Episode 540

Sports betting and moral dilemmas; Immigration reform, Ways to grow as a disciple of Jesus

Feb 7, 2024

Pastors face a hard push against the culture as sports betting is at an all time high days before the kickoff of the NFL’s top showcase. While an immigration reform bill appears to dead in Congress, the ERLC believes reform must happen soon. Chuck Lawless provides tips to grow as a follower of Jesus.


With the Super Bowl this weekend, don’t expect many pastors to place a bet on Kansas City or San Francisco to win the game, but a few may have more than a rooting interest riding on the game.

Despite its legalization across many states, U.S. Protestant pastors remain opposed to sports gambling, but they’re not doing much about it, according to a Lifeway Research study. Few pastors (13 percent) favor legalizing sports betting nationwide and most (55 percent) say the practice is morally wrong.

A majority of pastors (55 percent) believe betting on sports is morally wrong, including 33 percent who strongly agree. Around a third (35 percent) disagree, while 10 percent aren’t sure.

While the immigration bill in Congress seems to be stalled, there are principles the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission believe must be addressed.


  • Funding for detention: Many migrants are not currently detained, but rather paroled into the U.S., because of a lack of space in detention facilities. This bill provides $7.6 billion to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), $3.2 billion of which is dedicated to increasing detention capacity.
  • Funding for border patrol: Customs and Border Protection (CBP) face incredible staffing shortages and do not have the current resources to process and screen all who are arriving at the border. This bill provides $6.766 billion to CBP, giving them the ability to hire additional agents, improve technology for finding fentanyl, and to address trafficking-related issues.
  • Major changes to the asylum system: This proposal speeds up the adjudication process while also requiring a higher burden of proof in initial asylum screenings.
  • New “border shutdown” authority: “The ‘border emergency authority’ may be exercised if the 7-day average number of cumulative encounters of inadmissible aliens is between 4,000 and 5,000 per day and must be exercised if the 7-day average is above 5,000 per day. Exercise of the authority is also required if the number of encounters on a single day exceeds 8,500.”
  • Border wall: This bill would require the Biden administration to continue construction of the border wall with Mexico. While the policy was most prominent during former President Trump’s administration, initial construction of various portions of a border fence began under former President George H.W. Bush.
  • Anti-fentanyl measures: In addition to funding for new fentanyl screening technology, the bill also includes policies aimed at curbing the flow of fentanyl into the U.S. It also provides funding to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to aggressively target cartels involved in smuggling fentanyl.

Pieces of the bill are now expected to be debated in a Senate committee.


Every day, hundreds of thousands of people die without the hope of Jesus. Your faithful prayers will make a difference. That’s why the IMB created a free 18-month calendar, called “Impacting Lostness Through Prayer”. It provides guidance, reminders and encouragement as you pray for individuals and communities who have yet to hear the gospel. Learn more about this free resource at IMB.org/prayercalendar.

In the Baptist Press Toolbox, Chuck Lawless offers tips on how to grow as a disciple of Jesus.

  1. Read at least one book on discipleship within the next month. Take the initiative to learn. Take notes. Talk to others in the church about what you’re discovering. At a personal level, consider Robert Coleman’s Master Plan of Evangelism or Donald Whitney’s Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life; at a corporate level, take a look at Jim Putman’s Discipleshift.
  2. No matter how long you’ve been a believer, find an older Christ-follower to invest in you. It may not be easy to find someone, but don’t give up easily. You need to be a growing, accountable disciple if you expect others to be the same. And, by the way, don’t hesitate to find someone who invests in you from a distance via electronic means if necessary. It works—I assure you! 
  3. Begin investing in a discipleship group personally. If you’re a church leader but not personally discipling someone else, it will be harder for you to strengthen the overall discipleship problem in your church. On the other hand, leading just a few believers in your church to grow in Christ will make your church’s discipleship stronger. If you can’t find the few, find at least the one. 

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