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)



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