On Candidates and Forgetfulness

Hello reader!

May the Lord shine His face upon you and those you know in 2016.  May He do something so mind blowing to you this year.

This past Monday was Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.  This was also the day that Donald Trump came to speak at Liberty University’s Convocation.  If you’ve been living under a rock under all this time, let me fill you in.  D. J. Trump (shortening his name just because) is one of the Republican candidates running for the presidency.  He’s a very wealthy businessman who is…quite interesting.

He’s known by social and mainstream media to be a misogynistic, racist, xenophobe who has no filter and offends anyone and everyone he talks to with his words, even standing behind his idea to build a wall to seal off the Mexican border and to make Mexico pay for said wall.

DJTRUMP

“I should call my campaign ‘Playing the Trump Card…'”

The reaction by students and alumni were…quite interesting as well.

Some students decided to protest the Convocation, even making their presence known on social media (powerful tool, isn’t it?).  Others made fun of his use of “Two Corinthians,” while others expressed their shame of being Liberty students/alumni.

Convo

Liberty University Convocation.  Look at all those people!

Oh, I forgot to mention that some didn’t like Jerry, Jr.’s introduction of him, which paints D. J. Trump in a very different picture that the media.  People were wondering why would Jerry, Jr. give a very warm welcome to him (My opinion: he kind of has to).

The big question was:  Why would Liberty invite a “known racist” to speak at Convocation on MLK, Jr. Day?

Now, I don’t care if you support Trump or not.  This post isn’t about him.

Forgetfulness, I believe, is one of the most powerful and potent weapons in Satan’s arsenal.  You would have moments with God where it seems like you and He are like best friends.  Then you have those dark moments where it seems that God is absent and nowhere to be seen.  You rail against Him, shout at Him, become angry with Him.  The enemy pours more and more lies in your heart and mind, tempting you to walk away from Him, to resent Him.

The enemy uses forgetfulness in multiple ways.  He’ll have you forgetting His promises to you, His promises in His Word, the times where He has forgiven you, the times where He delivered or healed you.  He’ll have you forgetting your mission to make disciples, to love one another, and to love your enemies.

So many of us, myself included, are forgetful.  Take this past Monday, for example.  We forget that D. J. Trump is a human, just like us, created in the image of God, just like us.  We love to point out his flaws and even the flaws of others, but we forget to check ourselves AND forget to love and pray for them.

Think about it; instead of complaining about D. J. Trump, have you ever thought to pray for Him, that He would get rocked with the Gospel and the love of Jesus Christ?  Or is he beyond help?

Let me tell you this, friend.  No one is beyond help.  Not him, not Bernie Sanders, not even Hillary Clinton.  The Gospel is for everyone.

MLK

Don’t let someone keep you from celebrating a legacy.

Satan had us forgetting that Trump is created in the image of God and needs Jesus just as much as, well, all of us.  And guess what?  He succeeded.  And another thing as his added prize:  We started to worship politics and our self-righteousness instead of Jesus.

Don’t get me wrong, there are reasons to protest and be concerned about certain people, places, and things, but if Jesus is not in your words and actions, then what are you trying to prove?  What kind of change are you trying to make without Him?

Some people are like brick walls, which can only be broken down with Jesus holding the sledgehammer (don’t run that with Scripture).

Peter wrote that the God of the universe has given us divine power through knowing Him, and this power helps us to live godly lives.  When He saved us, we become “partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire,” (2 Peter 1:3-4).

For this reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.  For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

As Christ followers and partakers of the divine nature, we must hold to these qualities and increase in them, so that we may be effective in our lives and have a closer relationship with God.  But, there’s a consequence if we don’t hold to those values.

For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.

Satan, your nemesis, wants you to lack in faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love.  He wants you to question your identity in Christ, as well as make you ineffective and unfruitful.  You were blind, now you can see, but Satan wants to blur your vision so you can’t see clearly and eventually wind up fighting the wrong target(s).

He will stop at nothing for you to forget why you are following Christ and completing His mission.  He will turn your attention to vilifying and berating others instead of encouraging and loving them.  He will get you worshipping other things, politics included, instead of God.  He will get you to engage in questionable and sinful behavior instead of seeking after God.

But let this be an encouragement.  Whether it’s someone like D. J. Trump or your next door neighbor, treat them with a Christ-like love.  Treat them the way you want to be treated.  Pray for them like you would desire to be prayed for.  If you protest, remember to do it out of love and not to fulfill some kind of agenda.

Don’t let the enemy injure or kill you with forgetfulness.  Know who you are, whose you are, and what you are meant to do in this life.

Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life… – Philippians 2:14-16a

Don’t be like the Israelites, whom after escaping from Egypt, longed to go back, forgetting that they were once former slaves.

Until next time, stay hidden in the shadow of His wings,

Jon Pannell

P. S. — Disagree with me? Let’s talk about it.

Of Politics and Conversations

I’m not a big fan of politics.  I don’t like them.  At all.

There, I said it.  And I feel better.

Monday morning, March 23, 2015, the students walked into the Vines Center at Liberty University to hear Ted Cruz speak and announce that he will run for presidential candidate.

TC

The media blew up like the 4th of July.  The major news outlets were all over that one hour of a Monday morning like the white on rice in a glass of milk on a paper plate in a snowstorm” (Major Payne reference, anyone?).  The media covered everything from Ted Cruz’s intention to run as candidate to the few students (some of them I know) wearing the “Stand with Rand” shirts to the fact that students were “forced” or “required” to hear this address during Convocation.

Social media displayed several sides of the spectrum.  My Libertarian and Republican friends are cheering, while others are combating the media statements, while others were giving more reasons why they hate Liberty University, as others are just sick and tired of the entire thing (like me).

*Sigh*

*Sigh*

There comes a time, actually quite often, where we seem to forget that Jesus is on the throne and that He is the One we must answer to when everything fades away.  We are called to be followers of Christ, but sometimes conservatism and politics become our god.  It’s funny how we are called to be the Church, but become so divided when it comes to something like politics.

A house divided by itself cannot stand…

I want to encourage you, brothers and sisters of the faith we share, that it’s okay to disagree with one another, but when you inject your disagreements with pure vitriol, you will end up doing more damage than good.

The best way to win an argument is to avoid it. An argument is one thing you will never win. If you win, you lose; if you lose, you lose. If you win an argument but lose a good job, customer, friend or marriage, what kind of victory is it? Pretty empty. — P. Paulraj

Folks, let’s have healthy discussions about what we believe in differently.  Let’s have discussions that break down the walls of stereotypes, beliefs, and insecurities.  Ask yourself constantly, “Am I bringing glory to God by my words, actions, and posts?”  Are your words edifying others?

Know this, my beloved brothers:  let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger, for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. — James 1:19-20

Be quick to hear.  The best part of having a conversation is knowing when to shut up and listen.  One way of winning a brother or sister is by listening to their side of the story.  Don’t expect people to think and act the same way you do.  There is a reason why people say what they say and do what they do.  Listen and even have them rant.  And be attentive!  People are turned off by someone who is seen as uncaring.

Be slow to speak.  While you’re having this discussion, think about what you want to say.  Oh, and for the love of all that is Jesus, don’t lose your testimony over your quick mouth.  Don’t say things that you’ll regret for the sake of being right in an argument.  Thinking about what to say doesn’t make you a bad “debater,” it makes you a thoughtful one.  It’s okay if you don’t have all the answers.

Be slow to anger.  Anger is a God-given emotion that can bring glory to Him if used correctly.  If mishandled, people can get wounded almost instantly.  Be careful with your words and how you say them.  Nobody wins in an argument when anger is used incorrectly.  You may apologize, but nothing can be done to take back what was said or posted.  It will take time to heal verbal wounds.

Whenever we engage in any kind of discussion (not just political), we tend to do the exact opposite of what this passage of Scripture says.  We become slow to hear, quick to speak, and quick to anger.  Instead of responding with careful words and consideration, we instead react with careless thoughts and become defensive.  Don’t get me wrong, we are all called to defend our beliefs (1 Peter 3:15); but how we defend determines the outcome of our message.CoffeeSpeak

Let’s engage the world with gentleness and respect, folks.

And PLEASE, don’t argue on the Internet!  I can’t stress this enough!  People will hide behind the egos of their screens and Internet life.  Plus, there are trolls that will bait you into a reactive response.  It’s better to have discussions in person or maybe even over the phone.

You may disagree with me, and that’s fine.  I’m more of a peacekeeper first anyway (not the Hunger Games kind) and a fighter against the enemy and his schemes second, not the other way around.

Folks, you are Christ-followers first, and politicians second.  Don’t ever forget that.

Until next time, be hidden in the shadow of His wings.

Jon Pannell