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Posts Tagged ‘Freedom’

4thjc_edited-1As you prepare for Independence Day, think about the story-telling that needs to be told around the celebration table, the stories of God in our history, God in our country’s founding – and the courageous men and women who crossed over to places like Plymouth Plantation (come by for that history and who grew children who fought for a freedom the world had not seen before, a freedom born out of faith (if you doubt that, read Chapter 2 of Common Sense). The 4th of July is not only about setting off fireworks to celebrate freedom, but about telling the freedom stories.

“Remember the days of old; consider the generations long past. Ask your father and he will tell you, your elders, and they will explain to you”(Deuteronomy 32:7 NIV).

If you want to change someone’s life, tell a story.” In this quote, Billy Graham simply states a truth we all know: stories help us comprehend and internalize life lessons in ways that can change our hearts.  Jesus knew he could reach people through stories.  He used parables to teach his followers complex spiritual dynamics through simple illustrations.  Stories play a vital role in many aspects of our culture: Aesop’s fables teach moral lessons; Fairy Tales exalt the virtues of good over evil; legends celebrate nobleness, self-sacrifice, and good deeds, but history tells the story of our past and our future.

Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable.” (Matthew 13:34 NIV)

The Story of a Nation

“For I will speak to you in a parable. I will teach you hidden lessons from our past—stories we have heard and known, stories our ancestors handed down to us. We will not hide these truths from our children; we will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the Lord, about his power and his mighty wonders” (Psalm 78: 2-5, NLT)

The stories of our country’s foundation teach us about the courageous men and women who were moved by God to create a country where religious freedom could reign in the hearts of its citizens.  By following the Psalmist’s instructions, we can pass on our history to future generations and encourage them to secure our freedom. When someone asked Benjamin Franklin if we had a republic or a monarchy, he responded, “A republic, if you can keep it.” When we tell the stories of our nation and its spiritual heritage, we can, indeed, keep the republic our ancestor’s designed.

 independenceday2Main Characters

“And in the future, your children will ask you, ‘What does all this mean?’ Then you will tell them, ‘With the power of his mighty hand, the LORD brought us out of Egypt, the place of our slavery” (Exodus 13:14).

Dynamic main characters build good stories.  The main characters in the story of our country were men who took risks, envisioned the impossible, and in the face of fear, accomplished their mission. In 1828, the definition of education included the belief that, “a religious education is indispensable; and an immense responsibility rests on parents and guardians who neglect these duties” (http://1828.mshaffer.com/d/word/education). However, in 1828, parents never imagined freedom’s faith foundation would suffer omission or re-construction in its children’s history books. As story keepers of our history, we need to re-acquaint ourselves with the men who preached freedom from churches, the men who formed our Constitution, and the men who fought on the battlefield for the freedom endowed by our Creator.

“The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.” Thomas Jefferson

“I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion of the means. I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it.”Benjamin Franklin, On the Price of Corn and Management of the Poor, November 1766

The Setting

A story’s setting gives the readers both time and place. The setting provides the readers with essential information which allows them to better understand the characters and their motivations. In essence, the Declaration of Independence is the setting for our country’s story.  If we read it one point at a time, not just as a communication to the King of England, but as a complaint written to the three branches of our government, this historical document becomes an empowering document. If we know the legal documentation of our history and freedom, then we can pass on the knowledge to our children, and they can keep the flame of freedom burning brightly. Let’s read the Declaration and re-discover the timelessness of it.

Supporting Characters

independenceday2All good stories contain supporting characters. They help the reader to have a more vivid understanding of the main characters. The beliefs of our Founding Fathers and our historical documents are important, but they have more meaning when we understand where they came from. We can trace back the family tree of ideas in the letters, correspondence, and public record of the debates, sermons, speeches and conversations that led to the creation of the Declaration of Independence, the constitution and inspired the march to freedom. We can read each one separately or read them as a whole, but most importantly, we want to share the stories and talk about what they mean.

 “God well knew what a world of degenerate, ambitious and revengeful creatures this is – as He knew that innocence could not be protected, property and liberty secured, nor the lives of mankind preserved from the lawless hands of ambition, avarice and tyranny without the use of the sword – as He knew this would be the only method to preserve mankind from universal slavery” (Rev. Samuel Davies, 1755).

“Let us then. . .remember with reverential gratitude to our Supreme Benefactor all the wonderful things He has done for us in our miraculous deliverance from a second Egypt—another ‘house of bondage’ and thou shalt show thy son on this day. (Elias Boudinot, July 4th, 1793, member of the Continental Congress)

Story telling is an educational tool as powerful as the sword. Jesus used parables to pierce his followers’ hearts and minds. God instructs us to tell our children the stories of him and his ways. Therefore, when we tell our children about God’s role in our nation’s foundation, we know we are building the future. Only by teaching our children to be our nation’s story keepers can we ensure our freedom and our faith will flourish.

“Tell your children about it in the years to come, and let your children tell their children. Pass the story down from generation to generation” (Joel 1:3, NLT)

 Boudinot, Elias. “Oration.” Celebrate Liberty: Famous Patriotic Speeches and Sermons. Ed.

David Barton. Aledo Texas. 2003. 237. Print.

Davis, Samuel. “Oration”. Celebrate Liberty: Famous Patriotic Speeches and Sermons. Ed.

David Barton. Aledo Texas. 2003. 237. Print.

Ellis Sandoz, editor. Political Sermons of the American Founding Era. Vol 1 (1730-1788) and

     Vol. 2 (1789-1805). The On-line Library of Liberty. 2011 (free-on-line historical sermons that shaped our constitution))

     http://oll.libertyfund.org/?option=com_staticxt&staticfile=show.php%3Ftitle=1878

A Treasury of Primary Documents.

http://www.constitution.org/primarysources/primarysources.html (contains sermons that helped shape our Constitution)

Two Treatises of Government. John Locke. The Law’s of Nature and Nature’s God. 2003. 5 June

      2011.  http://www.lonang.com/exlibris/locke/ (this allows you to read Locke’s work free on-line; however, it is readily available at any bookstore or possibly even library.

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Thanksgiving – so much more than a turkey!

There is so much more to Thanksgiving than the turkey, the football – even the family gathered around the table. Thanksgiving is about recognizing the roots from which America grew. Not just the patriotic, freedom-fighting roots – though they are as inherently necessary to recognize. It is the faith seed carried over the ocean in uncomfortable, danger-laden ships, planted in soil with hungry cold hands because of a vision of living God faith uninhibited by political agenda.

“The Lord is the Help of My Life”  – William Bradford

The first Pilgrims came to American so they could worship The God of Abraham, read The Gospel of Love and  experience the second Baptism without being drowned in a wine barrel, be burned alive boarded up in your own home, or have your entrails slowly pulled out of you in the town square as government officials attempted to turn you away from practicing your faith in the way you chose. At that time, the government determined how you practiced your faith – and if you disagreed, well, the government became disagreeable.

They came to America to be able to speak God’s name in the town square in the court house, on the public streets, in the school houses – to live and voice their belief without fear of persecution.

That faith seed would grow roots that would reach into our constitution: Article 1:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”

(As a matter of fact, public schools were created to teach children to read so they could read the bible)

In America, these early Plymouth settlers discovered the rationing of socialism and the plenty of capitalism through the work of their own hands – not their neighbors. They broke the glass ceiling of class restriction – like the cranberries we eat on Thanksgiving that float to the top in the harvest when water rushes through the cranberry fields, so does hard work, effort, talent – all based on individual gumption – not religion, not class, not government.

“He is like a tree planted by water,
that sends out its roots by the stream”

Today, the Thanksgiving Holiday is full of irony – a House and Senate have left Washington D.C. to celebrate a holiday founded on the success of Capitalism and faith in God, yet daily they work to strip God out of the very places Pilgrims sought to freely worship their God – the city streets, the court houses, the schools – they wanted God in every part of their lives, their community, and their government.

Some leadership have gone so far today as to remove a cross from outside a base chapel in Afghanistan .  This symbol of faith and hope sustains many of our military soldiers protecting not only us but these leaders.

Just like the flag bearers of old gave the hope, the courage to fight on in difficult situations to their the military men it represented, so too does the symbol of our faith. When these flag bearers fell, so too did the fighting soldiers’ morale, hope and survival statistics. These soldiers live in casualty-real situations, putting their life on the life for an America created and built with hands seeking God.

Yet daily, these government officials attempt to strip the foundations of Capitalism and reduce Americans to the once starving, frustrated, dying, struggling Pilgrims who started out in socialism – who died in socialism – hungry and frustrated.  Until the American Spirit at Plymouth through a capitalist contract  replaced the socialist creed to break the bonds of servitude unleashing individual potential resulting in the American Dream.

While Socialism binds the hands of flourishing enterprise, smothers the seeds of creativity from which inventions spring, and suffocates the very breath of freedom, Capitalism frees the hands of enterprise, allows individual creativity the independence to invent, and  gives freedom breath to speak without recourse.

How ironic that today our government officials celebrate an event so diametrically opposed to their actions. How ironic is it that protestors are calling for a return to the socialism that brought Plymouth settler’s to their knees.

How sad that they celebrate Thanksgiving while chopping at the root of its very creation.

These people calling themselves the 99% are missing a very important factor. A missionary man preached at our church a few weeks ago. He asked, “Do you have an in-door toilet? Do you have running water? Do you have electricity?. . . .If you do, you are in the top 10% of the world.”

Yes, the 99% are in the top 10% of the world.

The top 10% because of faith in God and capitalism.

William Bradford’s biography is sitting on my desk right now.  My sons know the history of our country, but not through classroom textbooks because the full, real history of the birth of our country not taught. Because God is not allowed in the story telling in today’s public school classroom.

Today as you thank God for His blessings, as you pull your family close, spend additional time discussing the start of our country, how we became that top 10%, what enabled us to achieve clean water, medicines that heal and prevent, homes with so much comfort, electricity and internet, a washer and dryer, an abundance of food to keep and share.

And pray for those soldiers whose crosses are being pulled down, who are fighting to keep America safe, to keep America free, to keep God in America.

Graft you, your family to the deep root of faith from which America grew.

~ Written, Thanksgiving 2010
~Revised, Thanksgiving 2011
~Revised again, Thanksgiving 2012

Other related posts:

Congress Shall Make No Law Respecting Tebowing and other such Religious Behavior

Words Make a Difference

The 10 Cannots of Freedom

To Save a City

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Note: The Robin Hood part was written in early July during my surgery convalescence when I had the opportunity to watch movies, i.e. Robin Hood – all versions, but especially my favorite. I kept wondering what God wanted me to do with it and today He let me know. This post lines up with my mission statement: The Faith, Love and Politics of Raising Boys to Men.

I also realize this is an unusually long post but it is my birthday week – where I turn 5 decades or 2 score and 10 years – and, while that is really a mighty selfish-excuse to torture such a lovely community with a Moby Dick-esque Tome of a Post, I’m taking full advantage of officially becoming old as dirt!!!! LOL

In the Beginning

Once upon a time, which is always a very long, long time ago, a loving Father created a Garden of Eden for the children He created. There was to be no king, no ruler, no dictator, president, no master, no slave – just a Father-child relationship – whether that child was itty bitty or grown fully.

The Father loved these children, making himself garments of skin for them out of the animals he created, feeding them sweet fruits he designed, allowing their creativity to grow through loving, generous acts of freedom like allowing them to name the animals. Can you imagine how your child would name the animals? I’ve often wondered how Adam and Eve grew to speak – one word at a time? Or did the Father pour language into them?

Many, many years later, He sat with one of the descendants of Adam and Even and said, “Look up at the heavens and count the stars—if indeed you can count them. . . so shall your offspring be” (Genesis 15:5).

One mother and father at a time, those offspring grew to be countless like the stars in the heavens. God no longer sat with them in their tents so much or out under the stars. These children’s children grew more like the world, sometimes forgetting the Father only to remember when times toughened.

Conflict Rising: And the Trouble Starts

Until one day, they decided they wanted a king. Other peoples had kings – and, well, the decided they wanted one, too. So they sought out the prophet because they were kind of scared of the Father in those times and begged the prophet to ask God to set a king over them.

“So Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking for a king from him. He said, “These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you:

  • he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen and to run before his chariots.  
  • And he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots.
  • He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers.  
  • He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants.
  •  He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants.  
  • He will take your male servants and female servants and the best of your young men and your donkeys, and put them to his work.  
  • He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves.
  • And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the Lord will not answer you in that day” (1 Samuel 8:10-18)

Hope in the Rising Conflict

God found a good man, the best man, filled him with His Holy Spirit, allowing Saul to become more than he was – what every man had the opportunity to be with God and the Holy Spirit – but everyman didn’t want that

“Then the Spirit of the Lord will rush upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man”(1 Samuel 10:6)

“When he turned his back to leave Samuel, God gave him another heart” (1 Samuel 10: 9) – something the Father was willing to do for every child of His – but only one man was willing to allow his brokenness to be made whole.

“Then Samuel told the people the rights and duties of the kingship, and he wrote them in a book and laid it up before the Lord” (1 Samuel 10:25)

In this book were written things like this:

“When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the priests, who are Levites. It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the Lord his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees and not consider himself better than his brothers and turn from the law to the right or to the left. Then he and his descendants will reign a long time over his kingdom in Israel” (Deuteronomy 18: 18-20)

Learning Lessons the Hard Way
(Why you Don’t Want Someone Between You and God)

Through many hundreds of years later, many kings later – the children and children’s children met with good, noble, Godly leaders and ignoble, oppressive, cruel, selfish, ungodly leaders.

The Father, He would send Heroes to save His children from the yoke of oppressive leaders – especially when those children remembered Him, crying out to be saved. How many learned to cry out because their children were suffering? How that changes our view of our need for the Father!

God knew a King wouldn’t nurture or love His children like He would. God knew the  potential for abuse – for leaders to set aside His laws and install tyranny.

He knew.

Power in the hands of man risks becoming political – and when one rules to increase power, the freedom of the regular man, the every day man, the child of God becomes smaller.

That day so long ago when the Children of Israel cried out for a King – they handed over their freedom that day, trusting a man with all his potential for strengths and weakness, to rule selflessly like the Father.

When America was born out of religious persecution, when the freedom spirit inside man remembered itself, placed their by God in creation– and cried out to throw the yoke of tyranny from its back –

  • checks and balances were put in place to ensure that no man became king, that no man would wrestle away the freedom of their faith,
  • That no man’s family could be carried off into slavery – a goal we started with and ultimately achieved.
  • That no man’s work of his hands could be confiscated for another’s coffers.
  • That no man would die for worshipping the father.
  • That no government would force its citizens into immorality (think of how America handled Alvin C York’s right to be a conscientious objector)

The Declaration of Independence was born out of men seeking God’s kind of Freedom, taking out the middle man (the King) to live face-to-face with the Father.

The Part with the Robin Hood
(i.e. the Freedom Fighter, the one who takes out the middle man)

Watching Robin Hood last month with Errol Flynn and Olivia De Havilland was a similar thread woven into the history of kingship and rulers, whether historically, through fairy tales, legends, fables or myths, men stand up to abusive governments and rulers who encroach on God-given inalienable rights: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Robin Hood: “I’ll organize revolt, exact a death for a death, and I’ll never rest until every Saxon in this shire can stand up free men and strike a blow for Richard and England.”

Sheriff: You think you’re overtaxed, eh?

Robin: Overtaxed, overworked, and paid off with a knife, a club, or a rope.

Marian: Why, you speak treason.

Robin: Fluently”(Robin Hood, with Errol Flynn)

Watching Robin Hood that night, I thought of the challenges our country faces today, the history of the power of leadership since Saul was anointed – and how fraught that kind of leadership is without men willing to stand up to ensure that leadership stays noble, true and loving each person like the Father intended.

I’ve always heard, “Robin Hood – he steals from the rich to give to the poor.”

This definition of Robin Hood grates on me.

Because it is not true.

Robin Hood stood for Freedom against Tyranny, much like the Sons of Freedom did during the American Revolution.

The working class in Robin Hood’s day, the baker, the butcher, the blacksmith, the farmer, the tradesman were over-burdened with taxes confiscated brutally by a government that sought more and more of their earnings. If they couldn’t pay their taxes, they burnt their houses or confiscated their property, tortured the poor citizen and his family, possibly even hanging, burning or stuffing in a barrel, sealing it and filling it with wine so victim drowned.

Robin Hood, like the Sons of Liberty, fought to remove the government’s taxational foot off the producing neck of the people.

Robin sought to restore to the people their livelihood, their productivity, the ability to provide for their families, the ability to control their own destiny through a healthy work ethic spirit-fed with faith and honor to the Father.

Robin Hood stole from an over-reaching government to return to the working class what was rightfully theirs.

I think Robin Hood was a small-government kind of guy . . . . which was what God intended in the first place.

Restoration takes Work

I think God knew good leadership would require vigilance on the part of the people. We were not created for oppressive leadership. We were not created for big government. As I have said many times before, there is no generosity of spirit without choice.

jpreziosi created this with a Blue Cotton Memory quote in 2009

God designed us to choose to feed the beggar, to help the widow, the sick, the homeless, the lost.

When we give the best of our work to God, and then give the best of the work of our hands to those in need, then we remain in charge of the morality of our hearts.

When we rely on a government to collect the work of our hands to give to those in need, then the government makes those moral decisions for us.

Do you feel comfortable with the decisions and choices your government is making today in your name? Do those expenditures and rules line up with your beliefs – because your name is on that signature.

Robin Hood lost all in his quest for restoring right. He stood up to his community leaders and fought for those who could not fight for themselves.

Just like Paul Revere, George Washington, the Sons of Liberty, the signers of the Constitution.

“But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security” (Declaration of Independence).

Some historians believe that George Washington leading the American people to freedom was similar to Moses leading the children of Israel out of slavery. Many years later, those very same people would cry out for a King (i.e. big government to come between them and God)

Let us not repeat history and cry out for a King (i.e. big government) to take care of us.

There have been lots of heroes throughout history, a king called David, soldiers who fought to save the innocent – and the greatest hero of all, Jesus Christ.

“Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why put me to the test, you hypocrites?  Show me the coin for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said, “Caesar’s.” Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” When they heard it, they marveled. And they left him and went away”(Matthew 22:17-22)

Let us be a country who from the littlest person to the biggest renders all the God – from our hearts, to our pockets to what is in those pockets, to our time, to the work of our hands, to how we minister to the hurting, hopeless and hungry.

Let us be a country of  people living face-to-face with God, not a go-between, not a government.

Let us be a people sitting outside our homes, counting the stars with the Father, one-on-one – just the way He intended.

The End
(Or is it really the beginning)

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