Monday, July 4, 2011


  A little known fact is that fifty-four of the fifty-six signatories of the Declaration of Independence were believers. These men understood the powerful influence that the Savior God had on each and every individual who had signed this and pledged allegiance to it. Their signatures could have possibly sealed their deaths and they were all fully aware of it.
   In their framework of the Declaration, they sought God's wisdom in creating a document that would become this great nation's most important testament. Little did the signers of the Declaration of Independence know that with the signing of this Declaration, the birth of a new nation had begun, and "the shot that was heard around the world", the first shot fired against a British soldier, would be the beginning of the end for Great Britain's rule over the American colonies.

The Declaration of Independence
   With the signing of the Declaration of Independence, on July 4th, 1776, the United States of America declared to England, its demand for independence from England. The Declaration contained two parts. One was the preamble, which stated that man was due his god-given rights to "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness". The second part of the Declaration was a list of grievances against England and a declaration that the American colonies should be separate from Great Britain.

   The Declaration of Independence was actually first debated on June 7th, 1776, in the
Continental Congress. On June 11th of this same year, the Congress chose a committee to write a formal document to prepare as a formal declaration of separation from England. The original committee consisted of Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, John Adams and Robert Livingston. The Committee selected Thomas Jefferson to write the first draft which was to be presented to the Continental Congress.
think rather than calling it the "4th of July", it is actually Independence Day. We don't call Christmas the "25th of December". I believe it is more honorable to call it what it is: Independence Day.  It rightfully ought to follow as Independence Day and dependence upon god.

The First Draft of the Declaration of Independence
   The original author of the Declaration of Independence,
Thomas Jefferson, used much of the language of the English philosopher, John Locke (1632-1704). Locke's philosophy was sweeping through the American colonies at the time. Locke's assertion was that man's natural rights were a right to have a free life, liberty to live that life, and happiness, which Locke felt was even more important than a guarantee of being able to own personal property.

   John Adams and Benjamin Franklin made some minor changes in the language of the Declaration before it was submitted to the Congress on July 2nd, 1776. Congress adopted Richard Henry Lee's resolution, which officially called for the separation from England. Part of what was taken out of the Declaration was a strong statement condemning slave trade, since Thomas Jefferson was a slave owner. The Declaration may have never passed the Continental Congress if this prohibition of slavery was left in; because many Southern colonists already owned slaves and a majority of Northern merchants had ships that were operated by slaves. After this revision, the Declaration was approved by Congress on July 4th, 1776. It wasn't until July 8th that the Declaration was made public by reading it aloud from the balcony of Independence Hall in Philadelphia.

Hidden Identities
   The Continental Congress worried about the safety of those who had signed the Declaration, so the names of the men who signed it were not made public until January 18th, 1777.  The original Declaration of Independence today is displayed at the Library of Congress. The real author of the Declaration of Independence may have actually been Benjamin Franklin, who in 1775, spoke about the need for a "United Colonies of North America", which was to be an alignment for common defense, where each of the 13 colonies would have its own territories and be independent of the other colonies. Congress would only have authority of affairs outside of each colony. The colonists were still concerned about a central government having too much power of the colonies, since that is the reason many of the colonists came to the New World in the first place, to escape a strong ruling government over all the people.

   A national revival is not scheduled for a certain date like a church posts a sign that a revival is coming up on such and such a date. No, revival begins with prayer and supplication to God. Revival starts with me and with you, in the heart and with prayer. This nation needs a national revival like the Great Revivals in the 18th and 19th Century.
   A pastor in the 1700's preached expositional preaching out of the Bible. In time, pastors began to start questioning the deity of Jesus and the veracity or truthfulness of the Bible. At the same time, the culture, not ironically, started to deteriorate morally. One way to turn this nation back into a prosperous one is found in the Old Testament and the movement towards prosperity starts on our knees. God changes not and will answer a national repentance today as He did thousands of years ago. If we, as a nation, and if all individual Christians would return to the Lord our God in prayer, these words can ring true again. They are still as relevant today for America as they were then for ancient Israel: "I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land" (2 Chron. 7:14). So pray for God once again to bless America.


   Every amateur photographer wants to take great photos of fireworks. The beautiful fireworks displays and photography just seem to go hand in hand. Photographing fireworks can be tricky.  Using a digital camera to photograph fireworks makes the process even more difficult. But there are some photography tips that may help get that perfect fireworks photo on the Fourth of July or New Year's eve.
   Get to the event plenty early. Scope out possible photography locations. Great shooting locations aren't necessarily right up front. Often this is the worst location.      There will be lots of people. They will obstruct your view. They may knock over your equipment. Also, you will probably be blocking the views of other people. Also, be on the lookout for trees that may block your shots. Often, the best place is away from the crowd. The crowd could even serve as a foreground for your photos.

   Try to incorporate some sort of landmark into your shots for more better fireworks photos. This adds perspective to the photo. Water in the foreground also creates interesting photo opportunities during fireworks displays. If an interesting building or crowd isn't available, try to at least frame your photo with a tree or use a silhouette of a person in the foreground or some similar photography technique.
   Another location item to consider is the direction of the wind. Try to get upwind. Otherwise, a few minutes after the fireworks begin, the smoke will completely obscure your photo shoot.

   Take a tripod. Make sure to set up your tripod in a level area. This is a necessity if you want a great fireworks photo. Your exposure will be much longer than normal photos, so this is an absolute. The camera will record any movement. The camera must be kept absolutely still during the whole exposure in order to get clear photo results.
Make sure your battery is charged. Take an extra battery just to be sure you will be able to photograph the entire fireworks show. Don't forget to take extra memory cards, too. You will be surprised how many photos you will take. Don't be caught during the fireworks finale unable to take any more photographs.

   Use the highest resolution setting possible when shooting fireworks photos. If youave a RAW format option, use it. This will slow down your camera's speed.  If this becomes too bothersome, go to the next resolution size.  Set the focus to infinity if your camera has this option. Don't use the flash to photograph fireworks. Instead, set the color balance to 'Sunny' or something similar. Set the ISO setting to 100 or ISO 200 to avoid digital camera noise.

   Concentrate most of your photography efforts on the start and ending of the fireworks show. This is because the very first fireworks have a better chance of being surprisingly clear due to the lack of smoke. And the end of the fireworks is always the best. The fireworks finale creates the opportunity to fill your camera viewfinder with multiple fireworks bursts of many colors. It's much easier to capture fireworks on camera during the finale than trying to time your photo shots perfectly during the rest of the fireworks show. Plus, this gives you time to enjoy some of the fireworks yourself.

   Vertical photography shots work better with fireworks than horizontal ones. Vertical shots seem to add movement to the photos. Of course, a great panoramic photo opportunity shouldn't be ignored.
   Follow these photography steps to produce clearer, brighter, more colorful photos of fireworks. But don't forget to also take time to enjoy the dazzling display for yourself.