Summary: We are deceived by people, spirits, and Satan. But that is not where the greatest deception comes from.
I went to Wal-Mart this week to but some groceries. As I was getting out of my car and elderly lady approached me. Some of you may know I have magnets on my car door advertising our church. She asked me if I was the pastor. I told her I was. We were both heading into the store so we talked as we walked.
She told me she was new to the area. Her husband had passed away so she was forced to live with her divorced daughter and two kids. She was expected to pay a small amount for rent and purchase groceries with her retirement money. She had attended a small church in Florida and missed her friends.
She wanted to know a bit about our church. I told her about our music, our style of worship, our dress code, and so on. She said she would like to get her family into a church in this area because they were not attending one. So I gave her my card and invited her to check out our website. She said she would and would see me Sunday. As she started to walk away I asked for her name and she said “Everyone just calls me ‘Mom.’”
After I had gathered up my list, I headed for the cash register. I turned to see Mom standing behind me. She was on her phone and I could tell from the conversation that someone was giving her a hard time about being late. I quietly asked her if she would like to cut in front. I could see the gratitude in her eyes.
After she checked out she turned to me and smiled. She said “Thank you and I hope to see you Sunday.” I replied, “Me too Mom.”
The cashier rang up my order and told me the total was $362. I was stunned. I did not buy that much and begin to protest. “Yeah,” the cashier said, “But your mother said you would pay for hers.”
Okay. It did not happen. If it was April first I could just April fools and get away with it. Instead I have told another lie from the pulpit. Please do not run me off.
Deception can be an easy thing to pull off. The Bible is filled with stories of deception. It began in the Garden when satan deceived Eve with the forbidden fruit. We read the story of Jacob, whose name meant deceiver. We read of how he deceived his older brother Esau out of his birthright. The Bible says to beware of deceptive people and emotions. The Bible warns us about deceptive spirits sent by satan. Jesus warn us to be aware of false messiahs who would deceive many. One of satan’s jobs is to lie and deceive us. There have been many deceivers throughout history. Let me share a real life story of a modern deceiver.
His name is Frank Abagnale. Frank was born in 1949. His parents divorced when Frank was 12. When Frank was 15 his father gave him a gasoline credit card and a truck to get back and forth to work. To get date money, Frank devised a scheme to purchase tires, batteries, and other such items on the card and return them for cash. He soon discovered how easy it was to deceive people. It worked until his Father got the bill for $3400.
Shortly afterwards he left home and began writing personal checks on overdrawn accounts. This worked until banks began demanding payments. So he created new identities for himself. In this deception he would establish a bank account, overdraw the account, use a portion of the money to open a different account at a different bank under a new identity. He also would print his account number on blank deposit slips and add them to the stack of real blank deposit slips in the bank. If a bank customer used one of these slips without noticing the account number was already printed, then their money went into Frank’s account.
One day Frank was in an airport. He observed where airlines and car rental businesses would drop off their daily collections of money in a zip-up bag and deposit them in a drop box. Using a security guard costume disguise he bought at a local costume shop, he put a sign over the box saying “Out of Service, place deposits with security guard on duty” and collected money that way. Soon the police and the FBI were looking for him.
Wanting to leave the country, he decided to deceive Pan Am and become a pilot. He was 16. He acquired a uniform by calling Pan Am, telling them he was a pilot working for them who had lost his uniform. He not only was able to achieve a uniform but also a fake ID. He then forged a Federal Aviation Administration pilot’s license. For two years he was a pilot for Pan Am although he knew nothing about flying except how to enable the auto-pilot. He always flew as the co-pilot and never had to take off or land a plane. Pan Am estimated that for the two years he was a pilot he flew for over one million miles, staying at hotels for free. Everything from food to lodging was paid for by Pan Am.