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It's been a crazy week. We got some pretty devastating news today. Please pray for Cynthia and me. Especially Cynthia. Thank you. I'll get back to posting soon. God bless. TwitterFacebookPrintEmailGoogleStumbleUponLinkedInRedditPinterestTumblrLike this:Like Loading...

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Why Didn’t God Stop Me From Committing Adultery?

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in adultery, affair, Christianity, church, church leadership, restoration | Posted on 20-08-2014

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adulteryIt’s a question that comes to me often. It comes across my blog search engine more than I’d think. “Why didn’t God stop me from committing adultery?

There are two different points of view on this question. Most people are on the outside of this question. Most people reading this blog are probably saying, “What kind of ridiculous question is that? Are you serious? A pastor is asking how God could keep him from committing adultery? What a sick person! He shouldn’t be in the ministry to begin with!

I hear you. I understand your objection. And you’re right. But slow your roll for a second. I’ll get to you. Remember before you get too excited that all of us have been in some situation where our sin has overtaken us and that we will find some excuse for it. All of us have fallen well short of the glory of God. All of us are despicable people. And when we are in our sin, we find a way to justify it. It’s just that when we see a pastor committing the worst sin we can imagine, we are quick to heap on him judgment.

Yes, he is wrong. Let me answer the folly of the question. I was there. I fell from the ministry and committed adultery. I didn’t ask that question, but I asked a lot of questions like that. And when I was asking questions like that, I was doing it to justify my sin.

There is no justification for sin. There is no justification for adultery. God will not stop any sin that He has clearly laid out in Scripture as wrong. He has given us His Word to let us know what is wrong. Stealing? Yeah, He covered that. Coveting? It’s there. Lying? All there. Gossip, drunkenness, slander, hatred, anger, coarse language? Sure. Adultery? It’s overwhelmingly there. There is no reason God would attempt to stop any of us from committing those sins. He has warned us over and over again from the folly of committing those sins. Cover to cover, He has shown us that it is counter to a life that is healthy, spiritual, and amazing.

Why would we even pray a prayer that started, “Lord, if you don’t want me to be an adulterous relationship, then stop it.” Seriously? He’s already given us so many written and revealed passages of why it is dangerous to the life of a believer. It is damaging to the soul. It is counter to His will. When we pray a prayer like that, I’m not even sure that He can even entertain the heart of that prayer.

So, let’s back up for a moment and think about our horrible little hearts. All of us.

If as a church, we think the best medicine for a pastor who has fallen is to throw him as far away from the healing power of Christ, then we should be ashamed.”

In my book, I detail the thought process of the fallen pastor. When he crosses the line into adultery, he starts living a lie. He crosses that line for several reasons. Once again, I must mention that there are circumstances around him that push him into that sin, but he owns that sin. He chooses that sin. He may get pushed to that brink, but that choice is his to make. He may be isolated, the church may be in conflict, he may have gone through horrible personal circumstances, his marriage may be horrible; but adultery is a choice he makes.

The pastor chooses adultery. When he does, he begins to make a framework of lies to cover up his sin. He has to hide from his marriage, his family, his church, his fellow pastors, his congregation, and his God. It may be for weeks, months, or years. He lies to everyone he knows. He does this to seek out a relationship that he feels will give him something he thinks will make him whole. It’s something he think he hasn’t felt in a very long time.

He keeps pursuing it at the risk of everything he has pursued for his entire life. In his hubris, he doesn’t think he will get caught. Some pastors hope they will get caught. They want out of the ministry. They want out of their marriage. But some think they can continue on for their entire lives.

When they do get caught – and they will – they get asked about it. And they will lie to protect their ministry, their livelihood and their reputation. And then the justification will come. And it will come in a series of questions or angry rebuttals.

Why didn’t God stop me?” “Why didn’t my wife love me more?” “Where was the church when I was hurting?

And you know what? I don’t want to dismiss those questions entirely. These men were hurting. They were under extreme amounts of hurt reachingand failure. They needed help at some point and probably felt like no one was reaching out to give them that help. Does that excuse their sin? Nope. But it does mean that they need restoration.

It does mean that the fellowship of Christ shouldn’t kick them to the curb. It does mean that they need restoration back to Christ. I’m not talking about restoration back to the pulpit. But I’m talking about wounded men and their families who need serious help. Men who have been hurt for a very long time who need to be able to put the pieces back together. Men who have been looking for answers and have been wounded by the ministry, by conflict, by isolation and need Christians to walk beside them in their most dire hour of need.

If we look at a fallen pastor and say, “Well, he cheated on his wife and we need to kick him out,” then we have probably violated the spirit of Galatians 6:1. If as a church, we think the best medicine for a pastor who has fallen is to throw him as far away from the healing power of Christ, then we should be ashamed.

There are better ways, friends. That’s why this ministry exists. I have networked with people to help pastors, their families, churches, the women they have committed adultery with and others. There is a better way. Pastors will fall. And we need to take care of all those involved. So let’s start doing it right.

Helpful links:

Restoring the Fallen” by Douglas Weiss

Restoring Fallen Pastors” by Eric Reed

Can restoration occur after a pastor has been caught in a scandal?” from Gotquestions.org

Is Your Church Equipped To Handle Ministry Failure?” Fallen Pastor

3 Things a Church Can Do When a Pastor Falls” Fallen Pastor

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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.

A True Tale: How Most Christians Treat Sinners

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in adultery, Christ, Christianity, church members, fallenness, forgiveness, pastoring, pastors | Posted on 28-06-2013

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I hope you don’t think the point of my blog is to make people feel sorry for pastors who have committed adultery. It’s talkingnot. We sinned and we fell and we made our choice. What I am trying to do is let people know that we don’t deserve the worst from people. We don’t deserve to be thrown onto the trash heap. And we don’t deserve to be treated with contempt – especially by Christians.

In fact, Scripture calls upon us to restore those who fall. Galatians tells us to restore those who have fallen. When those who are weak have sinned, they need a tremendous amount of help. Unless you’ve been there, you may never know.

I want to relate to you today that some of the worst treatment fallen pastors get is from other Christians – especially other pastors.

Recently, I met a pastor who was with a small group from his church. I shook his hand after I had talked to a few people from his church. He was a jolly soul, about 60. He had been in the ministry for over 30 years. He was very nice and had served at many Southern Baptist churches.

After a few minutes, he asked me, “What do you do?

I want you to know before I continue this story, that there were three other people observing this conversation. They were watching body language. And I also want you to know that everyone I talk to about my ministry is someone I want to get involved. I want them to be concerned about fallen pastors. Heck, I want them to say, “Hey, I know a fallen fella right now that I want you to call.

Anyway, I said, “Well, brother, I do supply preaching for some friends, I work in sports medicine, I write a lot, and I run a ministry for fallen pastors.

His eyebrows raised in interest, “Fallen pastors?

thrownI said, “Yes sir, fallen pastors are ministers who committed adultery and need help.”

His eyebrows went further up and his forehead wrinkled. He said, “Well, that’s a very important thing to be doing. How did you get involved in that?

I said, “Almost four years ago, I committed adultery while I was a pastor. There were almost no resources available to me. Eventually, this is where I found myself and I’ve been able to network with a lot of great people now.”

As soon as I said, “I committed adultery,” he took an automatic two steps backward. I don’t think he realized he did it. In fact, I’m sure of it. It was like I had given him a little shove. Or like I had just told him I had a very contagious flu. Or that I told him I had leprosy.

The conversation that we had been having about him, his church, his mission team, his ministry suddenly ended as he politely walked away.

That little encounter, my friends, is not uncommon at all. In fact, it happens frequently among the Christians I meet. There are pastors I know who will be seen in public with me, but they are rare. There are Christians I know who will have an extended conversation with me at Kroger, but they too are uncommon. The more common are those who will dodge me or my wife (unless we are with the kids – I suppose they want to make sure we aren’t having a terrible impact on them), or those who will wave at us while moving as quickly away from us as possible.

If they don’t, I suppose they will be guilty by association. Or they might catch the adultery bug. Or possibly our sin might rub off on them. My wife wrote a blog post about it a while back that you might enjoy.

It really used to bother me, but it doesn’t so much anymore. I am who I am and God has given me a new life with what I’m doing now. I hope that people can be helped.

scarletWhat does concern me is that nationwide, fallen pastors are being treated this way by other Christians. Friends, we have got to do better. Surely, if you have ever read Nathaniel Hawthorne’s book, “The Scarlet Letter,” you thought, “How silly that was to make someone wear a scarlet letter to show that they sinned.”

But how different is it today when we scowl at people in public who we still consider a sinner?

Worse yet, how bad is it when we as Christians do it? Does not Christ forgive? Are His arms not open wide? Does He not make the vilest spots clean?

So why then, why do we keep public record of the sins people commit? We will not ever move forward, have revival, grow or be able to glorify Christ when we keep treating others in such a manner. May God break all our hearts.

__________________

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 Anyone Qualified To Pastor? The Forest of 1 Timothy 3:1-7

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in Christianity, church, churches, expectations, fallenness, holiness, judgment, leadership, ministry, pastoring, pastors, restoration, theology | Posted on 22-03-2013

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I’ve written about whether fallen pastors should be allowed to return to the pulpit. Some fallen pastors reconcile with pulpit2their wives, some are unable to. I’ve seen men go through a process of repentance and return to a lifestyle of holiness and return to ministry.

Each time I blog about it, I mention the verses in 1 Timothy 3:1-7, Paul’s qualification for an overseer in the church. Among the qualifications, an overseer must be “above reproach, husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent, not quarrelsome, manage his household well, keep his children submissive, not be a recent convert, and be thought of well by outsiders.”

Tough list. But I think when we approach this passage, we’re missing the forest for the trees. It gets broken down into each individual characteristic. And that’s important. But we forget that basically, this is a letter from Paul to Timothy. And what is Paul doing? Answering a question on how the church should be organized and how leaders should be selected. More on that later.

I hear one comment a lot, “Well, by that list, no one could ever be a church leader. None of us is perfect.” The logic often follows that since no one could keep any of those things, the list isn’t a hard and fast list of rules. They aren’t suggestions, but a lifestyle to be maintained over the course of one’s ministry.

I suppose that there are two extremes to this. The first extreme is that no one should pastor. No one is perfect. A lot of pastors attempt to keep a perfect image, but we are all sinners. The other extreme is that anyone can pastor, regardless of sin, ongoing or repentant.

One of my guilty little pleasures is to visit my blog stats every day and find out how people found my site. It’s interesting to look at some of the search terms. Recently I saw someone searched, “My pastor is texting my wife late at night.” Another, “Can a convicted felon be a pastor?” Those are some intriguing situations.

One of the statistics I quote in my book is that in a survey of conservative ministers. 30% of them said they had either mancomputbeen in an ongoing affair or a one-time sexual encounter with a parishioner. And it hadn’t been reported or caught. Add on top of that what seems to be a rampant amount of pornography use by ministers and there is a serious problem lurking in the hearts of ministers today.

If the list is a hard and fast pattern of rules that once broken, disqualify people for ministry, then a lot of people are disqualified. Right now. Anyone who has lost control, not been hospitable or become violent is out. They can be mixed in with the adulterous, those who can’t keep their children in control and those who are deemed in the category, “husband of one wife.” (And that depends on who you ask. Those can be divorced men before or after becoming Christians, the single, etc.)

If a pastor has a serious, unconfessed sin and is ministering and a church holds fast to the strict interpretation of 1 Timothy 3:1-7, then I would argue that a tremendous amount of our pulpits should be vacant next week. Heck, take a look at the man’s kids. If they aren’t submissive to him, then he should be taking a sabbatical or be dismissed immediately.

Panic yet?

I don’t think those verses are an ultra-strict mandate for ministers. If that’s the case, ministry leaders across the country are in serious trouble. For all of the ministers whose sin is discovered, I’d be daring enough to say that the hidden sin is twofold.

So why this list? Is it merely a suggestion? I don’t think that’s appropriate either. Surely we don’t want rampant sin from our church leaders. We should hold our leaders to a higher moral standard. We should expect them to be hospitable, to not commit adultery, to not be violent. Right?

treesI think we get into trouble when we take these verses and make them into something they were never meant to be. When we emphasize parts of them with great vigor but lessen the overall picture. The church is greatest served when we imagine ourselves sitting across from Paul as he addresses Timothy and Paul answers the question, “So, what kind of church leader should we be looking for?” That way, we can see the forest for the trees.

Can you imagine it for a moment? “Hey, Paul, what kind of leaders should we be getting?” “Well, Timothy, for sure, you need overseers who are husbands of one wife.” “Wait, Paul. Do you mean by that they can’t be previously divorced or single?” “Timothy, listen. What did I say? I’m trying to give you some simple rules for leadership. Look around you. You have some people in churches who are going to the pagan temple and engaging in prostitution. So, I think being the husband of one wife is pretty simple.”

In our time, maybe we don’t allow enough humanity from our leaders. We place them on a higher pedestal than they should be. We don’t see them as completely human. When they err, we are shocked. I’m not talking about major sins, I’m speaking of just daily interaction. Do we place them under too much pressure? The Barna Group suggests that pastors are expected to juggle 16 major tasks at once.

And with this list, I think there’s a reason ministers should be mentored and trained. There’s a reason all of us are living the continued process of sanctification. All of us are growing in holiness. Any pastor worth his salt will admit that he made mistakes early on that he wouldn’t make today due to pride or ignorance. But that’s part of the growing process.

Sin is not to be taken lightly. The men who aspire to it should know that much is expected. But an over-eager application of 1 Timothy 3 isn’t going to help anyone. It will increase judgment and self-righteousness among the believers. What we should be doing is living in grace and an expectation of holiness, mentoring and discipling one another. Knowing that all of our work will be going to serve Christ and glorify what He is doing in the world.

The Confused Community: The Wounded Church, Part 3

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in adultery, anger, bitterness, Christianity, church members, churches, community, gossip, hurt, reconciliation, relationships, repentance, restoration | Posted on 26-10-2012

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(This is part three of a series of who is effected by the fall of a pastor. It’s been three years since my own fall from ministry and hopefully since writing Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World, talking to people who have hurt and been hurt, I have some hopeful advice.)

When a pastor falls, a sort of shock wave goes out through the community at large. The church finds out first and word spreads through many different sources. Some of the stories are shared accurately and some of the details become distorted as the tale is passed on.

Let’s look today at how the fall of a pastor effects the different parts of the community.

1. Those attached to the church

The local church is typically considered to be those who are members and attend with some regularity. Those who are attached might be regular attenders who have never joined, those who are members who consider it their home church, those who live in the community who attend strictly for special services, or those who send their children to the church but do not attend themselves. All of them hold some fondness for the church for a particular reason.

In the years since my fall, I’ve had a chance to talk to some of these folks and how the pastor’s fall had an effect on them. For some, there was great anger toward him and his sin. They were angry that he could commit such a sin and some returned to the church during the turmoil to show support. Some, if they were still members, would willingly show up to vote him out if he had not yet resigned.

Read more after the jump…

“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.

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.

 

Getting Saved And Calling The Police

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in book, Christ, Christianity, mom, parents, salvation | Posted on 10-07-2011

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Last time I blogged about a passage I found in one of my mom’s old books, Temptation: How Christians Can Deal With It.

Allison was reading it and began laughing out loud. She found some of my mom’s humor. Mom was a card. She could make anyone laugh. It’s where I get my sick, twisted, and somewhat Southern refined sense of humor.

In this book, she tells people how to get saved. How to reach out to Christ and ask Him into their hearts. (Allison found this little nugget.) Then she tells them what to do once they’ve made that huge, life changing decision, because a second cannot be delayed:

“Great! Now things are going to get better, maybe not all at once, but a little at a time. The next thing you have to do is tell someone what you’ve done. If you know some Christian people, call them and tell them you have made a decision and accepted Christ into your life. Don’t wait! Do it now! If you don’t know any people who are Christians, get the telephone book. Turn to the Yellow Pages and locate a church telephone number. Call it. If it is after hours, look for a minister’s home telephone number and call it.

If nothing else, call the local police station and tell them you need to talk to a minister or chaplain. Satan will tell you to wait until tomorrow, but don’t do it. Your decision is important to you and to God.”

Mom, that is impassioned and awesome. I love you.

Divisiveness: Acts 2 & Ugly Carpet

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in blog, Christianity, church, church members, compassion, divisiveness, forgiveness, ministry, pastoring, pettiness, relationships | Posted on 24-06-2011

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I’m the next link in a “chain of blogs” on the issue of divisiveness. Boy, do I know divisiveness. I created it.

Two years ago, I caused a church to hurt because as the pastor, I committed adultery. I created great harm and pain to many people, including my ex-wife, several deacons, an array of church members, family members, pastor friends, and many in the community. Heck, read my last blog post and you’ll find that the pain hasn’t been resolved for some.

I was reading Alan Knox’s blog post on divisiveness and what people really wanted to read about. People want to know how to deal practically with divisive issues. That sells. When you go to your local bookstore, you want results. You have a problem, you want instant results. You want it solved. Now. You bought the dang book, so you want solutions. I hear you, blogosphere.

I was reflecting on my fall from ministry this evening after reading what some former church members had written recently about me on Facebook. It wasn’t kind. They don’t even know I have access to it. I had a friend tell me recently that I really just need to suck it up because it was my sin that causes them to feel that way. He’s right. I caused their divisiveness, their anger.

But I also got to thinking about those specific people who have been lashing out at me since I fell. A lot of them never really liked me. Seriously. The ones who still harbor anger and hatred – they harbored anger and hatred while I was pastoring eight years ago. Funny thing is, I would love them, console them in times of need, go out of my way to pray for them, help them, “grease the sqeaky wheel” and it never really helped. They never would like me.

I can hear you saying, “well, you’re an adulterous, fallen pastor.” Yeah. But I know several ministers who did great at their churches who went down the same road. They spent a lot of time with the complainers and they never got anywhere.

Now, let’s think about the people who were “good.” I hate that word. None of us are really “good” but that’s a theological discussion that would cause divisiveness. Anyway, you know what I mean. There were people there who were kind to me, loving, supportive. After I fell, they were disappointed, upset and the like. It took a little time, but after a while, they showed me a little bit of grace. Guess what? They were still the same. My sin didn’t change them. They were still the same people.

What’s my point? As Arthur Sido said, yes, we must have love as the foundation for everything. As Jeremy Myers said, we are often the problem. As Jon Hutton said, we do need unity. As Andy Witt has clearly stated, our division has come from separation from God. Finally, as Bobby Auner has mathematically stated, Christians have been given the Great Commission to overcome divisiveness to multiply.

These men are all correct. However, we’re all dealing with the human element. Every person in our churches is an individual who, due to the fall, presumes the world revolves around them. Don’t agree? Try to change  the carpet color in your church. I’m not even trying to argue Calvinism vs. Arminianism here. Just change the carpet color. You know the routine. You’ll have a battle to rival Gettysburg. Why? Because we’re human. Because our stupid, human passions get the best of us. Because carpet color for some reason is more important than the Great Commission.

We have got to break through that. How? By walking in the Spirit. It starts with our leaders. And it’s hard when leaders like me fall. It’s hard when statistics tell us that 80% of our pastors are burned out. When 1,500 pastors a month leave the ministry due to moral failure, burnout, or conflict with church leadership.

I long for a day when we can return to the church of Acts 2: And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Why not now? Because we, I, all of us are broken people. We are in desperate need of selfless love for Christ’s church. We’re discussing divisiveness because we are divided. Across borders, lines, squabbles and things that don’t matter. The early church had one focus. And it was not within. It was without.

Practical advice? Patience with one another’s faults. Love each other like you would want to be loved. That should sound very familiar. Whether it’s over carpet color or musical differences. If we can’t accept other Christians, we’re in serious trouble.

It’s like this. I’ve sinned horribly in my adultery, but God has forgiven me. Other Christians haven’t. But I tell myself, they may not forgive me now, but they’re gonna have to live with me in eternity, so they’d better get used to it sometime.

Friends, it’s the same way here. I see fellow Christians tear each other up online over the silliest things in the angriest manner possible. There’s just no reason for it. We do it out of pride. We have two options. We can keep on with our anger or begin to adapt an Acts 2 attitude. It begins in our own church – ugly carpet and all.

__________________________________________

Chain blog rules:

1) If you would like to write the next blog post (link) in this chain, leave a comment stating that you would like to do so. If someone else has already requested to write the next link, then please wait for that blog post and leave a comment there requesting to write the following link.

2) Feel free to leave comments here and discuss items in this blog post without taking part in the actual “chain”. Your comments and discussion are very important in this chain blog.

3) When you write a link in this chain, please reply in the comments of the previous post to let everyone know that your link is ready. Also, please try to keep an updated list of links in the chain at the bottom of your post, and please include these rules at the bottom of your post.

__________________________

“Links” in this chain blog:

1. “Chain Blog: Dealing with Divisive Issues Introduction” by Alan
2. “Chain Blog: Dealing with divisive issues starts with love” by Arthur
3. “I am divisive” by Jeremy
4. “Chain Blog: Please agree with me” by Jon
5. “Division and our shared humanity” by Andy
6. “Chain Blog: solving the problem” by Bobby
7. “Divisiveness: Acts 2 & Ugly Carpet” by Ray
8. Who will write the next “link” post in the chain?

Divisiveness: Acts 2 & Ugly Carpet

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in blog, Christianity, church, church members, compassion, divisiveness, forgiveness, ministry, pastoring, pettiness, relationships | Posted on 24-06-2011

16

I’m the next link in a “chain of blogs” on the issue of divisiveness. Boy, do I know divisiveness. I created it.

Two years ago, I caused a church to hurt because as the pastor, I committed adultery. I created great harm and pain to many people, including my ex-wife, several deacons, an array of church members, family members, pastor friends, and many in the community. Heck, read my last blog post and you’ll find that the pain hasn’t been resolved for some.

I was reading Alan Knox’s blog post on divisiveness and what people really wanted to read about. People want to know how to deal practically with divisive issues. That sells. When you go to your local bookstore, you want results. You have a problem, you want instant results. You want it solved. Now. You bought the dang book, so you want solutions. I hear you, blogosphere.

I was reflecting on my fall from ministry this evening after reading what some former church members had written recently about me on Facebook. It wasn’t kind. They don’t even know I have access to it. I had a friend tell me recently that I really just need to suck it up because it was my sin that causes them to feel that way. He’s right. I caused their divisiveness, their anger.

But I also got to thinking about those specific people who have been lashing out at me since I fell. A lot of them never really liked me. Seriously. The ones who still harbor anger and hatred – they harbored anger and hatred while I was pastoring eight years ago. Funny thing is, I would love them, console them in times of need, go out of my way to pray for them, help them, “grease the sqeaky wheel” and it never really helped. They never would like me.

I can hear you saying, “well, you’re an adulterous, fallen pastor.” Yeah. But I know several ministers who did great at their churches who went down the same road. They spent a lot of time with the complainers and they never got anywhere.

Now, let’s think about the people who were “good.” I hate that word. None of us are really “good” but that’s a theological discussion that would cause divisiveness. Anyway, you know what I mean. There were people there who were kind to me, loving, supportive. After I fell, they were disappointed, upset and the like. It took a little time, but after a while, they showed me a little bit of grace. Guess what? They were still the same. My sin didn’t change them. They were still the same people.

What’s my point? As Arthur Sido said, yes, we must have love as the foundation for everything. As Jeremy Myers said, we are often the problem. As Jon Hutton said, we do need unity. As Andy Witt has clearly stated, our division has come from separation from God. Finally, as Bobby Auner has mathematically stated, Christians have been given the Great Commission to overcome divisiveness to multiply.

These men are all correct. However, we’re all dealing with the human element. Every person in our churches is an individual who, due to the fall, presumes the world revolves around them. Don’t agree? Try to change  the carpet color in your church. I’m not even trying to argue Calvinism vs. Arminianism here. Just change the carpet color. You know the routine. You’ll have a battle to rival Gettysburg. Why? Because we’re human. Because our stupid, human passions get the best of us. Because carpet color for some reason is more important than the Great Commission.

We have got to break through that. How? By walking in the Spirit. It starts with our leaders. And it’s hard when leaders like me fall. It’s hard when statistics tell us that 80% of our pastors are burned out. When 1,500 pastors a month leave the ministry due to moral failure, burnout, or conflict with church leadership.

I long for a day when we can return to the church of Acts 2: And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Why not now? Because we, I, all of us are broken people. We are in desperate need of selfless love for Christ’s church. We’re discussing divisiveness because we are divided. Across borders, lines, squabbles and things that don’t matter. The early church had one focus. And it was not within. It was without.

Practical advice? Patience with one another’s faults. Love each other like you would want to be loved. That should sound very familiar. Whether it’s over carpet color or musical differences. If we can’t accept other Christians, we’re in serious trouble.

It’s like this. I’ve sinned horribly in my adultery, but God has forgiven me. Other Christians haven’t. But I tell myself, they may not forgive me now, but they’re gonna have to live with me in eternity, so they’d better get used to it sometime.

Friends, it’s the same way here. I see fellow Christians tear each other up online over the silliest things in the angriest manner possible. There’s just no reason for it. We do it out of pride. We have two options. We can keep on with our anger or begin to adapt an Acts 2 attitude. It begins in our own church – ugly carpet and all.

__________________________________________

Chain blog rules:

1) If you would like to write the next blog post (link) in this chain, leave a comment stating that you would like to do so. If someone else has already requested to write the next link, then please wait for that blog post and leave a comment there requesting to write the following link.

2) Feel free to leave comments here and discuss items in this blog post without taking part in the actual “chain”. Your comments and discussion are very important in this chain blog.

3) When you write a link in this chain, please reply in the comments of the previous post to let everyone know that your link is ready. Also, please try to keep an updated list of links in the chain at the bottom of your post, and please include these rules at the bottom of your post.

__________________________

“Links” in this chain blog:

1. “Chain Blog: Dealing with Divisive Issues Introduction” by Alan
2. “Chain Blog: Dealing with divisive issues starts with love” by Arthur
3. “I am divisive” by Jeremy
4. “Chain Blog: Please agree with me” by Jon
5. “Division and our shared humanity” by Andy
6. “Chain Blog: solving the problem” by Bobby
7. “Divisiveness: Acts 2 & Ugly Carpet” by Ray
8. Who will write the next “link” post in the chain?

Why We’re All Pharisees, Part Deux: We Are A Brood Of Vipers

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in Christ, Christianity, church, hypocrisy, pharisees | Posted on 04-03-2011

1

Christ came primarily to earth to die in our place. He bore the weight of our sin and God’s wrath.

However, in the meantime, He did a lot of other cool stuff. He taught, confronted, showed compassion,and loved.

One of the things He came to do was to destroy the political, social, and economic barriers that existed. I’m not arguing for a pure social gospel, although there are merits to that.

What I am saying is that Christ completely busted people’s cliques, social circles, religious groupings, and safety nets. He especially concentrated on the Pharisees.

How many times did he tick those guys off? He blatantly broke their rules to prove points. He didn’t wash hands like they wanted. He healed on the Sabbath. He spoke to tax collectors, Gentiles, adulterers, the infirm, and everyone else the Pharisees didn’t want in their synagogue.

We read those stories in Sunday School, hear them preached and think two things.

First we think, “How dare those Pharisees act like that toward Jesus and those poor sinners!” Of course, we’d never do that. Would we?

Secondly, we think, “Well, those sinners must have been just fine after they met Christ. They must have said a sinners prayer or whatever we do these days and been right as rain.”

As to the first statement, isn’t it interesting how our churches look? I’m speaking in broad generalities, of course, but visit a church sometime and you won’t see much different from one end of the spectrum to the other.

For instance, visit the local First Baptist and you’ll likely find upper class to middle class people (and maybe a small percentage of lower middle class). They flock together in church. Just like our neighborhoods, we tend to live near people like us and we find people like us to worship with.

What’s worse, there are some in church who will find the opportunity to look down on those who are less than them. The upper-class will look down on the middle or lower class.  The middle class will look down on the lower class and even be envious or judgmental of the upper class.

Take it a step further and visit a poor rural church filled with lower middle class to poverty level people. They might even have a somewhat wealthy family there that everyone looks up to (that even might run the show) that everyone is silently envious of. But some of the lower class will look down on the poverty stricken and the poverty stricken will look down on those lower than them.

It’s our sinful, human nature. And it’s Pharisaical.

The Pharisees were admired in their time for their wisdom. Not all of them were bad men. People came to them for life, religious, and practical advice. Unfortunately, their knowledge puffed them up and they began to look down on many people – the tax collectors, the sinful, the adulterous, the outcasts, and eventually Jesus.

It makes you wonder how the church today would treat Jesus if He came and visited our churches one Sunday. Would we recognize Him? Because I guarantee He’d bring people with Him we wouldn’t want gracing the doors of our church.

He’d bring struggling homosexuals, those dealing with drug and alcohol addictions, prostitutes who are looking for the truth, strippers who are struggling to make ends meet and need help, ex-cons, the crippled, former pedophiles, and yes, people who had been caught in adultery.

Can you see it? Church people would be squirming in their seats.

What do we do with “those people” when they come to our churches today? We sent them off to counselors. We send them off to places where they can be “rehabilitated.” Why? Because we don’t want to have to deal with them.

Why? Because they don’t belong in our worship circle. That, my friends, is Pharisaical. And that is counter to everything Christ taught us.

Let’s take it one step further. We ought to be going out looking to win those people to Christ. To help them find the Savior who didn’t just die for the white bread Christians in the nice neighborhoods, but for all men and women.

No wonder people reject church and Christ. They walk into our fellowships and see no one like them.

Christ sought out those who didn’t look anything like the people in synagogue. Even the disciples chided him for his association with outsiders.

I’m guilty too. On three different occasions, I had three different people coming to Angel Falls who didn’t fit the mold. I had a struggling alcoholic, an ex-Marine who had post-traumatic stress, and a family who lived out in the sticks who smelled really bad. I stood by all of them. I liked the fact that it made the congregation really uncomfortable. But they never lasted. I failed them.

As to the second point – that the sinners Christ met were instantly changed and were fine from that point forward – there’s no evidence of that. Heck, even Peter struggled throughout the New Testament. He had to be publicly rebuked by Paul.

New Christians struggle. They fall again and again. And the church better be ready to pick them up and not give up.

We’re so happy to see someone walk down the aisle and renounce their sin and follow Christ. To give up alcohol or a life of violence. But what happens when that person falls back a few months later and stops coming to church? A lot of churches give up.

Would Christ? No.

If Christ were here he’d probably look at a lot of us, sitting in our pews and say, “you hypocrites. You brood of vipers, you Pharisees. All of you are the same! I came for all of you in this community! Every single one of you is the same! I didn’t come so you could sit stagnant in this place while the world is dying around you so you could watch it go to hell!”

I like to say that in our community, you can’t throw a rock in the air without hitting a church or a Chinese restaurant. With so many churches, there has to be a place for all of these souls that need love and compassion.

Will we take the time to humble ourselves before Christ and recognize our Pharisaical attitude? Or will we continue on with business as usual? Will we continue to throw money at programs and let others do the work? Or will we begin to make our churches places where judgment is not leveled and where all may come to know Christ?