Vacation (3 of 3): Fourth of July

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Independence Day (3 of 3)

Celebrate freedom with fireworks

For dad only:

Be the Base

By Doug Joseph

In our garage is an old, beat up, plastic 5-gallon bucket with burn marks on the bottom. We also have an old, cracked recycling bin. It also has burn marks on its bottom. Why? Each year we turn them upside down, stack the former on top of the latter, and use them as a base from which to shoot fireworks.

You see, our state’s laws about fireworks put safety as the highest priority. Pretty much anything that “blows up” or “goes up” is illegal to buy or sell. All that’s left (legitimately) are lower-powered, ground-based sparkler shows. Handheld sparklers do legally allow a human to be the “base.” One could theoretically jump off a house while holding a sparkler if he was desperate to see an air launch. We really don’t recommend that! (These are the jokes, people.)

To get the maximum show out of these “safe and sane” fireworks we set them up on a base. The base allows the upward shower of beautifully colored sparks to climb higher into the air before gravity pulls them down. Since the downward journey is part of the show, viewers have more time to enjoy them.

Helping children blast off

There are many influences on the formation of one’s heart and character. One’s parents are crucial among them all. Other influences include culture (especially via media), friends, enemies, adults (especially teachers), etc. What’s more, in the beginning of each life, the parents have great sway on whether a child hears or ignores God.

Some people wrongly presume that upon one’s conversion, God suddenly and automatically makes up for all the developmental shortfalls in their past. Not so in most cases. This is apparently why the Bible stresses to fathers that we are to bring up our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

While God will help a person overcome great disadvantages, the fewer disadvantages present, the easier it will be for that believer to “go higher” in their journey for the Lord. Downfalls, such as being taught wrong values, illiteracy, not being taught good character traits, sickness, and aging, form a type of “gravity” that forces us—the spark—downward, resulting in a lower zenith than was potentially available. One’s physical death corresponds to the spark hitting the ground and dying out (at least insomuch as this life is concerned).

A believer who was raised in truth and taught godly values during their formative years can often reach a higher zenith than can a believer who was not (and who has therefore suffered more developmental deficits). This simple statement is defensible both from Scripture and from actual observations of real life. Paul’s writings to the younger minister, Timothy, show that the positive effects of Tim’s godly upbringing by a righteous mother and grandmother were visible in him.

Improve your children’s trajectory

Dads are especially important in building the base for the children. Dads, if you don’t know what to say during family devotions then get some help; seek some resources. There are lots of resources out there. Use Google. Most importantly, use the Bible. The bottom line is that if you don’t read the Bible—if you don’t know it and believe it—then you won’t be able to teach it to your kids. However, while family devotions should include a time of simply reading from the Bible, much more can be added.

A message from Vision Forum said, “Over the years, we have found that one of the best discipleship aids is a good story. Children relate to the experiences of others, and a well-told tale with a Christ-centered message can permanently impress important truths upon a young person’s heart.” We couldn’t agree more.

No rocket or spacecraft ever reached orbit or outer space without a launch pad. Dads, it is not only your privilege, but also your responsibility to be the launch pad for your children. Regardless of whether your parents provided you a good base or not, you have the potential to do more for your kids than what was done for you. Dads, we hate to break this to you, but sacrificing to be the base for your child’s higher zenith in God probably means that you get to be the bucket and bin. You may wind up with burn marks, but it will be worth it for all eternity.

Build the base. Be the base.

Doug Joseph is a father of four. As a pastor, author, and leader in men’s ministries, he seeks to fulfill his manly desires for pyrotechnics while being a law-abiding citizen of West Virginia. Enjoy his writing with books one and two of the Millennial Teleport Trilogy.

Doug Joseph's novel trilogy


Read this to the kids:

Explosion on the Beach

Last time Rusty and Misty found out their “Pirate” was really a nice man. (This story is third and last in a series about Rusty’s family vacation.)

Rusty and Misty waited until the sea turtle went back into the ocean. They helped the bearded man and Dad by holding the container for the turtle’s eggs. They carefully placed the eggs inside and carried them to the man’s shop where he could store them safely. He recorded all the information on what they found, explaining that he was a volunteer for a government agency that protects this special breed of turtles from going extinct.

Since they got to bed so late, Rusty and Misty slept almost till lunchtime the next day. Mom had been asleep when they came home the night before, so they told her all about their adventure with buried treasure. When they had finished devotions and lunch, they asked if they could go out on the beach in the daylight.

Dad said, “Yes, but it is very windy today.”

“I want to go see where the turtle was last night,” Rusty said. “I want to see those tracks in the daylight.”

“I still think there are pirates around here,” Misty said as she put on her flip-flops.

“If there are,” Dad said, opening the squeaky cabin door, “we have met one that does good and not bad.”

“How did the pirate-man lose his leg?” Misty asked.

“Mr. Thatch?” Dad asked.

“Honey,”Mom said, “it is not polite to talk about people’s deformities.”

Dad shook his head, “He doesn’t mind talking about it. In fact, he’s proud of it. Mr. Thatch lost his leg fighting for our country in a war. He’s a patriot.”

“Is that why he does a big fireworks show here?” Rusty asked.

“Yes, I guess the place could get quite crowded tonight when people from in town show up to see it all.”

“Hmm,” Mom mused, “let’s enjoy the peace and quiet while we can, shall we?”

“Yes!” Rusty answered, “and I bet I can beat you all to that boulder down the beach.” He took off running.

Dad was right behind him, and Misty came running right behind Dad. Mom just walked a little faster. Dad and Rusty tied at the rock. They stopped for a second to catch their breath and let Mom catch up.

“Those look like some mean waves,” Misty said.

“The weather should be calm tomorrow,” Dad explained, as they inhaled the salty air. “We can swim then. The day after that we go home.”

“Well then, let’s explore this beach!” Rusty said, climbing up the big rock. “Land ho!” he shouted.

“Okay, mate,” Dad said, “I think I see where the turtle came aground last night.”

Rusty jumped down and the foursome went to investigate. Misty explained, “See, Mom, the turtle came right up this way and buried her eggs over there.”

“Most of the tracks are washed away now,” Rusty noticed, “but you can still see where they end.”

“Hmm,” Mom said, looking at the end of the trail. “Looks like some other sea monsters were here last night.”

“Where?” Rusty asked.

“Here. See? Oh, are those Rusty monsters, and Misty monsters, and…?”

Misty laughed. “And these are the tracks of the man with the peg leg.”

“Misty!” Mom scolded. “It is called a prosthetic limb.”

“Sorry,” Misty said.

“Hey, look,” Rusty said walking up to a stick nearby. “This looks like a walking stick. See how it has been carved and polished? It has something tied on it.”

He looked closely at the stick with a thick piece of paper tied on with brown string. He pulled at the string and it untied easily and the paper flopped onto the ground. The wind picked it up and began tumbling it toward the trees. Rusty ran after the paper and picked it up. He walked back toward the family, frowning at what he saw on it.

“What have you got there?” Dad asked.

“It is a map, I think,” Rusty answered. “See the big X?” Dad looked at the red X in the corner of the page. He looked the map over and scratched his head. Misty and Mom crowded in to see it, too.

“I think this is the stick, here,” Rusty said, pointing to another corner of the map.

“What stick?” Misty asked, scrunching up her face.

“The one the map was tied to,” Rusty explained. He pointed to the walking stick drawn on the map.

“This is a pirate’s treasure map!” Misty shouted.

“Is it?” Rusty asked, looking up at Dad. Before waiting for an answer, he said, “Can we follow it?”

“Yes, let’s see what we can find!” Dad said.

“Next to the stick, it says to walk five paces toward the ocean,” Rusty explained.

They all walked forward, looking over Rusty’s shoulder. After taking fives steps, they came to a flat rock. “This must be the black spot on the map,” Rusty said.

“Okay, now what?” Dad asked.

“It shows a dotted line back up the beach. One hundred paces to a big rock.”

“One hundred?” Misty asked. “Okay, I’ll count. One, two, three,…” She counted until they reached “100” at the boulder they had raced to earlier.

“Are you sure we should be doing this, Hon?” Mom asked. “Some pirates are not too nice.”

Dad looked out to sea. “I don’t see any pirates.”

“Now, we have to walk to a palm tree,” Rusty said.

“I see it,” Misty said. “Do we have to count?”

“Only when we get to it, I think,” Rusty said.

They all hurried to the tree and waited to find out what they should do next. Rusty read, “Walk ten paces south to where X marks the spot.”

They counted together and soon came to a spot on the beach were the sand looked like it had been dug.

“This is it,” Rusty shouted. “What do you think it is?”

“Turtle eggs,” Misty said, laughing.

“We don’t have a shovel,” Mom said.

“Here,” Rusty said, handing the map to Mom, “it looks loose enough, we can dig with our hands.”

Dad, Rusty, and Misty dug and turned the loose sand with their hands. Dad’s finger hit something and he dug around it. “Look, it’s a bottle,” Dad said. They could see a rolled up paper inside it. Dad tugged the bottle loose from the sand. He popped off the cork and pulled out the paper.

“It’s another map!” Rusty said, over Dad’s shoulder.

“And this time it ends at a house,” Misty said. “But instead of an X it has stars and lines like a celebration.”

They followed the paces and new landmarks on this map. They stopped at a picnic table near their cabin.

“Okay,” Dad said, “from this picnic table, it says to walk 20 paces to a building in this direction.”

“It must mean our cabin,” Rusty said. “There’s no buried treasure inside, is there?”

“Let’s find out,” Misty said.

They both took off running up to the cabin. On the front steps they found a box. Together, they torn open the top flaps which were just folded together. Inside, they saw all kinds of fireworks.

“Whoa! Look at this,” Rusty said, “all kinds of neat stuff we can blow up!”

“Sparklers,” Misty said, “I love sparklers.”

“Bottle rockets! Look, Dad!” Rusty shouted.

Dad and Mom were laughing when they walked up.

“Did you know about this?” Rusty asked.

Dad shrugged. “You could say a ‘piratey’ kind of man let me know he wanted to do this. What do you think?”

“Mr. Thatch did this?” Mom asked.

“This is great!” Rusty said, digging through the box of treasures. “These are going to be so fun tonight.”

•       •       •

Later that evening, Rusty and Misty had just finished lighting off most of their fireworks except for a few they wanted to save for later. People had crowded onto the beach to watch Mr. Thatch’s fireworks show. Rusty and Misty asked Mom and Dad if they could watch the display from the loft in their cabin. They all climbed upstairs and sat on the beds to watch the sky light up.


Now discuss it!

What do you think Rusty and Misty were expecting to find where the X marked the map?


Why do Americans blow off fireworks on the Fourth of July?

To celebrate freedom from tyranny.


What does Independence mean?

Free to govern yourself.


Should you be independent from your parents? Or are you still dependent on them?


What is the difference between rebellion and independence?


What kind of independence has God given us?

He set us free from the devil’s control


Should we try to be independent from God or dependent on Him?


Read God’s Word together:

Independence Celebration

And Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances. And Miriam answered them, Sing ye to the LORD, for he hath triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.

(Exodus 15:20-21, KJV)


Let’s talk about it!

What kind of independence were the people celebrating?

God had set them from slavery in Egypt.


Why do people sing, get excited, and maybe even play a tambourine at church?

God has set us free from sin.


Why do people at church get excited when a person repents, gets baptized, or gets filled with God’s Spirit?


What other things should we celebrate that God has done for us? Should we celebrate July 4th?


Role play: Someone tells you they think America is an evil country and that we should not celebrate it. What do you think? How should you respond?

Remember, we are celebrating the joy of freedom of choice—including how we worship God. We are not celebrating all that America has done or is doing.


Your friend does not act like he cares about salvation. He talks while people are praying at the end of church and makes jokes when people are being baptized. Should you be like him? Will he influence you if you stay around him, or will you influence him?


Memorize it!

I Timothy 2:1-2

I exhort therefore, that, first of all,

supplications, prayers, intercessions,

and giving of thanks, be made for all men;

For kings, and for all that are in authority;

that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life

in all godliness and honesty.

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