Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Bailouts again.

I'd like to whine a little bit, if you don't mind. About things both personal and political. It's about bailouts. In fact, let's throw church into the mix too.

I'm sick and tired of the bailout mentality, and I'm realizing that it started long ago. It's not just been the past year or so, it's not just Presidents Bush and Obama, but our American tendency. How do I know?

Let's consider:


Some of you who know me, know that I have been a little overweight for, well, 12 years. Really. I didn't gain a freshman 15 in college, I gained 50, which put me to 200 pounds. I have since made it all the way to 250, and was starting to stay consistently over 250 the past few months. Well, I know I need to lose weight, I've known for years. I feel better when I'm down, I know the long-term health risks, like family tendencies for heart issues and Type II diabetes. So what have I done before? I've tried Slim-fast, I've looked at diets, diet pills, all those things. I want to drop 50 pounds, so I need something really effective. And I'm not alone. Think back to the diet drug Phen-Fen, and how many Americans were using it to take weight off, only to discover it ate your heart or something like that.

So, what am I doing to lose weight? I'm eating less. Instead of mountains of breakfast, I actually eat 1 serving of Cheerios. And that's it. I'm not finishing off my children's food. I don't drink 2 or 3 cokes a day. I'm exercising. I walk 2 miles and run 1 mile a day. Our church has a walking track, and it takes 12-13 laps to make a mile. So, every morning, I'm up here about 5:20-5:30, I do 200 crunches on the 'ab-thingy' someone put in the youth room years ago, then I walk 2 laps, run 1 until I've run 13 laps (ok, jogged, but still). Then I walk 2 more laps. In 3 weeks, I've lost 12 pounds. I still drink coffee, but I mainly drink a lot of water. I feel better, my clothes fit, and I really think we're spending less money on food. But I couldn't get bailed out for this. It took me some time to get in, it's going to take time and discipline to get out of it.

Financial (still personal, but more applicable):

Like many Americans, we're in debt. We have a mortgage, a home-equity loan (the 2 loans were used to buy the house, 80/20 split), 2 cash loans we used to clean up and decorate the house, 2 student loans, a credit card that we've transferred all of our other credit cards to. You know what? I want it all paid off, right now. I want to find that missing rich uncle, or be party to a great lawsuit. I'll take a guilty feeling lottery winner who wants to 'bless' his pastor. I'm even working on the contestant application to get on Are You Smarter than a 5 th Grader ? You know what? Except the game show hope, none of the other are going to happen. I've wanted the house to sell, and to sell for enough to pay off all the other debt, but that's pretty unlikely too. You know how I'm getting out of debt? Except the credit card, every loan has a fixed term, and I'm making payments. In 2 years, the cash loans will be gone. In 7 the student loan. In 27, the mortgage (well, it'll go when we pay off the house). The credit card? At the present rate, 3 years, because when the cash loans go, we'll put their entire payments on the card. My point? It's going to take personal discipline to get out of debt.

Same thing for our church. We've got debt on our building. I want it gone. It's a $45,000 a year weight on us. For now, though, what we can do is make payments. Soon enough, I want to challenge our church to be disciplined to make some extra payments, but until then, we're going to methodically get out of it.

In both of these areas, you can't weight for the bailout. You cannot keep piling on your debt and keep munching cheeseburgers, knowing at some point you'll have to pay it off and lose the pounds. But so often, that's what we want to do. Self-discipline is the necessary key.


Ok, I think the President should have had to furnish indisputable proof of natural-born citizenship before the election. I'd be for legislation in each state that required all persons registering to run in a Presidential primary to show proof of natural-born citizenship. If you really look at the Founding Fathers and the Constitution, you see that what is structured is that the States elect the President. The people don't. The people tell the state their decision, but the state has to honor it (or not). So, the states are the gatekeepers.

But at this point, I don't think you'll get President Obama out on the birth certificate question. Why won't he just release it? Because he won, and doesn't think he needs to address the issue, because he's an elitist who thinks he's always right, like most politicians. (or perhaps he's waiting for his opponent in 2012 to make it an issue? Then he can break out all the proof, discredit his opponent? Do we really need our credibility wrapped around something one piece of paper can squish?) But we want to push the issue because we don't want to discipline ourselves to combat the creeping in of socialism into our nation. We want a bailout, politically. We want to be able to protect our pet politicians while undoing the Presidential Election. Guess what? If we don't want the government deciding who lives and dies through controlling health care, we've got to deal with that through our representatives. And vote out the ones that support it. Same with all the rest of it. Seriously, it's going to take reasonable involvement in the process. (Side note to the President: just show the document, man, and make the whole thing go away. At some point, you have to show your cards.)


I was excited to be at the Southern Baptist Convention this year. Really, I was. I voted for the Great Commission Task Force, and will whole-heartedly pray for Dr. Floyd and that group. But guess what? This should not be about establishing a 'bailout' for the SBC and our churches. You know what will restore us to strength as a group of churches? Not removing Morris Chapman or defending Clark Logan, not reallocating CP moneys, not establishing or eliminating Calvinists from the SBC, but disciplining ourselves to do the mundane, the day-to-day tasks that need doing. The preaching, the praying, the studying, the evangelism. It's not a new program we need, it's that we need to do the old program. So often I hear that we used to do this or that, but that we don't anymore. Why not? Did you know that many of the men and women that surrendered to missions and ministry did so because of the programs from the WMU and the Brotherhood programs? Where are they in our churches? Many of the best Sunday School teachers got their encouragement and learning from discipleship training, and that was also where we learned to be a church. Where is that now? We want the next bailout to save our struggling churches: the next great book, the next great preacher, the next great building. The bailout won't do it.

I am becoming more and more convinced that it is a lack of day-to-day faithfulness and integrity that hurts us in our lives, whether it be national, church-wide, or personal. It will take day-to-day effort and discipline to get ourselves back where we should be. Will you start with me today? Find one thing to do today that moves you even a step closer to your goal. Weight loss is only measured in pounds because I have a cheap scale. A fancy one would show me ounces, and I'd recognize them. I see debt reducing by a few dollars here, a few there. I'll finish my Master's Degree by a few hours here, a few there. How about you? Where can you find a few ounces today?


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