Tuesday, July 04, 2006
Aahhhh - Independence Day!!!
Ahhh... How we love and are thankful for our Freedom! This being 4th of July - we have plenty of photo opportunities - and lots that we can scrapbook... from BBQ get togethers, to swimming, to games, and of course fireworks!!! I encourage you, however, to also include some journaling or a photo that captures and explains the feelings that are stirred up in you as you celebrate Independence Day!
I was not raised in a overly patriotic home. My parents did not serve in the military, although my Grandfather was a war hero - among the small group of men who personally took out Hitler... We were raised to be thankful for living in America... and to know that it was a great country and we had opportunities offered to us that others around the world did not have. It was as an adult, though, that I began to really fall in love with America, her foundation, and her history. It is true. Much to my own surprise, I have become a patriotic 'nerd'. I cry at the National Anthem or "God Bless America"... I get a reverential awe come over me at the raising of the Flag... and after 9/11 - whenever I see military people, firemen, and police officers, my hand goes over my heart as my lips silently move in a prayer for them... for protection, and for thanksgiving! Instead of writing something myself today... I wanted to share an article that I received via e-mail this morning! It says it all... and I simply add "Amen!"
Enjoy, and Happy 4th of July!
The Star-Spangled Banner
by Kenneth Copeland
June 14 is the day Americans celebrate the flag which symbolizes our liberty and freedom as a nation. Each year the president proclaims Flag Day and encourages all citizens to fly the American flag outside their homes and businesses. Many states hold special celebrations and observances, and people are encouraged to recite the Pledge of Allegiance to our great nation:
I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands: one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
Since September 11, 2001, many Americans have rediscovered the importance of flying the flag as a symbol of hope, determination and national unity in the face of the threat of danger. The true spirit of America—one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all—is being restored. The history of our flag began June 14, 1777, when the Continental Congress issued a resolution establishing an official flag for the United States to express liberty and separation from Great Britain. It has undergone some changes over the years, but the basic design has remained the same with alternating red and white stripes and a rectangular blue field containing white stars in the upper corner near the staff. I've heard it said that the red stripes represent the stripes Jesus bore for us and the blood He shed, the white represents the purity of the new birth, and the blue represents the truth of the Word of God. I believe that. Sometimes called the Stars and Stripes, the flag is a powerful symbol for our nation. It is not a political symbol, but rather, it represents a mighty and free people—the freest people on the face of the earth. It represents all that is good, sacred and godly in this country. Our flag is a standard of liberty and freedom, and that includes above all, the freedom to worship God as a Christian nation. Isn't that what the founding fathers came here for? Isn't that what many of them fought and died for? The freedom to worship and praise God has never been cheap. It cost Jesus His life. It cost a lot of other people their lives too. Our flag represents those who shed their blood for freedom—including Jesus. That's why Satan hates the banner called Old Glory. He hates it the way he hates the Constitution. He hates it the way he hates God. And he hates it the way he hates the blood and the Name of Jesus. Satan hates Old Glory's guaranteed freedoms. It has always been God's plan to have a nation where the glory of God could be sown and nurtured, from which His glory could spread throughout the whole earth. That nation would have to be a nation where all people could freely praise and worship Him. Why? Because God inhabits the praises of His people, and His glory is in His presence. Our flag represents a nation where men and women are not only free, but they can also worship and praise God without fear. "Conquer We Must, When Our Cause It Is Just"
A number of years ago God began to deal with me about ministering "The Star-Spangled Banner" to people. He told me it is actually a psalm—an ode, or poem from the Spirit of God, set to melody. When I began to study "The Star-Spangled Banner" and looked into the heart of the man who wrote it, I discovered that Francis Scott Key wasn't trying to write a national anthem, although that is what it became. Rather, as an eyewitness to a historic battle, he wrote his testimony during a time of war when men had decided they would rather die for freedom than live under tyranny. It so happened that during the War of 1812, Mr. Key, a lawyer, sailed to the British fleet to negotiate the release of a captured American. That night, detained by the British on a ship in the harbor, he witnessed the bombardment of Fort McHenry. As the battle raged and the sky filled with smoke from the shelling, Francis Key kept his eyes on the Stars and Stripes until the sun went down and it was no longer visible.
Oh, say can you see, by the dawn's early light, What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
All night, through this critical battle, he had his eyes fastened on the place where that standard flew. The question in his mind, as important as the battle itself, was: Is the flag still there?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight, O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming? And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air, Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
The flash and glow of the rockets interrupted the black of night to reveal welcome glimpses of the Stars and Stripes. Then in an instant, everything went quiet. Smoke hung in the air. The sun had not yet come up. Francis Scott Key didn't know if the flag was still there or not. He ends the first verse by asking God:
Oh say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
Are we still a nation? Are we still a free people? There was not another free nation on the face of the earth. Some people even considered the establishment of this country to be an experiment that would fail. I imagine that throughout the night, these kinds of thoughts were rolling around in this lonely man's spirit and in his mind: Oh God, if that flag is not still there when the sun comes up, this thing is all over. There won't be a free nation anywhere. But it has to be, Lord...it must stand as the home of the free and the brave. Surely God would help this nation to stand strong as the ragtag army of courageous farmers and churchgoers dared to go up against the most powerful, best-equipped expeditionary force on the face of the earth. These were people of faith who were not moved by the odds. They were not moved by what they could see. They were moved by what they believed—and they believed they were already free as of the day the Declaration of Independence of 1776 was signed. They fought the fight of faith and praise as well as the fight of war. Throughout the war with Great Britain, Congress declared days of fasting and prayer and encouraged Americans to seek God's help in the battle for freedom. They were careful to declare days of thanksgiving and praise when God intervened and blessed them with victories. Once more during the battle at Fort McHenry, God honored their faith and the colonists stood strong against the enemy. As the smoke cleared at dawn, Francis Key was thrilled to find the beloved American flag still flying high, proclaiming victory for all to see. Historians report that the sight of that majestic flag inspired the words which became "The Star-Spangled Banner." Francis Scott Key was a man of faith, and I believe he learned something as he witnessed the fierce battle that was ultimately between freedom and oppression. I'm certain he meditated throughout the night about what the outcome of that fight would mean to our infant country. The words of the song give us insight into what was going through his mind. I believe Mr. Key began formulating these words during the night and that the last verse was the answer of his faith. He could not see the flag—except by faith. Spirit-inspired prophetic utterance came out of his mouth:
Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand Between their loved homes and the war's desolation! Blest with victory and peace, may the heaven-rescued land Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
As relevant as Francis Scott Key's words were then, they are even more so today. We must not forget to praise the One who has given us our nation. We must not forget to praise the One who has given us peace. We must not forget to praise the One who has given us the victory during wars to keep America free, to keep the glory alive, to keep the Word alive, to keep the Name of Jesus on the lips of its citizens throughout this whole North American continent!
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!
Thank God, we're free and our trust is in God. He has preserved us as a nation and will continue to do so. If our cause is just, we will always triumph. And our most powerful symbol of freedom, the Star-Spangled Banner, will continue to wave over the land of the free and the home of the brave...forever!