I remember moments from my earliest age
when I wanted to one day become an
American: watching Neil Armstrong taking
his first step on the moon, hearing the words
“Boeing” and “Japan Airline” on the news,
when meeting visitors from PUC in Israel. Then, I was invited
to study at AUC. On this continent, I saw the grandeur of the
Grand Canyon and of nature everywhere, I surveyed
Manhattan from the GWB, and upon graduation, I received my
first parish there. I met my beautiful wife, we got married, and
we scouted the land. I remember the July 4 weekend when I
took my oath of naturalization in Philadelphia, PA. Now, the
father of my future grandchildren works in the US Air Force.
I am so proud and happy about it all: besides the wealth,
international prestige, and blessedness of the United States,
what attracted me to this great country was a spaciousness of
land that matched what I perceived to be an openness and
largeness of mind unequalled anywhere else. I now know that,
although my roots are forever in the lands of my youth, my life
is in this great country: America!

Something we enjoy in America and at Lubbock church is
national, ethnic, and socio-cultural diversity: This creates
challenges and opportunities: as a nation, we are challenged to
learn living together apart from segregation and privilege.
Against polarization and a narrowing of mind, our Declaration
of Independence gives guidance: “We hold these truths to be selfevident,
that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by
their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are
Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” And although often
misused against minorities, the Bible remains our standard, if
we read it through the lenses of Christ.

For our ultimate guide is Him. Neither present nor past
president is our ideal, but Christ. It is not any specific political
affiliation that makes us Christian, but to have and desire the
mind of Christ.
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 2: 5)

While we are Americans, our ultimate citizenship is “in
heaven” (Philippians 3:30). And by this I don’t mean some
unhospitable deep space location, but the heart, here on earth,
on this planet God that has given us to live together on; the
Kingdom, where God’s love rules from the heart:
independence from indifference, prejudice, hate, and sin.
On this patriotic 2023 Independence Day weekend when we
are so grateful to be Americans, God challenges us Christians
to measure ourselves by Christ’s standard and His standard

Happy Independence Day!

With love,
Pastor Sam