Why God gave us brains

You have a brain. Did you know? Yes, it’s Monday morning, so it might not have occurred to you. Drink another cup of coffee and it might kick in.

Everybody has a brain. Some of our brains don’t work well in the morning. You might swear some of our brains don’t work well at all. But whether you know you have one or sometimes you aren’t sure, everybody’s got one. So don’t you think we should use them?

Something that’s always baffled me about Christ-followers many times is this concept that if something is wrong, all you need to do is pray about it. That’s it. Just pray about it, and God will take care of it.

Now, that’s not an untrue statement. If something is wrong, the best course of action you can take is to pray about it. But if you’re walking down the street with a sack of groceries and you drop a can of beans, what do you do? Do you stand there and pray and expect that God will appear and put the can of beans back in your sack?

No! You bend over, pick it up, and put it back in the bag. That’s common sense. That’s using the resources God gave you to analyze the problem, come up with a solution, and execute a strategy to fix it.

It’s true God wants us to bring our problems to Him, big or small, but it’s also true He’s given us talents and resources so that we can do things on our own sometimes. He gave us a brain for a reason.

Hadrian's Wall, northern England

Hadrian’s Wall, northern England

Today’s verses are Nehemiah 4:7-9.

But when Sanballat and Tobiah and the Arabs, Ammonites, and Ashdodites heard that the work was going ahead and that the gaps in the wall of Jerusalem were being repaired, they were furious. They all made plans to come and fight against Jerusalem and throw us into confusion. But we prayed to our God and guarded the city day and night to protect ourselves.

The Book of Nehemiah is one of the best books in the Bible for leaders to read. It’s also fascinating for writers to read it too because it’s one of the only books that’s written in first person POV. It’s the story of Nehemiah and how he and a crew of workmen rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem against all odds.

With every great story, there is always a source of antagonism. In this case, it’s these sleazy guys who didn’t want Nehemiah to succeed, Sanballat and Tobiah. And at one point, they were making plans to attack the job site.

Well, what did Nehemiah do? He and his guys prayed.

Yes, they prayed. They prayed to God and just trusted that God would make everything work out without any effort on their part, and they slept through the night without any worries or concerns.

Is that what happened? Read the verse again.

They prayed to God AND guarded the city day and night to protect themselves.

I think there’s a principle in that statement we Christians miss sometimes. Are we supposed to pray and trust that God will take care of our problems? Yes! Absolutely! But does that mean we need to sit back and do nothing when we know there’s a threat to the work God is doing in our lives? Absolutely not.

Every follower of Christ is called to accomplish something incredible for God. It’s different for every person, but we all have a calling on our lives. Every God-calling has similar characteristics, namely that it will always bring God glory, always bring others to Him, and always agree with what the Bible says. And whenever you accept a God-calling in your life, you’re going to face opposition.

We have an enemy out there, folks, and he doesn’t want us to succeed at anything, especially if it’s in the name of Jesus. And he’ll use whatever means necessary to stop us.

So if you know someone is threatening the work you’re doing for Christ, do you just sit back and let them come and tear it all down? No!

Now, you don’t have the right to stoop to their level. As Christ followers, we must always remember who God is and how He has called us to live, even when we’re dealing with people who would destroy us. But that doesn’t mean we can’t stand for something. That doesn’t mean we can’t protect what we’ve invested our lives in.

It’s about finding the balance between trusting God and using the resources God has given us. We are to trust God in everything we do, whether we think it’s good or bad. But if you know trouble is coming, if you know something’s not right, God has given you resources and knowledge on how to make sound judgments.

You have a brain. Use it. Do the things you can do, and trust the rest to God.

War Memorial Cathedrel at Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh, Scotland

They don’t build them like they used to

I have always loved architecture, even before I got into the building and construction industry. I don’t know how to do it. I don’t know how to build things, but I love to look at buildings, especially old ones. So getting to visit Edinburgh and London this summer was a real treat, because I’m not sure we stayed anywhere that wasn’t as old or older than my 100-year-old house. Old buildings are just cool.

It’s fun to imagine what it took to build them, especially the buildings at a place like Edinburgh Castle. That place is immense, and it’s all built of stone. We get used to modern construction, little houses that are pieced together and pre-manufactured. But even my old house was a custom job in 1915, and Edinburgh Castle, well, I can’t even begin to imagine how much work that was. The oldest castle buildings were built in the 12th Century, I believe, and at first blush you’d think that’s impressive because they’re still there. There are a lot of other castles that are probably older that aren’t in this good a shape. Does that mean Scottish castles are just better built?

Well, maybe. But it’s more likely that Edinburgh Castle is in better condition than others because it’s been maintained. It’s the same with the Tower of London, which is approximately the same age and still in spotless condition. The thing about old buildings that are still intact enough to walk around in isn’t that they were built better than other buildings the same age; it’s that someone came along and kept them up.

Scottish National War Memorial at Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh, Scotland

Scottish National War Memorial at Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh, Scotland

Today’s verses are Jude 1:20-21.

But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit,and await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will bring you eternal life. In this way, you will keep yourselves safe in God’s love.

Life has a tendency of tearing down what we build. As a Kansan, I can appreciate how temporary buildings can be. It’s unusual to find a house the age of my home in these parts because most houses don’t make it that long. The storms blow them down. And while my poor house has certainly taken a beating (I’m getting my new roof put on this week!), it hasn’t been blown over … yet.

But other buildings on my property haven’t fared as well. I have an old 1800s era schoolhouse that’s falling down. But I haven’t maintained it. That’s the difference. Buildings don’t stay up just because you build them; you have to keep them up.

And it’s the same with our relationships. Haven’t you found that the friendships you spend time maintaining are the ones that last? You can’t be friends with someone and never talk to them. If you have a friend you haven’t talked to in years, you’re not friends. You’re acquaintances.

And that goes for our relationship with God too.

Faith is difficult to build. It takes a long time and a lot of effort, but once you’re done, it can be pretty impressive. Faith is impressive, especially to people who don’t have as much of it or who’ve turned away from it. No matter what they may say, I’ve discovered that people who don’t believe have a deep respect for people who do. But just because you have faith doesn’t mean it won’t fall into disrepair if you neglect it.

Time and storms and general chaos will wear your faith down, and if you don’t take steps to keep your faith up, it will fall. So how do you do that? Well, you keep reading the Bible, for one. And you keep talking to God. And you keep up your relationships with other believers who encourage you. This verse is kind of interesting because depending on the translation you pick, it will say either “build each other up” or “build yourselves up.” I don’t know which one is right, but honestly? Either one works. Maintenance is difficult generally speaking, and there’s nothing wrong with doing it yourself or asking someone else to help you.

Faith is like an old castle. It’s carefully constructed to withstand enemy attacks and the ravages of time, but if nobody lives there, it will eventually fall. So don’t let your castle crumble. Take steps now to help your faith grow strong so when the storms and attacks come, you’ll be able to stand through them. That’s not saying you won’t take damage, but it’s more likely that you’ll still be standing in the end.