Chosen for Greatness (Boot Camp for Creators & Dreamers 21.6)

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The movie Captain America, the First Avenger offers several 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-pound weakling who can’t pass the enlistment physical — no matter how many times he tries he’s told “you don’t have what it takes to succeed” and labeled 4F. Then one day, quite unexpectedly, he has a “divine appointment” with Dr. Abraham Erskine, a true friend and facilitator. Suddenly, with Erskine’s help, Steve is on his way to realizing his seemingly impossible dream.

Steve Rogers gets shipped off to Boot Camp, at a special installation under the command of Colonel Chester Phillips, a tough leader played by Tommy Lee Jones. There, under the watchful eye of Dr. Erskine, Steve begins his basic military training — which is far from easy for him.

Steve is part of a hand-picked group of men, one of whom will be chosen for a very special assignment. All around him are vigorous specimens of manhood, and poor Steve’s the scrawniest guy in the bunch. Physically, he can barely keep up with his musclebound peers.

Colonel Phillips observes the weakling Rogers as the young man struggles to do a pushup, and then says to Dr. Erskine, “You’re not really thinking about picking Rogers, are you? Look at [him]. He’s makin’ me cry.”

Erskine calmly responds, “I am looking for qualities beyond the physical.”

Phillips picks up a dummy hand grenade, pulls the pin, and snarls, “You don’t win wars with niceness, doctor. You win wars with guts.” He tosses it into the midst of the soldiers doing calisthenics, and yells “GRENADE!”

In a heartbeat, all the specimens of superior manhood move with decisiveness and perfect unity — away from the grenade. Steve, on the other hand, dives on the dummy explosive, ready to sacrifice himself, in an effort to save his fellow recruits. When the grenade doesn’t go off, he looks around and asks, “Is this a test?” It’s the same question Steve asked Dr. Erskine upon their first meeting, at the 1943 World Exposition in New York.

Steve had passed that “test” and he passed this one, too, with flying colors: whatever the young man lacked in muscle mass, he more than made up for — in strength of character.

Colonel Phillips is surprised, and yet, he’s still not convinced that this “ninety-pound asthmatic”  brought onto his Army base will ever amount to anything. The colonel just grunts, “He’s still skinny,” and walks away.

Weeks later, at the end of Steve Rogers’ basic training, and against the advice of experts and the continued protests of Colonel Phillips, Dr. Erskine chooses Steve for his great experiment: to create the first super-soldier in U.S. Military history, by injecting him with a top-secret serum.

Steve, the weakest and least likely to succeed at anything; the skinny kid from Brooklyn with a long list of physical ailments and personal failures; who previously had no connections or prospects; is about to make headlines. The odds were stacked against him, but this disadvantaged soul has been chosen for bigger things!

He wasn’t the smartest, or the most qualified. And he certainly wasn’t the strongest. Nor was he favored among other men. He didn’t come from a prestigious family, and he wasn’t the product of a fine military academy. His “training” was in the school of hard knocks, on the streets of Brooklyn. So, of all people, why in the world had Steve Rogers been chosen to receive Dr. Erskine’s secret formula?

The night before the big procedure, Erskine explains to Steve, “This is why you were chosen. Because the strong man who has known power all his life, may lose respect for that power, but a weak man knows the value of strength, and knows … compassion.”

Don’t miss this, friends: Steve was chosen because he is weak! Furthermore, his weakness will ultimately result in Steve becoming strong — strong enough to accomplish extraordinary things.

This idea reminds us of an incredible spiritual principle. God chooses the weak to do great things. The “weak” include those who lack credentials and connections, talents and abilities, and anyone who does not rely on his own strength to do the will of God. These “4F nobodies” rely instead on God’s strength and abilities and connections — and come out on top. With God’s help, they become 1A !  

The Apostle Paul writes, “God has chosen the foolish things of the world, to confound the wise. And God has chosen the weak things of the world, to confound things which are strong.” (1 Corinthians 1:27 NMB)

Here’s how the Message Bible states this truth: “Take a good look, friends, at who you were when you got called…. I don’t see many of “the brightest and the best” among you, not many influential, not many from high-society families. Isn’t it obvious that God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks…, chose these “nobodies” to expose the hollow pretensions of the “somebodies”? That makes it quite clear that none of you can get by with blowing your own horn before God. Everything that we have … comes from God by way of Jesus Christ….”

Like Steve Rogers, we can be “weak” in body, “weak” in our circumstances, “weak” by worldly standards — and still prevail with God’s help, guidance and resources. Again, Paul writes, “…When I am weak [in human strength], then I am strong [truly able, truly powerful, truly drawing from God’s strength].” (2 Corinthians 12:10 AMP)

Fellow creators and dreamers, are you feeling a bit less than super these days? Then stop it! (We say this in love, of course!) Remind yourself of what God’s Word says about who you are — and whose you are.

Remember, we already have everything we need to be “super” — because we have a God who “withholds no good thing.” (Psalm 84:11)

Just as Dr. Erskine chose Steve Rogers, God has chosen YOU … for great and wonderful things. He has chosen you to:

  • Use your dreams, talents and creativity to make a positive contribution in your particular field, area of interest, sphere of influence, etc.;
  • Be a blessing to your family and those around you;
  • Make a difference in the lives of people you encounter along life’s journey;
  • Perhaps, even touch the world!

Tough assignment? Not when God’s in the picture. Because “…You are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling … God’s instruments to do His work and speak out for Him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference He made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.” (1 Peter 2:9 MSG) From 4F to 1A!


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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?


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