How I Got Out of Credit Card Debt


I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I often felt I would never get out of debt. I considered bankruptcy. After paying for things four times over I considered writing my creditors and telling them I was not paying anymore and they could just send me to jail if they wanted. I considered changing my identity and moving to New Zealand to start a new debt free life, but my credit cards were all maxed out and I couldn’t get a ticket. I literally had no money, as all the money I possessed I owed to other people. Instead of saving or paying anything forward all I was doing was paying things back. I was living a lie as the money I had wasn’t really mine. I was desperate.

Then I read that God creates miracles to help people repay their debts.

But as one was cutting down a tree, the iron ax head fell into the water; and he cried out and said, “Alas, master! For it was borrowed.” So the man of God said, “Where did it fall?” And he showed him the place. So he cut off a stick, and threw it in there; and he made the iron float. Therefore he said, “Pick it up for yourself.” So he reached out his hand and took it. 2 Kings 6:5-7 NKJV

I was praying for a miracle. My parents had instilled in me the importance of returning my tithe, and I continued tithing even though even the money I was tithing was not my own. Or at least it was not returning the first fruits as my entire paycheck had already been spent before I even earned it. I forgave all my debtors hoping some of my debts would be forgiven as well. I greatly curbed my spending and as much as I could stopped using my credit cards. Then after over 20 years of credit card debt the miracle came.

I started 2015 with $10,000.00 in credit card debt. I was working for the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist Church as I had been for the last eleven years. They had been paying me a very decent salary (More than any of my other Bible Worker friends) and it would have been even better had I not been in debt. After eleven years the church could no longer handle the burden of my salary and benefits. They informed me I would be let go the last of April. Little did I know this was the beginning of the miracle that would get me out of debt!

The church gave me plenty of warning, so before my last day at Tampa First I had plenty of time to set up my own ministry through the Plant City SDA Church, where I would continue doing Bible Work in the Tampa Bay area and beyond, based solely on contributions from people supporting my ministry. I also got a part time job at Florida Hospital. Here God was already performing miracles. I have heard of people losing their jobs and going months without a paycheck. Well I don’t know why God was so good to me, but I actually received paychecks from my new jobs before I received my last paycheck from Tampa First! Also Tampa First gave me a very generous severance check. After tithing I used a portion of the severance check to help a friend pay off their child’s church school bill. The rest I applied to my credit card debt.

A golf buddy called and needed my help on the side with his property management company. I was inspecting property, and as well as making a few extra dollars, I was  given a car which he also let me use to get to my Bible studies. I wasn’t golfing anymore as I was enjoying my new regular Bible Worker ministry with two side jobs. Remember I entered 2015 with $10,000.00 in credit card debt? Well on the day before Thanksgiving that year, I paid off my last credit card, and woke up Thanksgiving morning with a zero balance on all my credit cards. What a Thanksgiving! It was truly a miracle that began with me losing my job, I lost my job and turned around and paid off all my credit cards!

Of course I could not keep up with two side jobs and my regular Bible Worker ministry, but God provided them long enough to get me out of debt.

I must share a miracle that happened the following year. My mother was dying and I needed to make an emergency flight home which was very expensive, plus I would be missing work. I prayed and told God I did not want to go into debt again but needed to be there for my family. I told God I was going to be faithful to my family whatever the consequences. I shared a simple message on Facebook that I was going home because my mother was dying. I wrote and implied nothing more. That evening a Facebook friend from Texas messaged me she was sending me a monetary gift. That gift paid for my emergency plane tickets both ways. It covered my time off work. It helped pay my share of funeral expenses with some left over which I put into savings!

I now only have one credit card which I transfer money from my bank to pay off as soon as the transactions are made. I don’t wait till the end of the month. I love seeing that zero balance on my card all month long! I am careful with my money. I don’t feel inferior to people who have more money than me. I don’t have any problems saying I don’t have the money to do something. It is not embarrassing to me. I am very thankful for the miracle God provided to get me out of credit card debt. Now when I return tithe and offerings it is actually my first fruits. It is actually my money that I earned from that very paycheck.

Remember in my last article how I shared how cool I thought it was that my dad could just spontaneously buy a new softball glove? Well a few months ago my car up and died. I was not expecting that. It turned out to be my battery. A friend jumped my car and I went to an auto parts store where I bought and had a new battery installed. I paid cash. Instead of being upset that I had an unexpected repair bill, I drove away from the parts store, feeling pretty good. A spontaneous bill already paid for! Thank you Jesus!

You may study this quarter’s SS lessons on Stewardship here.

How I Fell Into Debt


I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I don’t know why this even sticks out in my mind, but I remember riding with my dad to play with his company softball team. On the way Dad up and decided to swing into Wal-Mart and buy a new softball glove. It sticks out in my mind, because at the time I could not just swing by and buy anything! I was on a budget. Things were tight, but I was not in debt-yet. My salary as meager as it was did not land me in debt. Looking back it was a thought process that led me into debt. Let me break it down for you.

  1. I am just as good as everyone else, so I deserve what everyone else has. 

I got tired of watching friends buy new cars I could not afford, so I finally got my parents to cosign for me to buy a brand new Subaru Justy with no radio or air conditioning. It was the cheapest new car I could afford and for some reason I thought I had to have a new car because all my friends were buying new cars at the time. Later after making several payments I had a dream I had my old car back, which was old and used but paid for when I had it. While I thought I deserved what my friends had, I failed to realize that things don’t determine your self worth. I also forgot the homeless man sleeping in the alley was just as good as I am. Coveting instead of being thankful led me into debt. The richest person is not the one who has the most. Its the one who needs the least.

2. There is no way I can max out this credit card!

I was in my late twenties by the time I got a major credit card. Now I could get whatever I needed whenever I needed it. It came with a credit limit of $5,000.00. My friends told me to be careful and not max it out. The interest rate was high. I told them there is no way I could max this card out! It has a $5,000.00 limit. I will never reach that! Before the year was over it was maxed out. I was drowning in debt because I was living like I was rich. I finally realized rich people are rich because they live like they are poor. Poor people are poor because they live like they are rich. There are exceptions I know. But it applied to me. If only I had realized my self worth did not come from what I could buy.

3. I Didn’t Realize its Okay to say I Don’t Have Money.

During this time I studied the Bible with a couple my age and we quickly became good friends. I would call them and ask them to go out to eat with me, and occasionally they would say something that I did not know was even possible to say. They would say, “We don’t have the money right now.” I was too embarrassed to say such a thing, but when they said it they were not embarrassed at all. How could that be? Instead when they said it they sounded strong, like they had self-control. Remember the whole reason I got my credit card was so that I could get whatever I needed whenever I needed it. No reason to say I don’t have money when you have a credit card right? Wrong! Too late in life I learned if I can’t afford it I don’t need it. When I would fall behind on bills I was afraid my phone would be cut off. Meanwhile I had friends who’s phones did get cut off. To my amazement and astonishment their lives went on. Yup. If you can’t afford it you don’t need it. Its amazing all the things we think we need that we really don’t!

4. When Using a Credit Card you Still Have to pay for it!

Okay after I share how stupid my thinking was here, you are going to wonder how I was ever smart enough to land a job, and you are going to totally understand why I am still single and no one wants to marry me! Believe it or not I would be in a department store getting something I needed, and I would literally ask myself, yes these are the exact words that would go through my numb skull brain, “Do I want to pay for it or just put it on the credit card?” What and idiot! I was going to pay for it either way! And with interest rates, by putting it on the card I paid for things four times over! Now I know you are not that stupid. But if there is just one person out there just as stupid as me then I hope this saves them from making the same mistake I did. If you save for something and pay cash its all interest free. Why not wait a little while and pay for it once, instead of getting it now and paying for it four times over later? Some things were worn out that I was still paying on!

So there I was drowning in debt, unable to afford things I needed today, because I was till paying interest on things I bought long ago. Here is the kicker. When you are in debt your money is not your own. It does not belong to you. You owe it to someone else. So I was not even donating my own money to the church. It was money that belonged to the credit companies. Let that sink in. If I owed $15,000.00 and got paid $2000.00 a month then each month my money belonged to the credit companies. The money I was spending for food and clothes and even giving to the church was not my own money. My $2,000.00 check did not belong to me. I had already spent that check seven times! Did I still owe tithe? Of course! But I was paying it with borrowed money. That is not returning tithe! That is giving God money you borrowed from somewhere else!

I was in a mess and it was my own stupid fault! Thankfully I serve a God who loves and rescues the most stupid of people!

To be continued……

Adventism and Narcissism


I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

A while back I wrote an article called Bible Cures for NarcissismThis morning a friend on Facebook was sharing the signs of narcissism, which I was already familiar with. However, as our Sabbath school lesson today is on the three angels message, something occurred to me just now.

One of the signs of being narcissistic is the need to feel special and superior. We feel as Adventists we have a special message and we do. But if we are not careful could that lead to narcissism? Do we think our beliefs put us in a “special” category of believers?  I heard an Adventist pastor years ago lamenting to his congregation that he was pretty much the last pastor preaching the three angels message and Bible truth. His church was scared to lose him and he had them convinced he was the last true preacher, and whoever came in after him would be a heretic! In talking to members of his congregation they felt very special to have him as their pastor, and felt superior to other Adventist congregations who were not privy to this special pastor. Were such attitudes leading to the gospel or to narcissism?

Its been a while, but I remember a few families in a church I was familiar with who formed their own study group. They were studying the Adventist message more deeply than those in the church, or so they thought. They started referring to themselves as the “remnant of the remnant.” They started isolating themselves, as they felt pretty special. Were they really becoming better Christians or just better narcissists?

Marco Torres wrote an excellent article on conspiracy theories. He writes, “Conspiracy theories have a way of making us feel like we are more spiritual than others because of the information we have.” I think he nailed it! I have talked to so many in the church who feel superior and more spiritual because they are “in the know.” I have met people who feel like they have a special understanding of our beliefs which puts them in a special class. When others don’t understand them that just makes them all the more special. Are such feelings the fruit of the gospel or narcissism?

Jesus is the Gospel. He is the opposite of narcissism. Instead of putting Himself in a special class He joined all of humanity. While James and John wanted to be in a special class in His kingdom (remnant of the remnant?) Jesus said He was the servant of all! In the story of the good Samaritan, Jesus mentions a Levi, who was a special class of Jews, (remnant of the remnant?). He mentioned a priest who was “in the know” and probably had special information. Jesus did not identify the gospel with the priest or Levi. He chose a Samaritan to represent the Gospel. A Samaritan who had no concept of caste or special creed. A Samaritan who saw everyone as his neighbor and equal.

Let’s remember the three angels message is for every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people. Its not for a select privileged group. Its for everyone! Its easy to fall for Satan’s counterfeit “spirituality” which leads to feelings of being special and superior, and to narcissism. John the beloved fell for it when he asked to have a special place in the kingdom. There is a cure for narcissism and it is the gospel! John fell in love with Jesus and later wrote,

That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us. 1 John 1:3

While John once felt he needed to be in a special class, once he fell more deeply in love with Jesus and the gospel he no longer felt the need to be “special” or “exclusive.” He saw all humanity as his neighbor and equal, and invited everyone into the same fellowship he had with Jesus. Narcissism sets us apart. The Gospel sends us into the world!

Why In Light of the Cross Bible Study Guides?


I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Tuesday’s lesson this week is about Christ centered doctrinral beliefs. This reminds me of a passage that has become the theme of my ministry.

The sacrifice of Christ as an atonement for sin is the great truth around which all other truths cluster. In order to be rightly understood and appreciated, every truth in the word of God, from Genesis to Revelation, must be studied in the light that streams from the cross of Calvary. I present before you the great, grand monument of mercy and regeneration, salvation and redemption,—the Son of God uplifted on the cross. This is to be the foundation of every discourse given by our ministers. -Ellen White, Gospel Workers, Page 315. 

We are not saved by doctrine. We are saved by God’s love and grace. So why does Satan work to skew our understanding of doctrine when he knows we are not saved by doctrine? Because doctrines help us understand God’s love. Our understanding of His love determines whether we accept Him or reject Him. Satan wants to skew our understanding of doctrine in order to warp our understanding of God’s love and make us reject Him.

For example I have read a few testimonies from former atheists saying the reason they originally rejected God was because they could not imagine a God who would torture people throughout the ceaseless ages of eternity. Once they realized God isn’t going to torture people for all eternity they believed in God and accepted Him into their lives.

I read a book last fall, To Sleep with the Angels, by David Cowan and John Kuenster. It was about a Chicago Catholic school fire in 1958. The book explains several reasons that were avoidable that led to the deaths of 92 students and 3 teachers. The authors also address how the church tried to comfort the parents, but yet their “comfort” did not make any sense. Parents were told that God needed their children. But we needed them the parents countered. Also does that imply God doesn’t need the children who survived? Parents were told that God took their children to heaven because they were so good. Does that mean the rest of us are bad and God rejected us? Parents asked.

The punishment of the wicked and state of the dead are just a couple of examples of how false doctrines warp our understanding of God’s love. This is why a few years ago I put together a set of Bible study guides called, In Light of the Cross Study Guides. They are available on my personal website. The lessons can be read online or downloaded and printed out in PDF format. Over the years people have written and told me they have been used in church Bible study groups as well as New Believers Sabbath School classes. Recently a family from Tennessee wrote that they were enjoying the lessons during family worship. They have also been used as guides and supplements in baptism classes. I have provided both a King James Version edition, as well as a New Living Translation edition. You can also get the app for your androidphone, and always have a Bible study ready to share anytime, anywhere.

I pray these lessons may be a blessing to your and your friends as we study all Bible doctrine in the light of the cross.