Happy Independence Day

How shall we celebrate this day? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Today, we who are Americans celebrate the day we declared ourselves a free people. It’s important to realize it was a declaration. The freedom was not guaranteed. There was no certainty that the mission would be successful. It was a great risk, but many of us today living in freedom in America are thankful for that risk.

I’m also making it a point to not say the 4th of July. Today is a day to really say something specific. We don’t say on Christmas, “Merry 25th of December!” or on Valentine’s Day “Happy 14th of February love of my life!” We refer to them as Christmas and Valentine’s Day. Why not refer to today as Independence Day?

Today, many of us will be celebrating with friends and loved ones. There’s nothing wrong with that. Here in Atlanta, we’ll be meeting with my wife’s family. (I also can’t help but think right now about a friend who said yesterday on Facebook that it’s so hot that he’s sweating like Steven Furtick listening to a Paul Washer sermon. I wish I had come up with that, but I didn’t.)

Yet as we gather together, let’s remember something. We can gather together. We can celebrate. We have that freedom. Many of us have taken too much for granted in our country. This is especially so when it comes to religious freedom. We can say we see some encroachments on that, and we could say so rightly, but many of us can still go to the church of our choice without fearing that the government is going to burst in on us and shut us down and/or kill us all.

The tragedy of all of this is we don’t really use our freedom well. Think back to how many people in the past wrote so much. You and I can read the New Testament easily enough. Have you ever considered what it would be like to write the New Testament? I don’t mean sit down and type it out. I mean write by hand a book of the New Testament. Luke is said to have contributed more than anyone. Have you ever thought about what it would be like to write Luke and Acts using ancient materials?

We have so much freedom to do so much good and we tend to not do it. Imagine what Paul would do with what we have today. How would Paul use the internet, podcasts, television, etc.? Dare I say it but I think much of what we do with what we have is paltry compared to what those who went before us did with what they had. They also often did so in the midst of real persecution.

That doesn’t mean we don’t give thanks for our freedom or despise it. It means we use it wisely. God has granted us a nation where we can worship freely. We can serve freely. It is a tragedy to get a great gift and to squander it. Let’s make sure we’re not doing it.

Happy Independence Day everyone!

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Happy Fourth of July

What are we going to celebrate today? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Today, many of us are going to go to celebrations and barbecues and watch fireworks go off. For us, we’ll be going to see my in-laws today. We could be watching a movie with them on Netflix or something like that as well. Normally, it’s a war movie. I don’t really care for those as much, so I usually have my DS with me.

Anyway, it’s easy to live and celebrate today and be unaware of how we got to this point. This is something I usually have a problem with many of my fellow Christians about. We go to church and talk about the suffering we face today often blissfully unaware of the suffering the early church went through and we think that it’s all about us.

Today, you have freedom in America, and that freedom does not come from the government as we so often think. Government does not give you rights. If you have anything that is yours by virtue of being a human being, then that is a right. No government can truly take it away, although they can surely try to get in its way.

Enjoying those rights is where freedom comes in. You came to be able to enjoy those rights because over 200 years ago, some people were willing to sacrifice themselves so that you could. They were willing to engage in an experiment never before tried in the history of the world. They took the ultimate risk standing against a powerful force of their day.

The sad reality for many of us today is that if it happened before our time, we don’t really see the point of it. There was a Facebook status I saw once, not on my feed but elsewhere, of a girl complaining about why we had to have the Civil War. It was just another thing to study. Absent to her apparently was that there was something worth fighting for in that war.

We have a great danger then that we will take freedom for granted today. Why shouldn’t we? We take so many other good things for granted. Right now in America, we have the freedom to worship together. How much longer? Look at the people in your life. Look at your spouse, your children, your family, and your friends. Take the time to appreciate them today. Many people risked and even gave their lives so you could get to do that today.

Of course, enjoy today. No one is saying to do otherwise. Others died so we could be free, but they wouldn’t want us to not enjoy that freedom. If you can shoot off fireworks and have a barbecue and be with loved ones, then that is a freedom that you have. Perhaps you might also want to even get out a copy of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence and read through them some today. Take some time to remember what it is that makes this nation great.

Happy Fourth of July!

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Happy Fourth of July

Are you enjoying the 4th of July? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Today we celebrate the fact that we are supposed to be a free people and this based on an event that happened 240 years ago. My wife and I will be celebrating by going to see her parents for a cookout. I’m also bringing Apples To Apples with us in case we want to have some gaming going on. Naturally, I’ll have my books with me as well because they tend to go everywhere with me.

Yet today, I wonder more and more if we’re not taking our freedoms for granted here. We’re living more and more in a society where businesses are being told how they must run their business and who they must sell their goods and services to. Whenever this happens, our freedoms die little by little.

I fear a world where we have way too much government inclusion. It’s what I call the nanny state. It’s too often looking like we are implicitly told that we are too stupid to know what’s good for us so we need the powers that be to come alongside of us and tell us what is good for us.

Many of us who are Christians are also worried about what we can do to stop the downward slide in our nation. There are some sadly who think that since Jesus will return soon, that this is what’s expected and this world is going to be done away with anyway so why bother? Sure, this doesn’t match everyone, but I have met too many with this mindset.

What is my advice in this situation? If we don’t like the way the country is going, then what are we to do? My advice is simple. The church has to be the church.

We are too often passive in what we want. We say “We’ll just live our lives and wait for people to ask us about what we believe.” They weren’t like that. Paul went into the synagogues, where he would be challenged by those who would have the most knowledge about what the Messiah would be, on a regular basis and spoke from the Scriptures about Jesus. He went to the Greek marketplace and Mars Hill and spoke about Jesus. Never do we read in Acts

“And Paul went into the city and he lived a good and pleasant life among the peoples and they came to him and asked ‘Why do you not live as we do?’ and from that point on, Paul spoke about how Jesus changed his life and gave him new desires. All the people in the city were impressed and decided to follow this Jesus. Paul won many converts then in that city and went on to the next.”

Paul was one wanting to bring the message wherever he could. Today, we’re living more in response mode. We don’t lead in the culture. We respond to the culture. This is also shown in our Christian bookstores selling what has been called “Jesus junk.” Just take a popular saying of the day, put Jesus in it, and then put it on a T-shirt.

Some of you might be wondering what it will take to get the church to be more aggressive. Now note I don’t mean violently aggressive. There is no place for picking up the sword to do evangelism. What I mean is we are to be pro-active. For that, we need to train our people in what it is they ought to believe and know about Christianity and how to show it and spread it. Our Christianity has often been reduced to moralizing, particularly on sexual issues. Of course we should speak on those, but that is not all that we are about.

If the church gets to be the church again, we can change our culture. If first century Rome can be changed, then who on Earth can 21st century America not be? Of course, this doesn’t just mean doing evangelism alone. Christians should take the lead in charity, and in many ways we do. Christians should take the lead in academia. The best scientists, engineers, lawyers, etc. should be Christians. We should strive for greatness in all that we do.

Christians should also be able to rely less and less on the government. I think one of the sad reasons that we have so much government dependency today is that the church let the government do that job. We are to be the ones to take care of our own. Why aren’t we doing that?

Even if you think this world is going to go away soon, that doesn’t negate your marching orders. Jesus gave the Great Commission to be done. There is no plan B. There is nothing that tells us what happens if we don’t do plan A. We are simply told to do it and if Jesus is our King, then we will do it.

Today, celebrate the fourth, but remember if you want to hold on to those freedoms, don’t look to others. You do what you can in your own power to preserve them. Freedom is worth it.

In Christ,
Nick Peters