Fredom of religion is one of the fundamental freedoms held dear within the framework of the American political structure. While this freedom has been tested and tried a number of times in recent years, the reality is no one can ever take away our freedom to love and serve a Holy God.

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom 8:38 KJV)

It is the practice of our faith which is attacked, for our faith speaks of condemnation of all without Christ. It is the freedom to worship God according to our beliefs which is ridiculed, for the testimony of a good Christian life reveals sin to a lost world. It is the evidence of our enslavement to Christ which is a threat to those who would enslave us to themselves, for we can not serve two masters, but we must serve one! Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. (Rom 6:12-22 KJV) As we celebrate the independence of our nation, consider your liberty. You have the liberty to choose what to believe ... believe in Jesus Christ and you will be free from sin. And you have the liberty to live right. When you believe in Christ, you are called unto liberty (liberty from the penalty of sin), but use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. (Gal 5:13 KJV) Paul referred to himself not only as a servant of Christ, but even as a prisoner of Jesus Christ, to show his complete submission to the Master. You are free to be a slave of sin, or a slave of Jesus Christ. To whom do you yield? In your celebration, remember too that our country was founded on a strong belief in God. Our national anthem and coinage proclaim our trust in God. Our Declaration of Independence in 1776 identifies God and our Creator. The allegiance we pledge is for "one nation under God." The oaths of office within our government and military end with the sacred seal, "So help me God." Finally, the recorded words of our founding fathers testify to this nation's belief in Jesus Christ our Lord throughout the years. Choose to be a slave of Jesus Christ ... you're free to do so!

To think is an action. We choose what to think. When we hear something we donít want to hear, we donít listen; we redirect our thoughts to something else. Sometimes, the input is so overwhelming, we have to work hard to think of something else. Other times, we can simply eliminate the source by changing the discussion, turning off the media, or leaving the area.

Itís important that we purpose what we think. When we let our minds wander, we loose control of our thoughts. One of Americanís favorite pastimes is watching television. Often we watch something which is full of worldly thinking and we let our minds go. While some of what we see and hear remains obviously wrong, much of what weíre fed is much more subtle, and we give in more than we realize.

The Bible tells us what to think. "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." (Phil 4:8 KJV)

Consider an illustration. A bucket of water represents your mind. You fill the bucket by your experiences and thoughts. A little hole in the bottom is a place where water leaks out and some things are forgotten from your mind. If you begin with clean water and add a little dirty water, the whole bucket of water becomes dirty. The more dirty water you add to the bucket, the more you are thinking bad thoughts, and the more dirty the water becomes. "For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he." (Prov 23:7a KJV)
To get your life right with God, you must stop filling your bucket with dirty water and begin thinking good thoughts. If youíll run an experiment with a real bucket of water that has an outlet at the bottom, youíll find that the addition of clean water to dirty water never results in clean water, but it gets cleaner and cleaner the more you add. It takes time to begin to live right. Old habits die hard. Old thoughts die even harder. Unrighteous living does not threaten your salvation, but righteous living pleases God and shows Him you love Him. And it provides a testimony of God to the lost.

Take the time and effort to think good thoughts. Guard against the thoughts of the world. Donít expect change overnight, but purpose to live more and more like Christ each day. "I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." (Phil 3:14 KJV)