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Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

I went to my brother’s house for a cookout on the Fourth of July.
It’s always fun to go to his house at holiday times because you never know who will be there. If there is someone who has nowhere to go for a holiday, they know they can show up at my brother’s house. There is always plenty of food, laughter, and fellowship around the many tables set up throughout the house.
The only time a game isn’t being played is during the meal. Any other time, some kind of game is being played in every nook. There were kids playing video games in one room. A game of basketball is always going on outside. Someone will normally start some kind of game in the family room. Then there is a pool table, ping-pong table and an air hockey game in another room. You can go from one to the other, and everybody is willing to let you join in the fun. The thing everyone probably enjoyed the most was a couple of baby kittens my niece was foster-parenting for a couple of weeks. Everyone spent some time playing with them.
If fun and games is not quite your taste, there are plenty of conversations occurring, all at the same time. One might think they are all about the weather or superficial stuff. Wrong. I sat with some college students who were discussing politics and environmental issues. There were conversations about missionaries, books, future ambitions, technology, world travels, historical events, job situations, college classes and teachers, and the list goes on. There was literally something for everyone. I have to admit I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to talk to anyone about much in depth, but I was wrong. I got to have several great conversations with family members even in all the craziness.
When it came time to eat, we all gathered around for prayer. My brother and his wife thanked everyone for coming and shared a few special thoughts about family and friends. My brother’s father-in-law shared a few thoughts about how our country got started and the sacrifice many of our founding fathers faced for beginning this great nation. Many of them lost their lives or their homes and families. They were considered traitors and rebels to the mother country. Yet they had a vision for a free America and were willing to pay the highest price for that freedom.
We are the beneficiaries of their sacrifice. Because of them we have the freedom to express our different views and opinions. We are fortunate to be living in such an interesting political year. We can believe in totally different things, and yet as Americans, sit down together and respectfully disagree.
Jesse Helms, a prominent North Carolina politician, passed away on the Fourth of July, and whether you agreed with him or not, he had the right to stand up and fight for what he believed in. There are many places in this world where that would not have been allowed.
I, as a writer, have the freedom to express my beliefs publicly, which does not happen in many parts of this world. I can encourage you to have and build a relationship with a loving and compassionate God. We can go to various places of worship without fear of death for our beliefs because we live in a nation that permits freedom of religion. We may believe in different gods, but that is our right here in America.
The founding fathers had faith in God and they wanted that for you. That goes double for me. I want you to have a relationship with God who loves you. He is not going to give you everything you want and won’t say yes to every one of your prayers. He will, however, walk with you and never leave or forsake you. When things go wrong, he will be a rock for you to stand upon. He will mold, challenge and change you until you become more like his son. The reward of faith in him is an eternity with him.
I want to encourage you to stop and appreciate your freedom as an American. God has blessed this nation, and we are fortunate to live in it. We may think and believe different things, but that is what makes America so unique and wonderful. Since you have the freedom to explore faith in this land, take the time to know and experience God and his only son. God is waiting and watching for you, your eternal destination will be determined by your decision.
Doug Creamer teaches marketing at East Davidson High School. His Web site is