Happy Independence Day!


Enjoy and celebrate this day off of work. It’s a great day for friends and family, grilling, beer, great movies, and fireworks at night. I love that stuff, and believe times of joy and celebration are much needed in a culture where we work more and more and seem to spend less and less time with the people who matter most.

While celebrating this year, I think we should take some time to remember what this day is all about. The day we often refer to as the “Fourth of July” has a lot more significance when it goes by the name which gave it its reason for existence: Independence Day.

Just as Christmas is celebrated with presents, but we remember its meaning by reading the story of Jesus’ birth, this day ought to be remembered for its true meaning.

On this day, 236 years ago, representatives from this continent declared that they knew where our rights come from. They declared that since we were all created by God, and since we are all equal in His eyes, and since our fundamental rights come from Him, we ought not let men take our rights from us. If God desires us to be free, why should we give our freedoms to a tyrant king who, in the eyes of our Creator, is equal to every other human being?

After establishing the Source of our Rights and the role of Government, they went on to list the crimes committed by the King of Great Britain against the people of these young States. These “injuries and usurpations” were recorded and made known not only to the people of both continents at that time, but they are now recorded in history, and every generation since can read for themselves exactly the kinds of encroachments this tyrant made. This was important for them to do, as now no one can call into question the motives of a people who reclaimed their Freedom.

Finally, as they appealed to the “Supreme Judge of the world” for the integrity of their intentions, they declared their freedom and absolved their loyalty to the Crown. Then they declared the new subject of their allegiance. In taking on the British empire and risking everything they had to go to war with the best Navy in the world, they said to each other and the universe:

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

Wow. Everything they had. They knew they could lose it all. Yet they firmly trusted God for protection and they pledged everything to each other for the sake of the greatest cause their lives would ever know.

That’s worth celebrating. And it’s worth remembering.

To help us all remember what this day is about, even as we celebrate, I’ve created an Independence Day playlist. It has songs about freedom, rebelling against oppression, and just some classic American songs. It’s no substitute for reading the Declaration again this year, but it’s another way to remind us today. You can Subscribe to it, share it, or take it with you to play at parties. While you’re relaxing with friends and family, remember where we came from. Remember why we are so free. Remember where our rights come from and how blessed we are to live in a land where those rights are protected.

Happy Independence Day!

I Want to be More Like This Guy

I want to be more like Thomas. No, not Thomas Jefferson (though I am grateful for his work, especially the Declaration of Independence—but that’s another post entirely.) I’m talking about Thomas, the disciple, the follower of Jesus. We usually refer to him as “Doubting” Thomas. He’s the guy who wanted to see the holes in Jesus’ hands, feet and side, in order to be convinced that Jesus had indeed resurrected from the dead. Because of that, Thomas is known not for his faith, but for his doubt.

There’s a lot more to “Doubting” Thomas though that isn’t as well-taught or -known. I only learned last year that he was one of the first to bring the gospel of Christ to India. “Saint” Thomas, as he is known there now, even has a mountain named after him. Check out this video on Thomas’ impact in India, shot from the top of St. Thomas Mount:

I’d like to think I have a lot in common with Thomas. I think he was a guy who wanted to make sure he had his facts straight and that everything made sense—before he believed. But once he knew the truth, he dove in and gave 100%. There was no stopping a believing Thomas. Check out this passage, from John 11, well before the whole little doubting incident:

6 So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days,7 and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”

8 “But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?”

9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light.10 It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.”

11 After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.”

12 His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.”13 Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep.

14 So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead,15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”

16 Then Thomas (also known as Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

That little line in the middle of a story of resurrection says a lot. Thomas wasn’t necessarily sure Jesus would come out of there alive (perhaps he was doubting?) but he had seen enough evidence, and believed in this Jesus so fully, that he was ready to give his life at a moment’s notice for Him.

That’s what I want. I know I won’t always have the answers, and at times my human mind—not capable of fully grasping a life other than the fallen-nature of this present world—won’t be able to comprehend a way out. But I want to be a person who doesn’t believe blindly, but with the passion that only asking questions and finding the Truth can bring.