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Why Do Pastors Cheat?

People discover my site because of all types of searches. But one of the most common search phrases is “Why do pastors commit adultery?” I did. Four years ago. I wasn’t looking to commit adultery – and I don’t believe most pastors who cross the line are looking for it. I...

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Sail, by Awolnation: My Song of 2012

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in music, youtube | Posted on 31-12-2012

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Ever have a song that was just relevant for you for a long time? This year, it was a song I fell in love with, “Sail,” by the band Awolnation.

If you follow my blog, you’ve probably already guessed its not praise and worship music. It did speak to me a lot. The video follows.

Did you have a song that helped define your year? Feel free to share it in the comments.

People Who Cut Themselves, Martin Luther, and Jesus

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in jesus, Martin Luther, self-harm | Posted on 29-12-2012

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cuttingI remember when she walked into my office. I had been pastoring for about five years. She was 13, had spoken to me about the pressures she was under at school to smoke, have sex, conform and do other things. Then she told me something I had never heard.

She had been cutting her arms with a razor.

I thought, “What?”

My next thought was, “Is this a cry for help? Is she close to suicide?” Immediately, I pushed those thoughts aside. She had a lot of trouble at home, but she didn’t have any of the signs of suicide that I had been trained to look or listen for. But self-abuse?

That’s been almost seven years ago. Since that time, I’ve become more aware and come into contact with many teens who engage in the act of self-mutilation known as “cutting.” Most of them are female, in their teens, and have many problems at home. They all seem to have trouble expressing their feelings in words, are under tremendous stress, are extremely misunderstood, but are in need of help and love.

I know there a lot of pastors out there who have been approached about this subject. There are kids in your youth group who engage in this type of activity. They may try to hide it or may engage in it with others. Either way, it is something that all adults need to be aware of. However, it is not something we need to approach with an immediate judgmental attitude. These kids cut for a reason. They need our love and understanding and our help.

I was a youth minister for about five months recently. I didn’t do the best job in the world. When I was a pastor, I had a responsibility to the youth as the overseer. I’ve always felt that the youth needed a large amount of special attention. They needed counseling, care and attention just like everyone else. They needed to connect in a way with a leader because they had specific needs. We forget what it was like being a youth. It was tough and when we negate their struggles, we negate our own time growing up

After reading some information and trying to get a grasp, here’s what I think I understand about it – cutting yourself is pain. It turns up the volume so loud that it drowns out the rest of the pain that you feel in your life. Friends, that deserves our attention.

So what about youths who cut themselves? There is a lot of information out there that you should read. I’ve made a youthhandy list below of links.

The question that is most important is this – what would Jesus think of those who cut themselves?

Let me share this – of the kids I’ve known who cut themselves, there is a typical reaction to it. In churches, a lot of people say, “Well, they are just kids full of drama,” or “Their parents need to get them help.

No. That kind of thinking is not helpful. Kids who cut themselves need the help of the community of faith. Like anyone else who is undergoing trouble, they need understanding and love.

Can you imagine what the response of our Savior would be? It would be the response He would have to any of us. Love, compassion, understanding. Holding us in His loving arms, making us better, patiently waiting and caring for us, being there while we healed.

And let me add this – what did Jesus think of Martin Luther, the great Reformer? While Luther was a monk, “he was accustomed to flogging himself and all manner of strict asceticism in an attempt to overcome his sinful impulses.” Self-punishment isn’t anything new. Luther did it. He did it to drown out the pain that was in his head and in his soul. There was a cure. The cure was the love and justification of Christ. Luther wrapped his arms around Jesus, embracing His grace, drowning in it and receiving it, starting a new day for Christianity.

That’s what our response should be. If you know someone who is engaged in self-mutilation, cutting or self-abusive behavior, don’t immediately react with anger or “why are you doing this?” Approach them with love, offering to get them help and above all, the compassion of our Savior.

_______________________

This is one of those topics where I don’t have a huge amount of knowledge, but I have a tremendous amount of compassion. Here are a few outside links to get you started:

Podcast from “Stuff Your Mom Never Told You“: Why Do Some People Hurt Themselves On Purpose?

Self-Cutting, from the Mayo Clinic

S.A.F.E. Alternatives, a site and organization dedicated to those who harm themselves – great site

The obligatory link to Wikipedia, “Self-harm”

 

Best End Of The World Video

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in eschatology, youtube | Posted on 21-12-2012

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For my money, this is the best end of the world video. Of course, it’s a free video. And the fact that it was produced back in 2009, like the movie 2012, makes it that much more enjoyable.

Anyway, enjoy the end. Again.

Facing The End Of Our World – With Hope

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in God, grief, hope, mercy | Posted on 19-12-2012

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Most Americans, it would seem, aren’t taking the idiotic interpretation of the Mayan calendar seriously. That’s a good thing. The human race has had its own share of failed doomsday dates. Even though the end won’t come on the 21st or in the foreseeable future, each of us can probably identify with a time when we felt our own world coming to an end.

Last week, in the aftermath of the Connecticut shooting, when those parents drove home, and looked at the presents treeprunder the Christmas tree that their children would never open, they were faced with what felt like the end of the world.

I remember four years ago when my mother was killed in a car accident on the 23rd of December. There were her presents she had wrapped for us, under the tree. I didn’t want to open them because I was afraid if I did, I’d lose all of her forever. Some days, it felt like the end of my world.

Less than a year later, I committed adultery and got caught. I found myself in a small rental house without my children and alone. My own actions had wrought the pain I felt and I sank into depression and many times suicidal thinking. Again, the end of my world.

I am not even daring to compare the pain or circumstances in the previous three situations. I created my own pain when I sinned. Other things created the pain in the other examples.

The point is, we all suffer. At some point, whether we are the cause or someone else is, we will suffer. And at some point, we will feel like it’s the end of the world to us. It will feel like all is lost. We will feel so desperate, so low, so miserable, and so poorly that our hearts will ache and the pain will be unimaginable.

A lot of people reading this will be thinking, “well, if you created the circumstances, then you deserve what you get.” Yeah, that’s right. Absolutely. I couldn’t agree more. People who sin deserve that pain much more than people who are victims of accidents or grief. I’ve been in both situations and I can tell you this – the grief from losing a loved one is different than the grief of loss in a situation in which you created.

So, yeah. Dirty, vile sinners sure deserve what they get. Oh, wait. That’s all of us. “Such were some of you,” Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 6.

I am mindful of the prodigal son who took his inheritance and ran off, squandered it and found himself among the pigs. You know the story. He came to his senses, the bible says, and thought, “being a servant to my father has to be better than this.”

sonfatherHe was at the end of his world. Miserable and in a situation that he had created. But he came to his senses and decided to go home.

Where does God meet us when we find ourselves at the end of our world? Whether we created the circumstances or whether tragedy happened to us, we can trust God when we turn to Him like the prodigal son did.

In that parable, Jesus said that the father ran to meet the son. That’s our Heavenly Father. Not far off. Not waiting to destroy us or hate us. He’s waiting for us, waiting to embrace us when we think it’s all over. To hold us close when we think the story is all over. He reminds us that with Him, His love, and His compassion, the story is always just getting started.

An Open Letter to Psy of “Gangnam Style”: ‘American Style

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in Provoketive Magazine | Posted on 18-12-2012

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psyI’ve got a new post up at Provoketive.com about Psy, singer of South Korean hit, “Gangnam Style.”

It’s a very, very satirical piece. There’s even a warning. Even with the warning, I already have a comment from someone who doesn’t understand satire.

Here’s an excerpt:

We obviously have the right to judge you. A man who came to this country, learned the language and then went back to his come country and became superstar. We have the taste to fall in love with a song that we don’t understand the words to but we like the beat and enjoy seeing a guy acting like he’s riding a horsey. But darnit, don’t you disrespect our country ten years ago.

Great stuff. So feel free to click on over and check it out.

Returning From a Fall: Walking God’s Slow Path Home

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in forgiveness, God, guest blog, restoration | Posted on 12-12-2012

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(Today’s post is brought to you by my friend, Roy Yanke. There’s more about him below. He is one of the many fine people I have met whose mission it is to help pastors who have left the ministry. Today, this blog belongs to him. Make sure you check out his ministry and blog sites listed below. He’s doing some remarkable things.)

Long Time Now, by T-Bone Burnett

I been waiting for a long, long time
I been waiting for a long, long time
I been waiting for a long, long time
I been waiting for the long time now

I can hear the footsteps
Following behind me
Trying to find me
But when I turn around
I can’t see where the path goes
Into the shadows
Into the shadows

I been waiting for a long, long time
I been waiting for a long, long time
I been waiting for a long, long time
I been waiting for the long time now

I can hear you breathing
Whispering in my ear
There is nothing to fear
But when I turn around
As I see the trees bow
I only hear the wind blow

By mistake I felt alone
In my heart I’ve always known
You’d be there to bring me home

I been waiting for a long, long time
I been waiting for a long, long time
I been waiting for a long, long time
I been waiting for the long time now

There are no shortcuts coming back from a fall.

None of us wants to live with the pain, the shame, or the consequences of moral failure. The temptation, fairly soon after we fall, is to try to find a fast track back to where we once were. It is a common temptation, not exclusive to pastors. It is very difficult to sit with failure for very long. We believe that if we can just get moving again, the pain will disappear, people will forget and we, too, will forget the loss.

I have become convinced that this does not reflect the path that God has in mind for us; especially if we are going to recover and be restored in our most significant relationships. Often His plan involves a long period of waiting.

In 1991, my external world fell apart. I was an active, serious and committed pastor of a small but growing church. On the outside, everything looked great. But my internal world had been crumbling for some time. Baggage I had carried with me into my walk with Jesus had come with me into ministry. I was living a double life and, as is typical, the tension created by trying to manage my own sin couldn’t last for long. It was God’s severe mercy that brought me up short, turned the world upside down for me and all those around me, and sent me out of ministry.

It has now been more than two decades since the day God started to rework my life. As the years passed, I have journeyed through a great deal of shame and have answered a whole lot of questions. I needed to be restored in my relationship with God, my family and the Church, and a return to ministry was honestly never an option that occurred to me. But in the course of my journey, God’s great grace has been revealed through small steps and continual confirmations that He wasn’t through with me.

It took several years before I was finally able to ask, “Would God be angry at me if I thought about returning to ministry?” His answer was a clear one, given through the counsel of those around me who knew me best: “I am not angry, and I am not done with you yet!” That “return” has been incremental – reawakening the gifts God has given in the midst of our church family. Still, it took a “chance” breakfast meeting with a new friend last December to see God open the door to a return to full-time ministry – fully 21 years after my exit. Today, I am the Midwest Regional Director of PIR Ministries – a ministry that exists solely for the purpose of offering hope to at-risk and exited pastors.

The temptation to short cut God’s process in my life has reared its ugly head at various points along the way. But I have learned a hard lesson: trying to kick the door in, to find a quicker way out of the consequences of our failures, never accomplishes God’s purposes. There is purpose in pain. There is much to be learned in the long journey back. The biblical examples are there, too. It was 40 years after he committed murder that Moses was given the mantle of leadership for God’s people. Paul spent at least 3 years in the desert after his conversion, before Barnabas went looking for him.

As humans, we may always be in a rush, but God’s purposes and timing are perfect. There is another song, a worship song, which reminds me that, regardless of how long the journey, “He never let’s go!

I am so glad to be a part of a ministry that believes it is possible to be restored from failure. I am also glad that the value of pain is written right into our mission statement. And, I am glad that we believe in a process of renewal that begins with being restored to God, family, and fellowship in the church FIRST. With that comes the knowledge and acceptance that not all who are restored are reinstated to a role of leadership.

At PIR Ministries, we come alongside the exited and fallen pastors to remind them that, no matter how long the wait, there is always a way back to restoration through Christ.

_____________________

Roy Yanke

Midwest Regional Director

PIR Ministries

www.exited-pastors.com

www.pirministries.com

Fallen Pastor Radio Interview and Welcome

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in blog, book | Posted on 07-12-2012

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I was interviewed recently by Mike Bundrant at Natural News Radio. I had a great time talking to him. He was a great guy and we covered a lot of bases. Here’s a link to the press release. You can catch it online or download it as a podcast.

If you’re here visiting because you heard it, welcome to my site. I’m here to help you if you need it. If I can’t help you, I might be able to send you to someone who can.

I encourage you to check out my book and also my “Help!” page for further information to get you started.

Would You Let King David Preach At Your Church?

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in adultery, david, forgiveness, pastors, preachers, preaching | Posted on 06-12-2012

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Good question. Answer it quick. Right now. In your mind.

Yeah, it’s hypothetical. Would you let King David, if he were available right now – to preach one Sunday morning service in your church?

Yes. You would.

If you had hold of a DeLorean equipped with a flux capacitor, you would.

Why? Because he’s King David for crying out loud. Killed Goliath. Fought bears and lions. Was a man after God’s own heart. Heck, he fled when he knew he was the rightful man to be on the throne and was gracious to Saul. He loved his own son Absalom when Absalom wanted him dead. What a guy, right? Out of his lineage came our own Savior, Jesus Christ.

Oh, but wait. David has a mixed history. He had some wives. Some concubines. He committed murder and adultery.

I was talking to someone this week that gave me some great insight on David. He said, “Despite David’s sin, he was always a man after God’s own heart. People would always judge him for his actions, but God always loved him for who he was.

David had struggle after struggle. Many of those struggles were his own fault. He sinned greatly, like many of the people we cherish in Scripture. Yet God showed them favor. Yet many pastors would allow David behind the pulpit to preach a sermon for one Sunday, wouldn’t we?

I ask that for an important reason. There are a lot of men who have fallen from the ministry. Since I fell three years ago, I have spoken to close to a hundred of them by text, email or phone. I have spoken to their wives, their church members or their families. I have referred them to others for help.

Some of them, like myself, did not reconcile with our first wife for whatever reason. Here’s a question, what wife was David supposed to reconcile with? Don’t hear me making a justification argument for my sin. I sinned. And I’ve made that very clear. Every fallen pastor I’ve dealt with and interviewed in my book takes complete blame for their sin.

But each man either reconciled with their wife or moved on. Even if they didn’t reconcile, they eventually found forgiveness from God and decided to walk a path of holiness from that point forward. The eggs had been broken and scrambled. There was nothing to be done.

Each of these men, like myself, had discovered that God is gracious beyond what we deserve. We don’t deserve to wake up in the morning. We don’t deserve God’s grace. I feel the words of Jonathan Edwards on me every day:

’Tis ascribed to nothing else that you did not go to hell the last night, that you was suffered to awake again in this world after you closed your eyes to sleep—and there is no other reason to be given why you have not dropped into hell since you arose in the morning, but that God’s hand has held you up.

Since my fall and my restoration, I’ve had grace extended to me by several pastors. They have allowed me to preach. I’m not asking to be restored to the pastorate, but I was given grace to speak at their churches. Let me tell you what I discovered.

First, I found that my preaching was filled with more grace and love than I ever had when I was a pastor. Before my fall, I was more judgmental and harsh than I was after. After I fell, I preached from my heart, but still from the word, but with compassion for the hearts of the people.

Second, I found that people connected with someone who had fallen so far. People in the congregation want their pastor to be of high regard and of high moral standards. That’s the way it should be. When I spoke, I told them of the dangers of sin, the dangers of wandering from God, and my own story. I told them of the importance of holiness and how Christ loves us despite our sin.

What I’m saying is that inviting a restored fallen pastor into your pulpit isn’t much of a danger. In fact, it can be helpful to you and your congregation. Talk to him first, face to face. Find out what he has to say. Hear his story and his journey.

The first time I preached after my fall, I wasn’t sure what to think. But I preached on John 8, the woman caught in adultery. I was very clear about what I had done and about how awful sin is. But I also spoke about the compassion and forgiveness of Christ.

That Sunday, three people responded. One was a woman who had been committing adultery with a man for eight years. She broke it off that week and was baptized by the pastor the following week. The next was a visiting church deacon who confessed he had committed adultery. Finally, another deacon who wanted to talk to me about his adultery. I praise God for that. I had little to do with it.

I had someone say to me, “I love our pastor and I hear what he has to say, but your story touched me because you’ve been through it.

Every time I preach, I have people come up to me and say, “I need help. I’ve been where you were and I want help.

Friends, I don’t like the fact that I’ve been through it. But I’ve been forgiven. And I guarantee you that there are men around you that have stories to tell that can help those in your congregation.

Do we really believe that God works all things together for those who love Him? Pastors allow all kinds of people to share their testimonies, but it seems the ones we don’t allow are pastors who have committed adultery. The ones we want to kick off into the shadows and forget.

I’ll tell you this – I speak with fallen pastors every day. God has not forgotten them. They have sinned greatly. But God is not done with them. And their voices, once restored, can help many people in a great way.

________________

Ray Carroll is author of “Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World,” a book for just about anyone. It is available in paperback and Kindle.