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Bull Poker and Stage 3 Cancer

Ray Pritchard pastored in Los Angeles, Dallas and Chicago. Married to Marlene for 38 years, he enjoys being a husband, a father and a grandfather, riding his bike, and playing with Dudley and Gary, beloved basset hounds.

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Unless you are a fan of rodeo, you may not have heard about a fun event called “Bull Poker” in which three or four cowboys sit around a table in the middle of the arena with a bull let loose to wreak havoc. While the cowboys sit at the table playing poker, the bull roams freely. Eventually the bull is bound to charge the table, scattering the cowboys, upsetting the table, and ending the game.

The last man sitting in his chair wins $100. You need a good sense of timing, excellent reflexes, and a bit of luck to win. It’s a dangerous game and sometimes the cowboys are injured when the bull finally makes his charge. 

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That’s the metaphor Andy McQuitty used in his sermon last Sunday to describe his current battle with colon cancer. I wrote about Andy’s initial emails to his congregation (Irving Bible Church) in my sermon called Theology at Midnight. Andy returned to the pulpit last Sunday for the first time in six weeks. He told the congregation that his cancer is Stage 3, Level 3. The only thing beyond that is Stage 4. He starts six months of very tough chemotherapy later this week. 

I listened to the audio of his sermon last Sunday in which he talks openly about the cancer and what it means in light of the call of Christ to “seek first the Kingdom” in Matthew 6:33. He speaks with courage, a touch of humor, a sense of gratitude, and a profound trust in God. 

We first met Andy and Alice in 1983 in Garland, Texas. He is a dear friend and a man whom God has used mightily. Now at the age of 53, he is in the fight of his life. I commend this sermon to you because as Andy says, we all have various “bulls” facing us down. No one is granted an exemption. 

You can listen online or you can download the service by going to the IBC Media Page and clicking on the links for the service on 8/23/09 called “Prayer” or you can find it on iTunes. Andy’s talk begins about 30 minutes into the service. 


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