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If I Only had a Brain

As I left the house this morning, I quipped “I'm off to see The Wizard,” and for comedic value could help adding “I need to ask for a brain.” Which led inexorable to me mock singing “I could whistle away the hour, conversing with the flowers. If I only had a brain.”

My wife corrected my mistake, and told me I would “...while away the hours, dear.”

After I said my goodbyes, and started walking away (no, I did not skip down the walk, as if it were a yellow brick road, nor did I sing “Good Ship Lollipop” but, I will remember to that next time) from the house I realized how much we Christians are like the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion. Except, it's not the The Wizard, an old man behind the curtain, we're asking, it is our Lord.

How many times have we prayed things like, "God, please give me peace" or "Lord, if it is your wll, give me boldness." Why do we need to ask for boldness or peace, doesn't God's word say we have them, the Word of God says 365 times phrases like "Do not be afraid" and “Do not worry.” The psalmists tell us, "With God on [our] side, what shall [we] fear?" and that "[We] can do all things, through Christ Jesus who strengthens [us]." I believe those to be true, but at times I ask God for strengthen. The Bible says he's already given us strengthen, so why do I have to ask Him for it?

It is because we have a habit of getting caught up in the moment, in the struggles of life, and we forget what we have been called to be and we have been blessed with. Troubles will come, and we will face times that make us feel fear, weakness, doubt and/or worry. But, those feelings should never come to say, they should come to pass. I wonder sometimes how many times Moses called out to God saying "Lord, I know you want me to do this, but I'm not good at speaking. I have no idea what you were thinking in choosing me."

I ponder if the little Shepard boy, David, had shaky hands when he stood before Saul and said, “Don't be afraid, I got this. I know he looks tough, and you're all scared of him, and I know I'm the runt of the litter – but I'm going to go out there and make that big jerk stop talking smack and telling 'Yo God' jokes. Sure, I'm just delivering food to my brothers – a bronze age version of Domino's or Pizza Hut -- not a part of this army, and lacking formal training, but, um, see I've scared off some animals while I watching my sheep. It'll all be good.” Or, was it his confidence that convinced Saul that this humble boy, maybe 16 years old, was ready to face a seasoned warrior. Did David walk in and say, “Hey, Saul, what are doing. He's only one guy. 40 days, really? Look, I'll go take him out, because I know a God who will give us victory. You've forgotten who we are, we're God's chosen. What do we have to fear? Give me five minutes alone with him and I'll make him regret that crack about your son being a bed wetter, and saying that yo' mama was so fat she sat on a quarter and squished a booger out of George Washington's nose. (No, I have no idea what a Quarter or a George Washington are – I don't think they exist yet, that's why it is such a bad insult for a Palestinian to use on an Israelite in the bronze age).” Alright, the idea of putting the Yo' Mama jokes, and equating David to pizza delivery, I must credit to Joe Giglietti's sermon "Scrap the Model, Change the World," (and don't forget to check out The 99).

The take away, is this: don't ask God for strength, peace or boldness, you have them already, If you need them, remember that God gave them to you when you received the spirit of the Lord. Remember that His ways are higher than yours, and His plans are not be the same as yours; but, even if He leads you down a tough road, all things still work together for the good of those who love Him. He has not given you the spirit of fear, but the world has made you afraid. When you need strength, remember that you have been called out by God, and when you need boldness, remember that you are a "Mighty Man [or woman] of Valor."

Reflections on the Independence Day

Independence day means grilled food, family and of course fireworks. A day off in celebration of our independence. What is often missed, however, is how important the actions our founding fathers took really was. In July of 1775, Patrick Henry stood before the group of men, and delivered a fiery speech, telling them that “The question before us is nothing less than the question of freedom or slavery.” Most of the colonists in the 13 colonies took pride in their British citizenship, and while they were unhappy with the Stamp Act and the Tax Act, few of these men were ready to risk everything and try to revolt. Some of them were willing to do things in secret like dress up like Native Americans, sneak aboard a freight ship and dump the tea in the water, but few if any were ready to start really talking about open rebellion. Henry's speech, however held weighty words and powerful ideas. At the end of that meeting they agreed to meet the next year and draft a declaration of war.

In congress July 4, 1776 The Unanimous Declaration of Independence for the Thirteen Colonies if the United States was penned and signed. It spoke of dangerous ideas, that sadly it is easy for us to take for granted. Following the short preamble, they begin, We take these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal. These were men who had studied the thinkers of the age of reason, and to call anything self-evident was a big deal for them. Particularly the sentiment that all men were created equal. It isn't clear if this spoke only of the white, land owning men or if this was an even more broad statement encompassing the slaves and women. The governments set up following this bold statement don't speak to the broader ideas, but Jefferson (while owning slaves himself) was a idealist pushing for abolition. Even if this “all men” concept was limited, it was practically unheard of at the time to say that, birth right doesn't matter. The nobles are not better than anyone bellow them, and the king and queen are my equals.

They continue, “That they are endowed, by their creator, with certain unalienable rights -- among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. At the time the idea of enlightened despotism ruled the day. God, most people thought, places kings and queens in power, and people were supposed to fall in line and blindly obey. This, however, spoke of rights for all men. Things that nature and nature's God had endowed us with. That we all had the right to live, be free and pursue our own destinies in life, a far cry from the serfdom, from religious persecution they were fleeing when they settled.

To secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, follows. The idea that governments derive their power not from the divine, but from the people which the governments rule. This would mean that the governments are there to serve us, not rule over us. That governments exists solely to protect our rights.

When Governments become destructive to these rights, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to set up new government... was the treacherous claim, in the eyes of the British thrown. That if people aren't happy with the government that rules them, that they have a God given right to amend government or to forcible replace it, if it doesn't serve them.

These are the ideals our system is based. No, the system of government we have since established isn't perfect. Slavery should never have been allowed, land ownership should never have mattered, women should have had equal rights from the very beginning, and so on... But, all things considered, our system was very progressive and a huge step in the right direction. Even with their faults, I think it is important to remember what risks these founding fathers took, that we might have the freedoms we do.