On July 4, 2024, the United States of America celebrates its 248th Independence Day!  It was in 1870 that the U.S. Congress established the fourth day of July as a national holiday, acknowledging the birth of the United States of America as an independent nation, separate from Great Britain.

As a result of the American Revolution, which began in April 1775, the Continental Congress formally declared independence from Great Britain on July 2, 1776 and the final wording of the Declaration of Independence was approved on July 4, 1776.

Credit: The Constitutionalist [theconstitutionalist.org]

For many nowadays, celebrating Independence Day means a day off from work, demonstrating to family and loved ones our amazing expertise at the BBQ grill, attending parades and enjoying fireworks.  All of these things are wonderful(!), but we should never forget that the freedom we enjoy isn’t shared in many other countries of the world and it came at a price.  It was paid for in blood, sweat, tears and prayer, and often, at the expense of the lives of those willing to fight against an oppressing force.  Simply signing the Declaration of Independence was an incredible act of bravery.

Military.com has a concise and informative overview of the meaning and history of Independence Day, which may be read HERE.

In the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence, the thirteen (13) united states acknowledged our Creator, affirmed the equality of all men (and women), made it clear and that our rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness were “unalienable”…meaning they flowed from and were granted by God (not men).

“WE hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness—That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government…”.

FGGAM Co-Founder and Pastor Dewey Moede asked me to provide some commentary as to how I feel about the 4th of July holiday.  The following is a reflection on my life and personal views, not necessarily the views of FGGAM:

Well, I was born and raised in northern Maine (Presque Isle), a rural area where potato farming seemed as natural and ‘American’ as apple pie.  It was a place located near the former Strategic Air Command (“SAC”) installation, Loring AFB, where B-52 bombers were housed.  It wasn’t until I joined the USAF myself in 1986 that I truly realized the significance of the military operations happening there during my childhood.  There was something uniquely American about having a leading edge SAC military installation next door to Aroostook County’s only local ¼ mile stock car race track known as “Spud Speedway!”

Chuck Akeley / FGGAM [File Photograph]

Times change, of course, but during my youth there was an unspoken understanding that we lived in a great country, a free country, a “representative democracy” (republic) in which it was considered good to be civic-minded, patriotic, and proudly Christian.  I remember speaking the Pledge of Allegiance in school (at least during my grade school years) and I don’t recall any – not even one – “anti-American” protest or meeting during my entire youth, despite the ongoing, or ending of, the Vietnam War.

In fact, as I consider the current condition of our country and how so many find it so easy to criticize and besmirch the uniquely ‘melting pot’ approach of the United States, a country that has been clearly blessed of God, I am struck by the realization that I grew up with an unquenchable sense of optimism and a lack of “anti” philosophies.  There seemed to be an innate understanding that it was best to express regret for horrible situations and then make the necessary changes, trusting that in America, even when we mess up, it was our responsibility to make it right.

By the way, it seems to me that the ‘melting pot’ approach of the United States only works when those emigrating to the country are willing to ‘melt’ and when those already in the country are willing to love (in Christ) and support those who desire to live here.  Although we are blessed by the varying traditions and views of those from outside of the United States, desiring to simply replicate what was left behind in a new land is a formula for trouble and creates a lack of unity – which is an approach fueled by selfishness and lack of concern for the greater good.  We are supposed to love our neighbors as ourselves (see Luke 10:25-28).

Before I’m accused of seeing life through ‘rose-colored glasses,’ I acknowledge that we often remember that which was ‘good’ and tend to repress that which was ‘bad’ over time, but that does not negate the truth of what was GOOD!

One thing that will always be undeniable – whether we live in the United States or elsewhere – is that without the love of God in our hearts, we are in trouble (see 1 Corinthians 8:1-2).  Let’s remember on this Independence Day that we are made in the image and likeness of God (see Genesis 1:26-27), that the Father loves us just as He loves Jesus (see John 17:20-23), and that Jesus willingly suffered an agonizing death upon the cross as the only acceptable sacrifice for sin so that you and I might be saved and live eternally with the Father in heaven (see John 3:16-17) – if we will believe upon the name of Jesus and ask Him into our lives as Lord and Savior (see Romans 10:13)!

As a Christian, I’m reminded that the spiritual liberty we enjoy in the United States of America, and celebrate, in part, on this Independence Day, also came at a price.  Our salvation was paid for in blood, sweat, tears and prayer, and at the expense of the life of Jesus, our Lord and Savior.  Let’s never take for granted the blessing that it is to live in the United States.  A country that for nearly 250 years has been a blessing to its citizens, a blessing to the world, and in the care of Almighty God.

Please pray for our nation.  Let’s take the opportunity on this Independence Day to not only celebrate the United States, but to repent before God for the sin and selfishness in our land, and to proudly proclaim the blessings, goodness and salvation found only through Christ Jesus (see 2 Chronicles 7:14).

Let us always remember that where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom (see 2 Corinthians 3:17)!

Here are the aforementioned scriptures (in order):

Luke 10:25-28 (NKJV)
The Parable of the Good Samaritan
“And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him [Jesus], saying, ‘Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?’  He said to him, ‘[w]hat is written in the law?  What is your reading of it?’  So he answered and said, ‘[y]ou shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and [love] ‘your neighbor as yourself.’  And He [Jesus] said to him, ‘[y]ou have answered rightly; do this and you will live.’”

1 Corinthians 8:1-2 (Amplified Bible)
Take Care with Your Liberty
“…Knowledge [alone] makes [people self-righteously] arrogant, but love [that unselfishly seeks the best for others] builds up and encourages others to grow [in wisdom].  If anyone imagines that he knows and understands anything [of divine matters, without love], he has not yet known as he ought to know.”

Genesis 1:26-27 (NKJV)
“Then God said, ‘[l]et Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’  So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”

John 17:20-23 (NKJV)
Jesus Prays to the Father – The Father Loves Us Just Like He Loves Jesus
“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.  And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one:  I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me [emphasis mine].”

John 3:16-17 (NKJV)
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.  For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”

Romans 10:13 (NKJV)
“For ‘whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’”

2 Chronicles 7:14 (NKJV)
“…if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

2 Corinthians 3:17 (Amplified Bible)
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty [emancipation from bondage, true freedom].”

Praise Jesus forevermore!

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