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Pastor: Are You Losing Your Grip?

There you sit at your desk. You’ve got a sermon to get ready for Sunday morning, not to mention Sunday night. There are two messages for you about two sick church members in the hospital, not to mention the three people you really need to visit in their homes. On top of that, you still have to get...

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Fallen Pastor: The Book, Part 2 – Understanding The Fall

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in adultery, affair, blog, book, church, civitas press, fallenness, pastors | Posted on 30-11-2011

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When I started working with Jonathan Brink, my editor at Civitas Press, about writing  a book about fallen ministers, I had the idea to write about my experience and discuss how to prevent other ministers from making the same mistake. He said, “A book just about you won’t work. It will sound like you’re trying to justify yourself. It has to have stories of other ministers.”

He was right. Jonathan is a very smart guy. In fact, he had the idea to interview many fallen pastors, look for the common reasons behind pastoral failure and examine them. I’m glad I did.

I won’t forget the day I got caught. It was awful. I deserved to get caught, obviously. I was a cheater and a liar. I left my home and my church forever. It was over.

I remember that it felt like the world was spinning for the next few months. One of the fallen pastors I interviewed said the few months after his fall were like his own personal “9/11.” I’m a fact finder. I try to make sense of things. I want to know the “why” of life.

Yeah, I knew it was my fault. I knew it was my sin. I was also busy blaming the stress of the job, church conflict, etc.  Within the two previous years, both parents had died in separate accidents and I hadn’t really grieved properly. There were a lot of variables. I didn’t just wake up one day and say, “I think I’m going to break the seventh commandment!” It wasn’t that simple. I wanted everything to make sense.

I did two things. First, I started to blog anonymously. That was an interesting experience. Some of you followed my blog back then. I was blogging under the name “Arthur Dimmesdale”. I changed all my information and enough details to become obscure. I was doing it to clear my head out and to try to make sense of it all. I had a lot of interesting things happen to me while I was blogging my story.

First, I had a lot of fallen pastors and pastors who were about to fall contact me. They wanted to email, dialogue and ask for advice. I wanted advice too. It was exciting to try to help people, but I needed help too. I made some good friends in those days.

Secondly, I got really tickled at one point when a message board found me and started following my story. Most of them didn’t believe me. Message boards can be a vile place. They were pretty ugly about my situation, but I took it all in stride. One of them said, “This has to be made up – the story is just unbelievable.” Tell me about it. I was living it.

Third, I had a television show contact me. They wanted to do a reality episode about my affair. It was a no go, obviously. I’m telling you, some weird things happen to me, but that was one of the strangest.

Finally, that was where Jonathan Brink first contacted me about writing. I’m thankful for that. My mother wrote eight Christian books and she sent out letter after letter to publishers. I was fortunate to be found by writing a blog.

The other thing I did to try and make sense of everything was to call fallen pastors across the country. I started calling pastor friends and asking them if they knew pastors who had fallen and I got phone numbers. Most of these men had been out of the ministry for several years but they were all willing to talk to me. I wanted to know what to expect, what they felt and if they were ever able to reconcile with their former church. These men were so kind and gracious to share their stories with me. I ended up using several of their stories for my upcoming book.

Those two things – blogging and talking to fallen pastors – set up a good framework for understanding the culture in which pastor’s fall. It helped me understand that I was responsible for my sin, but there was a subtle trap that exists for all pastors that they need to be aware of that can bring about their downfall if they aren’t careful.

That’s what Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World seeks to do. It uncovers the dangerous culture that exists in some churches that we might not be aware of. Hopefully by examining the issues within the church and the heart of the pastor, future ministry failure can be prevented.

____________________

Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World is available for preorder at Civitas Press. It will be available soon at Amazon.com and will also be available for the Kindle.

Fallen Pastor: The Book, Introduction

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in book, church, civitas press, forgiveness, providence | Posted on 28-11-2011

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I’m blessed and pleased to announce the release of Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World from Civitas Press on January 2.

Over the next few weeks, I’d like to share with you some intimate thoughts and ideas I’ve been holding onto as I’ve been writing. I’m also going to revisit my story as well as give you a peek into the book.

I had a huge introduction to write today, but God had other plans. Something amazing happened today and I have to share it with you. Let me begin by telling you that our God is amazingly providential and gracious. Now, let me tell you how He once again reminded me of this.

I’ve been working on endorsements for my book for the past few weeks. It’s a nerve wracking task as the publication date draws near. Along with it comes feedback that is greatly welcomed, but also comes the final deadline. I’m usually filled with some level of anxiety anyway, so I’ve been a little difficult to live with.

Rodney Cox, CEO of Ministry Insights, sent me his endorsement today and I was thankful to receive it. In his endorsement, he referred to a story in the introduction of my book. In this story, I related to a time a couple of weeks after my fall from ministry. I ran into a church member out in public. She was shocked to see me and asked me, “Why did you do it?”

I didn’t have any answers for her that day. Since that day, I have changed considerably, thanks to God’s grace. In the book, I write that my answer today would be different to her. I haven’t seen her in almost two years. I’ve wanted to see her and apologize to her for the hurt I’ve caused her, for words that I’ve spoken to her and to hopefully heal that relationship as much as I can.

I was sitting in the lobby of the hospital where my wife, Allison works, reviewing Rodney’s endorsement. I was about to forward it to my editor when I looked up and saw that woman. I had to catch my breath. It was unbelievable.

I called out to her and asked her to sit with me. She did and I immediately began asking her for forgiveness. She was gracious to me and we had a redeeming conversation. We worked several things out and she asked, “Are we okay?” I said, “Absolutely, thank you.”

Two minutes later, Allison walked out. I had tears in my eyes and she said, “What’s wrong?” I said, “You’re not going to believe this.”

There have been several moments along the way while I’ve been writing this book like that when God has grabbed my attention. At times, He has said, “Ray, you need to be more humble.” At other times, He has said, “Ray, you’re on the right path.” They’ve been little things, but they were unmistakably God.

All that to say this – in the words of one of the eleven pastors I interviewed for the book, “God took my mess and turned it into His message.” I don’t deserve the overwhelming grace He has shown me, but I suppose that’s why it’s grace.

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Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World is available for preorder at Civitas Press. It will be available soon at Amazon.com and will also be available for the Kindle.

When Life Gets Called Short

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 23-11-2011

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I wrote an article for Provoketive Magazine called, “When Life Gets Called Short.” It’s about the recent death of Razorback player Garrett Uekman and how we cope with sudden death.

The holidays are a difficult time for many people to deal with tragedy, especially when they’re remembering loved ones who have passed. Keep remembering, take time to grieve and remember the good days.

Four Things I Refuse to Do This Christmas

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in christmas, fun, Uncategorized | Posted on 23-11-2011

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I think it’s time to draw the proverbial line in the sand. Consumerism has just gone too far. The economy is awful. Really. Woof. I am not the kind of guy who will just go out and buy anything.

Hold on. I do own a plastic hat shaped like a Razorback. So, yeah, I will buy anything.

But this year, I’ve got to hold on to my money like I hold on to my left kidney. So I’ve decided on some fair guidelines to help me restrain myself. Adopt them if you will.

1. I will not buy anything from an advertiser who uses little people as “elves” in their ads.

Seriously. Just think about this for a moment. You’re a little person. You’re a serious actor. And yet, the only time the phone rings is once a year when some advertiser wants you to wear striped leggings and pointy shoes and a hat. Can we please put this cliche to rest? And T-Mobile, pink?

2. I will not buy anything edible in shape of a person.

I’ve had a problem with this since I was five. The Kindergarten teacher told us the story of the “Gingerbread Man.” We then ran around the school searching for this poor, soulless creature. We ended up in the cafeteria where they had “Gingerbread Men” waiting on us. We were instructed to eat them. We had found him. Now we were to eat him. Begin with his head, children.

If that doesn’t convince you, think about this conundrum – would you leave out a Santa cookie for Santa to eat? And if you were Santa, would you eat it? Or would you be offended? Or would you write a note that said, “How would you feel if I left out a cookie that looked like you?”

3. I’m not buying anything from an advertiser that remakes or rewords a Christmas song/poem.

How many times can 12 Days of Christmas or “T’was the Night Before Christmas” be remade to sell us junk? Answer: An infinite number of times. From beer, to Apple, Inc., to Wal-Mart, to whatever. I cringe. And I really don’t care for Christmas music that much. But it’s got to stop. Someone please be original. So, in reference to the above video, I will not be purchasing an Atari Game System this year. Boycott time.

4. I will not be referring to anyone as a “Grinch” this Christmas (unless they’re really, really awesome).

The Grinch has gotten a bad name. He just had a different perspective in life. He just wanted those darn people to stop being so loud and happy.

Here’s something from Wikipedia that you may not have realized about the Grinch: the film alludes to the notion that the Grinch was already incredibly strong. As a child, he was shown lifting a Christmas tree over his head and throwing it across the room. He also most likely carved out his cave with his bare hands, as the entrance was a rock wall when he was a child. The film also presents a number of other powers. These include his humanly impossible leaps, his inhuman accuracy (shown when throwing letters), his horrible breath, and an implied ability to be able to survive in the cold with little or no protection. He was also shown to be able to consume glass and pottery harmlessly, and seemed to very much enjoy consuming these.

That’s right. The Grinch was awesome. He was a misunderstood superhero. One with horrible breath, the ability to withstand subzero temperatures, the ability to chomp on glass and could leap great distances in single bounds.

What did the Who people do? Why, they simply misunderstood this green glob of good. Had they followed his ways, he would have brought joy to their days. But alas . . . their guilt made him sadder, he was too much for their gray matter.

Enjoy your next few weeks, and be a Grinch.

Viewing the Past in Vivid, Regrettable Color

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in Provoketive Magazine | Posted on 21-11-2011

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I published a new blog over at Provoketive Magazine – head over and check it out.

Here’s an excerpt: “There’s a time to put away the horrendous covers of our past failures and least memorable moments. Sure, it’s hard to forget them when they’ve been published and put out there for the world to see.”

Name-Dropping is Awesome – Ask Jesus

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in book, Christ, pride | Posted on 15-11-2011

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I’ve gotten to know a few influential people since I started writing this book.

Yeah, I’m important now. Boy, I could go on and on about the people I’ve talked to and emailed. It would be really, really impressive, wouldn’t it?

There’s a guy I used to know who used to drop names. He was a friend of mine back in Louisville who ran in certain theological circles. You couldn’t start a conversation with him without hearing at least 20 important names.  After the first two, you’d start rolling your eyes.

I started thinking about name-dropping today. How did Jesus handle it?

Did you know Jesus did some name dropping? He most certainly did. He dropped two. I could be wrong. But I think He only dropped two.

He mentioned His Father over and over and over and over again. Why? To bring Him the glory. To draw attention to the Father. Jesus, of course, also drew a lot of attention to Himself. He also talked about the Spirit. That was it.

So, I think it would be best if I stuck to dropping the name that got me here. The Name of Names – my Lord and Savior. He saw me in my despair, loved me when I was unlovable, picked me up, set me on my feet and gave me His name, though I am unworthy.

So, I’d like to take this opportunity to drop to you the name of Jesus. The One who makes all things possible.

“Fallen Pastor” Book Available for Pre-Order

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in book, civitas press | Posted on 14-11-2011

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Well, it’s getting close. Thanks to all of you who follow me here on my blog. This is the first announcement of my upcoming book: “Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Fallen World,” by Civitas Press.

You can pre-order now through this link.

There are a lot of last minute minutia to deal with and I’m thankful to have such a great editor and publisher. Hope you’ll buy a copy and let me know what you think.

If you know anyone (including yourself) who would be interested in doing a pre-pub book review, please let me know as soon as possible. I’m looking for blog exposure and that kind of thing.

Please spread the word – hoping that together, we can help a  lot of people!

"Fallen Pastor" Book Available for Pre-Order

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in book, civitas press | Posted on 14-11-2011

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Well, it’s getting close. Thanks to all of you who follow me here on my blog. This is the first announcement of my upcoming book: “Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Fallen World,” by Civitas Press.

You can pre-order now through this link.

There are a lot of last minute minutia to deal with and I’m thankful to have such a great editor and publisher. Hope you’ll buy a copy and let me know what you think.

If you know anyone (including yourself) who would be interested in doing a pre-pub book review, please let me know as soon as possible. I’m looking for blog exposure and that kind of thing.

Please spread the word – hoping that together, we can help a  lot of people!

Why I’m Not a _______ and the New Polemic

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in Provoketive Magazine | Posted on 12-11-2011

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Check out my new blog post on Provoketive.com.

Here’s an excerpt: “But there seems to be a strange movement for the past few years to prove one’s opposition to a certain movement or theological stance. Writers take to the blogosphere and write articles against certain movements and title them, ‘Why I’m not a _____________.’”

 

Why I'm Not a _______ and the New Polemic

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in Provoketive Magazine | Posted on 12-11-2011

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Check out my new blog post on Provoketive.com.

Here’s an excerpt: “But there seems to be a strange movement for the past few years to prove one’s opposition to a certain movement or theological stance. Writers take to the blogosphere and write articles against certain movements and title them, ‘Why I’m not a _____________.’”