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Friday, 26 February 2010
When Crisis Meets Faith
In this article we will walk into the next step usually encountered by those who experienced Part 1 and 2 of "Leave or Stay".
After the spiritual honeymoon and becoming settled in to the church routine, you became a respected, stable member of a local church. You saw many people come and go, even pastors and leaders. You worked to support and encourage others through many difficulties and you gave of your time and ability. One day you realized "WOW! I've been a Christian for 14 years! Where did the time go?"
You raised your kids in church, some of you struggled with unsaved spouses, some did not. You saw divorce in the church, out-of-wedlock pregnancies, dishonest financial deeds, leadership corruption, and other un-Christian actions around you but you held on to your faith, your God, and your church.
Then came your own crisis of faith.
It may have come as a phone call at 1am.
It may have been your company going bankrupt, getting fired or layed off, an unfaithful spouse, the death of a loved one, a child on drugs, a doctors report, the loss of a home, business, or a lawsuit, -and the sense of life turning against you.
It may have been the words "I don't love you anymore".
It may have been your pastor going into adultery with one or more women in the church, it may have been a pastor getting away with large amounts of the church's money or property, it may be that no one was held accountable and they seemed to get away with it.
It may have been your spouse or child saying 'I'm not going back", or seeing the serial abuse and mistreatment of other members to the point you realized something is/was seriously wrong.
It may be the acceptance of new doctrine or practices that are contrary to the traditions of your faith, it may be some really "weird stuff" happening in church.
It may have been a nuclear shock of discovering your child had been molested by a youth minister, it may have been the discovery and cover-up of an affair either in the ministry or the family.
It may have been a sharp conflict with another church member. -Or it may even have been things you read in the Bible that now you cannot reconcile with what your church does or does not teach.
It may have been your own lack of walking in a close relationship to the Lord.
It may have been the cares and business of life that slowly caused a drifting away from what you first had with the Lord and the day came when you realized your very soul was in jeopardy.
It may have been the day your world fell apart and what had always happened to someone else now happened to you.
One or more of the above scenarios played out a process in your life that turned you into a lit fuse on the way to an explosion.
The phone call, the letter, the email or text, the policeman standing at your door and suddenly the last strings that held your world together were gone. At first you are stunned; denial and disbelief kick in and with it, a numbness of emotion and feeling. The world looks different, people appear strange, there is an unreality to life and the realization that there is an unstoppable process taking you into an unknown future.
Depending on the circumstances ranging from the shock of finality, or hoping for a second opinion, or making a call to a lawyer or other professional, or to another church member to compare notes, reality settles in and you try to cope. A lot of them listen, offer a few words of encouragement, but nothing can heal the wound you have taken.
You come to the realization others cannot understand, help, or solve the problem. And even when you are among the others, you still feel alone. You battled anger, resentment, "WHY ME?", blame others, blame yourself, and cannot find any of the answers or understanding that you need.
These scenarios happen to people every day, in church and out. We watched it happen over the years many times in the lives of those arround us, and then one day, one month, one year, it happened to us.
It began with the death of my dad, our oldest son turning 13, and a series of events that felt like a slow, agonizing death-which, in reality it was. It turned into a death and what Jesus spoke about on more than one occasion:
Mat 10:39 He that findeth his life shall lose it; and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.
You see, we would never had made the changes we needed to make, that God desired us to make, and to return to Him and the careful study of His Word. Yes, the very crisises that caused such great hurt and sorrow became the very instruments God used to bring us back to Him. I found God on my knees in our living room and soon after, He began to challenge my wife and I regarding every tradition and concept we had taken for granted.
...and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.
It was in the deepest, most painful days of that time that we found God again. And for that, we are ever grateful.
Yes, it did cause us to leave our church of 24 years and we paid a price in losing old friendships we thought were lifetime. The amazing thing was as we disconnected with church, we reconnected with God.
Although that sounds like a contradiction, it is not, because we found as we returned to the study of scripture and prayer, we realized the church had departed from God's Word and the longer we stayed out of the churches, the clearer the picture became of what we had left.
Some folks leave church because they are bitter. Some leave because of sin. Some leave because they finally wake up and see the emptiness or the phony showmanship. Some just grow weary and leave. There are many reasons, but our hope here is that we are speaking to those of you who are at some stage of what we and others have been through and your hearts desire is to follow Jesus...like you did at the first.
You may feel isolated sometimes and alone, but God has not failed you or forsaken you. He is bound by His Word and when we believe what He says about our circumstances, He will show up-maybe not like we want-but He will for our good. He said so. "ALL things work to the good....." is still true when we trust Him.
A few days ago a friend emailed me a clip from YouTube. It was about young hippie kids coming to Jesus back in the 70's and it reminded me of when I first found God. I hope it touches you like it did me, it is only 6 minutes or so, and there are some scenes that take me back to the days when all that mattered was God.
It was God when we woke up, it was about God everywhere we went, it was about God when we fellowshipped, there was no gold-dust, mega churches, no superstar pastors, no tatooed evangelists, no Christian sex-seminars, no white-suited hypnotist healers. But God showed up.
Hope you are touched as I was by this.
5.5 years later, in answer to the question "Leave or Stay?", without hesitation we answer "LEAVE". it has been one of the best decisions we ever made. We left "church" but we found God.
Saturday, 20 February 2010
To Stay or Leave?
A lot of people sit in the pews and ask themselves "WHAT am I doing here?"
It was all so wonderful at one time.
-Finding and falling in love with Jesus, forgiveness of sins, a new life, new and wonderful things to learn, and a sense of God's presence and joy. But as time went by, the joy fizzled out, and the routine of church became..., well, a routine.
The emptiness grew. All you wanted was God, and back in the beginning, you remember how great and wonderful God was. You sang the songs with heartfelt feeling and The Bible was the greatest book you ever read, so that even the TV got turned off. You arrived early to church and stayed late.
You never missed a service if you could help it.
Something slowly changed. Did Jesus become boring? What happened?
You thought something was wrong with yourself so you threw yourself into the growth program, volunteered for a committee, taught Sunday School. You overlooked others faults, pretty much, but sometimes you wondered how people could practice some pretty carnal vices and still sing in choir or teach the children.
Although you couldn't figure out what was wrong, there was only a sense that something was not right. So you worked on the building, cleaned it on Saturday nights, and tried to be "involved"..
But as time went on, the best part of a church "service" was when it ended.
But in time, you weren't getting much out of it anymore, were not challenged in the areas of your life that needed change, and even when the pastor or priest assured you that you were one of God's children, you wondered and hoped it was true. You knew you were much closer to the church than you were to God so you justified yourself that it was OK.
You wanted to have close spiritual friendships but as you sat in church looking at the back of 40 or 50 heads, you wondered what THEY were thinking. And when service ended, everyone pretty much went off in their own direction, there was little closeness.
So you continue to go along with the songs, the offerings, the wannabe-happy-here attitude, but inside you are crying out "WHERE ARE YOU GOD!?"
You even hang-tough when bad stuff happens.
People leave, people you thought you were friends with quit calling.
You see people suffer church abuse, you even see the leadership doing things that can't be right, but you have learned to shut up and look the other way. -after all they are the leaders and you are not to question or challenge them because they represent God to the church, right?
You even see your own kids mistreated by some of the leaders and by other kids in the one place you thought was safe.
Over the years, by God's incredible grace, you still "stay the course" through some incredible church explosions. You saw situations that were unthinkable to your once idealistic mind, both in the pulpit and the pew. You stayed loyal to your leaders and defended them even when many others openly pointed out their mis-deeds which you excused or justified.
You trudged on, the kids didn't want to go, it was too "BORING!" they said. And inside, you knew they were right, but the thought of NOT going to church was unthinkable. You watched some Christian TV but were turned off by the cheap, shallow, carnival style pitchmen. They performed just like a lot of non-Christian entertainers only they used church-speak.
You still defended your church, your leaders, your teachings, but inside the nagging emptiness continued and grew. Somebody announced a new church activity,and a new program so you decide to give it another shot trying to "work through" the funk of spiritual stagnation....
Six months and 40 days later, you felt even emptier.
What made it worse was some of the others that participated in the same program and gave glowing testimonies about the program, were now not even coming to church anymore!
Somehow, you kept on giving financially (you had a name and reputation to maintain there, after all), even though both you and your family were struggling. And you saw things and heard things that did not fit what you had read in the Bible.
But the years of conditioning to accept whatever was said in justification for questionable actions over-ruled common sense and the ability to be objective when it came to your church ....
Then came the unexpected crisis.......
Tuesday, 16 February 2010
To leave, or to Conform and die?
The system of "church" is guaranteed to conform you, shape you, program your thinking, and keep you boxed in to someone else's religious works.
How will you truly find your calling if a pastor, priest, deacons, board, or hierarchy exercises spiritual headship over you and conforms you to their organizational walls?
Your "vision" is THEIR "vision", their words and programs become your words and programs. And if they have departed from scripture, it is as Jesus said to the church in His day: "If the blind be leaders of the blind, they shall BOTH fall into the ditch".
You will sit in a pew and follow the programs, classes and positions, or maybe even become a credentialed minister, all of which will never bring you into the mature image of Jesus Christ.
Read the gospels and especially the Book of Acts and see if your church does what you read in scripture.
Are you seeing heaings? Devils cast out? The Word confirmed with signs and wonders (like the ones in scripture, not the Lakeland-Toronto et al kind).
Or does church have what we listed in this article: (see the article "NOT in Scripture" .)
Like most of us,you will be conformed to the image of church rather than be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ.
For years we wrestled with finding our place and calling in the church system.
Being the loyal, obedient followers that we were, we did the programs, door knocking, Bus ministry, Friendship House, G-12 School of Leaders, and many other church growth programs!!!!!
We did "visitation", sold peanut brittle for fund raisers, raffles, bake auctions, fireworks sales, church yard sales and bar-b-cues, car washes, and countless other works to support "our" church.
We invited family and friends to children’s plays and children's church music recitals.
We invited them to Mother's Day breakfasts, church banquets, Easter programs, Christmas Programs, Harvest Parties, church Plays, featured speaker events, and "Special" services, all done in our efforts to “hook ‘em” into regular attendance.
We did the "revivals" and worked hard to invite folks to "church" with minimal success.
Those attendance gimmicks were referred to as “bait” in staff meetings.
We thought they were an effort to "GROW THE KINGDOM" (of our assembly), all of which were at the direction and “vision” of our leadership who told us God was directing them to do these things.
-without exception, every one of these programs failed to deliver.
We had friends in other churches doing similar things in their church, -good, sincere Christians who wanted to please the Lord
We did the spiritual gift and ministry questionaires, attended Big Name events, seminars, and conferences from California to Texas. We mailed out newsletters and ran advertising and the list goes on....
We did a lot of "church Stuff" but we never found our true place in the body of Christ with our Lord as our Head, as we followed the "vision" of our leader.
How long will you endure? How many circles will you run around?
If you stay in the church system, it will never end...... And you will not walk in the power, authority, holiness, Christ-likeness, or come to the knowledge of the Truth as long as you are a member of the body of the church system.
Stories abound locally of the “church hoppers”; those who flit from church to church just like butterflies, all in a search for the sweet nectar of the kingdom. They think if they can find the right pastor, right group of Christians, or correct church government, that all will be well.
Here is a relevant prophecy from Amos: 4
:6 And I also have given you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and want of bread in all your places: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD.
:8 So two or three cities wandered unto one city, to drink water; but they were not satisfied: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD.
Can we find an application for "church" today?
Consider the lack of satisfying "bread" (God's Word), mal-nourished, weak, powerless Christians found sitting in the average "church" pew. God is witholding the true and hidden manna from them to cause them to return to Him!
Note the prophecy of Ezekiel:
Ez. 34: 5-6 “And they were scattered, because there was no shepherd; and they became food to all the beasts of the field, and were scattered. 6 My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: (church to church, denomination to denomination) yea, my sheep were scattered upon all the face of the earth; and there was none that did search or seek after them. –Certainly not the hirelings…
Five years after leaving "church", with Christ as our Head and The Lord as our Teacher, the search is over.
It is astounding and truly miraculous how many people a disciple of Christ can effectively minister to once they are outside the box of "church". We are contiually amazed at the folks from around the world who contact us and share their similar testimonies of the blessing of leaving church.
No longer are many of the "called out" ones sitting on a pew, working on a building, keeping a 10-11am Sunday tradition, or thinking by inviting them to "church" they are effectively witnessing.
Three steps to make:
1. leaving The Apostate Church System (after recognizing IT for what IT is)
2. getting the system purged and cleansed out of our hearts ( a Work of the Holy Spirit leading and guiding into all truth -John 14:26), and
3. growing in faith, holiness, and the knowledge of the truth as you walk out your salvation and return to the scriptures.
Leaving "church" is never an excuse to indulge the flesh, retain malice toward those you leave behind, or become spiritually lazy.
Once before, in the “last days” of natural Israel, Jesus was sent "to the lost sheep of the House of Israel". Now, the Lord is calling to the “lost sheep” of SPIRITUAL Israel. There will NEVER be unity in the competitive, fragmented church world, but there is a true unity in those whom Christ has chosen as the prophet said:
Ezekiel 34:11 For thus saith the Lord: Behold, I myself, even I, will search for my sheep, and will seek them out.
12 As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered abroad, so will I seek out my sheep; and I will deliver them out of all places whither they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day (dark day when the WORD of God is obscured).
13 And I will bring them out from the peoples (those that call themselves “Christian”),
and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land; and I will feed them upon the mountains of Israel, by the watercourses (where the “living waters” flow), and in all the inhabited places of the country.
14 I will feed them with good pasture; and upon the mountains of the height of Israel shall their fold be: there shall they lie down in a good fold; and on fat pasture shall they feed upon the mountains of Israel.
15 I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord.
The coming days will usher in great opportunity for Christ's ministry through His people apart from the church kingdoms.
The signs of a believer Jesus gave us in Mark 16:16-20 will be fully restored to His bride who is "without spot or wrinkle" as we return to "the faith once delivered to the saints".
So let us od as in Hebrews 13: Let us therefore go forth unto him outside the camp, bearing his reproach.
God bless you as you PREPARE HIS WAY, and God grant us the grace "to make our calling and election sure".
Wednesday, 10 February 2010
Debt and the Curse
In our study relating to what the Bible calls "the curse ", which the Lord created to correct and turn His children around in repentance, we find that debt is part of the curse. What a surprise!, -especially for the tithers and those who don't believe Christians can be under the curse.
In the last article, we began by posing a number of questions:
Why do some children of Christians suffer and even die?
Why do Christians get sick? Why do many Christians die young?
Why do Christians have some of the troubles they have?
Today, we will adress another element.
Christians and DEBT
Despite the promises of "100-fold blessing" for those who tithe and are manipulated and victimized into "seed-sowing" by the slick christian hucksters as they beg for "gifts", the nagging problem of unending debt just seems to dog the folks that obediently reach into their wallet or purse.
When we look at the "blessing" principle God gave in the first Covenant, we see in Deut. 28:
12 The LORD will open unto thee his good treasure the heavens, ... and to bless all the work of thy hand: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, and thou shalt not borrow.
13 And The LORD will make thee the head, and not the tail; and thou shalt be above only, and thou shalt not be beneath; if thou shalt hearken unto the commandments of Jehovah thy God
Have you noticed the church just LOVES the blessings (of course we do! ), but very few ever mention the curse? Let's pay (no pun intended) close attention to what God says about debt.
We will start in Deuteronomy 28.
15 But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of The Lord thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day, that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee...
43 The sojourner that is in the midst of thee shall mount up above thee higher and higher; and thou shalt come down lower and lower. (the economy going lower and lower)
44 He shall lend to thee, and thou shalt not lend to him: he shall be the head, and thou shalt be the tail.
Let's pull the mask off borrowing and debt. It is clearly stated by God as one of the curses. Ouch! Haven't we all been bit by that serpent? Let's go a bit further as we begin to "pay" attention to what God says:
Proverbs 22:7 The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.
Now tell me again what Jesus said about us not serving two masters? Did he mention "mammon" by some coincidence?
Romans 13:8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. And did Paul really mean what he wrote to "the saints"?
How many of us read those verses and really never gave it much thought at all as we financed that car, home remodel, new appliances, vacation, or whatever else our soul lusted for?
There is no self-righteousness here folks. We've been there, done that plenty. As faithful tithers for many years, 10% of our business gross went to the 'ole "storehouse". (there is no "storehouse" in the New Testament.)
Can you say " POOF-B-Gon "?
Yes, we got a good financial spanking, courtesy of "the Curse", and finally we got the message. "GET OUT OF DEBT".
I could write the book "Debt for Dummies", but finally, praise God, we understood. God really means what He said! "Owe NO man", which translates to: "owe no man". -nobody, no one, anyone. (-except love).
How about all you tithe-loving preachers that hammer away at the folks with Malachi 3:9-10.
Do you teach that debt is part of the curse, so if the people are in debt, they are under the curse even when they tithe?
In fact Paul wrote the Galatian Christians that if they kept part of the law (like tithing), they were under the curse? Galatians 3:10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.,
-and that Jesus said that tithing was "of the matters of the law" in Mat. 23:23?
Borrowing and debt are part of the curse. When we borrow, we go under the curse, an oppression, and we become a slave to the lender. That's what happens when we transgress God's Word, we go back under the law.
What are some of the "freebies" that come with debt?
How about a sense of obligation?
How about worry? Anxiety? Fear?
Lust for gain? Gambling on the lottery in hope of deliverance?
How about economic slavery and the loss of spiritual liberty?
Bill pressures? The fact that if payments are not made, repossession can take place?
The loss of the ability to give to others?
Binding the future to a pledge and promise?
Family stress? (money problems break up many marriages)
The loss of huge amounts of money to interest charges.
Mortgage: a french word that means "death grip".
There are more negatives to debt, but the bottom line is that the curse of debt is waiting for us when we give in to the temptation to "get" what God has not provided. Sadly, this is where the church has experienced its own "Babylonian Captivity" to materialism. The world is very wise at luring Christians into the debt trap and bondage. We are bombarded with the world's message that debt and borrowing is the rosy road to having it all, the house, the SUV, the clothes, the travel, the "good life".
We recall some of the testimonies in church, how one family had a beautiful NEW car! -and how BLESSED they were. Somehow, it was never mentioned that there was 48 monthly payments and about $2,000 in interest that they were also "blessed" with.
In our old church, those same folks were lauded as blessed because they tithed faithfully! (So did we. In fact we borrowed (mortgaged) to pay a tithe on a house we were given.)
In fact, faithful tithers were usually publicly noted as examples to the church, and only one family that we knew of, was debt free.
What happens when our heart departs from God and we do not pay attention to His Word to do it?
-why the Lord simply gives us over to the lusts of our flesh: and we start believing the TV ads, the "business deals", and that we deserve that new Lexus.
Proverbs 14:14 The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways
Mark 4:19 And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.
1 John 2:15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
Wow. What a potent series of scriptures. I must admit, as church-goers, our lives were filled with the very things God warned us about. -all the while dressing up in a nice suit, holding a position and title and having the respect of the church folks and living the life of a Christian businessman.
It was a year or two after leaving the church, that the Lord began to confront us in regard to our debt, hidden pride, covetousness, greed, and more. Our investments turned sour, our little empire began to fall, and the Lord showed me in a dream what He was about to do before it all happened.
My wife and I began to repent, deeply.
From a sorrowful heart, and we changed our ways. In times past, we TALKED about being debt free, but now we got SERIOUS about it, and I now understood what "owe no man" meant. -No need for the Greek Lexicon or spirtualized interpretation on that verse anymore, just DO IT!
What is salvation worth?
We began to sell "stuff" and pay off debt. We paid off every debt except the 1st mortgage the Home Equity loan which were too large for us. So we cashed in our IRA's and took the tax hit, we depleted our savings, and we told God we would work hard, spend less, and pay evrything off. We disconnected the cable TV. We gave away lots of things to the Salvation army, a local ministry, and Amvets.
It took about 18 months but now, we are DEBT-FREE for the first time in our marriage, and my adult life.
IT IS WONDERFUL!
We don't have a new car, we don't have rental houses, we don't have exotic travel vacations, we don't have a boat, we don't have IRA's or 401k's, we don't have MEDICAL insurance. But we do have PEACE, contentment, joy, and we are able to help others in need through loving, joyful giving. And our needs are met.
I know some of you got there a long time ago, I was not that smart.
But for some others who still labor under the curse of debt, we testify to you that when we got serious about this, God showed up. And as the months of debt-free living go by, we are experiencing THE BLESSING which is part of our "better Covenant".
1 Timothy 6:6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.
What is your salvation worth? Our abundance was taking us to hell. God told me so. By His sovereign grace, we will never go into debt again, I don't care how high my credit score is. They can keep it.
God's Economy operates through giving and receiving.
The Worlds economy is all about buying and selling and lending
Before signing off, we would like to mention the "blessing" side of this. You are not blessed because of tithing, that is a lie. If it were true, God would have said so in our New Testament Covenant and given instructions to tithe. he never gave tithing to the church. Never.
Here is where the "blessedness" secret is found:
1.Rom13:8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another has fulfilled the law.
(purpose and act now to get out of debt. Repent for borrowing and whatever else the Lord shows you about this.)
2.Luke 11:28 But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.
(start today in obeying God's Word to owe no one).
3.Acts 20:35 I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.
(ask the Lord to show you where He wants you to give. Listen and wait upon him to speak)
Deuteronomy 15:6 For the LORD thy God blesseth thee, as he promised thee: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, but thou shalt not borrow; and thou shalt reign over many nations, but they shall not reign over thee.
Proverbs 15:27 He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house
Matthew 6:19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
Matthew 6:20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
Ecclesiastes 6:2 A man to whom God hath given riches, wealth, and honour, so that he wanteth nothing for his soul of all that he desireth, yet God giveth him not power to eat thereof, but a stranger eateth it: this is vanity, and it is an evil disease.
1 Timothy 6:5 Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.
8 1 Timothy 6:6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.Proverbs 30:8 Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me:
2 Peter 3:3 Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,
1 Timothy 3:3 Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;
Isaiah 56:11 Yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, (to) every one for his gain, from his quarter.As the American church capitalized on the Prosperity Gospel, and tithing is now mainstream, greed and a lust for gain has taken over much of the church from the pulpit to the pew. I mean, how many jets does an evangelist need? A $70 MILLION church remode becomes a "need"?, millionaire celebrity pastors?, and the list goes on.
We could go on to list many, many scriptures which speak to our giving in meeting the needs of others, the majority of which, the church has perverted to fund their own buildings and ministry-kingdom.
Meanwhile, as we looked for our own miracle "100-fold" blessing, we did a lot of the things most American Christians did by buying comforts, cars, and "stuff". -Much of it on credit.
We bought houses during the real estate run up. We even did something I told everyone else to never do; we took a Home Equity loan on our home to buy an investment property in 2005.