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Four Things I Refuse to Do This Christmas

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,...

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Gay Marriage, the Church, and the Jesus Response

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in belief, bitterness, boundaries, brokenness, Christ, church, church members, community, compassion, current events, divisiveness, encouragement, gay marriage, grace, hate, hatred, homosexuality, judgment, love, religion, repentance, salvation, scripture, self-righteousness | Posted on 27-03-2013

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I was so thankful yesterday to get a Facebook inbox message from a friend who was concerned about the current argument in America over gay marriage. Like many Christians, she was concerned about the moral failure of the country. She had been watching Facebook and so have I. I too, have seen many comments like, “Why don’t people see what Scripture says?”

I’ll be honest. I don’t watch television news. For a good reason. It’s only purpose seems to be to rile people up over things that are insignificant. You get stressed out. I mentioned in an online magazine recently how watching TV news in a constant flow caused my mother anxiety.

She said she read my blog occasionally and never saw me write anything about the issue. I don’t. My blog is about fallen

Pic courtesy of PBS

Pic courtesy of PBS

pastors, mostly. Then, I write about issues secondary to that. Then, after that, I write about what tickles my fancy. I don’t avoid the big issues. I’ve written about big issues before, but they’re just not on the radar of what I do.

My response to her was probably not what she expected, but I hope it was biblical. (She did thank me for the sermon :)) I want to post it here then add some comments after. Here it is, verbatim:

Here is what I would say. And I pray it’s the biblical thing, because any response of my own would be wrong.

I’d take it back to the apostle Paul who wrote to a church that was probably going through more moral decay than we are, if you can imagine. In his time, it wasn’t just the culture, it was members of the church who were declining in morality. Members of the church were going up to the pagan temple and sleeping with temple prostitutes.

Paul was surrounded by a pagan Roman culture that was filled with violence, sex, child molestation, and hedonism – and all of it was legal. But Paul didn’t write against the evil around him in the world. He wrote about the sin within the church. He says something interesting in 1 Corinthians 5:

Please take time to read more important stuff after the jump:

“Question Everything”

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in belief, bible, book | Posted on 07-02-2013

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I encourage you to take a few minutes and watch the book trailer below. It’s for a book called, “Question Everything: A Fresh Way to Read the Best-Selling Book of All Time.”

It doesn’t need my endorsement because it has a ton of them from people you already know. But it definitely has it. It’s a great tool for individual study or small groups. It works for new believers or seasoned veterans. Give it a look and share this trailer with your friends as well.

“Don’t Run In God’s House”: Church Cliches, Part III

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.

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.

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Ray Carroll is author of “Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World,” and is a regular contributor to Provoketive Magazine.

Changing The Mind: Helping Others See How Wrong They Are

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in belief, Provoketive Magazine | Posted on 05-07-2012

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Ever notice how wrong other people are? All the time? I did. And I wrote an article for Provoketive Magazine about it.

It’s pretty tongue in cheek, so don’t rush to any conclusions. Here’s an excerpt:

Why is it so hard to change beliefs? I think we’ve all been there. I would guess most adults have changed their beliefs about something. Why is it so difficult?

Hop on over there and check it out if you get a chance. Before you change your mind, that is.