It Happened at the World’s Fair (Boot Camp for Creators & Dreamers 21.5)

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Previously: The 2011 movie Captain America, the First Avenger offers viewers some valuable truths regarding dreams and determination. The hero, Steve Rogers, has a big dream — to do his patriotic duty by serving in the U.S. Army during WWII. Trouble is, Steve’s a sickly ninety-eight pound weakling who can’t pass the enlistment physical. No matter how many times he tries — each time falsifying his application by listing a different hometown — the verdict is always the same, a big fat “you don’t have what it takes to succeed” 4F stamped on his personal file.

Sgt. Bucky Barnes (left} with Steve Rogers and their dates, at the New York World Exposition. Steve is the little guy in the back.

Refusing to give up, Steve decides to try yet again, when he and his long-time friend Sgt. Bucky Barnes attend the 1943 World Exposition in New York. Bucky, who’s more like a brother to Steve, gets a little irritated. Instead of having fun at the fair, Steve’s still focused on his seemingly impossible dream of joining the army.

“What is it?” Bucky asks, in exasperation. “You got something to prove?”

Steve calmly responds, “What do you want me to do, collect scrap metal with my little wagon?” He then points out that there are countless guys overseas risking their lives in the fight against Nazi oppression, and he feels he can do no less. “It’s not about me!”

Bucky realizes his friend is right. He hugs Steve and they part company in peace. But unknown to these two men, an elderly gentleman has been listening to their conversation. His name is Dr. Abraham Erskine, an unassuming scientist who’s destined to play a big part in Steve’s life.

In the next scene, Steve is sitting on a cot in a makeshift examination room inside the Expedition’s Army Recruiting booth. He’s waiting for the doctor to return, when in walks an M.P. followed shortly afterward by Dr. Erskine.

Dr. Abraham Erskine overhearing Steve and Bucky’s exchange at the Army Recruitment booth.

Erskine has a file documenting Steve’s numerous failed attempts to enlist in various cities. As he flips through it, he asks, “Where are you from, Mr. Rogers? Is it New Haven? Or Paramus? Five exams in five different cities.” During this exchange, Steve is hastily dressing. He knows that falsification of an enlistment application is a serious offense.

But Erskine’s not at all interested in legalities. “It’s not the exams I’m interested in,” he says. “It’s the five tries.” He also remarks, “So, you want to go overseas. Kill some Nazis.”

Steve, who’s always been picked on because of his scrawny size, responds honestly: “I don’t want to kill anyone. I don’t like bullies. I don’t care where they’re from.”

“Well,” says Erskine, “there are already so many big men fighting this war. Maybe what we need now is a little guy. I can offer you a chance. Only a chance. …So where is the little guy from? Actually?”

“Brooklyn,” Steve answers.

Dr. Abraham Erskine is true to his word; in the next scene, Steve Rogers is once again  standing before an Army recruiter’s desk, with his file open before him. Within that file is a history of failure: five separate attempts, four previous verdicts of 4F — unfit to serve. But the response to his fifth try, to Steve’s delight, is success. He watches with relief — knowing that at last he’s realized his long-held dream of becoming a U.S. soldier, of getting an opportunity to do his part in the fight against evil tyranny — as his application is stamped 1A !

Spiritual lessons? Yes indeed, including a couple of points we’ll share in our next article. For now, we’ll examine four truths that apply to all us creators and dreamers — to everyone actually.

1. Again, NEVER GIVE UP! When one door closes, try another. Jesus said, “…keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.” (Luke 11:9 NLT)

2. Because, one day, when you least expect it, you will have a “divine appointment” with someone who’s god-sent to help you realize your hopes and dreams; a facilitator, a collaborator, a connection; a true “Barnabas” (as Acts 9:26-31) who, like Dr. Erskine, will look beyond the surface to see your potential — and “offer you a chance”! Rest assured the time will come, because God “blesses the righteous man … [and] surrounds him with favor as with a shield.” (Psalm 5:12 NASB)

3. In God’s estimation we are all 1A ! There are no 4F washouts in His eyes. God created each of us “in His own image” (Genesis 1:26); and within each of us He sees tremendous potential. It’s God who put the dreams in our hearts, and it’s God who grants us the gifts and talents — the creativity — to pursue and realize those dreams. “A person’s gift makes room for him, and leads him before important people.” (Proverbs 18:16 NET)

4. Our loving Heavenly Father has great plans for us! (Jeremiah 29:11) In fact, God is committed to our success. He will help us realize our hopes and dreams, by sending a Barnabas, by opening doors, by making a way where there seems to be no way. (Isaiah 43:19) With God’s help, we WILL be victorious! We are fully “convinced and confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will [continue to] perfect and complete it….” (Philippians 1:6 AMP)

Dr. Erskine stamps skinny Steve’s file 1A.

When the Lord gives you a dream, a goal, an aspiration — it’s a “keeper”; God does NOT change His mind. To quote Romans 11:29, “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” (ESV) and “can never be withdrawn.” (NLT) It doesn’t matter if we make poor choices, if we fail, if we have to take a detour, or get delayed, or even grow weary and disillusioned along the way. God always has a plan to get us back on track, back on course, and back in the fight. We just need to trust Him and follow His leading, because He is “Faithful and True”! (Revelation 19:11)

“God is not like people. He tells no lies. He is not like humans. He doesn’t change his mind. When He says something, he does it. When He makes a promise, He keeps it. (Numbers 23:19 GW)

Next time, Steve Rogers will join us for Boot Camp! Uh, that’s not to say he’ll actually be in Spiritual Boot Camp. That’s where we’ll be. Steve’s got to go to Army boot camp. Of course, he will be with us in spirit … even if he’s not actually here … with us … in Spiritual Boot Camp. You see, it’s like this: we’re all in boot camp, so to speak, and…. Should we stop already?


Click here to all the Boot Camp lessons.

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Spit the Seeds! (Angel in the Kitchen)

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Tuesday we faced one of life’s cold hard facts: there are no perfect foods.

Honey, often called “the perfect food,” can be fattening and promote tooth decay. And drinking too much water can strip away beneficial electrolytes. Seriously! And although it seems overly critical to complain about the downside of water and various foods, which are overwise delicious and which have great nutritional value; we usually don’t hesitate to approach life with a similar critical eye. LIFE, LOVE, RELATIONSHIPS — will never be perfect! Like food, most aspects of life here on earth are enjoyable and beneficial. Life has great “nutritional” value; but often we focus on the imperfections, the “seeds” in the heart of our relationships, in our jobs, our churches.

Interestingly, we frequently hear friends and coworkers grumbling about life and people, but we rarely if ever hear them complaining about what they’re eating. Probably because most of us tend to expect more from life, love, and relationships, than we do from what we eat. (Picky eaters aside.) Tuesday, we stated one remedy to this: keep your high expectations, by all means. Always hope for the best, but don’t put your high (and mighty) expectations on your spouse, your pastor, your boss, your parents, or your kids. Face it, no one can meet our lofty expectations — including us!

None of us are perfect, so why should we expect others to be? And by the way, almost assuredly, at even given moment, we’re not living up to someone else’s expectations. In other words, somewhere, at sometime, we’re letting someone down! Oh well. C’est la vie! Anyway, don’t put your expectations on people. Instead, put your expectations on God. He’s perfect, and He’ll never let you down.

Another remedy for avoiding disappointment in life? Read on, as we further discuss a favorite topic — FOOD!!

Come on, kid, you can do it! Crack that crab leg! Squeeze! Harder! Ka-pow!! Phew! Hard work, but this kid obviously loves crab.

Crab legs: ever notice that people who love them REALLY  love them? Personally, we’ve never enjoyed fighting with our food, and crab is one dish that manages to put up a struggle long after its days are over. Sort of like the crab’s last-ditch effort to get revenge. But people who love crab don’t seem to mind, at all. Armed with those heavy-duty cracker gizmos, they happily snap, crack and pop shells until their knuckles are white and their fingertips red — all this work to secure a tiny piece of crab meat.

Onions: these weird veggies manage to get around, and often end up being the life of the party. We invite them into our soups and stews, welcome them in our salads and subs. And we usually include them when we’re having steaks or burgers. We absolutely adore onions, but dealing with them often makes us cry! But a few tears never stop us from hanging
out with onions! Watermelon: a summertime favorite. Cool, refreshing, and loaded with a gazillion seeds. But the seeds don’t seem to bother most people. We doubt they even notice the seeds. They merrily chomp away at huge bites of crisp red fruit, and their dispositions don’t change when they encounter a few seeds. They keep smiling and eating, and just spit the seeds — hopefully not in our direction!

Foods aren’t perfect. Neither are people. Why can’t we deal with the imperfections of life and people in the same manner we deal with hard shells and tears and seeds? Happily,  cheerfully, eagerly. Why aren’t we willing to work as hard on our relationships as we do on cracking crab legs?  Well, we can. It just takes a little willingness, prayer, and God’s grace, to penetrate the shells people hide within.

Why do we run from people and relationships after we shed a few tears? Life can be painful. People disappoint and hurt each other constantly. It’s a consequence of the imperfection of the human race. But relationships are worth it. We all have strengths and weaknesses. Each of us has something to offer; but we also, by our very nature, come loaded with “seeds”: faults, blindspots, bad habits. Since we all have seeds, shouldn’t we be willing to overlook them in others? Better yet, why not enjoy the good things we can find in each and every individual; and simply spit the seeds out? It’s Food for thought. Think and pray on it.

“Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” (Colossians 3:13 NLT)

“Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8 NLT)

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