My Experience with a Scam Artist via Craigslist

For the first time, and with the help of my daughter, I posted an item on Craigslist for $425. Here is my experience and what I hope will be a helpful caution for you, and in addition, a reflection for all those who might need a merciful but stern warning for engaging in deception and theft.
                                                                                                                                                  I began to receive some emails from “Susan” who wanted to buy my canoe “asap.” She was too happy to be the buyer. Then she said that a cashier’s check from her bank, Citibank, would be sent to me – she just needed my name and address. She also said that it would provide enough for the “movers” of which I am to send the excess of the check. Ok – that’s when the red flag went up. I thought, “why don’t you send your own money to the movers – why put that on me – that is just plain dumb to trust me, someone you have never seen, to send money to your movers.” My hunch of being taken was right. In a few days, I received this check to my amazement for $1,450.
That’s $1,025 more than the sale of the canoe. Now, by her instructions, I am to deposit the check and then wire this amount to the address below:
                                                                                                                                        “Money Should Be Sent Through Western Union Money Transfer In Minutes To The Info Below:
Receiver’s Name: Doc Smith
Address: 2901 S 1ST ST
State: Texas
Zip Code: 79605-1813″
                                                                                                                                                  I went to Citibank website and they literally spelled out this kind of scam letter for letter. I then took the check to my bank, Chase, and asked them that if I deposited the check would they credit my account – would they process the check? “Yes – this bad check is so good that we would run it through and you would receive your money. But in three weeks when Citibank sends the check back to us as a bad check, we would then come after you and debit your checking account for the full amount. The thief would have $1,025 of real money from you and you would be out. Also, you would be put into a category for risk as a client of our bank and other banks would be notified – this would follow you because you attempted to deceive us.” My banker is a friend of mine and he was simply telling me the cold facts of what would happen. He was very happy that this shake-down failed. But he said that it is happening every week to his clients.
                                                                                                                                                  I then took the bad check to Citibank – they ran the numbers and identity of “Susan Kramer” – the account does not exist: “It’s a fake check anyway – that’s not how Citibank prints their cashier’s checks.”
                                                                                                                                                  I then handed over all information to Citibank and the local police and wrote the letter below to Susan. My hope in sharing this story is that you would know how to protect yourself from this kind of thievery. My other hope is that if you are a thief reading this story, that you would think deeply about the matter of which I address below.
                                                                                                                                              Dear Susan.
I have some questions:
Are you not tired of this?
Are you not exhausted?
Are you not tired of living in fear that maybe this is the week that the FBI and the authorities find you out and send you to prison?
                                                                                                                                            Why would you attempt to lie and deceive me, and steal my money when that is not the way you want to be treated? Do you not realize that you are self-condemned since you would not want to be treated the way you have been treating me? Do you not feel guilty at all for harming the financial well-being of others – especially the elderly, the widows, the single moms who unknowingly fall prey to your schemes? 
                                                                                                                                                 If you do not get caught in this life there is a Judge who will meet you at your death – his name is Jesus and he is Lord of the little lords who set up shop to print fraudulent checks to steal money. And he is King of little kings who sit at computers telling one lie after another. The fury that will be unleashed upon you for taking advantage of the widow, the orphan, and the poor will be with full force upon your head. Repent of your wickedness and turn to Christ for the forgiveness of your sins so that you will be healed of this terrible disease that is destroying your life. If you would like to talk more about what I have said I would be thrilled to speak to you about the condition of your soul and what it means to deal with Christ. But know this: he lived a sinless life, was crucified, buried, and on the third day rose from the dead to make an atonement for sins. He ascended to Heaven and will return. There is a day that has been appointed for you to answer for your sins. Either Jesus Christ will be your righteousness by faith or you will stand alone and give an account for lying to me and countless others. I earnestly plead with you to stop your sinning, if at least so that you do not become incarcerated and place another tax burden on the very people that you stole from. 
                                                                                                                                                  In the meantime, I do hope you get caught so that the economical society that I live in will suffer less harm. I have turned over to the authorities our conversations, your fraudulent check, and the info that you gave me to wire my money to Western Union. 
                                                                                                                                                  I wish you well only insofar that you turn to Christ – otherwise, may your worst days be ahead of you. 


Our Confession of Treason

This past Sunday in worship we confessed our Sin of Treason in the Garden.

God’s word teaches in Genesis 2:10-17 and 3:1-7 that although our King gave us everything that we need to enjoy our lives with him, we instead believed a set of lies that led to our revolt against him. With his half-truths, the devil stirred up discontent in our hearts with God. He suggested a perceived injustice on behalf of God – “he can’t be trusted to take care of you – he’s holding out on you – you don’t need him – you can make your own rules and live free – you can be your own king of the world – you can know all that he knows.”

Here is our Mutual Confession of Treason:

We rejected a Good King for a Tyrant

We traded a Tree of Life for a Tomb of Death

We forfeited Safety for Danger

We gave our Allegiance to a Murderer

We trusted in our own idea of Justice

We believed that we could Provide for Ourselves

We denied that God’s Commandments are for our Good

We exchanged Objective Truth for a Lie

We denied Reality and Fabricated a False World

We left A River of Life for a cesspool of Sorrows

We said “no” to true Love, Joy, and Peace

This is why Christ came – to restore a Kingdom where Jesus Christ is King of kings and Lord of Lords. Your heart is tempted still to revolt against your King, which is why Jesus says, “seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you” (Matt. 6:33). And which is why Jesus suffered the consequences of treason on the cross. Do you believe that he suffered in your place?

In Worship, we confess our sins and receive forgiveness so that we may know afresh all that we have in King Jesus. His Rule and Reign over your life is the best protection that you could ever have. Seek him and you will find that he is a very good King.


This is My Fault?!


I hate weeds. It’s the bane of my life since my wife loves to garden without weed-killer. Do I have to pull weeds? Cheryl says yes. But that’s not really my question. I mean, “Why are there weeds for me to pull in the first place?”

And there you have it! Because in the first place there was supposed to be trust in the Lord’s provisions along with managing the ground. I once had it made in the shade. I once had the privilege of hard work without any opposition from the ground. But all that was forfeited when I said goodbye to God. Adam, our head representative of the human race, along with his wife, said adios to God in the garden. They wanted to live life on their own terms, make their own rules, supply their own need, sustain their own livelihood, and graduate themselves to the very top, declaring themselves as their own gods. Then what happened?

What do you get when you try to do life apart from the author of life?

“The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it (work came before sin, i.e., work is not the consequence of sin). And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, ‘You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” – Genesis 2:15-17.

Notice that God did not say, “you eat from that tree and I’ll kill you.” God said that you will die. Death is a just and natural consequence of trying to live without the giver of life. Man cannot take the place of God – he cannot be man and attempt to be God, to know and sustain fully all that there is to know and sustain about good and evil. But he tried. And trying, he died. Man went down and weeds came up. They came up against his sweaty face to tell him – “this is your fault”:

“. . . cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return” – Gen. 3:17b-19.

Both my body and the ground are cursed. Those wretched annual weeds remind me of this. But the curse of weeds will not be overturned by man. Someone must come along and live out the obedient, trusting, hard-working life that the first Adam abandoned. And that someone is none other that the weed-busting Jesus who is the bread of life. Adam got a hint of this when he was given grace and mercy to “eat bread” till he returned to dust. Bread does not come from weeds but from wheat. Jesus would undergo the curse as the bread of life – he would die my death, suffer my curse, but come up out of the ground without the infection of the curse, not like a poisonous and obnoxious weed, but as sweet satisfying bread. Weeds are man’s fault. Bread is God’s mercy.

So pull a weed today and eat some bread. Own one and give thanks for the other.

“I Have More Questions Than Answers”

I recently made this statement in a funeral where a sister in Christ went home to be with the Lord via ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) at the young age of 55.

This is what I mean to say, when I say “I have more questions than answers”:

1. The infinite character of God leads me to acknowledge that I presently know very little compared to what can be known. If eternity future is described as a never-ending discovery of the “unsearchable riches” of Christ, and there will never come a day when I will say, “Is that all?” – then my questions outnumber my answers. The apostle John said that the world cannot contain the books that could be written of the short 33 years of Christ (John 21:25). And John Newton said that after 10,000 years with the Lord in the new heavens and new earth, “we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise than when we’d first begun.” In other words, after all that time you will not have used up a single day, a single reason to say, “only 9,999 days left to enjoy God and then it’s over – there’s nothing left to explore.”

2. The finite character of Man leads me to acknowledge that I presently know very little compared to what can be known. You don’t need scripture to believe this. Look around you and explain fully all that you see. Can you? Can you explain what all the research hospitals are still trying to learn? Can you explain why musicians can still write music with only 12 notes to work with? Think of it: hundreds of thousands of new songs will be written this year in dozens of genres and still not exhaust the infinite possibilities of just 12 notes. Can you explain that? Do you comprehend the thousands of life-sustaining activities that your body will perform this day to keep you alive? The immune system alone will perform hundreds of jobs while you read this post so that you don’t drop dead before you’re finished. Do you get that?

Job was asked 77 questions by the Lord of Heaven and Earth and he could not answer a single one. Which means that Job has more unanswered questions to deal with than answers. This was his confession. (Job 42:1-6)

However, if you have more answers than questions, or very few questions, then,

1. You are nearly as knowledgeable as God is, or,

2. You don’t care to know what you don’t know. You’re too prideful to ask. You don’t ask because either you think you know it all or you really do. Do you really know it all?

But this is what I do not mean to say, when I say “I have more questions than answers”:

I do not mean to say that I am uncertain about what I already know to be true and the source of which I am certain about truth. There are some things that we can know for certain. Like jumping out of an airplane without a parachute may feel good momentarily, but not for long. Like taking a right turn off the Interstate to drive up an exit merge ramp – it might be quicker to get back on track but watch out for that head-on collision. Like drinking bleach. Like storing pennies in your ear (that’s not what that orifice was made for!). I am certain about thousands and thousands of things because there are that many things that can be known. Especially, I know that my redeemer lives, and that one day he will stand again upon the earth (Job 19:25). Job suffered terribly and never did find out the full purpose of his suffering. But that does not mean that suffering has no purpose. It just means that you might not know in this lifetime all that there is to know about suffering. I also know for certain that God is able to guard my faith through all suffering and bring it to a completion when my life expires (2 Tim. 1:12; Phil. 1:6).

I have more questions than answers. But I have Jesus too – and so does our sister in Christ! And he’s more than enough to satisfy our quest for knowledge without exhausting the quest. Our desire to know is evidence that there is something more to be known.