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Monday, February 6, 2017

The House Always Wins

“Life is a gamble. You can get hurt, but people die in plane crashes, lose their arms and legs in car accidents; people die every day. Same with fighters: some die, some get hurt, some go on. You just don’t let yourself believe it will happen to you.” ~ Muhammad Ali

Life is a gamble. There is a certain amount of truth in “them-thar words.” However, a more realistic view comes from the word properly defined:

Gambling: the act or practice of risking the loss of something important by taking a chance or acting recklessly. -

For several years, my family lived in a northern California town located about 90 minutes from the Lake Tahoe/Reno area. Until more recently, that is where many fellow residents migrated on weekends to visit casinos and lose their money. Admittedly, I spent many evenings enjoying the discounted buffets and a few of the “games.”

I assure you I am no high stakes gambler. My wife Rhonda and I used to mostly play the nickel slot machines. A few times I sat at a blackjack table. And a few more times I played the craps table.

I tell you honestly that I can’t recall ever coming home a winner. Well, maybe once. It was in Iceland at an afternoon bingo game where I won $500. Sort of. I had agreed with the person playing next to me that if either of us won, we’d split the prize. I honored my word.

One thing I learned from those days. The house always wins. They don’t build those casinos on the house’s bad luck. They’re built on your misfortune.

One time, a friend of mine and I drove up to Reno on a lark. He played three rounds of roulette with a $100 bet on black each time. All three times, the ball stopped on red. End of the fun.

Some people consider Wall Street a bad bet. Actor Jeremy Renner is quoted as saying, “I will never be in the stock market. It’s just gambling. I’m a gambler, but I’ll gamble on the practicality of things.”

These days, California has their own casinos. And most states have their own gambling operations disguised as lotteries. The house still wins. Big.

I thought about how addictive the gambling bug can be when I read some of the bizarre ways people placed bets around the Super Bowl. According to People magazine, some of their favorites were:
  • How long would Luke Bryan’s rendition of the national anthem last? (2:15 was the over/under)
  • What color would Lady Gaga’s hair be? 
  • What color Gatorade would the winning coach get doused with? (Lime/green “liquid” vs yellow or orange were the leading contenders) 
  • How many Trump tweets would there be from kickoff to finish. 
  • How many times will Gisele be on TV—Tom Brady’s supermodel wife?

Sounds silly, but gambling addicts will find just about anything that will satisfy their craving. Best advice, try investing in something worthwhile.

Some people take absolutely perilous chances. In the Bible, we read the story of several foolish people who decided to oppose Moses’ and Aaron’s leadership. The result? “And the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them, and their houses, and all the men that belonged to Korah, and all their goods. And they and all that belonged to them went down alive into the pit, and the earth closed on them, and they perished from among the assembly.” (Numbers 16:32-33, MEV)

The wise decision is to take God at His word. Accept his free gift of eternal life. Failure to do so is deadly. It makes no sense to gamble with your eternity.

The Kingdom of God is a sure bet. And the house…always wins.

That’s The Way WE Work. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.

Let’s Talk with Mark Elfstrand can be heard weekdays from 4-6 PM Central. To listen outside the Chicago area, tune to for live streaming or podcasts, or download the AM1160 app.  

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