Fireworks; red, white, and blue; picnics; family; holidays; summertime; swimming; fishing; and . . .

This is the month that we celebrate FREEDOM. We actually celebrate freedom from the oppressive control of the expression of one’s religion, one’s worship of God, and the form in which we do so.

We think of July 4, 1776, as a day that represents the Declaration of Independence and the birth of the United States of America as an independent nation. July 4, 1776, became the date that was included on the Declaration of Independence, and the fancy handwritten copy that was signed in August (the copy now displayed at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.). It’s also the date that was printed on the Dunlap Broadsides, the original printed copies of the Declaration that were circulated throughout the new nation. So when people thought of the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776 was the date they remembered.

Ok, so there’s an interesting bit of history, but the question is, WHY was it necessary to be independent from Great Britain. What was the issue there that caused the need to leave, cross “the pond,” and declare official independence?

Religious tensions in England remained high after the Protestant Reformation. A Protestant group called the Puritans wanted to purify, or reform, the Anglican Church. The Puritans thought that bishops and priests had too much power over church members. So many left England and went to Holland in 1608, but were concerned while there, that their children were learning/speaking the Dutch language. So they left Holland and came to America, where they felt that they could practice their strict anti-Anglican faith without the opposition they had experienced in England.

So now, we have FREEDOM, of sorts, but where has it taken us? Have we become so free that “anything goes?” Is it okay to take down the Ten Commandments from public view? Is it okay to remove crosses from places across the country where their presence has reminded travelers of their faith? Is it now permissible to threaten our President? You can be sure that it is not in the United States alone that such things are happening. On one of our last visits to England, (Nancy’s homeland, by the way) some of the beautiful cathedrals that dotted the verdant landscapes of England, were virtually empty on Sunday mornings. Others were alive and well, but not attended by the majority of Brits.

In this country, the 4th of July, while we celebrate it as a family holiday, has ceased to be really about freedom, and more about fun. But today, we (Ron and Nancy) are more concerned about the lack of freedom that most people experience. It’s not so much about freedom of speech or freedom of religion that we are speaking about here, but the LACK of freedom from the shame, the guilt, the rejection, and all of the wounds of the past. It is time for us as Christians, who believe that we are free from our sins because of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, to declare to Christians and non-Christians alike, that they can also be free from the heavy weight of baggage that they carry.

So many have tried and cried, and begged and pleaded to have their burdens removed; burdens that have caused negative behaviors in the present that do not serve them well. Addictions, anger and rage, poor relationships, sexual dysfunctions, lying lips, and the list goes on and on of results from the wounds we have experienced. It’s time to tell the world that this is NOT necessary, this misery and sadness that they feel.

There is a woman, who herself was wounded and found relief from her burdens, who once a week is on the phone with approximately 13 women nationwide, sharing what she has learned. This group has been through a recovery program and several books with workbooks, and each member is making incredible progress in her own recovery.

Another married couple facilitates three classes a week of “The Journey” and the class for married or engaged couples entitled “Created for Success.”

Another woman has dedicated her life to not only facilitating classes and sponsoring seminars, but also uses her technical savvy to update our website, and to organize and send out our monthly newsletter.

Another couple sends a contribution every month to help with the costs of our non-profit, and has facilitated numerous classes at their church.

These individuals are using their  “FREE” time to benefit others, and in the process are enjoying the benefits of being a blessing. There are numerous others across the country who are doing their best to make a difference by just recommending books to those who express their need of help.

We are going to ask you to do something for yourselves and others this 4th of July. While you sit with family and friends, think and talk about what you could do in your area to be a blessing to others – to help them to experience freedom.

One idea is to start a book club with a few friends. Shadows of Acceptance, Shadows of Belonging, Free At Last, and Heart Connection are all books that have workbooks to go with them. Start a group where participants read a chapter a week and answer the questions in written form in their workbooks; then get together one day or evening a week and discuss what you have learned and how you have applied it to yourself. This works well and is a shorter commitment than either of ourrecovery programs.

The book Shadows of Belonging contains four of those charts about different kinds of parents and how their behaviors affect their children.

And . . . this 4th, think and speak about freedom–a different kind of freedom than is celebrated with watermelon and burgers–the freedom from the weight of past wounds received and the resentments that are carried from the hurt. This is your challenge this month!

And . . . have an enjoyable time with family and friends as you make your party about more than fireworks. Consider starting some fireworks (the good kind) in a small group!

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