I always wondered what mom and her friends were up to.

I mean, who wants to spend all day playing Bridge?  All the guys in my family (dad and my brothers) loved the card game Rook.  That was a man’s game.  Bridge was for girls.  Mom was a card-carrying member of a Bridge Club.

I never dreamed that mom and her friends might have been doping.  That is until last week’s revelation that the world’s number one Bridge player, Geir Helgemo (a man), tested positive for PEDs, synthetic testosterone, after September’s World Bridge Series in Orlando.   He has a year-long ban by the World Bridge Federation. I can hear Hans (Dana Harvey) and Franz (Kevin Nealon) from Saturday Night Live mocking Bridge players world-wide with “We will pump you up!” They played, in case you’ve forgotten, a pair of muscle-bound Austrian jocks in the mold of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

I don’t remember if my mom was very good at Bridge, but it not, then she probably wasn’t taking enough performance-enhancing drugs.

I’m not quite sure how PEDs help with Bridge; maybe it raises concentration levels or gives more endurance for the grueling matches.  However, this story does raise the integrity issue. Lots of athletes are guilty of PED use in the pursuit of fame and money in college/professional sports.

The Apostle Paul, obviously a fan of Bridge and Rook, said to the Thessalonica Christians: “Don’t grow weary in well doing.”
Paul believed in the unspoken witness, meaning that if the church would have an influence upon their friends and neighbors, then they would have to be people of integrity. That meant working hard for their bread, living honest, trustworthy lives, paying their bills, giving generously to those who are hurting, and practicing forgiveness and grace (and not taking PEDs).

The little girl’s prayer said it well: “Dear God, make all the bad people good, and all the good people nice.”  We have all known a lot of people who paraded as good people but weren’t very nice. Jesus called them hypocrites and Mark Twain called them “a good man in the worst sense of the word.”

I think we were created in God’s image to be good.  And when we are not good, we become strangers to ourselves and to our Creator.

So, why have integrity?  Because we were created for it, and because when we are good we experience God’s deep pleasure in us and our pleasure in God.

I know I talk too much about my home state, the great state of Alabama.  I’m sorry. I try to be realistic.  I have admitted how proud I am that only three of our last six governors have gone to jail. Two of the three expressly ran on campaigns that professed their faith and family values.  I have reached the point, where if a politician talks about their faith and family values, I say “next.”  It’s just words.

A man was coming out of an antique store in north Georgia.  The little town was nothing but antique shops.  As he came out of the store, he was carrying a box under his arm.

A stranger started up a conversation. “So, you bought something in the store?”

“Yes.”

“What’d you get?”

“Oh, I found this box in there. It was right next to an old washbasin and a churn.  Yep, I got this box and all that is in it for $1.”

“So, what’s in it?” asked the stranger.

He opened it up and it was full of words.  Hmm.  A box full of words.  Some words had been carved or burned or notched into wood.  He started to pull them out and read them: “Till death do us part.”  He pulled out another, “I’ll follow you wherever you go.”  Then another, “I give you my word.”

“So,” said the stranger, “the store owner let you have all that for a dollar?”

“Yep, the reason the store owner says that I can have it all for a dollar is because nobody talks or lives that way anymore.  They are useless.”

They are useless only if you use them and then don’t live up to them.

Or if you play Bridge and take PEDs.

~Pastor Steve

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