Tag Archives: freedom

When Foundations Shift, Cracks Begin to Show

“Wow, I wonder how much farther that old sagging column supporting the corner of this old sagging house can lean out southward before the corner of the house just collapses and wordlessly pleads, ‘Help! I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up!’”

Nothing about that column is plumb, square, or level anymore, but I do notice some symmetry this morning. I’m writing my weekly Focus on Faith column weakly, sitting beside a weak porch column, and displaying at least some weak faith that this will not be the morning when that weak column collapses.

I don’t think the problem with that porch column started with the column. I’ve got my bag chair perched on the porch; if I look down, I see two things: 1) concrete, almost 90 years old, of an incredible quality no longer available; and, 2) in spite of the quality of the concrete, one big almost inch-wide crack bisecting the porch.

So the real problem is that the column is perched on the porch, the porch is concrete perched on a “stem-wall” foundation, and the foundation is shifting because the ground below it (drought-ravaged) started shifting first. Hence, that porch column leans, and even world-class concrete is defiled by a big crack.

When foundations become weak and begin shifting, much that we depend on to be sturdy begins to falter. We can no longer count on “plumb, square, and level.” Cracks that have been forming soon become too obvious to ignore. And, yes, eventually, columns tumble and what they have long supported crashes down.

We don’t have to look far in our society to see cracks becoming obvious. Look for their source and you’ll find foundations that are shifting and no longer able to support the weight they were designed to carry. Cracks. Crumbling. Collapse.

We’ve laughed at truth. I hear phrases like “your truth” and “my truth” which make about as much sense as “your gravity” and “my gravity.”

We’ve twisted real freedom, freedom to live a truly freeing, unselfish life of love that broadens our souls and blesses others, into the counterfeit “I’ve Gotta Be Me” no matter who I hurt.

We abandon foundational values as timeless and real as the multiplication tables (“your math” and “my math”?) and are surprised when what we build using false figures won’t stay standing. C. S. Lewis described the situation: “We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.”

If this old porch column is to go on bearing weight, my brothers and I are going to have to rebuild it on a firm footing.

And where can we find a foundation that will bear the weight of our lives so that our lives can be built not only to bless ourselves but to bless those around us?

May I suggest a walk down the street this Sunday morning? You’ll likely find a place where people meet to honor the Builder who set the foundation posts of this universe. As cracked and weak and crumbling as many of us who meet below them are, steeples still point in the right direction—to the One who is eternally faithful and strong.

 

 

     You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

Copyright 2017 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

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Freedom Is a Costly and Precious Gift

Until my family and I moved to Muleshoe, Texas, over thirty-two years ago, and I discovered the largest and best part of America, the “small town” part, I had never experienced Independence Day as it really ought to be experienced and celebrated. Since that time, I’ve gained new love for this special day.

I don’t know exactly what July 4th means to you. It’s just a date, but all wrapped up in the date, along with mental images of hot dogs, ice cream, and fireworks, are deeper impressions of freedom and liberty—and sacrifice. Very real sacrifices made so that our nation might remain free.

Odd, isn’t it, that freedom itself is never really free? It is, in fact, a very costly thing. The price was paid in literal blood, sweat, and tears. Many, like me, who have personally paid so little of the price of freedom but who share mightily in its blessings, tend to forget what a costly thing it is.

I hope we don’t forget. As a Christian, my love for this nation pales beside my allegiance to Christ who paid the debt to make me truly free, but it is still true that a lifetime of love and devotion to America, this grand experiment in self-government, is not enough even to begin to pay back the debt of gratitude every citizen of this land owes.

It’s a debt, you see, not just to a flag, a nation, a form of government. It’s a debt to the men and women who put their lives and liberty on the line—ordinary people who showed extraordinary courage and uncommon unselfishness by willingly laying aside their own comfort and personal pleasure so that other ordinary people, like you and me, could live as free men and women in a land whose founders recognized liberty as an “inalienable” gift bestowed not by any government but by our Creator.

The debt we owe to those who’ve gone before is real. You don’t have to belong to a particular political party to begin to pay it. You just need to realize that safeguarding your freedom to belong to any party you choose or none at all did not come cheaply.

You don’t have to agree with the domestic or foreign policy of a particular administration of government to begin to pay back that debt. You don’t have to be pleased with the quality of the nominees for high office. You just need to be thankful to live in a land where the voices of the people are heard—even if you sometimes wish they spoke with deeper wisdom and civility.

You don’t have to like everything that has gone on in this nation to begin to pay back the debt we all owe. You just need to love this land.

You’re free not to. That’s the amazing thing about freedom. You’re free not to acknowledge the blessing, not to appreciate it, not to cherish it. You’re free to be selfish and self-seeking, ignorant and arrogant, ungrateful and blind to what is still, in the midst of all of her many shortcomings and challenges, very, very good about this land.

But as long as enough people of good will choose to love this land unselfishly, living and working in ways that show a practical willingness to make sacrifices, large and small, to make this country better, one choice at a time, our nation will still be free.

 

    You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

Copyright 2017 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

 

 


Americans Need to Keep Hyphens in Perspective

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As an English major and an occasional copy editor, may I say that the hyphen, as tricky at times as it is versatile (think, confusingly, of dashes, en hyphens, em hyphens, etc.), is a noble and useful mark of punctuation. But it pays to keep hyphens in perspective.

In our present age and culture, the hyphen, too often seen as a mark of division, can serve us better as a mark of unity, all the more noble because that unity occurs in the richness of genuine and joyful diversity, as opposed to the insipid and sterile “politically correct” kind.

I’m just thinking, during this Independence Day week, that almost all of us in America can justly lay claim in one way or another to a hyphen. Some of us just got here. But many others of us are from families who have been in America for generations and are so mixed up genetically that our hyphens might actually extend for paragraphs. Even so, lots of us still have at least some idea of the parts of the world from whence many of our ancestors hailed. Hence, hyphens can happen.

My particular hyphen firmly links British with American. British-American.   I’ve never understood why we rarely, if ever, hear that particular hyphenated term of ancestral description. Prejudice? I don’t know. We hear of Italian-Americans, Polish-Americans, Spanish-Americans, Mexican-Americans, African-Americans, etc. Why don’t we hear of British-Americans? I’m not kidding. I really wonder.

In any case, in my case, the Shelburne & Caudle, Shropshire & Key blood mingling in my veins points back to merry old England. And, for what it’s worth, though I had nothing to do with my birth, I am absolutely okay with that. When I read the words of my personal heroes, like the man singly most responsible for leading in the defeat of Hitler in World War II, Winston Churchill (whose mother, by the way, was American and who himself near the end of his life received honorary American citizenship), I look back on the long history of British-American relations and am thankful for the exceptionally warm ties of friendship and, for most of their histories, faith, that have long bound England and America wonderfully and almost always together.

But what about your own hyphen and your own heroes? I can be happy with mine and at the same time be completely happy that you’re happy with yours. I guarantee you, I’m richer (and fatter) for having feasted on the food, enjoyed the flair, and learned to love a bunch of the customs that have come with lots of different hyphens to the nation that nurtures us all. We are first and foremost simply Americans, hyphens be celebrated or hyphens be hanged.

God, the Father of us all, hates divisiveness. He paid the highest price to unite his children. But he loves, celebrates, and makes possible genuine and joyful diversity of the very best and richest sort. If you doubt that, just visit a zoo. Or . . . America.

 

     You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

 

Copyright 2016 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

 


One Word From the King Trumps the Supreme Court

 

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The colored lights recently painting the White House, the Obama administration’s anything-but-classy dance in the end zone after the Supreme Court’s incredibly overreaching “legislation” last week, cast the White House flag in a strange and dim light.

I don’t like how some folks have tried to dim and sully rainbows and their breathtaking beauty. I don’t like what the Supreme Court majority, in breathtaking arrogance has tried to do with a flick of the pen to an institution ordained by the Creator of the universe. (That institution, is “marriage,” not “federal power.”)

And I deeply dislike this most recent federal assault on the Constitution and the powers that should remain with the states. Reading Winston Churchill’s amazing A History of the English-Speaking Peoples (Churchill is incredibly astute in his “take” on the Civil War), I was at first surprised to see him using “United States” as the plural term that it originally was. But I soon found such usage amazingly refreshing, a much-needed reminder.

What a sad and putrid river of arrogance, idiocy, and immorality overflowed its banks last week. No wonder the White House flag was painted in a weird and unnatural light.

It will be, I’m afraid, a strange Independence Day this year, particularly for those who’ve held as priceless the words of the First Amendment regarding the “free exercise of religion” and “freedom of speech.” The federal government is a giant step closer to telling pastors who they can unite in marriage. And increasingly in our land, any speech not approved by the majority is easily defined as “hate speech.” One wonders how many “Fourths” will still pass in our land while the First Amendment means anything.

I think—I hope—that I would be willing to die for this nation. I would do the same, by the way, for my state. I’ll fly my nation’s flag on July 4th, as I always have. But I’m tempted to tie a black ribbon around its pole. Some national sorrow. Some national repentance. Some national recognition of shame seems in order.

The recent Supreme Court decision well deserves a boatload of adjectives: shameful, immoral, overreaching, unjust, heavy-handed, illogical, arrogant, pretentious, egotistic. Yet again states and citizens get shoved down their throats a ruling legitimized simply because a majority of nine lawyers choose to cut off public debate and steer us by force in the direction they personally prefer.

Among my respected colleagues in ministry, I know not a single one would be cruel to a homosexual. But I know more than a few who would go to jail before they would willingly preside at a same-sex marriage.

Whatever happens, it is good for American Christians to have to realize what most Christians in most times have always realized: Truth is truth, no matter what the majority believes. “Fiery trials” for Christians are the rule, not the exception. Our hope is in God, not in government. One word from our King trumps the time-bound rulings of a million courts. His victory is assured.

 

       You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

 

Copyright 2015 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.o


Grace Is What Sets Christianity Apart

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Philip Yancey writes that at a British conference scholars from around the world were discussing the most basic beliefs that set Christianity apart from other world religions. As they debated some important possibilities, C. S. Lewis wandered into the room. “What’s the rumpus about?” he asked, and he was told that they were asking what Christianity’s unique contribution among world religions might be. He answered, “Oh, that’s easy. It’s grace.”

Yancey continues, “After some discussion, the conferees had to agree. The notion of God’s love coming to us free of charge, no strings attached, seems to go against every instinct of humanity. The Buddhist eight-fold path, the Hindu doctrine of karma, the Jewish covenant, and Muslim code of law—each of these offers a way to earn approval. Only Christianity dares to make God’s love unconditional.”

We could never be saved by our own effort or by keeping any law, as St. Paul makes clear.

“We all [sinned], all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It’s a wonder God didn’t lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ” (Ephesians 2:3-5, The Message).

It sounds almost too good to be true, doesn’t it? Yes, and that’s a good sign! Real grace always sounds that way as it amazes those who receive it. (Read the Gospels!)

Real grace is always a little and maybe a lot scandalous. If no one who thinks you’re too gracious, you’ve probably not felt and internalized enough of the grace of God yourself. If our churches aren’t regularly accused by some folks of being too gracious—too loose, too accepting, too free from law— that’s a very bad sign. It almost certainly means we don’t understand how much grace we’ve received and how rich is God’s supply. Read the Scriptures! The Good News, the real Thing, the real Lord, has always scandalized people by the depth of his love and mercy.

If you’re God’s child, you don’t have to live a fearful, tentative life. Indeed, how dare you!? You don’t have to be careful lest you exhaust God’s amazing resources by being too loving, too gracious, too joyful, too genuinely free. God’s supply of love and grace, joy and freedom, is boundless!  You don’t have to live like the “one talent” servant in Christ’s parable (Matthew 25:14-30). Afraid that he might make some mistake and tick off his master, he made the worst mistake of all, not loving his master. If we’re living lives cowering in fear, afraid to dance before our God because we might miss a step, we’re making the biggest mistake of all, not knowing and loving our Father as we should—the Father who continually amazes his children by the depth of his love and mercy, his grace and joy, and the genuine freedom that only he can give.

 

     You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

Copyright 2014 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

 


Ten Years Later, Hats Off to “The Gipper”!

Ronald Reagan

Never one to leave much to chance, Winston Churchill remarked, “History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.” And he did. As I read Churchill’s The Second World War (every volume!), getting inside Churchill’s head was fascinating.

It’s now been a little over ten years since another amazing man, Ronald Reagan, died (June 5, 2004). I remember watching the TV coverage after Reagan’s death, and wishing that Reagan had been the prolific writer Churchill was. Reagan, too, had fascinating stories to tell.

It was a bit nauseating to see many of the same media moguls who gave Reagan nothing but trouble when he was in office tripping over themselves to try to honor him at his death. I wonder how historians will one day evaluate his “legacy.” I’m not qualified to do much evaluating myself, and it’s way too soon anyway, but here’s what I think that I think.

Reagan was certainly a “great communicator,” even though he wasn’t in the class of Churchill. Who could be?

I think our greatest president was Abraham Lincoln (though that top slot might well go to first president George Washington). Lincoln was tried by fire, stood the test, and came out as pure gold. Reagan faced severe tests, too, but I think Lincoln’s pre-eminence is clear. The obvious similarity is that both spared no effort to tear down walls that never should have been built.

Evaluating Reagan. Well, we’re still at least decades away from real perspective, but surely he easily makes it into the Top 10 Presidents List and probably into the upper half.

Reagan was a true leader because, like Churchill, he saw what was good in the heart of his nation, and he called his countrymen to embrace that vision for good. Some would say he was naively idealistic about America; we have much more to fear from those who are naively blind to that which has truly been good about a nation that has twice in the last century “saved the world from total barbarism” (Charles Krauthammer’s right on that!).

Churchill was right: England never had a finer hour than when she stood, utterly alone for far too long, against Hitler. Churchill knew that freedom was good and tyranny was evil, and he never hesitated to say so. Reagan also believed in freedom, and he used exactly the right words when he called the Soviet Union an “evil empire.” Only an evil system rotten to the core builds walls to keep its own citizens enslaved. Reagan was right: Communism is not just wrong-headed; it is evil, and the right word needed to be used.

I’ve not heard a lot (that I trust) about Reagan’s faith in God, but he was right on target in this belief: Human rights are not rights granted to human beings by the State. Freedom is a gift from the hand of God to every human being created in his image. Any system of government which says otherwise is wrong, evil. God blessed us with a great president who didn’t hesitate to say what is true.

So, ten years later, hats off to “The Gipper”!

 

    You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

Copyright 2014 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


Freedom Is God’s Gift, But It Is Never Free

Milton Eugene Cotten--7-8-1945

The closer a soldier was to fierce combat during any war, the less likely he’ll want to talk about it years later.

My wife’s father, Milton E. “Mick” Cotten, served for 41 months during World War II. He left Turkey, Texas, in March 1942, and was honorably discharged as a Technical Sergeant in September 1945, a good example of the folks Steven Ambrose writes eloquently about in his book Citizen Soldier.

Mick had no particular desire to be a soldier. Like most who did the real fighting and bleeding, he just wanted to survive and get the job done right—and as soon as possible—so he and his buddies could go home. He didn’t like to talk about what doing that job entailed, and he almost never did.

I do remember some fire in his eyes when the name of General Patton came up. Mick rarely said anything bad about anybody, but he was among the “ordinary” soldiers who despised Patton as an arrogant jerk who needed to think more about his troops and less about his own glory.

We’ve done a little research to trace Mick’s path during WWII. I don’t know how excited he’d be about this. Like so many others then and now, he went to war so most of us wouldn’t have to, so we could get on with our ordinary lives. I do think he’d like us to remember the “ordinary” folks who paid a price because they knew day to day life in freedom is precious.

Mick fought in some serious battles, including the bloodiest battle of that bloody war, the “Battle of the Bulge.” We have a little notebook where he listed the names of men in his mortar and other squads, shortages of men in squads, colors of smoke for forward lines, flanks, etc. And names and addresses of some of his men’s next of kin.

Mick fought in three major campaigns and more smaller ones. He was wounded on Dec. 3 and Dec. 16, 1944. Shrapnel ripped into his body and through his hand. He lay in the snow in Normandy, saved from bleeding to death by miserable cold.

A War Department telegram informed his parents that he had been seriously wounded. Mick then wrote from the hospital in England, where he got a letter from his friend and lieutenant calling him the best non-commissioned officer in the company and saying, “That hole in your right chest had me pretty worried.”

Mick did finally come home. He married, and he and his brother-in-law ran a gas station in Turkey, Texas. He farmed there for the rest of his life. My wife remembers as a little girl sitting on his lap, tracing with her fingers the shrapnel scars on his chest.

Her mother framed Mick’s medals in a “shadow box.” He’d earned, among others, two Purple Hearts, the French Croix de Guerre, and a Bronze Star. There was talk from one of his former officers that a building at Fort Knox might be named in his honor. (It never happened. Budget cuts.)

Did you know you can buy medals online? You can get that French “War Cross” for $35.99. A Bronze Star is $22.99. A Purple Heart, $44.99.

But Mick, and many others, who have served and are serving our nation in whatever war in whatever capacity, paid a lot higher price. And they didn’t do it for medals.

Freedom is not free. The blood on lots of hills screams out that truth. And none screams it more loudly than blood shed on a hill called Mount Calvary.

 

      You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

Copyright 2014 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


Some Things Are Well Worth Remembering

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Monday is Memorial Day.

The holiday had its beginning after the Civil War and was set aside as a day of remembrance for both Union and Confederate soldiers who died in our nation’s bloodiest war.

Of course, the remembrance has been expanded to include all of those who have died while serving in our armed forces. (Veteran’s Day honors all, living or dead, who have served.)

Some things we do well to remember.

We do well to remember that freedom is not a commodity bestowed by any nation or government, however benevolent; freedom is the gift of God freely given to every human being created in his image.

We do well to remember that the responsibility of nations is to safeguard the freedom-gift God has already given.

We do well to remember that freedom is not a commodity to be confiscated or denied by a despotic nation or government; freedom is the birthright bestowed by our Creator.

We do well to remember that the freedom God has embedded in human hearts  not only survives, it can thrive even in the hearts of those living under outward imprisonment and persecution.

We do well to remember that the freedom which is deep joy and delight to those who cherish it even in the midst of oppression spells failure and destruction to those who live in deep fear of it.

We do well to remember that the same freedom which warms, ennobles, and inspires free hearts instills terror and doom in atrophied and twisted souls frenzied in their futile efforts to quell its tide.

We do well to remember that God’s gift of freedom, so precious that it makes life worth living, also makes life worth laying down so that others may live in its light.

We do well to remember the deep truth of our nation’s “Declaration of Independence,” that we are “endowed by our Creator” not only with life, but with liberty, God’s gift, and the gift of no other.

We do well to remember that the most precious blessings we have enjoyed in this nation have God’s gift of freedom as their life-giving root, their strong foundation.

We do well to remember and acknowledge that a deep love of freedom, though it lies in the hearts of all people, is particularly embedded in hearts of those living in a land built unashamedly on a foundation of freedom.

We do well to remember that those who scoff at God, deny his existence, flaunt his will, and deride anything he calls precious, are free to do so precisely and only because they live in a land whose founders honored God as freedom’s Source.

We do well to remember that thousands of men and women have died so that freedom which is the precious birthright of hearts may also be the outward reality of seemingly ordinary lives.

On ordinary days, national holidays, all days—we do well to remember.

 

     You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com

 

Copyright 2014 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


Persecution Is a Faith-test, But So Is Freedom and Ease

 

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It was 27 years ago when Pavel Poloz, a recent exile from Russia, observed, “In Russia, Christians are tested by hardship, but in America you are tested by freedom. And testing by freedom is much harder.”

He went on: “Nobody pressures you about your religion. So you relax and are not concentrated on Christ, on his teaching, how he wants you to live” (Moody Monthly, April 1989).

That would hurt less were it not so obviously true. The worst danger American Christians have faced for generations has not been persecution; it has been that our faith die as we sleep.

It’s nothing new. The church has always been strongest during times of persecution and weakest during times of ease. Ironically, the church thrived during the days when Roman emperors were martyring Christians; it faced a more serious threat when in A.D. 313 the Emperor Constantine proclaimed Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire.

Don’t think I’m longing for persecution, just perspective. My default point of view is that of a small church pastor who not only loves the church universal but treasures the quality of relationship found in churches where people have faces and pastors live life with the flock, know them by name and need, and aren’t just beamed down from on high to a plastic screen.

I know Christ’s church will triumph. If, as the Lord has said, even the “gates of hell” will not prevail against his church, I doubt that ease and prosperity, increasing secularism, and consumer “church-lite” will prevail either.

But I do see serious challenges on the horizon, some that I suspect will be more than a serious bump in the business plan even for Religion 500-style churches.

For example, I’ve yet to meet a respected colleague in ministry who doesn’t see the loss of the World War II generation as a serious challenge. For decades, churches have been able to count on the attendance, the giving, the commitment of those amazing people. Lots of church doors have been literally kept open by the very practical commitment of a generation of folks whose genuine faith meant being at church when it wasn’t convenient and giving not just what they could spare with no sacrifice.

Thank the Lord for those who, following such an example, are picking up the baton and running the race. More had better.

Some real faith challenges are not glitzy, but they say a lot. If we fail in the everyday “rubber meets the road” faith-building disciplines such as being at church often enough we’re missed when we’re not there, and giving more than we can easily spare . . . If our commitment won’t even stretch to such baby steps, why should we think our faith would endure persecution?

As far as our local churches go, if we don’t “show up” in any real sense, it matters not at all how good our excuses are. The end is the same, and cut-rate commitment may accomplish locally what the “gates of hell” will never accomplish universally. If we falter in faith by meaning well very weakly, lots of little churches will be shutting their doors, and our land will have lost a large blessing.

I’d love to be wrong about that.

 

    You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com. (Check out the free song download while you’re there!)

 

Copyright 2013 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


Genuine Freedom Is a Very Costly Gift

Over 28 years ago, when I moved to small town America, I discovered the largest and best part of America, the small town part, and Independence Day came alive with color.july 4-001

I felt like a deprived little rich kid growing up in a mega-church who thought he knew what a church dinner was but then found himself in a small church family, went to a church dinner, and was pretty sure he’d discovered heaven!

Oh, I’d always enjoyed Independence Day, but I never knew how wonderful some small town celebrations of it can be!

July 4 in many ways is just a date, but all wrapped up in that date for U.S. citizens, along with mental images of hot dogs, ice cream, and fireworks, are deeper impressions of freedom and liberty—and sacrifice.

Odd, isn’t it, that freedom itself is never free? Its very costly price was paid in real blood, sweat, and tears. Many, like me, who have personally paid so little of the price but who share mightily in its blessings, tend to forget what a costly thing it is.

I hope we don’t forget. As a Christian, my love for this nation pales beside my allegiance to Christ, and I realize that freedom is God’s gift, not the gift of any nation, benevolent or despotic. All of God’s children are truly free, even in lands where their own governments are deathly afraid of such freedom and kill to deny it.

But it is still true that a lifetime of love and devotion to this nation where freedom has long been recognized as a precious gift is not enough even to begin to pay back the debt of gratitude every citizen of this land owes.

It’s a debt not just to a flag or nation, and certainly not to a government. It’s a debt to the ordinary men and women who put their lives and liberty on the line by showing extraordinary courage and unselfishness by laying aside their own comfort and personal pleasure so that other ordinary people, like you and me, could enjoy the blessings of life in a nation where freedom is cherished.

You don’t have to belong to a particular political party to begin to pay that debt. But you do need to realize that your freedom to belong to any party you choose, or none at all, did not come cheaply.

You don’t have to agree with the domestic or foreign policy of a particular administration of government to begin to pay back that debt. In fact, you can—and probably will—be quite sure that a particular administration is shameful. (Someone always feels that way.) But you do need to be thankful to live in a land where the voices of the people are heard, even if you sometimes wish they spoke with much deeper wisdom.

You do not have to be blind to serious failure and wickedness to love this nation and be thankful for what is still good and true and beautiful about it, and to pray that many of its citizens always acknowledge as their King the One who died so that we might be genuinely free.

Real freedom is never free. It is always costly. And recipients of costly gifts should at the very least be very thankful people indeed.

 

You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

Copyright 2013 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


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