Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Don't Sign That Lease!

… so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs (schemes, devices, and scams!). 2 Cor 2:11
… so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness (deceit, trickery) in deceitful (cunning) schemes (methods, techniques, and strategies). Eph 4:14
     We had just moved into our house in mid-June, 2012. We were unpacking boxes, hanging pictures, and sharing our excitement. It was especially gratifying, because we had previously been living in a 756-square-foot apartment. I was checking something in the front yard of our new house when a young couple drove up and stopped. I did not know them. "How are you?" I asked. "What can we do for you?"
     The woman responded, "We're about to rent this house and move in." 
     My first thoughts were, "Oh no, you're not!" "Wait a minute! Say that again?" However, I just said, "I'm sorry to let you down, but my wife and I have just bought this house." The woman was just as shocked by my announcement as I had been by hers.
     No, we were not being evicted. No, our Realtor had not made a mistake. No, the previous owners were not trying to work a double deal with their house. No, our contract on the house had not fallen through. No, I was not being arrested or charged with being a squatter.
     What had happened, quite simply, was that a crook was trying to pull a scam. He had offered this couple a great deal to rent a house that he did not own. By accessing public records, available online, he had found the name of the owner. He then created an email account in the owner's name and began offering the house – our house! – for rent.
     He never owned it.
     He never entered it.
     He never had a key to it.
     He probably never saw it.
     He may never have even been in the city or state.
     Yet he was quite ready to lease it! Even worse, he claimed to be a Christian - and a "pastor" - to help establish his credibility. 
     “Pastor Kenneth” wrote that he was currently in Florida, working as a volunteer with something called the “Missionary Blogs.” He even included their website! He explained that, because of his ministry, he would not be using a Realtor. He also noted that, because he had previously tried to sell the house, it might still be listed “for sale.” He was covering himself, of course, because the house was actually listed for sale by the genuine owners.
     He was looking for someone who would really take good care of "his" property. He only wanted $700 per month and a security deposit of $500. He would include a washer, dryer, gas, electricity, a dishwasher, an electric stove, and a refrigerator. He would even allow pets in this house he was leasing! How generous, considering the place was not his to begin with!
     When she emphasized putting God first and showing honesty and integrity, he said he believed that God was watching every step they were taking. He wrote, “That is why I made the house so inexpensive, because I believe everybody deserves a home, both the rich and the poor. You don't have to be afraid …” “I'm telling you the truth now – as a dedicated Christian it is against my doctrine to rip people off their money which they labored so hard for.”
     Since “Pastor Kenneth” did not own the house, he had no keys. He had no documents. He explained to the woman that she and her husband would need to complete the application and send him the rent and deposit money first.
She believed him. And she almost sent him $1200.
     It’s easy to say that this woman was naïve and that she should have seen through this rip-off. However, the fact is that this scheme works often enough to make it worthwhile for the crooks. You and I may not fall for this particular scam, but we must not think that we are immune to the devil’s devices and men’s trickery.
● If a deal in life sounds too good to be true, it probably is. An unbelievable bargain, however amazing it seems, is intended primarily to benefit the seller. Read the fine print. Get all the specific details. Read it over, pray it over, and talk it over with someone you trust. If it's suspicious, don't sign that lease!
● The devil is in the business of making sin sound fun, easy, and free of pain. He's lying. Sin never liberates; it always enslaves. Eve and Adam signed the snake's lease and lost. Jesus rejected his offer when He was tempted, and He won. If the old serpent is behind it, don't walk. Run! Don't sign that lease!
● Anyone can call himself a "pastor." There are plenty of self-appointed religious leaders around, with all kinds of sweet-sounding, pleasant doctrines and man-made ideas. They can tickle your ears and flatter your ego. Don't let that happen. Know your Bible. Be on the alert. If it doesn't ring true with the Word, don't sign that lease!
● Someone may tempt you to have sex before or outside of marriage. He or she will offer you love, commitment, or even marriage. It's a trap. Don't sign that lease!
● A boss may offer you a promotion if you will lie, cheat, or fudge on something related to your work. You may think, "Everybody else does it. Besides, I'm just following instructions." Don't sign that lease!
● You may think about buying lottery tickets, thinking you will strike it rich. You may even reason that you'll do all kinds of good if you win. You don't realize you may be gambling, not just with money, but with your future and even your life. Don't sign that lease!
● A group of your worldly peers will try to make you think you need to belong and fit in.  They may challenge your faith, your values, your family, and your self-confidence. They want you to follow them and adopt their ways. Don't sign that lease!
     There's another reason I'm glad we were in the house when this couple drove by. If we had not been, this husband and wife might have sent this crook $1200, which they would never have reclaimed. When I told her we had bought the house, of course she regretted losing the deal. At the same time she could rejoice that she was not scammed, since the deal was never real.
     So be alert. Be on guard. Be sober. Be careful. And if in doubt, don't sign that lease!
To comment and/or to receive notices of future blog posts, please email[AT]gmail[.com]. God bless.
Cory Collins

No comments: