Sing Praise

I woke up this morning with a song going through my mind. The song is titled, Heart of the Father” sung by Ryan Ellis (YouTube video is at the bottom of this post). That’s a good way to start a brand new day before one even gets out of bed. Instead of starting off the day with a prayer filled with requests, it’s amazing what a prayer of praise can do when we put our focus on God first instead of ourselves.

God knows what we need before we even begin to pray or know what to pray. In fact, he know us better then we know ourselves. As Romans 8:26-28 (MSG) states:

Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.

And Hebrews 13:15 states:

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.

So what does it mean to offer a “sacrifice of praise”? GotQuestions.org gives us the following answer:

Hebrews 13:15 says, “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.” The terms sacrifice and praise might seem to be opposites. We think of sacrifice as offering something at great cost to ourselves. Praise, on the other hand, sounds joyful as it bubbles from a grateful heart. However, in the spiritual realm, sacrifice and praise are intertwined.

Praise does not always cost us something. We praise our dogs for fetching the ball and people for a job well done. Praise is often our response to some action that directly benefits us, and we feel generous because we extend it. We often find it easy to praise God from the same motivation. When He has blessed us, helped us, and protected us, we feel generous toward Him. We can sing, worship, and talk about how good He is because we can see it. That kind of praise, although worthwhile, does not cost us anything. It is not a sacrifice.

Then there are those times when God did not come through the way we thought He would. The medical test comes back positive. The spouse wants a divorce. A child is wayward. The mortgage company calls in the loan. God seems very far away, and praise is the last thing to bubble up from our hearts. We can’t see His goodness, and circumstances scream that He has forgotten us.

To praise God in those times requires personal sacrifice. It takes an act of the will to lay our all on the altar before a God we don’t understand. When we bring a “sacrifice of praise,” we choose to believe that, even though life is not going as we think it should, God is still good and can be trusted (Psalm 135:2Nahum 1:7). When we choose to praise God in spite of the storms, He is honored, and our faith grows deeper (Malachi 3:13-17Job 13:15).

The command in Hebrews 13:15 says that this sacrifice is to be offered “continually.” Our praise of God is not to be based on our opinion of His job performance. Praise cannot be treated as a “reward” we give God for His obvious blessings. Isaiah 29:13 says, “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” Real praise continues regardless of circumstances. It flows continually from a worshiping heart in good times and bad (Acts 16:23-25).

The “sacrifice of praise” comes from a humble heart that has been purified by fire. It rises from a spirit that has chosen to honor God in spite of the pain that life is causing. Psalm 51:16-17 expresses this idea when it says, “You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.” (Quote source here.)

I remember a book that was published back in 1970 (the year I graduated from high school) that became a bestseller. It was the first book published by Merlin Carothers (1924-2012), and it is titled, Prison to Praise,” (and it is still in print today). It is a short book with a powerful message. He went on to write several other books on the subject of praise, and he established the Foundation of Praise in 1970 which continues today. An excerpt from Chapter One in Prison to Praise is available at this link. The following brief description of the book is taken from the Foundation of Praise website:

“Prison to Praise” chronicles Merlin Carothers’ spiritual journey from a hostile, bitter young soldier in World War II to accepting Christ and returning to the military as a chaplain. “Prison to Praise” is an enlightening book that is not about a prison with bars, but about a prison of circumstances–and how to be set free! (Quote source here.)

“A prison of circumstances”–events and/or conditions that are out of our control–and we’ve all been there, too. In my Google search on the topic, I found an interesting blog post published on June 11, 2014, titled, Are You a Prisoner of Circumstances or a Prisoner of the Lord?” by William Earnhardt who has an online ministry at InLightOfTheCross.com. As I read through his post and experiences, I could relate to a lot of what he has written. He starts off his post with the following:

Have you ever felt like you were a victim of circumstances? Due to lack of education or money you have missed opportunities? Maybe if you had not married right out of high school you could have explored the world instead of getting tied down. Now you are sacrificing your own dreams in order to create a better life for your family. Meanwhile others wish they had married so they could be experiencing a family. Now those are examples of being a victim of our own choices and not necessarily circumstances beyond our own control. Others feel like they were born victims.

Some blame the location of where they were born on how their lives turned out. Several years ago a friend came to visit me from South America. We were stopped at an intersection where a man was begging. My friend was amazed that there were poor people in the United States. She thought all Americans were wealthy because America is known as the land of opportunity. It seems that, no matter where people come from or what their lot is in life, they can see themselves as victims of circumstances.

While I enjoy my freedom of being single, there are times I miss having a family. I was talking to a friend the other day about one of the things I miss about not having my own family. I miss having someone with whom to share my stories. I don’t have a wife with whom I can share my school yearbook and tell her my high school and college stories. I don’t have any children to whom I can tell my “when I was a kid” stories. Then again, I know married people who don’t have anyone in their family who wants to hear their story either. [He has a footnote at this point in his article that states at the bottom of his post: “By the way, just because I am happy being single does not mean I have chosen to remain single. I am just happy being single until God brings me the right woman. I am not desperate. I am happily content.” I had to laugh when I read his footnote as that is exactly how I feel about being single although I’m not convinced that God meant marriage for me since I just turned 70, and it just seems like a bit of a stretch at this point in time.]

Earnhardt continues in his post with the following:

My friend then made an amazing comparison. She told me while I have no family with whom to share my stories, I share them with my church family and extended family through blogging. She told me Paul was the same way. Maybe that is why he wrote so much and loved his church so much. Having no immediate family, the church was his love and passion, and he shared his story and testimony with them through his letters. Maybe that is why he wrote so much!

Now I have no doubt Paul wrote because God told him to, and it got me to thinking about Paul’s circumstances, and one thing I have always noticed. While being persecuted and in prison Paul never thought of himself as a victim of circumstances. He never even thought of himself as a victim of the Jews or Romans while in prison. Paul writes,

For this cause I, Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles… Ephesians 3:1

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you… Ephesians 4:1

Be not thou, therefore, ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner… 2 Timothy 1:8

Paul never refers to being a prisoner of the Romans or Jews. Even while in prison Paul saw himself as a prisoner of the Lord! He knew he was exactly where God wanted him to be. Paul did most of his writing from prison. If he had been free to travel and talk to people in person, he would not have written so much, and we would not have had all of his writings preserved in the New Testament that we have today.

Paul was well aware of how an angel freed Peter from prison. Paul was well aware of how Philip just disappeared from one place and appeared in another. Paul knew that the iron bars and soldiers were not really holding him there. He knew he was right where God needed him to be, so he calls himself a prisoner of the Lord instead of a prisoner of man or circumstances…. (Quote source and the rest of his post are available at this link.)

Reading his post gave me “food for thought” as I look back over the past dozen years of my own life, and how starting back then it took a turn I never expected it to take. As it turned out, the reasons behind all of it have been unfolding over time, too, and I’ve discovered a much bigger picture going on behind the scenes of life in general (and not just specifically my own life) then I ever imagined or that I could have known existed back then, and it has certainly been an interesting ride since then, too.

In an article published on October 29, 2015, titled What does God expect of us?” by Dr. Sam Smith, columnist at Jacksonville Progress, he opens his article with the following:

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–His good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2)

What do you believe you are on earth to do? Are you here to make as much money as possible? Are you here to have and care for a family? Are you here to become famous? Nothing wrong with those things, but do we think that is God’s ultimate expectations for us? If not, what does God expect of us?

We know what He does and does not want us to do. Do not lie. Do not steal. Do not commit adultery. Do not covet what others have. Do not dishonor thy father and thy mother. Do not misuse the name of God. Worship only God, no other. Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy and resting. Do not make anything into an idol. Do not murder.

He does expect us to love God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind.

To love others as we love ourselves, and love others as Jesus loved us.

Those are the do’s and don’ts. God has given us the rulebook for living together on this planet. But those are still not His ultimate expectations for us. So, what does God expect of us? God expects us to accept His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, as our Savior. He expects us to give our lives to Him, and in so doing, develop the character of Christ. God wants us to become more like Christ. (Quote source here.)

I’ll end this post with the chorus from the song, Heart of the Father:

Jesus, Your name is power
It’s breath, and living water
And Your Spirit guides me
To the heart of the Father
Let Your praise ring louder
Everyday and every hour…

‘Cause Your Spirit guides me . . .

To the heart . . .

Of the Father . . . .

YouTube Video: “Heart of the Father” by Ryan Ellis:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here

Our Abba Father

The reference to God as “Abba Father” is found three times in the New Testament–once spoken by Jesus in Mark 14:36, and twice spoken by Paul in Romans 8:15 and Galatians 4:6. GotQuestions.org provides the meaning behind this most important name for God:

In Scripture there are many different names used to describe God. While all the names of God are important in many ways, the name “Abba Father” is one of the most significant names of God in understanding how He relates to people. The word “Abba” is an Aramaic word that means “Father.” It was a common term that expressed affection and confidence and trust. “Abba” signifies the close, intimate relationship of a father and his child, as well as the childlike trust that a young child puts in his “daddy.”

“Abba” is always followed by the word “Father” in Scripture, and the phrase is found in three passages. In Mark 14:36, Jesus addresses His Father as “Abba, Father” in His prayer in Gethsemane. In Romans 8:15, “Abba, Father” is mentioned in relation to the Spirit’s work of adoption that makes us God’s children and heirs with Christ. In Galatians 4:6, again in the context of adoption, the Spirit in our hearts cries out, “Abba, Father.” Together, the terms “Abba” and “Father” doubly emphasize the fatherhood of God. In two different languages, we are assured of God’s care for His children.

Many claim that all people are “children of God,” but the Bible reveals quite a different truth. We are all His creations and under His authority and lordship, and all will be judged by Him, but the right to be a child of God and call Him “Abba Father” is something that only born-again Christians have (John 1:12–13). When we are born again (John 3:1–8), we are adopted into the family of God, redeemed from the curse of sin, and made heirs of God (Romans 8:17Galatians 4:7). Part of that new relationship is that God now deals with us differently, as family.

It is life-changing to understand what it means to be able to call the one true God our “Father” and what it means to be joint-heirs with Christ. Because of our relationship with our “Abba, Father,” He no longer deals with us as enemies; instead, we can approach Him with “boldness” (Hebrews 10:19) and in “full assurance of faith” (Hebrews 10:22). The Holy Spirit “testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:16–17).

Becoming a child of God is the highest and most humbling of honors. Because of it we have a new relationship with God and a new standing before Him. Instead of running from God and trying to hide our sin like Adam and Eve did, we run to Him, calling, “Abba, Father!” and finding forgiveness in Christ. Being an adopted child of God is the source of our hope, the security of our future, and the motivation to “live a life worthy of the calling you have received” (Ephesians 4:1). Being children of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords calls us to a higher standard, a different way of life, and, in the future, “an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade” (1 Peter 1:4).

When Jesus taught His disciples to pray, He began with the words “Our Father.” There is much truth in those two words alone. The holy and righteous God, who created and sustains all things, who is all-powerful, all-knowing, and ever-present, not only allows us but encourages us to call Him “Father.” What a privilege is ours. What amazing grace that God would love us so, that Jesus would sacrifice Himself for us, and that the Holy Spirit would indwell us and prompt our intimate cry of “Abba, Father!” (Quote source here.)

Let’s take a closer look at those three scripture references mentioned at the start of this post. Jesus stated in Mark 14:36 (NIV):

“Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

In a devotional titled, What Jesus Did! Your Will, Not Mine!–Mark 14:26,” published on Heartlight.org on October 31, 2020, the author (name not mentioned) states:

Jesus recognizes two crucial realities: First, God can do anything he wants to do; he is God, the sovereign ruler of all things. Second, Jesus knows that his life must be governed by God’s will and not his own. The whole of human salvation history hinges on Jesus’ following through on one heart-felt phrase from his lips: “I want your will to be done, not mine.” In a parallel way, our future is also determined by our following our Savior’s example and saying, “Father, I want your will to be done, not mine.” (Quote source here.)

The second reference, Romans 8:15, stated by Paul, is within the context of Romans 8:14-17 (NIV)–verse 15 is in bold and red text:

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

In an article published on September 30, 2015, titled Sons of God–Romans 8:14-17,” on The Fellowship (author’s name not mentioned), the article states:

In Romans 8, [Paul] continually speaks of the contrast between the Spirit and flesh. The chapter begins with how we have all sinned and are unable to fulfill the righteous requirements of the law. Therefore, God has to provide a way (and He did so) through Jesus Christ. Christ is the propitiation for our faith–He has fulfilled the law and its requirements on our behalf and we can now be counted righteous by the righteousness of another. 

The law of the Spirit leads to life and peace, and as Christians, we have the Spirit dwelling in us to give us new desires. This leads to today’s study, where we explore and understand our identity in Christ. 

Paul has been teaching about the Spirit of God dwelling in us, and verse 14 is a continuation of Paul’s argument from earlier. Those who are led by the Spirit of God are therefore “sons of God”. John 1:12-13 tells us that this new identity is part of the will of God. This is consistent with what we have seen so far–God acts.

Paul goes on to contrast 2 kinds of spirits (Rom 8:15)slavery and adoption. The spirit of slavery leads to fear, while the spirit of adoption leads us to cry, “Abba! Father!” Notice the contrast between the identity of a slave and a son. There are rights and privileges that come with transforming from being a slave to a son. Your former debts have been paid, and you now have security and authority in the household. More than that, you now have a relationship with the Father, and can cry out intimately “Abba! Father!” Do you realize how wonderful this is? When we come before God in prayer, uttering the words “our Heavenly Father”, this is not a formula or just a model prayer for us to recite without thinking. To call God our Father is something radical, so radical and mind blowing that Jesus was charged because He claimed to be the Son of God (c.f. Matt 26:53). 

Verse 16 tells us that the Spirit bears witness with our spirit. What does this mean? Or to rephrase, how can we be assured and confirm that we are sons of God? Safely to say, this passage shows us there is an experiential element to our faith. This can take the form of new and changed hearts with new desires. God not only gives us new identities, but also sends His spirit with us to confirm it. 

The issue of sonship is repeated in these verses. Modern people like us think of sons from a genetic point of view. But to the 1st Century readers, they would understand sonship and its implications differently. Sonship comes with inheritance and continuity, for the son will continue the trade of the father. Isn’t that different from our modern sensibilities, where we are told to be what we want to be and dream our dreams? We try our whole lives to become who we think we should be, to try to make an impact on the world and try to leave a lasting impression. We prize individualism, thinking it is our freedom, but Romans 8 shows us a different kind of freedom, and shows us what it really means to be who we are made to be. Paul calls us to become sons of God, our new identity in Christ, to be recognized by the King. 

[Next], Paul speaks of a privilege, a condition and a consequence of being sons of God (Romans 8:17):

Privilege: Heirs of God and heirs with Christ

What are we heirs of? As sons of God, we now have the assurance that we are God’s and that we now have the intimacy with him and no longer have condemnation because of Christ (basically everything that we’ve been talking about so far). The verses in Rom 4:13-14 speak of a full and complete inheritance. God is not stingy and gives us only a portion, but He gives us beyond what we can expect. More importantly, these verses tell us that we inherit it through the “righteousness of faith”, not by our striving and merit.  Not only that, we are also guaranteed the resurrection body and resurrection. 

Condition: Suffer with Christ

Yet, sonship does not guarantee a trouble free life. Look at the life of Christ. He suffered as the Son of God. The Bible keeps repeating this in many of Paul’s letters (c.f. Phil 3:8-111 Peter 1). We all have real struggles, problems and sufferings today. But as we read these verses, let us take our eyes away from our circumstances and realize that equally real are the promises of God here, and the work of Jesus Christ! So, why do we take our eyes of Jesus and the promises that await us in Him, and focus on the problems that we have? 

Consequence: Glorified with Christ after we have suffered with Him. 

What does this mean for us today? What do you find your identity in today? How does understanding of your inheritance as a son of God change the way you live today? Perhaps it is time to pause and consider your answer to these questions. (Quote source here.)

And now we come to the third reference, also stated by Paul, in Galatians 4:6 (NIV) which taken in context includes Galatians 4:1-7 (NIV)–verse 6 is in bold and red text:

What I am saying is that as long as an heir is underage, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. The heir is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. So also, when we were underage, we were in slavery under the elemental spiritual forces of the world. But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.

In an article published on October 6, 2020, titled, Galatians 4:1-7–Sonship in Christ,” by Mathew N. Taylor, contributor on SeekingOurGod.com, he writes:

One of the tragedies of legalism is that it gives the appearance of spiritual maturity when, in reality, it leads the believer back into a “second childhood” of Christian experience. The Galatian Christians, like most believers, wanted to grow and go forward for Christ; but they were going about it in the wrong way. Their experience is not too different from that of Christians today who get involved in various legalistic movements, hoping to become better Christians. Their motives may be right, but their methods are wrong.

Paul enumerates some of the characteristics of childhood to illustrate the spiritual immaturity of living under the law. Though a child may be the heir of a great estate, he still lives and functions as a slave until a time set by his father.

In verse 3, Paul uses first person to include himself and give the sense that they are in this together. Prior to the grace of Christ, the Christian is enslaved to the elementary things (or basic principles) of the world, the ABCs of the law.

Verse 4 provides the divine answer to humanity’s slavery under the law. When the law had accomplished its purpose and man was ready for release from the bondage of the law, God sent his Son. He came right on schedule, arriving on the earth when the time had fully come. Some suggest world conditions were ripe for the spread of the gospel. The Romans had ushered in an era of relative peace through law and order. Their network of roads made travel more convenient. Widespread use of the Greek language simplified communication. At the same time, the proliferation of empty religions among many people created a spiritual hunger for something genuine. The Son had the qualifications to bring salvation to human beings. (Quote source here.)

Specific to verses 6-7, Taylor states:

Verse 6: God the Father not only “sent His Son”; He also sent “the Spirit of His Son.” Thus the full Trinity is involved in the work of salvation. The Holy Spirit is a gift of God to every believer because of sonship. No sons or daughters lack the Spirit. Further, He is present within each believer’s heart to give evidence of that one’s position in God’s family. Christians can know intimacy with the Father because of the indwelling Spirit. The Spirit moves the believer to pray to God, addressing Him as “Abba, Father” (cf. Rom. 8:15). The word “Abba” is the Aramaic word for “Father.” Abba means a term of endearment, later used as title and personal name; rarely used in ref. to God. that it is the diminutive form used by small children in addressing their fathers. Many say it is appropriate to see its similarity to the English word “Daddy” or some will say it means “Papa.” Used by Christ (cf. Mark 14:36), this familiar form indicates intimacy and trust as opposed to the formalism of legalism. It shows the closeness children of grace have with their Father. No slave of the law had such an intimate relationship. That intimate relationship comes through the Spirit not through the law.

Verse 7: To conclude, Paul declared that the Galatians were no longer slaves, but were sons and heirs. Thus, under grace we have progressed from being slaves to being sons and heirs. Grace is adulthood. Law is childhood. With the privileges of adulthood, the Christian has no reason to regress back to the law. The plural forms in verse 6 were replaced by the singular forms in verse 7 thus making the application to the reader direct and personal. In God’s family, sonship carries with it heirship (cf. Rom. 8:17).

To be an “heir of God” is true of all “sons” unconditionally. This should be distinguished, however, from being an heir of the kingdom. The Bible speaks of two inheritances (Rom. 8:17). All children of God by faith have an inheritance in heaven which can never fade (1 Peter 1:3-5), but the inheritance in the earthly reign of Christ is earned as a result of our sufferings for Him (2 Tim. 2:12). (Quote source here.)

In summary, Taylor states:

Paul, writing to Roman audiences, uses the metaphor of adoption, which a Roman audience would have understood. In Galatians 4:3–7, Christians are born enslaved, but Jesus buys them out of slavery and they are adopted by the Father and given the Spirit, so now they are heirs. When we come to faith in Christ, our debts are cancelled, we are given a new name, and we are given all the rights that heirs of God possess. One difference from Roman adoption is that Christians are not adopted because God thinks they will make worthy heirs. God adopts people who are completely unworthy, because He adopts on the basis of His grace. (Quote source here.)

God adopts people who are completely unworthy, because He adopts on the basis of His grace”…. I’ll end this post with the chorus from the song, “Abba” (YouTube video below):

Abba . . .

I belong . . .

To You . . . . 

YouTube Video: “Abba” sung by Dante Bowe live at Bethel Church:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here

The 4th of July

Back on July 4, 1776, when the Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Continental Congress, the population of the United States of America was 2.5 million (source here). As of January 2022, the population of the United States of America was 332.4 million (source here). As our population has grown tremendously over the past 246 years since the Declaration of Independence was adopted, so has our racial diversity. The following information is provided by VisualCapitalist.com:

Growing Diversity in America

As of 2019, here is the current distribution of the U.S. population by race and ethnicity:

    • White: 60.1% (Non-Hispanic)
    • Hispanic: 18.5%
    • Black: 12.2%
    • Asian: 5.6%
    • Multiple Races: 2.8%
    • American Indian/Alaska Native: 0.7%
    • Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander: 0.2%

Note that the U.S. totals do not include Puerto Rico. (Quote source here.)

In an article published on June 28, 2022, titled, We the People: Voices of the United States,” by StoryCorps, an organization created in 2003 with a “mission to preserve and share humanity’s stories in order to build connections between people and create a more just and compassionate world,” the article states:

With the Fourth of July around the corner, there is a lot to reflect on as a nation from the past year. For many this is a time of celebration, to celebrate our nation and our diverse history. However, there is also much to learn as we navigate the country today.

Thoughts of country and patriotism evoke different things for different people—often, they evoke different, conflicting notions for just one person. The U.S. is complicated, its history marked by both incredible beauty and profound injustice. And so its people are complicated too: their backgrounds, experiences, and values are diverse and nuanced. Let’s recognize and honor that. This Independence Day, hear what it means to be a part of the United States right from the source. Listen to these extraordinary stories from remarkable people, all of whom make up this complicated, beautiful, and diverse country.

The following stories were drawn from across the various StoryCorps initiatives, each of which highlights voices from a particular group of people living in the U.S. As you listen, click the links at the bottom of the descriptions to explore the corresponding initiative. [Quote source and links to the stories are available at this link.]

There is a collection of articles at Zinn Education Project listed under a profile, People’s History of the Fourth of July,” which includes a collection of people’s history stories from July 4th beyond 1776. Howard Zinn (1922-2010) whom the Zinn Education Project is named after, was “a historian, author, professor, playwright, and activist. His life’s work focused on a wide range of issues including race, class, war, and history, and he touched the lives of countless people” (quote source here).

American flag and fireworks

In my search for information to include in this blog post, I came across a number of links regarding a range of divergent views when it comes to Independence Day celebrations and the 4th of July holiday. In fact, I hardly knew what to include in this post. The typical stories we are used to reading over the years rarely include some of the other pressing issues I found that surround the 4th of July holiday. You can find some of those stories at the Zinn Education Project mentioned in the previous paragraph.

I also came across a brief post (a questionnaire) published on June 27, 2022, titled, We’re asking all immigrants–what does the 4th of July mean to you?” by Elena Burnett at NPR that states:

This Fourth of July, we want to hear from those who immigrated to the United States about what the day means to you.

How do you celebrate? Did America live up to the promise it held when you moved here?

Please fill out the form below, and a producer or reporter may follow up with you. [The form asks for contact and demographic information and includes seven questions.] (Quote source here.)

Due to the diversity of opinions I came across in my search (and it will be interesting to read the results from the NPR survey mentioned above once the data has been collected), I decided to include a brief history of the 4th of July holiday from History.com as this is the historical account of how the 4th of July became a Federal holiday in America:

The Fourth of July—also known as Independence Day or July 4th—has been a federal holiday in the United States since 1941, but the tradition of Independence Day celebrations goes back to the 18th century and the American Revolution. On July 2nd, 1776, the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence, and two days later delegates from the 13 colonies adopted the Declaration of Independence, a historic document drafted by Thomas Jefferson. From 1776 to the present day, July 4th has been celebrated as the birth of American independence, with festivities ranging from fireworks, parades and concerts to more casual family gatherings and barbecues. The Fourth of July 2022 is on Monday, July 4, 2022.

History of Independence Day

When the initial battles in the Revolutionary War broke out in April 1775, few colonists desired complete independence from Great Britain, and those who did were considered radical.

By the middle of the following year, however, many more colonists had come to favor independence, thanks to growing hostility against Britain and the spread of revolutionary sentiments such as those expressed in the bestselling pamphletCommon Sense,” published by Thomas Paine in early 1776.

On June 7, when the Continental Congress met at the Pennsylvania State House (later Independence Hall) in Philadelphia, the Virginia delegate Richard Henry Lee introduced a motion calling for the colonies’ independence.

Amid heated debate, Congress postponed the vote on Lee’s resolution, but appointed a five-man committee—including Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, John Adams of Massachusetts, Roger Sherman of ConnecticutBenjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania and Robert R. Livingston of New York—to draft a formal statement justifying the break with Great Britain.

On July 2nd, the Continental Congress voted in favor of Lee’s resolution for independence in a near-unanimous vote (the New York delegation abstained, but later voted affirmatively). On that day, John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail that July 2 “will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival” and that the celebration should include “Pomp and Parade…Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other.” (Quote source and additional information is available at this link.)

NOTE: “On July 4th, the Continental Congress formally adopted the Declaration of Independence, which had been written largely by Jefferson. Though the vote for actual independence took place on July 2nd, from then on the 4th became the day that was celebrated as the birth of American independence.” (Quote source here.)

That is how the 4th of July became a Federal holiday 246 years ago, and why we continue to celebrate it as a national holiday here in America right up through today.

In a short story published on July 6, 2017, on LinkenIn.com, titled, A Very Diverse July 4th,” by Vince Vitiello, President at New America Marketing. He wrote:

On Tuesday [July 4, 2017], the USA celebrated Independence Day, commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.

Lost between the department store and auto specific sales commercials is the true meaning of “Why America is Great”.

Quietly, my family and I celebrated the fourth at our apartment in Midtown Manhattan. At about 6 PM, before the roar of the Macy’s firework display, my wife prepared a simple cookout in a common area of our building. At the table next to us was a Chinese family of ten, including four generations, two of which were born in China. At another table, there was a three-generation South-Asian family. We were just a two-generation family. My son’s 4 great grandparents were all born in Italy, but at the age of 23, he still refers to himself as Italian-American.

As the sun disappeared and darkness overcame the canyons of buildings, fireworks exploded in the New York City skyline.

We were all on the roof. A Middle-Eastern resident, whom I have never met, handed me a “whiskey” to celebrate. Different beverages, the aroma of barbeque food from multiple countries and a symphony of languages all living, celebrating and thankful for our wonderful divine country. This is “Why America is Great!” (Quote source here.)

A song often played at 4th of July celebrations is The Star-Spangled Banner.” The Star-Spangled Banneris the national anthem of the United States. The lyrics come from the “Defence of Fort M’Henry, a poem written on September 14, 1814, by 35-year-old lawyer and amateur poet Francis Scott Key after witnessing the bombardment of Fort McHenry by British ships of the Royal Navy in Baltimore Harbor during the Battle of Baltimore in the War of 1812. Key was inspired by the large U.S. flag, with 15 stars and 15 stripes, known as the Star-Spangled Banner, flying triumphantly above the fort during the U.S. victory” (quote source here). So, appropriately, I’ll end this post with the last three lines from “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave . . .

O’er the land of the free . . .

And the home of the brave . . .

YouTube Video: “Star Spangled Banner” sung by Whitney Houston:

Photo #1  credit here
Photo #2 credit here