Happy 4th of July Citizens of Heaven!

About five years ago I became a U.S. citizen. I will give you five seconds to look at the picture. Go ahead. I will sing the jeopardy song on my end. Good friends from church came out to support me, I was wearing a stunning red tie, and smiling like a kid in a soccer store. It was an amazing day! As I enter this 4th of July, I find myself thankful, honored, blessed and all those kinds of feelings used to describe the story of a bare-footed little kid who grew up around slums in Northeastern Brazil and now is a father of five living in this great land of the free and home of the brave.

O, say, on this day can you see the millions of happy grills preparing one of America’s greatest inventions: hot dogs. But beyond all the fireworks, parades, and the good and healthy national festivities, we also remember that in 1776, the Declaration of Independence was approved by the Continental Congress, setting the 13 colonies on the road to freedom as a sovereign nation.

Sovereignty is good. It is right. And I believe there was much wisdom in that threefold pursuit of Life, Liberty and Happiness. By and large, this country provides the best and most excellent environment for the pursuit of this trinity of virtues. It is also true that we have not followed those principles too well in this nation. We have despised life by disposing of unborn infants, we have forgotten that God set us free from ourselves and the tyranny of sin, and instead of using our liberties to worship the Three-and-One Creator, we have used our liberties to chase after speechless idols. Washington has become a place of secret handshakes, unwarranted transactions, political elitism, sophist rhetoric, and cowardice. We have traded happiness and found contentment in a pot of stew. We gave up the perilous fight to amuse ourselves to death.

On a day like this one, it is important to give thanks for this nation, but keeping things in right perspective is even more critical. We are first and foremost heavenly citizens planted in this bright stars country to proclaim allegiance to one true King. The intrinsic value of this nation does not grant life, liberty, and happiness; it is the inherent perfection of a heavenly country that urges us to such pursuits. And we should pray as visibly as the bombs bursting in the air that this nation would join that divine proclamation. After all, we are Americans. We are not pessimists. We know that even in the darkest moment of this country’s history, God is still on the throne, and He does not hit the pause button to the advances of his kingdom.

Happy 4th of July! Be good citizens of this nation. With every juicy bite of watermelon, with every patriotic song, with every red, white and blue decoration, give thanks to God. But don’t forget your first love. Don’t forget to sing psalms so loudly that the enemies will think there is an army of giants coming at them, to speak the truth so firmly that Washington will be unable to shut her ears. Love so convincingly that godly marriages would be honored. Obey the Lord your God, petition his mercy that God would spare us in doing evil and bless us in doing good. And may good triumph over evil in this land.

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