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Independence Day

(10 posts)

Independence Day, 2008

Friday··2008·07·04
America! America! May God thy gold refine ’Til all success be nobleness And every gain divine. —Katherine Lee Bates, America the Beautiful
continue reading Independence Day, 2008

Independence Day, 2009

Saturday··2009·07·04
continue reading Independence Day, 2009

Lord’s Day 27, 2010

Sunday··2010·07·04
Today is Independence Day in the United States of America. I have, in the past, always posted some small patriotic item on this day, but today also happened to be the Lord’s Day. Patriotic as I am, and as important a national event as this day is, I am first a citizen of the Kingdom of God. I cannot replace, or even mix, the day’s worship with earthly patriotism. This is the Lord’s Day. Yet I think the two observances can come together, and perhaps should. But let me suggest that this be no day for national pride among true patriots, but rather an occasion for profound humility. All that we celebrate on this day is a gift from the hand of God. Our nation’s founders—I will not claim that they were Christians, though some were, or that this is or ever was a “Christian nation”—almost unanimously recognized and spoke aloud of a divine Providence, and rightly so. This nation was born, and remains today, because it pleases God to have it so. Any noble acts of men that we commemorate are nothing but extensions of God’s grace. That our nation still stands in spite of the ignoble acts that predominate today is a further display of grace, grace of such immensity that it ought to crush us right down to the ground and force us, prostrate before the God we mock, to confess our sin and plead for mercy. On the previous two Saturdays, I have begun remembrances of “The Hymns of my Youth.” Along with those hymns, I remember the accompanying order of worship. In that order, immediately following the opening hymn, was a confession of sin. It seems to me that the one place in which I can blend my two citizenships on the Lord’s Day is in confession, and in a plea for mercy, on myself as an individual, and on my nation as a whole. And I think, in this, readers from all nations can join me. Almighty God, our Maker and Redeemer, we poor sinners confess unto Thee that we are by nature sinful and unclean, and that we have sinned against Thee in thought, word, and deed. Wherefore we flee for refuge to Thine infinite mercy and beseech Thee for Christ’s sake, grant us remission of all our sins, and by Thy Holy Spirit increase in us true knowledge of Thee and of Thy will and true obedience to Thy word, to the end that by Thy grace we may come to everlasting life, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen. —The Concordia Hymnal (Augsburg Publishing House), 1960.
continue reading Lord’s Day 27, 2010

By Might and Right

Monday··2010·07·05
Among the many internet postings yesterday commemorating the anniversary of the United States’ Declaration of Independence, Kathryn Jean Lopez of the National Review Online blog called attention to the final stanza of the John Phillip Sousa march, Stars and Stripes Forever. I had not been aware that there were any lyrics, but now that I do, I like the piece a lot less. The whole thing is pretty poor both rhetorically and poetically, but the last stanza really stands out in a Nebuchadnezzarian* way. Read it for yourself: Hurrah for the flag of the free. May it wave as our standard forever The gem of the land and the sea, The banner of the right. Let despots remember the day When our fathers with mighty endeavor Proclaimed as they marched to the fray, That by their might and by their right It waves forever. Other than the fact that he wrote a pile of great marching music, I know nothing of Sousa, but I can glean a couple of facts from that verse: He was ignorant of American history, particularly of the circumstances of the Revolution, and He was entirely ignorant of what the Bible says about the rising of kings and nations. The American Revolution was not won by might or right.† That the war was won at all borders on the miraculous, as the historical record shows.‡ More importantly, admirers of Sousa’s sentiments should take note of the words of Scripture. He makes the nations great, then destroys them; He enlarges the nations, then leads them away. —Job 12:23 And those who think otherwise had better beware. All this happened to Nebuchadnezzar the king. Twelve months later he was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon. The king reflected and said, “Is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty?” While the word was in the king’s mouth, a voice came from heaven, saying, “King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is declared: sovereignty has been removed from you, and you will be driven away from mankind, and your dwelling place will be with the beasts of the field You will be given grass to eat like cattle, and seven periods of time will pass over you until you recognize that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind and bestows it on whomever He wishes.” Immediately the word concerning Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled; and he was driven away from mankind and began eating grass like cattle, and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair had grown like eagles’ feathers and his nails like birds’ claws. But at the end of that period, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever; For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, And His kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, But He does according to His will in the host of heaven And among the inhabitants of earth; And no one can ward off His hand Or say to Him, “What have You done?” At that time my reason returned to me And my majesty and splendor were restored to me for the glory of my kingdom, and my counselors and my nobles began seeking me out; so I was reestablished in my sovereignty, and surpassing greatness was added to me. Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise, exalt and honor the King of heaven, for all His works are true and His ways just, and He is able to humble those who walk in pride. —Daniel 4:28–37 I don’t claim to know the mind of God or to be his counselor, but the Sousa doctrine—which is the American doctrine—sounds a lot like Nebuchadnezzar. It is not for me to say that the insanity of Nebuchadnezzar parallels the fallen and still falling glory of the United States, but it would be foolish to deny the similarities. How will it end for this nation? Well, I’m no prophet, and neither are you. But I can say without any doubt that it does not end well for those who steal God’s glory and credit his blessings to their own might and right. * Of course it’s a word. You read it, didn’t you? † The jury is still out, in my mind, as to whether or not the Revolution was a just war. In either case, it was not won by anyone’s “right.” Having said that, I will not be entertaining comments arguing either way. ‡ Read David McCullough’s 1776 and John Adams.
continue reading By Might and Right

Independence Day, 2011

Monday··2011·07·04 · 8 Comments
The Star-Spangled Banner Francis Scott Key, 1814 O say, can you see, by the dawn’s early light, What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming? Whose broad stripes and bright stars, thro’ the perilous fight, O’er the ramparts we watch’d, were so gallantly streaming? And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air, Gave proof thro’ the night that our flag was still there. O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave? On the shore dimly seen thro’ the mists of the deep, Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes, What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep, As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses? Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam, In full glory reflected, now shines on the stream: ’Tis the star-spangled banner: O, long may it wave O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave! And where is that band who so vauntingly swore That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion, A home and a country should leave us no more? Their blood has wash’d out their foul footsteps’ pollution. No refuge could save the hireling and slave From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave: And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave. O thus be it ever when free-men shall stand Between their lov’d home and the war’s desolation; Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the heav’n-rescued land Praise the Pow’r that hath made and preserv’d us a nation! Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just, And this be our motto: “In God is our trust!” And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
continue reading Independence Day, 2011

To the Proud American

Wednesday··2011·07·06
Two days ago, July 4th, we in the United States of America celebrated our independence. I posted the lyrics to our national anthem, The Star-Spangled Banner. This, I think, is a good patriotic song, acknowledging God as sovereign in battle and the builder and preserver of nations. But not all of our patriotic songs are good. Some are down-right atrocious, reflecting self-congratulatory pride rather than humble gratitude for the blessings of liberty we have been granted by our merciful creator. One such song is the Sousa march, Stars and Stripes Forever. I wrote a little piece on that about this time last year, which I think is a good reminder still of the perils of proud patriotism. Read it here: By Might and Right.
continue reading To the Proud American

Founded Upon Truths

Wednesday··2012·07·04
Kevin DeYoung says all I want to say on this Independence Day: The Idea of America It has often been said that America was founded upon an idea. The country was not formed mainly for power or privilege but in adherence to a set of principles. Granted, these ideals have been, at various times in our history, less than ideally maintained. But the ideals remain. The idea persists. If one sentence captures the quintessential idea of America, surely it the famous assertion contained in the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” Almost every word of this remarkable sentence, 236 years old today, is pregnant with meaning and strikingly relevant. [Read full article]
continue reading Founded Upon Truths

Independence Day, 2013

Thursday··2013·07·04
Two hundred and thirty-seven years ago, a republic was born. Founded upon the lofty ideals of divine authority and providence, and liberty, justice, and equality, she was a great nation. While falling far short of fulfilling those ideals perfectly, no other nation on earth could claim to do better. People came from around the world for refuge from tyranny and for greater opportunity. God, gracious and merciful, blessed this nation with unparalleled peace and prosperity. That nation has fallen far from her noble beginnings. While the founding document still stands, it is largely ignored, and openly despised by the chief executive sworn to defend it. A free people has taken its collective liberty for granted, become the slave of individual appetites, and has consequently begun to devour itself, while proudly mocking the God who gave it life. Still, I love this country. She yet retains a shadow of her original glory in the hearts of patriots who still stand and stubbornly defend the ideals of her founders, ideals that are dear to me and to all who love this land and the people who inhabit it. Therefore, I will celebrate another Independence Day, and hope for countless more to come. I will pray for my nation, beseeching our sovereign Creator, by whose providence we have lived and prospered thus far, that he would be merciful, that he would bear with us yet a little longer, if only for the sake of a remnant of righteous citizens. I will pray that God will grant repentance to a proud and rebellious people, and thus bless the United States of America.
continue reading Independence Day, 2013

Independence Day, 2014

Friday··2014·07·04
Today, we in the United States of America celebrate 238 years of independence. Wherever you are today, I hope you love your country. I hope you are a patriot, in spite of the überpious who tell us that patriotism is idolatrous, and in spite of your nation’s flaws. Love of country is not the same as approval of its government, or of its sins. Above all, I hope you will pray for your nation, its people, and its government. Previous Independence Day posts What Americans (and citizens of other powerful nations) should not think
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Independence Day, 2017

Tuesday··2017·07·04
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air . . .
continue reading Independence Day, 2017

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