1-16-2019 Letters and Commentary

Of such is the kingdom of heaven

Jesus had a soft spot for children. When his disciples tried to keep children away from Him, He made that famous statement, “Suffer (allow) little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me, for of such is the kingdom of heaven”. Jesus especially blessed them at that time. (Matthew 19:13-15, KJV) In another encounter where Jesus called a little child to Himself out of the crowd, He stated that unless a person became like a little child, they could not enter the kingdom of heaven. That’s in Matthew 18:2-4. Looking at those two passages (and there are more) we observe that Jesus had a special place in His heart for children. The humility that Jesus spoke of, as being a trait of children generally, was to be emulated by the adults if they expected to enter Heaven. Children are some of the most vulnerable members of society. They need our protection, but they also deserve our respect. That respect may not be the respect earned by accomplishment, but the respect owed by position – the position of being a person made in the image of God, a position of honor because of the value assigned to each child by God’s personally directed love for each one. This is true not only of our own children but of the children of those who oppose us, or even hate us. We may remember that song we learned so many years ago, “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world…” How can we not therefore also love all the little children of the world? They are not given as conveniences. They are given as stewardships, responsibilities, privileges. And none are “mistakes”, because God is not “surprised” by any soul He creates. May we see children as the blessing they truly are, and may we value them as Jesus does.

THE CRIMINALS AMONG US… One would think “white collar crime” might be on the wane. Especially with all the sophisticated tools available to crime fighters, including computer programs and scanners that can detect anomalies in bookkeeping and facial recognition of miscreants on the myriad of video cameras in public and private spaces. But if the “news” is any indication, criminals are still feeding on the unwary and uninformed. Last week, I got a couple emails from a loyal reader who said he was traveling and needed to get some money for a relative. The message… “Good to hear from you, hope all is well with you? I need to get four google play gift cards for my niece, it’s her birthday but I can’t do this now because as I’m currently traveling. Can you get it for me from any store around you? I’ll pay back by the weekend when I get back home.” Of course, I didn’t do anything of the kind, nor reply to the message that was purportedly sent from a person I know and trust.

White collar crime has yet to be wiped out where people with a position of trust, skim off millions of dollars from friends and neighbors. The following is a press release from the MI A.G.: Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel today announced the sentencing of Beth Lisa Jaslove, 69, of Birmingham, after she stole more than $1 million from her therapy patients through a scheme called Community Money Program. Jaslove pleaded guilty to one count of larceny by false pretenses of more than $100,000. She was sentenced to five years supervised probation and ordered to pay $100,000 in restitution. She appeared Jan. 9 before Judge Phyllis McMillan in Oakland County Circuit Court. As part of her sentencing, Jaslove is not to be employed as a therapist, counselor or spiritual guide for individuals or groups during the term of her probation. “Ms. Jaslove took advantage of her clients for far too long and preyed on vulnerable Michiganders simply striving to improve their well-being,” Nessel said. “My office will continue to hold those who steal from others accountable for their actions.” Jaslove stole money from patients between 1991 and 2017. In the period between 2008 and 2016 alone, she obtained more than $1 million from the victims. More than a dozen people nearly lost the total of their investment in the Community Money Program. Through the program and her business, the Center for Growth and Enlightenment, Jaslove took money from her patients under the false pretense that it would be used to help others in need. She also promoted the scheme by telling her patients and clients that investing in the program would help their personal growth and enlightenment.

What grinds me, most of those charged with stealing money from individuals and organizations are allowed to plead to a lower charge in exchange for a more lenient sentence and fine (if any). The person in the preceding PR stole $1 million but was allowed to admit to stealing $100,000 and thus was ordered to make restitution of the lesser amount. In my math world, this means she was allowed to keep $900,000 of the money she stole from people who trusted her.