“Pay It Forward” [v37]

MARCH 2002

GREETINGS — A friend of mine told me of a time where he was in line at the bridge toll booth in Windsor to enter the U.S. As he pulled up to the booth to pay, the attendant told him that the minivan just ahead of him had already paid his toll and he was free to go. He was flabbergast. Why would someone do such a thing? He didn’t think the person knew him. The only thing he could figure out was that the driver of the van felt pity for him, since he was driving a 1991 pickup truck with “artistic splotches of vintage central New York rust.” So he thanked the attendant and was on his way. He said it felt really good and wanted to thank the person who did this for him for the totally unexpected and completely selfless act on his behalf.

I mentioned to him that it sounded like the message of a recent movie I saw—“Pay It Forward.” It’s the story of how a twelve-year-old boy, Trevor, who believed in the goodness of human nature and set out to change the world. He accepts the challenge that his seventh grade social studies teacher gives his class—a chance to earn extra credit by coming up with a plan to change the world for the better and to put that plan into action.

The idea he comes up with is so simple and so naïve that when others learn of it they are dismissive. He even begins to doubt when his “pay it forward” plan seems to flounder on a combination of bad luck and the worst of human nature.

So what was his idea? Trevor chooses three people for whom he will do a favor. Then when those people thank him and ask how they might pay him back, he will tell them that instead of paying him back, they should each choose three people for whom they can do favors—in turn, telling those people to “pay it forward.” It’s nothing less than a human chain letter of kindness and good will.

In the end, Pay It Forward is the story of seemingly ordinary people made extraordinary by the simple faith of a child. In the tradition of the successful inspirational television shows, the movie “Pay It Forward” is a work of charm, wit, and remarkable inspiration—a story of hope for today and for many tomorrows to come. [Note: Below are links to the movie web site and a foundation that the author of the book started].

Actions do have consequences. Even though ‘everything’ isn’t under one’s control, I have found that one can change the world, however small, for the better–working with nothing but one’s own altruism, a just and honorable idea, and a couple of years—and, sometimes, a big sacrifice.

I recently read a story that sounded like someone that might have seen this movie or read the book. Their daughter, Lisa, in Junior High, was the last of their children to have braces. They were especially thankful that they had a friend who was their orthodontist. The work was, of course, very important for Lisa’s future, but the bills were very challenging! Their friend allowed them to pay in installments, but even that was hard. They still had this large unpaid balance the day their latest bill arrived. When they opened it they couldn’t believe their eyes—three ‘wonderful’ words were stamped across the bill— “paid in full”! Their friend, the orthodontist, had absolved their debt before they made all the payments!

If you’ve ever been in debt for a while, you know how it always weighs you down like a heavy burden on your back—and the tremendous joy when the debt is gone and you’ve got a new beginning.

PAID IN FULL! Not only does it indicate that the payer had enough to cover the debt, it also assures us that the payee is finally satisfied. He can’t demand more later. He received exactly what was due.

Centuries ago, “Paid in Full” was expressed in Greek as “tetelestai” or “It is Finished.” Officials wrote that phrase across tax receipts to declare that the debtor had completely fulfilled his obligation—and someone uttered those same words more than two thousand years ago to proclaim that a debt payment of infinite significance had been transacted.

Like the person in the minivan at the toll bridge, this sacrifice was totally unexpected and totally selfless on our behalf—but of much greater importance. It is interesting that Jesus shouted “tetelestai” from the cross. With this, He declared that His death was a payment—FULL PAYMENT—for the overwhelming sin ‘bill’ we owe God. And, without this ‘payment’, eternal separation from God is the only way for us to pay for it. Even our ‘religion’ doesn’t even come close to covering it.

This is what the Easter ‘message’ is all about!—one of GOOD NEWS—one of forgiveness, joy beyond description, and being resurrected to a new life—one with a sure ‘destination’.

Even though the Bible says, “The wages of sin is death,”…it also says, “But the gift of God is eternal life.” Now, how can that be? Like the story of the orthodontist, the one that we still owed a debt declared the bill “paid.” When Jesus was hanging on that cross, He was absorbing every sin we’ve ever committed and it’s penalty.

God’s promise for all who believe is that He will declare their debt PAID IN FULL, and He will also credit their account with Christ’s sinless righteousness and give them eternal life! “Whoever believes in the Son [Jesus Christ] has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.” [John 3:36]

Is it finished…for you? God loves you so much that He sent His Son to die for you—and because of His love, He pleads for you to accept His Son’s sacrifice. If you haven’t done this already, might I encourage you to do so…right now? You can have the wonderful assurance that, between you and God, your debt is PAID IN FULL! Just as with any gift, it truly isn’t yours until you ‘receive’ it.

What should you do? Just have a simple conversation with God. First, express to Him your understanding of the sin problem and that you have separated yourself from Him.  Next, simply communicate your thanks for His solution of sending His Son to die on the cross in your place, to pay the penalty for all of your sins—past, present and future. Then, finally, tell Him that you accept Jesus Christ, you receive the gift of His payment, and that you are placing your trust in Christ alone and not in your own goodness.

There’s a little song that says it all:

He paid a debt He did not owe;
I owed a debt I could not pay.
I needed someone to wash my sins away,
and now I sing a brand new song.
Amazing grace, Christ Jesus
paid a debt that I could never pay.

Well, He’s waiting to hear from you and to stamp your bill, forever, “paid in full!”


(NOTE: Please send your ‘thoughts’ to me at: mbesh@ameritech.net)

I am glad to organize and distribute more ‘stuff’ if y’all send it to me… Thank you’s to:

Bill Bishop
Michelle Jones

The Foundation comes into existence at a time when many people, though aware of the need for social change, are unsure of where and how to begin. The challenges facing the majority of today’s youth are daunting. While discussion and planning are positive steps toward belief in social change, only the manifestation of plans into action proves to the imagination that change is possible, that will and motivation can affect social growth. The Pay It Forward Foundation understands that good ideas inspire good ideas, and serves both as a forum for inspiration and a source of funding for the development of inspired ideas.

Students will have the opportunity to identify what they consider to be the challenges of their communities. They might tackle such problems as homelessness, pollution, youth violence, literacy issues, the loneliness experienced by long-term hospital and nursing home patients, and the alienation of today’s at-risk youth from the community. The Pay It Forward Foundation will provide seed money for such worthwhile projects.

Charitable pilot programs and local and national academic projects are already being developed, as are plans to bring Pay It Forward education and action programs into middle schools and juvenile detention facilities–with the intention of encouraging and empowering all youth to believe in themselves and their individual and collective abilities to shape the future.


The Pay It Forward Movement is the real-life reaction to the release of my novel in early 2000, followed by the creation of the Pay It Forward Foundation, followed by the Warner Brothers movie. I didn’t write the novel expecting a social movement, but it’s certainly been exciting to watch it grow.

The purpose of the Pay It Forward Movement web site is to bring together, in one place, as many real stories as we can. This serves several purposes. It helps the cynics see that Pay It Forward really is working, not just around the United States but around the world. It brings much-deserved recognition to those doing the work, and puts the results of their efforts out in the open so others can be inspired. It’s also a source of some good news for a change, a way to renew your faith in human nature.

Bear in mind that I only know the Pay It Forward stories that someone took the time to report. I’m guessing that’s somewhere in the neighborhood of one in a hundred spontaneous acts of kindness. What you see on this site is barely the tip of an iceberg.

Know someone who is Paying It Forward? Please write and let us know. We will get the news to as many people as we can.  [Catherine Ryan Hyde]

It is a wonderful movie—well worth you time. It stars Kevin Spacey as the teacher, Helen Hunt as the mother, and Haley Joel Osment as the boy. Check out the web site for additional information:


God is your Lover, the One who danced with joy at your birth, who dreamed you into being in the first place; the One who has tracked you down the back streets of your life, whispering to you in the night, calling to you from the darkness…God is your lover; the
One who knows you by name.  [Michael Riddell]

Disease is spelled DIS-EASE.
Triumph is spelled TRI-UMPH.

Thirty days hath September,
Every person can remember;
But to know when Easter’ll come
Puzzles even scholars, some.

When March the twenty-first is past
Just watch the silvery moon,
And when you see it full and round,
Know Easter’ll be here soon.

After the moon has reached its full,
Then Easter will be here,
On the very Sunday after
In each and every year.

And if it hap on Sunday
The moon should reach its height,
The sunday following this event
Will be the Easter bright.

You don’t get to control any outcome, only every choice you make along the way.
[Jim Brennan]

Someone in our neighborhood put a huge sofa out by the curb for trash collection.  Since it was in good shape, many motorists slowed down for a look.  But when they saw how enormous it was, they’d leave.

Eventually a compact car pulled up, and two men got out. “This I’ve got to see,” I thought. They removed the cushions, turned the sofa upside down, and shook it hard. Then they picked up all the coins that tumbled out and drove off.

The rain was falling and the water level was falling. As the water level rose higher and higher, forcing the man onto the roof of his house, alone comes a row boat with an offer to take him to safer ground. “No, thanks.” the man replied. “The Lord will provide.”

As the water got higher, alone comes someone in a motor boat with another offer to take the man to safer ground. “No thanks, the Lord will supply.”

Standing on the very top of his chimney with a helicopter hovering overhead offering to take him to safer ground, he yells out, “Thanks, but no thanks. The Lord will provide.”

The rapidly rising water finally sweeps the man off the top of his house, taking him downstream toward destruction. While being swept alone in the rapids, he cries out, “Lord, why didn’t you help me? You know I was trusting in You.” He hears a voice say, “I sent you a row boat, a motor boat, and a helicopter. What more did you want me to do?”

Isn’t this just like most of us? God sends the help we are praying for, but all too often we refuse to recognize the help He sends. When things over our heads and we are out of control, we blame Him for ignoring us. [Author unknown]

Too many Americans believe in life, liberty, and the purchase of happiness.

Let us not say, Every man is the architect of his own fortune; but let us say, Every man is the architect of his own character.   [George Dana Boardman]

May the glad dawn
Of Easter morn
Bring joy to thee.

May the calm eve
Of Easter leave
A peace divine with thee.

May Easter night
On thine heart write,
O Christ, I live for thee.

No matter what a person’s past may have been—their future can be ‘spotless’.
[Mark Besh]

Hence, the following list of exercises to get you prepared:

– Visit your local butcher and pay $30 to sit in the walk-in freezer for half an hour. Afterwards, burn two $50 dollar bills to warm up.
– Soak your gloves and store them in the freezer after every use.
– Fasten a small, wide rubber band around the top half of your head before you go to bed each night.
– If you wear glasses, begin wearing them with glue smeared on the lenses.
– Find the nearest ice rink and walk across the ice 20 times in your ski boots carrying two pairs of skis, accessory bag and poles. Pretend you are looking for your car. Sporadically drop things.
– Place a small but angular pebble in your shoes, line them with crushed ice, and then tighten a C-clamp around your toes.
– Buy a new pair of gloves and IMMEDIATELY THROW ONE AWAY!
– Secure one of your ankles to a bedpost and ask a friend to run into you at high speed.
– Go to McDonald’s and insist on paying $8.50 for a hamburger. Be sure you are in the longest line.
– Fill a blender with ice, hit the pulse button and let the spray blast your face. Leave the ice on your face until it melts. Let it drip onto your clothes.
– Drink several ounces of water (or another beverage of choice), dress up in as many clothes as you can; now, quickly take them off because you REALLY, REALLY HAVE TO GO TO THE BATHROOM!
– Slam your thumb in a car door and don’t bother to go see a doctor.
** Repeat all of the above every Saturday and Sunday until you’re ready for the real thing.

Always make today your best day.
Take pride in your job.
Treating others with respect.
Isolating your negative thoughts.
Treating every new task as an opportunity.
Utilizing your talents daily.
Doing the job the first time.
Expect positive outcomes daily.
Speaking well of others everyday.
[Received from Michelle Jones]

In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but how many can get through to you.   [Mortimer Adler]

God…salvation does not lie in the literal knowledge of that name, but in the experience of what it signifies. Those who merely know the name, without any experience of its meaning, are not saved by it. But those who know the meaning and have experienced His power can be saved without knowing His name.  [Robert Barclay]

Recently I overheard a father and daughter in their last moments  together. They had announced her departure and standing near the security  gate, they hugged and he said, ” I love you. I wish you enough.”

She said, “Daddy, our life together has been more than enough. Your love is all I ever needed. I wish you enough, too, Daddy.”

They kissed and she left. He walked over toward the window where I was seated. Standing there I could see he wanted and needed to cry. I tried not to intrude on his privacy, but he welcomed me in by asking, “Did you ever say good-bye to someone knowing it would be forever?”

“Yes, I have,” I replied. Saying that brought back memories I had of expressing my love and appreciation for all my Dad had done for me.

Recognizing that his days were limited, I took the time to tell him face to face how much he meant to me. So I knew what this man was experiencing.

“Forgive me for asking, but why is this a forever good-bye?” I asked.

“I am old and she lives much too far away. I have challenges ahead and the reality is, the next trip back would be for my funeral, ” he said.

“When you were saying good-bye I heard you say, ‘I wish you enough.’  May I ask what that means?”

He began to smile. “That’s a wish that has been handed down from other generations. My parents used to say it to everyone.” He paused for a moment and looking up as if trying to remember it in detail, he smiled even more.

“When we said ‘I wish you enough,’ we were wanting the other person to have a life filled with just enough good things to sustain them,” he continued.  Then turning toward me he shared the following as if he were reciting it from memory.

“I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright. I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun more. I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive. I wish you enough pain so that the smallest joys in life appear much bigger. I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting. I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess. I wish enough “Hello’s” to get you through the final “Good-bye.”

He then began to sob and walked away.
[Received from Bill Bishop]

What you are is God’s Gift to you. What you become is your gift to God.

Hope you enjoyed some of these insights—share them with your friends and colleagues—so we can have a larger ‘pool’ to receive from, and more to share with!

Also, remember to include your name as the “source,” if some of this wisdom is of your doing—I would like to give credit where credit is due!

“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”  [John 11:25-26]


Disclaimer: All the above jokes & inspirations are obtained from various sources and copyright are used when known. Other than our name and headers, we do not own the copyright to any of the materials sent to this list. We just want to spread the ministry of God’s love and cheerfulness throughout the world.


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