Mary Cantell

The hijacking of nationalism

There was once a thing called nationalism.  As defined by Webster’s, the word connotes allegiance, loyalty, and love for one’s country.  Its synonym, patriotism, is in the same category. However, things have shifted in the nomenclature of etymology as we are now to assume that the latter is acceptable and the former, a pejorative.

As the two political parties of Democrat and Republican have been at odds since forever, now the masks and gloves are off. Political business is booming to the point where having love for one’s country and wanting it to succeed economically, socially, and otherwise is up for grabs. It’s no longer cool to want the nation, as it was founded, to remain under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Constitution. As with other countries and their constitutions, it’s an ever sliding rule to accommodate the whims of the people. With ours, the doctrine itself sets the precedent. And it’s worked so well that other countries; i.e., Ukraine, see the good in it and have made inroads to adopting similar principles.

Now Nationalism, rather than  allegiance to one’s country and  tied to patriotism, is something akin to Hitler’s “national socialism”; i.e., Nazism  and that a nationalist believes non-Americans are inferior, which is a quite foolish belief.  While nationalism is often associated with socialism, not all nationalists are Nazis. And now nationalism is on par with another term, “White Nationalism,” which is nothing more than a ginned up liberal’s talking point. When the president speaks of MAGA, it’s assumed by some that he means to turn the country back to a white-dominated nation, which couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Our current president has done more for the minority communities in this country than any president in recent memory. And many of the economically challenged are seeing the duplicitous nature of liberal administrations that have let them down year after year, and now they are awakening to the truth.

America is the most welcoming nation on the planet. All ethnicities are welcome here. And the current administration is on point to vet incoming migrants so that they may come into the nation legally—not illegally or by any means possible.  Where they are not welcome is when they wish to supplant the American Constitution with another form of rule, or to come in with the idea that they will not assimilate and just use the country to earn money and take jobs that would otherwise go to American citizens.

Being an American Nationalist is not about tribalism, or a particular sect of people, or supremacy, or where one comes from. What ties us together is not ethnicity; it is the rule of law under the Constitution. It is our paramount allegiance and our secular identity. All men, that is, all people, are created equal.

Rejoice, rejoice… again, I say, rejoice!

The commands declared by Apostle Paul regarding a believer’s conduct seem daunting at first glance. “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks, for this is the will of Christ Jesus concerning you.”  1Thessalonians 5:16-18.

Yes, it’s a high bar. That is, if we do these things in our own strength, but we are able to rejoice always and remain content in all things by knowing we have God’s grace and His strength to draw upon. It won’t be a “hey, let’s party!” attitude when trials come but, rather, something deeper—a quiet praise that transcends our present circumstances.

We can pray without ceasing in that we present our lives and our focus toward God, repeatedly and consistently bringing our hearts before him. We’re not asked to don robes or spend time on our knees all day. It’s the position of our heart that God embraces.

In everything, we give thanks when we fully trust that God is fully in charge and knows what he’s doing. From our earthly perspective, we may not see the pieces fitting together but from heaven, the picture is all too clear.

Rejoice, pray, and give thanks—always and in everything. It is our spiritual service toward a gracious and loving God.

Hide and Seek

Nothing escapes God’s notice. We can appear to be good Christians outwardly, but it’s true, only God knows the heart.

King David was such a man that even though he was a “man after God’s own heart,” he had a problem with lust; so much so, that he had a man killed over it. Rather than readily admit his sin publicly, he kept it hidden until the tangled mess of sin unraveled, and he paid a high price for it.

All was not lost for David. Soon afterward, he repented. He revealed to God what he’d kept hidden from the world.

Why did David wish to become so vulnerable?  It appeared he wanted God to root out the sin deep within him and for the Lord to make him clean. He knew how much the Lord loved him, even while a sinner, and trusted that God would purify his heart to make him holy and to restore the lost fellowship from his sin.

Inside the depths of our souls lies stuff only God can restore —the hidden person that needs spiritual cleansing and renewal. May we, with David, share this mindset continually as we contemplate our ways before the Lord.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:33-34

With thanksgiving in their hearts, the early settlers gave praise and honor to the Lord for many things; most notable, a liberal harvest. William Bradford wrote:

“…And afterwards the Lord sent them such seasonable showers, with interchange of fair warm weather as, through His blessing, caused a fruitful and liberal harvest, to their no small comfort and rejoicing. For which mercy, in time convenient, they also set apart a day of thanksgiving… By this time harvest was come, and instead of famine now God gave them plenty … for which they blessed God.” 

When we stop to think about all that we’ve been blessed with as believers, the list should begin and end with Christ. Having Jesus as our Lord and Savior is our fruitful bounty. Everything else is just gravy. For the Lord is our everything, and all that we have stems through his love and mercy—his grace to us.

With the Thanksgiving holiday soon here, we, as a nation, will celebrate all that is important to us. As we gather around the table with family and friends to feast on good food and fellowship, let’s take time to remember the ones who are suffering for their beliefs and pray that God would abundantly bless them with his power and that they would feel his presence in their midst.

The Ultimate Battle

On Veteran’s Day, we salute the brave men and women who fought to keep our nation safe during war time. So many sacrificed their lives in order that we may have liberty in America, and we’ve all benefited from their noble plight on the bloody battlefield.

There’s another who’s bled and given up his life sacrificially. Jesus, the savior of the world, came from heaven to bridge the gap between our sin and fellowship with the Father. He left his throne as the anointed one and came to sin-filled earth. His battlefield was the cross.

America is the land of the free, thanks to the hard won struggles of our founding fathers and the many who died for this country. While we have freedom in America, we are only truly free in Jesus.

Thank you, vets, for your courage and bravery. Thank you, Lord, for sending your beloved son to fight the fight we couldn’t manage on our own.

The Battle is the Lord’s

In life as well as death, the evils of sin will have a lasting impact on our lives. The choices we make when we are tempted will either be for good or for evil; it’s a battle that we’ll fight until the end. Though for the believer, we’ve already won the war.

When an unrepentant sinner dies, he dies under the weight of his own damnation. No one can pardon one’s own cursedness.  Sin is what gives death its sting. But Jesus took all that away! His atonement on our behalf paves the way to life everlasting. Rest assured, when a believer dies, his soul does not decay through death; it remains untarnished. It’s shiny, bright, alive and present with our Redeemer.

Because Jesus fulfilled the law as it states in Romans 6:14, “There is now no condemnation for those who believe.” Not by our own moral fortitude but through the grace of Messiah Jesus.

When you’re in the midst of battling with temptation, take heart and remember that it’s “…God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” ~ 1 Cor. 15:57. The battle is not ours to fight. It belongs to the Lord.

 

 

 

God’s way or the highway

Spiritual pride is the most dangerous kinds of pride. By it, many have swerved off course. A humble, thankful heart who seeks after God’s way is the sum and root of pure undefiled religion. When one is weak in spirit, this is the kind of heart that seeks God’s way, not his own. This is the kind of Christian that God can use to further his kingdom. This is the kind of person who will inherit riches in heaven.

Proud boasting, including the outward professing his name as though a badge of honor, is the root and sum of all hypocrisy. They say one thing and then do another–often calling someone else out for the exact thing they’re doing. But it’s okay for them, because their pride will not allow them to see their own self-righteousness.

When we make the wrong turn and follow our own script, or when we see the flashing lights that say temporal pleasure, this way! it’s a sure sign the road ahead has cavernous ruts in it, and we’re sure to be swallowed up in them.

Truly, the Lord is, “the way, the truth and the life.”  Keep your focus on God. He will never steer you wrong.

King of Kings and Servant of Servants

When Salome, the mother of Zebedee’s sons, James and John, knelt before Jesus with her request that her boys be seated with him in his kingdom, she had no idea what she was asking.

Jesus responded by asking, “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?”—referring to his death, burial, and resurrection. They replied affirmatively, “We can.” Jesus replied most graciously, “You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father” Matthew 20:23.

It seems to be an upside down request that Salome made on behalf of her sons. Who would feel comfortable approaching the Lord with such a prideful request? She had it all wrong. One doesn’t ask for honor; it’s something bestowed to an individual. Even on Jesus’ worst day, he never begged or demanded to be honored or served. He always took the humble road, eschewing his high position by bearing the image of a man—not counting his godliness something to grab onto but lowered himself—always. He was a servant among servants.

James and John, indeed died martyr’s deaths; however, they did not in any way come close to enduring the Lord’s suffering. Nor did they understand that God’s kingdom would be a heavenly one and not earthly. In God’s economy, it’s only through our humility and consideration of one another as more important than ourselves that we are elevated. We don’t raise ourselves up. That’s pride. God hates that. We are lifted up as the Lord sees fit—if and when—and, usually, only when we aren’t looking to be.

A time for everything

In the wise words of Solomon, he tells us in the third chapter of the book of Ecclesiastes:

“To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under the heaven… A time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them…”

Through God’s infinite grace, we are given time on this earth. Rather than cutting off life or shutting down the world at the first sin of Adam and Eve, God graciously extended his hand outside the Garden to take care of them, despite their rejecting his command. He gave them time.

Generations later, God is still on the throne and watching from above the souls he’s created. For those who’ve come to know him personally—the days, weeks, months, and years he’s allotted—we now understand are given to us to do His will. Our time is lent to prioritize and utilize constructively, remembering always the days are fleeting, and what’s not done to glorify Him is time wasted.

When a creature is found dead in the forest, it calls to mind the circle of life. Sadly, time ran out for the creature, but now its offspring—newly born—have life. The creature’s purpose has been fulfilled. We, too, have purpose. While we know our days are numbered here on earth, in the time allotted to each of us, may we always say as with the Psalmist, “This is the day that the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it” – Psalm 118:24.

Finding peace in chaos

Peace is something we all need. While it is eagerly sought by everyone through various means, there is only one sure way to find the real thing—that which sustains through the worst of the worse. We won’t find it in the world; the world cannot offer the kind of peace we need.  Theirs is only a knock-off.  Real peace is found in the everlasting protective arms of Jesus.

Peace is when we are reconciled to God through the saving knowledge and belief in Jesus Christ. We now have access to fellowship with the father who sits on the throne. And when we face trials and temptations that serve to take away our peace, the Lord grants us “a peace that surpasses all understanding.”

The Lord tells us that in this world we will have trials. In all degrees, this is what the world, through sin, has become—a cauldron of unrest—for everyone. Of course, there are good days and bad, but what’s good about it is that the Lord also instructs us to not focus on the bad but cling to what is good… and that “all things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose.” – Romans 8:28.