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.

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An Open Letter to the “Protesters” of the Black Community

Dear African Americans,

May I be honest with you?  I’m angry.

As a twentysomething African-American grad school student, I’m angry.

Most to all of you know the situation in Baltimore, Maryland.  A 25-year-old black man by the name of Freddie Gray was apprehended by police officers in a high crime area.  He died in police custody a week later due to a spinal injury.  Riots started immediately after Gray’s funeral.

This is the point where my heart breaks and my anger burns.

Not against you black community, but against your actions.

Before I continue, let me say that this has nothing to do with the peaceful protesters; I’m proud of you guys.  My message is for the rioters, who justify their actions as “protesting.”

Quick history lesson for you guys:

//During the Civil Rights movement, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. helped lead the black community to equal rights through nonviolent protests, including the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the sit-in movement in 1960, and the March on Washington of 1963 where the iconic “I Have a Dream” speech was spoken.  There was a lot of black and white segregation going on.  The idea of “separate but equal” sounded like a good idea, but it was terrible.  We also had the Supreme Court decision of Brown v. Board of Education (1952) which ruled that segregation was disadvantageous in schools and the Civil Rights Act of 1963 which outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, gender, or national origin.

The black community was taunted, jeered, jailed, treated unfairly, killed, called the N-Word and everything but children of God based on the color of their skin, but they came out triumphant.//

Why did I give the short history lesson?  Simple; I want to show you all one little detail.

MLK Jr. used nonviolent protesting.

Protesting is a useful tool against injustice, but causes become discredited once you throw ungodly violence into the equation, resulting in no winners and an unnecessarily large mess.

Looting stores, burning buildings and hurting others for the sake of your cause (whatever that may be) is not going to bring a dead person back.  Speaking out your absolute disdain for the police and your so-called oppressors are not going to awaken justice.  Rioting is NEVER a way to honor a person’s death.

Freddie Gray’s family asked for peaceful protests.  Michael Brown’s family (Ferguson, MO) asked for peaceful protests.  But you didn’t listen.  You were out for your own agenda.  Younger generations are following your example.  You’re filling your social media feeds with #BlackLivesMatter and your blatant hatred and defiance of the law and police. (Yes, there are corrupt cops.  I get that, but that’s not the point of this letter.)

And the whole world watches.

I’m going to be blunt here.  You guys are being a setback to the black community.  A lot of us have stopped playing the “victim card” a long time ago and let things go.  It’s high time you did too.  How dare you take advantage of a perceived injustice for your selfish gain?  What exactly are you trying to prove?  What legacy are you leaving behind?

Your reactions and these riots are a sign that you do not appreciate where you came from.  You are throwing roughly 350 years of blood, sweat, tears, and struggle down the drain when you decide to act out in violence towards other people for the sake of justice.

I apologize for the firmness.  I write this letter to you not to shame you but to simply say:

You are much better than this.

You can step away from this nonsense and stop thinking that everyone is out to get you.  You can walk away from your sense of entitlement and special treatment.

I’m not saying that we should simply forget that slavery and racial injustice ever happened.  I’m not saying that at all.

We are broken people, you and I.  We are imperfect humans in need of a Savior to redeem and love us.  His name is Jesus and He wants to rescue you and wrap you in His tender arms.  He is the true administrator of justice; He will do as He sees fit in His timing.  But as for you, just let go and let God have His way.

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.  Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. — Ephesians 4:31-32

Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.  See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled… — Hebrews 12:14-15

When you riot through your actions and words and carry on this sense of entitlement and victimhood, you are withholding the grace of God.  You are being used by Satan to plant seeds of discord and bitterness to your fellow men.  That seed grows into a tree which bears terrible fruit.  Then, the tree of bitterness later becomes an orchard of bitterness.

Dwelling on the negative aspects of history becomes a root of bitterness.

The news that the media (ugh!) put out on a daily basis becomes a root of bitterness.

How others treat you based on stereotypes and the color of your skin becomes a root of bitterness.

When you act out of bitterness, others will see it and follow your example.  Bitterness never holds on to one person.  It’s a highly contagious disease that infects everyone touched by it and like all diseases, if not treated, will kill you.

Your hatred stems from generations past, the everyday circumstances of your life and the interactions thereof.  Hatred seems justifiable, but it is nothing but a cunning deception from the Father of Lies.  Don’t let it overtake and define you.  Bitterness and hatred is cancerous and no amount of chemo is going to cover that up.

You are much better than this.

You can forgive.  You can be kind.  You can be peaceful.  You can be the conduit of the grace of God.  You can put away your godlessness and embrace the truth and reality of Christ, who calls us to love our enemies and to love one another.  But you can only do so through the power of God.

You can rise above the hatred and evil.  You can rise above the ungodly violence.  You can rise above racism.  You can rise above your emotional and historical strongholds.  But you can only do so through the power of God.

It’s not going to be easy.  Simply cutting down bitter trees isn’t enough.  You will have to uproot those bitter trees.  It’s going to hurt.  You won’t like it.  It’s going to suck.  But it will be worth it in the sight of God Almighty.

Put away the negativity and try to live in unity and harmony with one another.

There is much pain and many troubles in this world.  But we have a Healer, and His name is Jesus.

I will close this letter with two quotes from MLK himself:

Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.  Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

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

With love, joy, and peace,

– Jon Pannell