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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

June 21, 2015: Declaring Independence

     We are rapidly approaching the celebration of Independence Day for 2015, and as usual, we will have our fourth of July barbecue. This is a tradition that I started with my first wife in Houston, Texas and carried on when I married my second wife. We put up shelter from the sun and water areas for the smaller children to stay cooled off. There is plenty of good food and soft drinks, and a nice shaded back yard to enjoy the fellowship of our friends and family.
     The only admission charge to the get-together is that everyone has to listen to me wax eloquent about how fortunate we are to live in the United States and how we should always remember to honor those who have given their lives for our freedom. It's not a long speech, but it always stirs my heart to think about the meaning of the holiday. It bothers me that so many people these days disrespect our heritage and want to deny the greatness of America.
     There are several events that I honor with all my heart. The birth of Christ, celebrated at Christmas, the death of Christ, our Easter, Memorial Day and the fourth of July are all deeply important to me and always will be. Although I have never really thought about it before, all of these occasions involve sacrifice.
     Wait, you say, it is easy to see the sacrifices in Easter, where Christ died for our sins, and Memorial Day, where soldiers died for our freedom, and even Independence Day, where American colonists fought and died for freedom from tyranny, but how is Christmas a sacrifice?
     God established in the Old Testament that sin was a terrible thing that separated mankind from Him, and He determined that our sins could only be forgiven after a blood sacrifice had been made. The laws handed down to Moses defined the rules of sacrifice and set down what type of animal had to be killed in return for the forgiveness of what sin. The people would then bring that animal to the temple to turn over to the priest to be slain for absolution for the evil done.
     God's plan did not end there. He knew that man would not change his ways, and therefore would always need blood sacrifices for his sinful nature. Rather than require an endless stream of deaths, He determined that there needed to be one blood sacrifice that would cover all sins for all time, but what animal would be pure enough to be sufficient payment for such enormous wrong? He realized that only a perfect Man, living a holy life, could be enough and in the form of Jesus Christ, He came down to earth to allow Himself to pay the cost for our sins.
     Coming back to Christmas, it is my belief that the birth of Christ was an unimaginable sacrifice by the Creator of all things, giving of Himself  to pay a debt that mankind could never come close to paying. Our God loved us that much, and it is a concept that literally amazes me every time I think about it.

     I pray for the lost but find peace in one thing only: I believe and hope to spend the rest of my life telling others about the love of God. I know from scripture that I am in this world but no longer of it. I have declared my independence and have a hope that I can share it with others.     

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