Q: Gary and Drenda, what’s the most meaningful New Year’s resolution you’ve ever made as a couple, and how did it impact your lives?
A: Throughout our lives, we all have made many New Year’s resolutions that are simply that, New Year’s resolutions. It wasn’t until we personally reached the end of ourselves that we realized we needed God to revolutionize our lives in every area. We loved God but we didn’t know how His Kingdom operated. We were tired of being broke and slaves to survival and seemed to work constantly and never get ahead. It was at this point that we made the commitment to God to get free from the slavery of debt and have the ability to truly serve Him with our time, talents, and resources. This was our resolution that turned into a life revolution!
Q: Gary, for those who aren’t familiar with your story, briefly describe the situation you and Drenda faced prior to discovering what God’s Word says about faith, family, and finances.
A: Drenda and I were typical newlyweds, full of dreams and ambition when we married. We both loved God and were committed to our church. I had been to Bible school for a year and had earned an Old Testament degree from Oral Roberts University. My journey towards ministry began the night that I was attending a birthday party thrown in my honor. As we all sat down to eat they asked me to pray over the food. As I did the Holy Spirit fell on me so strongly that I asked to be excused from the table. I stepped out the back door and the Holy Spirit fell on me even stronger.
I suddenly saw a vision of me preaching. I was holding a Bible and preaching to a group of about 40 people. I could clearly see their faces and the folding chairs they were sitting on. I could see the entire room and noticed that it was night as the windows were black from the outside darkness. Suddenly as I gazed at the scene, a voice said, “I am calling you to preach my Word.” The voice repeated this same statement three times. Then suddenly the anointing lifted and I was back in the backyard.
Shortly after that event, God spoke to me again telling me to go to Oral Robert’s University. At the end of college as I was planning to pursue ministry, He surprisingly spoke to me to take a position selling insurance and securities. It was a commission-based position and I struggled month-by-month to pay the bills. Although at the time I really could not figure out why God wanted me to learn the financial field, I remained faithful to it. Drenda and I had met and married right after college and we were both a little confused about the direction God had led us. It was during this time that we naively began to use debt when the commission checks did not match our needed monthly expenses. In a couple years we found ourselves in trouble with tax liens, 10 maxed out credit cards, two car payments, and thousands owed to our families. Fear and stress were a constant torment leading to panic attacks and antidepressants. The fear got so bad that I became fearful to even leave my house. Drenda was at the point of wondering how she was going to raise our children without my help.
All of this happened over a nine-year period of time, and it seemed there was no way out. We were barraged daily by debt collection calls, but one day a call from an attorney threatening a lawsuit caught my attention. I realized that I was done; there was nowhere to hide. Every credit option had been cancelled and family would not give us more money. At that moment I went in despair to our bedroom and cried out to God. He answered immediately that the reason I was in the mess I was in was that I had never learned how His Kingdom worked in regard to money. Of course I had no idea what He meant by that, but Drenda and I repented and asked God to teach us how His Kingdom operated. I can remember where we stood, holding hands, as we cried out together, asking God to teach us. Although it was not formally a New Year’s Resolution, it was a new beginning for us. God was faithful to begin to teach us and we became debt free in two and a half years. Paying cash for our cars and living in a debt free home were just impossible dreams to us before we learned how the Kingdom operated. And although our personal financial victories were exciting, the greatest joy was being able to sow hundreds of thousands of dollars into God projects all over the world. Our passion now is helping people learn what we learned, how God’s Kingdom operates, and to watch them have the same results we had.
Q: Drenda, what kind of impact did your financial situation have on your marriage, and how did God turn it around?
A: Gary and I started marriage with big dreams to have a great marriage and a happy life. One dream was to own a business that would fund ministry so we could be free to share the uncompromised Word of God without financial stress competing for our focus. But building a business was far more difficult than two naïve college kids bargained for! It wasn’t long before we got pregnant with our first child. Our struggling financial services business just wasn’t producing enough and we began to accumulate debt. Debt allowed me to buy my new daughter an Easter dress and eventually a house, but I didn’t realize how much it would take from us in the long run.
I tried to remain positive and support Gary, but there were times when we both got frustrated and started blaming each other instead of dealing with the real issues. I thought he didn’t make enough and he thought I spent too much – but I felt like I couldn’t take care of our family as it was. We were sincerely trying to do our best and both of us were working around the clock. We would actually take our two children to the office and put them to bed in sleeping bags while we worked all night, then repeat it again the next day. The pressure became intense. This was not the happy life we had planned!
I remember one time in particular we learned Gary’s commission check was delayed for two weeks on the day our house payment was due. Gary was so discouraged and beside himself with anxiety because our house payment was due that day, not in two weeks! Months before I had pushed to buy the house against Gary’s judgment and now our first house payment was due and we didn’t have it! I laugh now but that day we thought our life was over. After a prayer that was more begging than faith, I called the company and with the same tenacity I used to get the house, I determined to get our commission check regardless! After many words, I managed to secure our house payment. When I hung up the phone, we both cried. That day I decided to never give up, to trust God had a way when it seemed impossible. I also learned to stop using debt as a trust system and not to buy something no matter how alluring out of God’s timing. Other situations would occur like this one, but we eventually developed perseverance to work together and wisdom to use our individual strengths to build a business, marriage, and eventually a ministry.
The faltering oil economy eventually collapsed in Tulsa and we had to majorly believe God again—this time to sell that house! I remember turning on the TV and Oral Roberts saying on a broadcast, “Whoever gives up houses and lands for the Kingdom of God will receive a hundredfold in this life, with persecutions and eternal life to come.” Convicted my self-ambition had landed us into this mess, I prayed, turning the house I had fought to get over to God and asking him for deliverance, a quick buyer before we lost it! I held an open house that weekend acting as my own realtor. God did an incredible miracle, in two days we had a Christian buyer with cash in an upside-down market! Our house was everything she had on her list and we were delivered from our first big financial mistake. I’m glad we walked through these lessons and developed our faith together. It gives us the courage to help others face their problems and faith they can win with God’s strategies.
In those days, whenever we would start to get aggravated with each other or play the finger-pointing game, we coined a phrase, and would instead turn to each other and say, “I’d rather prosper!” It always broke the tension, stopped strife and often led us to pray together. Recognizing the enemy was after our faith, our unity, and our destiny as a couple, we determined rather than give him the edge in our marriage, we would stay united and believe God for His provision. And that’s what happened!
Over time, we learned to stop blaming each other, refuse strife in our home, take personal responsibility, roll up our sleeves, work together, and use our faith to change the direction of our life. Two truly are better than one! When one is down the other can lift him up. Together each of us brings a piece of the puzzle; we have the answers by the Spirit of God. It takes teamwork!
Q: As the New Year begins, many people are making resolutions to get out of debt. What’s the first thing they should do in order to make that a reality?
A: Getting out of debt is not simply having the desire to get out of debt, although that is a vital first step. In reality, we need to understand that debt is a system which people use to meet their need of provision. Granted, it is a system of slavery, but in reality, it does work. The needs that people have are real and need to be met. The majority of Americans view debt as a normal way of life and have proven to themselves that the debt system does in fact provide the things they have need of. To be free from debt we simply can’t ignore our real needs that are pressing and vow we will never use debt again. This would be like a person who is over weight vowing they will never eat again. We all know this would not work, as their hunger will eventually drive them to eat again. The problem is not their hunger but what they are eating. The same is true in the financial realm. The problem is not that we have real financial needs that must be met but how we meet them. So to be free from debt you must have a different trusted system that provides your financial needs outside the debt system. Not having an alternative system is the real reason so many people are bound in a lifetime of slavery to the lender.
We couldn’t eliminate our debt simply by wanting to get free from debt; I already hated and loathed being in debt. I just did not know how to get free. That’s when God showed me a better plan. God showed me the Kingdom of God was my answer, and there were new laws of freedom available to me if I would only learn them. According to Isaiah 61, Jesus was anointed to preach good news to the poor. That good news is there is a new way of living available to us, the believer, who are citizens of his great Kingdom and heirs of all he has! So I tell everyone that the most important first step to freedom is what God told me: learn how His Kingdom works!
But to get free requires more than just spiritual insight; it also takes natural knowledge as well. So let me give you a few practical steps to get started!
- Make a list of every company and person you owe along with your current payment and the interest rate you are paying.
- Next, you have two immediate goals, set up a cash reserve and to free up monthly cash flow. To accomplish this, go to your garage or basement and find what you can sell for cash. What can you sell that you no longer need or use? This cash will go to help you set up your cash reserve. Then make a note of anything you can sell or discontinue that would free up monthly cash flow like that gym membership you never use or that motorcycle or RV payment you can live without. Keep track of the cash you have collected and the money you have freed up monthly. During this time you might also look for ways to increase your monthly income by adding some part-time work or even looking for a better paying job.
- There are always ways to save on normal living expenses that people just overlook like insurance, taxes, groceries, eating out etc. Our experience shows that the average family can free up over $700 a month just by examining how they spend money.
- Now take the total monthly amount of money you have freed up and add it to the payment of your debt with the highest interest rate. Do this every month until it is paid off. Then roll that available money to the next debt. By following this accelerated debt payment system 85% of all families can be debt free in 5 to 7 years, including their home mortgage, usually without changing their income!
By the way, do not forget to cut up your credit cards and use a debit card. There are endless ways to find and save money. You can find many more tools in Drenda and my resources at faithlifenow.com
Q: How can understanding and applying the principles of the Kingdom transform every area of our lives?
A: In addition to the practical steps to begin the journey to financial freedom, it’s just as important to understand God’s Kingdom principles and how they work. God’s Word has the answers for every area of life. The Kingdom is the government of God, which is regulated by spiritual laws expressed in His Word. These laws are what the “King” says is right, or we would say “righteousness.”
As a citizen of His Kingdom we have access and the right to use the laws of the Kingdom, which insures that we have what he promised in His Word. This is true in every area of life and for every promise. The King has declared what life should look like and what it is. In 2 Peter 1:3, it declares these laws as very great and precious promises that guarantee to us as citizens of the Kingdom of God the benefits the KING desires us to have. What is normal in heaven has been brought to the earth through the government Jesus ushered into the earth, of which He is the head. He has made a way for us but as citizens we must understand that our salvation and all it includes is a legal matter and Jesus already settled His will displaying the character of God to us.
To enjoy the benefits of God’s Kingdom we must first understand how the authority of the Kingdom flows and operates in the earth realm. It’s the same principle as having a check (promise). You can have a check, but you have to understand how to cash it to have the benefit of the promise made. It’s God’s plan that His promise become our reality and that we would live the life Jesus paid for us to enjoy. Satan comes to steal, kill and destroy, but I have come to you that you may have life and life more abundantly. When we began to understand how to cash the check and enjoy the promises of God, our lives were totally transformed. We were truly enjoying heaven on earth. Whether its provision, healing or direction, for every need there is an answer in the Kingdom.
Q: In marriage, it’s important for the husband and wife to be united in their financial goals. What advice would you give couples who don’t agree on how their money should be spent?
A: In our early days, Gary and I had completely different thoughts about how our money should be spent. Eventually I discovered that we may disagree on what to buy but our priorities were the same: to follow God with all our heart and to build a life that would bring honor to Him. We just had to keep those priorities number one especially when I was drawn like Eve into the game of “if I just had ______, then I’d be happy,” I truly submitted my heart to God and Gary and allowed him to lead our finances as the CEO with me as the COO. I know that’s not a popular concept today, but it was a surrender to God that we both made and it created a unity of purpose that helped me say no to temptation, and if I couldn’t say no, Gary helped me! LOL. Just about every family has a spender (I like to refer to it as a visionary), and we need to hold each other accountable to the “dream.” When I wanted something we couldn’t afford, Gary would say, “They still make them. Does purchasing that get us closer to our goal to be debt free?” I knew it didn’t, so just like the Israelites had to leave Egypt behind, I had to leave the old ways of trusting debt behind. Our “yes” became bigger to us and more important than temporal purchases that threatened our freedom to follow God. The singleness of our purpose became a calling to be free – to go from broke to being a blessing in the Kingdom of God.
How can two walk together unless they be agreed? They can’t! We agreed on our dream and that settled the smaller issues. More exciting than learning to say, “No” to debt, was to watch God give me things that I said “No” to in ways that became a testimony to His greatness! God showed me how to get it His better way! As couples, how many times do we selfishly quarrel over something we want instead of asking God? Through faith and patience I began to see God bring my inheritance to me instead of serving things at the expense of the freedom Christ paid for me to enjoy.
Gary and I learned to map out our desires. God wasn’t withholding any good thing from us, we only needed to believe Him for it and at times wait patiently for His plan. Some things came fast! Others took more time and patience, but we became free. Our family created a James 4:7 notebook (“You have not because you ask not”) where we recorded our needs and wants, and then we prayed in faith, counting it as done. God showed us strategies and gave us ideas and the grace to walk into the promises we believed Him for. It wasn’t overnight but it happened. As petitions were filled we marked them off. Our children witnessed God do great things! Freedom was worth more than anything I turned down in the long run and God caused the desires of my heart to turn up.
We have learned to highly esteem and honor one another in this journey called life. I’m so glad we didn’t continue to use debt but learned God’s Kingdom instead. Gary and my amazing heavenly Father have seen to it that we lack for no good thing.
Q: Gary, your passion to help others live out their destiny and purpose led you to start Faith Life Church in New Albany, Ohio. Describe how God is now using it to impact your community and the world.
A: Faith Life Church is a busy growing church of people who are excited about the Kingdom of God. Stories of how people are experiencing the Kingdom fill the church on a weekly basis. Currently Faith Life Church is expanding its impact in the Columbus, Ohio area adding 100,000 square feet to its existing facility. Faith Life Church’s mission is to share the life changing reality of the Kingdom of God to our city and to impact every area of our city’s life. Faith Life Church also currently reaches the world sharing the good news of the Kingdom through its two daily produced television broadcasts, Fixing the Money Thing and Drenda seen on Daystar. Faith life Church also conducts conferences nationally and internationally through it’s outreach arm, Faith Life Now. Faith Life Now also supports hundreds of churches and ministries around the world.
Q: Drenda, you have a passion to empower women struggling with the everyday challenges of life. Describe how your experiences have equipped you to connect and inspire those who feel like they are “not enough.”
A: I struggled for so many years with identity issues and insecurities, along with low self-esteem and guilt. I was a performance addict in my school years accomplishing everything I could to try and perform for love, but I could never do enough. All I could achieve in my own strength left me empty and unhappy, and worn out!
Many women are living in that same prison I found myself in for much of my years. Changes in the culture and relationships, have left women (and men) struggling to find answers in their marriages, finances and families. Gary and I are very intent on giving practical principles with spiritual truths. To me, that’s the winning edge. We need both to walk in a natural world with spiritual eyes. My heart is to see people discover their destiny and live a happy life, a life that honors God and is attractive to a world that doesn’t have a clue what life was designed by God to look like. If believers don’t learn the keys to live above this world’s system, while living in the world, we will not manifest His Kingdom and demonstrate to them a better way. I love seeing people freed from the pains of yesterday and discover God’s beautiful ways to live. I think we must be transparent and share our mistakes but most importantly I share the Word of God that set me free from fear and failures of the past. I’ve not arrived but I love sharing the journey and if I can help anyone avoid the same ditch I fell in, then I’m happy to share and my pain may set someone free from well misconstrued lies of the enemy.
Q: Gary, you co-host “Fixing the Money Thing” with Drenda on Daystar. What can people that tune in expect to see?
A: They will hear stories from people just like them who thought there was no way out but have discovered the Kingdom of God and now live in financial freedom. They also will hear the laws and financial principles from the Kingdom of God explained and taught which will produce faith and hope for a great tomorrow.
Q: Drenda, as host of “Drenda” on Daystar, what topics do you discuss, and how can they impact viewers?
A: Living in God’s Kingdom is a lifestyle, and it’s the lifestyle of daily choices that affect the dynamics of spiritual, relational, and emotional wholeness toward a happier life. Whether it’s low self-esteem, financial pressure, parenting, building a family business or tackling marriage/relationship issues, everyone needs encouragement how to walk out the day-to-day challenges of life by faith and wisdom. I am passionate about encouraging people to navigate the identity and relationship issues that hinder them from recognizing who they are in Christ and what they have and can do in Him. I consistently hear from viewers who say the program has helped them to think differently, manage emotionally charged situations and live a happier life.
Q: As founders of the ministry Faith Life Now, how are you sharing the biblical principles you’ve learned and giving hope to those facing desperate situations?
A: Faith Life Now’s mission is to reach out through every available media platform to catch people’s attention with real stories of how the Kingdom of God provides real answers for life’s real problems. Stories of the Kingdom are then followed up with an examination of the Kingdom laws and principles that caused the story to have the conclusion it did. Additionally Faith Life Now provides an on line school, Provision Institute, a twelve month study of the Kingdom of God and the laws that govern it.
Q: What would you say to encourage someone who feels overwhelmed by debt and is experiencing fear and anxiety about the future?
A: We have been there and we understand how it feels but don’t get stuck there! Every one of us has made mistakes, and especially us! If God can deliver us from ours and turn our life around to help others, HE can and WILL do the same for you. We are your greatest cheerleaders to encourage you to not give up but instead to learn His Kingdom, how it operates and how to receive provision and answers for everything you need through establishing a new relationship where you are seeking His “right” way of doing things and all these things will be added to you. Whether you’ve got debt, investment questions or any issues, God’s Word and His Spirit have answers for all!
Q: As you look ahead to 2019, what is your most urgent prayer for the body of Christ and why?
A: Our most urgent prayer for the Body of Christ is for us all to advance the KINGDOM of GOD! That begins with each member revolutionizing their lives—faith, family and finances. Eventually what happens in each of us touches others, then a nation and the nations. Every move of God always starts with an individual experiencing God. We do so by agreeing with God’s Word and learning to demonstrate His Kingdom with manifestations— manifestations that silence the arguments of those who don’t know Christ Jesus. We demonstrate to them there is a God because the results are undeniable!
People that knew us many years ago look at us today and say, “How did that happen for you? You were nobody!” They’re right! But HE became big in us! Results in every area of life are ours in Christ, that includes provision! Personally we witnessed our own financial deliverance, marriage renewal, and our five children grew up and are now serving God; these same demonstrations we have witnessed God do in thousands of miraculous stories just like ours, God’s healing power, saving, delivering and turning the poor into business-owners, who are now providing for the poor instead of living poorly themselves. God has a destiny for every person. If we will engage His Kingdom and plans we will see Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you says the Lord, plans to prosper you, not harm you, to give you a future and a hope,” come to pass. And just as importantly, the world will see it, the marketplace will experience it and we can change lives with His Kingdom.
To advance the Kingdom, my prayer for the body of Christ would be to stop being intimidated by the world. To stop hiding and to be the light that God has called us to be. The church needs to understand that light and darkness cannot coexist and that light always beats darkness. Secondly, the church needs to understand that the world is not interested in our religion or our church buildings. They are looking for real answers to real problems. When people can see the answers they need actually happening in the body of Christ they will come running.
Q: Why is it so important for believers to be financially healthy and make a difference in the marketplace?
A: In simple terms, there is no freedom without financial freedom! Most people live their lives just surviving and never discover who they really are or what they were created to do. A recent survey found that over 70% of employees do not like their jobs and over 30% actually hate their jobs. Giving your life to something you hate just for a paycheck is slavery! Drenda and I have a saying we have said for years, that until you fix the money thing you will never discover who you really are. Secondly, money provides answers and options for life. Who can God call to fund his next assignment if the body of Christ is broke? No, God has called us to be the head (influencers) not the tail, the lender and not the borrower. We have been anointed to win in life and impact those around us by living a life of influence.