When my family and I first moved to Middle Tennessee, we rented a small farm in Deason.
I had started a Christian discipleship ministry in Murfreesboro helping men overcome their addictions, so it was an easy drive from Deason to Murfreesboro.
Many days the men in the program would come out to the farm and work with the animals we had there. It was a great opportunity for the men to focus on positive things in life.
One year, on the fourth of July, we held what we called a "Fun Day on the Farm." We invited the men and their families to come out to the farm for a time of celebration. We invited our board of directors and the supporters of our ministry and their families to join us as well.
We grilled hamburgers and hot dogs and people brought all kinds of good food to share.
People sat under the shade of the trees and listened to live gospel music. There was a petting zoo for the children and horse rides, and the older kids took turns riding on dirt bikes.
Men and women teamed up and played softball in the field, and when the sun began to fade over the trees to the west we shared fireworks together.
It was a great day. Everyone had a wonderful time out on the farm enjoying each other's company.
For the men in the program and their families this was probably the first time that many of them had enjoyed a holiday together without alcohol or drugs being a part of it.
It was a great 4th of July celebration. But, the highlight of the day for me and for my staff was the baptism service that we held out under the trees. It was a great way to celebrate our nation's freedom by recognizing the freedom our men had found in Christ.
We had a 75-gallon galvanized tank set up in the pine grove that we baptized people in that day. The water may have been cold (it came out of the well), but everyone's hearts were warmed by the testimonies of those who were baptized that day.
Several of the men that were baptized that sunny 4th of July afternoon are involved in ministry today in Rutherford County. They have dedicated their lives to the Lord's service and they are helping other men find deliverance from addictions.
As we celebrate Independence Day in America we do so with great fanfare. Americans do love to celebrate. It is a special time of remembrance for our nation.
For Christians, our baptism is something that we should remember and celebrate as well. It is that special time when we recognize our freedom from sin that we find through the grace of God.
Jesus Christ gave His life so that each of us could experience freedom. The Bible says, "He who the Son sets free is free indeed."
As I celebrate Independence Day this year, I am also remembering my baptism and my freedom in Christ.
I am celebrating with "fireworks in my heart."
Doug Dezotell is the pastor of Mt. Lebanon UMC and Cannon UMC. He is a former staff writer for the Times-Gazette. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.