New Year…Fresh Start-Get Out of Debt

So pay everyone what you owe them. Pay the taxes you owe, pay the duties you are charged, give respect to those you should respect, and honor those you should honor. Don’t be in debt to anyone, except for the obligation to love each other. Whoever loves another person has fulfilled the Law (Romans 13:7-8, Common English Bible).

If I were to make New Year’s Resolutions, this one would need to be at the top of my list. I haven’t done well with this in my life. I also know that I am not alone.

It is hard these days to think of life without debt. When we hear over and over again about a national debt over 19 trillion dollars (that is 19 with 12 zeros behind it). It makes it seem like our little bit of debt, for most of us in the thousands is nothing.

It is also difficult to imagine being totally out of debt. Cindy and I don’t have a great deal of credit card debt. That does not mean we are debt free. I have a house note and student loans. For most of us it is difficult to imagine owning a home and having no debt. At the cost of higher education it is equally difficult to imagine getting ourselves and/or our children through school without debt.

I am fortunate. I own two cars. They are both paid for so I have no car debt. But, when we are looking at new car prices that begin at around $13,000 for a bare bones sub compact, few of us have that kind of money in the bank to go out and pay cash.

Christian financial guru Dave Ramsey teaches to live debt free, or at least close to it. Ramsey says you shouldn’t buy new cars and to pay cash for what you can afford and then make payments to yourself so you will have available cash the next time you need to buy a car.

He goes on to say that the only thing when should go into debt for is a home. Then you have half the money to put down and finance the remainder for 10 years and we should pay it off even more quickly if possible.

It is a good idea. Living it out is a good deal more difficult. I wouldn’t have a home, despite a sizable down payment, if it weren’t for debts. While I don’t have a car note right now, it doesn’t mean I have always been without one. I could go on but I think you get the idea.

Some might say the way to get out of debt is just to give up and not pay any more. Let the companies write it off. Just looking at the two verses above, I don’t think God would say that. Paul reminds us that a part of holy living is to pay everyone what we owe them. Getting out of debt means paying off those who have loaned us money, regardless of the purpose of the loan.

Ramsey also has some useful ideas for paying off our debts. He calls it the debt snowball. Get all your debts together. Find the one you owe the least on and pay everything you can afford to pay and get that one paid off while paying the minimums on the remaining bills. Once that first one is paid off, you take all the money you were paying on that debt and add it to the minimum for the next debt you owe and work to pay it off. Continue in that manner until all your creditors are paid in full.

It sounds like a good idea to me but there is no question I am no expert. I also know, when it comes to this one, I am not a very good example. Still, for many of us getting out of debt is both a desire and a difficult action to live out.

It is something worth living out. I do believe, to be debt free is an element of faithful discipleship. When we are debt free, we are in a position to be more generous. More on that tomorrow?

Are you debt free? Have you always been debt free? Do you have a workable plan the rest of us might benefit from your experience?

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Joy and Peace,

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved


Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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