The unexpected debt…

Yesterday I was blissfully unaware but today I realise that I am a man with a debt and I have a debt collector chasing me.

It is not a large debt and, as I stated, I didn’t know that I had the debt until the letter arrived in the post yesterday announcing it.

The letter was from a collection agency chasing up outstanding fines from a Hornsby video store which has ceased to trade. According to their records, I rented a copy of the ‘Bourne Supremacy’ on 18 January 2011 and failed to return it until 20th January 2011 thus incurring a massive $6 overdue fee. I don’t recall renting the video but I am sure that they would not just make something like that up. The problem was that I obviously never returned to rent another video from that store and so I was never asked to pay the fine. Since the store has now gone out of business I guess that the auditors are attempting to recoup any losses which are outstanding.

The interesting thing is that the collection agency charged me a $7.50 fee for sending me the letter about my $6.00 debt and (if that wasn’t enough) the second last line of the letter includes a $0.41 ‘e-collection fee’ as well which makes the total overdue fee $13.91, add that to the initial $6.00 that I paid to hire the movie and I will have paid $19.91 which is more than buying a copy of the DVD would be today!

The letter contains the following warning “A video store is not required to notify you of an outstanding debt and is entitled to pursue debts for up to six years. Failure to pay this bill will result in further costs to you. (Min $27.50)”

 

I am so glad that all the debts that I have forgotten do not attract the same response as this one…all of the mistakes, the harsh words, the wrong attitudes and selfish behaviour… I am so glad that I have found the truth that Jesus paid all the debts I ever incurred so that there would be no administration fee ever added.

The truth is that He is willing to forgive it all and offers this to each one of us. My outstanding DVD bill reminds me how fortunate I really am.

“Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” John 8:38

Have you been paid yet?

“That couldn’t be right! I know I was meant to get more than that!”

Usually I enjoy every second Thursday because it is the day I get paid… but this particular Thursday was not going so well.

I opened the Internet banking app on my phone expecting to see a larger than usual deposit had gone into my account (I had been doing some extra work and I had just come from an extended period away). As the app opened I didn’t believe what waited for me, in fact, I checked the date to make sure I wasn’t a day early, I then checked my bank again and sure enough I only had been paid for half a day’s work rather than for 3 whole weeks.

I made a couple of phone calls and after some detective work I found out that an important piece of paper was not on the “right desk” at the “right time” and so I would have to wait for 14 days before the error can be corrected.

Even though it was in no way my fault, because I work for such a large bureaucracy, it was not worth the effort to try and get it corrected any faster – I will just have to be content to wait.

None of us enjoy it when we don’t get paid what or when we should. The payment is a form of recognition for all we have done but it is also important when it comes to paying the bills!

I do my fair share of volunteering, as I am sure many of you do as well – but volunteering has different rewards attached and we don’t expect or request a payment for it.

Sometimes we get paid for something that someone else has done – this could be good or bad. We can benefit from the hard work of a predecessor; we can receive notoriety or respect because of others who have gone before us. But we can also have to pay for the actions of others and miss out because someone else has done the wrong thing.

Wages are an inevitable part of life and the Bible tells us we get paid according to our choices.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23

The question is “What wages are coming your way?” and “Have you been paid yet?”

You are a Priceless Pearl – don’t settle for a bargain!

“8400 Baht”

“I’ll give you 3000”

“No sir – Give me more, 6500 Baht”

“3500 is my final price”

“4000 is my best price”

“3500 or I walk away”  

“OK…..3500”

I spent a number of hours joining hundreds of tourists as they explored the various markets of Bangkok.  It is amazing to watch stalls appear from nowhere and a street market emerge where only an hour before was a traffic filled street.

Mostly the markets were filled with clothes, watches, pirated DVDs, belts and little odds and ends…but occasionally there was something that I could imagine one of the members of my family really enjoying.

The stall owners were very motivated to make a sale and if you showed the slightest interest or hesitation they would immediately jump into their sales pitch.  For the most part they were good humoured and happy to enjoy the banter of the barter…but they always started well over the price that they would finally settle upon.

Their hope was that tourists would agree to the inflated price they originally set (or somewhere close to it) but they treated you with greater respect when you demonstrated that you truly knew what things were worth and would stick to your guns until they finally agreed with your more reasonable price.

I really enjoy getting a good bargain at the markets and I have a lot of fun playing the game but occasionally I found myself hesitant to argue.

There were two reasons for this: firstly I realised that often I was arguing over 50 cents and it really didn’t matter that much to me; secondly if I was buying something special for my wife or the kids I didn’t want to fight over the price because it made it feel like it was not as valuable as I would hope.

The amount someone is willing to pay demonstrates both the sense of value they have for the object and the depth of their relationship with the recipient.

The Bible speaks of Jesus as a ‘merchant seeking beautiful pearls’, when He found one of great value He gave up everything He possessed to purchase it for Himself.

You are that ‘Priceless Pearl’ you are not a bargain priced market trinket.  Jesus was willing to pay the most so He could possess the best.

A stumble can make a difference

We were on our way to deliver some much needed food to a severely depressed area in a small barrio (village) in the Philippines.  Our local team had already set up the cooked meal for the 40 local children and we were carrying 50 kilo sacks of rice on our shoulders as an additional gift to be shared amongst the families.

Carrying a 50 kilo sack of rice is challenge enough but the location we had to negotiate our way into definitely doubled the difficulty of the task. The barrio was about a kilometre from the nearest transport and was simply a conglomeration of shanty style homes made up of whatever discarded materials could be salvaged by the ingenious people who lived every day under the harshest conditions.

The path we had to take was less than a metre across at its widest point and it weaved its way through the makeshift houses.  The fact that there was no sewage system was evidenced by what was flowing in the open drains beneath our feet.  The smell was bordering upon toxic as we walked past hundreds of individuals who went about their daily lives just as if this was a perfectly normal way to live.

It was at this point that I came to a particularly narrow point in the path, so narrow that I could not get my shoulder through with the sack of rice upon it, so I made an attempt to reposition my load only to be put slightly off-balance by the uneven terrain,,, before I could do anything about it I was headed sideways, I leant upon the bamboo fence on my right but it just collapsed under my weight and the added weight of the rice. I reached out with my free hand to the fence on the other side of the path and caught my hand in the wire as it, in turn, followed me to the ground dislocating my finger in the process.

As I laid there looking up, surrounded by refuse with my hand throbbing I found myself torn between a desire to give up and get home as quickly as I could or to stay there and try to make at least a little difference.

I suppose that Jesus possibly had a similar thought when He stumbled under the weight of the Cross that He carried for each of us but He saw the task through to the end.

He is my inspiration to make a difference,,, what’s yours?

Gift Certificate

I thought that something was wrong but I couldn’t put my finger on it…it was like I was ‘off balance’ and I couldn’t quite work it out. 

Then I realised…it was my wallet. 

Once again it had done what it does so well and had accumulated dozens of receipts, hand written notes and even a couple of flyers which seemed important at the time – the only thing that doesn’t seem to stay in my wallet is money!   

So, it was time to clear out the ever increasing pile of stuff and it was just as well that I did. 

Hidden amongst the credit card receipts, the ‘shopper dockets’ and the 2 for 1 deal at the drycleaners was a long forgotten gift certificate! 

A gift certificate is a great gift; it gives you an opportunity to buy something that you want, at a store you want, at a time you want.  The only problem is you have to redeem the certificate before it runs out.  Thankfully my gift certificate had a couple of months left but it would have been a waste if I hadn’t got around to clearing out my wallet! 

The Word of God (The Bible) is just like a gift certificate.  It is full of value, potential and powerful promises for anyone who opens it and claims them for themselves.  

There is no ‘valid to’ date on the Bible but many people go through their whole lives failing to claim what is rightfully their’s.  Make sure you don’t miss out on everything the Lord has planned for you!

Unleaded, Premium or Ultimate?

I had the choice but it was going to cost me. 

It was that time of the week again and I had to fill up my car with petrol but this time things could be different. There were three fuels that I could choose from – unleaded, premium or ultimate and the brochure attached to the number 7 pump told me that if I used ‘ultimate’ I would have ‘more power, more response and better fuel economy’…but it was going to cost me 10 cents per litre more.    

So I gave it a go… I thought that it might just be a bit of a gimmick or something for people who didn’t have anything better to do with their money but I was really surprised!   

Over the next week I could notice the difference… my car had more power, it was more responsive when I put my foot down and I got an extra 50 kilometres out of the tank. The only downside is that if I continue to use ultimate, it is going to cost me an extra $6 per week.  

This reminded me of a similar offer that Jesus made to anyone who would follow Him. 

He said… “I have come that you might have life and life more abundantly!” John 10:10

He is offering the ‘ultimate’ in fuel for your life and guarantees you more power, more enjoyment and a greater ability to function day by day.  

Best of all…it won’t cost you $6 per week…this is a ‘free offer’ to anyone who will take up the challenge.  So, how is your fuel tank going?

The ultimate tax deduction!

Work related car expenses, depreciation on my professional library & use of my home office…I spent some time yesterday getting all my tax affairs in order, double checking that I had everything right before lodging my tax return for the year.     

Most people I know dread the task of doing their tax but those same people really enjoy writing down any deductions they are allowed to claim.

I have never heard anyone whinge about the fact that they have too many deductions but I have heard heaps of people say that they think they pay too much tax! 

A couple of years ago I was audited by the Tax Office, they checked everything that I had claimed for the previous couple of years and found everything to be in order. (Phew!)

I wasn’t really concerned because I had been careful and fair in reporting and in claims but it still was nice to know that everything was OK. 

The one thing we all want to avoid is having a big debt at the end of the year, especially one that we cannot afford to pay! The Bible says that “We all have sinned” (Romans 3:23), that activity comes with wages: “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).  This doesn’t sound so promising – but there is an option – something we can do about it! 

Jesus gave His life to take our place – He is the ‘ultimate tax deduction’ for your life. If you give your life to Him you qualify for what He offers – Your sin removed and your life restored!

That’s the best offer you are going to hear today! Don’t leave it too long before you do your tax and don’t leave it too long before you do your business with the Lord!