Roy Falls at Norris' gravesite

Roy Falls at Norris' gravesite

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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

How The Gamblers Mocked The Savior

Using Matthew chapter 27, verse 35 as a text, one of J. Frank Norris’ favorite themes and which characterized his ministry was his passionate opposition to all kinds of vices. In this year of 2011, many of the vices that defined that era, are now so commonplace that we hardly blink an eye at the presence of these common vices. Go into any grocery store and you think you are entering a liquor store.

It was the out-of-control racehorse gambling which first caught the ire of Norris while he pastured The McKinney Ave. Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas. Ironically, this same building was later turned into the “hard Rock CafĂ©”. Even though his multifaceted ministry touched many areas, Norris never ceased to vent venom against the sin of gambling.

Verse 35 of Matthew chapter 27 speaks of the soldiers casting lots for the savior’s garments. This verse illustrates the blasphemous nature of a gambler’s heart.

In the mind of Norris, all of the gamblers, the liquor crowd and lawless practitioners are all organized and in it for their own gain, but sadly, the good people of this city (1945) will just sit by and let lawlessness prevail.

Much of what Norris was referring to was happening in the west end of Arlington, known as “Top of the Hill Terrace”, a notorious hangout for professional gamblers. Ironically, this same Top of the Hill Terrace became and is now the home of The Arlington Baptist College. Little did Norris realize in (1945) that this one-time gambling hang-out would become home to the school which he founded in 1939. I want to pay homage to the man, now deceased, Dr. Earl Oldham, who was largely responsible for the acquisition of this property in 1953.

Like the curse of liquor, compulsive gambling has destroyed the manhood of many a good man. Some may ask why make so great a fuss about just a minor part of society. Herein lies the reason. It is like a silent killer. Like the Roman soldiers, it is the seemingly little sins that destroy mankind. When it strikes home to the individual, it is they who must suffer alone.

Quoting Norris; “The spirit of the gambler is dishonest. He is for getting something for nothing. He is the lowest of scrapings of God’s creation.” If you know the history of big-time gambling, you will find the gambling interest deeply entrenched in big-time corruption.

In 1945, Norris confessed to the church that due to his inability to keep watch on the daily affairs of the church, a schism developed involving the superintendent of the Sunday School. After his exposure in engaging in petty gambling within the confines of the church, this superintendent soon left the church, but not until he had created a situation which gave birth to the greatest heartbreak of Norris’ lifetime.

These events took place while I was serving in Europe at the time of World War II, therefore, much of the details, I am unable to verify. But it shows how petty gambling can have dire consequences.

Gambling and such vices are not the worst of sins, for all sins are reprehensible in the eyes of God. “But where sin abounds, grace doth much more abound.” This gospel truth can be found in multiple scriptures but none more poignant than what the thief on the cross expressed in his dying hour. It is all expressed in this song entitled “There Is A Fountain Filled With Blood” …

“ The dying thief rejoiced to see
that fountain in his day;
and there may I,
though vile as he,
wash all my sins away. ”

So simple, yet so sublime. It is all a heart matter. So the message is this, open your heart to Him who alone is able to save.

Thank you…………….God bless each one ………. And may God Bless America.


FOOD FOR THOUGHT: The gospel is like a two-edged sword. It excises both the cancer and applies the healing Balm of Gilead at the same time.

Roy Falls
November 2, 2011

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