Tag Archives: freedom

The Banner of Freedom

3 Jul

I am posting a blog one day early this week. I hope to get ahead of the holiday festivities and fireworks to trigger deeper thoughts about why we celebrate this day.

Examine the flag as you never have before. The original prototype was not a printed design on a single piece of cloth like the ones we put out on our homes today. Thirteen stripes of alternating red and white sewn together symbolized much more than the thirteen colonies. It told of thirteen regional self-interests that were willing to compromise to promote freedoms and the common good. What they were proposing would no doubt face incredible opposition with little chance for a good outcome. But they were resolved to try.

The field of blue reminded them that they were a new concept—a wild experiment—in the family of nations in the world. They took their success or failure seriously. Looking into the future, they saw what impact their experiment could have world-wide.

Each star stitched onto the blue field represented an act of covenant. Individually, each state then and to this day has signed a social and moral contract to preserve and protect the original purpose and one another. Any attack against freedom in one state was against the whole.

Less than ninety years after the U.S. Constitution was signed, the definition of freedom and to whom it applied was tested. The Civil War claimed more deaths than all other wars we have been in combined. It succeeded in ending many aspects of the greatest blight and contradiction of our nation’s history.

While it expanded who qualified for freedom, it failed to give us a good working definition for freedom. The political strife we find ourselves facing in our nation today with progressives wrestling conservatives has its roots in the struggle our Founders fought over. This July 4th I call us to find a definition in our hearts that acknowledges freedom also requires self-limiting barriers. Total individualism is a failed stitch in the flag flying proudly above us that will unravel the whole.

And enjoy all the freedom expressed millenniums ago: there’s no law against doing good.

Walk with the King Revisited

2 May

It’s hard to believe three weeks have passed since I posted Walk with the King. I don’t know about you, but I have been trying to follow my exhortation, and it has made a difference. At least there has been a change in me. Because of it, I want to ask your help on something. But before I do, let me explain what I’ve noticed since that blog.

I have identified four key words in my internal shift: confidence, freedom, purpose, and peace.

Confidence:
After all my years on earth and in positions of leadership, I realized the depth of truth in saying I don’t need to worry about messing up. The all-wise God in me rejected any feelings of inferiority. I could stand tall in my identity in Christ.

Freedom:
The increased confidence and the truth it is based on gave me greater freedom. Even if I would make a mistake, my identity is secure. I am His; He is mine. I’m in Him; He’s in me. He loves me no matter what. What others think of me is immaterial. I can’t explain how applying the simple phrase everywhere I went made these old truths more real. I can only say it did.

Purpose:
I don’t know what I expected to happen when I took my eyes off my mission and put it upon God’s purpose. I didn’t anticipate even more freedom. By mission, I am talking about going to the store to pick up that gallon of milk my wife sent me for. Stopping to get gas for the lawn mower. Taking care of the little ones while the wife runs a quick errand. Any goal or project before me that demands attention. I discovered the perfect form of multitasking. These other things can easily be done along the way of fulfilling God’s purpose.

Peace:
Isaiah 26:3 explains this discovery the best. “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you (NASB). Confidence, freedom, and sense of purpose ushered in additional peace. That in turn bolstered confidence which fed into more freedom and purpose.

Have you a story?
I hope you took me up on the challenge. I would like to hear from you what you experienced. As the blog tagline says, my purpose in it is to support positive change. How excellent it is to support one another as we share our own stories.

I Want Your Help:
Now, the thing I want your help on: I want to have my own sign-off along the lines of Dr. Cook’s. I can’t steal his, but I believe there is a short way to express my emphasis. Help me turn this thought into a simple catchphrase:

Because He is always with me because he is in me, He enters every room I enter. My reason for being there is one thing, but remember He has a purpose He wants to accomplish through me.

I look forward to hearing from you, either sharing your experiences or help on my phrase (or both). That’s where the second part of Cook’s phrase comes to play: Be a Blessing.

Remember, if you don’t want to miss seeing my posts, click on the follow this blog button on the right to receive a gentle notice in your email. Thanks.

United We Stand…

3 Jul

I have DSC_0420posted several blogs on our flag, its meaning, our attitudes toward it, and how we show those things as we near another patriotic holiday or observance. I think most people know some bits and pieces of those points if not all of them. So, today I want to focus on more of the background stories.

I remember a favorite picture I have of my father-in-law taken at our Fourth of July Parade nearly thirty years ago. 2008-11-19 14.38.46The cap he wears reminds me of the time when he was deployed for a year to a small country he knew next to nothing about half-way around the globe just three weeks after President Kennedy was assassinated–South Viet Nam. The small flags in his pocket he held for safe keeping for his grandchildren watching the parade as he watched over them.

This week I saw a short movie posted on the heroes of 9/11–the tour boats, the coast guard boats, the tug boats, and any other floatation devices–that helped evacuate hundreds of thousands of people from the shores of south Manhattan that day. I remarked when I saw it that it was the day when Email This BlogThis! Share to Twitter Share to Facebook Share to ...we were all Americans.

I read and re-posted a well written article admitting we were not a Christian nation, but it reminded us that the Christian values formed the basis of “all men are created equal.”

And later I reflected on a quote my wife read to me this morning from her Facebook page. President Kennedy said, “Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.” I responded with “That’s one of the biggest problems today: we think only abThe Fork in The Roadout our comfort for the moment.” The steps we take today establish potential outcomes we will face tomorrow. We need to choose wisely. Wisdom comes from the struggles our ancestors endured and overcame to get us to where we are today. See those within the flag as it waves over head this July 4th.

Cheap freedom is not worth the price

3 Jul

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. Galatians 5:13

Every year on July 4th the United States of America celebrates freedom. Two hundred thirty-seven years ago those who started on this irreversible experiment had little cause for celebration. Certainly there was an excitement aPicture 013adjt the prospect of throwing off the oppressive rule of King George, but there was little hope for success. Those who signed the Declaration of Independence knew a failed war meant a hangman’s noose or the firing squad awaited all of them. Freedom meant more to them than life itself so they were willing to make such a risky investment.

Over the centuries freedom has meant different things to different generations. Freedom to choose their form of worship. Freedom to have a say in the writing of the laws. Freedom to exercise various rights such as voting, choosing where to live, and lifting up voices of dissent.

While the scripture quoted above speaks of yet another kind of freedom, its exhortation should be heeded by our nation in every generation and in every shade of meaning. When freedom is interpreted to mean each person can without restraint pursue selfish desires, abuse of the worst sort is sure to happen—abuse of the meaning of freedom, abuse of others, abuse even to one’s own body. Perhaps the greatest expression of our freedom is reaching out to help others. There is no law against serving one another humbly in love. America: give it a try.

In Honor of Flag Day

14 Jun

It was summer. I was fourteen years old, lying in a hospital bed in Chicago. Beside me was a middle-aged man who was serving as my nurse for the day when on the TV the Star Spangled Banner began to play. He would not have it any other way but that I stood at attention in spite of the long-leg cast I was wearing following my surgery. He helped me out of the bed so that I was finally at attention with him for the final bars of our national anthem.

As he helped me back into my bed, Manuel Ruiz began telling me in his thick accent why it was so important to him. He had been a successful doctor only a few years earlier in his home country of Communist Cuba. He had a fine house. As he described it to me, it would have fit any definition of a small mansion. The one thing he missed above all was his grand piano; he did not have a piano here in America.

He then told me how he left it all and even risked his own life as he got into a small boat and escaped through treacherous waters to land on Florida’s shore and freedom. When he arrived, he had the clothes on his back and one son. His doctor’s degree was little help to him here, partly because of his difficulty with English. I never learned what happened to his wife or any other family member. I only knew that the moment he set foot on our shore, he was—in his mind—a new man with a new life as an American. And, for his price for this freedom, he would not tolerate any disrespect toward our flag, no matter how slight.

That is why I had to stand with him. I’m glad I did. My pride in the Grand Old Flag grew a little that day.

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