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Only in America

1 Jul

I read some funny “Only in America” quotes on a political joke archive:

  • Only in America. This country is so accommodating. There are handicapped parking places everywhere, even in front of a skating rink.
  • Only in America… do people order double cheeseburgers, large fries, and a diet Coke.
  • Only in America… do we buy ourselves answering machines to screen calls, and then have ‘call waiting’ so we won’t miss a call from someone we didn’t want to converse with in the first place.
  • Only in America… do we have drive-up ATM machines with Braille lettering.
  • Only in America… do banks leave both doors to the vault open, and then chain the pens to the counters.
  • Only in America… do we buy hot dogs in packages of ten, and buns in packages of eight.

Only in America … but I’d rather be in America than any country on earth.

Travel anywhere in the world … see the beautiful sites and interesting cultures … and you’ll still get a lump in your throat as you return home.

Home

“This world is not my home, I’m just a passin’ through,” says the old Gospel song. Yes, heaven is my true home (John 14:2; 1 Corinthians 2:7-9; Philippians 1:21-23; 3:20-21), but as long as I’m alive on this earth, America will always be special. I love to sing “God bless America, my home sweet home….”

Only in America …

As I’ve been thinking about that phrase all week, my mind focused on “The Four Freedoms.”

An engraving on a wall at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial in Washington, DC, bears the four freedoms we celebrate in our country.*

President Roosevelt articulated these goals in 1941 in his January 6 State of the Union Address, proposing four fundamental freedoms that he thought people “everywhere in the world” ought to enjoy. By stating these freedoms, he went beyond the US Constitution’s values ~ the first two freedoms protected by the First Amendment ~ to include values he felt were important to human security.

Roosevelt envisioned a world where freedom of speech and expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want (economic understandings and security), and freedom from fear (which in his mind translated into worldwide reduction of armaments).  “That kind of world is the very antithesis of the so-called new order of tyranny which the dictators seek to create with the crash of a bomb,” Franklin said.

Roosevelt’s speech was later represented by artist Norman Rockwell in his series ofFour Freedoms paintings, published in The Saturday Evening Post in 1943.

I thought about these four freedoms and how they relate to scriptural truth.I believe that it is the Truth of God’s Word that brings the freedom our hearts crave.

First, let me say that there are no guarantees of any of these freedoms in this sin-corrupted world. Humans sometimes have the nasty habit of being nasty to each other and robbing each other of the dignity and beauty God created us to bear as well as the good gifts He provides.

Roosevelt expressed some guiding principles for peace as the world seemed to crumble in the 1940s. But long before this, God gave us His Word to show us how we could realize the deepest desires of our hearts ~ including the desire for freedom. True freedom is never freedom from God; it is freedom found in God.

Freedom of Speech and Expression ~ God created us with the ability to speak and express ourselves. He didn’t want silent puppets. He wanted people who can talk to Him (our part in prayer). He wanted us to express our hearts and thoughts to Him, and God wants to interact with us. He wants us to listen, too. Imagine the freedom of sweet communication with Him and with others in the family of God.

Freedom of Worship ~ God created us to worship Him. Yes, we were designed for worship. We will all worship something or someone. God is the only one, however, who deserves our worship and praise. Imagine the freedom of perfect worship before the Creator who loves you and delights in you.

Freedom from Want ~ God created mankind to enjoy Him in the Garden of Eden, and He provided all that the first man and woman needed (food, a perfect environment,  companionship, meaningful work, etc.), and God is still our Ultimate Provider Imagine the freedom of walking with God, knowing all your needs are met. 

Freedom from Fear ~ God did not create us to fear. The scriptures tell us that perfect love casts out fear, and God created us to know His perfect love. He sent His Son to show us how much He loves us. He asks us to cast all our anxieties on Him ~ all our worries and fears, because He cares about us. Imagine the freedom of childlike trust and complete freedom from all fear.

We do not have to simply imagine these things, Friends. We were created to experience and enjoy these great freedoms. Sin, Satan and selfishness rob us of those blessings, but when we return to our Father God, He redeems our lives and restores these freedoms and many more.

It is the truth that sets us free; and we come to the Father through Jesus, who embodies “the truth.”

True freedom is in Christ, and we are not to live in bondage to sin. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” (Galatians 5:1)

Yes, we celebrate America’s Independence and all our freedoms on July 4th; but the truth is … it is not “only in America” that we experience these great freedoms. We enjoy the best blessings of freedom when our citizenship is in heaven, our true home.

 

* Photo, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic; Wikimedia Commons: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:FDR_Memorial_wall.jpg; original photographer unknown.

The Source of True Freedom

4 Jul

The preacher noticed little Billy was staring up at the plaque that hung in the foyer of the church. It was covered with names and small American flags were mounted on either side of it.

The seven-year-old had been staring at the plaque for some time, so the preacher walked up, stood beside the little boy, and said quietly, “Good morning, Billy.”

“Good morning, Preacher,” Billy replied, still focused on the plaque, and then he asked, “Preacher, what is this?”

“Well, son, it’s a memorial to all the brave young men and women who died while in the service.”

They stood together, soberly staring at the plaque. Billy looked shaken. Finally, in a voice barely audible, he asked the preacher, “Which service ~ the 9:45 or the 11:00?” (1)

Flag 1776Silliness aside, today we celebrate America’s Independence Day ~ commonly known as the Fourth of July. Many fine men and women have sacrificed for our freedom, so we can enjoy the freedoms we have in the United States.

Independence day is associated with parades, picnics, barbecues, concerts, baseball games, family reunions, and especially, fireworks. But the heart of Independence Day is the celebration of our declared independence from Great Britain in 1776. Actually, the war continued to rage for years, and was not formally ended until a treaty was signed on September 3, 1783.

We must never take our freedom for granted. As historian David Barton says, “We continue to be the longest on-going Constitutional Republic in the history of the world. Blessings such as these are not by chance or accidental. They are blessings of God. (2)

As Americans sought their independence from Great Britain, they declared their Christian worldview: their Creator, they said, had endowed them with certain “inalienable” (absolute) rights. Rights given to men by God. While it may be true that not every founder of this nation was a devout believer, our country was clearly founded on biblical values ~ Christian principles from the Word of God.

Sadly today, many of our leaders and politicians have all but thrown out these values and principles.

Lincoln's Bible

Lincoln's Bible

Our nation is suffering because of it.

The God that our forefathers looked to for guidance and protection is often scoffed at today, or simply dismissed as irrelevant. Secularism is tearing the fabric of our nation, and as a result, it is not only our foundational values that are being attacked, but also our economy, our families, and even our security.

Americans are a freedom-loving people, but today, many reject the source of true freedom. “So if the Son liberates you [makes you free men], then you are really and unquestionably free.” (John 8:36, Amplified).

President Lincoln knew the foundation for America’s freedom, and he encouraged people to reflect carefully on their relationship with God.  “It is the duty of nations, as well as of men [individuals],” Lincoln said, “to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, and to recognize the sublime truth announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.” (3)

It is our joy to be Christians in a free land. Many would love this privilege!

We must unashamedly embrace our freedom in Christ and our Christian heritage. Our children and grandchildren need to see the power of the truth of God. Their future may depend on our faithfulness.

(1) Adapted from “My Little Sister’s Clean Jokes,” http://www.emmitsburg.net/humor/archives/clean/clean_10.htm

(2) http://wesleysocialgospel.blogspot.com/2009/07/celebrating-independence-day-christian.html

(3) http://www.quotiki.com/quotes/12812

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