It's Fourth of July week here in the United States!
The Fourth is called "Independence Day." Across the country, Americans of all races, politics, and creeds will be celebrating. There will be parades, barbecues, and block parties from rural towns to skyscraper-filled cities. The Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Continental Congress on this day....
The men who signed the document knew that it could be their death warrant. The 56 men who signed, 27 of whom were trained as ministers, took their pledge seriously:
"And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance of the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, our sacred honor."That morning when they signed the Declaration, there was silence and gloom in the great hall as each man was called up to the table by the President of the Congress to sign it -- they knew it could mean their death by hanging. The writer and the signers intended for the Declaration to "make it official." To tell the world that there was going to be a separation between America and Great Britain. But they based the Declaration upon a foundational belief: that God, our Creator, was the source of mankind's irrevocable rights.
Not to bore you with details, but for over two hundred years, America has been blessed as the longest on-going Constitutional republic in the history of this planet. These are blessings from God, and preserving our liberty means that we need to understand where it all started.
You see, I don't agree with folks who say this country was not founded on Christian principles. I believe it was. And I back my claim by asking the people who were there . . . yes, I know they are no longer living. But I can look at their writings!
John Adams said: "The general principles on which the Fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity." And in a letter to his wife, Abigail, he noted that this memorable day should be commemorated as a "day of deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty."
Thomas Jefferson said: "God Who gave us life gave us liberty."
Another of the Adams clan, Samuel Adams, who signed that day, said: "Just and true liberty, equal and impartial liberty.....is a thing that all men are clearly entitled to by the eternal....laws of God."
George Washington: "Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and morality are indispensable...."
And John Quincy Adams: "The highest glory of the American Revolution was this; that it connected....the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity."
Right after the signing, and after the Liberty Bell rang out, the first two actions of the Continental Congress were to assign military chaplains, and to distribute several thousand Bibles.
Are we seeing a pattern here?
The foundation for this country is definite. And the blessings we have received are gifts. America is exceptional because of those gifts....and we must recognize the grace of God in our history. It's God's unmerited favor that has allowed this country to grow and prosper. Our attitude should be one of gratitude!
Ronald Reagan said:
"Without God there is no virtue because there is no prompting of the conscience....without God there is a coarsening of the society; without God democracy will not and cannot long endure....If we ever forget that we are one Nation Under God, then we will be a Nation gone under."
This Independence Day, let us all celebrate with gratitude, not with boasting. Let's light some fireworks, gather our friends and family, and throw some burgers on the grill.
But most importantly, let's bow our heads in humble gratitude to God.
Happy Fourth of July!
(I'll be back next week!)