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This week's sermon:

             Galatians 5:1, 13-25  -  Liberty And Civility
               
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The United States of America is 228 years old today. That’s a long time for a nation to remain free. But, when you look at our history in the context of world history America is just a CHILD among the nations. Egypt, China, Japan, Rome, Greece all make America’s history seem so short. Consider what a brief time we’ve really been here as a nation: When Thomas Jefferson died, Abraham Lincoln was a young man of 17. When Lincoln was assassinated, Woodrow Wilson was a boy of 8. By the time he died Ronald Reagan was a boy of 12.

 

There you have it. The lives of four men can take you all the way back to the beginning of our country, 228 years ago. We are so young. And yet we stand tall among these nations because of the principles on which we were established: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

 

Thus begins the Declaration of Independence, which we celebrate today. And do not let anyone fool you. Freedom ought and need be celebrated. So many churches and ministers today loathe patriotism in the pulpit. I am not one of those. I celebrate today with you the freedoms which God has blessed this great nations of ours. Now I cannot tell you whether God has blessed us with liberty and therefore we are free or we have wisely and simply built our liberty based on biblical principles. In any case our freedom is from God.

 

Now let me temper our celebrations with a caution: With freedom comes great responsibility. We are not free to live excessive lives. We are not set at liberty to pursue selfish ends. Our independence should not make us infidels. As Paul so eloquently puts it: “You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature.”

 

What is true for the church is true for the nation: Liberty demands civility. Freedom requires righteous behavior. On this July 4th let’s celebrate Freedom and Civility.

 

1. First Let’s Celebrate Freedom

2. Second Let’s celebrate Civility.

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What Is Unique About Christianity?

The story of Jesus sitting and debating the Law with rabbis reminds me of another debate that took place in a comparative religions conference, the wise and the scholarly were in a spirited debate about what is unique about Christianity. Someone suggested what set Christianity apart from other religions was the concept of incarnation, the idea that God became incarnate in human form. But someone quickly said, “Well, actually, other faiths believe that God appears in human form.” Another suggestion was offered: what about resurrection? The belief that death is not the final word. That the tomb was found empty. Someone slowly shook his head. Other religions have accounts of people returning from the dead.

Then, as the story is told, C.S. Lewis walked into the room, tweed jacket, pipe, armful of papers, a little early for his presentation. He sat down and took in the conversation, which had by now evolved into a fierce debate. Finally during a lull, he spoke saying, “what's all this rumpus about?” Everyone turned in his direction. Trying to explain themselves they said, “We're debating what's unique about Christianity.” “Oh, that's easy,” answered Lewis, “it's....

 

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