Give thanks for our country and for Jesus

By Joan Clayton: PNT Religion Columnist

America has come through many conflicts to preserve her freedom. Many have given their lives to keep this nation free. Let us not take this for granted. Is that not why we celebrate July 4th? We want freedom and independence. No other place can replace the United States of America. From “Sea to shining sea,” and every thing in between is sacred, beloved land.

In this land are many opportunities. You can pursue the American dream. Yes, you have to work hard to attain that goal but determination and perseverance yields great dividends. You can be anything you want to be, if you live in a free country that is. Third World countries don’t have that option.

You can walk into a store that has multiple choices for customers.
You can attend the church of your choice without fear. Not so in many countries.

There you may be persecuted, harassed or even lose your life.
You can make your voice heard by voting for the candidate of your choice. Freedom does not exist in dictatorship.

You can express your thoughts without fear of reprisal. You have a right to your opinion.

America is filled with life saving technologies, procedures that have expanded our lifespan.

Almost anyone in this nation can receive an education.
If someone is willing to work, there is always a job.

In spite of all of these attributes, I hear criticisms, murmurs and complaints about the land I love. To those who feel that way I suggest they visit a foreign country. You will have a greater appreciation of freedom.

I am always amazed how others sacrifice for those who are down and out. Banks open accounts for people to give when a tragedy occurs. Americans have compassion whether at home or overseas.

So many soldiers and others in the military have sacrificed that you and I may live in freedom. I think of one soldier in the hospital who had lost his right hand. A visitor came to meet him. How do you thank a soldier for fighting for freedom and shake his right hand when he has none? The man bent over the soldier and kissed him on the forehead. This visitor was his Commander-in-Chief, the President of the United States, George W. Bush.

This type gesture is another of the many things that I love about our country, America!

What makes America great and why do I love her so?

Our founding fathers had the wisdom to govern our constitution on Biblical principles and these principles have endured for more than 200 years. They have led to blessings and prosperity. “Doing what is right makes a nation great, but sin will bring disgrace to any people” (Proverbs 14:34 NCV). America has been blessed because of its motto “One nation under God.”

On this Fourth of July let us celebrate and appreciate what America stands for, “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
Let us also remember a man on a cross who gave the highest sacrifice to free us from the bondage of sin. “It is for freedom for that he shed his precious blood.

“…his sweat was like drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44 NCV).

I thank God that I live in America, but I’m even more thankful for a Savior who died for me upon a tree that I might live eternally.

I believe we are truly free when we are free in Jesus. “So if the Son makes you free, you will be truly free” (John 8:36 NCV).
On this Fourth of July let us celebrate freedom and have gratitude for the guidance of a loving God who has guided and kept us through the years.

Let freedom ring throughout this day and every day. Let the flags wave. Let the proud sing with hands over hearts.

I must say it again, “America, I love you!”

Joan Clayton is a religion columnist, author and retired teacher living in Portales.