many of these kinds of statements, which are too numerous to list here. In addition, he continually claimed for himself authority, status and power that belong to God alone.  No Jew would have said the things Jesus said unintentionally.  If these statements are false, they are either blasphemy or the ravings of a madman.

To say that Jesus was “just a good teacher and nothing more” is not an option.  If you do not believe that Jesus is God, then his teachings and claims are false.  Great Christian writer and scholar, C.S. Lewis put it this way:

“A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher.  He would either be a lunatic – on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the Devil of Hell.  You must make your choice.  Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse.”

If the things Jesus claimed about himself are not true, then he cannot be a good teacher.  Someone who lies and intentionally deceives others cannot be considered good.  Or if Jesus’ believed those things and they are untrue then, he was a lunatic.  And an insane person with no grounding in reality could not be considered a good teacher either.

So you see, you can call Jesus a con-artist or a fool.  Or you can throw yourself at his feet and worship him.  Those are the only options.  What you cannot do is say that he was a nothing more than a great human teacher.  Jesus is either God or nothing.

Scripture taken from the New International Version.

Why I Am a Christian

First, let’s define “Christian”.  A Christian is a follower of Jesus Christ.  It means more literally, “little Christ”. A Christian is someone who has made the willful and deliberate decision to follow Jesus as Lord of All and the one who secured forgiveness for them on the cross.  To understand better what I mean by Christian, let me tell you what I don’t mean by the term.

  • An American – Many around the world assume that if you are an American that you are a Christian by culture or by birth.  This is not what I mean by Christian, and besides the notion is simply false.

  • Church attendance or membership – Just attending a church that worships Jesus Christ does not mean that the individual truly does.  Going to church doesn’t makes someone a Christian any more than showing up at regular bar association meetings makes one a lawyer.

  • Family – Just because my grandparents or parents are Christians does not make me one.  I have to choose to follow Jesus.  Membership into the family of God is not automatic.  There are no legacies.  Or as someone else put it, God doesn’t have any grandchildren.  We must each make that decision for ourselves.

  • A Gentile – In New Testament times, the term “Greek” was used by Jews to refer to anyone who wasn’t Jewish, whether or not they were actually from Greece.  Likewise some will refer to someone as “Christian” because they aren’t Jewish.  But this isn’t true, a non-Jew could be a follower of any religion or even none at all.

A Christian is someone who has a relationship with Jesus Christ and as a follower (disciple) “… is one who, intent upon becoming Christlike and so dwelling in his faith and practice, systematically and progressively rearranges his affairs to that end." (Dallas Willard, The Spirit of the Disciplines.)  The reason I call myself a Christian is because one day I chose to be a follower of Jesus Christ, declared him to be the Lord of my life, and place my temporal and eternal destiny in his hands.

Second, before I tell you the reasons I became a Christian, I want to make crystal clear what reasons do not apply to me.

I am not a Christian because my parents are.  Personally, I was raised in a non-Christian home.  My parents had both been baptized in their respective traditions, but after they married they did not attend a church or have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  And they had never made a commitment to be a follower of Jesus Christ.  Even if my parents had been Christians, this would not make me one automatically.  I would still have to choose it for myself.  

I am not a Christian because I was raised that way.  Personally, I was not raised a Christian.  But even if I had been, being taught certain things would not make me a Christian.  I would have to accept them for myself.  And as an adult, I choose to believe things because they are true, not because that is how I was taught.

I am not a Christian because I like what Christianity teaches.  It is naïve to choose to believe something because you like it.  The definition of truth is that which corresponds to the facts.  Whether or not I like Christianity has nothing to do with whether or not it is true.

I am a Christian because of Jesus.  It is all about him.  It is not about a religion, or a church, or a system of thinking, or a culture or other Christians.  A Christian is a follower of Christ.  Being a Christian isn’t about following a system of ideas; it is about knowing a person.  The truth I believe in is that Jesus is my authority, and because he is my authority I believe what he teaches and those to whom he passed his teachings along.  I am a Christian because I believe that Jesus is the Son of God, the savior of the world, and the Lord of the universe.  He is these things whether I choose to follow him or not.  I choose to follow him because I need him, not because he needs me.  I believe that Jesus’ death on the cross paid the penalty for my sins and he is my advocate with the Father.  And because of what Jesus did, I have been declared “right-with-God” and will spend eternity with Him.

My belief in Jesus as Lord of the universe and Lord of my life is not based on “blind-faith” or human tradition given to me by a Sunday School teacher.  My reason to believe is this:

  • The New Testament is a historically reliable document.  (It is not only historically reliable;  it is the most reliable ancient document ever written.)

  • Jesus predicted his own death and resurrection.  He also claimed for himself the same authority that belongs to God alone.  He also said, “I and the Father are one.”  And “he who has seen me, has seen the Father”.

  • The evidence found both in and outside of the New Testament is so overwhelming that a reasonable person, upon examination of the evidence and without prejudice will conclude that it is a verifiable historical fact that Jesus rose from the dead.  (This is similar to the kind of “proof” given in a criminal trial where the guilt of an individual is “proved” beyond a reasonable doubt.  This is not scientific proof, since past events cannot be recreated in a laboratory.  But this is historic proof that demonstrates through evidence that a particular event actually happened.)

  • Because God raised him from the dead this vindicates him and every statement he ever made.  Because he rose from the dead, as he said he would, he must be who he claimed to be.

  • Because Jesus is God, just as he claimed, then all of his teachings and commands are authoritative.  Jesus words are God’s words.

  • Because Jesus affirmed the Old Testament, and affirmed the teachings of his Apostles which eventually became the New Testament, that means the Bible is the word of God.

  • Because the Bible is the Word of God, that means I can and should believe everything it teaches.

  • Because Jesus is who he claimed to be, and I can trust what the Bible says is authoritative, then I know that: He is the one and only Son of God.  God is just and righteous.  A just and righteous God must punish sin.  All human beings are sinners and deserve punishment justly.  God is also merciful, so he provided a way for sin to be punished and for sinners to be rescued.  That way is found in his son, Jesus Christ and his atoning sacrifice on the cross for my sins.

So you see, I believe Jesus is the Christ, the Savior and the Son of God because it is true.  If I ever learned that it was not true, then I would renounce my faith.  Why would I choose to believe something that I knew to be false?  To do so would be intellectually dishonest and foolish. 

I believe in Jesus as the Son of God because he is the Son of God. But belief or intellectual assent is not the same as trust.  The Bible says that “if you confess with your mouth that ‘Jesus is Lord’ and believe in your heart that God raised him up from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). Salvation comes to all who put their trust in him.  And when you put your trust in Jesus, your sins are forgiven and you are adopted into the family of God. “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation.  Having believed you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession – to the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:13-14).  And a member of God’s family has direct access to him.  And so because of Jesus we can walk with God in this life and the one to come.  “Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.  Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess for he who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:19-23).

So you see, Christianity is not a religion in the same way that many other religions are.  And you cannot become a Christian, by joining a club or a church or by belonging to the right family or nation.  You become a Christian by trusting in Jesus as savior and following Him as Lord.

How to Share the Good News

“If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”    Romans 10:9

“If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9

Every person is different.  I prefer the building relationship method Being friends with someone, genuinely caring about them, knowing their needs, preferences, desires is my favorite way.  People can smell "I want you to convert, so that you'll be number 585 I've won to the Lord" a mile away.  Plus I think that attitude is wrong.  Rather we should want to win people because we love them.

  So what I do is get to know them.  Where are they in life?  Where are they hurting? And then I try to start where they are to lead them eventually to the place where I can share the truth of the Gospel.  It may take 10 minutes, it may take 10 months.  I'm willing to take as long as it takes because I care about that person.

 My model for what I share is:

  • The Problem (Sin)

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  Romans 3:23

  • The Solution (Jesus)

“But God demonstrates His own love for us in this:  While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  Romans 5:8

  • How the problem is solved (respond to Jesus)

“If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead,  you will be saved.”  Romans 10:9

No matter what I make sure the above three elements are eventually presented somehow.  I rarely witness the same way twice.  Though I often use the same Scriptures and illustrations that I have found to be effective. I try to start with A LOT of questions and do A LOT of listening. Here is another method I use.  As part of a conversation, I ask the following questions, listen to their answers, and then I am careful to explain how the Bible answers each question.

  1. What do you believe about God? The Bible says: God is holy, perfect, eternal, omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent and the just judge of the universe. God “commands all people everywhere to repent.  For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed” (Acts 17:30-31, see also verses 24-31)

  2. What do you believe about the Bible?  The Bible says: “For all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful…”(II Timothy 3:16)

  3. What do you believe about Jesus? (Is he equally God and equally human?) The Bible says: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” (I John 1:1, 14)

  4. What is man’s basic problem in relation to God? The Bible says:  “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  Romans 3:23

  5. What is the solution to that problem? The Bible says: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23)  “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) See also Romans 10:9 above.