5 Tips for Christmas!



Merry Christmas!  Christmas Day can be such a joy to care-free children who are anticipating, opening, and enjoying their gifts!  Christmas can easily lose its luster for adults though when loss, fears, hurts, and worries overwhelm us.  No matter your current experience this Christmas, can you imagine what the first Christmas was like?

Jesus Is Here!  Jesus came to us! Think about the joy of Jesus’ mother Mary and adoptive-father Joseph had when the Christ-child arrived; the promises of the prophets and the angels fulfilled!  Imagine the sweetness the Shepherds savored when they saw the Savior of the world (Luke 2). What a wonder for the Wise Men to encounter their Wonderful Counselor (Matthew 2)!  What child-like joy they all must have experienced as they worshipped Jesus with child-like trust, love, comfort, security, delight, joy, and awe at what God was doing!

This Christmas, here are 5 tips for entering into and experiencing the “good news of great joy!” (Luke 2:10)

1. Receive the gift of love.  Gifts aren’t ultimately about the object itself, they are about the love of the giver.  Don’t let your Christmas become a ritual or routine.  Don’t reject a heart-felt relationship with your Creator.  God wants you to experience the relational love He has for you!  You are loved.

2. Trust the rescue.  Have you ever been in a desperate situation where you have no choice but to ask or cry for help?  You and I are in such a situation now, in our sin.  We need a Savior to rescue us.  We can’t work our way out of our sin dilemma. Don’t resist His saving work but instead rejoice in His salvation from sin and death!

3. Listen to the King.  Slow down.  Open and read your Bible.  Make time to play an audio Bible.  Watch the “Visual Bible” on YouTube.  There are lots of ways to experience the truth and love of God’s voice through the Bible.  Be still, open your ears, and engage your mind while you marvel that your King wants to speak personally to you.

4. Enjoy the Relationship. God doesn’t issue rules and commands as a harsh dictator.  He wants us to hear His fatherly protection, warnings, and encouragements toward His children.  Be more child-like this Christmas, submitting your heart to His amazing comfort and care.  Even when others will abandon, burn, and betray you, God is faithful and will never leave you or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5).

5. Spend Time in His Presence. Devotional time matters.  Church matters.  Small group matters.  Godly friendships matter. God has organized His family into opportunities to experience Him directly through His Spirit and together through others.  Prioritize Jesus in your Christmas Day and everyday and you will experience joy.

I hope and pray that you and your family have an amazing Christmas as you delight in God’s amazing love!

A Prayer for Our Nation

So today I am visiting the White House, the United States Capitol, and maybe even the Supreme Court.

Have you ever thought about how you would pray over our nation’s leaders if you had the opportunity?  How you would lead them into the presence of our Creator and pray on their behalf?

Here is an idea of how I might pray in the White House, Capitol, or Supreme Court if I had the chance today:

“As we prepare to converse with our Creator, I invite you, if you are physically able, to join me on our knees in speaking to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Father God, Lord Jesus, Holy Spirit.  You are amazing.  You are wonderful.  You are powerful.  There is no-one like you God.

Thank you for who you are and for the privilege of another day of life.  Thank you for the ability to even have access to you right now through prayer.

You have told us that…

‘if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.’ (2 Chronicles 7:14 ESV)

So here we are now before you.  Humbled in hearts.  On our knees.  

Please forgive us.  So much wickedness has passed through our minds, hearts, lips, and our lives.  We are guilty.  As individuals.  As leaders.  As a nation. Forgive us.

We need you.  We love you.  We want you.  We trust you.  Jesus, lead us into your presence.  Give us your wisdom for the daily decisions that we encounter today and everyday as your servants and representatives.

God, heal us as only You can.  Our nation is hurting.  Our people are divided.  Our world is in chaos.  Thank you for sending your Son to save us from Satan, sin, and Hell. Help us to “be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation.”  Help us to “shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:15 ESV).

Jesus, I lift up these leaders to you. Thank you for giving them to our nation.  Protect their physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health.  If any have not received and submitted to you as Lord and Savior, I pray for you to save their souls.  Guard their minds from Satanic and worldly deception and focus their minds on your truth.  Keep their hearts from the Evil One and guide their affections to your throne-room.  Encourage and strengthen their marriages and families with the love you have for us.  Use these men and women greatly for the welfare of their hometown communities and states.  Unite them together under your commands for the sake of our nation.

In the name of the Jesus we pray, amen.”

1 Timothy 2:1–5 “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (ESV) 

A Trump Twitter-Typo Visits the White House!

A few months ago I had a unique situation develop as I was accidentally tweeted at by the President of the United States.  The drive-by tweeting brought me momentarily into the U.S. Twitter war and gave me opportunity to share some reflections via an open letter to the President (http://www.jonathancarl.org/2019/09/TrumpTwitterWar.html).  Over the next week correspondence came my way that was mostly encouraging (with the expected disturbing responses as well).  In the midst of interviews, I lightheartedly remarked on a TV interview that my wife would love to visit the White House at Christmas (https://www.wdrb.com/news/kentucky-pastor-thrust-into-spotlight-by-president-trump-twitter-mistake/article_de807c5e-cf47-11e9-bd6c-9736296eb439.html).

Just a few weeks ago my wife and I received a phone call from the White House with a Christmas invitation to visit!  So tomorrow we visit the White House!

Why accept an invite to the White House?
When a sports team wins a championship, it seems to be a faddish and frequent occurrence for individuals to publicly reject a White House invite as a sign of protest or opposition to the President.  Some might view the visit of a pastor to the White House as a public partisan endorsement but I don’t see it that way.

Consider if you had a neighbor, or even an enemy, invite you into their home, wouldn’t an appropriate response to hospitality be a yes.  Of course there could always be a hidden agenda or motivation, but I think the best intents should be assumed at the outset and the hope should be there for reconciliation and change.

What would you say if you met the President?
If I had the momentary encounter of a handshake and greeting, I think I would say, “Thank you for your service to our country and I am praying to Jesus for you.  Thank you for your invitation to the White House to enjoy these amazing decorations too!”  I think such a gracious greeting would be appropriate for most brief hand shake encounters with our government leaders in their homes.

If I have more than a handshake encounter, I think I might hand President Trump a letter and say:
“I wrote you a letter a few months back, here is a copy, have you gotten to read it yet?  It contains my hope and prayer for you with the wisdom of Abraham Lincoln, the fruits of the Holy Spirit, and the truth of James 1:19-20.  My ultimate hope and prayer for you personally is that you trust and treasure Jesus more than anything, prioritizing His truth in the Bible daily.”

If the conversation continued, I would love to hear more about his faith journey, his personal spiritual beliefs and practices, and to hear more about his family life.

If I had the opportunity to speak a bit more, I think I would aim to say:
“I enjoyed reading your book Crippled America: How to Make America Great Again to get a better insight into who you are and your hope for the United States.   I love that you wrote it out to share more of who you are and for your hope and plan for our nation.  I am so thankful for your care and concern for the welfare of our nation and am praying it goes well for you.  I am sure the political realm is a dark and discouraging place and I hope that Jesus’ love, strength, and truth propels you forward.

As I read your book, I think you are missing out on the main solution to our nation’s woes.  On one randomly selected page of your book (p.12) I noticed you referenced yourself 27 times.  In the entirety of your almost 200 page book, I only noticed three pages (p.130-32) giving reference to God and your Christian faith.  There is a lot of self-talk and little God-talk.  It reminds me of concerning similarities with King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon about 2600 years ago in Daniel 1-4 where he bounces between praising God and taking credit for himself when things went well.  Unfortunately Nebuchadnezzar had to be humbled by God before he got to the point where properly honored God as “the King of heaven,” acknowledging that “all his works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble.” (Daniel 4:37 ESV)

My prayer that you humble yourself and make Jesus a greater priority in your personal life and in leading our nation.  Only Jesus can heal our crippled nation.  I am glad that you said that “the Bible is the most important book ever written” (p.130) and am praying that your life, lips, and leadership are guided by God’s faithful voice increasingly and more consistently.”

“Also,” I’d say, “I have met a lot of people over the years who claim to be a Christian but their lives don’t seem to match up to God’s description of true faith.  I’d encourage you to read 2 Corinthians 13:5 which commands us to test and examine the genuineness of our faith claims.  Inside the envelope I just gave you is a short handout with some of God’s descriptions of what true, saving faith looks like (see here: www.trustworthyword.com/how-can-i-be-sure-im-a-christian) and I hope that they are helpful to you!  If you are concerned that you have not truly trusted in Jesus in a saving way, here are the steps to true faith in God (www.trustworthyword.com/how-can-i-become-a-christian).  Thank you for taking the time to talk with and listen to me and again thank you for the opportunity to enjoy this time in your beautiful home.”

Now would I actually get the time to say all of that?  Would I actually remember to say those sorts of things in the moment?  Maybe, but probably not.  But I am praying that these written words reach his ears or eyes through someone, somehow, soon.

Regardless of how our visit to Washington goes and no matter who we get to meet, I will continue to pray these truths over our nation’s present and future leaders.

“Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?— unless indeed you fail to meet the test!” (2 Corinthians 13:5, ESV)


“if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14 ESV)



How Should A Christian Vote for the Governor? President?

Don’t you wish God made it more clear how you should vote?  Here are some biblical principles to consider before, during, and after you cast your ballot for Governor, President, or any politician.

Prayerfully.  Pray more, politick less.  Our nation and state are divided greatly with polarizing views between political parties.  What is a Christian to do?  Pray first.  Pray continually.  Pray consistently.  Pray equally for those leaders you agree with and also for those with whom you disagree.

1 Timothy 2:1–2 "First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.” (ESV)

Biblically. The Bible has a lot to say about Biblical issues.  God cares about the poor, immigrants, marriage, dignity of life at all stages (including unborn babies, terminally ill, and elderly), racial equity, religious liberty, sexual ethics, war, economics, international relations, women’s rights, children’s rights, education, housing, and criminal justice.

Which politicians, if any, model a genuine trust in Jesus?  Which party’s policies and platforms are most in line with God’s plan for humanity?  These questions are important in clarifying how to vote in complicated and contentious times.  Know what God says before you vote.

1 Samuel 12:14–15 “If you will fear the LORD and serve him and obey his voice and not rebel against the commandment of the LORD, and if both you and the king who reigns over you will follow the LORD your God, it will be well. But if you will not obey the voice of the LORD, but rebel against the commandment of the LORD, then the hand of the LORD will be against you and your king.”

Privately.  Why advertise your vote?  Is pride tied to your partisan politics?  Do you honestly think that your social media posts make people change their votes?  Would you change your vote or position because of someone else’s yard sign, t-shirt, bumpersticker, hat, or social media post?

Many Christians have done great damage to their Christian witness through political bias, pride, snarkiness, mockery, and endorsement of ungodly characters.  Go private with your political persuasions during this polarized season.

Proverbs 10:19 “When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.”

Wisely. Are you willing to reconsider your vote?  Would you reevaluate your opinions? Have you listened closely and considered the positions of all sides?  Do you understand the perspectives of those with a different political persuasion?  Do your homework before you cast your ballot and don’t just trust the sound bites and media moments.

Proverbs 11:14 “Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.”

Selflessly.  Do you vote only for what is in your best interest and agenda?  Or are you voting in the best interest of the common good? Vote in a way that benefits and prioritizes others more than yourself.

Philippians 2:3–4 “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

Humbly & Respectfully. Your vote is important, but what changes a nation ultimately is the Gospel.  Are you more passionate and public about your politics or about your Jesus?  Do you put more hope in the next election cycle than you do in Jesus’ return?

Godly Christians often feel led to vote in different ways.  Some may vote Republican.  Others feel led to vote Democrat.  Still others choose to vote for a third party candidate that might never win.  Others Christians may feel called not to vote at all.  You may be right in the choice you make, but then again, you could be wrong.  Be humble.

People will view issues differently than you.  Be kind.  Friends, family, coworkers and neighbors will vote differently than you.  That’s their prerogative, stay calm. Don’t let discussions devolve into arguments.  Know where you stand but be respectful towards others.

Romans 14:1 “As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions.”

May these truths and principles guide us into, through, and beyond this election season.

Some helpful videos:



Is it possible for a Christian to lose salvation?

The short answer is “no.”  The deeper answers are found in understanding what God describes (through the Bible) as true salvation, how we can understand if we have been saved, and what biblical assurance and perseverance means.  Unfortunately, many of us have witnessed people who claim to be Christians but their lives and beliefs do not agree with God’s Word or they eventually “fall away” publicly from their previous confession.
“Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?— unless indeed you fail to meet the test!” (2 Corinthians 13:5, ESV)
We are each called to examine the genuineness of our faith.  True believers confess with their mouths publicly that inwardly they love, treasure and trust Jesus as their Lord and Savior, believing that Jesus is the Son of God and died on the cross and was resurrected from the grave (Romans 10:9-10).  When God justifies us by faith in Jesus, He gives us His Holy Spirit within us (Ephesians 1:13-14) that outwardly evidences the inward reality of a new, saved heart through the fruit of His Spirit (Galatians 5:16-24).
More here on how to become a Christian and how to be sure you are a Christian:
“Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.” 1 Timothy 4:16
God wants us to keep watch on ourselves the teachings we receive and give to ensure a right understanding of who He is and His Gospel plan.  Once we are truly saved (justified), God continues His salvation through a process of change within us (sanctification), that continues until we meet Him in Heaven (glorification).  God promises that His children are no longer under condemnation (Romans 8:1), can never be separated from His love (Romans 8:31-39), and will never be put to shame (Romans 9:33).  God assures true converts that He keeps them in the faith (Jude 1:24-25) , finishes His saving work within us (Philippians 1:6), and promises their future resurrection (Romans 6:5) .
1 John is a great book to read that distinguishes true belief from false belief.  It is written to encourage Christians to know and have confidence in the genuineness of their salvation (1 John 5:13).  1 John also shows in various ways that there are others who have publicly claimed to be Christians, but evidence lostness through their words and actions.  Jesus’ parable of the soils is another place to see where there are some who have initially seemed to respond to the Gospel that eventual wither away or are choked out, evidencing their lostness by their fruitlessness (Luke 8:9-15).
“They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.” 1 John 2:19
More verses on biblical assurance here: http://www.trustworthyword.com/assurance and perseverance here: http://www.trustworthyword.com/perseverance 
Although true Christians will go through highs and lows, stumbling at various places in life, they will endure in their faith, preserving to the end in an evident way of increasing fruitfulness through God’s Spirit within them.  If you are struggling with your own salvation, I encourage you to study these Scriptures to either confirm your faith or to expose your need to receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior.  If you are asking this question out of concern for a friend or family member I encourage you to pray for God to open their heart to salvation and to use you to share His truth and show His love.
“But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” Matthew 24:13

"This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme." 1 Timothy 1:18–20 (ESV)

Christians, We Must Stop Our Partisan Politics!

Dear Reverend Franklin Graham and Pastor Robert Jeffress (and many of us Christians),

I see that you love Jesus, but I’m concerned about your apparent love of partisan politics.  Please stop promoting the President and endorsing the Republican party, but choose instead to focus on promoting Jesus and endorsing His Word.  Love on and pray for both parties and endorse neither.  Each partisan political statement you make diminishes and dampens your Gospel reach and impact.  True and lasting change is not found in the power or influence of a politician or a party.  Gospel power transforms in ways that governments never can, so please stop compromising and limiting your Christian witness.  You can better use your platform to speak biblical truth and to show Jesus’ love across party lines if you communicate in a non-partisan manner.
  • Matthew 5:44 “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (ESV)
Stop Politicking.  Most of us have gotten sucked into the drama of politics.  We need to be more biblical and less political.  I write this openly and publicly, because the message is not only to you, but for me and for every pastor.  This advice is not just for us pastors, but for all of us who identify as followers of Jesus.  Our partisan political involvement is having a negative gospel impact.  People are not hearing our spiritual Good News because they are deafened and distracted by the political news we are promoting with a self-righteous spirit.  Martin Lloyd-Jones explained it well that “a demonstration of great interest in political and social matters never succeed in attracting people to Christianity.”  We have a higher calling. Put the humble beauty of Jesus in front of us and move away from the ugly arrogance of modern politics.
  • 1 Peter 5:5 “Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

Quit Playing Party Politics. I need this reminder about my ultimate allegiance. You should hear this.  We should not be partisan Republicans, Democrats, or any other political party.  As Tim Keller shares, “The historical Christian positions on social issues do not fit into contemporary political alignments.” We are called to talk about Jesus to both sides and not isolate our audience with our political dispositions and opinions.  We cannot present a distorted view of Christianity that identifies the Christian faith with a particular political party.  Christian nationalism in America is advertising that one must vote Republican or you are not really a Christian.  Republicans are now unlikely to hear about Jesus from Democrats and Democrats probably will not hear about Jesus from Republicans.  This compromise of our Gospel witness should disturb us.

Franklin, We all would do well to heed the sage advice of your parents. Your dad, Billy Graham, wisely shared that “evangelicals can’t be closely identified with any particular party or person. We have to stand in the middle, to preach to all the people, right and left. I haven’t been faithful to my own advice in the past. I will in the future.”  Your mom, Ruth Graham, responded to President Lyndon B. Johnson’s request for political advice from your dad with boldness and clarity saying, “Billy ought to limit his advice to you to religious and spiritual matters.”

We need to stop our public political flag waiving, skip political rallies, put down our posters, remove our campaign hats, and pull out our yard signs.  People don’t need our polarizing and biased opinions, they need the truth of our King Jesus.  Our hope, passions, resources, and focus should be prioritized on the return of the King of Kings and not on the next election cycle. Our identity is in Jesus not in our party affiliation.  Put the Kingdom of God in front of the kingdom of man.
  • 2 Timothy 2:4 “No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.”

You Have Lost Perspective.  I’ve lost focus at times too.  We’ve put too much trust in manmade systems.  Partisan politics are man-created forms of pollution that cloud out the deeper and more urgent realities.  Governments offer nationalistic hope and purpose, and are God-ordained for our good, but can never fully deliver on their promises.  The world doesn’t need to hear about our party affiliation or our political endorsements, so don’t tweet and post like they do.  We can take a stand on issues in a biblically nonpartisan manner.  We must avoid being labeled by (or identifying as) a particular political party whenever possible. Put eternal hope in front of us instead of hope in the next set of polls.
  • Colossians 3:2 “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.”

Acknowledge Your Hypocrisy and Hatred.  We’ve all played the hypocrite and spoken unkindly towards those different than us. It may not be intentional but it is a reality nonetheless for all of us.  We are all more blind to our predispositions and biases than we realize.  We often sin similarly to those we critique.  The world doesn’t need our snarkiness or sarcasm.  They need our love.  We should be gentle and kind with our “opponents.”  

If we lend our public endorsement of a politician or party, then we should commit to consistently speak to the seriousness of their sin and future failures as well.  John Calvin, when teaching about John the Baptist’s confrontation of King Herod, explains that “John has thus, by his example, furnished an undoubted rule for pious teachers, not to wink at the faults of princes, so as to purchase their favor at this price, how advantageous soever that favor might appear to be to the public interests.” We must not overlook the sin of some while attacking the sin of others.  Moral inconsistency is hypocrisy.

Our countrymen need our meekness, love, and prayers.  We can engage those we disagree with compassionate conviction but we must be consistent across the political spectrum.  Put a humble peacemaking spirit in front of us in place of argumentative arrogance.
  • 1 Timothy 2:8 “I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling”

You Are Being Manipulated.  I’ve been co-opted too. We all have been used. We may not realize it but while politicking we are frequently being maneuvered like a pawn by savvy press and powerful politicians.  When we publicly jump on a political band-wagon we will likely travel further than we ought to ride.  We need to dismount and follow Jesus more closely instead of getting visibly sidetracked by earthly matters. Put God’s platform in front of us and push away governmental partisanship.
  • Philippians 3:20 “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ”

You Aren’t As Right As You Think You Are.  I am not either.  None of us are.  We often think too highly of ourselves.  The more we speak, the greater potential we have to sin.  In the complex day and age we live in, it is difficult to speak to all of the platforms, policies, and issues accurately and comprehensively.  We are typically misinformed, under-informed, imbalanced, partial, and overwhelmed.  We need to behold the biblical truth more than we notice the national news.  Very few of us have the ability and humility to speak well publicly to the many issues filling our feeds.  Put biblical truth in front of us in lieu of human opinions.
  • 1 Corinthians 3:7 “So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.”

You Can’t Fix This Nation.  Neither can I.  None of us can. Only Jesus is able.  Often we think and talk like we are more important and capable than we actually are.  Partisan politics makes life about us when life is actually about God: Father, Son, & Holy Spirit.  We are His mouthpiece to the world.  We need to stick to His truth.  We need to be faithful to the time He has given us.  We need to prioritize Jesus in our lives, our love, and our hope.  We need to remember the primary need of our society is not a political victory, but a spiritual victory in Christ.
  • James 3:13–15 “Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom.  But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.”

Christians, we need quit our partisan politicking but not our political engagement.  It’s not too late to change. We can do better.  There is a way to engage our culture without compromising our Gospel witness.  Tim Keller explains that “while believers can register under a party affiliation and be active in politics, they should not identify the Christian church or faith with a political party as the only Christian one.”  Here are some guidelines that may help us all in the future.

12 Rules of Political Engagement for Christians

1. God First - God’s truth is always above man’s opinions. Reevaluate your political positions with the Bible in hand.
2. Others Second - We must put the needs of others before our own agendas. We can better love our neighbors with tangible actions rather than just trusting in our cast ballot.
3. Self Less - We need humility in all our communications and attitudes.  Before we post or speak we should consider the tone and approach we choose.  Our daily decisions should demonstrate a care for those different than us.
4. Default to Non-Partisan - Unless our profession requires it, most Christians should strongly consider the wisdom of being publicly nonpartisan.  In these divisive times it may be best to stay away from partisan political posts, rallies, posters, yard signs, and headgear.
5. Your Vote Is Important - You have the responsibility and privilege to be politically informed and go to the polls whenever you have the opportunity.
6. Private Persuasion Is Often Better - Some issues deserve our public discussion and commentary. More may be gained through private, personal conversations without the rhetoric found in many public forums.
7. Humble & Respectful Disagreement - We are all created in the image of God.  We ought to speak kindly to all with the reminder that no-one is beyond the life-changing hope of Christ.  We must love our political “enemies.”
8. Avoid Absolutes - Recognize our temptation towards sound bites and the demonization of others.  Avoid over-simplifying situations and categorizing groups with stereotypes.  
9. Pray More than You Speak - We often fall into the trap of believing that our voices to mankind make a bigger difference than our prayers to the Creator of the Universe.  Prayer is our primary political calling.
10. Share the Gospel More than Your Political Persuasions - Elections and governments come and go.  True and lasting hope is only found in the Kingdom of God through Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection.  Live and speak in light of these priorities.  Be more passionate about winning souls than winning arguments or elections.
11. Resist as a Last Resort - Rare biblical and historical examples exist to show and prepare us for times where courageous rebellion is called for in order to remain faithful to God.  The broad biblical guidance is to honor and submit to the authorities whenever possible.
12. The 1% Exception - Although 99-ish% of us should probably be nonpartisan monarchists (prioritizing the Kingdom of God), 1% of us may be called by God into service within a partisan political sphere.  If that is you, please stay faithful to God’s truths in your policies and platforms no matter the personal cost. Speak to the good, without flattery or partiality, in both parties.  Confront the bad, with love and humility, in both parties.  Practice the fruits of the Holy Spirit at all times towards your political opponents talking with “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22).

Christians, we can do better.  Let’s love on and pray for those we disagree with.

In Christ,
Jonathan Carl, A Monarchist Pastor Waiting for the King of Kings to Return and Make All Things New

1 Timothy 2:1–2 “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.”
Helpful Perspectives on the Topic

US Capitol photo by Michele Orallo on Unsplash
White House photo by David Everett Strickler on Unsplash
Lincoln Memorial photo by Brian Kraus on Unsplash

Should Christians Be Politically Involved?

When you watch political news do you find yourself getting excited or angry? Our emotional responses to changes in politics may point us to having an identity that is too tied to our political preferences. Join Jonathan Carl as he helps us to think through our political involvement and it's connection with our identity. "To clothe oneself with or to put on a person means to put on the characteristics of that person and become like him or her. Paul says we are to "clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ. (Rom 13:14). This spiritual transformation has a decisive beginning, but it is not final or complete. The process of putting on the new self who is in Christ is the sanctifying process that makes real in our experience what has already happened at salvation. In other words, we are to become by God's grace the people that He has already made us." Neil Anderson, "The Daily Discipler", p.108 Galatians 3:27–28 "For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." (ESV)

Our Words - Danger! (Part 1)

Has anyone every hurt you with their words?  Have you ever regretted something you said and wish you could have taken it back?  Our tongues can be so quick to speak but yet can deeply damage others at length.  It is important that we consider the dangerous aspects of our words.  God cares for us and warns us about our tongues, we would be wise to listen…
before you post, tweet, or talk...

Harshness Multiplies.  Our words are like a “fire” (James 3:6) that can quickly turn a disagreement into a disaster.  Fights can escalate and expand quickly with the wrong words.  When people handle fireworks or weapons they are extremely cautious because they realize the danger embedded within them.  Don’t disregard the explosive and damaging potential of your words.

Proverbs 15:1 “a harsh word stirs up anger”

Foolishness Displays Itself.  Think about a time when you did something stupid.  Did you feel embarrassed or ashamed?  Did you quickly try to cover up or explain away your mistake or mess?  When we speak people begin to form opinions about us, our character, and our competence.  Don’t give people a reason to think poorly about you.

Proverbs 15:2 “the mouths of fools pour out folly”

Words Hurt Us.  We can often lash out to find temporary relief from our bitterness only to realized the poisonous brew we drank in our cruelty.  We can tell crude jokes to gain a laugh but in the end we lose our reputation.  Don’t hurt yourself with your words when there are so many opportunities for good. 

Proverbs 15:4 “perverseness in it [the tongue] breaks the spirit.”

Words Hurt Others.  Ever give a piece of bad advice that you wish you could take back?  Ever witness the hurt you caused someone with your malicious or manipulative mouth?  God calls us to prioritize others above ourselves.  May we pour out love and truth from our lips instead of hatred and lies.  Don’t tear down others when you have the opportunity to build them up.

Romans 16:18 “For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.”

Words Hurt God.  Our tongues are meant to bring God honor, but often we are self-focused and miss the purpose the mouths God gave us.  Scoffing and mocking bring God’s opposition (Prov. 3:34).  God’s hates lies and divisive words (Proverbs 6:16-19).  Don’t disregard God’s warning about His hatred of wicked words when He has created you for a greater purpose.

James 3:10 “From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.”

Words Evidence A Path Headed to Hell.  Doctors use scans and tests to evidence and diagnose the physical condition of a heart.  Our words can evidence and diagnose the spiritual condition of our souls.  Jesus lovingly warns us that “on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak” (Matthew 12:33-37).  Will your words justify you as being on a path to Heaven, evidencing a saved, good heart?  Or will your words condemn you as being on a path to Hell, evidencing a lost, evil heart?  

Examine your heart through the evidence of your mouth and be concerned if you think you are saved but your tongue tells another story.  Don’t be a hypocrite and be surprised by a future rejection from Jesus’ eternal presence (Matthew 7:23).

James 1:26 “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless.”

We can we do about all of this today?  We can listen to God’s words about our words and sincerely seek His forever forgiveness, cleansing, and change.

1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Why Would a Southern Baptist Pastor Write a Controversial Open Letter to the President?

Why would I, a Southern Baptist pastor, write a controversial open letter to the President of the United States, Donald Trump, about about the "accidental drive-by 'lightweight' tweet"?  What is the big deal anyhow?  What political party should Christians publicly identify with?  Is there hope for America’s future? Watch the video for answers to these questions plus the full story of the Presidential tweet (also at https://youtu.be/GXgqtE9).




Video thanks to my friend & fellow pastor Caleb Phelps!!  We hope you'll listen in to our conversation until the end! :) We're praying for our President & country!

Original open letter to the President here: http://jonathancarl.org/2019/09/TrumpTwitterWar.html


A few helpful thoughts on politics and Presidents from the late Reverend Billy Graham:
  • “Evangelicals can’t be closely identified with any particular party or person. We have to stand in the middle, to preach to all the people, right and left. I haven’t been faithful to my own advice in the past. I will in the future.”
  • “Politics has always been ugly to me, and yet I accept that as a fact of life. The emphasis I tried to leave was love, not … my own love for them [Presidents] but that they need to have love for the people who were opposed to them.”
  • Billy Graham to Lyndon Johnson “We are not saved because of our own accomplishments...I am not going to Heaven because I have preached to great crowds or read the Bible many times. I’m going to Heaven just like the thief on the cross who said in that last moment: ‘Lord, remember me.’”
  • “Their [the Presidents’] personal lives—some of them—were difficult, but I loved them all. I admired them all. I knew that they had burdens beyond anything I could ever know or understand.”
Interviews & articles about the "lightweight" tweet in the Washington Post, USA TODAY , The News-Enterprise , the Louisville Courier Journal, WDRB News, MSNRELEVANT Magazine ,Faithwire, The Hill, Premier Christian Radio, Business Insider, New York Postthe Huffington Post, a second article in the Washington Post, and an interview with KTRS Big 550 St. Louis 

Tons of truths about Jesus' love, hope, and forever peace @ www.TrustworthyWord.com

Dear Mr. President, I’m a Casualty of Your Drive-By Tweeting War. We All Are.

Dear Mr. President,

I’m a Casualty of Your Drive-By Tweeting War. We all are.  Last week you tweeted an insult my way.  It was an accidental mis-tweet of course, I’m just an ordinary citizen (Jonathan Carl) and not worthy of POTUS attention like ABC News reporter Jonathan Karl.  Nonetheless your drive-by tweet quickly brought a spectrum of intense vitriol and hatred my way.  Although I was an accidental casualty caught in the cross-fire of your “lightweight” tweet, your attack was very purposeful and hurtful.  Many others, whether American citizens or global citizens, feel wounded and hurt by the shrapnel and side-effects of your ongoing Twitter attacks.

In light of the lessons of my wounds I thought I would share a few personal thoughts as well as some helpful wisdom for us all from a well-admired man whose birthplace I pass almost every day.

“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.” Abraham Lincoln, First Inaugural Address (March 4, 1861)

I’m not mad at you, I’m sad for you.  My first reaction was to laugh out loud at your mistake when I saw your tweet.  My second response was sadness and compassion for you.  Our words overflow from our hearts and can quickly evidence the health or sickness of our souls.  Your heart must be in a dangerous place to have such a consistent flow of defamation and disrespect towards so many.

“I am rather inclined to silence, and whether that be wise or not, it is at least more unusual nowadays to find a man who can hold his tongue than to find one who cannot.”
Abraham Lincoln, Remarks at the Monogahela House (February 14, 1861)

President Trump's Mis-Tweet
Be Slow to Tweet. It is wonderful that you want to communicate frequently with your constituency and the world.  Exercise self-control and be more patient and selective with your correspondence.  Please don’t make the Twitter-universe such a dark and depressing place.  It shouldn’t be a place to argue, fight, or jockey for position.  We can disagree and debate without childish name-calling. You can make Twitter a better place if you choose a platform of love instead of hate. As everyone’s mother used to say, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t tweet anything at all.”

“In times like the present men should utter nothing for which they would not willingly be responsible through time and in eternity.” Abraham Lincoln, Second State of the Union (December 1, 1862)

Apologize more.  Everyone makes mistakes.  All of us have regrets about past things we’ve said and wish we could change.  When you mess up, please learn to say you are sorry and admit you were wrong.  Even to ordinary folk like me.  Such humility goes a long way.  Aim to own up and stop trying to coverup, hide, deny, or ignore your faults.  No-one is perfect.

“Every man is said to have his peculiar ambition. Whether it be true or not, I can say, for one, that I have no other so great as that of being truly esteemed of my fellow-men, by rendering myself worthy of their esteem.” Abraham Lincoln, Address Delivered in Candidacy for the State Legislature. (March 9, 1832)

Be humble. You called an experienced reporter a “lightweight.”  Let’s be honest, you are a lightweight too.  We all are.  God is the only heavyweight who knows it all and gets it right all the time.  That should keep things in perspective for all of us.  You are not the ultimate Commander-In-Chief.  May we all be reminded of our national motto, “In God We Trust” and be more faithful to Him, avoiding the temptation to trust more in a politician, party, or post.

“I rejoice with you in the success which has, so far, attended that cause. Yet in all our rejoicing let us neither express, nor cherish, any harsh feeling towards any citizen who, by his vote, has differed with us. Let us at all times remember that all American citizens are brothers of a common country, and should dwell together in the bonds of fraternal feeling.” Abraham Lincoln, Remarks at Springfield, Illinois (November 20, 1860)

Choose kindness.  Goodness speaks much louder and more effectively than harsh words.  Gentleness builds up instead of tearing down.  The world is hateful enough.  Meekness is not a weakness, but a strength.  The world needs more light and hope.  My prayer is that you grow into a bright beacon of joy and peace in a traumatized universe.

“This struggle is too large for you to be diverted from it by any small matter.” Abraham Lincoln, Speech to the One Hundred Sixty-fourth Ohio Regiment, Delivered at Washington, D.C. (August 18, 1864)

Let’s Keep Things In Perspective.  At the end of the day, being right or wrong on social media regarding the prediction of a catastrophic weather event like Hurricane Dorian isn’t the main issue.  Thousands of souls are suffering and they need our prayers, encouragement, and support.  We need good leaders.  Please lead us well.

Sincerely,

The American Holocaust

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