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Out With The Old

I just finished archiving all my old posts. That means they’re not there anymore. Sorry about that. My story as I originally wrote it doesn’t exist on this blog anymore. However, stay tuned. I’m going to summarize it again soon in a much shorter way. Things are changing rapidly for...

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Martin Luther Insult Generator

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in Funny, Martin Luther | Posted on 29-02-2012

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I must say, this page I stumbled across is a hoot. 

It randomly brings up insults from the great reformer, Martin Luther. Hilarious.  If you’re Reformed, you’ll love it. If you’re a Luther fan, you’ll guffaw. If you don’t have a sense of humor, skip it.

Here’s a sample insult:

How is it, then, that you drivel like people in their second childhood?

From The Bondage of the Will, pg. 127 of Luther’s Works, Vol. 33

Want more? Go check out the site. Nothing like Luther unrestrained.

__________________

Ray Carroll is the author of “Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World,” which answers many of the questions I get asked on a weekly basis.

If you are a fallen pastor who needs to talk or you are someone who has been affected by a fallen pastor and would like to contact me privately, please click here. You are the main reason this ministry exists. I’m here to help you.

If you are a church, men’s group, association, conference, or news outlet and would like more information about this ministry, please click here.

“We Shall Be Free”

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in Provoketive Magazine | Posted on 25-02-2012

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I’ve got a new post up over at Provoketive Magazine. It’s a little different. It’s about a song Garth Brooks wrote 20 years ago that says a lot to us today. The song is “We Shall Be Free”

It tells us how much times have changed. Please take time to read it.

And I’m recovering slowly and sorely from surgery. Thanks for your prayers.

__________________

Ray Carroll is the author of “Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World,” which answers many of the questions I get asked on a weekly basis.

If you are a fallen pastor who needs to talk or you are someone who has been affected by a fallen pastor and would like to contact me privately, please click here. You are the main reason this ministry exists. I’m here to help you.

If you are a church, men’s group, association, conference, or news outlet and would like more information about this ministry, please click here.

Is Your Heart Right? & “Is Whitney Houston in Heaven?”

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in Christ, compassion, criticize, forgiveness, God, grace, Heart, judgment, mercy, salvation, sanctification | Posted on 22-02-2012

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I’m taking a short hiatus for a few days. I’m having a procedure done on my heart called an ablation. I’ve been having issues with my heart speeding up whenever it darn well pleases over the past ten years. It came to a head over a month ago when I ended up in the emergency room with a heart rate of 250.

On Thursday, a surgeon will go into my heart, fiddle with it for about four hours and then burn a little place on it to make it stop. Good times.

Easy blog post topic. Is my heart right? Nope. Can I fix it? Nope. Only a trained medical professional can. And I trust him to put me under and make me right again.

In the same way, all of us have heart issues that need to be dealt with. Desperately. Whether they are sins that we continually struggle with or personality flaws, they need to be diagnosed. Guess who the worst person to diagnose them is? Us. When we ask ourselves if we have a problem, we rarely ever think we do.

That’s why we have God’s objective Word to root out our sin. Read it, cling to it, apply it to your heart and see if the Master Physician doesn’t give you a diagnosis. Don’t stay away from the parts you don’t like either. Read it all.

When you’re ready to be healed, he will heal. Completely.

Which brings me to one final thought before I head into my Thursday surgery. I wrote an article about the death of Whitney Houston for Provoketive Magazine. Since her death, a lot of Christians have been arguing whether she is in heaven or hell. If you listen to the overwhelming voices of the Christians, you would come to the conclusion that she is in hell.

I don’t have a dog in the fight when it comes to Whitney Houston. I know she was raised in a Christian home, claimed to have professed her faith in Christ and had many high and low points in her life.

I think what surprises me is how willing the Christian majority is to pass judgment upon someone and pronounce hell upon them.  Frankly, it’s rather scary.

What I see in the New Testament is a call to be regenerated. Something only God can do. By Christ, we are justified. When God looks at us, He no longer sees us, but His Son. God no longer judges us on our merits or works but on the work of Christ. That’s a good thing.

In the words of Paul, does that give us license to sin more? Heaven forbid it!

We are called to live a life of sanctification, holiness, pleasing to God. We are, with the aid of the Holy Spirit, to persevere in our faith until the end.

Will it always be easy? Will we fail? Will we falter? Will we fall? Yes. I’m living proof. But he picks us up over and over again. Who does he pick up? Those who seek him out. Those who belong to him.

He’s revealed to us as a Father. We’re his kids. We go astray like a bunch of sheep. Should we? No. But we do. He disciplines us when we do. But like a good Father, if we are truly His, He never gives up on us. Ever.

I’ve heard a lot of well-meaning Christians say that Ms. Houston is in hell. I don’t know. It’s not a topic to be thrown around on the Internet carelessly. I do know this. When we are chosen by God, when we become one with Christ, when He becomes our Father forever, nothing can take us away from Him. Can a person get caught up in a sinful lifestyle with guilt and regret, knowing they need to return to God? Yes.

What does this look like? When the sinner (backslidden alcoholic, addict, fornicator, etc.) comes to the church and says, “I messed up, can God forgive me? Will you forgive me?” The church’s response is, “Of course, we do. God forgives.”

Fast forward six months down the road. The same thing happens. Same words. The church says, “You’re still having trouble, we want to help you still because God helps you still.”

What if it happens over and over? Does the church give up? Does God give up? I think the answer is to be found in the heart of a person who is truly repentant over their sin and seeking restoration and holiness and a person who just doesn’t care. Those who return to the Lord for help are those who are seeking Him

And the Christian fellowship should be right there alongside those people with encouragement, love and offering hope. God gave us each other in this murky world. It’s not an easy place to be. I fear that those who cast the most judgment are those who have never fallen far, and I hope they never do. They are those who have never come face to face with the absolute need for grace and forgiveness of God.

May we all be more sensitive toward those in our world who need restoration and light.

Worthy of Restoration: Now with Active Link

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in guest blog, restoration | Posted on 15-02-2012

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I wrote a guest blog for my friend Joy Wilson at her blog. Take time to check it out.

Here’s an excerpt:

After my fall, I knew that no one is above reproach. No one is beyond sin and anyone can fall. More importantly, all of us are within the grasp of grace, in need of restoration and the love of people who will walk beside us. The only problem is finding people who can and will decide to help us.

I’d like to challenge you today in regard to restoration. Most of us will fall in this lifetime. We will do something we are ashamed of and will stand in need of forgiveness. All of us are worthy of restoration but we have to be ready to take the time for the restorative act to take place.

Thanks, and make sure you read Joy’s stuff. It’s really, really good.

The American Church’s Sense of Entitlement

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in church, entitlement, restoration | Posted on 14-02-2012

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I’ve spent a lot of time interviewing fallen pastors and reflecting on my own thoughts after my fall.

One of the themes that came after my own fall was this: “How could they have such harsh, unforgiving thoughts for me? I loved them, cared for them while they were in the hospital, performed their marriages, did the funerals for their loved ones, stood by them while they were sick, preached hundreds of sermons – how dare they reject me after one sin!”

I hear that too in the voices of other fallen pastors. It’s the idea of entitlement. We did this for you, so how could you turn your back on us after we committed one sin?

I would love to defend myself here, but it’s just not possible. The sin of adultery is a heinous one. It is a sin against God and God alone, to be sure. But to the people in the pews, it is one of trust and betrayal.

Not everyone in the church reacts the same way. Some are able to look beyond the sin and forgive immediately. They see the pastor as human, full of fault, just as they are. They accept him as a man who had a past and incurred a horrible downfall. A man who could sin just like them. They forgive and love immediately. These people are far and few between.

Most are not able to forgive so quickly. They feel disappointed in this man who stood in the pulpit week after week preaching the Word of God. He baptized their children, he organized Vacation Bible School, he was the voice in the wildnerness. They bragged on him and invited people in the community to come hear him. But the fallen pastor thinks one thing, “How could they turn their backs on me?

There’s a dynamic that most people don’t think about. On one hand, the pastor was mired in a difficult situation that strung out for years. In his mind, he wasn’t turning his back on his congregation, but on his wife and his God. He needed help, he knew it and he found himself in a place where he needed comfort. Was it right? No. But he went ahead anyway.

From the congregation’s standpoint, all they see is betrayal.

I think that’s why Galatians 6:1 calls upon the Christian fellowship to “restore” such a one to Christian fellowship. To understand people who fall. To come along side any fallen person and love them. We never understand the circumstances, but we always know it is right to try to understand and restore, no matter how hard it may be.

It’s a wide gulf to span. From the pastor’s view, he’s been suffering for a long time in crisis and malcontent. From the congregation’s view, the pastor abandoned them for greener pastures. If there is a common ground to be found, it has to be found in the person of Jesus Christ. Because in Him, we will find common ground. In Him, we will find peace and restoration.

Now, let’s take this a step further. Let’s look at the church at large. The church culture has had a huge sense of entitlement for years. As a disclaimer, it’s not all churches, but many churches in the mainstream.

It’s the feeling that because we have a building, because we have a congregation, because we have been in place for a long time, we don’t need to do anything but exist. We have a set of people in place, a clique. Everyone looks mostly like us, acts like us, and our leadership keeps things under control. We invite people to church who look like us and act like us.

For the most part, there is no reason to make any kind of change. We are an entitled community. And we back that with our belief that Jesus is happy with the way we are running our churches.

But what if He’s not?

I’ve visited several white congregations when an African-American shows up. What is the reaction? Everyone stares. What happens when a person of less than standard means shows up to a medium-class church? People begin to think, “That person must be here to ask for money.”

Strange that Jesus has called the church to go out into the world, into all people and make His church a place for all people. Yet, when someone like us shows up to church, we get very uncomfortable. Why? Because churches across America has become more like a country club with exclusive access than a place where anyone, regardless of socioeconomic background, racial status, educational background or disability can come worship.

We are an entitled church. We are an entitled society. We are a people who do not wish to restore anyone, even if it is someone within our midst.

When the stranger enters into our midst, it should be a sign from God that He has sent them there, providentially. We should seek them out as a friend, a fellow traveler. Could it be dangerous? Could it be difficult? Sure. But I never saw Christ shrink away from a challenge.

__________________

Ray Carroll is the author of “Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World,” which answers many of the questions I get asked on a weekly basis.

If you are a fallen pastor who needs to talk or you are someone who has been affected by a fallen pastor and would like to contact me privately, please click here. You are the main reason this ministry exists. I’m here to help you.

If you are a church, men’s group, association, conference, or news outlet and would like more information about this ministry, please click here.

I Had the Dumbest Dream: Or Was it a Parable?

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in compassion, dreams, restoration | Posted on 13-02-2012

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I had the dumbest dream last night. When I review it, I think it may have been a parable.

I’m a huge fan of dreams. In the Old Testament, God revealed Himself to many in the form of dreams. He revealed His plans and His future for Israel.

Today, I think our conscious minds are very busy during the day. Our subconscious minds are suppressed and at night scream out to us while we are asleep. I saw a statistic once that we only remember 10% of our dreams. That’s probably a good thing.

I had this dream last night. I dream in vivid Techicolor. If I talk it out, I think I can make sense of it.

There was a forest. It was more like a forest canopy. No light could get through. The canopy was made up of red and dark green vines.

The forest floor was a deep black that swallowed all remaining light. I wouldn’t have expected any life to exist there.

But there was life. The kind of life that I would have least expected in my dreams.

There were these cute little fuzzy round balls of yellow bird like creatures. Honestly, thinking about it now, it makes me want to throw up. I don’t like cute. Or fuzzy. Or yellow.

How were these things existing in this unforgiving forest of doom?

But there they were. They were like little birds. With beaks. But lots of fur. Or feathers. Or whatever makes small animals cute and cuddly. Ugh. If my kids had been in that dream and seen them, they would have wanted one. Or two. Or three.

Me, being the jaded, sarcastic, cynical person I am – I wanted to flush them down a toilet. But honestly. In my dream, they were beautiful. They didn’t belong in this harsh environment.

Okay. You’ve read this far. Yeah, it’s nuts. I’m sorry. Stick with me, please.

Anyway, I could also sense that there were other creatures in this environment. A lot of them. And they were all bad. I couldn’t see them, but they definitely weren’t yellow, fluffy or cute.

And before you ask, no. I don’t take drugs before I go to bed. Thank you very much.

In my dream I had a sense that this dream was like none other that I had ever had. And I had a sense that the other creatures were fine to let these animals exist. Why? Because they were just happy. They shone some kind of light in this otherwise dark kind of world.

In fact, some of the dark creatures secretly brought food to the little cute creatures when they were struggling to find food. They didn’t let them know it was them that brought them food, but they brought them food nonetheless.

I woke up. Wide awake.

I went to the fridge and had a Mountain Dew.

I played this ridiculous dream over in my mind trying to make sense of it. Feel free to add your own interpretation. Maybe I need more medication. Maybe it means nothing.

I’ve grown up in a church culture in my life that tells me that people are either bad or good. That was before my fall from ministry.

Yes, people need Christ. We all need reformation.

But after I fell, I found that the people reaching out to me were the ones the church had cast out. The ones who showed me the most love and grace were those I had been taught were the least likely to show me love and grace: the unchurched, the outcasts, sinners, the rejected in our society.

What if black and white isn’t so black and white? What if people are just people and they can show compassion and they really understand? I would have never understood that before.

What if I was a little pathetic bird in an awful world and the only way I was getting help was through those people others considered outcasts?

Thank you, God, for dreams. Maybe I’m getting it all wrong. But I learned something through my disturbing wrong interpretation than I would have than just taking it as a simple disturbing dream.

It was either all that, or I shouldn’t eat five egg rolls before I go to bed.

Whitney Houston and Humanity’s Most Important Question

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in death, Provoketive Magazine | Posted on 12-02-2012

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I put up a new article over at Provoketive Magazine: “Whitney Houston and Humanity’s Most Important Question.” It deals with the death of Whitney Houston and a question we all need to answer.

Here’s an excerpt:

I do know something about how fragile all of us are. I do know that we start somewhere simple. We can get placed on a pedestal and fall. We can make terrible, tragic mistakes and even if we do, our God is there to love us when we fall.

Take time to read it and thanks for stopping by.

New Book Review & Amazon Reviews

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in blog, book | Posted on 11-02-2012

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My friend Greg over at the blog, “The Strategic Monk” wrote me a nice review. 

Check out his fantastic blog while you’re over there. If you’ve read my book and have a chance, leave me a review on Amazon.

Have a great weekend!

The First Stone

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in adultery, affair, guest blog, preaching, reconciliation, repentance, restoration | Posted on 07-02-2012

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My new friend, Travis Mamone let me write a guest blog for him at his site, “The Boy with the Thorn in His Side.” I highly recommend his blog. He’s a very talented writer and does an excellent job.

My blog post is about the first time I got to preach after I fell from ministry – two years later. It’s a story I haven’t told before and I hope you enjoy it.

Take time to check out Travis’ blog and comment on it. You’ll be glad you did.

How Our Personal Pronouns Expose Our Beliefs

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in Provoketive Magazine | Posted on 06-02-2012

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I’ve got a new post up over at Provoketive Magazine: “How Our Personal Pronouns Expose Our Beliefs.”

I usually give an excerpt. But let’s just say this post is a grammar nerd’s dream. It uses the Bible and grammar to let us know how we often give ourselves away with our use of the English language.

My sister would love it.

Hope you enjoy it.