Funny, the spam software didn’t catch it. As a follower of Christ the subject line, “Your life has been bought” or something like that, caused me to pause. Perhaps it was an inspiration from a friend, a reminder of that great Love; I took a spare moment to look.
What a lovely bit of news: it was from an assassin, saying they had been hired to snuff me out but, for a price, of course, they just might be able to avert the hit!
Really busy that morning with no time for this nonsense, I almost tapped ‘delete’, then caught myself and stopped to think it through a bit.
It was obviously nothing to take serious, sent to me and a zillion other people. The added pictures of an AK-47, bullets and a broken window were probably stock clip-art.
But what if someone else took it seriously? Why was it something to chuckle about and delete, that someone entered my house via the in-box to threaten my life, when it would be something to call the police about if I’d received it by way of regular mail or if this crank came to my door saying this?
The more I mulled it, the more I knew I’d been chosen (by God, not this cracked pot) to receive this e-mail for a wider purpose. What if I had an opportunity to help others and I junked this thing out of impatience?
As usual, I was thinking too much but OK, in I dove. The day had taken an adventurous turn, and I was game, but where should one go from here?
The first call was to my local Sheriff’s Department. They kept looping me to voice mails that looped me back to the receptionist. In frustration, I asked her what to do and after a few questions she finally asked, ‘are you in the city limits?’ and referred me to my city police.
It was a little disturbing to find when I called, they really didn’t know what to, except the receptionist said they could send out an officer… I didn’t need an officer; I just wanted someone in authority to know about it, maybe ask for the information so they could track the IP address from this nut, which should be simple for SOMEONE to do in the 21st Century!
Anyway, after enough of that I just listed them at firstname.lastname@example.org , wrote my assassin an e-mail back and here’s what I said:
I have contacted the Police Department, our county Sheriff’s Economic and Computer Crimes division and I’ve listed you on www.spam.gov so you’re in the national database as a spammer and will be tracked.
As a follower of Christ I believe in his love for me and that he has paid for my life by coming here to take my place and pay for the ways I’ve rebelled against God throughout my lifetime. God gave me my life and Jesus paid for it, so he owns it. He, and only he, can take it, and he is welcome to do it any time, any way, any place, because it’s his. You have no power to.
I am praying for you now. God knows where you are, and exactly what you are doing right this minute. He loves you, just as you are at this moment. He has better things for you to do with the life he gave you. Right now, you can close your eyes, ask Jesus Christ to forgive you for everything you’ve done that is wrong, and you can start a new life, one that makes you feel like a real human being, one that brings honor to God and those that love you, and one that gives you an eternal home once this life is over. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done with your life up to this point, you can start fresh today. I hope you will take this moment to redirect the path your life is on.
We will all die someday. I know where I am going and with whom I will spend eternity. Do you? Write me again if I can be of service to you.
Then, I quit all the drama for a moment and just prayed for the person. There was a real someone behind this silliness, and God had used the Internet to have us intersect in this unique way. I really felt like this was a call, and I answered it; what fun to be part of this odd thing and God was in it, somehow.
Just for entertainment I copied the whole thing and sent it to some associates for a chuckle and a heads up in case they got it too. One of them got back to me with some very useful information:
Turns out the FBI does track these threatening e-mails and needs them to be reported so they can. While most people just delete these as obvious scams, it’s important to report them because some people are terrified and financially hurt by them. http://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx is the place to file a report. They do track the IP address of these people and prosecute.
IC3’s mission is to give victims a convenient and easy way to report these incidents, and to refer complaints about cyber-crime to the proper law enforcement and regulatory agencies that have the jurisdiction for tracking them. It’s important to keep the e-mail, receipts, whatever you have associated with the incident and report as much as you can about it.
I learned there had been similar scams that circulated targeting dentists; several of them had really taken the threat seriously, even making contact with the posing assassins to give the deposit required to ward off the hit. It had originated in Moscow!
All in all, another interesting morning here in beautiful Florida…
Azaleas are the show queens of the South. Where the Carolinas and Tennessee may boast their versions of that rhododendron with abundant pride, Florida considers itself the Azalea capital of the world.
Azalea varieties abound profusely, from the petite Duc DeRohan to the spectacular Indica Formosa that grows to tree size. Azaleas come in countless colors and combinations including white, red, every variant of magenta or purple and Florida boasts them all with rightful vanity in a spring to summer display to beat all challengers.
The one thing they have in common is that they are acid loving plants that flourish in a rich, organic environment. The wrong soil will quickly spell an end to the life of the most hearty azalea, where the right acidic soil found under every spreading oak will cause azaleas to thrive even in the wild with no human intervention.
Are you in the right soil? Do you surround yourself with people who challenge you to be your best, confront you when you’re off the path and encourage you when you’re onto something good? Or are you allowing yourself to be drained by others with no end to the flow?
What’s your environment like? Are you surrounded with negativity, by people who continually zero in on what’s wrong or look for problems to steep themselves in?
Do you thrive on drama instead of admitting your contribution to the situation so you can grow up, change and move forward?
Do you get enough fresh air and sunshine, taking time to get outdoors to praise God for whatever beauty you find around you, and thank him for what you DO have instead of whining for more?
What do you focus your thoughts on? Are you enriched with the nutrients you find in the Word of God and input that uplifts and challenges you, or are you sluggish and isolated because you don’t know what God wants for you or expects of you?
Maybe you need a soil check. Ask yourself those questions and examine where your head and heart have been lately. Next, admit to God and others where you’ve been off the mark, ask Christ to forgive you and get moving in a new direction. It’s not as hard as it seems, but it takes humility to look honestly at our soil and make the changes we need to thrive and not wilt.