Posted by: robertartemenko | February 8, 2011

James Chapter One, “An ace that I can keep …”

Our Church is going through a sermon series on James. Chapter one, like much of the Bible, reflects pragmatic instruction on how to deal with life’s curveballs. For many of us, a deficit can be operating largely unaware of such divine resources. While there is mystery surrounding HugeGOD and His Word, there are also many, plain, practical parables and discussions that matter-of-factly direct and equip us.

In the Kenny Rogers’ song, The Gambler, a young apprentice gets “an ace (he) can keep.” The master says,  “You’re gonna play the game, boy, You gotta learn to play it right.” He goes on to tell him:

“You’ve got to know
When to hold ’em,
Know when to fold ’em
Know when to walk away,
Know when to run.
You never count your money
When you’re sittin’ at the table.
There’ll be time enough for countin’
When the dealin’s done.”

One would hope that we are as savvy and intent about “playing it right” in our lives as the apprentice is about drawing the cards he needs for his fullhouse.

In the same way that most any hand can be a winner or a loser depending on how it’s played, our live’s are subject to the same application of winning practices. James shares in chapter one that our field of play is not flat, it’s more like we’re moving on a ridgeline that dramatically falls off to our right and left.  Depending on our world view, especially as it relates to the value of trials, sources of wisdom, understanding our nature, having faith and identifying our true treasure we will gravitate toward a valley of death, or toward a river of life.

We either seek God’s wisdom from (and in) his Word, embrace purifying trials faithfully, and grow into strong individuals whose enthusiam flows outward to those in need, or we collapse under life’s challenges, lacking faith, selling out to our appetites and imploding into decay and death.

This “Deogram” summarizes the first chapter and lays out symbolically the ridgeline that we travel in life.


While there are definitely expeditions that start down one side and reverse themselves, over the term of a full life, we are pulled largely one way or the other. We get our whole life to figure this out, but like many journeys, after a while the momentum we establish and it’s associated entaglements, seal our ultimate direction. The other challenge of course is not knowing exactly how much time we have got to travel, so our intentionality is not something to pause or postpone.

 So, if “you’re gonna play the game, boy, you gotta learn to play it right.” You will find an ace in this ace chapter of James!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: