Life – Liberty and Happiness

 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. Romans 13:7-7 ESV

July 4th, 1974 was a hot and humid day in West Plains Missouri, and a perfect day for a church picnic. But what my wife Nancy I remember most about that day is the birth of our oldest son, Chris. The labor pains had begun while we were playing frisbee with our friends in the Jack’s Fork River, but Nancy was having so much fun she declined to tell me until her contractions were five minutes apart. Speeding in a pick-up truck up two miles of dirt road and then another twenty-five on asphalt is something neither one of us will ever forget! But amazingly, right at 11:45 that evening, the adventure of being a mom and dad began, and those small details of that one day are still precious to us after all these years.

On a different 4th of July, two hundred and forty-five years ago our nation was born. On another hot sweltering day in Philadelphia, the Second Continental Congress approved the Declaration of Independence. It is a day we celebrate, not just because our nation began, but because it was founded with the idea that, “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Today’s verse tells this same idea by reminding us that we need to honor and respect everyone, (And even pay our taxes!) There are plenty of things we could find to complain about, criticize or even make fun of about our country and its leaders. But our hope and confidence is not in our leaders or even our friends. It lies only in God. He is still in charge no matter who lives in the White House. His laws do not change every time congress passes another piece of legislation or the courts rule with their opinions. Most importantly we must remember that we are commanded to love one another. You might say, “That is a pretty tough row to hoe, you don’t know my family, my fellow church members and my neighbors!” Hey if this were easy God wouldn’t have made it a command! But what is impossible for men, is possible for God. He sent Jesus to the cross to die for us all. There the ground is level and we are equally in need of His grace which alone can give us real life, real liberty and real happiness that will last forever and ever!

Life Liberty and Happiness by Peter Caligiuri first published in the Sunshine Newsletter Copyright 2021 all rights reserved use by permission only

What is an American?

It was 5th period and we were studying math. Suddenly the day and our lives changed forever. Something had happened in Texas and we would find out from our parents more  when we got home. Mom was sitting in herImage chair in the living room wiping away tears. Our young president had been killed. It was a moment, that no matter who you were or what you were doing, if you were an American you remember.

The moment that Neil Armstrong walked on the moon; the day when the Space Shuttle exploded. We all remember where we were standing and who was in the room. Then came 9/11 and it seemed that time had stopped for America. Our Congressmen joined together and sang God Bless America. These are just a few of the tiny threads that weave us together as a nation. 

Being an American is almost like being in a marriage. It’s for better or worse, for richer or poorer. Even in the moments when we hate to see what is happening around us, we are still rooted here. joined by the common threads that make us a people. America isn’t at all about black or white, it isn’t about rich and poor or educated and ignorant. The wonderful blessing we know in America is about a single amazing idea. It is the astonishing concept that:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

We are not a perfect nation. That nation will only come with the return of the Lord Jesus. But I am thankful tonight for God’s amazing grace and blessings on our country. I am thankful for the freedom we enjoy every Sunday in church. I am thankful that we can go to the voting booth and live to complain freely the following day if the person we wanted doesn’t get into office. We have more to be thankful for than complain about. So on our America’s birthday let’s all remember to pray for her. Let’s pray so that God will hear from heaven, forgive our sins and heal our land