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The Plumber's Sin vs The Pastor's Sin

Fallen pastors go through a series of stages after their fall from ministry. It’s a topic that consumes a lot of space in the manuscript for the book I’m working on. Fallen pastors spend a lot of time being angry and justifying their actions – at least many of them do. I know I did....

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“Don’t Run In God’s House”: Church Cliches, Pt. 3

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in belief, bible, Christ, Christianity, church, cliches, seminary, sovereignty | Posted on 31-08-2012

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I was driving around with my six-year-old step-daughter Leslie the other day. She likes to talk, a lot. She especially likes to make observations about everything she sees. We live in a  town that I usually describe this way: “In this town, you can throw a rock in the air and either hit a church or a Chinese restaurant.

Anyway, Leslie says, “There’s a lot of churches here.

I said, “That’s for sure.

She said, “God sure has a lot of houses.

When I pastored, the phrase “God’s house” used to bother me. You usually hear it when a kid is running through the church and an older member yells out, “No running in God’s house!” Or these days, someone will post a Facebook status, “Great to be in the house of God today.

So is there a problem with the phrase? Well, it’s cliche, but is it unscriptural? Let’s take a look.

Is there a problem?

I found a great article online written by Peter Ditzel called “Are You Meeting in God’s House? He takes a walk through Scripture and deals with the term very well in both testaments. I don’t agree with every exact interpretation, but heck, he wrote a four page deal on it. His analysis is very good and I commend his work to you, especially since I’m relying on his article to do all the heavy lifting on this point.

The bottom line of his article is that “house of God” is a biblical term used to refer to the tabernacle or temple used by the Jews. Christians aren’t to use it because we are technically the house of God as an assembly of believers. Seriously, go read it. Learn something. My horrible two sentence summation doesn’t do him justice.

The reason I always had a problem with the term was for two reasons. One, Acts 7:48 where Luke paraphrases the Old Testament, “Yet the Most High does not dwell in houses made by hands, as the prophet says.” (ESV) God just doesn’t live anywhere. He dwells everywhere. Using the term, “God’s house” is kind of a slap in the face to God’s omnipresence.

It was used in a special way in the Old Testament for the dwelling place of His glory, but we have a new covenant.

Second, as a sold out sovereigntist, I just really don’t like the idea of stuffing God in a building. By the way, rabbit trail here. I hate, hate, hate, hate the cliche, “We can’t put God in a box.” Man I hate that. It is so overused and so 1980. Maybe I should blog about that one. But I bet a lot of the people who use that term also say, “God’s house.” You don’t want to put Him in a box, but you want to stuff Him in a building.

Read more after the jump.

“Lead, Guide, and Direct”: Church Cliches, Pt. 2

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in Christ, church, church members, cliches, communication, prayer, worship | Posted on 30-08-2012

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I’m doing this series on church cliches. This one’s about prayer. Last one was about sports. Hope you like.

When I was but a young lad in the Southern Baptist Church, I used to go to the occasional prayer meeting instead of the youth activities. It seemed that every adult who prayed would always end the prayer with, “And lead, guide and direct us, Amen.”

My own father did it when he prayed in public. I honestly thought it must be in Scripture somewhere. It’s right up there with those congregants who are caught off guard by praying in public whose every other word is “Father God”, “Lord God” or “Father.”

An example, “Father God, we’re just so happy to be here Father God today Father God. It’s just great to be in your house today Father God, among your people Father God. We’re just praying that we worship you Father God, Father God. And we love you so much and want to be with you today Father God. And Father God, be with those who couldn’t be here today Father God. We pray for them. And we pray for our pastor today, Father God, as you anoint him to preach the Word that you laid upon his heart today, Father God, Father God. Amen.

You know what I’m talking about if you’ve ever sat through a prayer like that. You start counting the ‘Father Gods.’ Even before the guy starts.

Yeah, we say a lot of cliche things when we pray. Is there a problem?

What can become the worst of it? I heard a very popular Protestant pastor say a few years ago that when we throw in phrases like “Father,” “Father God,” or whatever, we are babbling. He said that it’s to the extreme of blasphemy. We are approaching a holy God who deserves our best. Not a bunch of rambling that we’ve heard repeated before. He wants our hearts. Especially if we’re praying for a congregation.

Think about this for a moment. The disciples asked Jesus how they should pray. It’s not just something you start randomly doing. It’s something that you learn from the Master.

In John 6, Jesus said:

“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”
(Matthew 6:7-8 ESV)

We aren’t to babble on before God. So what are we to do?

Why it might be wrong:

We could be throwing our empty, meaningless phrases at God when He really wants our hearts. Listen, He knows already what is on our hearts. He knows our struggles, our sins and our victories. When we get called on to pray, what better moment to just worship the living God?

But a lot of people have a problem praying in public. They really do. Pastors, why not lead some of your men in a study on what prayer is and how to pray for the congregation? I honestly believe it will enrich them and it will draw you closer to them. Heck, pastors need all the friends they can get. You might actually make a friend in the process. And what pastor doesn’t want stronger men in the church? If you’re really daring, you might actually invite some women to participate. Oh my! Shudder the thought!

Why it might be okay:

Could it be okay to use cliche after cliche in prayer? Listen, if you are praying in public and say, “Lead, guide and direct,” and really mean, “Sovereign God, I pray that you continue to lead us in the path you have led us on, guide us in your sovereign wisdom and direct us down the path you have for us,” then go for it.

And hey, if you don’t feel comfortable praying in public, please, please, please tell the pastor. But don’t stop there. Ask him, “How can I pray better?” Then run to the Word and find out how. God is pleased by our prayers.

And I’ll tell you one other thing. There’s no shame in a prayer that has been written down and prepared.

You want to get on track with praying? There is a fantastic little book called Valley of Vision.” It is a book of Puritan prayers and it will get your heart, mind and soul right. It will teach you to pray. Feel free to even read one of those in front of the congregation. I used to. And I’d say, “Here is a little prayer I found helpful. And I’m going to read it before I start my own prayer.”

Prayer is serious business. But you know what? God just wants to hear from you. He wants your heart. He wants you. Pray what you’re thinking. What you’re feeling while you’re in private.

I strongly recommend my friend Joy Wilson’s book, “Uncensored Prayer.” She even holds workshops for people who want to know how to do one on one prayer with God. Check her out online as well.

The best thing is that God wants to hear from us. Always. And He just wants us as we are.

__________________

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.

 

Your Sports Team Is An Idol: Church Cliches, Pt. 1

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in church, church members, cliches, God, pastors, sin, sports | Posted on 27-08-2012

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It’s my favorite time of year. College football starts this week. Who cares if the major teams play a bunch of cupcakes? It’s football time! And I love my Razorbacks. I will do whatever I can to watch them every week.

I’m starting a new series on my blog about the cliches we hear in church. Whether we hear them from the pulpit, in congregational prayer, or from each other. There are a ton of them. Think about the things you hear over and over again in church that have really lost their meaning.

I will digress at this point to make my own point for today. I am an Arkansas Razorback fan and when I preached, it was in the middle of Big Blue Country. The Bluegrass Nation. The state where basketball is king and football is an afterthought.

You have to understand, I was born and raised in Arkansas. We have one national basketball championship to our name. We are better known for football. So when I moved to Kentucky, I did not know what to expect. This place bleeds blue. They are overwhelmed with their passion for all things UK.

When I pastored during basketball season, many of the games came on Wednesday night. But the faithful showed up and would say, “Try to make it short, UK plays tonight.” They were joking, I think. But I was glad they showed up for Wednesday night services.

On Sunday, the NASCAR fans showed up and said, “The race starts at 11:00, make sure we can hear most of it.” I’m pretty sure they were kidding. But maybe they weren’t. I hate NASCAR. Not because of the cars or the racing quality. But it puts me to sleep. My dear mother, who has passed away used to say, “I put NASCAR on so I can take a healthy nap on Sunday. I don’t care who wins, but I just care I get a nap.” I concur.

The problem: Pastors like to say, “Your sporting team (The RedSox, The UK Wildcats, The LSU Tigers, The New England Patriots) have become an idol for you. You have replaced your worship for God with a sports team. You get more excited about a sports team than you do in worship every Sunday.”

That little remark has been made by myself while I was in the pulpit. I know that there were people who skipped Sundays and Wednesdays to watch the UK Wildcats play basketball. I was infuriated! How dare they exchange the truth of God for a basketball game. Now, lets get real.

What can become of the worst of it? I suppose a person can begin to substitute their love for Christ with the love for a sports team. Preachers, you know you say this in your sermons. I did. We will say, “You better worship God like you root for your sports teams.”

Know what? How many of us pastors have found ourselves screaming in front of the television for our favorite sports team? Do we do that in the worship of our Lord God? Nope. Those are two different acts. An act of passion towards a sports team is not the same as an act towards a holy and majestic God.

Worshipping God is not the same as rooting for a sports team.

What can become devastating in our lives: When we love our sports teams more than we love our God. Can that happen? Yes. Christians can put God out of the way and place love for sports in the way. It doesn’t even have to be college sports. It can be their own children on Sundays, Saturdays or whenever. It doesn’t even have to be sports. It can be bass fishing, sleeping, laziness, or pride.

But for some reason, as pastors, we like to pick on sports teams. “You Alabama fans like to root on your team. Do you root on Jesus like you root on the Crimson Tide?

Why it might be wrong: Do we really hold sports teams higher than our God? Do most Christians pursue their love of sports more highly than the Savior that gave them life?

Probably not. Sports is an activity that we follow. It’s an enjoyable entertainment that we involve ourselves in. Can it become dangerous?

Sure. When we begin to forsake our own worship of the living God for the time and space it takes us to watch a football or basketball game. I will never forget in 1996 when the Packers were playing the Patriots in the Superbowl. I chose to go to church that night. There were about 30 people there. All of them were senior citizens. You have no idea what it meant to me to choose church. I hadn’t missed a Superbowl in a decade. But for some reason, I wanted to be where God’s people were. I had no iPhone. I had no link to the scores. But I was settled, listening to my mentor, Bro. Jim Simmons, preach the Word.

Why it might be okay: Are we really holding our teams more important than God? So what if we miss church once in a while to watch our favorite teams beat the holy heck out of our rivals? Will we be sent to hell?

I don’t have an answer for you. It’s all in the charge of Christian liberty. What if your team is on the verge of a conference championship? What if your team is on the verge of an elite eight? Is it enough to skip Sunday night service? That’s for you to talk to God about. Seriously.

In the end: I can tell you that nothing is more important than the preaching and teaching of the Word of God. When we arrive in heaven, that is all that will remain. But, dangit. We all have teams. We celebrate with them. Some of us have less to celebrate than others. It’s a matter of your own mind. “Is this game/race/event enough for me to forsake the preaching of the Word of God this Sunday?” Or, “Can I find somewhere else to worship this week before I go engage in this sporting event?”

That might be an important question. Is my sporting event more important than Christ? What is really at the center of my heart? Am I fooling myself? Or am I sold out to God? Because He wants nothing else but me. Totally me. Unabashedly else but me.

What should I do? Follow Christ in all things first. Then root for your team. Don’t let anything else come between you and Him. If you are using profanity at the television, you have a problem. If you are letting anything come between you and your contact with God, let something go for a while. Fast from it. Or you might end up like this:

__________________

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.

Lance Armstrong: When To Cut A Hero Loose

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 24-08-2012

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Just  had an article published over at Provoketive.com called, “Lance Armstrong: When To Cut A Hero Loose.”

Here’s an excerpt:

After their races are won, after they’ve scored touchdowns for us, after they’ve served in office, after they’ve preached – and then they get caught in a transgression, are they no longer our heroes once we’ve seen their dark side? Not usually. Once we’ve seen that chink in their armor, we are quick to dismiss them, doubt their entire career and cast them aside quickly.

And hey, it’s double post Friday. Check out my post from earlier in the day. As always, thanks for reading.

Pastors Cannot Fix Themselves

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in church, conflict, counseling, pastoral care, pastoring, pastors, preachers, pride | Posted on 24-08-2012

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I read an interesting article today about a fresco that was painted on a church wall in Spain that was over 100 years old. It had deteriorated very badly, so an 80 year old woman decided to take matters into her own hands and attempt to restore it. Problem was, she was an amateur artist.

She messed it up pretty badly.

The painting was of Jesus. Unfortunately, it looked so bad that one BBC correspondent said “it now resembles a crayon sketch of a very hairy monkey in an ill-fitting tunic.”

Oops.

It got me to thinking about restoration after a pastor falls. Even more broadly, how most pastors (who haven’t fallen) refuse to see Christian counselors (or any counselor) when they have problems. Instead, they chug on ahead thinking they can fix themselves. Some think, “I’m okay, all I need is the Bible and some prayer. I can lick this depression/anxiety/fatigue/grief on my own.”

No you can’t.

Have you ever noticed in Scripture how over and over we are called to be a community? There’s a reason. It’s because none of us have been licensed to fly the church solo. Problems, complaints, and grief are things that the pastor cannot hold in to himself. Even just sharing with God may not be enough at times. We are surrounded by a community of faith – within the church and without – to support us.

God’s people had support. Moses had Aaron, Paul had Barnabas, and even Christ and the disciples interacted closely.

When researching for my book, “Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World,” one of the most dangerous trends I found that led to a fall was pastoral isolation. Pastors tend to be very isolated people. They don’t want to make friends with people in the congregation, have accountability to anyone else, find a mentor, or share their pain with anyone.

Why do we do that? I think a lot of it has to do with pride. We think we are able to fix everyone else, so why can’t we fix ourselves? We can’t. Everyone needs someone else to be able to look at them and say, “Buddy, you need help. Let me help you.”

One man I interviewed said pastors are very guilty of attempting to fix themselves. He illustrated it by saying, “It’s like a surgeon trying to cut into himself with a knife. He has the tools and the talent to do the surgery, but it is very unwise. He’s not objective enough and it’s just a bad idea.”

I’d even say it’s like the lady in the story above doing the restoration on the painting. The entire time she was doing it, she had good intentions. She thought it looked great, so she kept going. But the entire time, there was no objective voice to tell her, “That looks absolutely awful. Please stop.”

Pastors need an objective voice. Yes, God is a very objective voice. But he has also surrounded us with objective voices. Qualified Christian counselors, mentors, accountability partners. When we try to fix ourselves, we often do nothing but deceive ourselves that we have our problems fixed and managed. When we do that, we can be sliding down a very slippery slope.

If you’re in a place where you need help, please reach out before it’s too late. Don’t hesitate to ask for objective help from people you can trust.

__________________

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.

Temptation, Lightning, and Seductive Sin

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in adultery, fallenness, forgiveness, sin, temptation | Posted on 20-08-2012

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For those who don’t know, I’m a certified athletic trainer in my spare time. Actually, that was what I did before I was called to ministry. Then I became a bi-vocational minister.

What does a certified athletic trainer do, you ask? Well, I’m not a personal trainer. Certified athletic trainers are the people you see on television during sporting events who take care of injuries to athletes. There’s more we do. We prevent injuries by taping, monitor the conditions (weather), make sure athletes are hydrated, and a lot of other fun stuff.

Way back in the day, I worked outside of a large city for a big sports medicine clinic. One of the things I had to do was cover a lot of soccer tournaments on the weekend.

Many of those events take place during stormy months and it’s my job to make sure the tournament director knows when it’s time to go in. If there’s lightning in sight, they all have to go in.

Now, I’m talking about my former job over ten years ago in a metropolitan area. I’ve been the trainer at a lot of schools, but one interaction got my blood running.

There was lightning all around. It was within ten miles. I approached the tournament director and told him, “We have got to stop play right now. There’s lightning in the area.” His response? “We’re okay. The lightning isn’t that close.”

What triggers in a person’s mind like that? I already know. A coach wants to get as much field time in as possible. He thinks that he has to have as much outside time as he can get because he has a tournament to run. He thinks it makes his team better.

Not from my medical perspective. All I see are lightning bolts striking the kids and killing them. There are definitely two differently points of view going on.

Now, let’s turn it to a theological point of view.

At some point, we all dabble in sin. We look at it, think we can control it and we wade in it. Like the coaches who are staring at the lightning five miles away, we think we are fine. “It’s not going to hit here. We’re still okay for a few more minutes. I don’t care if I see it. I mean, what are the odds that we get struck by lightning?”

I get it, seriously. If I was running a sports program, I would probably feel the same way. Who cares about what the trainer says? That lightning is far off. It won’t be here for another ten minutes and we can get another ten plays in. We have to get this game in!

The only problem is that lightning can strike well before a storm. And after. It’s dangerous. But sometimes, we think that the dangerous lightning isn’t going to get near us. We think we are immune. Know why? Because we’ve never been struck by it before before. The chances are slim. It won’t happen to us. So, stick it, lightning. We won’t get hit. We’re invincible because we have statistics by our side.

Right.

When I was writing my book, “Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World,” one pastor quoted a proverb to me that I had never noticed before.

Can a man carry fire next to his chest, and his clothes not be burned? (Proverbs 6:27 ESV)

You know, I thought about that for a while. Dangit, Solomon was right. No one can carry sin along with them for any length of time and expect that they will get away with it. I didn’t. Some men and women are crafty enough to get away with it for years. But it will catch up to them.

It’s like lightning. Go ahead and go outside and practice when the trainer told you not to. It’s all around you while you stand out there with the huge metal poles that act like lightning attractors. But what the trainer is telling you is this, “It’s not safe. If you go out there, you have a risk of getting people killed. I can’t say for sure that kids will get killed, but if you got out there and practice, it could happen.”

The day I argued with that soccer coach, he finally conceded to go inside. Seconds later, lightning hit one of the poles on the field.

Did I get credit? Nope. What I heard was this – “We still could have gone another 5 minutes before the lightning came.”

Really? Okay. Great.

I’ve got a better one for you. There are a lot of pastors and others who read this blog and are meddling in sin. They think they have a handle on it. However, there is a huge, “Thunderstorm Warning” on their lives. I’ve been there. You cannot keep meddling with that sin. You cannot control that sin. When it comes to full fruition, you are a goner. You will lose it all.

Know what’s really ironic? My mother, who died a couple of years ago, wrote eight Christian non-fiction books. One of them was called “Temptaton: How Christians Can Deal With It.” She was wise in her writing. Maybe if only I had read it.

Stop meddling with sin now. Seek help. Confess. Find someone you can really trust to confide in. Otherwise, your sin will find you out in public. Email me and I’ll help you. But do not continue in your sin. It’s a thunderstorm waiting to happen. Come clean before you get caught.

No pastor is above reproach. Seek out the forgiveness of God. Repent now. Get help. Reverse the order of your life. Find people who will walk with you through this difficult time. I’m here. I’m networked with people who can help you. But stop pretending to be someone you’re not.

There are thousands like us. Thousands like me who fell in ministry. We want to help before and after you fall. We are here to minister to you. Let us do that for you.

Note: Right now, I’m working with other men who are currently networking together to help fallen pastors across the country. If you’re interested in joining us, drop me a line.

__________________

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.

How Come We’re So Darn Judgmental?

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in adultery, affair, fallenness, jesus, judgment, repentance, sin | Posted on 16-08-2012

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Really? What’s our deal?

Jesus knew we were judgmental people. He even had to make sure it became part of the permanent record: “Judge not, that you not be judged.” (Matthew 7:1, ESV)

Now, before you start up with discernment vs. judgment, let me give you my hillbilly definition of judgment vs. discernment.

Let’s say you just heard Billy Bob cheated on his wife. You say, “Oh my.” In your “Oh my,” you’re thinking, “that’s terrible, I feel sorry for his wife and kids. I hope everyone is okay. That’s such a tough sin to get through.

Hey, guess what? That’s discernment. That’s knowing what is right from wrong.

But the next thing you say is, “Well, I’d never do that. Billy Bob is such a scoundrel. He’s dirtier than dirt. Why he’s lower than the scum on Satan’s boots. I think I’m gonna pick up the phone and tell everyone/Twitter this/post this on Facebook and let everyone know what a jerk he is.

That’s judgment. Thinking others to be lower than ourselves because of a sin they committed. The same Bible that we find, “You shall not commit adultery” in also contains “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23, ESV)

None of us are any better than anyone else. Some of us have been justified by Christ, but we’re not better. But man, do we get judgmental. It’s a sin to be judgmental of someone.

When I was a pastor, I had a judgmental streak. I still have an overwhelming sense of justice. That part isn’t so bad, but when it turns to judgmentalism, it’s very bad. If I saw sin, I’d want it gone. Which is good. But I’d go about doing it in a bad way. Not just that, I’d have this self-righteous feeling about myself the entire time. Like I was better than the person sinning.

After I fell, most of that went away. It’s amazing what a great fall can do to you. It’s phenomenal how experiencing the grace of God can transform you into someone who just wants to love sinners more. I get emails from fallen pastors frequently. I just want to help them. Before my fall? I probably would have thought, “That lousy guy couldn’t keep himself straight? Pitiful.

Not anymore.

Read more after the jump…..

Taking A Pastor’s Fall Personally

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in adultery, affair, anger, bathsheba, bitterness, Christ, church, compassion, criticize, fallenness, gossip, grace, hatred, pastors, preachers, pride, reconciliation, repentance, restoration, sin | Posted on 07-08-2012

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I’m the kind of guy who takes things very personally. Some people are just wired that way. I like to act like things just roll off my back and I really don’t care but I’m pretty sensitive.

I’ve gotten better since I started blogging about not taking things personally, which is a good thing for all of us to learn.

I mention it today for a very serious reason. And this is a blog to be read very, very carefully.

Know why? Because I care about everyone on every side of this issue. Fallen pastors, their spouses, those they’ve been involved with, their churches, their families, their fellow pastors, their children – everyone. Know why? Because they are all worthy of the love and care of Christ.

When a pastor commits adultery and falls from the ministry, it hurts many people. Since my fall, I’ve had time to listen to people on every side of the fall. Of course, I was the adulterous pastor. I knew what it was like to be selfish, leave the ministry and not listen to anyone.

I’ve also had time to listen to the wives of fallen pastors. Hear their side of the story. I’ve also heard from the women who committed adultery with the pastor. I’ve talked to church members and friends of the fallen pastor. I’ve seen this issue from all sides and I must say, it has humbled me even greater than before.

After a pastor commits adultery, it breaks hearts. It wounds people. It makes a story for everyone. Sometimes it ends up on the front page of the newspaper if the church is big enough. It always makes the rounds in gossip in the community. Regardless, it is an act that hurts many people. It angers many. It leaves many asking, “Why? How? What are the reasons?”

Let me state this very carefully. Because some people may read it very wrong. So I’m going to start with Scripture. After David committed adultery with Bathsheba, he wrote Psalm 51. He said in verses 3-4:

For I know my transgressions,
        and my sin is ever before me.
    Against you, you only, have I sinned
        and done what is evil in your sight,
    so that you may be justified in your words
        and blameless in your judgment.
(Psalm 51:3-4 ESV)

I used to wonder what David meant by, “Against you, you only, have I sinned.” He was talking to God. Surely David knew he had sinned against Bathsheba’s husband by killing him. Surely fallen pastors know they sin against their own wives when they commit adultery. So what’s the deal?

Here’s the deal - when any of us sin, the sin debt we owe is owed only to God. We will only face Him for judgment. Him alone. At the end of it all, we face no man. We face God Almighty. That’s a lot of judgment to answer to.

That’s why it’s so important for us to walk a righteous path. To be justified in Christ. To then walk a life of holiness. To repent after we have sinned and cry out to God after our transgression.

Now, to the tough part. When a pastor sins, he hurts a lot of people. I’ve heard a lot of pastor’s mothers, sisters, brothers, mentors, cousins, grandparents, church members and so on say, “How could he do this to us?”

Let me say this very gently. He didn’t do it to you. It feels like it though, doesn’t it? Your pastor didn’t sin directly against you. He did a very selfish, sinful thing, but he did not directly do it to hurt you. Don’t take it personally. He chose a path of sin, did it consciously, with his own flesh in mind, but he did not have you in mind when he did it. He was not trying to directly hurt you in the process. You cannot take it to an extreme personal level that you begin to harbor horrible feelings toward him.

I can speak to this because I’ve been hurt before by a direct family member. He hurt me. He left our family. Hurt us. And I took it personally. He even told me he didn’t mean for me to take it personally. Looking back, I know he was right. He didn’t mean to hurt me personally.

The fallen pastor, like my family member did what they did because they were sinners. They were selfish. Did your fallen pastor hurt you? Absolutely. Did it have an effect on your relationship with him? Yes, without a doubt. Was he under the influence of sin? Yes. But did he do it maliciously to harm you? More than likely not.

Now let me ask a question. When you are selfish in your life. When you sin. When you do things to please yourself. When you commit sins of gossip, lying, covetousness, idolatry, stealing, lust, pornography, covering up other sins – are you necessarily doing it to personally harm someone else? A family member? Probably not.

So what is your role now? If you’re a relative, a church member, a fellow pastor or a friend? Well what does Scripture say? Does Scripture say to take it personally and hold his sin against him? No. It says in the spirit of Galatians 6:1 to restore him. But you may say, “But I don’t have it in me. It hurts too much. I don’t understand why he did this.

In my experience in interviewing fallen pastors, you may never understand. But you have to keep praying. Keep the door open slightly. Keep letting him know you love him. That doesn’t mean condoning his sin, but let him know that you love him for who he is, in Christ as a brother. That doesn’t mean loving him for his sin, but loving him because he’s him. That may be the hardest thing you’ve ever done, but it may mean more to him that you’ll ever know.

When I fell, I had about three people reach out to me. None of them were family. It took family about three months to talk to me. It took four months for the first church member to say something. I want you to know something very important. A pastor is just as much a member of the body of Christ as anyone else. If he falls, we are to go after him. If he shows signs of repentance, no matter how small, we are to rescue him.

Just because he gets a paycheck doesn’t mean we get to fire him because he sins. It doesn’t mean because he commits a sin we get to toss him by the side of the road. The body of Christ includes all of the members. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. (1 Corinthians 12:26 ESV)

Above it all, try not to take it personally. Don’t run to Facebook and say, “How could he do this to me?” or to the woman he was with “You are such a *@&$#” as one person did to Allison. He didn’t do it to you. He has a higher standard to answer to. Instead, go to him. Run to his side. Don’t judge him immediately, but find out what is going on in his heart. Ask him, “Let’s work through this.” He may not want to talk right away, but he will know you are there.

The body of Christ is made up of many parts. At least one of them might be able to reach out to the fallen pastor.

__________________

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.

Commenting On Posts

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 06-08-2012

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Some of my old friends have let me know they have had trouble commenting on some of my awesome blog posts. :)

Fear not, I think I’ve fixed it. Please let me know if I have or not, via Twitter, Facebook or coming to my house and telling me to my face.

Thank you for your vigilance and reading my stuff to begin with. You are all my heroes.

Chick-Fil-A and John Cena, Professional Wrestler

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in anger, belief, chicken, Christianity, consumerism, culture, divisiveness, freedom of speech, gay marriage, love | Posted on 04-08-2012

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I’ve been ignoring this whole Chick-Fil-A thing online. The founder of the institution was interviewed and said he opposed marriage between same sex people. That was his opinion. Those who disagreed jumped on him and decided to boycott. The Christians decided to make 8/1 a day to support his business.

You can read the story anywhere. Seriously. Anywhere. Online. Unless you’ve been asleep. It’s out there.

I kinda felt like this: “Good for you. You have the right to make a freedom of speech statement. But you also have to carry the consequences of it.” All of us do. When we speak our feelings and thoughts, they carry weight.

Then I saw this posted online while everyone was rallying around Chick-fil-A.

It kinda made me think. Even a day after the Christian support of Chick-fil-A, there were a lot of people lined up at the restaurants.

My daughter asked me what it was all about. I told her, “The founder of Chick-fil-A, who makes the most tastiest chicken sandwiches (yum!), made a remark that he didn’t support gay marriage. And that’s his opinion. Some people decided they wouldn’t eat there anymore because of his opinion. And that’s their right.”

She said, “Okay, so what does that mean?”

I said, “Think about your favorite restaurant, Senor Lopez. What if the owner said, I’m in favor of gay marriage. Would that mean we wouldn’t go eat there?”

She was thinking really hard. They have really good cheese dip.

I said, “No, I don’t think it would. We don’t go to restaurants because of the owner’s political views. We go there because they have fantastic food. Unfortunately, there are people who want to boycott some places because of their views.”

I challenged her again. I said, “What if the owners of Senor Lopez said, ‘We’re going to donate six million dollars to support gay marriage. Would that change your view?”

Good question.

Now to another. I used to watch professional wrestling when I was growing up. My favorite wrestler was Brutus the Barber Beefcake. He’d wrestle, then put his opponent in a sleeper hold and cut his hair. AWESOME.

Lately, my doctor put me on a terrible anti-depressant that didn’t allow me to sleep. I’m off it now. But on those sleepless nights, I started watching old school wrestling. And I started watching new wrestling.

Please don’t email me and tell me wrestling is fake. Those guys go out there and put their bodies on the line and through horrible pain. It’s entertainment. I know that. The winner is determined beforehand. While I was watching, I was introduced to a new wrestler who has been around in the modern era – John Cena.

Nice guy, great build, a man of the people. He fights hard and hardly says a bad word about his competition.

Now, back to the picture I posted earlier of the Christians who were surrounding the Chick-fil-A’s. They will stand in line to do a good deed for a few days.

John Cena, who does not brag about his off the mat performances and is a long time giver to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. You know, the Make-A-Wish Foundation that according to Wikipedia, that grants wishes to children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength, and joy.

Do you know what athlete, person, superstar tops the list for kids wishes? Not Tiger Woods, not Michael Jordan, not LeBron James. It’s a man who takes time out of his extremely busy schedule and actually goes to see these kids in the hospital. It’s John Cena. He recently made his record breaking 300th visit.

Why? For notoriety? I bet a lot of you haven’t even heard of him. No, because he cares.

I honestly Googled to find out whether he’s a Christian. The evidence is scant. It seems like he probably is. Whether he is or not, he cares about kids. He’s not standing out in front of a Chick-Fil-A, he’s in the hospitals across America making sick kid’s dreams come true.

Good for Chick-Fil-A for making a stand. But better for men like John Cena to go to hospitals and touch the lives of children. I’ve heard that the Make-A-Wish Foundation even has a special “John Cena” room for the man.

John Cena is one of my new heroes, just for that fact. He cares enough to stand by sick kids on his days off when he could be seeing his family. Instead? He’s visiting kids who want to see him and feel hope.

Want inspiration? Go touch a life. Skip the restaurant. Donate clothes. Work in a Salvation Army refuge. Find out what your neighbor needs who is struggling. Look to your church member who is hurting. Find someone you know who needs help. Skip your chicken sandwich and make a difference in the world.

__________________

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.