521) Anybody Want a $50 Bill?

     Best selling author and pastor Rick Warren was once invited to speak an entire population of a large prison.  He had two hours to speak, but it was out in the prison yard.  There was no stage, and Warren had to just stand on the ground like everyone else.  But Warren did have a microphone, and with that mic he could be heard by everyone.  There were about 5,000 men in the prison yard, and most were paying no attention.  

     Warren pulled out a $50 bill, held it high, and to the few who were gathered around him said, “How many of you would like this $50 bill?”  Everyone heard that, and 5,000 hands went up.  Now, he had their attention.  Then he tore the bill in half, crumpled it in his hands, and held it up again, asking, “How many of you would still like this $50 bill?”  Again, 5,000 hands went up.  Next, he spat on the $50 bill, threw it on the ground, and stomped it into the dirt.  He then picked it up, held it high in the air again, and said, “How many of you would like it now?”  Once more, the hands all went up.

     Then Warren said, “Now, for many of you, this is what people have done to you.  You’ve been mistreated.  You’ve been abused.  You’ve been misused.  You were told you wouldn’t amount to anything.  And you’ve done a lot of dumb things, too.  You have sinned.  You have done crimes, and you are paying for them.  You’ve been beaten.  You’ve been torn.  You’ve been in the dirt and you are dirty.  But you have not lost one cent of your value to God, and God still wants to have you.”

     That day, 79 guys gave their lives to Christ, and they were baptized right there in the prison yard that day.  In time, the church in that prison grew to over 500 men.

     Even if you aren’t in prison, you can probably relate to Warren’s little meditation on the $50 bill.  We have all sinned and been sinned against.  And yet, God still loves us and still wants us to turn to him in faith and trust.  “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me…”


We are products of our past, but we don’t have to be prisoners of it.

 –Rick Warren


Psalm 119:25  —  I am laid low in the dust; preserve my life according to your word.


Psalm 34:18  —  The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.


Psalm 51:1…10-12…17  —  Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions…

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me….  

My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.


Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord;
Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive
    to my cry for mercy.

 If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand?

But with you there is forgiveness,
    so that we can, with reverence, serve you.

I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
    and in his word I put my hope.

—Psalm 130:1-5