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Sunday, July 4, 2010

of independence and free will

Today is my country's 234th birthday.  I am proudly American.  To me, there is no more beautiful trio of colors than the red, white, and blue.  I like parades and fireworks and a contemplative walk through a military cemetery.  I get chills when I hear a veteran recall his adventures.  I feel goosebumps when the flag is raised. 

Some people would call me arrogant because I have this deep loyalty to my nation.  They dislike Aermican's prosperity and prominence.  They call her citizens arrogant.  They think we sit high atop our greatness and care not for others less fortunate.  They are wrong.

The great thing about America is that she still stands for "liberty and justice for all."  That is why we love our nation.  She does not clench us in beaurocracy; she does not stifle our creativity; she does not limit our opportunities; she does not regulate our families; she does not prohit our worship.  America was founded
on the belief that each individual has been bestowed by God with a choice and should have the freedom under Him to use that choice.  She offers that blessing to any and all who would come to her shores and become one of her children.  And for the many who do not live on her coast, she still offers aid when they are battered -- food and water and military assistance to the needy and oppressed.

Yet, those who claim her as their own know that personal liberty is what makes her great.  And it is because of the origin of that liberty. Free will is the gift of God that He will not withdraw.  In that way, we bear His image.  No other creature in the cosmos can choose--animals are directed by instinct; planets are guided by celestial forces; angels were made to serve.  But the human family has the freedom to choose and the understanding to make that possible. 

Being American does not give me special standing with God; He ranks no person higher than another.  But being American does give me the opportunity and the liberty to publicly and proudly serve Him and invite others to do the same.  Being American lets me study truth and share it without fear; it gives me the chance to raise my children as I see best and pray anytime and anywhere. 

In actuality, I know that I am a citizen of heaven and only have temporary status on earth.  But when I count my blessings, I will thank my Father for the privilege of residing (even for a while) in "the land of the free and the home of the brave."  God bless America -- "from sea to shining sea."

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