Celebrate America

This will be my only blog post for this holiday week.  I hope you have plans to celebrate the freedom we have been given, especially our freedom of faith.  We often speak of those who use that freedom to make choices that steer our country away from God’s blessings.  I’d like to take this opportunity to write to the faithful, and ask you to use your freedom of speech to steer the country towards God. 

This country will come together on the 4th, unified by our gratitude for those who have given us the chance to be “one nation.”  I hope one day there will be a majority of people who once again understand that our founders wanted us to be “one nation under God.”

St. Augustine said, “There is no true liberty except the liberty of the happy who cleave to the eternal law.”  The apostle Paul said, “Now this Lord is the Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (2 Corinthians 3:17)  What should Christians remember as we celebrate our freedom this week?

Only those who are Christians are truly free.  All Christians are free eternally.  Today, the Christians who live Spirit-led lives are those who will experience the truest form of freedom on earth.  A country can grant people the right to freedom.  Only God can make people free.

I am proud to live in this country.  I enjoy displaying our flag, praying for our soldiers and singing the great songs that celebrate our history.  My favorite anthem is “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”  Julia Ward Howe wrote the words of the hymn, kind of.  This is her account of that event: “I went to bed that night as usual, and slept, according to my wont, quite soundly. I awoke in the gray of the morning twilight; and as I lay waiting for the dawn, the long lines of the desired poem began to twine themselves in my mind. Having thought out all the stanzas, I said to myself, ‘I must get up and write these verses down, lest I fall asleep again and forget them.’ So, with a sudden effort, I sprang out of bed, and found in the dimness an old stump of a pen which I remembered to have used the day before. I scrawled the verses almost without looking at the paper.”   I read Julia’s account of those moments and recognized the true author.  The Holy Spirit inspired the words of this hymn. 

I remember watching the memorial service at the Washington National Cathedral after 9/11.  The choir sung The Battle Hymn of the Republic and I don’t think I have ever been so affected by its words as I was at that moment.  For me, that hymn describes the true freedom that our country desires, the freedom only Christians are able to experience.

Pray for our soldiers who are fighting for our country’s freedom.  But, take this week to pray for the Christian soldiers that are fighting for the chance to share God’s perfect freedom with the world.  God’s missionaries live throughout the world and many are unable to freely display the banner of their faith.  They have relinquished their personal freedoms for a higher cause. 

This is a great week to celebrate – but let’s also celebrate the most profound freedom we have been given.  Francois Fenelon said it well: “True freedom is only to be found when one escapes from oneself and enters into the liberty of the children of God.”  You have been granted a great deal of freedom by our nation.  How will you use that freedom to help someone find perfect freedom in Christ?

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