Today’s Illustration: “I wish I could take it back.”

My brother-in-law, who worked at the airport at the time,
told me this story, and I found the news report concerning it.


Who: Bart Bellin

Where: Gerald R. Ford International Airport

When: 2005

What: Cutting down a landscape pine tree at the Gerald R. Ford Airport in Grand Rapids, Michigan

  • The tree was about 15 feet tall.
  • The tree was part of the newly installed landscaping at the airport.
  • The landscaped tree initially cost around $1,500.
  • Bellin cut it down for his home’s Christmas celebration.
  • He cut it down with a handsaw — in a few minutes.
  • There were no security cameras directed at that location in 2005.
  • Bellin accidentally dropped his check book while cutting down the tree.
  • The police had examined the scene but had not discovered the checkbook.
  • The custodian team was tasked with cutting the leftover stump to ground level.
  • The custodian team, midst the snow cover at the airport, found the checkbook.
  • Bellin had cut the tree’s trunk shorter in order to accommodate their room’s height.
  • The police went to his home, and brought the leftover custodial cutoff.
  • The police did not have a warrant to search Bellin’s home
  • Nevertheless, Bellin’s cut off was left outside of his house.
  •  The Bellin cutoff was found at his home.
  • The Bellin cutoff was matched up with the custodial cutoff.
  • The Christmas tree was seized and given to a ministry who gave it to a family.
  • Bellin pleaded guilty to larceny and destruction of property and fined.
  • “What were you thinking” — Judge Sara Smolenski
  • “It was a foolish choice . . . I wish I could take it back.” — Bart Bellin

 This article does not contain all the information shared by my brother-in-law about the incident.


Key Biblical Thoughts:

  • stealing
  • sin
  • regret
  • 10 Commandments
  • trials
  • success
  • worldliness
  • the world, the flesh, and the devil
  • Christmas
  • foolishness / folly
  • judgment

Sermonic Example: 

(use whatever information, quotes, or details you find useful) 

. . . .  When people do wrong, they honestly believe that they will not be caught, and some might not be by the powers that be in this world.  However, the Lord has a way of helping that process in this world by simply have a checkbook dropped at the scene — no miracles, just providence — providential events on all different levels from the custodial team, to tree stumps publicly left in the open, to matching cutoffs . . . . 



A BigIdea: “Something’s You Can’t Take Back”

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