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Independence Day - recall our National Hymn

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Independence Day commemorates the signing of the Declaration of Independence, declaring our nation’s intention to govern itself. In anticipation of the 238th anniversary of this event, the Air National Guard Band of the West performed this week at Layton, the Draper Utah Amphitheater, and Murray Park, all in Utah

In these beautiful settings, the band played a variety of selections with creativity and expertise. Their theme in Draper was V-A-L-O-R, honoring all military personnel who have served our country, initially gaining its independence from the motherland and preserving its freedoms through the years.

An especially moving selection was our National Hymn sung by a mixed quartet. God of Our Fathers, written by Daniel C. Roberts with music by George W. Warren is a rousing tribute to the God in whom our nation trusted for nearly 200 years.

The first stanza of the hymn extols the God of our founding fathers as Creator of all the starry bands and shining worlds. Our response is to sing in praise at His throne.

Acknowledging God’s love and guidance, the second stanza asks Him to continue ruling us as we follow His law and paths. Stanza three addresses war and pestilence, asking for God’s defense and for peace.

The final stanza is a prayer for sustenance, guidance, love and grace. It ends with “glory, laud, and praise be ever Thine.”

Independence for our nation has been a great thing. However another kind of independence is self-destructive and perilous. That is independence from God.

As mentioned earlier, for nearly 200 years our country honored the God of our fathers, despite the personal beliefs of its citizens. Even so, many unfortunate rulings were made that marginalized and mistreated certain people groups. Some were even backed up by misinterpretations of Scripture, namely the justification for slavery and also the treatment of native Americans as pagans (less than human).

But our nation’s independence from God entered the forefront in the 1960s with the rise of humanism, evolution, and atheism. A 1966 Time magazine cover posited the question “Is God Dead?” with a cover story about the country’s rising trend toward secularism.

Citizens in the “free love” movement began living as if God were dead and they were under no obligation to adhere to moral standards. They wrongly concluded that sin has no consequences, and the result has been an escalation of STDs (including HIV and AIDS), illegitimate babies, divorce and single parent homes, crime, and other social ills.

When a nation desires independence from God, He has every right to remove His protection and blessing from that land. Like the broken-hearted parent of a prodigal, God gives people and nations the freedom to make their own choices and live with the consequences they bring on themselves. If we as a nation turn our back on God, He will honor that decision, even if it means turning His back on us.

Psalm 33:11 says “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD.” While this is speaking of God’s chosen people, the nation of Israel, it applies to all nations who submit to God’s principles as detailed in His Word, the Bible.

So while we celebrate the freedom to govern ourselves as a sovereign nation, may we not continue in independence from our sovereign God, either as individuals or as a nation.

May the second stanza of our National Hymn become our prayer once again: “Be Thou our Ruler, Guardian, Guide, and Stay; Thy Word our law, Thy paths our chosen way.”

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