Let Freedom Ring

I love the 4th of July. Even though we don’t usually go on a vacation or even have a big picnic, it’s one of my favorite holidays. Some of my favorite traditions include watching fireworks in the car, tasting some of the first local corn on the cob, and enjoying a cold glass of iced tea. Every year, Jamie and I watch A Capitol Fourth on television and then switch to watch the New York fireworks. While these traditions are fun, most of all, I love seeing all of the flags and the red, white, and blue decorations as Americans celebrate the greatness of the United States of America. Yes, I know that this year is going to be different across the country. Many are canceling vacations; others won’t have their annual bash with family and friends. Some places won’t even have fireworks. And yet, I firmly believe that it’s vital that we celebrate the birthday of the greatest country on earth. We need to thank God for the privilege of living here and enjoying the freedoms provided to us through Constitution. As we feast on hot dogs and hamburgers (or whatever your traditional food may be), we need to take time to remember and thank God for the men who dared to risk their lives, their fortunes, and their shared honor to sign the Declaration of Independence. Their bravery, their dream, their vision, their wisdom in framing Constitution, allow us to live in the greatest country in the world. Is it perfect? No. Perfect is impossible until we get to Heaven. Yet even with its imperfections, it is still the greatest country and society in all of history. If you’re not sure, take a moment and reflect on the freedoms that we enjoy, of which others can only dream. Let’s start with the freedom of religion. In June, Jamie and I helped another ministry self-publish a book to benefit a missions organization in Eurasia. As I read the stories of Christians around the world who endured extreme persecution in the Soviet Era and are still enduring persecution in Muslim cultures, I was reminded how blessed we are to live in a country that allows us to serve God, worship Him, and share the Gospel freely. We don’t have to be afraid of the government hunting us down to kill us or put us into prison for merely calling ourselves Christians. We are free to share our faith not only in the church but through limitless avenues of technology. For many of our fellow believers, this is just a dream. If nothing else, we should celebrate this freedom this 4th of July. 2. Our Constitution grants us freedom of speech. Over the past few months, there have been many different opinions expressed as Americans reacted to recent events. Some people were upset with the President, others with Governors, Mayors, the Congress, or the Senate. All over social media, Americans were voicing their thoughts and feelings at a record pace. Thanks to our Constitution, we were allowed to do so. The fact is that in many countries in the world, this type of dissent is not allowed. They have no freedom of speech. They cannot criticize the government without fear of punishment. Thanks to the men who signed the Declaration of Independence and our Constitution, we can say whatever we want without fear. You even have the right to be wrong. Democrat or Republican—it doesn’t matter. As Americans, we can voice our opinion. If nothing else, we should celebrate this freedom on the 4th of July. 3. We have the freedom to protest peacefully. Right away, let me say that I do not support any form of violence, looting, or rioting. This is totally wrong, and those who participate in such activities should be arrested. However, our country's glorious freedoms afford us the right to protest and speak out against injustice peacefully. Whether it be protests against social injustice or the annual Right to Life Rally, we are blessed to live in a country where citizens are allowed to assemble, speak, and let their voices be heard. As we saw in the 1989 Tiananmen Square protest, not all governments afford their people this privilege. This 4th of July, we need to celebrate this freedom. 4. We have the freedom to choose how we will live our lives. One of the greatest things about living in America is that we all have the freedom to choose our lives. We choose our jobs. Most Americans are afforded a high school education and have the option of some secondary education through grants and local schools. If you don’t like the way your life is going, you can change it. Don’t like where you live? You can move. Unlike other countries whose governments dictate their lives, we have freedom. In our free-market society, hard work is rewarded. Rather than birthright and class determining your future, each American can make choices to determine the outcome of their lives. We should celebrate this freedom this 4th of July. 5. We have the right to free press. Whether you are a liberal or a conservative, you can turn on the television, the radio, the internet, or pick up a newspaper or magazine and hear the news from your perspective. Unlike in many countries, there are no state-run media. Journalists are free to report and even offer their opinions. Whether you agree with the other side or like what they say, in America, they have the freedom to say it. You don’t have to listen, but they have the right to speak. That’s the beauty of democracy. 6. As Americans, we have the freedom to vote and elect our leaders. Thanks to the fantastic vision and governmental structure designed by our founding fathers, we do not have kings and queens who are born into power. Instead, we choose our leaders at the voting box. The right to vote is not granted to a chosen few. No, every adult citizen, rich or poor, male or female, has the right to cast their ballot. It’s so easy for us to forget that no one had this right before the Declaration of Independence. Kings were born into power and given a lifetime appointment. With little accountability, their word was law and had to be obeyed. Thank God, our founding fathers created a better way and gave us the right to choose our leaders and hold them accountable by voting to retain them or replace them each year. It’s a beautiful freedom that we should celebrate this 4th of July. These are just a few of the freedoms that we can be thankful for this Independence Day. We also have the right to bear arms, the right to assemble, and the right to equal justice under the law. All of these rights and all of these freedoms are what make America the greatest nation on earth. These are the things we need to focus on this 4th of July. You see, I completely understand that 2020 has been difficult (to say the least). It’s become easy over the past few months to see all of the flaws, all of the problems, all of the imperfections of our county. People are arguing about politics and talking about the things our country needs to fix all over social media. (Have no doubt, I believe there are many ways where America has strayed from God’s path, moved from the founding father’s original intentions, and needs a spiritual revival.). As Christians, I firmly believe we need to pray about all of these areas. We need to take a cue from Esther and Mordecai and intercede for our people and our nation like never before. However, I also believe that as we celebrate our nation’s birthday this 4th of July, we also need to take a step back. Take a breath. Stop fighting and arguing on social media and remember that despite her imperfections, America is still the greatest nation on earth. We need to take time and reflect on the freedoms we have. Go back and read some history, watch a movie about the founding fathers, or even just read Constitution. Remember, there are people all over the world who would give anything to live in this country, to be a part of her greatness, and experience the freedoms we too often take for granted. Thank God for America. Thank God for our Constitution. Thank God for the men and women who serve and maintain our freedom. Pray for our leaders—the ones you like and the ones you don’t. And celebrate. Celebrate that in 1776, men were willing to sacrifice everything so that we could enjoy the freedoms we have today. Eat a hot dog. Spend some time with family and friends. Make this the best 4th of July ever! Above all, let freedom ring!!!

---Adessa

Adessa Holden is an ordained minister with the Assemblies of God specializing in Women's Ministry. Together with her brother, Jamie, they manage 4One Ministries and travel the East Coast speaking, holding conferences, and producing Men's and Women's resources that provide practical Biblical teaching for everyday life.

When asked about herself, she'll tell you "I'm a women's minister, a sister, and a daughter. I love to laugh and spend time with people. My favorite things are chocolate, the ocean, sandals and white capris, anything purple, summertime and riding in the car listening to music. It is my absolute honor and privilege to serve Jesus and women through this ministry.

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